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Beautiful maidens
October 12, 2005 6:14 AM   Subscribe

A new television series ["Beautiful Maidens"] being broadcast around the Middle East tells the story of Arabs living in residential compounds in Saudi Arabia and the militant Islamists who want to blow them up so they can collect their rewards in heaven - 72 beautiful virgins. One of the show's writers, Abdullah Bjad, is a Saudi and self-described former militant who was consulted on religious aspects of the script. He said that just before one of the 2003 attacks on a residential compound in Saudi Arabia, an attacker who was in contact with his superiors was "heard on the mobile phone counting down the seconds to the 'beautiful maidens.' His last words were: 'One second to the 'beautiful maidens.' He then blew himself up."
New Syrian TV show angers some Arabs • But what will a woman have when she enters paradise?
posted by jenleigh (83 comments total)

 
Link #1 registration free at the Seattle Times here.
posted by LarryC at 6:24 AM on October 12, 2005


In the Western religions, men will get a chance to spend an eternity with their ex-wives, strum harps, be with their old frat buddies, and not have to worry about changing oil in their cars; women will be around the guys they might have married instead of the loser they did.
posted by Postroad at 6:24 AM on October 12, 2005


what will a woman have when she enters paradise

Perpetually renewing virginity and an army of Martyred suitors. Surprise! It's actually Hell!
posted by CynicalKnight at 6:42 AM on October 12, 2005


Sorry mates, I didn't realize I was logged into Mercury News, nor that it even required login. Story is also at ABC News.
posted by jenleigh at 7:17 AM on October 12, 2005


From the second link "Question: According to the Quran when a man enters paradise, he will get hoor, i.e. beautiful maidens. What will a woman have when she enters paradise? "

someone please tell me that the word "hoor" is pronounced in a manner that does not rhyme with bore....
posted by HuronBob at 7:19 AM on October 12, 2005


Wait, one of the tenets of Islam is that you get a new spouse (or 72) in heaven? This seems suprisingly cynical to me, like you're just marking time with your actual spouse here on earth. Someone who knows more than I do, please explain.

But, hey, maybe it IS hell: you're being set up on an eternal blind date with between 1 and 72 people, and all you are told about them is "they have really nice eyes." I'd be worried.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:21 AM on October 12, 2005


According to one scholar they may just end up with some "white raisins".
posted by gubo at 7:29 AM on October 12, 2005


The explicit promise of bountiful young, beautiful, perpetually unveiled women in the afterlife, especially when used as an incentive to get men to do utterly inconscionable things, reminds me of something Marilyn French once told me - that she was convinced by her historical research that patriarchy arose not as a tool to subjugate women, but as a tool for men to subjugate other men.
posted by soyjoy at 7:30 AM on October 12, 2005


heard on the mobile phone counting down the seconds to the 'beautiful maidens.' [...] He then blew himself up.

I know there's a reality tv show concept in there somewhere...
posted by spazzm at 7:33 AM on October 12, 2005


spazzm, please don't give them any ideas.
posted by j-urb at 7:35 AM on October 12, 2005


According to one scholar they may just end up with some "white raisins".
posted by gubo at 10:29 AM EST on October 12 [!]


That seems kind of...disappointing. What do they get if they're really good, some pancakes at IHOP?
posted by unreason at 7:36 AM on October 12, 2005


I fail to see the slightest reason why this belief is in any way more pathetic or irrational than the Christian idea of afterlife. Perhaps more successful in encouraging idiot martyrs these days, but certainly no more ridiculous.
posted by Decani at 7:40 AM on October 12, 2005


What does comparison of those two particular religions have to do with the link?
posted by dhoyt at 7:51 AM on October 12, 2005


I fail to see the slightest reason why this belief is in any way more pathetic or irrational than the Christian idea of afterlife.

Really? Wow.
posted by billysumday at 7:56 AM on October 12, 2005


Really? Wow.

