Friday, September 26, 2008

Mice & Clerics

You sure have heard about that Saudi Cleric - Sheikh Muhammad Munjid - who stated that mice are the legions of Satan, and that all mice must die including Mickey Mouse. But wait a minute, let's first agree that nobody on earth is that stupid, and for sure this is not what the Saudi Cleric meant in the religious affairs program broadcasted on Al-Majd TV. I think what he meant was that according to Islam mice are malicious creatures and they must be killed, however the media nowadays succeeded in altering children's minds as they now love characters like Mickey Mouse which in fact is a mouse.

We now hove to answer many questions such as: Why on earth does someone talk about mice and whether they are legions of Satan or not? Aren't there any other important subjects to be discussed in such TV program except those Mickey Mouse matters? Why did the media focus on Al Munjid's speech, and at the end of the day he is just one cleric among thousands or may be millions of Islamic clerics?

First of all, I believe that such kind of Fatwas - Islamic Verdicts - are the product of a much older historic problem. Let's first agree that Islamic rules are mainly based on the Holy Quraan and Ahadith - Statements or Actions of The Prophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him. And while the Holy Quraan was written during the Prophets life, the Ahadith were narrated and transfered from one mouth to another till they were written about 300 years later. And due to this many of the Ahadith are not that Authentic and to filter the Ahadith a dedicated Islamic Science has emerged which is responsible for studying the Ahadith and those who narrated them in order to tell the valid ones from the invalid ones. Now the problem started when some clerics decided that the Ahadith gatherd in one or two books are all authentic and no one is allowed to further investigate in their authenticity of the Ahadith written there. Also we need to know that the Prophet Muhammad Peace be Upon Him, beside being the messenger of God to humanity he was also a political leader and some of his statements were for the sake of community he lived in. And we can simply guess - I cannot tell by the way whether this Hadith is authentic or not - that such statement for example was meant to warn the people alive then from the harms and microbes rats and mice can transfer when they exist in their homes, and as you know Arabs then were not civilized enough, and even though people nowadays are aware of microbes transfered by mice for example, Arabs then were in need of such statements and such kind of awareness. So now the problem is that some of today's clerics may blindly repeat 1500 years old statements out of their original context.

One other problem here is conspiracy theories that are haunting people living in this part of the world. Through out this video it is clear that Al-Munjid is accusing the western media of affecting Muslim children's minds. As if Walt Disney was really aware of every single Hadith and decided to base his cartoon character on mice on purpose to alter Muslim children's beliefs tens of years later. Come on, conspiracy theories may exist but relating every single incident in our lives to them will turn us into the main target of the whole world's jokes.

Finally, Social Media and site like YouTube gave the individuals the appropriate tools to spread such kind of news easily. Few years ago nobody would have cared or reported a statement of a Saudi cleric on an obscure TV channel about Mickey Mouse like now. But now it's easier for such clips to be spread online. And I can imagine a Shiite Blogger in Kuwait or Iran for example writing about such cleric, for him it is a good chance to make fun of the foolishness of Sunni clerics. It's also a good chance for an Egyptian Sunni blogger to make fun of Wahabis or an American writer to make fun of Arabs and their stupidity. What I want to say here is that during the pre-internet era, the selection of published news were based on organizations and governments intentions, while now individuals intentions are a major component of the media game. And those individuals are capable of spreading such kind of news that used to remain in the shadow earlier. And guess what, sometimes those individuals now can even affect the publishing decisions of the major news outlets.

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