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Friday, March 31, 2023

There is a religious private school, somewhere out there in this great big world, that teaches young Muslim women that it is morally permissible for men to strike their wives, to kill gay people and that Jews and Christians upset Allah. If we were to ask you where you think such a school was situated, what would you say? Iraq? Pakistan? Iran?

If you guessed Nottingham, England, unfortunately you are correct. Jamia Al Hudaa has been shut down as a result of such teachings. According to The Independent, the school taught “no geography, history, art, sport or music,” and instead subjected students to these morally repugnant views.

Hopefully, dear reader, you immediately read that and thought happy thoughts like “The Quran mentions peace far more than it mentions violence, and treating humans with respect and dignity is one of the core pillars of Islam.” And you’re not wrong if you thought that. Those are both true statements. But the literature does mention some pretty horrible punishments that are supposed to be dealt to people found guilty of some otherwise trivial crimes. Sometimes, those punishments were intended to be dealt to those who, from our perspective, have committed no crimes — they have just loved another person.

Whether you like it or not, those who claim Islam is a religion of peace derive this conclusion from the same place that fundamentalists derive their conclusion that Islam is a religion fine with spousal abuse and murder: the literature.

We bring this to your attention, readers, not to attack those who uphold the pillars and traditions of Islam, but to address the uncomfortable fact that virtually every religious text we hold dear to us as a society is flawed. The Bible, the Torah, the Quran — these books are the words of the gods you believe in, but they were written by man, and man’s way of thinking has come a long way since those initial writings.

Rather than dismiss morally repugnant practices as “culturally different,” dismiss them as immoral. Remain consistent in your view that a practice is wrong. This doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of whatever ideology that is; it just means you ought to be critical of a practice regardless of who perpetuates it.

Additionally, if you are a member of an ideology advocating for a popular, mainstream view that usually rejects gross practices, please acknowledge that religion is in fact an “all-or-nothing” game. If you believe that your religious literature is divinely ordained by one of the 3,000+ gods that have ever been conceived in human history, you’re not allowed to cherry-pick the pieces that you like and ignore the pieces that you don’t like. If you do that, you have to confront your inconsistency.

All we’re asking, dear reader, is to acknowledge that in terms of religious practice, everybody derives, for better or for worse, his or her conclusions from the same pieces of literature. Perhaps the practicing institutions ought to be reformed on the most fundamental level, the same way many other aspects of our lives should.

Some of you may be reading this editorial and thinking it in some way justifies your belief that we shouldn’t let refugees from foreign nations into our country. You’re wrong. Fear and arrogance cannot solve this problem. There needs to be open dialogue, discussion and informational exchange for this to occur. This cannot and will not happen if we refuse to embrace change and continue to grow as a society.

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