Skip to comments.Muslims Throwing Stones
Posted on 12/06/2003 5:38:49 PM PST by stevejackson
'If a Jew goes into an Arab Muslim neighborhood (in France,)' says (Marc Aflalo,) 'you have to carry an umbrella to protect yourself from the stones that fly.'
- Attacks by Arabs on Jews in France, Elaine Sciolino, New York Times, Dec. 3, 2003.
David, the young shepherd-boy, killed the mighty warrior Goliath with a simple stone thrown from a sling. Hundreds of years later, in an heroic echo of this great story, young Palestinian boys pick up stones and fling them at the mighty soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces or at the American Army in Iraq in a brave effort to defend their homeland from unjust occupation. The stone is the weapon of the weak against the mighty.
If this version of events rings true to your ears, you are guilty of imposing western cultural norms on Muslims.
Islam is a major world cultural tradition. It is hundreds of years old and spreads over three continents and many nations. It has a unique literature and a system of values all its own. By assuming that throwing stones has the same symbolic meaning in the Islamic cultural context that it possesses in the Judeo/Christian west, that the thrown stone is a symbol of the weak fighting against the mighty, we fail to grant Islamic cultural traditions our respect.
A Muslim asked for an association conjured by the phrase throwing stones will think not of David and Goliath, but of the rituals of the haj, which require the pilgrim to throw stones on each of three successive days at first the small, then the middle and, finally, at the grand pillar erected upon the spot where the Devil stood and tried to persuade Abraham not to obey God. In Islam, the flung stone is not the weapon of the weak against the mighty; it is the weapon of the righteous in the fight against evil.
Muslims educated in the west will have heard that People who live in glass houses shouldnt throw stones, a paraphrasing of Jesus famous injunction when confronting a mob preparing to stone an adulteress to death, Let he who is without sin throw the first stone. But although versions of many Bible stories appear in the Koran, this one does not. Indeed, the Koran, a much shorter book than the Bible, with less space for alternative versions of stories and competing ethical interpretations, takes a very different view of the ancient laws of adultery. Discussing the necessity of not showing mercy when stoning of an adulteress, the Koran warns, Let no tenderness seize you if you believe in God.
It is a sensible position. After all, if the sentences of courts were to be routinely overturned by merciful executioners, the world would become a very dangerous place. Imagine what would happen if only a judge who was without sin could impose a sentence, and only those police officers who are without sin were empowered to put criminals into prison? Islam, which makes no separation between religion and government, takes the view that it is the duty of the righteous to uphold law and morality. Allah is merciful; judges have a job to perform.
Stones, then, are flung by Muslims to symbolize the victory of the righteous over the devil in the haj, they are flung by the righteous to punish condemned sinners because Muslims understand that if sin goes unpunished, evil will prevail in this imperfect world, and they are flung by good Muslims at dhimmi to keep them in their place.
Dhimmi is the term applied in Islamic law to Christians and Jews permitted to live in Muslim lands. Dhimmi have numerous legal protections, which were carefully upheld by Islamic judges, but in exchange for these protections they were expected to acknowledge their inferiority to Muslims. Think of the Jim Crow south where as long as blacks bowed, abased themselves, and kept saying, Yes, mastah Just as you say, mastah, they were pretty much protected form lynching. Uppity blacks were lynched. Muslims kept Christians and Jews in their place in much the same way. The legal and spiritual inferiority of Jews and Christians was expressed in laws prohibiting dhimmi from, for example, engaging in certain occupations, riding on horseback, carrying weapons, and defending themselves when assaulted by a Muslim. It was never common for ordinary Muslims to pick up rock and throw it at a random Christian or Jew, the very idea is absurd, utterly out of keeping with the dignity and sense of justice common to decent people everywhere. Besides, it was hardly necessary for respectable adults to stone Jews or Christians in the streets, when there were plenty of young boys willing to do so.
As recently as the first half of the twentieth century, it was common for Muslim boys to throw stones at Jews and Christians passing in the street. The practice enjoyed the tacit approval of adult Muslims who would never have stooped to throw a stone themselves. It was condoned because it served the purpose of keeping dhimmi in their subservient place and of reminding everyone that Christians and Jews lived in Muslim lands on sufferance, without even such basic human rights as the right of self-defense.
The practice of encouraging boys to throw stones at Christians and Jews passing in the street expressed many things: the superiority of Muslims over dhimmi who refused to accept Islam, the righteousness of the Muslim contrasted with the sinfulness of dhimmi, and, of course, the predilections of some young boys to be bullies. What it did not express was the uprising of the weak against the powerful embodied in the story of David and Goliath.
David slays Goliath in the Koran as he does in the Bible, but the story is greatly abbreviated and there is no mention of what weapon was used. Some later Muslim retellings of the story put the stone and slingshot back in, others leave it out. But neither version of the David and Goliath story was ever popular among Muslims. People in Jewish ad Christian countries who never set foot inside a church or synagogue know all about David and Goliath; few Muslims know the story.
Muslims throwing stones are not, in their own minds, an embodiment of the weak rising up against the powerful. Stones in Islam are the instrument by which the righteous punish the sinful, the faithful enact victory over the devil, and Muslims declare their superiority over the infidel. Every stone thrown at an Israeli or American soldier carries a message, and the message is that Muslims are and ought to be superior to Christians and Jews.
Doesn't seem to be working though, does it? Islam needs a reformation in which the word "equality before God" becomes an integral part of their teaching.
BULLETS in the West are the instrument by which the righteous punish the sinful.
I am not aware of any children throwing stones at American soldiers in Iraq. On the contrary, it is the children who most enjoy the presence of the Americans, because the Americans have a reputation for honesty, generosity, and being good-natured, in spite of the crappy conditions.
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