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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Freedom from sin? Not if Dr Bari has his way.

I like this long blog post by Aaron Powell, who argues for the superiority of a secular morality without the religious notion of sin.

Feel free to sin away, as long as you do no secular harm!

By contrast, I'm less enamoured with the views of Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, as expressed in this interview. This man is the public face of Islam in the UK, and he's still young enough to occupy that position for a long time, so let's hope for some genuinely liberal Muslim responses to his views.

Dr Bari thinks homosexuality and premarital sex are sinful, believes that Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses should have been pulped, encourages the UK government to ban drinking in public places, and doesn't want his daughter to wear a bikini (though at least he doess't want her in a burka). People should not show enough of their bodies to make others feel tempted, he says. He doesn't approve of stoning for adultery and suggests that this ancient Muslim requirement be read metaphorically - but he hedges somewhat, making the point that it won't be possible in practice to find four witnesses.

I don't know how old Dr Bari's daughter is ... but assuming she's old enough, I hope she's off drinking Champagne on a sunny beach somewhere, dressed in a topless string bikini, while discussing the finer points of Salman Rushdie's novels with her lesbian lover.

5 comments:

Blake Stacey said...

I seem to recall wishing a similar punishment on other prudes — the people who try to throw The Giver out of school libraries, for example.

Incidentally, it's science-blogging anthology season; you should see if you've got any posts from the past year you'd like to submit!

Russell Blackford said...

Isn't that anthology restricted to blogs actually hosted by ScienceBlogs? I entered some things anyway, but asked for clarification.

Russell Blackford said...

As for punishment - if he had a daughter like that, particularly one smart enough to discuss the finer points of Rushdie's work, he should be proud. I certainly would be. It'd be a blessing, rather than a punishment.

But yes, he wouldn't see it that way.

Blake Stacey said...

Two of my posts are on the list, as are several from Cosmic Variance and suchlike places, so empirically speaking, there doesn't seem to be a restriction! :-)

Russell Blackford said...

Yeah, somebody replied and said there's no restriction. They should revise the form and some of the other language because it does sometimes talk about "ScienceBlogs post" and similar.

I self-nominated a few posts and they are now on the list. The competition will very likely be too tough - I looked at some other nominees and the standard is very good indeed, with some enormous thought in many of them - but it might at least get the posts (and the blog) a bit more of a profile.