More on why Islam is a religion different from all other religions

A few days ago, I wrote a post examining why I believe Islam is not a religion like other religions, so that pluralist societies should view it with a distrust they do not extend to other religions.  Daniel Pipes also tackles that issue.  I’ll give you the first and last paragraphs of his article.  You have to be sure to read the stuff in the middle:

Those of us who argue against Shari’a are sometimes asked why Islamic law poses a problem when modern Western societies long ago accommodated Halakha, or Jewish law.

The answer is easy: a fundamental difference separates the two. Islam is a missionizing religion, Judaism is not. Islamists aspire to apply Islamic law to everyone, while observant Jews seek only themselves to live by Jewish law.

[snip]

Returning to pork: both Islam and Judaism abominate the flesh of pigs, so this prohibition offers a direct and revealing comparison of the two religions. Simply put, Jews accept that non-Jews eat pork but Muslims take offense and try to impede pork consumption. That, in brief, explains why Western accommodations to Halakha have no relevance for dealing with Shari’a. And why the Shari’a as public policy must be opposed.

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  • suek

    What’s really funny is that I don’t think that there are any wild pigs in the mid east. So why the strict prohibition on pork? Of course, the restriction on Jews is actually a restriction on consuming the flesh of animals with cloven hooves which do not chew the cud (?), in other words, which are not herbivores. I can’t think of another animal that fits that description, but thinking of the Judaic/islamic countries, what contact did they have with pigs?

    I can understand the prohibition from the standpoint that swine are probably the animal closest to humans in a physiological sense, and we share some of the same diseases and parasites – but – when did they have contact? Were there originally wild pigs, and due to the prohibition they killed them all off?

    Pigs are pretty hardy and hard to kill off – supposedly Ponce de Leon brought pigs to forage ahead of the troops when they were exploring Florida. The purpose was to allow the pigs to come in contact with snakes – assuming they were there – and kill them. Some of those pigs remained behind and the south is filled with wild pigs that descended from them. They have become a problem in some of the southern tier states as they have litters of 8-10 twice a year. And – they’re not easy to kill.

    There’s probably some simple answer – but I don’t know it. If anybody does – please enlighten me!

  • Charles Martel

    suek, one of theories I’ve read is that the aim of the prohibition was to avoid conflict over water rights. In the arid Mideast water is at a premium, so drought-adaptive animals like camels and goats are favored. Pigs need too much water, it seems, and there was an ancient concern that feuds and fights would erupt as pig farmers staked out claims to water sources.

  • Jose

    When I was in Turkey, I was told by locals that there was boar hunting to be had in some of the mountainous areas.

    As far as drought tolerance, there are plenty of wild pigs to be hunted in Texas, although I don’t know for sure that they are in the most arid regions.

    Regarding pigs in ancient Israel and thereabouts, bears and lions are also mentioned. I don’t think a wild population of pigs would be a stretch.

    I did pick up a pamphlet in a mosque which revealed that among other health risks, pork causes baldness.

  • suek

    >>there was an ancient concern that feuds and fights would erupt as pig farmers staked out claims to water sources.>>

    But that assumes that there were pigs there in the first place, right?

    Pigs don’t really consume a lot of water – cattle probably consume a lot more on a per pound basis…but they don’t have sweat glands, and I’d think the heat over there could be a real problem if they didn’t have wallows available.

  • SADIE

    Virtual Jewish Library (snip)
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/kashrut.html

    The short answer to why we observe these laws is: because the Torah says so. The Torah does not specify any reason for these laws, and for a Torah-observant, traditional Jew, there is no need for any other reason. Some have suggested that the laws of kashrut fall into the category of “chukkim,” laws for which there is no reason. We show our obedience to G-d by following these laws even though we do not know the reason. Others, however, have tried to ascertain G-d’s reason for imposing these laws.

    I did a little reading on pigs and their predecessors (boars) and found that wild boar did exist 10,000 years ago in the region.

  • 11B40

    Greetings:

    Quoting: “Jews accept that non-Jews eat pork…”

    And I think I know why.

