Values, again

This may be a bit controversial, but I am accepting this story, from Arutz Sheva, an Israeli media network which is identified with Religious Zionism, at face value. The embedded video, from the (somewhat controversial) American Center for Democracy, appears legitimate, but it is, mainly, an attack of the nature of Sharia.

Did Prime Minister Trudeau say that “Islam is not incompatible with Western secular democracy“? Yes, it appears he did so, at least twice …

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… context is everything, of course, but the second quote does seem to indicate that he actually believes that Islam of which Sharia is an integral part, is compatible with our current liberal, secular-humanist form of democracy that is rooted in Anglo-Saxon common law traditions. I do not share that view.

I am not, in any way, an expert of Islam or the Quran or Sharia, I’m not even well informed about any of them, but, that being stipulated, my understanding is that “Sharīʿah, also spelled Sharia, the fundamental religious concept of Islam, namely its law, systematized during the 2nd and 3rd centuries of the Muslim era (8th–9th centuries CE) … [and, specifically] … Total and unqualified submission to the will of Allah (God) is the fundamental tenet of Islam: Islamic law is therefore the expression of Allah’s command for Muslim society and, in application, constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon a Muslim by virtue of his religious belief. Known as the Sharīʿah (literally, “the path leading to the watering place”), the law constitutes a divinely ordained path of conduct that guides Muslims toward a practical expression of religious conviction in this world and the goal of divine favour in the world to come.” To me that seems almost 180° out of phase with modern, secular, liberal democratic ideas and ideals. Sharia, as I understand it, offers believers a complete “system” for both their private lives and for government. I believe that every person has an absolute right to believe whatever she or he wants; but there are limitations on how you or I or anyone gives effect to our beliefs. We may not try to impose our beliefs upon others; we may, however, agree amongst ourselves to certain “rules,” laws, like everyone drives on one side of the road or the other, for example, and that we all, not just bikes and buses, stop at red lights. The nature of our democracy is that we agree, amongst ourselves ~ no outside agency, not even a divine one, imposes “laws” on us.

We, in the liberal-democratic West, have agreed, over the centuries, that one person may not beat another … it is, pretty much, an absolute prohibition in our laws. I don’t know what the Quran and Hadith say, exactly, but Sharia appears to allow and condone the beating of wives by husbands for certain “offences” against religious rules which were, very often, just medieval social practices in the Middle East. Sharia is, therefore, not compatible with democracy and, by extension, Islam, while welcome, of course, as a private belief, cannot have any public role in a democratic society … not, at least, as I understand democracy or Sharia. Equally, of course, Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism should have no public role in our society.

Or, take female circumcision or female genital mutilation, for example, it is or it bloody well ought to be a crime in Canada attempt to or to procure such an “operations” or to perform one … anyone guilty of procuring or performing the act should go to jail for a long, long time. Although it appears, to me, that Sharia does not require or, some scholars say, even condone female circumcisions, other scholars take a different view. The very fact that there is ambiguity means that Sharia is incompatible with Canadian values. Anyone, Muslim or not, may believe what they want about the utility of female genital mutilation but they may not procure or perform such a barbaric act in Canada.

Our views on the utility of male circumcision are changing. I was circumcised as an infant in 1942, so were the majority of Canadian babies; my two sons were circumcised, as newborns, in the 1970s. Rates have fallen since “most Canadian boys were circumcised in the middle of the last century” until less than ⅓ are now. It is also clear that evidence supporting male circumcision is less and less positive. My grandson, the child of two well educated, thoughtful parents, has not been circumcised. But male circumcision and female circumcision genital mutilation are very different and there never, ever was any evidence that female genital mutilation did anything medically beneficial for the victim.

Sharia is, in my estimation, essentially a reflection of medieval, Middle Eastern social values; as such it has no place in the public life of modern, 21st century, liberal and secular Canada, at least not in so far as either of those terms, ‘liberal’ and ‘secular,’ still have any reasonable meaning. That Prime Minister Trudeau thinks, or, at least thought in 2015 and 2016, that Islam, which includes Sharia, was “not incompatible” with our Western, liberal democracy frightens me because it suggests that he does not understand much about the the nature of democracy or Canada, and he’s supposed to defend one and lead the other. It’s a question, I suppose, of values … and I worry that Justin Trudeau doesn’t have many.


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