To be fair to decani, I can vouch for the fact that Christianity at least in the deep south does also embrace a lot of peculiar ideas about what Heaven is lole, since there's no real orthodox view--I've met quite a few guys in my life who believe heaven will be like a giant pool party full of nubile girls (not really all that different from the 75 virgins vision of heaven). I've met others who believed they would get to see all their dead relatives and childhood pets when they get to Heaven, etc. So whatever.

Dhoyt makes a good point though. Keeping a lazer-like focus on the topic usually helps these discussions go more smoothly.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:43 AM on October 12, 2005


the word "lole" should have read "like"... and of course "lazer" is spelled "laser"...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2005


Really? I think of dhoyt as our very own Ligeti...
Of course, he eventually moved beyond just the one note...

---

Y'know, I've yet to meet a Muslim who takes the descriptions of houris literally, despite what the TERROR WARRIORS would have you believe. I'm sure there's some Muslims out there with naively literal understandings of their sacred text, but most actual Muslims seem to have enough respect for their own tradition to attempt to understand the words in the spirit that they were written. (As well they should: the Koran is the central manifestation of the divine in Islam, much like Christ is the central manifestation in Christianity. The Koran is in this way more highly esteemed than the Bible, if you can believe it.)

The Koran uses very flowery (to our ears) language, and news "reporters" seize on the "72 virgins" thing because it makes such an excellent soundbite.

The Muslims that take these things literally are rather like Pat Robertson (or Bush, for that matter) taking Revelations literally and trying to actuate the coded symbolic events that will bring on the Apocalypse.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:46 AM on October 12, 2005


72 virgins is my idea hell.

Just think of an eternity riding public transit just as high school gets out. The endless ringing of the word "like" alone would make me want to re-suicide bomb.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on October 12, 2005


Muslim heavenly vision in question:
After strapping on a suicide vest and vanquishing a hundred innocent lives from a shopping mall in the bloodiest fashion, he is then free to take the virginity from 72 women who live in the sky.

Xtian heavenly vision in question:
Being reunited with dead relatives and childhood pets. Perhaps strumming a harp.

--

I don't recall the Bible offering a reunion with dead relatives & pets as a reward for killing those possessing 'infidel' religious beliefs either. But yeah, I can see why you'd compare the two. My bad. Carry on.
posted by dhoyt at 8:55 AM on October 12, 2005


The explicit promise of bountiful young, beautiful, perpetually unveiled women in the afterlife, especially when used as an incentive to get men to do utterly inconscionable things reminds me of something Marilyn French once told me - that she was convinced by her historical research that patriarchy arose not as a tool to subjugate women, but as a tool for men to subjugate other men.


In the Mormon Church the men are promised they get to be Gods of their own planet. That is a promise of unlimited power. My guess is, if you are a God you can have have all the virgins you want.

The Mormon women don't have the same promise. They get to be one of the wives of the God if they are faithfully married. If they are divorced or unmarried they get nothing.

It seems, in contrast, that the Christian faithful get more of the stick than the carrot. Hell sounds pretty bad, but Heaven sounds sort of Meh. If you are a person who has subjugated the flesh all your life, there is no pay off-- no orgies, no power trips, no bacchanalias of drunken feasting. What you get is to see loved ones and rub elbows with Christ.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:59 AM on October 12, 2005


Really? I think of dhoyt as our very own Ligeti...
Of course, he eventually moved beyond just the one note...


But dhoyt plays the hell out of that one note! (I'm playing nice today, because I took some unfair jabs at dhoyt in another context).

I agree completely with the gist of your remarks: Some people have difficulty grasping metaphors; such people, in their religious practice, prefer to adopt very concrete, even absurdly literal visions of the afterlife. The broad spectrum of after-life beliefs within any particular religion is more a function of basic human psychology than of religious ideology.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 8:59 AM on October 12, 2005


And what holy purpose would we expect these martyrs to attend to with this heavenly hoor? Honorable, eternal 72-way marriage? Pleasant, polite, conversations in moonlit gardens (savored 73 ways)?

Or is the insinuation one of a divinely sanctioned, earthly-tradition-bucking, white eyed, unspoilable-virgin-based gangbang?

