Monday, May 2, 2011

Burying bin Laden

My mind set has always been: Muslims live in deserts (and cities, of course) so the announcement that the above had been buried at sea was startling to one of my limited intelligence. "Where did they find some sea?"

Then I read that he had been given a proper religious send-off. From the deck of an American ship, no less. I went posthaste to trust Google and gleaned the following which only address burying males, by the way.

Martyrs are buried in the clothing they died in. All others are bathed, wrapped in shrouds and buried naked.

The body is washed with soap and water an odd number of times -- three or five or seven. The last wash may use scented water.

The body being washed (only by other males) is covered in an "aura," a specific piece of cloth which runs from the belly button to the knees. The procedure is: the washer wraps his hand in a clean cloth and cleans the body of any impurities and discards the cloth. He gently presses on the abdomen to expel any food or air.

The washer starts with the head first, then the right upper body, then the left upper body; then the right lower body and finally the left lower body, disposing of each cloth in turn. The body is dried with a clean towel and placed on top of three white sheets measuring seven ft. by seven ft. each.

If possible, the left hand is placed on the chest and the right hand over the left, in a praying position. The edge of the top sheet is folded over the right side of the body and then the left, going down until all three sheets have been used. The four tie ropes -- each seven ft. long -- are tied above the head, under the feet with two around the body itself.

Tombstones or grave markers are both discouraged. Burial, as there is no embalming, is done as quickly as is feasible. So burial at sea was appropriate in this case.

However, there are quibbles being made about the fact that a sea burial is only appropriate if the person died while aboard a ship or boat.

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