Friday, July 9, 2010

Sakineh Ashtiani's Reprieve, Self-Immolation in Afghanistan

Brutal: A woman is buried before being stoned in Iran 
(Photo unattributed, Daily Mail, UK, in a great article)

This will not, it seems, be Sakineh Ashtiani's fate, according to the wire as of about two hours ago. The LA Times reports that Iran is backing down on the stoning but that Sakineh may be executed some other way. I had just been reading Richard Allen Green's Belief blog on CNN which points out that the Qur'an does not in fact either suggest stoning for adultery (the only crime for which stoning is the sentence in Iran) nor does it even advocate the death penalty. The Qur'an metes out a hundred lashes, which Sakineh Ashtiani already endured long ago. This excellent blog post points to the absurdity not just of the allegations and conviction of Sakineh, but to the ambiguities of Sharia law's interpretation of not the Qur'an itself, but haddith, which are sayings attributed to Mohammed. Dangerous business that attribution thing.

Stoning in the Iranian penal code has an even more interesting history. Several clerics have evidently been against it and it was none other than our dear departed Ayatollah Khomeni who reinstated it in 1982 after it had been tossed from the secular penal code before the Islamic Revolution. It was tossed yet again but reinstated again, reportedly because of the intervention of the lovely Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007. I wonder about it because the man just seems to get blamed for so much these days. Perhaps he really is the root of all evil? All I know is that if the name of their God is "Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate"  as each chapter of the Qur'an invokes, what can these people possibly be thinking?

Activists and Sakineh's attorney still think it likely that she will be executed. For adultery she says she did NOT commit and for which, according to the Qur'an, she has already been punished. How is that justice?

On the other happy news front, if you want to read more about women's rights (and I use the term euphemistically) in neighboring Afghanistan, I advocate you bravely look at this coming week's Time Magazine. When they have no way out, desperation can make women do horrifying things to themselves. According to the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs, 103 women set themselves on fire between March 2009 and March 2010. What does it say about a society that women feel this is their best option for relief from their life circumstances and evident suffering?

Vasiyeh, 16, shows her scars from burns she inflicted on herself two years ago, 
in Herat, Afghanistan, on April 6, 2010
Majid Saeedi / Getty Images for Time

Can any rational Muslim man not question the thought that his mother, his sister, his daughter or granddaughter's experience is so horrible that her only out is to set herself on fire? 

There is so much that is elegant and refined in Arabic and Persian history. What happened when they got to basic human rights? 

Without any sense of being snide or dismissive of the beliefs in these countries, I seriously wish they would try to emulate Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate more closely. I believe that Mohammed held his daughter Fatima in high regard. 

Why do all these daughters and wives deserve any different?

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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