News that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was swiftly buried at sea and in "conformance with Islamic precepts and practices" left some scholars confused and many Americans skeptical. On the other hand, Southern cotton farmers saw a marvelous new possibility for boosting cotton production and sales.
When learning of Bin Laden's burial at sea aboard the USS Carl Vinson one Muslim funeral expert made a stunning observation that caught the attention of Southern cotton farmers. "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," Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic Studies at American University, said to CNN. According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who read from a narrative prepared by the Department of Defense, bin Laden's body was washed and otherwise prepared in accordance with Islamic custom. While bathing of the body is normally done with water that may be scented and is usually performed, three, five, seven or another odd number of times. Muslims may not be embalmed and must be free of foreign impurities. The body covering or shroud, not unlike the Shroud of Turin which reportedly captured the face of Jesus at his crucifixion, but which has been disproved. is usually white cotton cloth – five pieces of cloth – and is used for decency and modesty.
It was this use of cotton cloth that has U.S. Southern cotton farmers seeing dollar signs. "American men and women are often buried in cotton and polyester blends which markedly reduced our cotton sales for the funeral event. Most men's burial suits are wool blends and most women's dresses are cotton and silk blends. The simple cotton burial cloth is about the length of a human body, but requires five such clothes in the Muslim practice and this has the potential to significantly impact our cotton cloth sales. This is especially true if we could get the soon-to-be-dying Baby Boomers to convert to Islam," said Crumbley Bulwilveson of the Southern Cotton Planters Association in Mobile, Alabama.
Bulwilveson said that he was advising his association's members to consider the economic impact of their faith decisions in light of this formerly unnoticed and little appreciated funeral practice. "I'd dump stock in formaldehyde companies, buy stock in perfume companies and keep your crops in cotton before considering corn, soybeans or other crops," he concluded.
Son of a fifth generation Alabama cotton farmer, Rev. Bobby Joe Smithers of the Freewill Baptist Church of Mobile said that he is considering requiring of his congregation's members to use twelve burial clothes, one for each of Jesus' disciples, while Rabbi Joshua Cohen of the Greater Mobile Mt. Sinai Synagogue said that he was requiring his members to use ten cotton burial shrouds....one for each of the Ten Commandments. Pastor Wilbur T. Uhlenhockmeyer of Huntsville's Bible Believer's Fellowship has written his "Pastoral Letter To The True Believers" in his May 4th newsletter the BBF Messenger which reads… "God has counseled me to instruct all of our true believers that no funerals will be conducted by me or any associate pastor of our five thousand member congregation unless the deceased are buried in the blessed BBF Shroud of Faithfulness which includes 39 cotton burial clothes, one for each book of the New Testament. Praise God!"