    I grew up back in the Bronx of the ’50s and ’60s. In our neighborhood the two large cultural groups were those of Irish (Catholic) descent and those of Jewish descent. As we got into are late teens, we started going out to the local bars and clubs, which in those days didn’t close until 4am at which point we would go out for breakfast before heading home. One early morning, I asked one of the Goldberg twins (never could tell them apart) how come he was having bacon with his pancakes, meaning that I didn’t think that Jews were allowed to eat pork. He answered me in his best Jewish accent, “At this hour, who’s to see?”

  • suek

    Sadie…

    Re: the short answer… No argument from me – just a question as to why an animal that didn’t exist would be on the prohibited list. It’s just one of those niggely little things that makes me scratch my head and go “huh???”

    If you found that there were wild boars in past history, what happened to them? It may be as simple as their being remembered history from a time when the climate was different and more favorable to the animal than it is today – I don’t know.

  • SADIE

    suek.. I don’t know if this will help the head scratchin’ or not. It may even raise more questions.

    As an aside, as a high school kid I worked for a pair of butchers (One partner was Jewish and the other was Italian and not Jewish). I remember the owners telling me that the bacteria count in pork was higher and that it deteriorated quicker than, let’s say a filet mignon. Oh, AND…always boil pork prior to grilling it for 45 minutes. All of us have cooked stew and have boiled (simmered) the cubes that release a simply delicious aroma; I am here to tell ya that boiling pork lets off a stench that gives new meaning to the word, malodorous. It took a full day and night to get the stink out of the kitchen and the scum that stuck to my pot was like glue.

    Public release date: 11-Mar-2005

    Contact: linda.nohrstedt@uadm.uu.se
    linda.nohrstedt@uadm.uu.se
    46-18-471-22-60
    Swedish Research Council
    Domesticated pig’s wild origin mapped

    Scientists at Uppsala University and the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences have been participating in an international collaborative project to map the wild origins of the domesticated pig. The findings show that the wild boar was domesticated several times in different parts of Europe and Asia. The study is being presented in today’s issue of the scientific journal Science.

    The domestication of animals and plants some 10,000 years ago led to the most significant socioeconomic transformation in the history of humankind. Nevertheless, our knowledge of how this process took place is still highly limited.

    The domesticated pig provides a unique opportunity to study domestication, since there are viable populations of wild boar in major parts of its original area of habitation. The wild ancestors of many other tamed animals, such as horses and cattle, are extinct. Wild boars inhabit major sections of Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

    For the first time ever, the study now being published has included DNA samples from wild boars from major parts of its area of habitation. The results have been compared with the DNA profiles of various breeds of domesticated pigs in Europe and Asia. The researchers have analyzed a section of DNA found in the mitochondria.

    The new findings show that domestication must have taken place in several different geographical regions in both Europe and Asia. Moreover, it is highly probable that domestication took place in many places within each respective region. This means that it was the technology for domesticating the wild boar that spread across the world, not domesticated wild boar as such.

    The new study also clearly demonstrates that the DNA profile of European domesticated pigs is very similar to that found among today’s European wild boar and is distinct from that found by scientists in Turkey and Iran. This contradicts earlier theories that the wild boar was never domesticated in Europe and that domestication took place in the Middle East.

    However, the new findings do not exclude the possibility that the very first domesticated pigs did in fact come from the Middle East. But if that was the case, after an initial period there was extensive domestication of wild boars in Europe that diluted any early contribution from other geographical areas.

  • pst314

    “What’s really funny is that I don’t think that there are any wild pigs in the mid east. So why the strict prohibition on pork?”

    Remember the miracle of the Gadarene Swine*? Jesus meets a man who is posessed by demons. Jesus casts them out and into a herd of swine which promptly run over a cliff. So yes, there were pigs in the Middle East, even domesticated ones.

    *not to be confused the with the Gabardine Swine, who infest our courts and Washington DC. :-D

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    Silly (very silly) thought. Maybe language has changed. Maybe the animal designated as a pig in those days wasn’t the same as the animal designated as a pig in these days. Wouldn’t that be funny if God meant Jews to avoid what we now call chicken, rather than what we now call pork?

