Friday, December 7, 2007

Man's Laws, Not God's

From a Times op-ed today that everyone should read:
If moderate Muslims believe there should be no compassion shown to the girl from Qatif, then what exactly makes them so moderate? When a “moderate” Muslim’s sense of compassion and conscience collides with matters prescribed by Allah, he should choose compassion. Unless that happens much more widely, a moderate Islam will remain wishful thinking.
This is Ayaan Hirsi Ali writing. If you don't know who this remarkable woman is, here's a little background.

Listen, we've all been there, as I said in the Chanukah post below. The Torah decrees that witches, adulterers, and non-observers of the Sabbath should be stoned to death. Christians hanged and burned suspected witches. We've all been through our historical phases of Justice By Ordeal. But the West has put (most of) that behind us...because of science, and reason, and the application of rational, scientific thought to our everyday concerns (yes, exactly the kinds of things our evangelical, fundamentalist whackos would like us to abandon--thanks a lot, guys).

And here's something getting little press or discussion: modern democracy did not happen and could have happened without that application of rational and scientific thought to our everyday concerns. Only when we stopped "taking things on faith" -- things like the divine right of kings -- did we start developing things like modern ideas of equal justice before law, trial by evidence, and representative democracy.

So I certainly applaud Ali for asking for compassion. Clearly it's in short supply. But compassion is a feeling, and real justice is not built on feelings. It is built on rational thought.

Why are we trying to ram elections down the throats of the Muslim world, when what they really need is Scientific Englightment -- an Age of Reason? Without that, and until that happens, nothing else is possible.

And don't tell me it's a pipe dream or an impossibility, or that Islam simply will not allow it. That's nonsense. This is the same religion and the same culture that allowed for and cultivated the invention of Algebra, and that kept the flame of Greek and Roman learning alive after the fall of Rome--and added substantially to it. Without the scientific and intellectual work done by the Arab world in that period, the Renaissance in Europe never would have happened.

Doesn't one good renaissance deserve another? Isn't it time to return the favor?

1 comment:

Tim said...

Certainly, Ms. Ali has failed to hear the voices of thousands of Muslims and Muslim organizations who wrote letters asking for Gillian's release. See a sample letter written right after the incident:

Why don’t we hear about these efforts more broadly? Because it doesn’t help with the current campaign of fear of and hostility towards Muslims. Read more about Islamophobia here:

By the way, what was the faith of the Omaha shopping mall shooter? I know it is irrelevant, but for sure we would heard about it if he was a Muslim!