Because, you know, sometimes, words have two meanings….

It drives me crazy when people engage in an honest discussion with me and, quite a while later on, we figure out that we are using the same words but intending different meanings for them!

It is impossible to have a meaningful exchange of ideas if we cannot define common labels to apply to those ideas.

This seems pretty basic and clear, but unless we are disciplined enough to define all terms prior to any debate or discussion, chances are we will fall into this trap.

And yes, of course, there are ‘weasels’ out there who intentionally twist words during the discussion in order to score cheap points.

And yes, of course, there are specific ‘weasel words’ some people use to intentionally obfuscate points and fudge discussions for whatever reasons they have.

But that is not what I am talking about.

I mean honest people, meaning to have honest discussions with each other, but not getting through to each other because the labels we use do not apply to the same ideas or principles – or apply to them in a different kind of a sense.

For example, the concept of what constitutes ‘murder’ is not universally understood the way we, in The West, define it:  the unnecessary killing of another human being during peacetime.

For example, the Yanomamo people of South America considered ‘murder’ to be the killing of any living being which was ‘of their village’.  So, the killing of a chicken or a dog that lived in one’s village was ‘murder’, but killing a human being who was not a member of their village was ‘killing’, but certainly not ‘murder’.

Now, the Yanomamo are matrilinear but patriarchal and so young boys go to live with their mother’s brother’s family – usually in a different village than into which they were born.  When such a child first arrives into the village, they are in great danger:  if the rest of the community does not accept them as ‘members of the village’ – for whatever reason – they will be killed (only click this link if you are willing to see this most vile and despicable practice!)

Brutal, but true…

Similarly, in ancient Rome, it was not ‘murder’ for a father to kill his children or cause them to be raised as slaves in unrelated families…

I suspect this Roman tradition is either the reflection of or the source of many cultural traditions where the father has absolute power over his family and it is not considered ‘murder’ for a parent to kill their offspring.

This is certainly the case under Sharia – Islamic law – which specifically states that a parent who kills their offspring is not guilty of murder.

This is important when we want to discuss the horrible, despicable practice of ‘honour killings’… it is not so much that all ‘honour killings’ are Islamic, but rather that the Islamic ‘honour killings’ are part of this tradition which is definitely seen as far back as Ancient Rome.

In most ‘traditions’, this is a cultural phenomenon only. It is something that can be altered through laws and education and, eventually, cultural change.  And, while this practice had been widespread at one time, it has been greatly reduced through these means among Sikh, Hindu and Christians groups that once practiced it openly.

In Islam, because it has been codified into Sharia and because most Muslims recognize Sharia as superior to man-made laws, it is much more challenging to combat this practice.

It is a bit tricky, but, please, let me explain…

As many of us have been shouting as loudly and clearly as possible, it is Muslims themselves who are the greatest victims of Sharia.

Because, under Sharia, anyone who is an observant Muslim is obligated to kill anyone they see as ‘apostates’:  those who have turned away from ‘true Islam’. So, if a child is seen as having left the true path of Islam, it is both obligatory to kill them as ‘apostates’ and it is not punishable, if it is a parent killing their offspring.

But, it goes further than that…

Under Sharia, it is not considered ‘murder’ to kill a non-Muslim – any time and under any circumstances.  ‘Murder’ is only the ‘unlawful’ (under Sharia) killing of a Muslim:  and it is lawful to kill a Muslim if he or she murders a Muslim, OR commits adultery, OR turns away from ‘true Islam’.

Just like Christianity, Islam demands that their religionists must ‘love’ god more than they love any family member, it is not difficult to see how what we, in The West, term ‘honour killings’ are believed (rightly or wrongly) to be not just permitted, but downright obligatory under Sharia.

Of course, there are some Islamic scholars (especially of the Shia schools) who believe that it is they, not the family, who should administer the ‘honour killing’.  But this is more of a dispute over power, not substance…

Please, keep the above in mind as you watch the following video, which supplies the relevant quotes from Sharia to support the above statements:

 

One Response to “Because, you know, sometimes, words have two meanings….”

  1. Derek S Says:

    Most discussions in philosophy and many in practical daily life are simply just confusions over semantics, as you described.

    Many of us share the same beliefs and intentions, yet most of us place emphasis on different parts of it, and we have different kinds of people we cater to as well as emotions we want to invoke as well.

    That is why it is of utmost importance to define your terms beforehand.

    Also, there is a basic human need of conflict. If conflict (of any kind) doesn’t exist, we will surely contrive one. Hence, debating.


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