Protestant denominations have a liturgy concerning the confession of sin, and it contains a line that goes something like this: “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against each other, in thought and word and deed, in the evil we have done and the good we have not done…”
I was reminded of this when I read today’s NY Times article on the Afghan pracice of baad in which girls are used as payment for various offenses. The particular case study in the article concerns a girl who was kidnapped by a band of armed thugs unhappy about her uncle’s marital infidelity.
Importantly, the article notes that the practice of baad existed before the advent of Islam, and that “most religious scholars” deem the practice illegal under Islamic law.
But this got me to thinking: what sort of religion becomes widespread – indeed, becomes the dominant belief system – yet fails to stop such heinous practices as the delivery of girls into slavery and forced marriage? What good is a religion if it allows these sorts of things to continue over hundreds of years?
Some religious beliefs certainly can positively motivate their adherents, and sometimes do so quite strongly. For instance, there are many religious charities doing the hard work of compassion. But Islam, in particular, seems to have got it all wrong. It is passionate about subduing women. It wants to destroy apostates, and it reviles freedom of speech.
And if that’s just the message of a few fringe fundamentalist sects, then moderate Muslims need to be speaking louder. They need to show us what their religion is doing to affect positive social change.