11/26/2007

teddy bears are haram

The entire concept of "an insult to Islam" is itself the closest thing to an insult that can exist, if an eternal divine revelation can be insulted (which in my view, it can not). Case in point:

The Sudanese police arrested a British schoolteacher and accused her of insulting Islam after she allowed her 7-year-old pupils to name a class teddy bear Muhammad, Sudanese officials said today.
[...]
According to BBC, Ms. Gibbons, 54, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in a teddy bear and for her classmates to pick a name for it.

“They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammed,” Mr. Boulos said.

When it came time to vote, 20 out of 23 children choose Muhammad, one of the most common names in the Muslim word.


The article notes that if convicted of this "crime", Mrs. Gibbons faces punishment including lashes. The article also gets to the nub of the matter, somewhat unintentionally:

In Islam, insulting the Prophet Muhammad is considered a grave offense, and the law of northern Sudan, where Khartoum is located, makes this a crime.


Where is it written that "insulting the Prophet" is a "grave offense" ? Is it in the Qur'an? Hadith? Upon what jurisprudence is the law of Sudan based? Far from this law being based in Islam, it's actually invented without a single source of Islamic law to justify as source. The law of Sudan is, in effect, bida'a.

That is all beside the point, however. No rational person can consider naming a teddy bear "Mohammed" to be an insult. Especially given that Mohammed is the single most common name in the muslim world.

7 comments:

G. Willow said...

If you find the piece of Islamic literature that prescribes 40 lashes for insulting the Prophet (assuming that naming a teddy bear [a teddy bear!] after him even counts as such), let me know...

Aziz said...

ah wait G I just found it. Narrated by Abu Abul Abi Abid, via an isnad authenticated by the Islamic University of Islam:

"Oh believers! verily is the cotton of the teddy bear haram [forbidden]. Enjoin yourselves to keep your names clean from its defilement. Let he or she who associates a teddy bear with Allah or His Prophet be subject to the lash, one each for the days of Ramadan."

now, interpretation of that hadith implies only thirty lashes. However, since the teacher was also poisoning the minds of 20 young children, each of whom is worth half as much as an adult (according to another hadith which I will explain at another time), we can add ten more. So it is written.

I swear, I read these hadith in Bukhari II: Hadith Boogaloo.

G. Willow said...

But Aziz I just found this other hadith from the Sahih of Abu Jalambo:

"Oh ye who believe! Go not in to your teddy bears when their polyester stuffing has become soiled, but wait for the time of purification. Soiled stuffing is a pollution unto them and a discomfort, so stay away until they have cleansed themselves [with Downy]. Then go in to them as you please."

This would seem to suggest that under certain circumstances, teddies are halal! Now we must investigate the transmission of both hadith and look for weak links...

For the guy who's going to roll by and chastise us, we verify that these are not real hadith and are in fact made up for purposes of satire, and furthermore we suggest that all youngsters who might happen upon this comment thread immediately close their browsers so as not to become confused and led astray. And God is the best of counselors.

Nightstudies said...

Where is it written that "insulting the Prophet" is a "grave offense" ? Is it in the Qur'an? Hadith?

I can think of two cases the Prophet had poets put to death for mocking him, and there may be more I'm not aware of.

The accounts of those killings obviously count as Hadiths making insulting the Prophet a grave offense. Isn't that how it works?

Of course there was no insult in this case.

Aziz said...

You are right NS that there are some hadith that suggest that the Prophet asked of his followers, "who will handle such and such" and then someone went out and killed them. I don't put a lot of stock in them. Thats the point I was making with my lampoon of hadith against teddy bears - there exists a hadith for pretty much every opinion and interpretation under the sun. 100 years from now, I assure you my hadith against teddy bears, Willow's disclaimer notwithstanding, will find its way into someone's polemic for some reason, but with an isnad (chain of narration) grafted onto it to make it's origin go back 1400 years.

I other words, there's a hadith industry in place and its utterly nonsensical to rely on hadith for anything other than the vaguest guidance. I've been severely critical of hadith before and in fact have pointed out that Bukhari was just a collector of hadith, compiling them without any real rating as to their accuracy. However teh sole fact of his compilation of them - ranging from utterly mundane to truly bizarre - gave all of them a kind of gravitas over the centuries hence.

BTW, thank you for leaving a thoughtful comment. I know you come at this from a position of opposition, but you substantively added to the discussion here, and for that I am grateful. I will probably delete your other comments in other threads that are needless insulting however.

Nightstudies said...

Someone suggested that Muslims can curse God but never Mohammad.

Omce you start using morals to reason about Mohammad as if he were God - ie as the definition of Justice he would never do X or say X, you find that you have to throw out most of Islam, starting with the Sunna and ending with the Koran.

There's nothing wrong with being a deist rather than a Muslim of course - though Mohammad would strongly disagree.

Nightstudies said...

Though thinking about it, any principle that would allow Muslims to throw away Bukhari would save countless lives and prevent massive injustice so should be more respectful. Good luck.

Though I also realize that you're no more an iconoclast than other Muslims, rather you're probably obedient to that tiny sect you belong to. Unless there
s a massive wave of Ijtihad, then making arguments will have little effect.