In an effort to reach out to the Muslim world, Obama shocked the nation by expressing the opinion that America, despite the fact that 76% of the population identifies with Christianity, is not a Judeo â€“ Christian nation, but actually is â€œone of the largest Muslim countries in the world.â€
Obama also said that the United States, as well as other portions of the Western hemisphere, has a responsibility to â€œeducate [themselves] more effectively on Islam.â€ Barack acknowledged that during the education process the inevitability of â€œtensions between culturesâ€ would arise, but the President vowed to work together with Islam around the world to avoid divisions rooted in differing thinking from one culture to the next.
For a nation accustomed to resolving issues from a Judeo-Christian standpoint, â€œinevitable tensions between culturesâ€ canâ€™t help but arise when education includes understanding the diversity of Muslim methods for handling disobedience to Koranic law.
Take for example Afghani Taliban fighters who like to play God, and when they do, they are â€œno respecter of persons.â€ Taliban insurgents are devoted to stoning, hanging, and shooting people with AK-47â€™s regardless of age, gender, innocence, or guilt.
Recently, after the brutal execution of a young couple accused of infidelity, clarity was gained when Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid described the philosophy of Islamic justice with the following statement: â€œAnyone who knows about Islam knows that stoning is in the Koran, and that it is Islamic law. There are people who call it inhuman – but in doing so they insult the Prophet. They want to bring foreign thinking to this country.â€
One thing is for sure â€“ in the small Afghan village of Dashte Archi in Kunduz, Afghanistan, â€œforeign thinkingâ€ was nowhere to be found when two mullahs convicted and stoned Siddqa, a woman not yet 20 years old, for the crime of fleeing a prearranged marriage and allegedly committing adultery. â€œOfficials said that Siddqa had run away after being sold â€¦ for $9,000 against her will. She ran away to be with Khayyam, who was already married and had two childrenâ€¦the pair eloped to Pakistan.â€
Although it is an alien concept to those living in a largely Judeo-Christian culture, women in Afghanistan are denied the right to pick a mate and oftentimes girls as young as 13 are sold into marriages with men old enough to be their grandfather.
Itâ€™s likely Siddqa was a victim of child marriage, which makes one wonder why she and her lover Khayyam believed â€œthe false promiseâ€ that if they returned home from Pakistan, they would not face punishment. The couple, after arriving in Kunduz in the dead of night, was â€œdraggedâ€ by Taliban fighters from their family homes and brought before a â€œkangaroo court â€¦[and]â€¦executed.â€
From a Judeo-Christian perspective, one would think Siddqaâ€™s first mistake was agreeing to submit to an arranged marriage. Whether living in the East or the West, most would concur that Siddqaâ€™s second error was running off to Pakistan with someone elseâ€™s husband and then being naÃ¯ve enough to return home, trusting that the same group who force pre-pubescent girls to marry old men would suddenly extend mercy toward an adulteress.
Although hoping to avoid cultural tension, in a nation whose sensibilities are rooted in Judeo-Christian principles, doing so would be virtually impossible when struggling to comprehend what motivates hundreds of male villagers to wait patiently while two mullahs sentence a young woman to death.
In Kunduz, the wait was short and the verdict swiftly handed down. Siddqa was immediately prepared for execution, lowered into in a four-foot hole in the ground and covered from head to toe in a blue burqua that restricted both her ability to move and see. The bloodthirsty group milled around, anticipating the signal to step forward and exact justice by pitching large rocks at her head as she â€œdesperately [tried] to crawl free.â€
Despite being bombarded with stones, Siddqa somehow managed to wriggle free from the waist-high hole in the sand, â€œcovered with blood â€“but miraculously still alive.â€ Broken, bloody, and bruised, the condemned woman collapsed only to have an insurgent uphold the Talibanâ€™s interpretation of the Koran and make short work of a young life by shooting her â€œthree times in the head with an AK-47 as a frenzied crowd of men shouted â€˜Allahu Akbar.â€™â€
Presented with the harsh cultural alternative, â€œforeign thinkingâ€ Americans likely prefer Jesusâ€™ method of handling a similar group of stone throwers and the forgiving words that followed: â€œWoman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?â€ To which an ancient Siddqa replied, â€œNo one, Lord.â€Â After which an adulteress was released with an admonition, â€œNeither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.â€
Unfortunately, the outcome in Kunduz was not a merciful one. After Siddqaâ€™s death, accused male offender Khayyam was â€œmarched in front of the crowd with his hands tied behind his backâ€¦blindfolded with his own tunic.â€Â In a fruitless effort to shield his body from pain prior to, and in anticipation of, a hailstorm of bone-shattering rocks, the young man â€œcrouche[d] down close to the ground.â€ Stooped on his haunches, Khayyam could be â€œheard sobbing before eventually falling silent.â€
After both victims â€œslumped to the floor,â€ 7,500 miles from what Barack Obama considers â€œone of the largest Muslim countries in the world,â€ a whipped-up mob in Afghanistan, in an effort to ensure the Prophet remained shielded from insult, continued to rain stones down on two lifeless bodies.
Thus, a delicate question arises for Obama concerning varied interpretations of the Koran that include inhumane forms of justice pleasing to the Prophet. As the President attempts to engage the Islamic world in an ongoing friendly dialogue and welcomes Muslims to America from every corner of the world:Â How does a leader avoid stirring â€œinevitable cultural tensionâ€ without accepting the â€œforeign thinkingâ€ of large segments of the Muslim world?