It seems strange that the incentive for a strictly disciplined life (martyrdom being the epitome of such discipline) should be an entitlement to completely abandon of said discipline, no?

Unveiled virgins? With my muslim sensibilities?!

Salacious, indeed.

I'll bet in MADD-heaven they offer eternal high speed booze-fueled racing through school zones packed with universally loved children.
posted by jungturk at 9:05 AM on October 12, 2005


But yeah, I can see why you'd compare the two.

A father of three, Hill told reporters in a death row news conference Tuesday that in slaying Britton he prevented him from killing more unborn babies. "Instead of being shocked, more people should do what I did," Hill said. "I expect a great reward in heaven."

An anti-abortion activist, calling for a new wave of violence against clinics and doctors, is following the example of violent Islamic fundamentalists, telling those who share his views to become "Christian terrorists" and promising them a reward in Heaven.

On Thursday afternoon, the top headline on ABCNews.com read: “In God’s Name.” It linked to an article headlined, “'Christian Terrorists’: Anti-Abortionist Calls for Violence, Says It Is Religious Duty,” which highlighted the bizarre rantings of Chuck Spingola on the Army of God Web site and the few people on the farthest fringe of the pro-life movement. ABC’s Dean Schabner opened his piece: “An anti-abortion activist, calling for a new wave of violence against clinics and doctors, is following the example of violent Islamic fundamentalists, telling those who share his views to become 'Christian terrorists’ and promising them a reward in Heaven.”

Most Muslims aren't nutjob suicide bombers. Most Christians aren't nutjob anti-abortion killers. Why are Muslims nutjobs the fault of mainstream Islam if Christian nutjobs aren't fault of mainstream Christianity?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:06 AM on October 12, 2005


If I wanna hang out with 72 virgins, I'll just go to the local Debian user group meeting.
posted by AccordionGuy at 9:07 AM on October 12, 2005


Here's a slightly different opinion of Islamic Paradise. They key to remember is that all religions try to offer something better in the afterlife, Islam is a bit more explicit about worldly things you will recieve there (which many believe should be taken metaphorically), including Wine, women, and song.

LINK
posted by cell divide at 9:09 AM on October 12, 2005


I don't recall the quran offering 72 virgins to people who blow themselves up either, but carry on...

My heaven is better than any heaven ever invented before. You get 72 servants, and they're all men who never did any house work in their lives on earth and spent too much time on the internet picking fights. That's their punishment.
posted by funambulist at 9:09 AM on October 12, 2005


I'll bet in MADD-heaven they offer eternal high speed booze-fueled racing through school zones packed with universally loved children.

Dear god that had me laughing.
posted by dazed_one at 9:11 AM on October 12, 2005


I should also say, this tv show seems like a good thing. Regardless of what the Quran actually says, the fact is that there is a certain amount of people in the world who believe in both the 72 virgins, and that they can get them by committing acts of war against civilians. Self-examination is a good thing, even if the final result is not exactly what was intended.
posted by cell divide at 9:13 AM on October 12, 2005


don't recall the Bible offering a reunion with dead relatives & pets as a reward for killing those possessing 'infidel' religious

Well, maybe not per se, but there's a hell of a lot of slaying going on in the Christian bible--and a lot of it was done by people who remained in God's good graces (sometimes even at God's request), and presumably, those guys made it to heaven.

If you can point me to the specific verse(s) in the Koran that instructs muslims to slaughter all non-believers, please do.

But dhoyt, what does all this have to do with the current topic, which is--well, what exactly? I think, it's something like "Look how crazy and dangerous muslim beliefs inherently are." But if that's not actually the topic, please summarize for me what is, in a nice simple declarative statement.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:16 AM on October 12, 2005


Why are Muslims nutjobs the fault of mainstream Islam if Christian nutjobs aren't fault of mainstream Christianity?

Because you can open the mainstream paper on any day and find mass-murder, globally, committed in the name of Islam, whereas you'd be hard-pressed to find daily any news, anywhere, about an abortion-doctor murderer?

Self-examination is a good thing, even if the final result is not exactly what was intended.

