I guess that it takes a disaster to reveal major issues of ignorance and intolerance in a society.
Few months ago, during the Israeli war of Gaza there was a circulation of emails, blogs, micro-blogs and text messages cheering up for Hitler’s holocaust against the Jews. As disturbing as it has been the massacre taking place in Gaza for me, it was even more disturbing the intolerance hate speech spread among people whom I considered to be well educated, tolerant and open minded. I couldn’t find any reasonable justification for cheering up to a racist dictator like Hitler who classified people’s nations into superior and inferior ones even if he mass murdered a group of people whom we consider their descendents to be an enemy for us.
Today, with the swine flu spreading, I learnt about another disturbing common belief between some Muslims in Jordan. It sadly came out of the tongue of a close friend of mine “Men who eat pork don’t feel jealousy towards their wives, that is why Christian men let their wives go out wearing revealing clothes!“
I still can’t comprehend the amount of ingorance in this statement. Obviously it is built on an irrational common belief that eating pork copies some of the pigs characteristics to the one eating it. They claim that male pigs doesn’t react when watching his female having sex with another male and thus eating pork would make a man careless about his wife’s sexual affairs! (I am not an expert in animal matters, but would you people help pointing out which animals care and which don’t?). For Jordanian Christians, I know that such claim is very offensive. It steps on honor which is very sensitive cord that is common among both Muslims and Christians in Jordan. I won’t emphasize on the honor notion here as you know how I regard our cultural definition of honor, but the fact that this statment shows a general condescending moral attitude is disturbing.
The truth is that Islam forbades eating pork and requires Muslim women to wear veils while Christianity doesn’t forbade eating pork and doesn’t impose veils on Christian women. As a result of the veil Islamic restriction, Jordanian Christian women may have enjoyed less restrictions on clothes (which may not be true except for the veil part). On the other hand Muslims have always had a rational explanation of why Islam forbade eating pork – which is because it can cause serious health issues. They also state that pigs are filthy animals because they eat their shit. That is fine as well. But the claim of copied behaviour and linking it to jealousy is quite a stretch!
A doctor friend of mine told me a story about a mother who had her son in a very bad condition at the hospital. He needed a medication that contains some substances taken from pigs. The mother refused giving him the medication stating that if they give it to him, he would grow up pimping his sisters and that she won’t take that chance! We sadly value honor more than life, don’t we? I don’t know if the boy survived or not, but isn’t this a weird form of honor crimes?
Apparantly this common belief does have a religious base. I watched a video featuring a Sheikh on a religious channel talking about this matter. He claimed that people who eat pork acquire some pig’s characteristics. He even went further into claiming that people who eat a lot of pork do tend to look like pigs as they grow old! My friend claims that their is a hadith that says so, but I doubt it.
Islam is a religion of tolerance and knowledge, it helped in setting the grassroot for one of the most important civilization of the human history. Critical thinking has been one of its major pillars that provided a much needed catalyst for the development of human race at that point of time. I don’t know why people today ignore the importance of critical thinking and follow blindly rumors, lies and myths.
Inspite of our cultural perception of the dirtiness and ugliness of pigs, I happen to find them really cute creatures. They certainly look better than hens and sheeps, no?