Sunday, January 20, 2008
Muslims Against Sharia
The title refers to an organization, Muslims Against Sharia (MASH), that has a website.
One cannot help but feel their name is a grievously naive oxymoron, sort of like “Nazis Against National Socialism” or “The KKK against racism”.
Since I discovered their website a couple of weeks ago, they have been gracious enough to publish my comments and leave them there—most of them rather critical of them. However, I posted a question recently that they apparently saw fit not to publish. My question proposed one “litmus test” to prove the sincerity and substance of any Muslim who claims, as they do, to be really “moderate”.
My question in a nutshell is: What would you Muslims of MASH do if, in the society you live in, certain people started going around publicly mocking Mohammed? Would you believe in allowing them under law to continue and to protect them under law, because you value the principle of free expression? Or do you believe in punishing the mockers in one way or another?
This would not be the only question for the litmus test. A whole battery of questions would be necessary. But it’s a start. My question was prompted by reading one of the MASH individuals respond on their site to a commenter skeptical of their authentic moderation, by offering their own litmus question, phrased rhetorically: Would we say that Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha at age 6 and consummation of that marriage when she was 9 constitutes pedophilia, if we were not really moderates?
There is a problem with their rhetorical question, however. The MASH movement is a Koran-only movement, and they consider the Sunna and giant chunks of Islamic tradition to be so much bad trash to be thrown out. The story of Mohammed marrying Aisha comes from the Sunna, not the Koran. So the MASH people are not really condemning Mohammed at all with their rhetorical question—they are simply condemning what they deem to be a false construct of Mohammed created by later Muslims (in the Hadiths).
Their fanciful project of throwing out most of Islamic texts and history, thus, brings to mind another litmus question (and its radiating sub-questions): How precisely do they maintain a good and worthy Mohammed and how would they, using reason applied to actual history, defend this good and worthy Mohammed? Or are they simply constructing a mythically good Mohammed to be placed in opposition to the mythically bad Mohammed of the Sunna?
I hope their attention meanders its way through the interstices of the Internet to my site here (as it already has in at least one charming comment they made recently on my other blog; to wit, when they posted a tart riposte—“won’t you please just shut the fuck up!”—to one of my essays there about how the term “moderate Muslim” has lost its usefulness), and I hope they see fit to answer these questions to my satisfaction.