Tuesday, October 17, 2006

If I Were a God.

If I were a god or goddess (apart from being one in my own mind), what would I expect from my believers? Would I expect a dogged and literal reading of any text I may have disseminated to a chosen prophet or two over the millennia? Unlikely. Would I insist on any dietary laws, construct bizarre prohibitions against consuming specific items at the same time? I doubt it. Would I drive my faithful to distraction over inconsistencies, contradictions, and definitions of what is clean or unclean by utilizing vague heavily contextualised language in those texts that I may have disseminated to a chosen prophet or two over the millennia? No, I tend to be pretty precise. Would I allow many many centuries to go by before I updated any of those texts that I may have disseminated to a chosen prophet or two over the millennia? I'm capricious by nature but not overtly cruel.

Would I allow pictorial representations of me? Only if they were flattering.

Would I relegate women to subservient or even nonexistent roles, and turn a blind eye when their cries for freedom and equality and the right to self-expression are ignored and/or punished? Absolutely not. This god, you see, has a uterus.

Would I ask my believers to starve themselves during daylight hours, deny themselves water in spite of the fact that they may live in hot climates? I seriously doubt it. Furthermore, would I ask my faithful to seriously jeopardize their health by abjuring life-saving medication because it might conflict with this period of fasting when even a gobbet of partially swallowed toothpaste can send the devout into a paroxysm of self-reproach and dogmatic uncertainty? In a word, 'no'. So, if I'm such a benevolent and broadminded and generally flexible god (yoga helps), why would Allah - who is considered both compassionate and merciful by his followers - want his team to abstain from insulin during Ramadan? Well, it appears he doesn't. So, what's the problem?

The practice of fasting can be a matter of life or death during the holy month of Ramadan for diabetics. The practice, one of the five pillars of Islam, applies to all Muslims except those with certain illnesses. Some Algerian diabetics doggedly want to accomplish their religious duty even at the detriment of their own health, while others follow doctors' advice.

I think that Allah already has enough blood on his hands thanks to the over-zealous activities of many of his believers - clearly, he doesn't need any more dead bodies. Consider this Type I diabetic from Morocco:

"I feel an indescribable shame when I eat [during daylight hours], even though I am obeying my doctor's orders. Even though my religion allows me to refrain from fasting, as I am insulin-dependent, the remorse still haunts me. I assure you that I eat far away from the view of my family."

Hmmmm. Shame. I wonder, is it more shameful to be dead, to potentially leave your family bereft of financial support because you're too busy shagging a houri in paradise? That's a tough one.

It surprises me a bit that Allah and I (and probably every Muslim medical practitioner on the planet) are on the same page because we normally disagree about so much else. Although he has never solicited my advice on this or any other matter, I think that I would have to advise him to consider updating his material. Add a few appendices to the Koran. Toss in a concordance. Better yet, try a female prophet this time. You see, if we aren't clear on things or have any problems, for example ...

Strong drink and ... are only an infamy of Satan's handiwork. [5:90, also 2:219]. Yet on the other hand in Paradise are rivers of wine [47:15, also 83:22,25]. How does Satan's handiwork get into Paradise?

... we'd ask for clarification. Women are just better at asking for directions.

Addendum: Happy birthday Mom!

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