Absolutely. Let's hope the show has a deterrant quality, not one of rebellious recruitment.
posted by dhoyt at 9:17 AM on October 12, 2005


blah, blah, blah, muslims
blah, blah, blah, terrorists.
blah, blah, blah.
posted by jenleigh at all-the-time PST (1000 comments total) [!]
posted by seanyboy at 9:18 AM on October 12, 2005


I think, it's something like "Look how crazy and dangerous muslim beliefs inherently are." But if that's not actually the topic, please summarize for me what is, in a nice simple declarative statement.

Ok. The topic is the show described in the FPP, and the controversy and debate it has caused between different sects of Islam about how the outside world views them.
posted by unreason at 9:19 AM on October 12, 2005


Well, to be fair unlike Christianity, Islam has that 'martyr' clause. So while Christians have to accept Jesus or have their relatives buy a dispensation from the catholic church or whatever it is they have to do to get into heaven, Muslims can get into heaven right away by martyring themselves.

This doesn't mean blowing themselves up, just dying in a holy war.

Christians have hardly been paragons of non-violence throughout the years, and for some reason LGF types seem to view suicide bombing as more abhorrent then any other type of murder, for reasons I don't exactly understand.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 AM on October 12, 2005


Because you can open the mainstream paper on any day and find mass-murder, globally, committed in the name of Islam, whereas you'd be hard-pressed to find daily any news, anywhere, about an abortion-doctor murderer?

Well, what is your point exactly? That Islam, as a religion, is inherently bad?
posted by delmoi at 9:31 AM on October 12, 2005


The My topic is...

My topic is how different inducements are used by different religions to acquire and keep followers.

What exactly do Scientologists get? I forget. Do they get to go back to being clams or something?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:33 AM on October 12, 2005


The feigned ignorance of the Christian factor in our military campaigns is getting tiresome. I say this as a politically conservative Christian. It is thouroughly disingenuous to pretend that Bush's purported Christian beliefs have not played a large role in motivating the American populace to go along with his plans.

And it's getting harder and harder for me to see this continual misrepresentation of Islam as anything but irrational bigotry. 9/11 was how long ago? No one who cares about what's going on in the world has any excuse to still be so uninformed.

not one of rebellious recruitment.

Yes, let's all hope those wild bushmen don't run out in a frothing frenzy of religious indignation and kill us all. If only they merely inflicted the far more fatal and unavoidable "collateral" deaths that our own good boys do with million-dollar equipment.

I'm wasting my time on this focking forum.

SLoG: They get 'clear', which means the millions of ghosts that are living in their bodies are eventually freed or something.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:36 AM on October 12, 2005


Personally I'd rather have sex with just one girl who knows what she is doing.
I've always thought that men who want to fuck virgins are insecure, worried the girl might perhaps compare them unfavourably with previous lovers.
posted by Joeforking at 9:37 AM on October 12, 2005


Well, what is your point exactly? That Islam, as a religion, is inherently bad?

Nope. Not at all. It's that more attention is drawn these days toward the violent perversion of it than toward Christianity because more violence is being done expressly in its name, not because they're 'teh brown people'. Armitage seemed to imply the two simply canceled each other out. You don't punish the whole class for being lazy [organized religion] when it's one group of students [radical Muslims] creating chaos & a bad reputations for everyone. You point out the problem to shed light on the problem, and you don't feel guilty or 'politically incorrect' about it.
posted by dhoyt at 9:38 AM on October 12, 2005


Armitage seemed to imply the two simply canceled each other out.

No, I implied that the difference is quantitative, not qualitative.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:42 AM on October 12, 2005


I've always thought that men who want to fuck virgins are insecure, worried the girl might perhaps compare them unfavourably with previous lovers.As for the Christian version of Heaven, maybe we won't have 72 virgins, but at least there will be billiards.

Oh, wait...
posted by soyjoy at 9:47 AM on October 12, 2005


When you live in a glass bottle, dhoyt, the world will look green. You never stop to consider that living in a culture so thoroughly inundated with Christianity may be coloring your outlook, whether you yourself are Christian or not.

