The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
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14-10-2015, 08:50 AM
The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
There is no debate over what is said in the Hadith about Muhammad and his marriage to Aisha. (See Volume 7, Book 62, Number 65 of Sahih Bukhari for reference).

This is a typical argument that many people who share a dislike in Islam with myself. Now, at first it may seem strange but I tend to side with the followers of Muhammad on this particular issue. Although it annoys me that the majority that I've come to the defence of have denied facts, or dodged the argument totally by naming other paedophiles. My argument is simply one of moral relativity.

When mortality rates were high breeding was at the utmost importance for communities to survive and so it would have been judged a moral act to have children as soon as possible, I.E as soon as one could reproduce.

I feel uncomfortable defending this line of argument although I think that it is right.

While I'm on the topic of ethics and instead of creating another thread in the philosophy section I'd like to ask what people think about the Socratic opinion, that if one is unaware ones' own actions are immoral, should they be held responsible or should the ones that are aware be held responsible for not educating well enough?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

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14-10-2015, 09:10 AM (This post was last modified: 14-10-2015 09:25 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 08:50 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  There is no debate over what is said in the Hadith about Muhammad and his marriage to Aisha. (See Volume 7, Book 62, Number 65 of Sahih Bukhari for reference).

This is a typical argument that many people who share a dislike in Islam with myself. Now, at first it may seem strange but I tend to side with the followers of Muhammad on this particular issue. Although it annoys me that the majority that I've come to the defence of have denied facts, or dodged the argument totally by naming other paedophiles. My argument is simply one of moral relativity.

When mortality rates were high breeding was at the utmost importance for communities to survive and so it would have been judged a moral act to have children as soon as possible, I.E as soon as one could reproduce.

I feel uncomfortable defending this line of argument although I think that it is right.

While I'm on the topic of ethics and instead of creating another thread in the philosophy section I'd like to ask what people think about the Socratic opinion, that if one is unaware ones' own actions are immoral, should they be held responsible or should the ones that are aware be held responsible for not educating well enough?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

I had to wiktionary "nonce" to discover it was brit slang for a pedophile. You learn something new every day.

I have two responses to this argument.

The first is, I've never been a big fan of pointing out Mohamed's pedophilia, because I don't like playing the blame-and-defame game in general. Sometimes living or recently-dead people deserve a good insult, but distant historical (assuming he WAS historical) figures do not. There's no point to it. Furthermore, such figures operate in a very different cultural context, in addition to the pragmatic points you raise. Our ability to know and recognize that something is wrong (and, some might argue, what is and isn't wrong) depends greatly on our social context. It is easy for us to look back at, say, feudal monarchy and declare it wrong, but it would be much more difficult for someone in the 9th century (be they king, noble, or peasant) to do the same, because they lacked our perspective and because such a declaration would be considered aberrant rather than meritorious by their society. (That's before you get into the argument that feudalism was a necessary response for the military, infrastructural, economic, and technological challenges of the era.) I have diminished expectations for someone who is caught up in the matrix of their own society and era to see what is wrong with it... it's great when they CAN, but I don't have high hopes. So bottom line, I'm not greatly inclined to deploy the argument that this counters in the first place.

My second response is that while this counterargument may work for moderate Muslims, there is a particular strain of mostly fundamentalist Islam which this counterargument doesn't serve to defend. It's a strain that emphasizes that EVERYTHING should be done the way it was done by Mohamed and his generation. Pointing out the evils of that generation is a powerful (and actually relevant) argument against that. The counterargument you present does not defend this strain of Islam, because it argues that child marriage was a valid response to circumstances particular to that era, with the implication that the present era may call for a different way of living.

EDIT: Also, how the hell would we hold Mohamed responsible? Dude is centuries dead. What are we going to do, throw him in prison?
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14-10-2015, 11:35 AM (This post was last modified: 14-10-2015 11:39 AM by Szuchow.)
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
Islam is easy to despise regardless of opinions about Muhammad, so even if he was best man that lived on Earth it would have changed nothing.

