Monday, May 02, 2011

Burial at sea 

Escort81 here. I have been away from blogging much too long (and more to follow with a later post regarding my absence and activities), but the historical moment of bin Laden's death prompts me to return to the keyboard.

When a member of my family passes away, our custom is that the body is cremated. I respect other traditions, whether the basis is religious or cultural. We don't take up a great deal of space following cremation, and the scattering of ashes can be a moving experience that provides closure, as was the case when I scattered about half of my late father's ashes into the cold salt water off the coast of Maine last summer.

During his remarks on Sunday night, President Obama noted that the U.S. military "took custody of his [bin Laden's] body," and the discussion by various talking heads during the wall-to-wall TV coverage was that of course the body would be treated with respect in accordance with Islamic tradition, quoting unnamed sources within the administration or the Pentagon.

Evidently, the burial at sea -- which prevents a land-based burial site from become some sort of perverse shrine -- has not satisfied certain quarters of Sunni Muslims:
The head of Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning, al-Azhar, condemned U.S. troops' disposal of the body of Osama bin Laden at sea Monday as an affront to religious and human values.

Muslims set great store by interment in permanent graves on land and accept burial at sea only in cases where the body cannot be preserved intact aboard ship until it reaches shore.

"The Grand Imam, Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb, the sheikh of Al-Azhar condemned the reports, if true, of the throwing of the body of Osama bin Laden into the sea," according to a statement released by al-Azhar, which is respected around the world by many Sunni Muslims as a seat of religious learning.

The procedure "contradicts all the religious values and human norms," it said: "The Grand Imam asserted that it is forbidden in Islam to deform the dead, regardless of their beliefs. One honors the dead by burying them."
So, let's just speculate here -- I suppose the Grand Imam would have been really upset if the U.S. Navy had hired a (ahem) large, gay, Jewish necrophiliac to sodomize bin Laden's corpse, and put in on video for uploading to the web? I imagine that would not have been well received. I apologize for the disgusting imagery (with respect to the necrophilia) in describing an extremely negative example, but the point is that there is no pleasing segments of the Islamic world, and it leads to the question as to whether one should even attempt to do so.

Finally, I am reminded of the wonderful Anglican prayer for burial at sea, from the Book of Common Prayer (words most certainly not recited when bin Laden's body was dumped off the side of the U.S. Navy vessel):
We therefore commit his body to the deep, looking for the general Resurrection in the last day, and the life of the world to come, through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose second coming in glorious majesty to judge the world, the sea shall give up her dead; and the corruptible bodies of those who sleep in him shall be changed, and made like unto his glorious body; according to the mighty working where by he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
It is interesting that there is a marked difference between the Christian and Islamic traditions regarding burial at sea.


By Blogger Stack Trace, at Mon May 02, 03:51:00 PM:

I was appalled to hear that we had dumped the body in the ocean. I do not give a rat's ass for respecting this foul monster, or his religion.

When you take down someone like bin Laden, it's heads-on-pikes time. Want to send a message to the Muslim world, that hates us so? How about "We Got Him", not tiptoeing around Muslim sensibilities? We got him on our terms, not yours.

We should have kept his body on ice, and provided proof beyond any conceivable doubt that we got him. Dumping his body in the ocean just enables the crazies, the conspiracy theorists, etc. Then, when evidence was beyond doubt, we could incinerate him and dump the ashes in some anonymous chemical pit.

The nature of his attack and his murderous contempt for the US puts him beyond any claim of civil treatment, alive or dead.  

By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Mon May 02, 05:54:00 PM:

Escort81 great to have you back!

I must admit that I am more with Stack Trace and the idea of some form of debauchery certainly is more fitting this piece of dung.

As for Mr. Obama, I liked his speech and I only wish he would have ended it by saying that "even though Usama Bin Laden died in the lap of luxury, I am sure the Devil has an especially warm place in hell where he will be spending eternity..."  

By Blogger buck smith, at Tue May 03, 12:13:00 AM:

how does the head of Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning, al-Azhar feel about the treatment of dead US soldiers and contractors at Mogdishu and Fallujah? Just askin...  

By Anonymous Old Fan, at Tue May 03, 01:39:00 AM:

Great post...

However, as much as I am happy to see Osama eliminated, this subject is the big one for myself.

This says it all...

"No Class: Obama snubs Bush, praises himself"

The irony is growing, Democrats are now going to try to sell American that their GW Bush agenda and efforts are wonderful. And still vilify the Republicans at the same time.

It really is pathetic. The hubris, seeing all the folly of 'smart power' in regards to the entire globe, ie: Iran, China, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, etc. Every where Hillary and Barack go, a mess is grown. Russia is just another example of the appeasing flop.

No, if Democrats want to run on being GW Bush, we would prefer to have GW Bush returned, thank you.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue May 03, 08:50:00 AM:

Anon Attorney here.

I think it is important to note that there is not a single tangible piece of evidence in the public domain to demonstrate that Osama was killed in this raid. Not one. If the US were on trial for murder the case would be dismissed for lack of evidence.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Tue May 03, 02:17:00 PM:

Anon Attorney - Clearly, there is no course in Criminal Procedure (including rules of evidence) at BUDS for the SEALS. I imagine JAG officers provide occasional briefings, but do we really want them thinking like lawyers?  

By Anonymous davod, at Tue May 03, 05:51:00 PM:

I thought the Muslim theological approach to Bin Laden was that he was not a Muslim, because a Muslim would not approve of what he and di Al Queda did.  

By Anonymous davod, at Tue May 03, 06:01:00 PM:


Notwithstanding my comment about Islamic theologians denying Ossama's Muslimness, I can understand why some Muslims are upset.

However, I cannot understand all the Western commentators derisive comments about Ossama being dumped at sea.

Per Escort81 - The guy was given the honor of the equivelent of a Naval burial at sea.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue May 03, 07:56:00 PM:

"I thought the Muslim theological approach to Bin Laden was that he was not a Muslim, because a Muslim would not approve of what he and di Al Queda did."

That's called takfir, and that's a pretty serious matter that most Muslims stay away from. In fact, the biggest beef Muslims have with al Qaeda isn't that they murder people... that's what jihad is all about. It's that they take it upon themselves to judge other Muslims' 'Muslimness' and act accordingly.

An (imperfect) analogy may be if a sect of Catholics turned on and fought against other Catholics for not being Catholic enough. This is imperfect because there is a Church hierarchy and long tradition of authority, but I think you get the idea. No one likes to be called a traitor to God by people in your own faith.  

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?