  • pst314

    Bookworm, your speculation is easily disproved: There are no “why did the pig cross the road” riddles in the Talmud. :-D

  • Danny Lemieux

    There is a rational explanation for why pigs would have been banned in Judaic society.

    Pigs eat a very varied diet and are known for their habit of rooting through offal and other garbage. They also eat dead and rotting animals, hence their reputation has been that of being “unclean”. In addition, pork (like shellfish…also banned in the Talmud) has a tendency to accumulate serious infectious diseases, the most common one being trichinosis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichinosis), a parasitic infection that I once contracted when young and that I remember as having been horribly painful.

    I do remember reading a book long ago (as a teenager) about the Iraqi marsh people going on boar hunts in Southern Iraq (People of the Reeds, by Gavin Maxell http://www.amazon.com/People-reeds-Gavin-Maxwell/dp/B0007DMCTC).

  • SADIE

    Shellfish are bottom feeders and have a diet of eating ‘leftovers’ – the dead and rotting from the sea. I guess they should be called the pigs of the sea.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I heard that in desert climates, pigs tended to use up a lot of water.

  • suek

    Book…

    Silly thought won’t work because IIRC, the prohibition isn’t against the pig specifically – or at least not by name. The prohibition is against eating an animal that has a cloven hoof but doesn’t chew it’s cud. I think that the pig is the only animal that fits that category, but in all honesty, I don’t know for sure. Tapir, maybe? My question was really that assuming it’s describing the pig as prohibited, it doesn’t seem reasonable to restrict eating of an animal that doesn’t exist in your environs. So it must have at some time, but maybe doesn’t now. At least it doesn’t seem to exist in the natural state in the parts of the mid-east I’m familiar with. Although “familiar with” may be an exaggeration, and that could be the crux of the problem.

    pst’s answer is interesting…I’d forgotten that quote, and yes – it does say that. So where are all the swine today? Who owned that herd of swine in the gospel, and why – since eating them was prohibited? There you go – answer one question and get another!

    Y – yes – in any hot climate, pigs will use a lot of water. They have tremendous center body mass, and no sweat glands. That means a body cooling problem. They normally use wallows (mud holes) to cool their bodies. The mud also serves as protection from insects as it dries. They don’t have enough body hair to serve that purpose. A mature male pig (a boar) can weigh as much as 800 to 1000 lbs, and they stand about as high as a small pony. The big difference is that the pony will weigh in at about 5-600 lbs, and there’s a lot of air between the ground and their belly (they have legs that look like legs!). Pigs have only a short distance between ground and belly, and then it’s solid animal from there up.

    Danny…you raise the point that is theological in a sense. We(Catholics) consider the bible to be inspired (as opposed to dictated) by God. Sadie points out that rules are made and must be followed simply because they are the rules Jews live by. In fact, I’ve run across statements (Dennis Prager?) that Jews are not “believers”, that their Jewishness is determined by their conformity of behavior with the Torah’s requirements. The question of “why” is always answered “because God said so”, but the question of “why” did God say so isn’t addressed. Whether you personally believe that the Torah or the Old Testament were inspired by God or not, they are certainly filled with the wisdom that comes from observance of human nature and behavior. And _that_ (human nature)hasn’t changed over the years. That acute observation and it’s link to health problems may be responsible for the prohibition – I don’t know. But it _is_ true that we share diseases and parasites with the species.

    Sadie…

    Disagree on the stinking pork part. Of course, Some cooks can make anything smell bad (cabbage smells good up to a certain point of cooking, then it smells bad), and my guess is that although we don’t have separate names for young and old pigs, we normally eat young pigs and like lamb and mutton, there might be a very big difference in the meats and smells of young and old. And, of course, I’d also guess that if you were trained to reject it as food it might also mentally have a repellent effect. One of my sons thinks kim chee is fantastic – as do most Koreans. Others tend to think it stinks. (like me!)

