I was in a really bad mood that night. Not that I'm going to retract anything I said. But I haven't forgotten that it was Islam which preserved the legacy of Greek intellectual thought, and for a while, provided the only area during the middle ages where real learning was possible. Christians in Europe were too busy burning witches and feeling self-satisfied at that time. And thinking was evil.
Alas, all new things wear out after a while, get barnacled by old customs and need constant renewal. And the emphasis in "renewal" should be on the "new." It's not about totally repudiating the past and throwing away all old customs. It's about remembering both the good and the bad of what once was, and moving beyond BOTH. After all, what was good, or even what just worked, a thousand years ago may be good or workable no longer.
My understanding of Islam is a little weak, and I invite correction from anyone who knows better, but I don't believe that some of the things I've read lately are part of the actual doctrine.
For instance, the idea among some groups that if a woman is seduced or raped by a member of a different family or clan, she has to be killed to preserve the honor of the family. I've seen a couple articles and news reports about this. My response is "huh?"
An example of blaming the victim in neon lights, fer pete's sake. The reason behind this is clear. If the men of one clan responded by killing the man of another clan who was responsible for the offense, then a tribal warfare would break out, lasting for generations. Think Hatfields and McCoys. So kill the victim, and then the vendetta won't be given life. This probably saved a lot of MEN'S lives. Too bad it cost a few women's lives. And, in fact, is still costing a few women's lives.
Those who indulge in this behavior justify it by Islamic thought and practice, but my information is that this is not supported by the Koran.
On the Christian side there is similar, if less lethal, equivocation. Jesus didn't have any women apostles (so it is said) so therefore women shouldn't be priests or ministers. Fortunately any early texts which suggested anything different have been destroyed or declared heretical, or both. The Catholic church (and folks, your curmudgeon grew up in the Catholic faith so I reserve all rights to bitch about it as much as i can while hiding my dirty secret that I see a lot of good in it) still maintains, in the face of multiple scandals involving sexually ignorant and sexually vulnerable priests, that women should not be in the priesthood, and that priests should not marry (lest women interfere with their spirituality). Really, this is no different than the (so-called) Islamic prohibition against women having any significant say in their society.
The underlying sentiment is fear of women.
C'mon, guys, give me a break.
Women are great. You don't have to be afraid of them. Just enjoy. If you don't want them sexually (or even if you do) enjoy their intelligence, their views on the world and it's workings, their hu(wo)manity.
The idea that it is weakness to consider women important and worthy of consideration is in itself a sign of weakness.
Grow up guys. Especially you guys who are popes or imams.
Its a new world, and God (or Allah) created it. Get used to it.
(I said that)