Is he now with maidens or in copper shirt?

It may not have occurred to all those fancy-pants pundits and commentators in Washington, but it occ

It may not have occurred to all those fancy-pants pundits and commentators in Washington, but it occurred to me to inquire what will happen to the immortal soul of Osama bin Laden now that his body has been shot full of holes and dumped in the ocean.

I do not get into the question of whether this so-called burial at sea was in conformity with Islamic custom. It seems to me rather sophistic to worry about respecting the remains of someone you have just murdered. Islamic scholars consulted by The Associated Press said it was acceptable to bury a body at sea only if the person had died at sea, far from land. Otherwise the body should be turned over to family members for a prompt burial in the earth, the head pointed toward Mecca.

I couldn’t care less. Dead is dead.

But the soul, the ghost that is widely believed to inhabit the body and outlive it, that’s something else.

Was Osama bin Laden a good Muslim believer, belonging to the category of mankind that in the Quran is exalted above all others? Or was he an unbeliever and a sinner, a category that ranks down below pigs?

Everything rides on the answer.

If he was a genuine believer, he is now in the company of “maidens, eyes large and dark, like pearls in their shells, as a reward for past deeds,” per the Quran. He is reclining with others like him in the Garden of Eden, and they “shall call therein for fruits in abundance, and drink. With them,” of course, “shall be maidens chaste of glance.”

If on the other hand he was an imposter, he is now in hellfire in the company of other sinners, “fettered head and neck in chains, their shirts of copper made, their faces all scorched by fire,” also per the Quran — the copper shirts, presumably to aid in the conducting of heat, being an especially creative touch.

The company of girls with big eyes is a constant in Islamic literature when it comes to discussing the joys of paradise, but other details vary, sometimes considerably.

For example, according to one of the books of commentary that make up the Hadith, “The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers,” which is certainly an image to contemplate — Osama bin Laden, martyr, inhabiting the body of a green bird.

One of my big mistakes is undervaluing the joys of religion, maybe.

As for the politics of it, I must say I find it gratifying that the killing of bin Laden came at the direction of cool, cerebral Barack Obama rather than his cocky predecessor and his team of faux cowboys, who did nothing but bust furniture and smash bottles while pretending to be real men.

May I be allowed the uncharitable guess that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are all gnashing their teeth today, their macho posing having taken yet one more hit?

It is not noble to gloat, but I did wake up yesterday feeling pretty good that Osama bin Laden was at the bottom of the ocean and that it was President Obama who put him there.

Categories: Opinion

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