12 December 2010

The Hypocrisy of War and Puritanism

Many journalists have acknowledged that Wikileaks has made an important contribution to journalism. It has embarrassed government officials like the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who was caught spying on the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But what of Arab leaders? Their war-mongering cannot sufficiently be put into words.
Saudi and Bahraini leaders called for a US military strike on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme, with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah asking Washington to "cut off the serpent's head."
Wikileaks also has some other interesting information about Saudi royals.
The underground party scene is "thriving and throbbing" in Saudi Arabia thanks to the protection of Saudi royalty, the dispatch said. But it is only available behind closed doors and for the very rich.

More than 150 Saudi men and women, most in their 20s and 30s, were at the party. The patronage of royalty meant the feared religious police kept a distance. Admission was controlled through a strict guest list. "The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables and everyone in costume."
It is amazing that it is the Saudi monarchy that articulates a puritanical system for the common man while despoiling itself in pleasures of the flesh (and then some). No doubt this hypocrisy exists in every single Arab country: one rule for the prince, one rule for the pauper. This hypocrisy is not new. It can be observed in medieval empires of the Ottomans, the Mughals, and even the Spanish Moors. And modern day tyrants like the warlords and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But Saudi Arabia has taken this to a new level. Let's not forget that the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice that was exported to the Taliban was engineered by Saudi bureaucrats.

The problem with puritanism is not merely that it sexualises all human impulses but it is impossible to live with. A Saudi friend explained that it is not unusual for the youth to tune into TV channels featuring Turkish dancers. If a man is spotted speaking to a woman, it is automatically assumed that they are planning a rendezvous.

It is wrong to criticise an entire culture and there is evidence that it is another form of racism. Cultures are inherently good, but also contain structures that are the product of their coercive and cooperative capacity and are in constant influx. The majority of Muslims are victims to the system, they do not theorise ethics. We must employ correct Muslim ethics to make a change. The changes that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, made were directed at unethical structures within the culture, not the culture itself. The ethics used to make changes were dictated and inspired by the Word of God and the emotional and intelligent quotient imbibed by man.

Almighty Allah guides man to civilisation. Islamic architecture is not civilisation, good behaviour is civilisation.

Pakistan, Egypt, and Iran, followed closely by Saudi Arabia, have the highest rates of pornography access. This is mainly caused by the socio-economic conditions but we must also rethink puritanism and theological laziness in dealing with these issues.

What would the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, have said of this hypocrisy?
By Him in Whose Hand is my life, even if Fatima daughter of Muhammad were to commit theft, I would have cut off her hand.
Unfortunately, the Saudi example is worse, because how can one make rules for another and not carry on oneself? To say nothing of the impracticality and repressiveness. Why are Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries baying for war against Iran? To say nothing of the amorality and suffering.

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