The Pentagon has said the body was treated in accordance with traditional Islamic procedures–including washing the corpse–before it was placed in the waters of the northern Arabian Sea. U.S. officials have said they wanted to avoid the al Qaeda leader’s grave site becoming a shrine for his followers. They’ve also said it would have been difficult to find a foreign country willing to accept bin Laden’s remains, especially in so short a time: Islamic tradition and practice call for the body of the deceased to be buried within 24 hours of death. But several Muslim authorities said today that the sea burial in fact violated Muslim tradition–and warned that it could help trigger calls for revenge from militant Muslims.
The sea burial “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs,” Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque, told the AP.
And Mohammed al-Qubaisi, Dubai’s grand mufti, echoed that view. “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.”
He added: “Sea burials are permissible for Muslims in extraordinary circumstances,” he added. “This is not one of them.” And Abdul-Sattar al-Janabi, who preaches at Baghdad’s Abu Hanifa mosque declared: “It is not acceptable, and it is almost a crime to throw the body of a Muslim man into the sea,” adding that the action “might provoke some Muslims.”