Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Review: Moon-o-theism, Chapter 10

I'm not sure I buy this chapter. The shared design elements notwithstanding, things like the hanging of lamps from archways could be because it's a practical and convenient place to hang a lamp (it lights both sides, after all). I think what I want from this chapter is more outside comparison--I want both x = y and -x = -y. I want to see that the peculiar arrangements are associated only with astral/lunar worship, and not just something they happen to do because it's practical/traditional/aesthetically pleasing.

The explanation of how prostration is a remnant of pagan worship is fascinating. They would use a polished/moistened stone or a pool of water to catch the reflection of deity, and then prostrate themselves over the stone, which would cause the reflection to disappear (presumably to be absorbed by the worshiper). Orthodox Muslims still use the stone today, though it is no longer polished or moistened. Later on, he argues that the prostration is also a symbolic fertility rite. I like the first explanation better.

I also thought the reason that a conviction for rape required four male witnesses was fascinating. Mohammad was tremendously infertile, and so he overlooked his wife Aisha's trysts, that he could claim any son as his own (things were easier in the days before DNA testing, weren't they?). On one of them, however, she "fell off her camel" and was "rescued" by a guy bring up the rear. The three men who discovered them began to provide details that indicated she was not being hastened to her husband, so, since there were three of them, Mohammad decreed that four witnesses were needed. And that ruling has been the bane of Islamic women's existence ever since. (Yoel Natan cites an estimate that 3/4 of women in Pakistani prisons are victims of rape, who, lacking the four witnesses, were in turn accused of adultery and imprisoned.)

This chapter did make me think about the comparison between Jesus and Mohammad. The worst thing anyone could seriously claim about Jesus character, (and even then, the Gnostics wrote it a hundred years after all the witnesses were dead), was that he was ::gasp:: married. By contrast, Mohammad's professional career appears to have been one long atrocity, from genocide, to adultery, to pedophilia, to torture, to rape, and all of these freely attested to by his contemporaries--both his disciples and his detractors.

On to chapter eleven.

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Blogger Noumenon said...

So basically Mohammad drew the line at gang rape. But did his disciples really tell that camel story?

6:56 AM  
Blogger Octavo Dia said...

I'm not really clear, but it seems that the camel story was what Aisha said.

7:20 PM  

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