  • http://explorations.chasrmartin.com Charlie (Colorado)

    Sue, swine were known all through the Middle East in ancient times; the ancient Egyptians associated them with Set at a time they — the Egyptians, I mean, not swine — dominated that whole end of the Mediterranean. They also became considered unclean as Set’s cult was displaced by Osiris worshippers; I suspect that ancient political/religious rivalry might have as much to do with it as anything. After all, the Jews had a very close association with Pharoaic Egypt for a long time, and Mohammad picked up the dietary laws from the Jews and the Old Testament.

    I’d find the notion of this special nature of Islam a lot more convincing if I hadn’t read about, eg, the expulsion of the Jews from Castilla, the Thirty Years War, the Visigoths, the Huns, the Magyar, the Macedonians, the Persians, the Romans and Carthaginians, the Aryans entering the Indus valley, the Christians in the Crusades, the Han Chinese in Xian, the Japanese vs the Ainu, the British in Tasmania, the Aztecs, and Andrew Jackson.

  • http://explorations.chasrmartin.com Charlie (Colorado)

    Who owned that herd of swine in the gospel, and why – since eating them was prohibited?

    Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians, Phoenicians?

  • suek

    >>swine were known all through the Middle East in ancient times>>

    So…where’d they go? Are there still wild pigs in the area that you’ve heard of?

    >>Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians, Phoenicians?>>

    In Judea at the time of Christ? I could see the Romans maybe. Maybe hiring someone to raise them for their consumption. But weren’t the Romans garrisoned? I can’t see them raising swine. And the others – weren’t they just travelers/merchants? it doesn’t seem really probable that they’d own herds of swine. Probably just more I don’t know!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Book, if that’s the case, then any religious leader would have lent divine force behind any local ordinance concerning pigs. For water was the lifeblood of both the peasant and aristocrat back then.

    A person that wouldn’t hesitate to disobey laws concerning swine, would definitely hesitate about violating Allah’s word.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    So…where’d they go? Are there still wild pigs in the area that you’ve heard of?

    They saw what Arabs were doing to the sheep and goats, and they said “I don’t think so”.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    the Aryans entering the Indus valley

    Since when did Hitler get to the Indus Valley?

    Heh, old joke.

    Btw, it was Sue, not Book. My mistake. I have the ladies mixed up at times. It’s the heat of summer, I suppose. Or the Age of Obama.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I’d find the notion of this special nature of Islam a lot more convincing if I hadn’t read about…

    I don’t really know why you find ancient and deceased examples on par with current and modern ones. They are not really equivalent, nor does the force of evidence for both cases compel the same amount of reasonable justification.

  • SADIE

    suek

    you raise an interesting culinary point, which I had not thought of. Maybe the spare ribs I boiled were from an older pig? In any case, it was my first and last experience with boiling pork.

    I have eaten shellfish, although it’s been a long time since I cooked any of it. It’s gotten to the point that I cannot tolerate the odor and avoid the seafood section in the supermarket.

    Must be something in the transition from raw to cooked. because I am sure I would not turn down a lobster tail oozing with butter or bar-b-cue ribs.

    The question of “why” is always answered “because God said so”

    Kinda reminds me of strong parenting directives. You know when the kid keeps asking why, why, why and we answer…because I SAID SO! End of discussion. We refer to G-d as our father, our king and maybe it’s just part of how it was all set down with the Commandments as in Honor thy Mother and Father.

    Charlie (Colorado)
    Mohammad picked up the dietary laws from the Jews and the Old Testament.

    Sure took him a long time – about 4400 hundred years, who knows maybe they ran out of a decent bar-b-cue sauce and decided it was a good idea. :-D

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    In any case, it was my first and last experience with boiling pork.

    Could you have been melting the fat and aerosoling it?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Some author from Baen, cannot note his name at the moment, wrote that had Jews not had these weird and idiosyncratic laws, that the Jewish people would have ceased to exist centuries ago.

    It was the very fact that these weird and unknowable laws existed, that cemented the identity of Jews as a people, not just a religion.

  • SADIE

    Ymarsakar

    What I know for sure, it wasn’t my lame attempt 45 years ago to boil the pork that would in any fashion bind the Jewish Community (smiling here).

