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Sharia and justice
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-02-23 09:31:18
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A few weeks ago the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams caused a series of reactions with his suggestion that the UK could adopt some aspects of the Sharia laws; the revealing part of the story was not the suggestion from the Archbishop but that there are already Muslim communities not only in UK but in all Europe that have practiced Sharia law for years.

ovi_sharia02But how do Sharia laws apply to people? A few months ago a woman was raped and beaten. She asked for help from the local police office and she apparently recognized and named the rapist. As a result the rapist was charged and convicted by the Sharia law into two years in prison, the woman was stoned to death! According to the Sharia law the woman should not be outside her house alone or better not accompanied by a family member! According to the Sharia laws the rapist will be out of the prison in two years – if he will serve his time and his family hasn’t got the right money or status to free him much earlier – and the victim is dead, punished to be the …victim not only of one rapist but victim of a whole society!

In the 2003, in the beginning of the 21st century, and the time for space and technology, a court in Pakistan sentenced a man’s eye to be removed by acid because he had done exactly the same to his fiancé. In 2002 fifteen young girls burned to death because the Saudi Arabia’s religious police stopped the girls from leaving the burning building because they were not wearing the correct Islamic dress by beating them and pushing them back to the fire, the same policemen stopped anybody who tried to save the girls including the father of one of them.

It is very easy to find hundreds of more examples you just need to browse through one of the internet search machines and the big question is if that is justice. According to the Sharia law women have no right in education, in travelling, in communicating outside the family members. According to the Sharia law women have no right of their own existence. So what justice it is when courts treat people differently according to their faith and believes? Isn’t something like that dangerous?

Of course, Rowan Williams has every right to say whatever he likes because this is the beauty of our democracy, freedom of speech. This is the beauty of our superb constitution that everybody doesn’t matter gender, colour, faith has equal rights including the right of opinion and speech. The next natural question is if Rowan Williams would have the same rights under the Sharia law, challenge the fundamentals of his society? According the Sharia law he would be sentenced to death! How ironic!

And then are we going to accept the fact that other faiths will practice their own justice? Human sacrifices, why not? In the name of tolerance! In this is another key point: how far are we going to stretch the meaning of the word tolerance? If I hear my neighbour’s wife screaming because she’s beaten to death from her husband am I showing tolerance knowing that he is a Muslim and obeys the Sharia laws that gives him that right?

ovi_sharia03_400The society that decided that revenge is not justice and the death penalty is constitutionally abandoned from every European country, in fact this is one of the things candidates’ members have to change in their institutions is it going to punish by stoning? And where in this text I stopped showing my tolerance? Believing that every human has equal rights, believing that men and women have equal right in education and believing that education brings peace and prosperity, believing that beating your wife is cowardice and unethical, believing that a raped woman should been taken care with double effort what lines of tolerance I cross for the over forty millions Muslims that live in Europe?

Yes I do believe that minorities have rights and it should be our priority their protection but when their rights are magnified and suppress my rights what am I doing? Supporting and protecting their rights has one and only aim to make them equal with everybody, to take them out of the minority status and make them an active and prospering member of the whole. All this effect is for them not to be a separate minority but accepted and practice equal rights with everybody else.

As I said before, I have nothing at all against Rowan Williams and what he said, on the contrary I find his opinion constructive in a very interesting dialogue in understanding the deferent sides of our society but and this is where I have to return to the example I brought before, what am I going to do if I hear my neighbour’s wife beaten to the death from her Muslim husband? I’m sorry that it sounds naïve but is very realistic and aside the theory and the academic conversations between scholars justice can not treat people differently based on their faith and believes!

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Sand2008-02-23 12:26:23
The persecution of women for merely being born as women is, of course, not morally distant from persecuting people born to different nationalities or raised under different religions or having a darker skin. I has been said that morality cannot be legislated but the USA and South Africa seem to have accomplished something in that direction insofar as skin color is concerned. The world is moving inexorably towards the melding of traditions and moralities and there is some hope that civility and decency may bring some hope to recalcitrant tradition. It obviously is taking an uncomfortable while.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-23 12:29:46
To address your question Thanos not only within the abstraction of Platonic universal principles of justice, let us also explore briefly the concrete history of sati and justice. In the India of 1829 the British abolished sati (the self-immolation of widows after their husband’s death). This was universally acclaimed in the West as Protestant British enlightenment (redolent of the “white man’s burden” civilizing mission) being applied to an inferior civilization. Several points were lost sight of: 1) that William Wilberforce campaign sati leaders had a secret agenda: the conversion of India to Christianity misguidedly dressed in Western clothes, the Protestant version, that is; 2) that the so called retrograde Catholic Portuguese had outlawed the practice in their far eastern colonies in 1515 three centuries before; 3) that there were also reform-minded Indians such as Raja Rammohan Roy who vigorously campaigned against the practice in the name of universal justice; 4) that the British had consistently shown a propensity to regard Indian culture not as different but as inferior; 5) that in all fairness the English should have considered abolishing not only sati but also colonialism or the Europeans’ inveterate imperial practice of occupying other people’s homes and staying there for centuries going back to Alexander the Great and Caesar. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-23 12:30:32
And then there is the famous story of the British governor Lord William Bentinck who when confronted by sati leaders and told that it was their custom to burn widows, bravely replied that it was British custom to hang people who violated the law and he would hang them all as soon as they disobeyed the law. That reply sounds brave and admirable in as much as it defends universal justice, the rule of law, and women’s universal inalienable rights, and indeed it is admirable by itself, until we consider carefully the concrete five historical points above. Then it loses some of its luster; that is so because Lord Bentinck’s moral lesson in universal justice was unfortunately tinged by Western political Machiavellism, still alive and well today, which proclaims that might makes right. King Arthur in medieval times had a better more democratic idea: not might is right but might for right.

