Foreign Policy, of all places, has published “The List: The World’s Stupidest Fatwas” (thanks to Hot Air) — from Rushdie to breast-feeding in the workplace, which I believe we were the first to break, here. The teaser says:
No central authority controls doctrine in Islam, one of the world’s great religions. The result? A proliferation of bizarre religious edicts against targets ranging from Salman Rushdie to polio vaccinations. FP collects some of the worst examples here.
Note that when making fun of something Islamic, you have to include the obligatory “one of the world’s great religions,” so as to try to head off “Islamophobia” charges — which are almost certain to come anyway. Note also that the stupid fatawa are ascribed to the lack of any central doctrinal authority in Islam. If that’s all it is, one wonders why Congregationalists or Lutherans haven’t published a similar number of bizarre rulings.
But of course, Foreign Policy doesn’t have the stomach to look into the possibility that these strange fatawa were actually derived from elements of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This header, then, is a species of the same fear and reticence that prevents Western analysts from looking into the elements of Islam that jihadists are using to incite violence, and formulating positive ways to deal with them. While they profess to be supporting Islamic reformers, they are actually undercutting them by effectively denying that there is anything within Islam that needs reform.
Thus this piece on stupid fatawa, as daring as it appears at first glance, given the hair-trigger rage the Islamic world has demonstrated on so many occasions in recent years, is actually just another example of the analytical myopia that prevents us from dealing realistically with the global challenge we’re facing.