Monday, 19 January 2004

Men's Entertainment: Freedom of Expression, or Humiliating Objectification of Women?

Freedom of Expression:
I am expressing my desire to be free from men staring lewdly at my body and the bodies of my sisters as some form of entertainment, as if we were objects and not humans.

You People Know NOTHING about MY Religion!

This is an excerpt from feedback which was submitted to All Things Considered's email:

You have allowed for your guest on All Things Considered, Yitzhak Nakash, to promote the false legend that Shia clerics such as Sistani are comparable to the Pope, as did the BBC when they also propogated the same simplistic misinformation. In Catholicism, the Pope is one person. In Shia Islam, there are several clerics who hold the rank of marj`a - scholars who are qualified to deliver fatwas. In Catholicism, the Pope is considered to be infallible according to Church teachings. In Shia Islam, only Prophets and Imams are considered infallible. The differences go on and on. To compare a Shia cleric to the Pope is to compare an orange to a coconut. Such a comparison serves naught except to confuse the masses, who are already confused enough by Bush and his antics.

Friday, 16 January 2004

Secularists Pretending to Be Islamic Jurists

(Note: While I have kept the original date on this post, it is heavily redacted from the original in order to better reflect my withdrawal from apologetics.)

I am so upset about the many accusations that Islam stands against women's rights.

A blog writer assumes that if Islamic Law is instituted, he would be able to marry four wives, dump one whenever he wanted, and marry an 11-year-old virgin. In every single one of these assumptions, he has ignored the very thing that he has attacking - Islamic Law.

He could indeed have four wives. This is likely the most unpopular provision in Islamic law. Many aspects of Islamic family law with regard to polygamy are troublesome, especially the fact that, unless a woman has inserted a protective clause in her marriage contract, a man can marry another wife without consulting her or asking her permission. Polygamy is also abused extensively.

Technically, a man is required to provide for every single one of his wives equally. He is also not allowed to live at a level that is in any way above theirs. In addition, each of the wives has the right to request her own house. Some men do this. Too many don't. Of course, having your own house doesn't ease the pain of being stuck in a marriage to a man who has legally shacked up with another women without saying a word to you.

It is, however, expensive. The expenses don't stop with housing, either. The man also needs to be prepared to pay his wives for doing housework, since in Islamic law a wife cannot be compelled to do the household chores. Children would add to his financial woes. Not only is he fully responsible for providing for children, he could also pay out more money to his wives for nursing babies.

Again, however, no amount of money can make up for the emotional pain of dishonesty and the fact that one's husband chose not to keep his zipper zipped.

Men cannot necessarily always divorce whenever they want. Some schools of thought do allow for this. However, not all accommodate men's whims so easily. Under Shia Islam in particular, Islamic law is set up so strictly that a man would practically have to get the permission of his society in order to get a divorce. He needs to watch the timing: he cannot divorce a wife if it is the wrong time of the month. He has to declare the statement properly or have a shaykh declare it for him. There are many shaykhs who are willing to sign off on any divorce for any reason. However, not all are like that. There are a number of them who require a real reason. It would be necessary, then, to know where to go for your insta-divorce. In addition to all of that, he needs to acquire three reliable witnesses who would consent to sitting as witness for his statements of divorce. Again, not everyone is amenable to facilitating an insta-divorce.

Eleven-year-old virgins require their fathers' permission to get married, according to Islamic law. While we do have far too many unscrupulous men who see their daughters as sources of gold (or camels, or cattle, or sheep), they are difficult to find in Western society. And today's boys should be forewarned: it is a growing custom to teach schoolchildren karate. Your "wife" could divest you of your testicles. Come to think of it, I would help her.

ADDENDUM Sunday 12 January 2014:
Islamic laws regarding marriage were established at a time when society wasn't required to care for orphans and single women. In fact, in today's world with corrupt or collapsing governments and entrenched misogynistic patriarchy, the societal default is still that women rely on men for their maintenance. We might not find favour in that, but I think that it is necessary to acknowledge such conditions. Islamic law was developed to address this societal baseline. In many cases, it was also intended to be adaptive. See, for example, the (almost unwilling) admissions of the flexibility of Islamic jurisprudence to allow for circumstances which arise, particularly in the modern West, in A New Perspective: Women in Islam. Sayyid Qazwini upholds a traditionalist view of Islamic jurisprudence while often pointing out how it can be adapted to accommodate various situations. In addition, a somewhat recent method of interpreting and applying Islamic source texts towards jurisprudence has emerged in which one understands Islam as paving the way for reform: a "moral tragectory." It is referenced briefly in Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration as a way of understanding Islam's intent to be the eventual abolition of polygamy. The moral trajectory theory is also explained by Dr Adis Duderija in his "A Case Study of Patriarchy and Slavery" (summarised here).

