Good news for automatons

Finally, people who can’t think for themselves have an easy way to get instructions.

A telephone help-line offering advice about the true teaching of Islam is being launched in the UK today. Callers to the Islamic Hotline will get answers to their questions within 48 hours, from scholars trained at one of the world’s principal Islamic universities…The Islamic Hotline believes it has good news for British Muslims – keeping the laws of Islam is not as difficult as you thought.

How nice – submitting to the authority of reactionary outdated self-serving androcentric laws dating from fourteen centuries ago is not as difficult as you thought. It’s still a ridiculous pathetic slavish way to live and to make others live, but it’s not as difficult as you thought.

Prof Aboshady provides callers with a sense of the varying interpretations of Islamic law and then recommends one in their particular case. “We are not sticking to one view, or one school of law,” he says. “What we present is what we believe is suitable to people in different times and places and let them choose which is suitable to them. This gives Islamic law some flexibility, so we are not changing the religion or creating new religion, but simply give people the chance to choose which is suitable to them.”

So there’s a kind of gloss of flexibility, an appearance of being sensible and reasonable, but in an eviscerated form. You get a choice of a few views or schools of law, but all of them are imprisoned within the one religion, so there is ‘some flexibility,’ but no actual freedom. It’s like a bigger, airier prison with more privileges and better facilities – but it’s still a prison. It’s nothing to boast of.

Hanaa Ismail called the line about what she calls “issues in the family, about the relations between a man and his wife, what a wife’s duties are…She might be abused by a man for a long while and yet she could get embarrassed to talk about it. This has been… an Arab tradition. With this helpline she can ask for help without any embarrassment, and [the scholar] won’t know who she is, and she can ask about all the details.”

Right – but what she can’t do is say ‘the hell with this, I’m leaving.’ She can’t decide for herself that she has no duty to be beaten by her husband and no desire to tie her life to someone who wants to beat her – she has to ask a ‘scholar’ what the rules are. If he says the rules are that she has to stay with the guy who beats her, that’s that.

She should look elsewhere for advice.

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