Sand2008-02-23 12:39:29
It is an amusing hobby amongst pseudo-historians to proclaim what mythical beings (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur)might or might not have believed.

Nevertheless, witnessed by the economic and military strength and influence of powerful nations, what is decided as right has been historically extremely flexible.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-24 05:46:57
"if we are to think intelligently about the relations between Islam and British law, we need a fair amount of 'deconstruction' of crude oppositions and mythologies, whether of the nature of sharia or the nature of the Enlightenment."

No, that was not King Arthur but Archbishop Rowan Williams concluding words on his lecture on Sharia Law. He must have read the history of European colonialism and of an Enlightened that doubts everything except that itself remains to be enlightened.

Sand2008-02-24 05:57:08
Any authority that favors the cruelties visited on women and free thinkers under strict Sharia law may have reasons of his own for doing so but I cannot find that acceptable under any form of twisted reason.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-24 13:58:47
A more fair approach before egregiously accusing the authority in question of cruelty to women is to read what that authority has to say on the subject's deconstruction and, without necessarily agreeing with it, attempt an irenic under-standing, i.e., attempt not to demagogue the issue bully like but stand-under the issue, thus honoring reason.

Sand2008-02-24 18:27:08
Whatever the occasion, Paparella is outstanding in producing inscrutable text totally empty of significant cargo.

Sand2008-02-24 19:00:58
Since you skillfully eluded all attempts to convey any justification of the approval of religious laws persecuting women it seems evident you have found none. In your habitual manner you have asserted that somewhere out there someone in authority has provided good reason for beating, raping, stoning women who have been the victims of male assault but you have not made the justification evident.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-24 19:35:00
Is that what the voices told you? Don't believe them; that is what they wish I had said. Reread a bit more more carefully what I wrote and you'll see that they are liars not to be trusted and not to be let in in one's mind; for they run faster than death and once they catch up with somebody they are leary to let them go.

Sand2008-02-24 20:30:43
On and on you blather about voices supplying no information in your empty attempts to smear me with meaningless accusations.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-24 23:28:46
Victimhood and projection: twins born of nihilism and rationalism.

Jalal2008-02-25 07:10:49
In Sharia Law, human beings are not allowed to think, to learn, to speak, to do anythings that is not good in the eyes of the mullahs. They are against education because they know if everyone was educated their ignorance will revelead, they are against women's rights because they will be not to marry a lot of young women at the same time and rape them.
In fact, Sharia is not a law, it is merely a deciet created by some ignorant and sexually abnormal people.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-25 12:19:57
How do we transcend the demagoing of this issue as witnessed above? For a start, how about dealing with the underlying philosophical issue; that is to say, in a world were truth is conceived as either relative or expedient to a particular society, the tendency will be to see law as founded on power and the will to power will slowly replace the will to truth. To proclaim that all customs are to be respected equally in the name of multi-culturalism and tolerance and political correctness is no solution and those fanatics who wish to abolish all religions because they see truth as value free and relative do not have the solution to the problem; they are in fact part of the problem. Hence the call for deconstruction of both Sharia and Enlightenment ought to be taken seriously. Enlightenment may have to enlighten itself yet by conceiving of reason as a harmonization of both rationality and the poetic.

Sand2008-02-25 13:00:26
It is fascinating that Paparella makes Sharia law equivalent to enlightenment so that he can pack them both off to oblivion.

This is Wikipedia’s paragraph of enlightenment and is worth considering as to how it compares to Sharia.

The Age of Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières; Italian: Sècolo dei Lumi; German: Zeitalter der Aufklärung; Spanish: Siglo de las Luces or Ilustración) was an eighteenth century movement in Western philosophy. It is an age of optimism, tempered by the realistic recognition of the sad state of the human condition and the need for major reforms. Some classifications of this period also include 17th century philosophy, which is typically known as the Age of Reason.[1]
The term can more narrowly refer to the intellectual movement of The Enlightenment, which advocated reason as the primary basis of authority. Developing in France, Britain and Germany, the Enlightenment influenced most of Europe, including Russia and Scandinavia. The era is marked by such political changes as governmental consolidation, nation creation, greater rights for common people, and a decline in the influence of authoritarian institutions such as the nobility and Church.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-25 15:46:42
"if we are to think intelligently about the relations between Islam and British law, we need a fair amount of 'deconstruction' of crude oppositions and mythologies, whether of the nature of sharia or the nature of the Enlightenment."

