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Monday, August 23, 2004

Family Values

The Doha International Conference for the Family follows upon the celebration of the International Year of the Family and will be a two-day conference in Doha, Qatar on November 29 and 30, 2004, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misned, Consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, and President of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, State of Qatar.

The Conference represents an international assemblage bringing together international VIPs, governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), scholars, academicians and civil society leaders who will be invited by the State of Qatar to participate for the purpose to call upon all nations of the world to restate the principles related to family life embodied in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and to adhere to values and endeavor to promote the role of the family as it is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and state.

That’s the press release. And it’s not a bad idea, as ideas go. But it is hard to believe it will go well. While Moslems and Christians both agree on the importance of the family, there are serious differences in what the word "family" means.

Marriage is the first issue. While it is true that Moslems and Christians share equal antipathy for attempts at homosexual marriage, it is not the case that we share a similar view of marriage. Moslem societies, for instance, allow polygamy. Christian societies (apart from Martin Luther’s attempt to introduce it for German nobility) do not.

You see, the major difference between Moslems and Christians lies in their respective role models. Christians attempt to model their lives after that of Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom who gave His life up for His Bride (singular), the Church. Moslems, on the other hand, model their lives on Mohammed, who had numerous wives, concubines and sexual slaves.

After the death of his first wife, with whom he had four daughters, he married dozens of times – between 30 and 45 wives in all. That doesn’t count concubines or slaves that he used for sex. Just the wives. According to Ebn Abbas, "The highest member of Moslems who is the Prophet Mohammed has also the highest appetite for women." This is the man all Muslim men emulate. Think on this.

In his endless quest for the perfect marriage, he took notice of the wife of his adopted son, Zaid Ebn Hares. He commanded Zaid to divorce her so he could marry her. Zaid was willing to do so, but there was one problem. Arabic custom and law forbad a man from marrying his daughter-in-law. Mohammed could not marry her. More fool Zaid. Mohammed had visions from God telling him that Zaid’s wife was not really his daughter-in-law.

How could that be? Well, God pointed out that adoption is not possible. You can’t make a blood relative out of someone who isn’t blood. At best, such a person is a foster child, but certainly not a true relative in any binding sense. So, since adoption was not possible, Zaid was not his adopted son, but only a foundling he brought up. Since Zaid was not his son, Zaid’s wife was not his daughter-in-law. Who can contradict the prophet of God? Zaid divorced his wife and Mohammed had a new playmate, at the very small price of destroying the concept of adoption in all Arab countries.

To this day, it is not possible to adopt a child in a Moslem country. Adoption is not illegal. It simply doesn’t exist. At all. In contrast, Christian faith is built almost entirely on the concept of adoption. We are adopted sons and daughters of God. That's how we are saved.

But Mohammed was not done. His appetite for women was so strong that he essentially legislated heterosexual pedophilia into Islamic law. The fifty-six year old man expressed his desire to marry a six-year old girl, the daughter of one of his first followers, Abu Bakr. Mohammed made his case by pointing out that he had had several dreams in which God commanded him to marry the girl-child. Abu Bakr agreed to the marriage on the condition that the marriage not be consummated until the girl was nine years old. That suited Mohammed. Thus, girls nine years of age (and sometimes younger) are able to be given in marriage under Islamic law and in all Moslem societies.

Sex with a nine-year old. Christians may do it, but it’s a sin and we know it. Muslims do it because God and His Prophet said it was virtuous.

Proper treatment of wives
Now, it should be noted that Mohammed was not entirely ungrateful. Once he had betrothed his six-year old bride, he gave his own daughter in marriage to Abu Bakr. Unfortunately, she was a rather disobedient wife. Islamic law permits men to beat their wives. Abu Bakr beat his wife, beat Mohammed’s daughter, to death for her disobedience. Mohammed responded by giving him another daughter. Thus, severe wife beatings, even beatings unto death, are sanctioned and blessed by the Prophet.

This lesson has not been lost on followers of Islam. Death is the penalty for both fornication and for apostasy from Islam. Certainly any woman who marries a non-Moslem is at great risk of apostasy. She is supposed to follow her husband in all things, after all, be totally obedient to him. That is the Moslem way. And any woman who marries without the permission of her father or brothers is a fornicator. So when a young girl marries outside of Islam and against the wishes of her male relatives, it is not uncommon for her father or brothers to kill her. It’s necessary, you see, for the honor of the family and to keep her from leaving Islam.

Now it is true that Christians have shotgun weddings, but we shoot the man if he reneges, not the woman. Some may see this as an insignificant difference, but Christians find it rather telling.

Likewise telling is the concept of "temporary marriage" or Muta. Any man engaged in jihad and away from his wife/wives can make a temporary marriage – three or four days – with any woman he meets as long as he pays her dowry price, a price which the man sets. The dowry can be as low as a handful of barley or dates, or a piece of cloth. Most cultures call this prostitution. Some call it rape. Mohammed calls it family time.

So, the Doha conference is a good idea, in the sense that it emphasizes the importance of family. But when Muslims and Christians have such a difference in their respective understandings of family, it may be worthwhile to ask one question. Are we supposed to accept the Muslim understanding of family? It seems rather unlikely that they will accept ours.

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