From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael T Doughney)
Subject: Re: Islam
Summary: Personal observations of its practice.
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.
>... 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
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
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.
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.