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Tony Grist

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An Inconsistency [Sep. 28th, 2011|10:07 am]
Tony Grist
The puritans who rule Saudi Arabia are busy destroying anything that could invite idolatry. Vast tracts of old Mecca and Medina have been flattened- to the despair of archaeologists and historians of Islam- and Mohammed's birthplace and the cave in which he composed the earlier parts of the Koran are under threat.

I respect the puritan mindset, but what I don't understand is why, if shrines must go, the Kaaba is spared? How is it OK to prostrate yourself before a big black rock but not to visit the house where the prophet was born? There's a lack of follow-through here.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shanghai7
2011-09-28 09:32 am (UTC)
My reading is that by venerating the house you make it SHIRK, you are placing it on an even level with Allah. The Kaaba is what all Muslims face at prayer (Salat) and therefore not subject to SHIRK. I may be wrong!
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-09-28 09:47 am (UTC)
I don't understand why that makes it not subject to SHIRK?
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[User Picture]From: ron_broxted
2011-09-28 10:07 am (UTC)
Neither do I apart from the basic "Oh you are venerating where Mohammed (QSSL) died, whereas the Kaaba is "not human" therefore not vulnerable to such ideas. I will try and ask an Imam soon.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-28 11:59 am (UTC)
Seems like a quibble to me.

Time for Islam to produce a Luther.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-09-28 09:59 am (UTC)
I don't see them as puritans at all. The mindset just isn't there. They aren't so superstitious. They don't fear pleasure. They don't hate ideas. They are not violent or racist.

The Magic Kingdom doesn't care about archeology. There have been some fitful attempts of late, but still fitful. In part, they don't want anything turning up that might lead to questioning the faith. They also, curiously, see themselves as looking forward and not dwelling in the past, if you can wrap your head around such a cultural paradox.

A former employer lived in Saudi for years. He showed me a handful of bronze arrowheads he'd picked up and said that there was a plain that he knew where, along with other artifacts, they lay thick on the ground wherever you looked. No one paid them any mind or had any idea how they got there. He said that he saw whole medieval towns bulldozed flat to make way for modern construction projects. On the other hand, the royal family pays Bedouins to live in tents, just to maintain the tradition.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-28 12:38 pm (UTC)
Religious intolerance, misogyny, moral authoritarianism, scriptural fundamentalism, a disregard for history- these all seem like Puritan traits to me. Of course, I'm talking about the clerics rather than the Royal family.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-09-29 09:22 am (UTC)
I have to defend the Puritans a bit here! They were not notably misogynist (by general seventeenth-century standards), and far more likely than most to encourage women's literacy and to emphasize their status as helpmeets and rational companions of men, rather than chattels.

Otherwise, I agree.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-29 10:43 am (UTC)
Yes, that was a bit simplistic of me. The 17th century puritans were pioneers of women's rights. Modern puritans (Wahabi clerics for instance) tend to be less so.

"Right but repulsive"- why do our ancestors have to be so nuanced?
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-09-29 03:19 pm (UTC)
Indeed. Judged by the standards of the day, I find that women were treated equitably before Puritan courts of justice as well. A widow could and usually did enjoy a high degree of legal independence and authority.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-09-29 03:04 pm (UTC)
I found an insider's view of Saudi society most illuminating and from what you're proposing imagine you might as well.

I don't see Saudi clerics as necessarily more religiously intolerant than the Bishop of Rome and probably a plurality of the Holy See. They could not possibly be more misogynist, or more textually fundamentalist, and if the heirs of St Peter enjoyed the sort of unchecked temporal power exercised by the house of Saud, I doubt that they would be much different than their Arabian counterparts. The plain facts of European history suggests that I'm right.

The Saudis may have a puritanical obsession with right conduct, but they lack a suspicion of sensuality in general, one of the more salient traits of Homo puritanicus.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2011-09-30 12:23 pm (UTC)
Y'know? especially after you mentioned that puritanical Calvinist, I think another way of stating my objection is that I can't imagine puritanism outside the context of English culture.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-29 08:23 am (UTC)
...And lose the kingdom a lot of money.....

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-29 08:42 am (UTC)
That would be good.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2011-10-01 02:56 pm (UTC)
Your initial post and all the following comments have been a fascinating read. Of course, I find my heart plummeting at this news - and realising that the destruction of our heritage isn't really too bad, after all!

I just don't think it's fair to deprive those generations who follow on after you - who may have totally different ideas of what's important - of finite resources which can never be replaced. And which in the long term may have an intrinsic financial value in terms of tourist interest. I'd guess that heritage tourism brings in quite a bit of money - add that to your pilgrim revenue and you're really laughing.

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[User Picture]From: zen_punk
2011-10-02 07:01 am (UTC)

Link is down

"Sorry but we haven't been able to serve the page you requested - please try again"

What an incredibly English error message.

How did that go, I wonder?

"Page not found?! How brusque! No, I'm afraid that won't do."
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