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.

1 comment:

  1. You have completely misunderstood.....
    1)"The unequal distribution of inheritance" ---actually---the Quran favors women over men!!!!(You have to read the whole of the Quran to understand this) For example---Women who earn money---have no financial obligations for their families---all money they earn is for their personal use---unless they voluntarily use it for family----Upon marriage, women are given mahr---a type of social security net in case of divorce...etc which is their persoanl property. In the Quran, Men are given the duty of being financially responsible for their families---in order to make this possible----the inheritance structure gives men a slight advantage in some instances. Because God does not place a responsibility without also giving the means of accomplishing it. The reason that men have been given the financial responsibilty in the first place is because in Islam---Men and Women are EQUAL----and as the Quran explains---women have been given the (biological) responsibility of bearing children---therefore to balance this God-given responsibility, the Quran asks that men be financially responsible for their families---in this way balancing the responsibilities that men and women have.
    2)Slavery was not immedeatly abolished--rather it was abolished over a period of time because to do so immedeatly would have created social problems.(like unemployment, poverty....) Particulary for women slaves. Thus the Quran encourages that women slaves are freed through marriage---giving them (and their children)security and protection.
    3)Corporeal punishment---was NEVER practiced by the Prophet(pbuh)---that is not how he understood the verse----it was a later interpretation (the arabic word "daraba" has several meanings)

    AIDS--is a medical problem---I don't see any religious reason why anyone should not help someone who is sick
    Homosexuality---is a very tricky issue---and Muslims need a way forward on this issue. At the moment Iran encourages gender change operations...but I would prefer a more comprehensive overhaul based on compassion and mercy.