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Reason Seven to burn a Qur’an

September 7, 2010 1 comment

Back to Florida and Reason Seven to burn a Qur'an on 11-SEP-2010.

"Islam is not compatible with democracy and human rights."

Is not the pot calling the kettle black here?

I don't think of major Christian rulers such as Charlemagne or Richard Coeur de Lion or Charles V or Henry VIII as particularly fond of democracy or dissent. Nor do the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition or the Thirty Years' War or Russian Pogroms seem overtly concerned with human rights. Frankly, the Christian Right in this country is pretty selective about who deserves human rights (not gays, not immigrants, not non-Christians).

Regarding Democracy specifically, after Muhammad died, four men were elected by their peers to take the position of Commander of the Faithful in a process that is little different from loya jirgas in Afghanistan to the smoke-filled rooms of American party politics that nominated decades of presidential candidates before the modern era, including dark horse unknowns such as Warren Harding and James K. Polk. Islam started in democray, though the practice ended with the fifth caliph, Mu'awiya, who turned the caliphate into a hereditary rulership. Just like every Christian nation for over a millenia.

In the modern period…

When Muslims talk about "justice" (and this is a critical code word), they are demanding what we term human rights. Freedom from police oppression. Freedom to travel. Freedom to choose. And "justice" is a deeply Qur'anic principle. The governments in the Muslim world are not particularly Just.

Likewise, what former European colony did end up as a healthy, thriving democracy, no matter the religion, after colonial powers were pushed out. India? Costa Rica? That's basically it. We didn't leave much democracy in Africa. Or Asia. Or the Middle East. We left Kings. Dictators. Oh there were Parliaments, but they didn't last long. Colonial rule required creating countries with deep ethnic divides. Parliaments don't last when the divisions are ethnic, not political. Democray only thrived when the country came to it on its own. Like most of South America.

"The notion of a moral individual capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for them does not exist in Islam."

Sura 103: The Epoch
The human is always at a loss
Except those who keep the faith
    who work justice
    who counsel one another to truth
    and counsel one another to patience.

I'm seeing free will. I'm seeing responsible action. Is it just me?

"The attitude towards women in Islam as inferior possessions of men has led to countless cases of mistreatment and abuse for which Moslem men receive little or no punishment, and in many cases are encouraged to commit such acts, and are even praised for them. This is a direct fruit of the teachings of the Koran." 

Yeah, it's not a direct fruit of the teachings of the Qur'an. The early suras aren't particularly concerned with gender issues. But just a taste: the burqa/niqab/veil? It's cultural and completely external in origin from Islam. I'll get into this much, much later. It's a Christian tradition adopted by early Muslim nobles.

I'm not saying the Muslim world is particularly strong on women's rights.

I'm saying the Islam preached by Muhammad–a man who accepted a woman's offer of marriage (not the other way around), a man whose early wealth came from his (older) wife Khadija, a man who mourned for years over her death, a man who considered Khadija his closest confidant and advisor–is not a religion that would uphold the views held by some stone-age men who claim to be Muslims.

And I'm also saying the Christianity doesn't have such a hot record here either.

At-Takvir: Hints of feminism (for the age)

August 1, 2010 Leave a comment

This sura is mainly painting a picture of the Day of Judgment, and a confirmation that Muhammad is the Messenger of God. But it also represents the first inkling of the fact that Muhammad, for his day and age, was a radical feminist.

Seriously. He was. For his day and age. I mean, from Paris to Rome to Constantinople, women weren't much more than property in 600 CE. Say whatever you want about Islam and women as it is practiced today, it doesn't jibe with how Muhammad perceived women, or at least, how I was taught that Muhammad perceived women. He was surrounded by wives and daughters for most of his life, and he liked it that way. Today's burqas and honor killings and all that horrible shit just don't jibe with how he must have viewed Khadija, his boss then wife and closest advisor. He didn't follow the tradition of the day and take another wife until after Khadija passed away (she was older than he), and then he did so for political purposes. Now, Muhammad would recognize the full body coverings that women wear today in Saudi Arabia and Iran and Afghanistan, but he would have thought they were Christian noblewoman doomed to live a cloistered, demeaned existence, and not appropriate for the strong-willed women surrounding him, such as 'Aisha, one of his wives after Khadija passed away (more on that when I get to the sura talking about the veil).

Anyway, here's a reference to one of the common and accepted practices of pre-Islamic Arabia (and good chunks of the rest of the world as well) that Muhammad (and thus God) wanted to put an end to:

And the little girl, buried alive, is asked [on the Day of Judgment]
For what crime she was put do death;

If you had too many daughters, you murdered them by burying them alive in the desert. This sura suggests that on the Day of Judgment, parents who murdered their daughters simply because they had too many children would be punished severely.

There's a heart-breaking hadith referenced in the footnotes to the Ali Unal translation:

After God's Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, had declared his Messengership, a Companion told him what he had done with his daughter:

O Messenger of God, I had a daughter. One day I told her mother to dress her, for I was taking her to her uncle. My poor wife knew what this meant, but could do nothing but obey and weep. She dressed the girl, who was very happy that she was going to her uncle. I took her near a well, and told her to look down into it. While she was looking into the well, I kicked her into it. While she was rolling down, she was shouting "Daddy, Daddy!"

As [the Companion] was recounting this, [Muhammad], upon him be peace and blessings, sobbed (as if he had lost one of his nearest kinsfolk).

OK, I didn't mean to spend so much time on Muhammad and women, but it's hard to even think about this practice without getting absolutely furious. And it's hard to understand how Muslim theologians can simply brush under the rug the clear intent of Muhammad (and thus God), and treat females far worse than how the pre-Islamic infidel Quraysh would have treated them.

I'll cover the rest in another post.