As for wider question - Ignorantia iuris nocet. Not knowing the law does not cause one to be free from responsibility.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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14-10-2015, 11:38 AM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 08:50 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  ...
While I'm on the topic of ethics and instead of creating another thread in the philosophy section I'd like to ask what people think about the Socratic opinion, that if one is unaware ones' own actions are immoral, should they be held responsible or should the ones that are aware be held responsible for not educating well enough?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

What's that thought experiment about if you watch a blind person walking towards a well and do nothing ... ?

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14-10-2015, 12:06 PM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 08:50 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  When mortality rates were high breeding was at the utmost importance for communities to survive and so it would have been judged a moral act to have children as soon as possible, I.E as soon as one could reproduce.

I feel uncomfortable defending this line of argument although I think that it is right.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Sahih Bukhari. My favorite piece of literature. Here's what the portion says (narrated by Ayesha herself): "That the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death)."

Since it is extremely improbable that Ayesha achieved menarche at age 9 and given the fact that Mohammad (fleas be upon him) already had several other wives (see for example Volume 7, Book 62, Number 101), how does this help the "populate the world" argument?

Doc
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14-10-2015, 03:51 PM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 09:10 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  
(14-10-2015 08:50 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  There is no debate over what is said in the Hadith about Muhammad and his marriage to Aisha. (See Volume 7, Book 62, Number 65 of Sahih Bukhari for reference).

This is a typical argument that many people who share a dislike in Islam with myself. Now, at first it may seem strange but I tend to side with the followers of Muhammad on this particular issue. Although it annoys me that the majority that I've come to the defence of have denied facts, or dodged the argument totally by naming other paedophiles. My argument is simply one of moral relativity.

When mortality rates were high breeding was at the utmost importance for communities to survive and so it would have been judged a moral act to have children as soon as possible, I.E as soon as one could reproduce.

I feel uncomfortable defending this line of argument although I think that it is right.

While I'm on the topic of ethics and instead of creating another thread in the philosophy section I'd like to ask what people think about the Socratic opinion, that if one is unaware ones' own actions are immoral, should they be held responsible or should the ones that are aware be held responsible for not educating well enough?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

I had to wiktionary "nonce" to discover it was brit slang for a pedophile. You learn something new every day.

I have two responses to this argument.

The first is, I've never been a big fan of pointing out Mohamed's pedophilia, because I don't like playing the blame-and-defame game in general. Sometimes living or recently-dead people deserve a good insult, but distant historical (assuming he WAS historical) figures do not. There's no point to it. Furthermore, such figures operate in a very different cultural context, in addition to the pragmatic points you raise. Our ability to know and recognize that something is wrong (and, some might argue, what is and isn't wrong) depends greatly on our social context. It is easy for us to look back at, say, feudal monarchy and declare it wrong, but it would be much more difficult for someone in the 9th century (be they king, noble, or peasant) to do the same, because they lacked our perspective and because such a declaration would be considered aberrant rather than meritorious by their society. (That's before you get into the argument that feudalism was a necessary response for the military, infrastructural, economic, and technological challenges of the era.) I have diminished expectations for someone who is caught up in the matrix of their own society and era to see what is wrong with it... it's great when they CAN, but I don't have high hopes. So bottom line, I'm not greatly inclined to deploy the argument that this counters in the first place.

My second response is that while this counterargument may work for moderate Muslims, there is a particular strain of mostly fundamentalist Islam which this counterargument doesn't serve to defend. It's a strain that emphasizes that EVERYTHING should be done the way it was done by Mohamed and his generation. Pointing out the evils of that generation is a powerful (and actually relevant) argument against that. The counterargument you present does not defend this strain of Islam, because it argues that child marriage was a valid response to circumstances particular to that era, with the implication that the present era may call for a different way of living.

EDIT: Also, how the hell would we hold Mohamed responsible? Dude is centuries dead. What are we going to do, throw him in prison?

