‘Let him without sin cast the first stone,’ they retort repeatedly, quoting that little-known Islamic ruling from St John’s Gospel, reserved for the rich and famous. Full disclosure here: I am indeed a sinner through and through, so far be it from me to judge another. I just find it a wondrous thing that the common man is condemned for misdemeanours great and small, while the murderous caliph, alcoholic sage and adulterous scholar are free to do as they please, and the masses still celebrate and laud them for their contributions to civilisation and defence of the realm, convincing themselves that for the rich and famous, their religion is all peace and love and forgiveness, and it is only the common man who must take himself to account and be careful what he says. Fear not: the oppressor is oppressed, a victim of a terrible assault, harassed to commit sins by zealous followers. Have mercy on them, for it is not easy being rich, famous and widely celebrated. Let him without sin cast the first stone.
The hippie Muslims who embraced Islam in the 1960s and 1970s are so much more refined than us modern converts. I wonder if we will ever become chilled like them as our hairs turn white, or if we will forever remain bitter, cynical, conspiratorial and on edge. Hope there’s room in the inn for us sinners.
For all those who liken themselves to Yusuf when the wife of al-‘Azeez tried to seduce him, it is worth pondering his retort:
Joseph said, ‘My Lord! I would prefer prison to what these women are calling me to do. If You do not protect me from their treachery, I shall yield to them and do wrong.’ — Qur’an 12:33
When pursued by one who would try to seduce him, he instead sought the protection of God and fled, remaining chaste and obedient to his Lord.
It is not religion that we defend, but a man. A man, we say, who defends religion, forgetting:
“Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth exalts God, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? It is most hateful to God that you say what you do not do.” — Qur’an 61:1-3
But still we persist, for he is a man that represents religion, and he is our just cause. To defend him is to defend religion.
That is why we say, ‘Why bring religion into the affair?’ It is why we say, ‘Religion has nothing to do with it.’
It is why we ignore what religion teaches as we defend this defender of religion. For he is a man who defends religion, but is above religion. A saviour of religion and its followers, though unbound by its sacred laws and precepts.
Revealing, without a shadow of doubt, that it is but a man that we defend and nothing more.
Our activists do not concern themselves with justice; they only deal in particularism. They consistently present only one side of the story to their followers, leading the unthinking and uninterested astray. Be objective: look at both sides, and weigh up all the evidence, and come to a decision or point of view based on the apparent facts, not on the agenda you wish to promulgate. And if new facts emerge which contradict everything you held to until now, do not just sweep them under the carpet, look the other way or pretend to be unaware: reevaluate your positions instead. Tell your following masses of the new information you have come across, which contradicts the definitive position you shared with them before, and which they then shared again and again, because they hang on your every word. Our activists, I note, never seem to hold those they advocate for to account. If a wrong is perpetrated by our own side, I note that we have nothing to say. No longer active or activist, but silent, compliant, dumb and duplicitous. We are masters of the politics of identity, and indifferent to true justice or just causes. We have transformed a message of warnings and accounting for what we do into the advocacy of a chosen people, and thus we cannot hold ourselves to account, and we cannot be just and we cannot be true or truthful.
I do not really know anymore what this Islam is that people hold to and preach. All of a sudden sins are not sins. The teachings we always held to are no longer our teachings. It is just an identity, its moral precepts relegated to an ancient backwater, out of sight and mind. Our leaders and activists are profoundly dumbstruck or, worse, preaching Original Sin as cover for the misdemeanours of friends. It perplexes me absolutely. Are we so bankrupt?
We do not stand for justice, and we are exactly as those censured in the Qur’an, who took their priests and scholars as lords in place of God. And it is no wonder that we are in the state we are, because we inflict punishments on the poor and let off the rich and famous. It is no wonder that we are destroyed.
Do not turn men into gods, for your true Lord will destroy all such idols.
Good news, oh wise, respected one: your reputation precedes you, so fear not should you find yourself in the grip of major sins, for your followers and groupies will all forgive you. Even if court documents show that you paid a woman thousands of pounds to buy her silence, or you testify before a magistrate that you had consensual intimate relationships with several women who were not your wife: fear not, for you stand judged not by God’s Law, but by your intellectual contributions to society and advocacy for a downtrodden people. How fine it is to be judged by men. Enjoy it while you can.