Thursday, August 25, 2005

An Abomination But Oh So Permissible

Everybody, say thank you to Slate's Timothy Noah for finding this hilarious, but all too real, website of that most wise cleric, Ayatollah Sistani. Within this ridiculously state-of-the-art website, Islam's practitioners can ask Sistani what Islam permits and what will depart your lousy head from your shoulders. This is what I was surprised to learn: anal sex, permissible but abominable.

If I'm getting sloshed at a table and my friend Muhammed has joined me, if he does not move from the table he's in violation of Islamic law. Note to self: Don't drink around devout Muslim friends. What a bummer.

And the Ayatollah's position on birth control is down right liberal by the standards of our Christian American Right. One example:
Question : Is it permissible for a woman to use contraceptives in order to prevent conception?

Answer : It is permissible for a woman to use contraceptives (the pill) to prevent pregnancy, provided that it does not damage her health in a serious manner, irrespective of whether or not the husband has agreed to it.
All you men out there whose eyebrows just raised because of the anal sex thing and the contraceptive thing, don't bother moving to Iraq (don't lie, you thought of it) because without alcohol, you have no chance of getting any ladies, burqa or not, back to your Pleasure Dome.

Kidding aside, there's a serious undercurrent to all this as Noah notes because of Iraq's constitution that's trying to combine Islam with democracy. As he rightly identifies:
"democracy" and "basic liberties" don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. As Fareed Zakaria noted in his 2003 book The Future of Freedom..., a polity may choose, democratically, to deny basic freedoms prized by a minority—or even freedoms that, on any other day, might be prized by the majority.
This should show that while Islam and "democracy," or majoritarian rule, may be compatible, individual freedom and Islam are not.

Nevertheless, that Sistani's a randy dude. Meow.