West Wing
Enemies Foreign And Domestic

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In the specific case referenced here, the fire in Makkah, there is absolutely no way that there is any theological support in Islam (or any religion I know of, for that matter) for the actions of the religious police. It's made very clear in Islam that when it comes to life-or-death matters, all things are permitted. The haram (forbidden) becomes halal (permissible). This is not advanced knowledge; it does not require sophisticated interpretation. Most Muslim schoolchildren know this, for God's sake. This means that if a Muslim will otherwise starve to death and there is nothing but pork to eat, he can eat pork. If a Muslim will die of thirst and there is only wine to drink, she can drink it. It means that if someone is forcing a Muslim at gunpoint to say he believes in a triune God, he can say it, because God knows what's really in his heart. It means, among other things, that even if those girls had been completely naked in the shower when the fire broke out, every effort should have been made to save them. Obviously Islam takes the issue of modesty quite seriously, but it does not place it above the inherent value of life. There would be no God-given punishment for any breach of modesty on the part of the girls; there would be no God-given punishment for anyone who inadvertently breached the modesty of the girls. End of story. Islam is very, very clear about such things. As I explained in my recap of "Isaac and Ishmael," one of the most overwhelmingly important concepts in Islam is that of niyah, intention. You're judged by God on your intention as much as on your actions. What the mutawwa'in did was, in my opinion (and that of every Muslim I know), cold-blooded murder, and even if they didn't form the intention to commit murder, their actions clearly speak to their intention to prevent the girls from being rescued, knowing they would die, and I believe they'll suffer eternity in hellfire both for the deaths and for the grotesque offense of perpetrating those deaths in the name of Islam. Not that that helps those girls or their families one damn bit now. The mutawwa'in should be charged, convicted, and punished by an earthly court, too, but that's freaking unlikely to happen. And as long as North Americans continue to consume oil at the present appalling rate, we will have to do business with certain oil-rich and deeply corrupt governments that daily perpetrate gross violations of human rights, and all the condemnation in the world is just a lot of meaningless hot air. Nothing will ever change until countries are held accountable in meaningful ways, and until the money stops flowing in.

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