Saturday, 21 August 2010

Is this really Islamic?

I have just finished reading John W Kiser's book The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria. [Do explore this site, especially the Q and A with the author.] As well as giving an account of the life of the monks and of the Catholic community in Algeria at an exceptionally difficult time, the book also gives an account of the historical and political context. This reaches back to the war fought between the French and Algerian insurgents between 1954 and 1962, and the conflict between the Algerian army/government and a later generation of Islamist insurgents that took the lives of the monks at Tibhirine. Both conflicts were marked by brutality on all sides.

The killing of the monks is perhaps iconic of a conflict that, just going on the snippets included in John Kiser's book, was utterly barbaric in the acts of violence undertaken by all parties. After the kidnapping and killing of the monks at Tibhirine - the precise circumstances still do not appear to be clearly known - thousands of ordinary Muslim citizens wrote letters of condolence to the Catholic bishop of Algiers, Bishop Teissier. Key themes of these letters were to express the shame that the writers, as Muslims, felt that the killings had occurred under the guise of Islam; that killings like this were not true to Islam; that they were offended by the way in which these killings had besmirched their reputation as a hospitable and welcoming people.

In the same spirit as the letters of these Muslim citizens of Algeria in the face of barbarity, I ask: is it really true to Islam for a judge, acting in the name of the legal system of a modern state, to ask members of the medical profession to deliberately cut a man's spinal cord as part of a legal punishment?


Rita said...

No it is not Islam it is Wahhabism. Sadly we continue to support this sect through our reliance on Saudi oil and business links. They in return, spend a fortune on grand mosques in many different countries, promulgating their "no-frills pure Islam" that is anything but tolerant, traditional or edifying.

Joe said...


At one point in his book, John Kiser suggests that the export of Wahhabism was manifested in the barbaric violence of Algerian Islamists. He notes the danger that such violence could in its turn come back to the states that embrace Wahhabism. Only a brief and passing observation, but quite a striking one nonetheless.