Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Good-Humoured, Ill-Informed

What a funny lady

On her website, American journalist Barbara Falconer Newhall boasts over and over again about how funny she is. And indeed, she is funny - just maybe not in the way she intended.

If you happen to be looking for hilarity, you could start with her new piece at the Huffington Post, in which she asks the question: "Does Islam scare you?"

She expands the question thusly:

Does Islam scare you? Does it feel like an aggressive religion is trying to take over the world, subjugate women, persecute the LGBT community, and cut off your hand if you're caught stealing?

Well, you've got good reason to be scared -- but not of Islam. Islam is a fine old wisdom tradition with millions of kind, reasonable, neighborly adherents in the US and around the world.

It's the fundamentalist, anti-modern Wahhabi brand of Islam that is scaring you.

So actually the Wahhabis invented all of the things that non-Muslims are scared of. Really?

Does it feel like an aggressive religion is trying to take over the world? Well, the Qur'an says: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)

And Muhammad said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.” (Sahih Bukhari v.1, b.2, no.24)

Does it feel like Islam subjugates women? Well, in the Qur'an women are described as a field – “tilth” – that a man can use however he wants: “Your women are a tilth for you to cultivate so go to your tilth as ye will.” (2:223)

In an Islamic court, the legal testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man: “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witnesses, so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember.” (2:282) When Muhammad was asked about this, he explained: “This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind.” (Sahih Bukhari v.3, b.48, no.826)

A son's inheritance is twice the size of a daughter's: “Allah thus directs you as regards your children's inheritance: to the male, a portion equal to that of two females.” (4:11)

Worst of all, the Qur'an allows men to beat their disobedient wives: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge [i.e. beat] them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.” (4:34)

Does it feel like Islam persecutes the LGBT community? Well, in the hadith, Muhammad is quoted as saying: “If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” (Sunan Abu Dawud b.38, no.4447) Muhammad's closest companions, meanwhile, recommended a number of brutal penalties, including burning alive, crushing under a falling wall, throwing from a rooftop, and beheading.

Does it feel like Islam wants to cut off your hand if you're caught stealing? Well, the Qur'an says: “As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (5:38)

Curiously, the Qur'an and Muhammad predate Wahhabism by over a thousand years.

As I said, funny stuff.

And if you're not rolling on the floor yet, just wait for this crowd-pleaser: This rib-tickling "journalist" talks about two nice Muslims she has met, who she says "give me hope. Lots of it." One of them even tells her that in many parts of the world the Wahhabi version of Islam is being opposed by moderate Muslims. "Vast women's movements" are having an influence, she says. And so are scholars who are reevaluating the tradition "after hundreds of years of colonization under which Islam was not allowed to develop and modernize."

So our hilarious journalist ends up admitting that actually, for "hundreds of years", Islam has been in need of "reevaluation" - contradicting what she said at the beginning of the article. But why hasn't this happened in all that time? Because of "colonization". That's right - her nice Muslim friend blames the infidels for stopping Muslims from abolishing world conquest, the subjugation of women, the persecution of homosexuals, and the brutal mutilation of alleged thieves.

After you've wiped the tears from your eyes and allowed your stomach muscles to relax from all the gaiety, you may want to just put your head in your hands and consider morosely just how insane the world we live in has become.

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