“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities” – Voltaire
With cellphones now generally able to record video, it is very easy to find a large number of horrific recordings on YouTube and elsewhere of public executions in Muslim countries (esp Iran and Saudi Arabia). These include beheading, hanging and stoning.
The offences for which these executions are carried out are very frequently things which would not carry any punishment in countries where we have moved forward to allow greater freedom of thought and expression and we have a more rational outlook. These include blasphemy, apostasy and ‘sorcery’ or ‘witchcraft’.
Non-Muslims will be shocked, Ex-Muslims will be angry and Muslims should be embarrassed by these events.
The number of executions carried out in Iran is huge. A quote from the International Committee Against Execution (15 Nov 2012):
“In another tsunami of executions, the Islamic regime of Iran has executed 57 people in the last two weeks.
On 11 November, we received news that 35 people had been executed in Vakilabad Prison in Mashad, including a 21 year old and 4 Afghans (one of whom was a human rights campaigner). On 13 November, 8 were executed in Gohardasht prison. On 14 November, 3 were publicly executed in Arak and 1 was executed in Rejaee Shahr Prison. Currently, 3,000 people, many young, are on death row in Iran. The pretext for these killings is often drug trafficking or similar offences.”
The Iran Human Rights website documents the current situation and trends very well and their Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran 2012 indicates that at least 580 people were executed in that year. This level of State sponsored violence has an effect not only on those directly involved but on the whole psyche or Zeitgeist of the country and the Muslim Ummah (worldwide community).
Most Muslims in Western countries would respond to this along the lines of ‘…This is not [my/our/true] Islam’. The reason they are able say this is that they are living as ‘ideological guests’ within ‘host’ countries. The political and legal structures already exist and were created and are maintained by a reasonably democratic process.
The freedom given by removing the overhead administrative burden allows Muslims in these countries, to a greater or lesser extent, to dispense with the need for (most) Islamic political and legal frameworks and rely on their ‘ideological host’ for these needs. Western Muslims can get back to ‘basics’ and simply conduct their religious duties as they see fit. The Five Pillars (Belief in Allah and Muhammad as his prophet, prayer, fasting, giving to charity and pilgrimage). These, of themselves are not harmful to anyone else.
Of course the flip-side to this, is that those elsewhere would say that those more liberal interpretations of Islam are not [my/our/true] Islam.
The reality is that there is no ultimate absolute infallible perfect Islam. Islam only ever exists in the heads of Muslims; in all their varied personal interpretations based on their own upbringing, experiences and exposure to ideas and cultures. There are currently 1.6 billion shades of Islam. Islamic ideology and practice varies across space and time. There are of course broad similarities, but there are also significant differences.
Here is another challenge to Muslims: Do some in-depth research on one of the other Islamic sects that the one which you were brought up in. That is, Sunnis should take a close look at Shia or Ahmadiyya history and beliefs, and vice versa. Get to know at least one person in that sect well; understand them their background and their motivation.
< … to be expanded on below … >
Its a question of power. To run a country effectively you need administrative tasks carried out by people in various roles. Islamism – political Islam … a primer.
The context of the Voltaire ‘quote’ at the top of the page is available on WikiQuote.