When one of our leaders uses a religous appeal, it's "indirect." When someone else does so, it's "direct." The distinction you are drawing is to a large extent in your head.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2005


"The reply was that the women will get that which the heart has not desired for, the ear hasn’t heard off and the eye hasn’t seen, indicating that even the women will get something exceptional in Paradise."

Close your eyes and open your mouth, girls.
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2005


There's a quote in Trevanian's insanely bigoted but entertaining novel Shibumi: "Virginity is important to Muslims, who fear comparison." (I'm just quoting, okay; I have no basis on which to agree or disagree with this statement.)

My own thoughts on the value of virginity are summed up by a Steve Martin line in a sketch in which a woman sarcastically tells him, "be gentle with me, it's my first time." "What? I was hoping that one of us would know what we were doing!"

On preview, JoeForking made both of these points...
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:52 AM on October 12, 2005


The "holiness" of virginity in Islam comes, in large part, from Islam's Abrahamic roots. Jews used to be (more) all about virginity and "cleanliness," to the point that a woman on her period had to be sequestered from the rest of the people.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2005


Honestly, this is a good thing. It'd be better if it was the sitcom that saved NBC's thursday line-up, but it's a good thing. This sort of self-examination and self-criticism used to be prevalent in the Muslim world when the Christian world was humping stumps and eating bugs. And that it's Arabs and Muslims doing it means that there's a greater likelyhood of getting it heard than if it was on any of our Radio Free Iraq channels.
Let Dhoyt grind his axe about Islam, but this is likely going to be a good thing for everyone who's pro-modernism in the Arab world. It doesn't even need to be the heavy-handed denunciation that many in the West would want. Just the act of seeing free self-examination is a good step.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on October 12, 2005


Statistics Of Yugoslavia's Democide

Look back but a few years, and the numbers of who died at whose hands according to the professed religion of the killers is quite different.
posted by y2karl at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2005


Ok. The topic is the show described in the FPP, and the controversy and debate it has caused between different sects of Islam about how the outside world views them.

So does the below qualify as on topic?

"I don't recall the Bible offering a reunion with dead relatives & pets as a reward for killing those possessing 'infidel' religious beliefs either. But yeah, I can see why you'd compare the two. My bad. Carry on."

Is dhoyt's comment one about how the "outside world" views Islam and how muslims view themselves, or is it an example of someone from the "outside world" taking a particular view of Islam? To me it seems more like the latter. But that's just me. Is pointing out possible analogies between Islamic and Christian culture and religious belief off-topic?

I just think it's kind of academic and silly to pretend this particular variation on the theme of Islamic belief can be discussed in isolation from its broader historical and cultural context. I mean, if the point of this kind of discussion isn't to try and gain a little bit of insight into these extremist beliefs, what is it? Just to villify the extremists some more?

Personally, I think the TV show is probably a bad idea, if for no other reason than it incidentally helps to propogate extremist memes (like the 72 virgins myth). But the reactions to the series, from the reports I've read, seem pretty mixed on all sides, so what's the take home point supposed to be?
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 10:12 AM on October 12, 2005


Probably, like most TV, they want to avoid really stepping on anyone's toes, and will end up saying very little.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:14 AM on October 12, 2005


I am shocked that no one has linked to the Onion's take on this issue.

My recall on my Lutheran confirmation class is hazy but I believe we were told that your soul went to heaven, you had no body of any sort but you could "see" everyone else that had gone to heaven, relatives, friends, and everyone else that is there.

My plan is to seek out J.R.R.Tolkien and get some stories about the Second Age.
posted by Ber at 10:20 AM on October 12, 2005


Just to villify the extremists some more?

