A Vindictive God…
A Muslim, Pakistani friend of mine, who’s been doing a commendable job helping the victims of the recent floods that have hit Pakistan, told me about an unsettling encounter several weeks ago. He said that he had to endure a tirade coming from one of his distant relatives about his volunteer work. According to the execrably deluded gentleman, my friend was doing “satan’s work” by interfering in God’s azab (wrath) upon the flood victims. He suggested that my friend concentrates on his own duties as a medical student and stops helping those who God wants to wipe off the face of the Earth.
My friend said simply, “Perhaps it’s YOU who’s been deluded by satan into sitting idly while thousands of innocents die from lack of food, shelter and medical supplies.”
What appalls me most is the fact that such mentality is almost ubiquitous. It nauseates me, the way people not only choose to remain ignorant to the cries for help coming from three-fifths of a country that is now underwater, but attempt to rationalize their indolence by playing the “azab” card. Not only do these criminals refuse to help their fellow men, but strive to dissuade others from helping the needy as well.
Imagine a holy man approaching a widow who has lost her husband and children in a flood and says to her, “Hmm…I wonder what kind of blasphemous, sexually-depraved activities your man and kids had been indulging in to deserve such wrath from Allah?”
I wonder why God never sends his wrath down upon the filthy-rich, corrupt politicians draining the very life out of this failed state. I never see the Aiwan-e-Sadr (Presidential Residence) crumbling due to a quake, or the mansions of the Mafia-type political leaders in Karachi getting washed away by flash floods. Or does God have a special bone to pick with the poor-as-church-mice farmers living in distant villages, minding their own businesses?
The “Gay Disease”
People love labeling diseases. Their obsession with giving “reason” to every phenomenon other than the obvious cause and effect has led to the emergence of ludicrous beliefs such as, “AIDS is the disease of homosexuals”, “Syphillis is a disease of whores” and “TB (tuberculosis) is a disease of poor people”.
Though it’s prudent to identify the risk factors involved in a certain disease and raise awareness about them, it’s pathetic to use them to advertise one’s religion or a personal brand of morals. I didn’t fully appreciate the severity of this problem until my professor of pathology at college almost gleefully devoted fifteen minutes of his lecture time to explaining how AIDS is a curse from Allah upon the homosexuals.
For most, it’s not enough of a tragedy that a person contracts HIV (even if it’s from anything other than anal intercourse), but he/she also needs to endure the judgmental attitude of those around him. Diseases are caused by pathogens gaining access to one’s body through food, water, air, sex or an open wound…and that’s it. AIDS is God’s wrath upon the sodomites like Influenza is God’s azab upon those who breathe air.
Certain sexually transmitted diseases (Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Inflammatory Pelvic Disease) manifest exclusively in women, while men usually remain as asymptomatic carriers. That means a heterosexual male can transfer such disease to his female sexual partner and become responsible for a myriad of health problems arising in the woman. The homosexuals, on the other hand, may pass on such disease to each other but its clinical prevalence would remain low since the symptoms of the disease don’t normally manifest in men.
Moral of the story: God punishes heterosexuals?
Bear in mind that anal intercourse is, in fact, risky behavior. Anyone engaging in such behavior should be well-aware of its dangers and must be advised to use adequate protection.
But what about the other risky behaviors that aren’t so fervently stigmatized by religious zealots? Would a shi’ite Muslim like to rise up and talk about the health problems caused by maatam (a shi’ite practice of severe corporeal mortification, practiced openly in public)? Would an over-exuberant azabitionist like to come forward and claim that the deaths of hundreds of pilgrims every year in Mecca and Mina from stampedes are caused by an azab sent by Allah upon those who perform Hajj? Not to mention all the other fatalities caused by exertion and cramped conditions during Hajj?