Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Righties, stop pissing your pants

There's been an interesting response from some of the further reaches of rightwing lunacy about a statement by the Al Azhar Academy of Islamic Research, criticising the disposal of Osama Bin Laden's remains at sea (1).

I'm not talking about the predictable conspiracy crap, but another line of 'reasoning,' to whit, "Because the University of Al Azhar are proclaiming Osama Bin Laden to be a Muslim, they must be tacitly endorsing the atrocities of Al Queada. Muslims would have disowned him if they truly disapproved of his actions. Ergo, they are all terrorists or terrorist sympathizers!"

(That's just my distillation of various ravings I've seen on the web)

Well, no. Not really.

One does not get booted out of one's religion of choice for sinning. Bin Laden was repsonsible for mass murder, but that - even if he acknowledged as such - wouldn't 'cancel' his status as a Muslim.

Bin Laden could commit whatever barbarities he likes, and remain a Muslim, as long as he doesn't question Islamic doctrine. His personal wickedness is between him and God.

The same idea is common in other faiths; you can commit heinous acts and still remain within the faith, just not in 'good standing.'

Only formal excommunication or voluntarily renunciation put you out. The former doesn't usually happen as a result of individual wickedness. The offender may, after all, repent of their sins, and seek absolution. Hence confession, absolution, indulgences and so on.

If committing a sin lead to automatic expulsion, organised religion would never have taken off. As long as an adherent is just not very good at sticking to doctrine, but isn't questioning its legitimacy, he can remain in the club.

Just like a Christian can commit murder, and yet still be a Christian - they simply need to atone for their sin. Denying that there was any God given prohibition on murder would be unChristian.

Bin Laden would not denying the sinfulness of murder; he would argue the deaths he was responsible for did not count as murder, but 'fair play' in war, and part of jihad. By waging jihad inappropriately, he would deemed to be misguided, not heretical. If he denied that jihad was an essential aspect of Islam, then he'd be deemed an apostate.

Al Azher's endorsement doesn't signal approval of his actions, merely that he hasn't questioned doctrine, regardless of whether or not he's followed it. Words speak louder than actions as far as religion is concerned.
1 - "Bin Laden: Al Azhar, sea burial is a sin," unattributed article, published on Ansamed, 2nd of May, 2011. (http://www.ansamed.info/en/news/ME.XEF33040.html)

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