What is this world coming to?
In a rape case that involves the very foundation of a disputed, age-old rite, the merits and certainly the clash of civilizations are ferociously and dangerously edging towards the limelight.
As described recently by nearly every outlet of the worldwide media, Islam is facing a barrage of criticism and has suffered a further blow to its image. This is clearly at a time when public opinion is admittedly not on the side of the Muslim world.
As much as the news is spun in the West and slanted in most of Europe, Muslim fundamentalism is a term that has been misused. It is a term that, as distinguished Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis points out, has etymological roots denoting something entirely different from the rock-wielding, car bombing, plane hijacking image that we have engrained in our minds.
If we, as a collective people on this Earth of 6.6 billion people cannot even understand the very root of what we Ã¢â‚¬ËœdisagreeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ with, how is it possible that we can even have a firm grasp on IslamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s applications, the billions of followersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ beliefs and in essence their mode of thinking?
Certainly with the recent Saudi gang rape case that made talk radio, print media and thousands of blogs on the Internet, are we qualified to state something we believe is wrong in derivation if we are in fact opponents of both the metaphysical and philosophical reasoning behind centuries-old traditions?
Wise advice in this regard would be, Ã¢â‚¬Å“do not speak of that which you do not knowÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬" a phrase whose reasoning perhaps both non-Muslims and Muslims should subscribe and aim to be open to debate.
In one of the verses contained within the Koran, a passage dictates specifically what is to be done in the Qatif rape case where the victim, a woman, is now being punished for Ã¢â‚¬ËœincitingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ her attackers and bringing dishonour to her family.
It seems that misinformed accusations regarding fundamentalism have caused depreciation in debate, launching into an aggressive assault on the finer points in what many have labelled incorrectly. Furthermore, these are grounds on which many are not qualified to justify their stunted dialogue.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with 100 stripes [lashes],Ã¢â‚¬Â reads the Koranic verse 24:2. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This seems particularly harsh, but so do public beheadings on ship decks in Jeddah. Convicted by a judge or jury of their peers in a snap trial, how, judicially could the process be differentiated from then governor of Texas, George W. Bush, in a much publicized and ethical decision, send a developmentally disabled man to the electric chair?
Severe corporal punishment, and this is almost certain what seems to await the fate of the Saudi woman, is, and as raw as this may seem, far lighter than what is occurring to hundreds of detainees. These men are being held within American-run secret prisons across eastern Europe and on a naval base in Cuba, who have to bear years of inhumane punishment.
As sadistic as the comparison may warrant, the Western worldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intrusion into the Saudi case is the equivalent of an imamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s questioning of TexasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ gross mishandling of those on Death Row or the AmericansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ multiple intrusions upon the Geneva Conventions Ã¢â‚¬" an argument the West would undoubtedly discard as unfounded and blatantly biased.
While the WestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intelligentsia raise a red flag every so often, a tattered, white flag is consistently thrown by their foes. These are suspected al-Qaeda operatives currently held unconstitutionally - a decision repeatedly delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court, yet ignored by the Bush administration.
Perhaps, in proper application, both in the distorted U.S. legal system and the skewed fundamentalistsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ arena, justice has been carried out in due process, a tradition that in places like the Hague, the Supreme Court, Guantanamo Bay and the Middle East are slowly becoming extinct.
As the current case painfully unfolds, doubt must be present, without it, little scholarship will develop, intellectual disagreements will fizzle and the power to think will disappear Ã¢â‚¬" and in its absence the ability to truly determine the difference between right and wrong will be a Herculean task, something future generations may not want to tackle.
What is not right though, and this must be emphasized, is the meddling in affairs of theological traditions Ã¢â‚¬" however bizarre, irrational or illogical an impartial individual may deem fit.
This case needs to set a precedent, where discussion must end and physically, practice run its due course.
The West may not like what will soon occur in the Saudi case and more generally the Middle East. Granted, these instances are just a fraction of the disagreement with mainstay foreign policy the latter has had with the former, and this, especially over the clash of civilizationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ unmistakeably, crucial past six years has been both critically and blatantly ignored.