Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Burqua again

I think the "Ban the Burqua" controversy is basically a conflict between two principles of ethics-the deontological (based on issues of justice) and the utilitarian (based on issues of happiness.) Deontological arguments of this sort are often used by people on the libertarian right--"No matter how unbalanced the distribution of wealth, the Government must never interfere with property rights". Nussbaum's NYTimes argument against Burqua bans has a similar form-- "No matter how many women are made miserable by the burqua, we must never interfere with religious freedom." Some of us use the utilitarian argument that banning the burqua could help to bring some Muslim women in greater contact with people outside their orthodox families, and thus give them more freedom of choice in the long run. This seems to be a more important fact than the abstract principle defended by Ms. Nussbaum. This issue is confused by the fact that the primary motivation for most burqua banners is Islamophobia. ( like the banning of Minarets.) Nevertheless, some people do the right thing for the wrong reason.

Utilitarian arguments do require more empirical input than justice arguments. Will the ban really give women more freedom, or just prompt their husbands and fathers to keep them permanently at home? Can this problem by more effectively dealt with by having the burqua wearers be persuaded by their hijabi and bare-headed sisters? Can the law really be written so that it doesn't ban ski masks? I'm still uncertain about the answers to these questions, but I do think these kinds of issues need to be considered, rather than only thinking about justice in the abstract. Abstract principles of justice often produce concrete examples of injustice.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This religion is easy

This religion is easy. Do not make it a rigor, or you shall be overcome. Be steadfast, seek the closeness of Allah, grow in virtue, and implore His appeasement day and night.

- Hadith The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reported by Abu Hurairah

Nothing in here about not playing music, or keeping your beard long, or stopping women from driving cars. As a political leader, sometimes Muhammad had to make a lot of ad hoc decisions about what his particular Ummah had to do at that particular time. I see no reason to believe he wanted a troop of scholars to comb through everything everyone remembered about what he said and construct a set of prohibitions that are not mentioned anywhere in the Koran

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Terrific Interview with the Builder of the so-called 9/11 Mosque. Lots of unjustified accusations against somebody (apparently him) in the comments. Read it, it needs no comment from me. Among other things, he invites Sarah Palin to visit his current mosque.

I've now decided that it is important to see this thing through. Muslims need to be patient, and take a lot of abuse,like black children attending white schools for the first time. Or like Muhammad who let a woman dump garbage on him until she finally realized he was a saint and converted to Islam. Let people see that once this center is up, it is not dangerous, and they will regret their hysteria years later.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quotes from NYtimes comment page

Here is an excerpt of a statement by H.E. Shaikh Salih bin Muhammad Al-Luheidan, Chairman of the Muslim Supreme Judicial Council on Friday, September 14, 2001, following the terrorist attacks in the United States:

". . . God Almighty says: 'And let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just, that is nearer to piety.' Inflicting a collective punishment is considered by Islam as despicable aggression and perversion. Killing innocent people is by itself a grave crime, quite apart from terrorizing and committing crimes against infants and women. Such acts do no honor to he who commits them, even if he claims to be a Muslim . . . " Sounds pretty dead- set against terrorism to me.


Visit the Cordoba house initiative and see just how scary these people are.

They believe in changing the muslim world through modern education. They believe in empowering women, women's equality.

Isn't that the key to ending the fundamentalism in Islam that is fueling the problem?

"A bit insensitive"

Suppose someone refused to serve African-Americans in their restaurant because he had once been beaten up and robbed by a gang of African-American teenagers? After all, it would be " a bit insensitive" to require him to let blacks in his restaurant after that traumatic experience he went through. Furthermore there are lots of areas of town that white people can't go into now for fear of violence. It's hardly fair to expect us to let blacks into "our" parts of town, when we can't go into "their" parts of town. And don't tell me that these teenagers were not typical blacks, that's just liberal propaganda. If you read the paper, you'll see that there are lots of black people who do things like that.

Do I need to spell this out? There is no significant difference between this example and the reaction to the Cordoba center. It's bigotry, pure and simple, to blame and discriminate against individuals because of the behavior of other individuals who happen to share their religion, skin color or ethnicity.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

the Mosque at Ground Zero

Check This Blog about the Mosque at Ground Zero, which actually isn't a Mosque, but a community center called Cordoba house, and is further away from Ground Zero than a strip club or pornography shop. Check out the comments if you have any doubts that Islamophobia is a real and present danger.

The poster "AngelElf" ought to change his or her nom de web to "DemonDwarf" considering the content of his or her message. This message complains that "Having a Muslim presence in the heart of Ground Zero is the ultimate in poor taste." The idea that someone can insult America by their mere presence is about as racist as one can get. Would DemonDwarf be equally outraged be the presence of blacks, Latinos, or Jews? DD is also worried by the fact that "Cordoba was the capital of an Islamic caliphate during the Moorish occupation of Spain." Cordoba was the capital of the most tolerant regime in the world for its time. It protected both Jews and Christians until the Muslims were thrown out by the Christians, who killed and tortured Muslims and Jews who didn't flee to the Muslim world. It's a perfect name for a Muslim center advocating tolerance.

Another poster wanted a Buddhist Temple at ground Zero, because "Buddhists have never murdered innocent citizens, American or otherwise, in the name of their religion." As a Buddhist, I'd be happy if this were true. Unfortunately, Zen Buddhist Monks and Priests trained and blessed the Japanese Kamikaze pilots in World War II, who were Buddhist suicide bombers. If you tell someone who remembers World War II that you're a Buddhist, they'll often talk about the "Bad Buddhists" who tried to destroy America. I don't feel the need to apologize for those Zen Buddhists, however, and I think it is equally unfair to say things like "Islam has too much anti-American rhetoric" when you mean "Some Muslims use too much anti-American rhetoric". Is it really so hard to understand the principle that people should only be blamed for the things they actually do?

Monday, July 5, 2010

I just found this Hadith on the Beliefnet site:

The Holy Prophet (saw) said "There will come a time upon the people when nothing will remain of Islam except its name and nothing will remain of the Quran except its inscription. Their mosques will be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance. Their divines will be the worst people under the sky; strife will issue from them and avert to them."

No Citation for it, so I'm not sure it's legit. But if it is, it is a direct contradiction to my friend Abdullah's frequent claim that "Allah does not unite the believers in an error."