We have all heard the news by now. Osama bin Laden is dead, his body taken and buried at sea by the USA.
There is a lot of talk on the news today about how everything was done to make sure that Osama’s body was given a proper Islamic burial, even if at sea. I understand that this was done because we are currently led by an administration that, right or wrong, is very concerned with doing things in way that will not offend Muslims domestically and internationally. And no doubt not affording Osama’s body some amount of respect would have upset some Muslims. But which ones? The ones we have affirmed as “valid” or those we say are a terrible distortion of their supposed religion?
I do not understand what was done in this case. For years, our administration and many others in our country have been making the case that Osama and those who share his ideology are not proper Muslims. “This is not Islam,” they say. So why did we give him a proper Muslim burial? That is oxymoronic and I would argue that I could have left off the “oxy.” Why sanctify his body when we have said with one voice that his ways are evil, even in the eyes of proper Muslims?
I would have suggested cremation. In many cultures, including Islamic ones, cremation is a witness that the person burned does not deserve a proper burial, that they have not followed the religion of the culture. If this is the narrative we have been preaching for years and years, that Osama is not what Islam is, then why did the the final chapter in that story stand in contradiction to the entire plot?
Surely moderate Muslims could have testified that such an action would have been more appropriate. It would have been an ultimate testimony to their understanding of their religion. Let them stand up now and say, this man was not a proper Muslim and should not by any means have received a proper Muslim burial. The white sheet wrapped around him was not fitting.
No one would think that Hitler should have received a proper Christian burial even though at times he claimed to be a Christian. Why is this different?