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Moses, Jesus, Paul, Mohammed--all historical figures

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?
in response to reader comment: Are Democracy and Secularism really inseparable?

Submitted by Claire (United States), May 9, 2008 at 19:52

I think secularism is important because otherwise we end up valuing one ancient cultural engineer or teacher over another as the end game, and none of them are.

I think all of these individuals were insightful geniuses of their time, but their time is now past, and while some of their wisdom holds its value, we have insights they didn't. Mohammed didn't know, for example, that if girls have sex or babies early it can damage their internal organs, cause them to suffer lifelong problems like urinary or bowel incontinence, for example. He also didn't understand that females have the same hopes and dreams as males and wish to be free.

Many Chinese and Middle Eastern women who have fled to the U.S. are women who were in abusive or polygamous marriages where the law didn't protect them from their husbands and fathers, and who sense they were slaves. Many walked on foot to the border in horrible weather conditions with inadequate food and water, some with babies and small children, as they made their way out of their countries.

It's not limited to those who have escaped to the U.S. I've seen shows on the BBC, Bloomberg, and Al Jazeera where knowledgeable women try to focus public attention in their own countries on the horrific outcomes of practices like female genital mutilation or forcing women to get male permission for acts of everyday life, like seeking medical care, shopping, having a meal at a restaurant, traveling, staying in a hotel, etc.

So continuing to focus on the literal ancient writings can have dire effects on modern people that those who cherish such teachings don't understand.

I think it would be a mistake for any country to embrace the law of any of these ancient cultural engineers or teachers. What they taught needs to be reexamined based on what we know today that these people did not have access to. Deifying them or setting them apart as somehow so unique that the world should revolve around their thinking is wrong. They were men in a given situation at a given point in time, and that time is not now.


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