05/17/2005: Holy Murder?
A most thoughtful and excellent commentary from the LA Times today on the issue of the riots and deaths resulting from the errant Newsweek reporting over the Holy Koran.
Do Riots Save Islam's Honor? by Irshad Manji (Author of "The Trouble With Islam Today") asks the crucial questions of whether an insult to any religion justifies rioting and outright murder of innocents. Is the *insulting* incident itself the cause…or the further incitement by people being irresponsible reactionaries.
”…One can appreciate the Koran's inherent worth, as I do, while recognizing that it contains ambiguities, inconsistencies, outright contradictions — and the possibility of human editing. This is not simply a reform-minded Muslim speaking. This is Islamic tradition talking.
For centuries, philosophers of Islam have been telling the story of the "Satanic Verses." The Prophet Muhammad accepted them as authentic entries into the Koran. Later, he realized they deify heathen idols rather than God. So he belatedly rejected the verses, blaming them on a trick played by Satan. Which implies that the Prophet edited the Koran.
Let's push this point further. Because pious Muslims emulate Muhammad's life, those who compiled the Koran's verses after his death might have followed his example of editing along the way. The compilers were, after all, only human — as human as Muhammad himself.
(I)f we're going to avoid a further desecration of human life. Riots in Afghanistan have already resulted in at least 14 deaths. Aid workers have been attacked; their offices burned. How does this benefit the cause of dignity — for anyone?
Many will insist that I'm undermining the dignity of Muslims by challenging a pillar of their identity. By urging my fellow Muslims to consider these questions, I'm showing faith in their capacity to be thoughtful and humane. I'm appealing to their heads rather than only their hearts. Ultimately, I'm fighting not Islam but the routinely low expectations of those who practice it.
Contrast that with the strategy of Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician who rallied his countrymen to express rage based on one paragraph in Newsweek. A fierce rival of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Khan objects to cooperating with the U.S. on security matters. He knew his comments about Newsweek would feed the most reflexive of Muslim impulses: to treat the Koran with uncritical veneration.
Such lazy tactics remind me of those used to drive the Miss World Beauty Pageant out of Nigeria in 2002. That fiasco led to more than 50 deaths. It wasn't the affront of immodestly clad women that sparked the uproar. Rioting began only after a columnist suggested that the Prophet would have gotten a kick out of the pageant and taken its winner as his wife. An imprudent remark, but should it have caused banditry and murder? …
Karen on 05.17.05 @ 09:07 AM CST