December 30, 2006

Saddam's Death is Illuminating

While watching the national news on ABC last night, something caught my ear that has been running through my mind ever since. Charles Gibson was discussing the impending execution of Saddam Hussein, hours away at that time, which subsequently occurred.

The part that caught my ear involved concern among the Iraqis about the timing of the execution. You see, the execution came very close to overlapping with the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Why was this noteworthy? According to Gibson, this holiday involves a central theme of forgiveness. This appears to be confirmed by Sheikh Ashraf Salah on IslamOnline. Since they couldn't very well execute someone in the midst of a holiday about forgiveness, they would just have to do it right before or right after!

Never mind that, according to Sheikh Ashraf Salah, "This is the day when Allah forgives many sins of His servants." Forget what Sheikh Ashraf Salah says next:
In this blessed gathering, on this happy day, we have to start taking sincere steps towards love and harmony. Let's forget what might have happened between us because of unintended mistakes. Let's decide to achieve closer bonds in our relationships. Let's remember everything that Allah asked us to do. Look at what Allah says: [Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you (An-Nur 24:22).
Gibson gave no indication whatsoever that he recognized the absurdity involved in speeding up or delaying an execution so it would not have to be carried out during a celebration of forgiveness. I am reminded of the rabid Christian right-to-lifers calling for the death of medical doctors, celebrating an execution outside the prison walls, or supporting preemptive war. One cannot help but wonder if religion has little meaning beyond the empty rituals which accompany it.

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