Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eye For An Eye

Having lived in Saudi Arabia twice, I learned from firsthand experience the cultural differences that exist between the "western" world and the Middle East. Americans have a very hard time understanding why Muslims do things the way they do and how an extremist movement like Al Qaeda could have emerged from that culture. For me, it's not a mystery at all. There is one main difference between our two cultures that is so fundamental that it's almost taken for granted - Christianity and the New Testament.

The ideas of social justice, kindness to your enemies, and forgiveness are "western" ideals for one main reason; our society is based on Christian teachings. It was Jesus Christ of the New Testament who turned mosaic law on its ear when he preached:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

- Matthew 5:43-44

I personally experienced great kindness and generosity from Saudi friends and other Muslim friends I have. I know of their capacity for kindness and hospitality. I also have to add how beautiful that part of the world is; Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman. There is much good that exists in the culture. You literally can leave your car running with the door open, and it will still be there when you get back. If you drop your wallet, it will most likely be there on the ground when you go to look for it. Why? Because the punishment for theft is having your hand cut off. Islamic law is very much part of the Old Testament world where an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is the guiding principle.

We cannot understand the Muslim world if we assume they have the same basic core western values which really are Christian values (no matter how much some try to ignore our Christian roots.) Muslims are good people, but guided by different principles. There really is a place called Chop Chop Square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where corporal punishments are carried out in public.

This article from the Huffington Post illustrates my point:
"Saudi Judge Considers Paralysis Punishment" -by Salah Nasrawi from


jennie w. said...

That's it, I'm cutting off my kids' fingers whenever they steal something. That'll teach them!

L. said...

I read your link, Kim, and was horrified and fascinated (anthropologically, only!) Your blog was spot on, and revealed to us westerners a truth that has been vague and outrageous to us. I wish you could publicly publish that somewhere. People should be brought to understand.

Obviously Islam also does not preach forgiveness. That leaves all parties in any crime aching forever. Thank HEAVEN for Christ and His gospel!!!!

Sara Schumacher said...