The Religion of Self-Parody

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Would someone please explain to me, after you're done laughing, how is it that anyone anywhere in the West takes Islam seriously -- as anything other than a low-grade military threat, of course.

Deliberate masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has ruled.

Khameini, who is Iran's most powerful political and religious figure, was asked on his website : "If somebody masturbates during the month of Ramadan but without any discharge, is his fasting invalidated?"

"If he do not intend masturbation and discharging semen and nothing is discharged, his fasting is correct even though he has done a ḥarām (forbidden) act. But, if he intends masturbation or he knows that he usually discharges semen by this process and semen really comes out, it is a ḥaram intentional breaking fasting," the Iranian leader said, posting the reply on his website. [markups edited]
I have nothing to add to this except that I find this vignette rip-roaringly funny and its context -- a world so screwed up that we're letting Iran work on getting the bomb -- almost overwhelmingly exasperating.

-- CAV


American Individualist said...

The questioner reminds me of Bill Clinton. In an effort to lie about how he never got "high," Clinton admitted to smoking pot once, but he didn't inhale -- so, therefore, he never actually got high. Similarly, if you masturbate, is it masturbating if you don't ejaculate? Well, I guess it all depends on what the word "is" is.

Gus Van Horn said...


The whole exchange bugged me on one level basically for the reason you put so well. So you've at least helped me understand that part of what was bugging me.

This whole approach to morality is so second-hand it's incredible. Don't think for yourself about anything. Being good is as simple as taking orders and if you can trick the authorities into blessing off whatever the hell you really want to do -- but are too afraid to simply do because of this bargain -- so much the better.

Completely gutless. And we are in mortal peril from these people! From a bunch of superstitious barbarians who can't even whack off without religious permission?!?!

Why? Because so many in the West have the same basic approach to morality and cower from evaluating what we need to do about the Moslems, and even if they get so far, they cower from the "practical" because they have been told it is immoral.

Unknown said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "Deliberate masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has ruled." Pshaw, that's nothing. Here's a passage from Azar Nafizi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. (You can find it about halfway down this page.) The context is that several female students met with Nafizi regularly to read certain American and English books. One of the young women covered up for this by telling her family she was translating Khomeini's work on Islamic law:


"I have to tell you that the Ayatollah himself was no novice in sexual matters," Nassrin went on. "I've been translating his magnum opus, The Political, Philosophical, Social, and Religious Principles of Ayatollah Khomeini, and he has some interesting points to make."

"But it's already been translated," said Manna. "What's the point?"

"Yes," said Nassrin, "parts of it have been translated, but after it became the butt of party jokes, ever since the embassies abroad found out that people were reading the book not for their edification but for fun, the translations have been very hard to find. And anyway, my translation is thorough—it has references and cross-references to works by other worthies. Did you know that one way to cure a man's sexual appetites is by having sex with animals? And then there's the problem of sex with chickens. You have to ask yourself if a man who has had sex with a chicken can then eat the chicken afterwards. Our leader has provided us with an answer: No, neither he nor his immediate family or next-door neighbors can eat of that chicken's meat, but it's okay for a neighbor who lives two doors away. My father would rather I spent my time on such texts than on Jane Austen or Nabokov?" she added, rather mischievously.

Gus Van Horn said...


But you left out the best part!

"We were not startled by Nassrin's erudite allusions to the works of Ayatollah Khomeini. She was referring to a famous text by Khomeini, the equivalent of his dissertation—required to be written by all who reach the rank of ayatollah—aimed at responding to the questions and dilemmas that could be posed to them by their disciples.[2] Many others before Khomeini had written in almost identical manner. What was disturbing was that these texts were taken seriously by people who ruled us and in whose hands lay our fate and the fate of our country. Every day on national television and radio these guardians of morality and culture would make similar statements and discuss such matters as if they were the most serious themes for contemplation and consideration."

I learn a lot -- and sometimes more than I care to -- by blogging!


Anonymous said...

"Deliberate masturbation during the month of Ramadan renders a fast invalid, Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khameini has ruled."

Forgive me my ignorance, but is it possible to accidentally masturbate?

Gus Van Horn said...


I do not know. Perhaps it is for answers to questions such as this that religious authorities serve some useful purpose!

But on a more serious note, the dictionary definition of "masturbation" does not, strictly speaking, require intent. Live and learn!


Unknown said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "I learn a lot -- and sometimes more than I care to -- by blogging!" My first thought when I read that passage was, "Vegetarianism's suddenly very appealing!" My second thought was, "Salmonella as an STD--whoda thunk it?" My third thought was that it didn't bear any more thinking about.

Anonymous said...

HA! My question was rhetorical and asked with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. Leave it to an Objectivist to answer it.

Two giggles out of one blog entry! Very good Gus. Thanks.

I remember Dr. Peikoff, in his first History of Philosophy lectures, talking about how we really couldn't imagine the way religion was wholly integrated into life during the Dark and Middle Ages. I think that what we are learning about Islam gives us a peak at what it must have been like. Blech! Imagine taking today's nosy parkers and giving them real power over our lives. It is bad enough as it is. I'm afraid I'd just go postal all over such impertinence. And it wouldn't be accidental.

Gus Van Horn said...

Only TWO giggles? Read Adrian Hester's comments, then! Salmonella as an STD killed me!

Figuratively speaking, of course!