Islamic law and the Bin Laden sea burial

A brief explanation of how Islamic law allows flexibility in dealing with situations like the Bin Laden burial.
bin laden islam
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Laura @muhajabah
If I may beg the indulgence of my followers, I want to revisit the "Islamic burial" controversy to make a few comments about Islamic law.
Laura @muhajabah
From my understanding, all of the Islamic rules regarding preparing the body for burial were followed, including washing & shrouding...
Laura @muhajabah
...it also appears that a Muslim chaplain performed the janaza or Islamic funeral prayer over the body before the burial.
Laura @muhajabah
So the only thing that some people are claiming to be upset about is that the burial was at sea and not in the ground...
Laura @muhajabah
In Islamic custom, the body is normally buried w/o casket or coffin, directly in the earth (within the shroud).
Laura @muhajabah
However, there are several concepts of Islamic law that can be invoked in unusual circumstances, which this definitely qualifies as!
Laura @muhajabah
The 1st & more general concept is called "maslaha mursala". Second is "sadd al-dhara'i"
Laura @muhajabah
Maslaha mursala can be translated as "considerations of public interest". Sadd al-dhara'i means "blocking the means" of something forbidden.
Laura @muhajabah
There are some real concerns about if OBL had been buried in Pakistan (or Saudi Arabia for that matter), including it being taken as shrine.
Laura @muhajabah
It's also possible that the body could be dug up and mutilated by people who feel OBL has not been punished enough.
Laura @muhajabah
Both of these outcomes (burial place as shrine and mutilation of corpse) are forbidden in Islam. Action should be taken to prevent them.
Laura @muhajabah
Thus in my understanding it is valid to follow a different course than that which is prescribed, in order to prevent these outcomes.
Laura @muhajabah
I wanted to point this out because Islamic law is often depicted as rigid & literalist, including by Muslims themselves.
Laura @muhajabah
However, it contains within it many concepts, such as those discussed here, which allow flexibility to deal with circumstances.
Malcolm P. Johnson @admiralmpj
@muhajabah Brennan said it was the strict time considerations during his briefing today.
Laura @muhajabah
@admiralmpj there appear to be multiple reasons, some of which may be emphasized more than others by some parties.
Laura @muhajabah
@admiralmpj whether or not Brennan mentioned these specific reasons, I believe they are relevant concerns.
Malcolm P. Johnson @admiralmpj
@muhajabah I know. Just wanted to chime in with what Brennan said because I was listening to it as I was reading your tweets.
Laura @muhajabah
As follow-up inspired by Q from @admiralmpj, maslaha mursala could justify other args, eg, no country would take body & time was short.
Dana Houle @DanaHoule
@muhajabah Isn't it true that making a shrine at a burial place is not forbidden in Islam according to the Shia?
Laura @muhajabah
@DanaHoule in practice, many Muslim cultures and traditions have done it; however, the texts are clear that this is frowned on
Laura @muhajabah
@DanaHoule or to put it another way, whether or not you take it seriously, there's a solid legalistic argument you can make with it
Laura @muhajabah
@Misha44_ me too! It wasn't necessary (since U.S. soldiers/officials aren't Muslims, it's not on us) but it shows a lot of respect
Laura @muhajabah
@Misha44_ it isn't just words, but by our actions we show respect
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Comment

Chirpinator @chirpinator 06/05/2011 14:53:50 WIB
@muhajabah, thank you so much! An excellent look at what Islamic law says about burial at sea.
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