DING DING DING!
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!
posted by If I Had An Anus at 10:20 AM on October 12, 2005


There is no afterlife. Essential parts of a person's memory and character have been shown to be dependent on his constitutent atomic configuration. The non-instantaneous corruption of the brain at death means that no single time-slice can be even theoretically reproduced in an afterlife to form a living person. The afterlife is a concept for fictional use only.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:28 AM on October 12, 2005


thirteenkiller: personally, i disagree--but more to the point, i think your comment officially crosses the line into a new topic...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 10:44 AM on October 12, 2005


ohnoes
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:46 AM on October 12, 2005


Presumably, "God" could do a miracle and reconstitute the personality sans atomic structure or something. Not that I disagree with you, but you're not going to convince any literalistic heaven-believer with that argument.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:49 AM on October 12, 2005


sonofsamiam: yeah--i was thinking, if it's only the configuration of atoms (i.e., the pattern) that counts, then why not? any pattern should be reproducible, right? (of course that ignores how interconnected things really are, but still...) anyway, we're getting way off-topic.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2005


if it's only the configuration of atoms (i.e., the pattern) that counts, then why not?

That was my second point - in the case of, for example, death caused by brain damage, which instantaneous brain-pattern are you going to copy? If you copy the moment just prior to loss of consciousness, you'll often end up copying a dying brain. If you copy the brain prior to the onset of the disease or damage, you'll often be copying something days, weeks, months or years prior to the moment of death, with all the intermittent experiences lost to the void - not a theory of afterlife espoused by any religion I know, and one that runs the risks of having people punished or rewarded for actions that their brains have literally not been responsible for. Of course, this recording of the brain's atomic configuration, spirited off to some distant dimension to allow us to live forever, gives off no light or heat or any indication of its existence at all.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:13 AM on October 12, 2005


thirteenkiller: i should probably have said "i don't totally agree," actually...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:22 AM on October 12, 2005


I'm not trying to argue with you. IM informed O, "heaven" and such have only relatively recently been interpreted in such a literal manner. I'm just saying that a fundie will not find such arguments convincing. If they could or would follow such eminently logical arguments, they wouldn't be a fundie.

Likewise, attempts to paint Muslim beliefs in such a manner only convince people who already think Muslims are ignorant cavemen.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:22 AM on October 12, 2005


Just the act of seeing free self-examination is a good step

It's the only step, the one and only way for the mainstream of any group to nullify and bring into disrepute the extremists among them. I wish them well.

Ignorance and disinformation about Islam in the West and ignorance and disinformation about the West in the Islamic world are what's allowing extremists on either side to do what they're doing. It's simple, demonization works, if the other guy is less than human then guess what, anything against him is justified. So - if you don't properly understand your own culture, how are you going to understand and accept another? Same can be said for both sides.
posted by scheptech at 11:35 AM on October 12, 2005


Some people have difficulty grasping metaphors; such people, in their religious practice, prefer to adopt very concrete, even absurdly literal visions of the afterlife. The broad spectrum of after-life beliefs within any particular religion is more a function of basic human psychology than of religious ideology.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 4:59 PM GMT on October 12


Trouble is, the religions of the book are not metaphors (for a great many of their believers). They explicitly claim to be true, and should be held literally. Violence can result if one disputes the reading held by a true believer - whether one is an infidel - in their eyes - or an apostate.

I hold all such beliefs (though, to be clear, not the persons themselves) in a certain amount of subtle, usually unspoken contempt. A trick to pulll off, but in my world, a necessary one.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:40 AM on October 12, 2005


Violence can result if one disputes the reading held by a true believer - whether one is an infidel - in their eyes - or an apostate.

Agreed. And that holds true of some fundamentalist Baptists I've known over the years, too.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:18 PM on October 12, 2005


on review, of course it does: same book.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:25 PM on October 12, 2005


Extremists of all religions should be exposed, criticized and vilified at every opportunity. They're dangerous and often work hard to convert others to their twisted views.
The important thing to remember, however, is not to aim your attack at the mainstream followers of said religions. You can't fight extremism by attacking the faith. Aside from being an unwinnable fight, it only serves to push more people toward the extremist view by creating an 'us against them' environment. Recognize the difference between a 'Pat Robertson' Christian and a 'Jimmy Carter' Christian...between a Mullah Omar and a Hamid Karzai.
The "religion is stoopid" mindset just shows a lack of respect for everyone.
posted by rocket88 at 12:30 PM on October 12, 2005


Interesting to note:

Both "unbelievers" and our proposed violence-inclined fundamentalists share a literal, hard-line interpretation of the holy texts. This literalism contributes to non-belief (understandably) in the one case and violence in the other (not so understandable).

