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Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.

Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca.

Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.

"The Americans want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think this is in the interest of the U.S. administration," said Omar Bakri Mohammed, a radical cleric in Lebanon.

A U.S. official said the burial decision was made after concluding that it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept the remains. There was also speculation about worry that a grave site could have become a rallying point for militants.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security matters.

President Barack Obama said the remains had been handled in accordance with Islamic custom, which requires speedy burial, and the Pentagon later said the body was placed into the waters of the northern Arabian Sea after adhering to traditional Islamic procedures — including washing the corpse — aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

But the Lebanese cleric Mohammed called it a "strategic mistake" that was bound to stoke rage.

In Washington, CIA director Leon Panetta warned that "terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge" the killing of the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Bin Laden is dead," Panetta wrote in a memo to CIA staff. "Al-Qaida is not."

According to Islamic teachings, the highest honor to be bestowed on the dead is giving the deceased a swift burial, preferably before sunset. Those who die while traveling at sea can have their bodies committed to the bottom of the ocean if they are far off the coast, according to Islamic tradition.

"They can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot say they did it according to Islam," Mohammed al-Qubaisi, Dubai's grand mufti, said about bin Laden's burial. "If the family does not want him, it's really simple in Islam: You dig up a grave anywhere, even on a remote island, you say the prayers and that's it."

"Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances," he added. "This is not one of them."

5 Comments

Hamza Umar Boyd

May 3rd

I think many people miss the point. As Imam Ghazali has stated: "Islam is following principles not people" In Islam burial is a right NOT a privilege. Whatever ibn Laden did or didn't do does not change the fact he was still a Muslim. His actions, though misguided and hurtful, do not in anyway impinge upon the core teachings of tawhid ,the Qur'an as guide for humanity and the prophet-hood of Muhammad. Ibn Laden misguidance comes from his actions not his motivation: Seeing an evil and changing by the hand. There's nothing "unislamic" about that motivation and concept. The validity of this sea burial based upon firm knowledge is in doubt. The reasons given by the US government don't seem to be valid according to Islamic knowledge. No one knows what may happen in future and the excuse that "that a grave site could have become a rallying point for militants" is invalid. Militants don't wage war because of grave site. This is noting but hysteria and paranoia. May Allah bless Mufti Mohammed al-Qubaisi for speaking the truth. Islam is clear on this matter as he has stated. @ Andrew Werling Homosexuality is different . Islam does not condone homosexuality based upon truth from the creator of Universe, Allah as related in the Qur'an. Even the Torah and New Testament homosexuality is preached against. Declaring homosexuality as correct is an affront to reality,truth and decency and to the teachings of Islam. By doing so you are willfully declaring the Qur'an invalid. No "Muslim" can have this belief or opinion in any shame or form. If you accept AND act upon this belief of the acceptable of homosexuality then by your actions you have left Islam and not entitled to an Islamic burial. You either accept the Qur'an as the word of Creator and accept everything in it or you don't. If you don't your rights as muslim are void because you are not a muslim.


Alim kefi Conteh

May 2nd

Am really skeptical about the thoughts of Omar Baki Mohamed the radical cleric in Lebanon,saying "the Americans want to humilate muslim through this burial".Who are the Americans he is referring to?Are there not muslims that are Americans?He need to understand the differences between citizenship and religion.Am a muslim orginally from West African and according to our islamic doctrines and teachings we should not give tolerance or condole any concepts that may breaks unity among people. The word Islam mean peace and i strongly believe that Osama was not fighting a jihad for this peaceful religion,his actions and deeds can testify to this.The era of islamic jihads has long gone and those battles were fought between Madina and Mecca strictly on defensive against disbelievers that condemn islam but not on offensive against humanity. If we base our thoughts on the principles of our religion,we will however agree that the death and burial of Osama is Allah will.Why must be dispute that.Actually people could have love to practise islam if we with frantic and relentless effort effectively embark on its simple doctrines and teachings rather than creating legacy that cause the inferiority of the religion.Today,islamic is said to be a violent religion due to some spate of eventualities (9-11)under the pretext of islam Salam


Andrew Werling

May 2nd

Having watched a documentary recently, I saw one imam telling an openly gay Muslim that he wouldn't be able to get a proper Muslim burial for being gay. In Islam, truly, is this a greater crime than mass murder?


Nahida

May 2nd

The reasons given for the sea burial (not wanting his body, not wanting the site to be become a rallying point, etc.) were valid. As a Muslim, I have no problem with this despicable mass murder and threat to the Ummah disposed of this way. Serve him right!


Mike wolfe

May 2nd

Sea burial in this case was the perfect solution. Those who object are those who would like to have had a martyr's grave to revere. This man made war on Muslims who dared to disagree with him. He was no martyr.






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