Islamic scholars censure sea burial
GK MONITORING DESK
Srinagar, May 3: While Islamic scholars worldwide condemned the burial at sea given to Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh seemed to be criticising the US over the action.
Muslim clerics on Tuesday said that Osama bin Laden's burial at sea was a violation of Islamic traditions that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets.
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 Makkah.
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 US administration," said Omar Bakri Muhammad, a radical cleric in Lebanon.
The Lebanese cleric 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 September 11 attacks.
"Bin Laden is dead," Panetta wrote in a memo to CIA staff. "Al-Qaeda 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 travelling 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," Muhammad 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."
"However big a criminal one might be, his religious traditions should be respected while burying him," Congress leader Digvijay Singh told media persons in New Delhi when asked about the burial process.
The US has maintained that the body was handled in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition. The burial at sea was apparently due to fears that his land burial may become a site to attract his followers.
Congress, however, appeared to be distancing itself from Digvijay’s remarks.
Party spokesman Manish Tewari parried questions on whether Singh's remark on Laden's burial is the official party view.
"On the question of Laden and terror per say, we have repeatedly cleared our position. The position of Congress has been very clearly articulated and delineated. We have nothing further to say on the articulation (of the party) on the neutralization of Laden after what we said yesterday," he said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 3 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 3 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 4 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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