Friday, January 06, 2006

Vatican Flexes Muscle - II

I have never stopped from criticizing religious figures when I believe they, and not the religion itself, are the problem. My Catholic friends, I am sorry, but you should have had a different Pope. When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, I read he was a hardline conservative Pope. I don't mind when he tells Christians to be more religious, but he should stop involving the Church into a state's affairs. No religious interference in our politics, I say.

The Holy See has signed an agreement with Slovakia to reduce the number of abortions. Make no mistake, the country is 70% Catholic and this will restrict the right of women to have an abortion. Currently Slovakia permits abortion till the 12th week. The Vatican has always opposed any abortion, and this is a covert move to influence the Slovakian health system to restrict abortion. Indirectly, the Vatican is opposing a woman's right to choose, and is even restricting women who are not Catholics or subscribe to their beliefs in their freedoms.

I am not arguing for or against abortion. It is a controversial topic. Most jurists in Islam permit abortion within the first 120 days, as it is the belief that the Ruh (soul) enters the fetus after 120 days. After that, mother's health takes preference - so Islam has never equated the life of a fetus with the life of the mother, but placed greater emphasis on the mother's life [Abortion: The Islamic View].

I think early abortion is a necessary evil in the society we live in today. This society has casual sex, extra marital sex and now swinging. As such, unplanned pregnancies will occur, and if legal early abortion is restricted, then women will be having back alley abortions or be bad mothers. Since we as a society have loose morals, early abortion is a necessary evil. If the Pope wants to fight abortion, he should first fight against the casual sex culture of society.

This Pope does not understand that. He is against women priests (we have always had women aalims), contraception and condoms (the Catholic Church's stance on that has directly contributed to increased HIV rates in Africa), priestly celibacy (while blaming sexual abuse of young boys by priests on gays), and divorce. It got involved in the Terry Schiavo case in the United States.

I will end by asking the Pope one question. You opposed a passive euthanasia for Terry Schiavo. Her husband cannot get a divorce in the eyes of the Church as the Catholic church also opposes divorce. And finally, you will not allow the husband a second wife as the Church is also pro-monogamy (a fact not supported by any Biblical verse). He cannot end her life, get divorced from her or marry another woman. So what do you want the husband to do? Thank God (yes) you do not control policy in our countries.



AT said...

First of all, I am against this pope business. According to Christianity, you are not supposed to have a pope. Christianity says that everyone is equal and the lord loves you no matter who you are. However, the romans started so-called "primus inter pares", which means first among equal. Therefore, roman bishop became the FIRST among ALL EQUAL BISHOPS!!

Yes, I became kind of sad to see Benedict XVI has been elected. He is an ultra conservative person and once worked with the Nazi. I believe religions encourage a progressive and dynamic society but I always wonder why religious people are sooooo conservative.

I am actually not a big fan of abortion when it is used as a birthcontrol method. Nevertheless, I think morality has to come from inside and it cannot be shoved down your throat as God gave us freewill. Therefore, the people have to realize by themselves what is wrong and what is correct! Therefore, we cannot ban abortion but let people decide if abortion is moral. My similar stand goes for adultery.

mezba said...

"I think morality has to come from inside and it cannot be shoved down your throat as God gave us freewill. Therefore, the people have to realize by themselves what is wrong and what is correct!"

I think people have to be told what is right and what is wrong. It is our duty to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. You can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink. That does not stop you from doing the leading to the water part.

Having said that, ill thought out legislation of morality causes problems in a diverse society as 'what is evil' is subjective. Religion of one cannot be the law of another. The Pope cannot interfere in secular societies. He can make whatever laws he wants in the Vatican.

For example if the pope warned his flock about adultery that would be ok, but if he tried to get Spain to punish those who commit adultery that would not be OK. If however, there is a law that lets a wife sue the mistress of her husband for emotional distress or breakup of her family or the like, I would support it.

Zainub said...

I have to disagree with you again, Arnab. As Muslims we cannot chose what we think is moral and what we think is immoral, Allah doesn't give us the right to do so, The Quran and the sunnat of the Prophet PBUH are very clear on defining morality. They have laid down the principles by which we should live our life, and we can't pick and chose which ones we'll follows and which ones we won't. If people could realise for themselves what was good and what was bad, Allah wouldn't have needed to send down 1 Lakh 24 thousands Prophets and Messengers and five divine books. These were sent down just so that we could be told what was right and what was not.

With reference to Mezba’s stance on 'legislation of morality', Islam doesn't forbid religious tolerance, non-Muslims living in a Muslim state can pray in their religious buildings, observe their religious festivals (within limits) etc. [this has been happening since the Prophet's times] but that doesn't mean a Muslim state should legalise adultery, prostitution, abortion, nudity, binge drinking etc. etc. If banning these activities in a Muslim state is what you mean by "ill thought out legislation" then I will disagree with you too.

I just don't seem to understand why so many people think it will be difficult to implement Islam's code of conduct for living out life because of diversity of modern day society or whatever. Islam's teachings on what the values of a civilised society are very, very clear. If Allah and His messengers thought they were good enough to be implemented in their times, then who am I or you or xyz analyst or expert do argue that they can't work in today's times. We had Jews, Christians, devil worshipers, polytheists, fire worshipers and atheists in the times of previous Messengers too. When they put into practice the moral codes of Islam in their respective diverse societies (which I will argue are no less diverse then today's) and it caused no problems, how can we presume they will cause problems in our times?

mezba said...

@zainub: When I meant ' ill thought out legislation of morality' I meant legislation brought into law simply without any thought, investigation, studies and so on. I know Pakistan's Hudood law is made famous in the western media, I dont know how factual it is really to prevent rape victims from getting justice.

Islamic law is always complete. As Dr Zakir Naik said, you cannot implement the judicial arm before the social one, and we saw what happened during the US Prohibition. I post a bit more on this here.

Case in point, alcohol. Should it be banned? It's easy to ban it, but what about all aspects that lead to alcoholism?

Also, when the Prophet(S) was around, there was no question about what was the correct interpretetion of Islamic law, as he was around. But we see immediately after his death, there arose differences between Sahabis. Nowadays, people who make the laws are in no position Islamically to dictate as they themselves are not the best of us, so how can they legislate morality? And also, in a diverse society, you cannot impose what one set of people believe on another.