Subject: Re: Islam Summary: Personal observations of its practice. Date: 1 Nov 90 11:19:32

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From: mtd@apple-gunkies.ai.mit.edu (Michael T Doughney) Newsgroups: alt.atheism Subject: Re: Islam Summary: Personal observations of its practice. Message-ID: <11665@life.ai.mit.edu> Date: 1 Nov 90 11:19:32 GMT I'm an athiest, a former Catholic, and a silent reader of this group for the past few months. I've been working in Saudi Arabia for the past three weeks, and just today had the opportunity to catch up on this newsgroup and Ahmed Abd-Allah's post on Islam. Ahmed posts: >... I am well aware >that the view of Islam is one of fervor, violence, and fanaticism. Maybe >the following description will make some of you reflect. Some of you will >read this in skepticism. That's understandable if you've never been exposed >to Islam. Am I biased? Of course. But not as much as you might think. Ahmed, I'd really like to know how you'd feel if you were forced to live here for a while, after living in the States as long as you have. This country is an example of the type of political system resulting from blind adherance to a religion - in this case, Islam. Here, there is no freedom as that which you are familiar; the only free actions are those permitted under "the law of Islam". To enforce this law (which is identical to that of the state), a large authoritarian bureaucratic structure controls the country. It's impossible for the media to cover news events as we are accustomed; communications out of the country are controlled by the government and may be censored in an arbitrary fashion, as when only the feet of American dancers at a show for US troops could be shown on a CNN report. American sitcoms on one of the two TV channels here have random words removed, like the phrase "male chauvinist pig". And classic American cartoons run intact - except for the parts showing a couple dancing, that gets removed. Should you try to bring a videotape into this country, Customs officials will play it before allowing it into the country, to make sure that it's not "pornographic", that is, showing women on a beach in most countries. There is no film industry and no movie theaters. There really is no such thing as going out on a date as we know it, because unmarried couples aren't allowed in restaurants; the only companion that a woman can have in a restaurant or while traveling is a husband, brother, son or father. And women aren't allowed to drive. Although it appears to me the proportion of the population that actually practices the religion is not much greater than that in the rest of the world, the practice of Islam is forced on the people. Loudspeakers on mosques, which are everywhere and even inside shopping malls and the local Safeway, blare prayers several times a day. At these times businesses close and lock their doors, and everyone window shops for a half hour until prayer time is over. Those that don't either are owned by a powerful prince (they just turn out the lights) or face reprisals from the religious police. Women who are improperly dressed get swatted with sticks; "improperly dressed" means even modest Western dress, if it's not covered by an abaya, the black robe. Enforcement of Islamic law by the Sharia court includes removal of body parts, in public. The one English radio channel here begins and ends each day with a reading from the Quran; and another channel broadcasts the Quran non-stop 24 hours a day. A radio program, "The Way of Islam", specifically states that Western parlimentary democracy is not acceptable because it is secular and doesn't recognize the supremacy of Allah. Granted, the Saudis are entitled to run their country any way they want; here, "the law of Islam" is coupled with politics to insure that the monarchy has ultimate power. My impression is not so much of "fervor, violence, and fanaticism" as you state, but an irrational authoritarianism that makes illegal many important, and trivial, things we take for granted and forces people to live in a relatively miserable, restrained state. Except, of course, for the royalty, that can generally do what they want (if male); if a prince wants to be a playboy, he can afford to go overseas and do just that. So I fail to see anything particularly different about Islam, it's just another irrational belief system used by the powerful to control the masses to varying degrees in some parts of the world. Mike Doughney IDB Communications Group, Inc. Unit K-5, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia "Thank Allah it's Wednesday" Disclaimer: The above are my personal opinions and observations. They are provided to the readers of this newsgroup for informational purposes only and are not intended to be detrimental to any religious or governmental organization.

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