Archbishop Rowan Williams

"As I said before, I have nothing at all against Rowan Williams and what he said, on the contrary I find his opinion constructive in a very interesting dialogue in understanding the deferent sides of our society..."

--Thanos Kalamidas

"...the call for deconstruction of both Sharia and Enlightenment ought to be taken seriously."

--Emanuel L. Paparella

The above is what was said on the issue in this magazine. Your voices heard something else that they wish was said. Don't listen to them; they are liars.

Sand2008-02-25 16:51:42
"Hence the call for deconstruction of both Sharia and Enlightenment ought to be taken seriously."

Your words, Paparella, not anything I dreamed up.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-25 19:45:31

And of course those who are abysmally ignorant of the contemporary term "deconstruction" in contemporary philosophy will confuse it for "destruction." Indeed, as C.P. Snow pointed out they are two parallel universes. Should you wish to unburden yourself of that kind of ignorance open the above link.

Sand2008-02-25 20:33:53
Since deconstruction does not appear in my dictionary you are correct in my assuming it had some relationship with destruction. I followed your suggestion and looked up the word in Wikipedia. This is what it said:

It is difficult to formally define "Deconstruction" within Western philosophy.[citation needed] Martin Heidegger was perhaps the first to use the term (in contrast to Nietzschean 'demolition')[when?]. Heidegger's central concern was the deconstruction of the Western philosophical tradition. The English word "Deconstruction" is an element in a translation series (from Husserl's Abbau to Heidegger's Destruktion to Jacques Derrida's déconstruction), and has been explored by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Paul de Man, Jonathan Culler, Barbara Johnson, J. Hillis Miller, Jean-François Lyotard and Geoffrey Bennington.

These authors have resisted establishing a succinct definition of the word. When asked "What is deconstruction?": Derrida stated, "I have no simple and formalisable response to this question. All my essays are attempts to have it out with this formidable question" (Derrida, 1985, p. 4). There is much confusion as to what deconstruction is and determining what authority to accord to a given delimitation: a school of thought (not so in the singular), a method of reading (often so reduced by attempts at formal definition), or "textual event" (Derrida's implied characterization in the above quotation).

Perhaps you can produce something more simple and revealing about the word but, considering your standard prose I sincerely doubt you are capable of untangling this weird tangle of almost total murk.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-25 20:53:01
To the bonfire you go "deconstruction" and some forty years of work in contemporary philosophy. Indeed, the barbarian of the intellect is already inside the citadel of civilization. They are found in the South Bronx and Wall Street and some even think of themselves as men of culture dictating politically correct taste. O tempora o mores.

Sand2008-02-25 21:08:30
I asked for clarification and you (who evidently are not capable of it) run in circles yelping again in your habitual manner. Too bad. I had hoped that you understood the article, but it is evidently too much for you too.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-25 21:35:19
One of the greatest fallacies of modern rationalists is that of considering inadequate what they read in five minutes and do not understand in the light of their personal experiences. The fallacy consists in not even suspecting that it may be the inadequacy of their experience and knowledge that produces the lack of understanding. To under-stand means to be humble enough to stand under the subject one is studying with an open mind, not demagogue it by standing above it with pre-judgments.

Sand2008-02-25 22:40:17
One of the greatest fallacies of pompous idiots is that they can get away with flinging generalized insults when requested to explain their tortuous nonsense.

Sand2008-02-26 06:17:28
The quoted Wikipedia text clearly indicates that nobody knows what the damned word means so I understand the impossibility of making its meaning clear but anyone with integrity would apologize for using a meaningless term rather than retreating while throwing insults over his shoulder.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-26 13:03:25
From the Oxford English Dictionary:

A method of literary and cultural analysis which states that something has many different meanings and emphasizes the role of the subject in the production of meaning."

That will have to do for those philosophically ignorant rationalists who wish to understand forty years of development in modern philosophy in two minutes.

Sand2008-02-26 13:40:20
But what precisely does the phrase "something has many different meanings and emphasizes the role of the subject in the production of meaning." convey? What "something"? Is that "anything"? And what is the role of the subject (What subject?) in the production of meaning?

If you accept that the definition as explaining something then you are easily satisfied by sentences so vague as to be totally mysterious.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-27 19:18:02
If you have not consigned Derrida to the bonfire yet, try reaading one or two of his books. That may be more helfpful than your dictionary and will not make you look like a fool guarding the political correctness of ideas he knows nothing about.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-27 21:07:04

The above article in Global Spiral by Jeffrey Robbins is for the intelligent reader who wishes to go beyond the Punch and Judy show here exhibited in the dedense or attack on what one knows nothing about, for a better understanding of what "deconstruction" of religion may possibly mean. It certainly does not mean destruction.

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