Regardless of which perspective one uses when viewing these issues, the fact is that Islam was revealed and developed in order to protect vulnerable people. Its intent was not to take advantage of and abuse them.

Thursday, 15 January 2004

We Want Democracy. NOW!

The anti-occupationists, the pacifists, the anti-war crew, the Palestinians, Iraqis, Chechens, Kashmiris - they don't want the return of any regime at all. We don't think that we should be forced to choose between evil and worse evil. Given a choice between Bush and Saddam, there are people who would choose death. Both are illegal - one broke 16 UN resolutions, and the other violated the UN charter. And then Israel has violated at least 72, and still has an illegal stockpile of 200-400 nukes. The world community of pacifists does not see the difference between an Arabic-speaking tyrant and a Hebrew-speaking one or an English-speaking one. We want all of them gone, and real elections where every vote is counted (unlike 2000, where about 175,000 were not counted or were refused access to vote in the first place). One of the reasons that the literacy rate in Iraq dropped from 85% before the 1991 invasion to 58% today is because the sanctions prevented decent health care, shut down the economy needed to run schools and universities, and cast the infrastructure into ruin. Constant bombing ofIraq from 1991 to today - it never really did stop - has returned Iraq to before the days of the first cities. How can I possibly say that I am proud to be an American, when I know that my country is the one that did this to a proud, ancient, Semitic people?

When tens of thousands of Iraqis go to the streets where they could very well be shot by occupation forces and demand elections, my opinion is that it is high time to listen to them. They want to elect their leader. They don't want their leader to be chosen for them by occupation forces, puppet councils, or any of the such. As a matter of fact, considering the amount of American lives that have been lost whose funerals Bush has not attended - not a single one - and whose coffins Bush refuses to allow to be filmed by the media and whose health care Bush has willfully slashed into last millenium, I would say that it is high time that the American people start showing some compassion for these men and women and demand that they be allowed to return home. And considering that tens to hundreds of millions of people all over the world took to the street to protest this invasion on the 15th of Februrary in 2003, I suggest that we Americans start listening to them - especially since hundreds of thousands of those people were Americans in cities such as NYC, San Fran, LA, Houston, Detroit...

Another thing that NEEDS to be said is that at the same time we send our men and women to die in other countries supposedly to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights, GW has been shredding the very same things every time he pushes through a Patriot Act-type bill, or a line item from Patriot Act II (he does this by having them included in budget bills)...the very freedoms for which we fought against the British in the Revolutionary War - freedom of speech, assembly, press, trial by peer and judge, attorny, humane prison conditions - we are putting them for sale to GW to do with them as he wishes. And he has been shredding them.

Saddam's regime was bad enough. I do not see the need to turn Iraq into worse than Saddam's regime, much less impose Saddam-like strictures on our Constitutional freedoms here. The Iraqis want to run their own democracy. I do, too.

Monday, 12 January 2004

Dear BBC: Stop Postulating on Shia Islam if You're not Shia!

Ayatullahs are not like the Pope. There is more than one Ayatullah; there is only one Pope. Ayatullahs shape and influence teachings on Islamic beliefs, but they do not dictate Islamic belief; the Pope dictates official Catholic belief. Ayatullahs are not considered infallible; the Pope is. Ayatullah Sistani is not the sole leading figure in Shia jurisprudence. Ayatullas Fadlullah and Khamanei are also high-ranking; and there are other majorscholars. Would you please do us all the kind favour of not consulting with people who are not Muslim, not Shia, and not a scholar of Shia Islam for information and commentary on Shia Islam! Please. I am sick of the misinformation and lies. You only further ruin your good name in the world of journalism every time you continue this irresponsible practise.

Thursday, 1 January 2004

Recovering from Western Civilisation

I think that as one ages and leaves behind his childhood in a western society, the natural capabilities, instincts, and understandings that he had as a child erode and are replaced by something much more brittle and self-destructive.