Friday, October 17, 2008

Law, Islamic and American, or: The Case of the Lazy Son and 'Take My Family: Please!'

I saw the headline, "Son Taken to Court for Laziness, Gets 6 Months in Jail," in one of those 'latest news' summaries. That didn't sound like an American court: although parts of this country still take the work ethic seriously.

The Case of the Lazy Son played out in a Nigerian court, under Islamic law. Northern Nigeria, to be precise.

A frazzled father, Sama'ila Tahir, took his 20-year-old son to court. "He is not listening to words and he is bringing shame to my family. I am tired of his nefarious deeds. Please put this boy in prison so that I can be free," he said. Apparently, the 20-year-old wouldn't go to school and belonged to a criminal gang.

The kid (at my age, anyone under the age of about 25 is a 'kid') got 6 months in prison. Also 30 strokes of the cane, right there "on the premises."

Oh, the Horrors of Islamic Law!

Letting menfolk kill their women if they feel embarrassed is over the top, down the other side, and off a cliff. "Totally unacceptable" is the among the mildest ways I can describe that aspect of "Islamic" law, as practiced in some parts of the world.

I can't imagine a sentence like the Nigerian caning now/prison later being given in an American court. Particularly since the 20-year-old was punished "for being disobedient to his parents," (according to Reuters and the Nigerian state news agency). There's still a wisp of grooviness drifting through the halls of justice in America, with the hoplophobia and aversion to personal responsibility that goes with it.

On the other hand, although I can't imagine a sentence like this being given in an American court, I'm not going to rant about Islamic law.
  • What passes for "Islamic Law" seems to be heavily influenced by local culture
    I've posted about this before
  • Although caning is out of style in America, and disobedience is viewed as a virtue in some quarters, I can understand the Nigerian court's decision
Before I get accused of advocating child abuse, consider the possibility that this 20-year-old 'child' was actually refusing to learn useful skills, and had joined a criminal organization.

A caning and six-month time out might not be all that out of line. Remember, Nigeria isn't America. America's best and brightest have decided that everything from lethal beatings to swatting a diapered behind is 'corporal punishment.' And, as "everybody knows," corporal punishment leads to low self-esteem, psychological trauma, and burning rain forests. And must never, ever, ever be allowed under any and all circumstances.

So, Nigeria and America have different cultures, and different techniques for letting people know when they've broken the rules. It's high time that Americans learn that not everybody is an American, and that different cultures are just that: different.

Oh, the Unintended Consequences of American Law!

'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks.'

American law can be a bit odd, too. An example: In July of this year, Nebraska lawmakers (the state Senate, not the courts) decided to protect babies by making it legal for parents to abandon their kids at designated hospitals. It's called a "safe haven law," and isn't the worst idea to come down the pike.

What the senators probably had in mind was the heart-wrenching image of some poor young woman, rejected by Society, alone and friendless, leaving a bundled-up infant at some caring state facility. In a snowstorm, most likely.

The problem is, while debating the law, Nebraska senators decided not to give an arbitrary age limit to abandonable kids, and instead wrote that it was okay for a parent to abandon a "child" at one of those hospitals.

The common law definition of "child" is someone under 14. But, some people think it means anyone under 19.

So, quite a few children have been dropped off at Nebraska hospitals. Including nine by one father. He doesn't sound like a lazy bum: His wife died in 2007, and he'd lost his job. Let's get real: emotional drain aside, feeding nine kids, about half of them teenagers, is a major expense.

To their credit, Nebraska lawmakers seem to be thinking about having another go at their "safe haven" law.

Islamic Law, Honor Killing, and Getting Real

I've run into some rabidly anti-Islamic rants lately: one in a comment left on this blog. That one claimed to have been posted in Iran.

This looks like a good time to say it again. The legal system of Islamic countries like Indonesia doesn't seem to be a problem. Or, no more so than any system run by human beings.

"Islamic Law," as defined by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other self-described defenders of Islam, is a problem. By any western standards since about the mid-18th century, that is. The current rulers of Burma/Myanmar might not find "Islamic" law, Taliban-style, too bad: as long as they were the judges.

It's the vision of Islam held by Al Qaeda and like-minded outfits that threatens
  • America
  • Every country where women are regarded as people, and men sometimes wear trousers
  • Every Muslim who isn't 'sufficiently Islamic' by Taliban standards
I think that Afghanistan, while the Taliban was running the country, is a good example of what we have to look forward to, if Al Qaeda and company win.

In the news:


Anonymous said...

You're correct that honor killing is probably an aspect of culture that predates Islam, but that does not exonerate Islam from being a strong force that perpetuates it (I'm not saying the introduction of sharia would introduce honor killing into cultures where it doesn't now exist).

Under mainstream sharia law the act of a parent killing his offspring is (at the very least) decriminalized, as shown in the authoritative Shafi'i manual of sharia law "Reliance of the Traveller" pages 583-4 ("o1.2 The following are not subject to retaliation: ...(4) a father or mother... for killing their offspring..." and page 587 ("o3.12 ...When an injurious crime is caused by a non-family member in cooperation with the victim's father, retaliation is only taken against the non-family member...").

"Reliance of the Traveller" is highly recommended as a reference work on mainstream sharia. It is authoritative and extremely well indexed, and very quickly puts the lie to much of the disinformation about Islam that is spread by apologists (for instance, the book has 1 sentence on the "greater jihad" (spiritual struggle), and 7 plus pages on the "lesser jihad" ("war against establish the religion." (p 599)).

Brian H. Gill said...


I'm in a peculiar position here: I'm a devout Catholic, and not in the business of exonerating Islam. On the other hand, so many criticisms of Islam that I've run into are, to be polite, irrational.

Since the attacks are very similar in tone to 'warnings' about the 'whore of Babylon,' I have tended to categorize them with statements about the "a secret cabal of liberals, Catholics, Masons, and Jesuit assassins," as I put it in another blog. (Ever hear of Maria Monk?)

I appreciate a discussion of Islam and Sharia law (which may not be quite the same thing), that's heavy on facts and references, not indications of an underlying psychiatric condition.

I hope you'll come back from time to time.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.