Why I do not rejoice at the Death of Osama Bin Laden

For me the name ‘Osama Bin Laden’ is synonymous with horrific terrorism and an ideology which I fail to understand, but to be honest my first reaction on hearing of his death early last week was one of dismay. I immediately thought… ‘another soul for whom Jesus died has gone out into eternity…’ and… ‘I hope that there are no reprisals…’ Of course I am appalled by the September 11th atrocity (and many others) which have wiped out thousands of people, left others with horrendous injuries, including psychological disorders, and still others sentenced to a life of mourning for loved ones. Yet whenever I look at the face of Osama Bin Laden in newspapers or elsewhere, I see the face of a human being, not a caricature. I have never looked at his face with hatred because the Lord has given me a heart of love for all human beings.

Born on 10th March 1957 Osama Bin Laden, like you and me, was a little baby once who sat on his mother’s knee… but his upbringing was tragic in an extreme form of Wahabism in which it is normal to lead a polygamous life; his father had 22 wives and 54 children. Most of all, I see a man for whom the manner of his life and death could have been otherwise…

Most people remember where they were when the first news filtered through on the horrific events of September 11th 2001. I was driving along on a busy road listening to my car radio. If I had been (like Osama Bin Laden) a native of Saudi Arabia – this would have been out of the question as women are not permitted to drive there. I would have been anonymous, veiled, my marriage arranged and my life ordered by others in this patriarchal society.

Another feature of Wahabism, I discovered in a book in recent years by Osama’s ex-sister-in-law, who described an incident in which Osama refused to let one of his wives feed her baby who was screaming with hunger. I often wonder was Osama Bin Laden ever presented with the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; that which brings freedom from sin and every heavy chain that the devil would try to burden us with in this life, including Wahabism’s strict rules for observing Ramadan?

But who can bring the gospel to Osama’s birthplace; that spiritually dark nation of Saudi Arabia? There are some who do, I believe, but to say that this is difficult is a euphemism. Officially no one is even permitted to bring a Bible within its borders and to proselytise is against the law and punishable by death. This is not a nation which Christians should go to, unless they are strongly led to do so by the Lord. But I pray (and I exhort others to pray) for those who must be undercover as they seek to spread the gospel in Saudi Arabia and other nations with a strict Islamic code. Pray for their safety and for the salvation of more and more souls with whom they come in contact – and pray that the Lord will prepare hearts and open them to hunger for the truth.

Osama Bin Laden was just one man but unfortunately the ideology which he sowed throughout the world has already taken root in minds everywhere. But no, as a Christian I cannot rejoice or celebrate the death of any human being, whatever they have been guilty of, for God exhorts us to take “no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekiel 33v11 & Ezekiel 18v23 & 32) Rather, I soberly pray for those in the frontline of spreading the gospel in lands like Saudi Arabia, for if Osama had been reached as a young boy, was there not a strong possibility that the world may have been spared such tragedy – and such a legacy as this?

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