Merciful bloodshed

Yesterday I was witnessed to by a Muslim woman for nearly an hour.   My usual tricks to avoid such conversations with Mormons and JWs didn’t work 🙂

I made the mistake of commenting when she stated that the Koran demanded a certain type of behaviour.  I have read the Koran and came to a different interpretation- one shared by many Muslims. 

She said that they weren’t “true Muslims”.  And she also said that my interpretations can’t be valid since I didn’t read the original in Arabic nor have I lived in that culture.   Well- she hasn’t lived in that culture either, but the teachers she listens to have.

She kept talking.  I listened.  She didn’t want to hear my views, and I didn’t offer them.   Got to admit, it secretly amused me that I had read her holy book before she did 🙂 

In her talk for Islam, the peacefulness of Mohammed came up.  She stated that he only destroyed those people who refused to believe in only one sky god.   Due to the mercifulness of Mohammed, he waited until god told him to go and slaughter the infidels and take revenge.

As I was relating this to a Christian friend of mine, she stated that it was very similar to what god told the Hebrew people in the Old Testament.

Her excuse was that god’s justice is mysterious to us.  His goodness demands justice.  God is good, so if he called for the destruction of a race except for the virgin girls then that killing and raping was good. 

 I have a problem with that.

I am glad that I no longer have to twist my definition of ‘good’ to match my definition of ‘god’  and harmonize it with any holy text.

17 thoughts on “Merciful bloodshed

  1. dana says:

    “I am glad that I no longer have to twist my definition of ‘good’ to match my definition of ‘god’ and harmonize it with any holy text.”

    Nor do you have to twist god in order to match him to your idea of good.

    The trick is to realize that the bible was written by men with their own agendas in a time when “eye for an eye” was equated with justice and fairness with no forethought required.

    To base one’s life on “choice words” that were chosen by men in power, while other words were destroyed so as not to “confuse” the ignorant masses is to base one’s life on a fairy tale only because it survived 3 centuries. Three centuries of errors does not make it right.

    • theo(il)logical says:

      Dana, I really don’t see what your problem is with “an eye for an eye” conception of justice is? The idea of “an eye for an eye” was huge legal innovation in its time and continues to be a foundational concept for modern conceptions of justice. Before “an eye for an eye,” certain persons (i.e., royalty and other elite figures) were above the law and were beyond it scope. Indeed, the king made the law and even if he broke it, was not subject to it. The shift in mosaic law towards “an eye for an eye” made everyone, including important community leaders, subject to the law.

      • prairienymph says:

        Theo(il)logical: From my experience of watching kids, “an eye for an eye” is a natural response. The problem with it is that is an often unintentional hurt is met with an intentional injury, often stronger than the original. Then there is more retaliation. The bigger or more fiesty kid, if left to hirself, will do the most damage.
        I don’t see how ‘an eye for an eye’ stopped corruption and the favouring of those in power. The rule of law instead of the rule of person may have- is that what you are referring to?.

        Really, it does promote revenge. There needs to be justice and consequences, but every system does have its problems.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        I was referring to a shift to the rule of law from the rule of person. Dana’s phrase “an eye for an eye” comes from the Hebrew Bible. It sums up an approach to law that, as I stated above, is a foundation of modern legal theory.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        Dana wrote: “The trick is to realize that the bible was written by men with their own agendas in a time when “eye for an eye” was equated with justice and fairness with no forethought required.” She appears to insinuate by this statement that religion promotes/champions/is-the-root-of injustice. My reply was intended to challenge her thinking and put forward some facts to the contrary.

        I am not talking about children behaving badly. I’m talking about how societies and nations organize themselves and distribute justice. In the former case there is no adjudicator mediating the conflict. In the latter case, society has formed a system of mediation (i.e., the legal system) that trys to ensure fairness and end conflict.

        This is not to say that injustice does not happen in religious communities, or that religious systems have upheld systems of injustice. It is to say, however, that religion also has a history of “justice making.” And that history has a profound influence on modern, secular conceptions of justice.

