The cudgel of faith

What do Sarkozy and Mullah Muhammad Omar have in common? A penis! (They do not share one penis. They each have their own penis. They share the context of the penis-owning.) What does all their thinking? A penis! Why? Because they worship it. Omar worships from fear and Sarkozy worships for a promised reward.

I have been asked from several sources to comment on French Pres. Sarkozy’s suggested hijab ban. I refused because I really felt I have nothing to add to what is being said and what was said over five years ago when French Pres. Chirac floated a similar idea. You cannot “free” women from male control by having different men control them. However, the recent fervor around this round of stupidity had me thinking more deeply about the issue. I realized I do have something to say. I agree with Freud. Never did I think I would say such a thing, but I do. Everything is about the male penis.

What do Sarkozy and Mullah Muhammad Omar have in common? A penis! (They do not share one penis. They each have their own penis. They share the context of the penis-owning.) What does all their thinking? A penis! Why? Because they worship it. Omar worships from fear and Sarkozy worships for a promised reward.

Let me first be clear, as always, that I do not oppose a woman’s commitment to wear any type of garb she believes to religiously mandated. My argument is with those who impose religion on others. Religion without faith is simply a sex game. Omar and Sarkozy are prime examples of men playing their sex games.

Omar fears his penis. Woman must be covered lest he be led into temptation. Rather than learning to control his urges, he gives them free reign, and makes it someone else’s responsibility to make him behave himself. His solution of subjugated woman to elevate his faith is selfish, denying women the pleasure of faith and choice. It is, as a result, also irreligious from a Muslim’s standpoint. He has made an altar and installed his penis as the object of worship.

Sarkozy comes from the opposite perspective. He loves his penis, and believes it must be offered temptation whenever possible. The idea that a woman might wish to dress modestly is inconceivable to him, because that would not be pleasing to him. He must constantly be flooded with the appearance of female flesh, otherwise how would he think?

Rather than focus on the strong feminist critique of the woman as object, I want to expose why men believe they can act this way with women. It is because of their god. Not God, but their own private little god, who controls their actions.

There is a story of Rabia al-Basri (717 – 801 CE) that has her running through the streets of Baghdad. In one hand she has a torch on fire and in the other she has a pail of water. People ask her why she has these things and she says she wishes to burn down Heaven and put out the fires of Hell. When asked why, she said she did not want to worship God for the promise of Heaven or the fear of Hell. I wonder what she would do now, if she saw people were not worshiping God, but were worshiping their own private gods, obeying them, and saying that they were acting in the name of God. I imagine we would have a new type of castrati, who worshipped God, because the god they worshipped from fear or promise was gone.

Ultimately, what Omar and Sarkozy types fail to see is the beauty of faith and the conscious act of submission. By removing choice, there is no faith, and there can be no beauty. I have to disagree with Mona Eltahawy who strongly supports Sarkozy, and Rushda Majeed who intimates support. Anything that denies half the world choice should be considered problematic. Anything that seeks to force women to do anything for their own good should be viewed with double the amount of suspicion.

Hussein Rashid is a Contributing Writer for Altmuslimah


  • mohammed husain says:

    This is so simplistic that its unhelpful.  You seem to have bought into classic enlightenment liberalism, with its deification of choice, without any awareness of the philosophical criticisms that have accumulated over the last, i dunno, couple hundred years in the Western tradition.  Elevating choice as our highest value devolves very easily into nihilism and not the protection of religion that you imagine is so obviously required.

  • OmarG says:

    “Laa ikraaha fi d-deen” … There is no compulsion in a way of life. The absence of compulsion is ‘choice’. Also, people are not rewarded for what they are compelled to do, only what they voluntarily choose to do. Thus, compelling women to dress in a certain way earns them no reward because there is ikraah / compulsion.

    That should be simple enough, but since so many people want to insist on women having to dress like this or that just makes me more a believer in Hussein Rashid’s theory of us acting because of our “little god”. (I’d say women have thier own “little god”, too…)

  • @OmarG thanks for getting the joke.

    @mohammed, “the deification of choice” seems to be an absurd reduction of the point that the state should have no vested interest in telling me how to practice my faith. I am not equating freedom with license, which is the dominant critique of the ability to choose anything. in particular, you will note the irony of attacking me for using “enlightment liberalism” to argue that exact opposite point of Sarkozy, who is also arguing “enlightment liberalism.”

  • mohammed husain says:

    OmarG: true La ikraha fid deen;  but the social provisions of sharia’ have never been optional because of such an understanding.  I’m afraid things are somewhat more complex than that because Islam also has law, and like any other law, insofar as it deals with the social realm its enforced via coercive means of various degrees. 

    HusseinRashid: Muslims typically criticize liberals with the charge of license.  But the critique of Western philosophers: MacIntyre, Taylor, even Nietzche is much more sophisticated and strikes much deeper.  A place to start: MacIntyre’s After Virtue.

  • OmarG says:

    Islamic law is only applicable by the state, not individuals nor mosque administrators nor shuyukh. Laws belong to states and any other governance authority. Here, this means the Federal, state and local governments. Thus, here and probably in my view in original Islam, its supposed to be a set of social ethics that cannot be coercive. Afterall, people say that Islam is a way of life and if there is no coercion, then how can we even theoretically have a set of laws enforcable in God’s name but most of which were derived by humans? I could not accept coercion to follow laws which only an oligarchy have made up without the checks and balances of public input or other mechanism. Oligarchy = tyranny / zulm as we have continuously seen in Islamic history. Islam does not equal tyranny, therefore we have a big problem with how we equalize Islam / iman with law.

  • mohammed husain says:

    No one is equalizing “Islam/Iman” with law.  But lets face it, law, by its very nature is coercive.  No matter if its democratic legislation or something else.

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