Religions, at least the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, usually profess that one of the main reasons for their existence is to ensure that their followers lead good, wholesome and above all moral lives. Many of their devotees go so far as to insist that unless you follow their particular brand of devotion you will be forever condemned to torment in hell. Unfortunately, these same beliefs can also lead some to commit particularly inhuman acts which they are completely convinced are the will of God. Indeed huge chunks of the Old Testament are dedicated to showing just how nasty God can be when he wants to be.
In the latest manifestation of religiously inspired brutality we have the stoning to death of 13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow by the Islamist al-Shabab militia in a stadium in Kismayo, Somalia1. Her crime was to have been raped by three men and for that it is she who must be punished rather than her rapists. This is no doubt down to a particular interpretation by Duhulow’s accusers of part of the Qur’an (sura 24: 2-6) which can be read as demanding there be four witnesses to a rape2.
I am quite aware that the majority of the followers of Islam, and other Abrahamic religions, would condemn this sort of thing just as fiercely as I do. That is not my point. My point is that religion can make you behave in inhuman ways not that it always or usually does. Your task, oh believers, is to show me an atrocity which has been committed in the name of non-belief.
1 Just in case anyone is unsure about exactly what is involved in stoning someone to death I should point out that the victim is buried up to the neck (sometimes ‘only’ up to the waist) in the ground while a bunch of people throw stones at their head.
2 Or is it to adultery? Like much of the rest of the Qur’an, and other holy books, the true meaning is somewhat obscure. These verses stipulate lashing not stoning as being the punishment for adultery. The psychos who insist the punishment should be stoning use these verses in conjunction with certain Hadith, usually The Hadith of Umar’s speech of forbidding Mut’ah, as their justification.
Posted 3 November 2008, 23:23 GMT