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Sea burial of OBL breaks sharia law, say Muslim scholars

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  • Romi Elnagar
    Sea burial of Osama bin Laden breaks sharia law, say Muslim scholars US decision to dispose of body in the sea prevents grave site becoming a shrine but
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2011
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      Sea burial of Osama bin Laden breaks sharia law, say Muslim scholars

      US decision to dispose of body in the sea prevents grave site becoming a shrine but clerics warn it may lead to reprisals

      Ian Black and
      Brian Whitaker


      Monday 2 May 2011 19.36 BST

      Osama bin Laden's burial reportedly took
      place from the deck of the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, above.
      Photograph: Timothy A. Hazel/AFP/Getty Images

      Osama bin Laden's
      burial at sea was quickly criticised by Muslim scholars who claimed it
      had breached sharia law and warned that it may provoke calls for revenge
      attacks against US targets.
      Others used the sea burial question
      to question whether he was dead at all, with doubts fuelled by the
      absence of authentic photographs of his corpse.
      US officials said
      tests using DNA from several of Bin Laden's family members had provided
      "virtual certainty" that it was his body. A woman believed to be one of
      Bin Laden's wives identified the al-Qaida
      leader, and he was visually identified by members of the US raiding
      party, the Pentagon said. Burying him on land could have led to his
      grave becoming a focus of contention and pilgrimage as well as posing
      tough questions about where he should be laid to rest.
      "Finding a
      country willing to accept the remains of the world's most wanted
      terrorist would have been difficult," a US official said. "So the US
      decided to bury him at sea." The burial reportedly took place from the
      deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian sea.
      US officials told news agencies that his body was disposed of in
      accordance with Islamic tradition, which involves ritual washing,
      shrouding and burial within 24 hours.
      The 24-hour rule has not
      always been applied in the past. For example, the bodies of Uday and
      Qusay Hussein – sons of the Iraqi dictator Saddam – were embalmed and
      held for 11 days after they were killed by US forces. Their bodies were
      later shown to media, provoking some angry responses.
      It remains
      unclear if the US will release photos of Bin Laden's remains, but
      dispelling any doubts that he is dead is likely to be a major impetus –
      particularly in an age when conspiracy theories can be powerfully
      manipulated on the web.
      In a hint that such a release may be on
      the cards, John Brennan, Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser said:
      "We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any
      basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden." He added that the US
      will "share what we can because we want to make sure that not only the
      American people but the world understand exactly what happened."
      Sagarin, a psychologist at Northern Illinois University who studies
      persuasion, said the rapid disposal of the body "would certainly be a
      rich sort of kernel for somebody to grasp on to if they were motivated
      to disbelieve this."
      Citing the example of those who refuse to
      believe that Barack Obama is a US citizen, he added: "As with the
      birther conspiracy, there's going to be a set of people who are never
      going to be convinced. People filter the information they receive
      through their current attitudes, their current perspectives."
      doubt is spreading in Pakistan. Many people do not want to believe that
      Bin Laden is really dead, even though an al-Qaida spokesman, in vowing
      vengeance against America, called him a martyr, offering no challenge to
      the US account of his death.
      In the immediate aftermath, people
      in Abbottabad expressed widespread disbelief that Bin Laden had died or
      ever lived among them.
      "I'm not ready to buy Bin Laden was here,"
      said Haris Rasheed, 22, who works in a fast food restaurant. "How come
      no one knew he was here and why did they bury him so quickly? This is
      all fake, a drama, and a crude one."
      Kamal Khan, 25, who is unemployed, said the official story "looks fishy".
      terms of the basic requirements for Muslim burials, standard practice
      involves placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the
      holy city of Mecca.

      Burial at sea is rare in Islam,
      though Muslim websites say it is permitted in certain circumstances.
      One is during a long voyage where the body may decompose and pose a
      health hazard to a ship's passengers, an exception noted on Monday by
      Tunisian scholar Ahmed al-Gharbi. Another is if there is a risk of
      enemies digging up a and grave and exhuming or mutilating the body.
      Saud al-Fanisan, former dean of the faculty of sharia law in Riyadh,
      Saudi Arabia, said that if a body was buried at sea it should be
      protected from fish. In the words of alislam.org, the body should be
      lowered into the water "in a vessel of clay or with a weight tied to its
      Mohammed al-Qubaisi, Dubai's grand mufti, said of Bin
      Laden's burial: "They can say they buried him at sea, but they cannot
      say they did it according to Islam. Sea burials are permissible for
      Muslims in extraordinary circumstances. This is not one of them."
      al-Janabi, who preaches at Baghdad's Abu Hanifa mosque, said: "What was
      done by the Americans is forbidden by Islam and might provoke some
      "It is not acceptable and it is almost a crime to throw
      the body of a Muslim man into the sea. The body of Bin Laden should have
      been handed over to his family to look for a country to bury him."
      radical Lebanon-based cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed said: "The Americans
      want to humiliate Muslims through this burial, and I don't think this is
      in the interest of the US administration."
      The Egyptian analyst
      and lawyer Montasser el-Zayat said Bin Laden's sea burial was designed
      to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine. But an option was an
      unmarked grave. "They don't want to see him become a symbol," he said.
      "But he is already a symbol in people's hearts."

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