Muslim scholars speak on bin Laden burial

May 4, 2011 at 7:48 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- Some U.S. Muslim scholars differed on the sea burial of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.

Islamic studies chairman Akbar Ahmed at American University told The New York Times any other burial could have made the place a focus of discontent.

"Shrines are very powerful," he said. "Shrines of controversial figures in Muslim history become centers to attract the angry, the disenchanted. The shrine bestows powers of religious charisma."

However, Ahmed also said the secretive burial at sea could evoke anger and generate speculation about whether Bin Laden was really dead.

Other Muslim scholars told the Times bin Laden should have been buried on land in a simple grave.

The Times said White House officials had decided prior to the raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad he would buried with full Muslim burial rites at sea if killed. Later, officials said the sea burial was in keeping with Islamic customs as advised by Islamic experts.

The Times quoted defense officials as saying the Obama administration tried to convince one other country to take bin Laden's body for burial but was turned down. The country was not identified but the Times said other outlets had cited Saudi Arabia.

It was not possible to contact other countries as Islamic customs require burial within 24 hours of death, the report quoted officials as saying.

In India, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, Muslim scholars were critical of bin Laden, the Hindu newspaper reported.

"This is a reflection of the Indian Muslim's disinterest in Osama," Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung told the Hindu. He said there was no reaction on the university campus or in the neighboring Muslim community over bin Laden's killing.

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