While mainstream non-violent "believers" see metaphor, freedom to interpret more liberally, freedom from endless contempt and demonization leading to violence.
posted by scheptech at 12:40 PM on October 12, 2005


It's all a misunderstanding. All those murderous so-called "martyrs" will spend eternity getting buggered by 72 burly men named "Virgil".
posted by clevershark at 1:45 PM on October 12, 2005


I think this is related to the issue at hand.
posted by clevershark at 1:51 PM on October 12, 2005


have only relatively recently been interpreted in such a literal manner

sonofsamiam: I think you're right on this point... Which leads me to speculate, what's changed? What is it that seems to be causing so many people to be having trouble thinking abstractly, because that's a problem I feel like I run into constantly these days, both in my personal and professional life... My pet theory is that there's been a real change in a certain percentage of the population, brought about by a number of historically novel factors, including recent increases in the volume of information flow and environmental lead and mercury contamination. But that's sheer crack-pottery, in the sense that I don't have any hard data to back the idea up.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 2:04 PM on October 12, 2005


all-seeing, I think that at least in this country, we can blame the deteriorating state of education and the general American anti-intellectualism for a lot of this stuff (though not all).
posted by beth at 2:52 PM on October 12, 2005


what will a woman have when she enters paradise

Nick Marshall?


No, wait, that'd be old skool catholic women...
posted by Smedleyman at 5:36 PM on October 12, 2005


all-seeing eye dog:
My merely personal opinion is that it has to do with the rise of positivism (most extremely represented by the eponymous Postivists and in modern America by Objectivists and their philosophical clones) as the dominant paradigm and the demise of metaphysics as a serious topic of inquiry. If metaphysics is discouraged in a historically religious society, there is really no other way to read religious texts than the facially absurd literal interpretation, which forces folks to make the very tortured readings of sacred texts that they do.

The ridiculous idea that we can completely represent immanent reality with symbolic representation is (IMO) at the core of much modern evil: the Stalinists believed SO MUCH in Marx's ideas that they were willing to kill hundreds of thousands in an attempt to bring those ideas to fruition. I would say that the Neocons are committing a similar error.

However, I'm not even going to attempt to debate someone online on the matter. It's simply too huge a subject. To the extent that I cannot readily defend these thoughts, you can write this off as crackpottery too.

Long story short, I don't think too much of Kant.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:43 PM on October 12, 2005


There is no afterlife. Essential parts of a person's memory and character have been shown to be dependent on his constitutent atomic configuration. The non-instantaneous corruption of the brain at death means that no single time-slice can be even theoretically reproduced in an afterlife to form a living person. The afterlife is a concept for fictional use only.

First of all, Pretty_Generic GYOBFWSOBWAB. Second of all, who made you the defining authority on the nature of afterlife and this mysterious "brain snapshot" process that according to you is the only possible way it can be attained?

I've said it before and I'll say it again - you can make the case that, based on your own subjective opinion and given our scientific knowledge, the belief in the divine or an afterlife is not sensible/rational/useful/etc. Your belief that you can conclusively disprove an inherently unfalsifiable and unprovable proposition is a delusion.

</derail>
posted by Krrrlson at 6:49 PM on October 12, 2005


However, I'm not even going to attempt to debate someone online on the matter. It's simply too huge a subject. To the extent that I cannot readily defend these thoughts, you can write this off as crackpottery too.

It's funny actually; after I made my original comment on this, I thought about it a bit more and came up with a line of thinking eerily similar to yours. So don't worry: No need to debate this at length here: I think I agree (I'm just not sure which came first, the intellectual shift, or the mercury poisoning)...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 7:09 PM on October 12, 2005


(also: i'm kind of down with the categorical imperative...)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 7:11 PM on October 12, 2005


who made you the defining authority on the nature of afterlife

I'm an authority because it's really, really simple.

