Friday, 15 April 2011

Ethical standards of Islam

By all accounts Usama Bin Laden is a profoundly religious man. Indeed, he was so greatly incensed by the presence of American troops on the sacred territory of the Arabian Peninsula that he undertook a religious war against the US in order to blot out such an affront. While waging this war he resided for several years in the Sudan, where he became very friendly with the local despot, one Mr Turabi, also a very religious man. An indication of their intimacy is the fact that Bin Laden would often go out riding on horseback with the president’s son. (sez Richard A Clark in his book Against all Enemies,)

At the time Mr Turabi was engaged in a war of extermination against the inhabitants of the south of his country, so that the government would have unimpeded access to the rich petroleum reserves located in that part of the country.

There is no indication that Bin Laden ever gave any thought to his host’s hapless victims. There is no record of him ever having interceded with Turabi to spare a the life of single human being in the Sudan (or anywhere else for that matter).

Bin Laden’s conduct reminds me strongly of that of the Mufti of Jerusalem, a distinguished Muslim scholar and remote relative of Yassir Arafat, who traveled to Berlin during  the  second world war and got on famously with the Nazi bigwigs, lending a hand as the latter were engaged in exterminating a large portion of Eastern Europe’s population.

There have been many cruel, egotistical and unscrupulous Christians, among them some who were profoundly devoted to their faith. However I think  that  any Christian cleric, no matter how much he agreed with Hitler’s or Turabi’s point of view, would at least try to cover his tracks by making a token appeal to spare this or that province or city or even individual. 

The fact  that  it didn't occur to the late Mufti or to Mr Bin Laden to make the slightest humanitarian appeal in order to alleviate genocide, even by a tiny amount, says volumes about the moral standards of Islam.

Indeed I would not hesitate to say that in terms of compassion for human life, Islam is on a par with Niccolò Macchiavelli — you should be merciful when mercy is convenient to advance your interests, not otherwise.

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