Selective body exhuming in Iraq

A bone of contention between the US military and the families of those killed in the Haditha incident has been the exhumation of the bodies of those killed for autopsy purposes. It’s been reported that under Islamic law, exhumation is prohibited.

What’s not widely been reported is that there have been exceptions to this Islamic “rule” where some families have given permission for the US to exhume the bodies of some Iraqi’s in past instances of alleged deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians. Not only that, but an edict from a senior Islamic cleric would allow it to proceed. Via San Diego’s North County Times:

After the killings, Haditha lawyer Khaled Salem Rasayef said he lost several relatives in the alleged massacre.

In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, Rasayef said he and his family and other victims’ families have refused requests to exhume the bodies for autopsies.

“No way we can ever agree to that,” Rasayef said.

Under Islamic teaching, exhuming bodies is generally prohibited. It is allowed on a case-by-case basis, sometimes after a fatwa, or edict, from a senior cleric allowing it to proceed.

However, investigators were able to obtain family permission for exhumation of the victim’s body in an April 26 case involving another group of Camp Pendleton Marines.

Early this month, the body of the Iraqi man allegedly kidnapped from his home and killed was exhumed and taken to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for a forensic examination and autopsy.

The Al site has this posted on the rule about exhumation:

650. Digging up the grave is allowed in the following cases:

* When the dead body has been buried in an usurped land and the owner of the land is not willing to let it remain there.
* When the Kafan of the dead body or any other thing buried with it had been usurped and the owner of the thing in question is not willing to let it remain in the grave. Similarly, if anything belonging to the heirs has been buried along with the deceased and the heirs are not willing to let it remain in the grave. However, if the dead person had made a will that a certain supplication or the holy Qur’an or a ring be buried along with his dead body, and if that will is valid, then the grave cannot be opened up to bring those articles out. There are certain situations when the exhuming is not permitted even if the land, the Kafan or the articles buried with the corpse are Ghasbi. But there is no room for details here.
* When opening the grave does not amount to disrespect of the dead person, and it transpires that he was buried without Ghusl or Kafan, or the Ghusl was void, or he was not given Kafan according to religious rules, or was not laid in the grave facing the Qibla.
* When it is necessary to inspect the body of the dead person to establish a right which is more important than exhumation.
* When the dead body of a Muslim has been buried at a place which is against sanctity, like, when it has been buried in the graveyard of non-Muslim or at a place of garbage.
* When the grave is opened up for a legal purpose which is more important than exhumation. For example, when it is proposed to take out a living child from the womb of a buried woman.
* When it is feared that a wild beast would tear up the corpse or it will be carried away by flood or exhumed by the enemy.
* When the deceased has willed that his body be transferred to sacred places before burial, and if it was intentionally or forgetfully buried elsewhere, then the body can be exhumed, provided that doing so does not result in any disrespect to the deceased.

If the families of those killed in Haditha that November day want a thorough investigation, then why won’t they seek out a cleric and have him issue an edict allowing the bodies of their loved ones exhumed so a full investigation can go forward?

Hat tip: Sweetness and Light


Comments are closed.