Gods Deconstructed

Beliefs and their objects, dismantled.

Death penalty for Muslims in Kuwait who curse God, Quran or Prophet

For those who know little about Islam the effect of the Bill referred to in this article can seem extreme and barbaric. But Islam has been mired in such extreme behaviour since its inception.

Read the Koran and Hadith (the stories of how Muhammad lived); neither should be read in isolation. They are full of examples where Muhammad ordered that Muslims should be killed for breaking Islamic law.

Not just Muslims, of course. In Hadith, Book 041, Number 6985: The last hour will not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him. And in the Koran, Sura 9, Aya 30: And the Jews say: Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

There was a time, however, when some Muslims treated non-Muslims with more respect than Muslims themselves. The Mu’tazilah (8th-12th centuries) was a school within Islam that taught that God is spirit and can therefore have no influence on the material universe. It was during this period that science and mathematics in Islam flourished. The universe, the Mu’tazilah believed, should be studied and understood as it informed Muslims how God constructed the universe. The school learned from non-Muslims and incorporated much of what they learned into their version of Islam.

The Mu’tazilah were, though, extremely strict on the observance of Islam by Muslims. Punishment was severe for those who cursed God, the Koran or Muhammad. If you have already read the article, it may be seen that there are distinct similarities with what is happening in Kuwait today.

The Mu’tazilah were all but wiped out by the emergence of the more primitive form of Islam we have become accustomed to today. Interest in science and mathematics all but disappeared. In the 20th century, however, there occurred the beginnings of a resurgence in Mu’tazilah philosophy. It is possible that the Kuwaiti Bill is indicative of this resurgence. If so, it may not be so very bad for non-Muslims.

Perhaps the most pertinent question we must ask ourselves is: do we accept that Islam is so very different from Western philosophy that our secular understanding of human rights can never be universally applied. It is a question that may keep philosophers and human rights lawyers busy for decades.



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