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Bin Laden's theology a radical break with traditional Islam
May 4th, 2011
03:00 AM ET

Bin Laden's theology a radical break with traditional Islam

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Osama bin Laden wore the mantle of a religious leader. He looked the part and talked a good game, but his theology was a radical departure from traditional orthodox Islam.

The pitch to join al Qaeda did not start with an invitation to put on a suicide vest but, like other religious splinter groups and cults, took advantage of disenfranchisement and poverty.

Bin Laden had no official religious training but developed his own theology of Islam.

"We don't know that (bin Laden) was ever exposed to orthodox Islamic teachings," said Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of religion and Islamic studies at Duke University.

The writing of ideologues in the Muslim Brotherhood influenced bin Laden heavily, Moosa said.

"He takes scriptural imperatives at their face value and believes this is the only instruction and command God has given him - unmediated by history, unmediated by understanding, unmediated by human experience. Now that's a difference between Muslim orthodoxy and what I would call uber- or hyperscripturalists," Moosa said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Egypt • Islam • Islamic law • Leaders • Middle East • Osama bin Laden • Quran • Sharia • Terrorism • Violence

My Take: Why partying over bin Laden's death made me cringe
People celebrate the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden at the White House.
May 3rd, 2011
06:16 PM ET

My Take: Why partying over bin Laden's death made me cringe

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Today in my “Death and Immortality” course at Boston University we were supposed to be discussing suicide and euthanasia. Instead we spoke of the death of Osama Bin Laden, the celebrations that followed in its wake and the Facebook war that broke out later concerning the propriety of “celebrating death.”

Many of my students partied in the streets and on nearby Boston Common after President Barack Obama announced to the world that bin Laden was dead. Others found those celebrations not only inappropriate but morbid - fit for Mardi Gras, perhaps, but not for the demise of a fellow human being, however odious.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Death • Islam • Opinion • Osama bin Laden

May 3rd, 2011
04:03 PM ET

My Take: Bin Laden died long ago

Editor's Note: The Rev. David Lewicki is co-pastor of North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. He is a graduate of Yale University and Union Theological Seminary and was ordained in 2005 by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

By the Rev. David Lewicki, Special to CNN

On Sunday night I watched the news as it crescendoed around the president’s speech declaring the death of Osama bin Laden. The talking heads worked capably with what few details they had. On the split screen, familiar spliced video footage replayed what little most of us know — or care to know — about bin Laden: wearing a turban, sitting drinking tea, a long salt and pepper beard, speaking to friends, crouching holding a machine gun, skyscrapers smoking.

Twitter gave a way to take the public temperature. Some passed information without editorial: “Bin Laden is dead!” Others tried to score political points: “took O 2 years to do what B couldn’t do in 7,” or “THAT’S a ‘mission accomplished.’” Reports said impromptu crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero exuberantly chanting “USA! USA!,” singing our anthem. Others retorted that they would not celebrate any person’s death, no matter who it was. Still others retrieved unsettling data about what it has cost us to find and kill bin Laden, in dollars and human lives.

Finally, from those with an intimate connection to the innocents of 9/11, there were tweets about tears. Tears of relief? Tears because the news dragged them back to the still-tender memories of a decade ago? Yes and yes. I was a first-year theology student in New York City on that day in 2001; I know the tears.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Christianity • Death • Islam • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Presbyterian

May 3rd, 2011
11:54 AM ET

My Take: Sea burial says bin Laden not a martyr

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Shortly after we learned of the death of Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said his body would be treated in accordance with Islamic traditions. What those officials did not say is that there are two Islamic burial traditions: one for ordinary Muslims and another for martyrs.

For ordinary Muslims, the body is washed and then wrapped in a plain white shroud for burial. For martyrs, however, the body is not washed and it is buried in the clothes the martyr was wearing when he died. This is because a martyr’s blood is a badge of honor — proof positive that he died in service of Islam.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Death • Islam • Islamic law • Islamic law • Muslim • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Sacred Spaces • Sharia

Peruvian president calls bin Laden killing miracle from Pope John Paul II
Peruvian President Alan Garcia in Colombia in March 2011
May 2nd, 2011
06:39 PM ET

Peruvian president calls bin Laden killing miracle from Pope John Paul II

(CNN) - While many world leaders praised the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden, the president of Peru went a step further on Monday, calling the development the first miracle of Pope John Paul II since he was beatified last weekend.

