May 29, 2014

Just a Reminder that Not all of Pakistan's Problems Can be Blamed on Islam

A reminder to the 'phobes. And I mean it, there really are Islamophobes out there. I just think they are much more rare than is alleged. Like racists, they exist but you can't blame every bad thing that happens on racism. Or sexism. Or partriarchy. Or capitalism. Or whatever.

A theory that posits a single causal variable for all outcomes isn't a theory: it's a worldview.

So, the idea that Islam is the cause of all misery in Muslim country just doesn't hold up to scientific scrutiny. Neither does the idea that all criticisms of Islamism are just so much phobia. Phobes!

Now, this isn't to say that certain versions of Islam aren't related to whatever bad thing you are looking at, or that it is one of a number of causal factors, or that in certain instances it is the primary cause, but only if we are talking about specific negative consequences in specific context.

Case in point: In neighboring India gang rape is a serious and widespread problem. And it's not Islamic mysogeny that is to blame. Sure, Muslims are 25% of the total population, but here we have a couple of Hindu girls gang raped and murdered by a bunch of Hindu guys.

I don't know what the cause of this phenomenon in India is. Perhaps it goes back to the old caste system. The girls here were of the "untouchable" class. Perhaps it has something to do with some other cultural factors in India I don't know about. I've no idea. But you know what I do know? That Islam isn't to blame.

Here's the pretty horrible story:

Indian police have arrested one man and are looking for four other suspects after two teenage girls were gang-raped and then hanged from a tree in a village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

The two cousins, who were from a low-caste Dalit community and aged 14 and 15, went missing from their village home in Uttar Pradeshs Budaun district when they went out to go to the toilet on Tuesday evening.

The following morning, villagers found the bodies of the two teenagers hanging from a mango tree in a nearby orchard.

I just wanted to throw this out there because sometimes when we see honor killings or the mistreatment of women in Islamic countries the immediate reaction is to point to something in the sharia, but when we see it happen in other countries we blame in on culture or something else. The point being that bad stuff happens in every country, and when that bad stuff happens we can't blame Islam. But when the same bad stuff happens in Muslim countries we need to be cautious about pointing to some Islamic doctrine as the cause.

I'm not saying certain Islamic or sharia principles never are to blame (at least, partially), just that when your default position is always the same you've kind of lost your credibility. Somewhere between blaming Islam for everything, and claiming that certain strands of Islam are never to be blamed lies the truth.

And the reason that comparing social ills in Pakistan to social ills in India are valid comparisons is that the two are essentially the same nation with an arbitrary border separating them.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:45 PM | Comments |