Well put. I'm not very good at writing but you expressed my own views better than I did.

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
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14-10-2015, 03:52 PM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 11:38 AM)DLJ Wrote:  
(14-10-2015 08:50 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  ...
While I'm on the topic of ethics and instead of creating another thread in the philosophy section I'd like to ask what people think about the Socratic opinion, that if one is unaware ones' own actions are immoral, should they be held responsible or should the ones that are aware be held responsible for not educating well enough?

What are your thoughts on this issue?

What's that thought experiment about if you watch a blind person walking towards a well and do nothing ... ?

I don't think I've heard about that, although it sounds like a different discussion to one I'm proposing, perhaps I was not clear enough.

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14-10-2015, 03:56 PM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 12:06 PM)docskeptic Wrote:  
(14-10-2015 08:50 AM)SunnyD1 Wrote:  When mortality rates were high breeding was at the utmost importance for communities to survive and so it would have been judged a moral act to have children as soon as possible, I.E as soon as one could reproduce.

I feel uncomfortable defending this line of argument although I think that it is right.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Sahih Bukhari. My favorite piece of literature. Here's what the portion says (narrated by Ayesha herself): "That the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death)."

Since it is extremely improbable that Ayesha achieved menarche at age 9 and given the fact that Mohammad (fleas be upon him) already had several other wives (see for example Volume 7, Book 62, Number 101), how does this help the "populate the world" argument?

Doc

Polygamy itself is another tool for growing a population. Although I think in the patriarchal world that may just be an excuse for pleasure.

You've got me there, I've just finished work and am tired as hell, I'll think of a response by tomorrow! Tongue

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
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14-10-2015, 04:06 PM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 11:35 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  As for wider question - Ignorantia iuris nocet. Not knowing the law does not cause one to be free from responsibility.

But a diminished capacity for knowing the law, by being raised from childhood in the culture and being taught by everyone around you that behavior which violates the law is the norm, can be a valid or even just partial excuse. Never a justification, but possibly an excuse.

.... also, it's not exactly a law if no legislature or other governing body decreed it, no one wrote it down, and no courts were enforcing it. We're not talking about a clearly codified law. Rather, we're talking about a good and working understanding of moral behavior, which regardless of whether you subscribe to the idea of an objective morality or simply a socially constructed morality is still something humanity has been glacially clawing its way towards for millennia. Contrary to what some of our theist friends like to think, it's not simply sitting there in a law book or primer that everyone has easy access to. Progress means that we look back on previous generations as moral hoodlums and that, we must hope, future generations will look upon us in the same way.
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14-10-2015, 04:16 PM
RE: The "Muhammad was a nonce" argument.
(14-10-2015 04:06 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  But a diminished capacity for knowing the law, by being raised from childhood in the culture and being taught by everyone around you that behavior which violates the law is the norm, can be a valid or even just partial excuse. Never a justification, but possibly an excuse.

Excuse which I would not accept if I would be in position where my acceptance matters.

(14-10-2015 04:06 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  .... also, it's not exactly a law if no legislature or other governing body decreed it, no one wrote it down, and no courts were enforcing it. We're not talking about a clearly codified law. Rather, we're talking about a good and working understanding of moral behavior, which regardless of whether you subscribe to the idea of an objective morality or simply a socially constructed morality is still something humanity has been glacially clawing its way towards for millennia. Contrary to what some of our theist friends like to think, it's not simply sitting there in a law book or primer that everyone has easy access to. Progress means that we look back on previous generations as moral hoodlums and that, we must hope, future generations will look upon us in the same way.

I know it isn't about law.

I see no reason to judge Muhammad by standards of his time since standards have changed. What was moral then, isn't moral now. Others could see this in different light and say that he only acted as was common back then so it wasn't wrong, but view of others is of no consequence to me.

As for future generations, sure it's possible they would be looking on us or even on me specificaly as a savages but I care not. I won't be around.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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