Husn al dhun

“Give your brother seventy excuses,” proclaim the leaders of opinion in our midst. And your sisters? No, it doesn’t apply to them, against whom we must make seventy accusations instead. Yes, our activists are out in force again, campaigning for their beloved, citing husn al dhun, explaining to everyone everywhere that the one they defend was Islamically married to the women he has called mythomaniacs for the past a year. He submitted a false alibi to prove he was elsewhere, they claim, because lying to escape the oppression of a tyrant is the lesser sin. His campaign named a plaintiff as a white supremacist — despite her being of mixed French and West African heritage — because lying to free your brother from the oppression of a tyrant is the lesser sin. Those who violate the honour of other Muslims, we are reminded vehemently, should fear the day we will be held accountable by Allah for our crimes. This prohibition, our activists remind us, applies only to our beloveds: it does not apply to the plaintiffs, who may be slandered at length and accused of lying over and over again. In their defence of their beloved, we are referred to Surat al-Hujarat and reminded to avoid the sin of assumption, although the same chapter’s prohibition on mocking and taunting others is cast aside, as is the command to fight oppression amongst the believers. In their attack on the plaintiffs, we are referred to Surat Yusuf: “Surely, it is a plot of you women! Certainly mighty is your plot!” For our beloveds the specific is made general, and the general made specific. Give your brother the full benefit of the doubt, insist our teachers. Yes, and your sisters: doubt them completely.

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