“I have said that his first miracle has been to remove from the Earth this demonic incarnation of crime, evil and hatred,” Peruvian president Alan Garcia said, according to CNN affiliate America TV in Peru.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Americas • Catholic Church • Osama bin Laden • Peru • Pope John Paul II

May 2nd, 2011
06:31 PM ET

Administration clarifies bin Laden's sea burial

(CNN) - Many Muslims around the world expressed confusion Monday after a senior U.S. official - without elaboration -– said that Osama bin Laden’s body had been buried at sea “in accordance with Islamic practice and tradition.”

“That made me curious, because there is no such tradition that requires a man who dies on land to be taken out and buried to the sea,” said Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic Studies at American University.

It is common for a Muslim who dies at sea to be buried at sea because one of the main fundamentals of Islamic burials is that the body must be buried within 24 hours before it starts to decompose, Ahmed said. If a land burial isn’t realistic within that timeframe, a sea burial must take place.

But he had never heard of someone dying on land and being buried at sea.

Later Monday, one of President Obama’s key advisers clarified the administration’s decision, saying that even though bin Laden died on land, there was no land to bury him on.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Death • Islam • Islamic law • Muslim • Osama bin Laden • Sharia

Muslim world had soured on bin Laden since 9/11
Afghans watch television coverage announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden at an electronics store in Kabul, Afghanistan.
May 2nd, 2011
04:59 PM ET

Muslim world had soured on bin Laden since 9/11

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Though large swaths of the Muslim world cheered Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there has been relatively little sympathy expressed for him from those quarters since his killing Sunday - a testament to the dramatic falloff in global Muslim support for the al Qaeda leader in the last decade.

While the spontaneous street celebrations that broke out in American cities like New York and Washington over the news of bin Laden’s killing by U.S. Special Forces have not been repeated in the Muslim world, there has been praise for his death from some Muslim political leaders.

In Yemen, which has been racked by unrest in recent months as hundreds of thousands have demanded the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, bin Laden’s killing has yielded a rare moment of political unity, with both Saleh’s government and the opposition praising the development.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism

May 2nd, 2011
04:48 PM ET

My Take: Burial at sea shows compassion of Islamic law

Editor's note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school's Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

I was sitting in a KFC in Brooklyn on Sunday night (halal for those who are worried) with two of my students when my phone started to buzz like crazy as friends, colleagues and family let me know that Osama bin Laden was dead.

As we drove back to Manhattan, President Obama began his address and we watched it on an iPhone and played the audio from 1010 WINS-AM radio.

The students then went to their dorm, and I drove around Manhattan. I found groups gathering here and there, including a larger one in Times Square, but I made sure to make downtown my final destination. I knew I would find something there that my eyes had wanted to see for a long time.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Death • Islam • Islamic law • Muslim • Osama bin Laden • Sharia

Is it morally right to celebrate bin Laden's death?
Thousands celebrated at Times Square in New York City early Monday after Osama bin Laden's death was announced.
May 2nd, 2011
04:11 PM ET

Is it morally right to celebrate bin Laden's death?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Festive crowds gathered to cheer his assassination.

One newspaper headline eulogy read, “Rot in Hell.” Televised chants echoed:
“U.S.A.! U.S.A!”

Americans spilled into the streets for spontaneous celebrations after news spread that Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, had been assassinated.

Yet another reaction took place in more sober moments as people of faith watched the giddy celebrations with a tangled mix of emotions.

Is it morally wrong to celebrate the assassination of bin Laden in such a festive, patriotic way?

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 9/11 • Christianity • Death • Islam • Judaism • Muslim • New York • Osama bin Laden

May 2nd, 2011
12:44 PM ET

U.S. Muslims hope bin Laden death will ease pressure

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Asma Hasan, an American Muslim lawyer in Denver, was having dinner with her family when they heard that Osama bin Laden was dead.

Within moments, her phone buzzed.

"A Muslim relative of mine texted and said, 'This is great news, what a relief.' It wasn't celebratory, but 'wow,'" she explained.

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Muslim • Osama bin Laden

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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