Gloat By Rote


Middle East Media Research Institute has a roundup of gloating over Hurricane Katrina in the Arab/Islamic press. It seems to be less virulent than I was expecting, though about as predictable (Zarqawi gives Katrina two thumbs up, a Kuwaiti government official calls Katrina a "soldier of Allah," and a Saudi Shiekh issues a fatwa requiring rejoicing). MEMRI, which has branched out somewhat since its original incarnation as an LGF-style outrage collector, focuses on the objections of columnists who condemn the gloating. Though publicly urging people not to gloat always seems to be an insidious way of gloating yourself, these are pretty wide-ranging: from be-good-Muslims injunctions toward charity to theological arguments against seeing divine judgments to a Kuwaiti urging his countrymen to stand by their allies. But the most encouraging comment may be one that's neither pro nor con:

In an article titled "Katrina—Between Legend and the Koran," 'Ali Al-Dhaidi, head of the cultural committee of the Union of Kuwaiti Teachers, wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas:

"We believe that Allah punished ancient nations such as the [old Arab tribe] 'Aad, the makers of the pit, [13] and others, following their crimes. [Similarly, we believe] that perhaps Allah punished one nation for a reason that some will consider petty. [In the Koranic tale of the Prophet Saleh] we saw how Allah destroyed a large nation because of a she-camel worth not even a few dirham. [That is,] everything in the universe goes according to the planning of Allah, and Allah's punishment of the rebellious nations is a certain way [of the world].

"But if we attribute everything to punishment from Allah, instead of thinking of the earthly reasons for these events, this is likely to interfere with man's capability for thought, and paralyze his ability to think about the world of Allah.

"Instead of analyzing the scientific reasons that cause the formation of hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters, and instead of conducting scientific studies that will interpret these phenomena for us, there are those who prefer to take a shortcut, and to attribute all these events to the wrath and grievance of Allah. It seems that this is because this is the easiest solution—instead of wasting time, money, and effort on researching geography and the universe, by means of which it will be possible to know the reasons for the formation of these phenomena, and how to prepare for them and deal with their results."

Back in the USA, a creepy National Guard chaplain babbles about voodoo, cannibalism, and witchcraft while exorcising abandoned buildings in the Big Easy.