Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The stories from Saudi Arabia about this year's hajj tramplings are very revealing. The Saudi Interior Minister

said the mostly Asian pilgrims who perished Sunday as they pressed to throw stones at three pillars representing Satan in the valley of Mina near Mecca "met their fate because their place and time of death has been decided the moment they were born."

To me, that statement encapsulates the biggest single problem with Islam: Colossal human failures like these are simply the will of God, as if they were earthquakes. That's problematic because this ethos is absolute; it doesn't allow for alternate interpretations. If you question the Saudi government's crowd-control arrangements, you aren't just a dissenter, you're a blasphemer.

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