Sunday, December 12, 2010

Muhammad and Genital Mutilation

I followed up a link to what was called an "excellent balanced article regarding Islam" by a poster on beliefnet. I'm not going to include the link on this papge, because only a person who hates and fears Islam would consider this article balanced. It is full of highly insulting and inflammatory comments about Islam and Muslims, treating both as a scourge that threatens to engulf all of Western Civilization. Most importantly, none of these comments are backed up by footnotes, and I am certain that at least one of them is completely fabricated:an alleged Hadith in which Muhammad praises genital mutilation. The Arabs of Muhammad's time and place did not practice genital mutilation, so Muhammad would have had no reason to praise that practice, if he had heard of it at all. This is an African practice, and is done only by Sub-Saharan Africans and some Arabs who live in Africa. i.e. Egypt. The fact that this article contains such an obvious falsehood gives good reason for dismissing the rest of its alleged facts.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Muhammad the Reformer

A New York Times Article describes how Iran has instituted Needle exchange and Methadone programs to help combat AIDs and drug abuse. How does a doctrinaire theocracy manage to overcome the moralistic objections that have made it so hard to start these programs in the West? Here's one quote of interest.

No matter what the regime, Iran’s medical schools have emphasized real science. “When I look at other countries I see lots of power interference from religion in public health,” said Bijan Nassirimanesh, a harm-reduction pioneer in Iran and founder of Persepolis, a drop-in harm reduction center in Tehran. “You don’t see that in Iran except for sex education. The foundation (of science) was so strong that it became a shield.”

In the "enlightened" USA there is not a single Republican Congressman that accepts the science of global warming. Apparently the foundation for science isn't as strong here.

Another quote confirms something I have definitely noticed in my own studies of Islam.

There is a rule in Islam that between bad and worse, you have to accept bad.

This is a principle that runs through all of Muhammad's teachings. Muhammad knew he couldn't get full equality for women. Consequently, he settled for giving women partial rights, while affirming that the rest of the patriarchal system should remain in place, to placate his male patriarchal followers. The unequal distribution of inheritance replaced a system in which women not only couldn't inherit at all, but were often inherited as property themselves. The passage in the Koran on corporal punishment for wives lists a series of things that men must do before they are permitted to use corporal punishment. (And according to some translators, doesn't mention physical force at all). Muhammad did not abolish slavery, but instituted reforms that permitted slaves to sue their masters in court if they were mistreated.

Sadly, many contemporary "conservative" Muslims are insisting that Muhammad's first steps towards reform be frozen in place, and have thus portrayed this great reformer into a reactionary.