Friday, April 3, 2009

Disgusted and disturbed

Came across this very disturbing video today:

Here is a verse straight from the Quran:

024.002 The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

The lashes being meted out, no compassion in the hearts and faces of people, and the momineen standing around watching: looks like a scene straight from the Quran!

Now, the woman wasn’t accused of rape, so these verses don’t exactly apply to her, but we know how easy it is to twist and turn such verses and use them for your own version of justice. EVEN IF she had committed adultery, how many of you would be OKAY with such a punishment? I know for the life of me that I wouldn’t. I am repulsed to my very core with this barbarism.

I realize that most muslims are decent people, but it is important to realize that Islam (like Christianity and Judaism) isn’t a decent religion. It contains humanistic teachings but sprinkled with such utter barbarism. Lets not cherry pick verses from our religion and stop pretending that such barbarism is totally unwarranted according to Islamic teachings.

People are repulsed by the tactics of the Taliban, but as I said here, the Taliban might very well be following the true literal word of the Quran but most people might not be able to see it because they are blinded by their own moderation. It can be very hard to accept this other gory and ugly part of religion when you consider your religion to be the eternal source of peace, joy and happiness. For once, lets try to see religion as it really is and try to grow out of our infatuation with it.


  1. Practices based on literal interpretations of scripture can't simply be related to the criticism of that very religion. If one wants to do so, with political gains waiting if he succeeds, he may even go with a personalized interpretation of any God-damn book in this world.
    If those are the illiterates having no knowledge of Islam and Quran, then those marvelling at comparing them with the 'orignal' and 'true' face of Islam are no different. Let's dont descend to their level in the process of criticizing their horrendous crimes.

  2. I sympathize with your position, but I'm not sure that the Taliban's interpretation is truer than that of liberal Muslims. Tariq Ramadan, for example, seems to think his interpretation is true to the religion.

  3. Everyone seems to think that his interpretation is truer. And I do agree that it might be possible to find verses that might be against such barbaric practices in spirit.

    But that doesn't detract from the fact that the Quran DOES contain those verses. I used to read them without giving them any thought. Only when I saw those verses reflected in the above video did it give me a long, disturbing pause.

    I realize that the "social reality" of Islam is very different from the Taliban's Islam, but you will be on a very slippery slope if you claim that those practices are un-Islamic, particularly when those verses are staring you right in your eyes.

    And finally, I find it really amusing as to how people are always arguing against a literal interpretation of the book. Why? I don't see such vehement insistence on a non-literal interpretation for any other book. Isn't it better to be honest to ourselves and stop trying to save our religion from itself, at least at a personal individual level?

  4. Democracy: The government of the people, by the people, for the people.
    How'd you react if some utterly idiotic moron acted upon it by starting a killing spree against animals for the government, the democracy is 'for the people.' In this case, the dude is 'just' neglecting all relevant literature and considering the very literal meaning of the definition of democracy.
    Similar attitude towards understanding a far larger ideology with far, far great implications can be disastrous to what extent? You may well
    Btw an update:

  5. Your analogy isn't appropriate at all.

    The leap from the definition of democracy to what you described the person as doing is a big one. There is a lot of room for negotiated understanding.

    The leap from the Quranic verse and the actions shown in the video is NOT a big one. The Quran talks about a very specific punishment for the crime. In fact, luckily, she wasn't charged with adultery but if she had actually been charged for it, there would have been a total of 100 freaking lashes if the Quran were followed!

    And yes, I did read the article you linked to this morning. I also allude to the fact that she wasn't charged with adultery in my post and that the punishment in this case might be unwarranted. But the point is that the Quran does prescribe a very similar (no, rather harsher) punishment in the case of adultery. That is just plain barbaric, period.

  6. Desiskeptic is 100% right.

    Muslims have to stop seeing the Quran as the eternal and final word of God. It clearly contains verses that reflect the barbaric practices of a premodern age. Nobody can be flogged or stoned today.

    Europe is now moving toward banning capital punishment altogether, even for the worst of crimes, and here the Muslim world insists on sticking to these medieval punishments!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Here is a post I just did on some of the behavior of Prophet Muhammad being inapplicable in today's day and age:

    Would love your feedback on this.

  9. I wonder what the observer said that got his/her post removed.

  10. I don't know myself :-). Apparently observer deleted it himself.

  11. Firstly, that was the argument cited to re-assert the point that literal meaning of any text can be, and most of the times is, very different from what it is actually meant to be, in the greater sense.
    Next, the Islamic laws in Quran. I hope you guys have read the famous incident where Umar bin Khattab, the second rightly guided caliph, didn't accord punishment of theft according to that specifically defined by Quran. I believe that forms the basis for the dynamism of Islamic law. Laws may be applied as per the circumstances prevalent but the spirit, the ends that are to be achieved within a society, are to stay constant. That's my understanding of Islamic law.
    "On the other side of the "reform" spectrum, a drastically different course towards instigating change is being charted by "internal" reformers, those that seek to reform Islam by grounding their arguments within Islamic tradition itself. In an effort focussed precisely towards mobilising Muslims for change, Tariq Ramadan, author of Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, issued an "International call for moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic world". To the Western reader, there seems little to distinguish the rhetoric used by Ramadan other than the obvious fact that the latter's call is grounded in sophisticated academic argument that would be expected from a seasoned scholar. From the Muslim perspective, however, each argument formulated by Ramadan is an exercise in situating the argument for change solidly within Islamic doctrine. While denouncing the barbarity of the Hudud punishments of stoning and stoning to death, Ramadan laments not their inherent barbarity but the fact that there is no theological consensus within Islam on when such punishments may be justly applied. In an effort to ground his argument in doctrinal legitimacy he draws from precedent in which Omar Ibn Khattab, the third Caliph of Islam, suspended the cutting of hands as a punishment for theft during famine. The argument used by Omar, and now by Ramadan, is that the conditions for the just application of the punishment simply do not exist. He adds also that the majority of Ulema say "these penalties are on the whole Islamic but that the conditions under which they should be implemented are nearly impossible to re-establish". Ramadan, therefore, navigates the tumultuous seas of advocating change by harnessing his ship to the edifice of faith. His argument is based not on a personal/political experience of suffering at the hands of archaic laws and customs but pivoted on using historical examples from within Islam to effectuate change. "
    I happen to come across this while getting the exact narration of the incident I mentioned above. The excerpt may make a good read.

  12. I missed the para-spacing x.x

  13. I have heard the incident of Umar bin Khattab, and I do hope that the reformist movement advocated by Tariq Ramadan is successful.

    At a personal level, I find the punishment to be barbaric, irrespective of whether the conditions for it to be implemented exist or not. I suspect that most people in this day and age have similar feelings but they look for rationalizations and conditions which allow them to reconcile their faith with this barbarism.

    I am not an Islamic scholar, but I have a feeling that it shouldn't be terribly hard for some determined scholar to justify such punishments even without the existence of an ideal Islamic society. The fact that its written in the Quran is enough to give him some sort of legitimacy.

    Having said all that, I really do hope that the Islamic community moves away from such practices just as Christians have moved away from the barbarism advocated for in the Bible. I wish Tariq Ramadan and others like him all the success.

    For me, I have become tired of doing all the mental gymnastics required to reconcile my sanity and decency with my faith and abandoning the faith altogether is a much simpler option. God should have been smart enough to know how society will progress and how people will loathe such punishments in the 21st century and he should have come up with something more practical.

  14. Lol, good points.

    That's pretty much why I left Islam.

  15. A year since those last comments by me - and I agree with you.