    • theo(il)logical says:

      Giving up on religion may mean that you no longer have to justify your conception of good with your conception of (a) g/G[od]ess/(e)s. However, don’t forget that you still have justify your conception of good with your political philosophy, the domestic and foreign policies of your country, etc. “Good” will always be a transcendent concept that derives its meaning from sources you one way or an other deem authoritative, whether those sources are supernatural dreams or social conventions.

      • prairienymph says:

        You know, theo(il)logical, the word authority has changed. I believe it used to mean something like self-apparent. We use it now more often in reference to an outside source.

        I think some goodness is self-apparent.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        PN, I’m not exactly sure I understand you. But I’ll try to clarify myself. My point was: authority is always authored. Your or my conception of “the good” does not arise in a vacuum. History writes through us what “the good” is. Whether we acknowledge it explicitly or not, our conception of “the good” cites certain cultural, religious, political, social, etc. sources.

      • prairienymph says:

        I just meant that the meaning of the word shifted. It used to mean something inherently apparent, and is now used to describe a force or rightness given to it by something outside. I wasn’t talking about the concept- just how the word itself changed.

      • theo(il)logical says:

        PN, who do you mean by “we” in the statement: “We use [the word authority] now more often in reference to an outside source.” Do you mean religious persons see authority as something beyond themselves? Or do you mean secularists see authority as something beyond themselves?

        You say that “some goodness is self-apparent.” Of course, the “self” has a history and that history renders so-called “self-apparent” ideas of “the good” and “justice” as somewhat contingent or culturally determined. You can read something about that history here:

  2. Lorena says:

    Wow! I must say that I’ve never been witnessed to by a Muslim. I wonder what I would say. I really do.

    I would probably repeat continually something like, “There is no evidence that M* ever talked to god.”

    I would do that to leave the thought in her mind. Ten years down the road, in a moment when her faith is shaking, she may remember what I said.

  3. prairienymph says:

    Thanks Dana!

    Lorena, I’m not sure how to talk to my Muslim friend. Right now I want good relations because our kids play together in the park. I even talk about ‘god’ as a male sky diety just so that the friendship continues. It feels sneaky, but in her witnessing she mentioned an American Christian converted to Islam because of the kindness of a Muslim. So- I’m going to do that. Eventually I may tell her what I think of M__, J__, and even g__. But not yet. She didn’t even take her daughter trick-or-treating last year because she was afraid it was a Christian holiday.

  4. Lorena says:

    In my experience, the best thing to do usually is what we’re comfortable with. I say you go girl, follow your gut, do what you feel like doing.

    When done kindly results are usually good. Or not bad in any case. And you seem to be naturally kind.

  5. Ahab says:

    “She kept talking. I listened. She didn’t want to hear my views …”

    I’ve definitely found this to be the case with proselytization, no matter who does the proselytizing. Many religious people are so focused on finding converts that they show no curiosity about other belief systems.

    “God is good, so if he called for the destruction of a race except for the virgin girls then that killing and raping was good. I have a problem with that.”

    You and me both! A literal interpretation of scripture is NOT compatible with a halfway decent sense of ethics.

  6. An eye for an eye was the Hammurabi Code. It does promote revenge and does nothing to solve the problem of why the crime was committed in the first place or redress that damage done to the victim. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind as the saying goes.

    You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38–39, NRSV)

  7. theo(il)logical says:

    Yes, “eye for an eye” is in the Hammurabi Code. It’s also in the Hebrew Bible: In the Hebrew Bible the saying is embedded in a code or system of compensation for wrongdoings intended to advert escalating retribution and revenge (comparable to modern tort law). It is my understanding that the Talmud doesn’t require a literal application of this law, opting for monetary compensation where wrong have been committed against a party. (“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” is usually attributed to Gandhi as an explanation he commonly gave for his pacifism.)

    I’m sure JC’s words in Matthew 5:38–39 have been used more than a few times to silence victims! What is your point in quoting it, Blogg Fodder?

  8. Read the first paragraph.

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