Following are excerpts from an interview with Saudi cleric Saleh Al-Maghamsi, which aired on Qatar TV (via the Internet) on March 27, 2012. Saleh Al-Maghamsi is the secretary of the Committee of Imams in Al-Madina and former Mufti of Saudi TV Channel 1.
Saleh Al-Maghamsi: People should know that Allah said: "Is one who was a believer like one who was defiantly disobedient? They are not equal." When He said: "one who was a believer," He meant every [Muslim] believer who died a monotheist, no matter their degree of belief. When He said: "one who was defiantly disobedient," He meant an infidel. It includes every infidel who died an infidel – Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, apostates, and atheists. It does not matter what kind, so long as he was not a [Muslim] monotheist. They cannot be equal in the eyes of Allah.
In practice, one should know that the Muslim has sanctity and honor in the eyes of Allah, and that the only thing that can strip a Muslim of this is heresy. This sanctity and honor cannot be bestowed upon anyone but a Muslim. We cannot bestow it upon any infidel. This has to do with our understanding of the true nature of Islam.
Take, for example, the death of Osama Bin Laden, may Allah have mercy upon him. Although most Islamic scholars are in agreement that Bin Laden's organization caused great harm to the Islamic nation, and that he is responsible for the shedding of blood, the fact that he died a Muslim gives him the sanctity and honor reserved for Muslims.