Sunday, November 23, 2008

Knowing Your Halal From Your Haram

If you read only two blog posts this holiday season that dispel the equivocation and clarify the distinction between right/wrong and halal/haram, make sure the recent one by Ophelia Benson is one of the two. Here's a taste:

There's a huge difference, and a difference that could hardly be more important. What is 'permitted' [i.e., halal] can be profoundly wrong and cruel and wicked; what is 'forbidden' [i.e., haram] can be entirely harmless or enormously beneficial. To many people, girls going to school is haram, and stoning girls to death for being raped is halal. Confusing the concept 'permitted' with the concept 'right' is a recipe for the worst kind of moral blindness and stupidity.
Certainly. The distinction points up the damage god-addled ethical schemes can do to ethical schemes, in that right and wrong get distorted, crimped, and reduced to mean that which god abides and that which god does not abide.

What does a god character in a fable permit? What does the god character forbid? Who cares? No one concerned with right and wrong, that's who.

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