A person is (at least largely) based on the structure of the brain.

Afterlife involves the continuation of a person after the structure of the brain has been destroyed.

Therefore, afterlife requires the structure of the brain to be somehow recorded or transferred to a non-physical medium. No other method constitutes the continuation of a person after death, which is the concept we are dealing with.

This recording or transferral is not possible for the reasons I gave.

Your belief that you can conclusively disprove an inherently unfalsifiable and unprovable proposition is a delusion.

You call it unfalsifiable because you want it to be so. You have nothing to back this up except perhaps a shrug of the shoulders and saying "hey, anything's possible!". Not everything is possible. Things require a mechanism. If we can use logic to rule out the existence of any mechanism, we have shown the concept to be false.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:56 PM on October 12, 2005


This recording or transferral is not possible for the reasons I gave.

If we can use logic to rule out the existence of any mechanism, we have shown the concept to be false.

You didn't rule out anything. You set up a false premise based around a very specific set of criteria for afterlife that you yourself devised. You arbitrarily set the restrictions on what can and cannot be done to the brain.

You call it unfalsifiable because you want it to be so.

No, that's just the way it's logically defined.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:49 PM on October 12, 2005


In fact, I'd almost rather it be falsifiable/provable.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:53 PM on October 12, 2005


Just whatever you do don't mention those places in the Qu'ran that order and praise the killing of infidels. (I pointed those verses out myself in a thread here a couple months ago; who wants to show off your search-engine skills?) It'd probably turn out similar to mentioning those parts of the "Old Testament" that commanded genocide for the Canaanites and Amalekites.

The difference between God's commands of the Israelites and the Ishmaelites is that the ongoing Muslim conquest is by definition world-wide, while the "Old Testament" concerns a much more limited geographical extent -- and is ~3000 years out of date.
posted by davy at 10:47 PM on October 12, 2005


The important thing to remember, however, is not to aim your attack at the mainstream followers of said religions. You can't fight extremism by attacking the faith.

Well said, now let's all remember to extend that courtesy also to Apple customers - they're not all obsessed lunatics filling the internet with excited comments about the supernatural powers of the latest iGadget, but those are the ones who make it hard for the moderates.
posted by funambulist at 2:38 AM on October 13, 2005


What does comparison of those two particular religions have to do with the link?

Well, the link and the FPP containing in it struck me as being - at least partly - a comment about the absurdity of a particular Islamic belief and how such absurd beliefs lead to problems. It struck me as somewhat unbalanced to single out Islam in this way without observing that other religions - including the one probably most followed here on Metafilter - contain beliefs which are at least as absurd. I therefore thought it worth pointing this out - perhaps because I find myself somewhat disturbed by the current apparent tendency to demonise Islam. I'm sorry of you find this an irrelevancy, but I don't. It has been both my experience and my personal opinion that it is acceptable to take the central ideas of a Metafilter post and extrapolate from them to ideas one believes to be related to some degree. Clear now?
posted by Decani at 6:54 AM on October 13, 2005


Really? Wow.

Really, yes. You don't? I guess you think that being "rewarded" with eternal life with some invisible dude and countless other Christian souls in some indeterminate location/plane so long as you believe in the words of a couple of old books which say some guy came down from heaven and got nailed up to make some sort of point... is somehow more rational than believing you get to shag a bunch of hot chicks after you die.

Wow.
posted by Decani at 6:59 AM on October 13, 2005


Personally I'd rather have my 72 hawt chyx here on Earth. So that Allah better get busy, I've only had 40-something so far in my life.

But please, one or two at a time: the last thing I need is a dozen or so concubines going "My turn! My turn!" all at once.
posted by davy at 7:29 AM on October 13, 2005


"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" (sura 8.12, Shakir translation).
posted by davy at 1:02 PM on October 13, 2005


Wow, thanks jenleigh! This is a really good post!
posted by gsb at 2:09 PM on October 13, 2005


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