    Seriously, there has been a lot of thought and speculation as to what cemented the identity of Jews for so many thousands of years (5770 this September).

    I think it’s a shared language even if it’s not spoken everywhere. Even the most assimilated and non observant recognize certain key words that lead into a prayer or end it, such as; amen and hallelujah. I had wondered once if there is some DNA thread as well, but after reading about The Jews of Kai Feng (w/photos) I had to reconsider.

  • suek

    You _boiled_ spare ribs???

    Nonono. Of course I know that for you the information is irrelevant – as well as 45 years late – but you should bake them before barbequing them. Very low, very slow, in a covered pan. In fact, after a couple of hours, you can uncover and put the sauce on them to finish them instead of doing them on a barbeque – for a half hour or so. More than that and you end up with charred barbeque sauce. But never never never _boil_ meat! Mercy! Simmer, ok. Boil…NOT!

    I suspect Y is right and you ended up with a break down of fat problem of some sort, though I wouldn’t think it should be a problem in that short period of time.

    Not that it matters…!

  • suek

    >>This contradicts earlier theories that the wild boar was never domesticated in Europe and that domestication took place in the Middle East.>>

    Heh. Ok…so the Europeans ate them, said “this is good” and domesticated them. The Mid-Eastners _didn’t_ eat them, said “this is _bad_” and killed them all off.

    How does _that_ work!

  • SADIE

    I was only following the butcher’s instructions (I actually simmered them for 45 min).

    That breakdown of fat … yep I got it now, except it’s mine – not the pig this time:-)

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I suspect Y is right and you ended up with a break down of fat problem of some sort, though I wouldn’t think it should be a problem in that short period of time.

    If certain ingredients, like say garlic, were used which changed the Ph balance of the water, then the addition of 100 degrees Celsius could produce a catalytic reaction amongst proteins on the chemical level at a faster pace than usual.

    I know of no such reaction, however, but only because the I lack a sufficient knowledge of the chemicals and organic materials in question.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    It took a full day and night to get the stink out of the kitchen and the scum that stuck to my pot was like glue.

    Usually in certain chemical reactions, the metal precipitates to the bottom and forms a visible solid.

    I don’t know how that can happen with organic compounds, however, but it would, indeed, put a material reminiscent of glue to the bottom.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    Link

    I was curious enough to go google some terms. This is some of what I found.

    The basic conditions of the experiment does seem similar to the cooking scenario. Especially the temperatures, the acid, and the salt part.

    I am not a chemist, however. I believe some expert from Book’s Regulars (Bookworm’s Own!) can illuminate the specifics here if Sadie will provide as close an ingredient list as is feasible.

    Pig Fats hydrogenation

    You could, Sadie, have potentially been making a witch’s brew of hormones for drug production, purification of organic fat, or any other number of wondrous chemical exchanges!!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    According to one feature of the invention, therefore, a process for the hydrogenation of an oil derived from an animal or vegetable source so as selectively to hydrogenate the triply unsaturated forms of the fatty acids within the oil to thedoubly unsaturated forms, comprises contacting the oil with hydrogen gas in the presence of a supported metallic catalyst containing one or more of the metals iron, cobalt, nickel and the platinum group metals. Preferably the catalyst metal is supportedon a substrate and is deposited entirely or substantially almost entirely on the outer surface of the catalyst support. The catalyst support may be made from a ceramic or metallic material and may be in the form of an extended surface, for example ahoneycomb. Alternatively the catalyst support may be in the form of particles or granules.

    Wow, Sadie. To think you got your own (somebody else already patented it) reproduction of such a technique by accident ; )

    The details do seem pretty interesting, although not definitive.

    If your pot was made of iron or some other material, then the material would have formed on it. Just as you saw, yes.

  • SADIE

    OY VEY…

    I rather prefer the term witch’s brew to hydrogenate the triply unsaturated forms of the fatty acids within the oil to the doubly unsaturated forms…. which I know will never make it to the Food Network (unless it is an Alton Brown segment).

    The pot was metal and it took a lot of my own (mettle) to toss it when the scum and I entered cleaning combat.

    And now we all know why Jews don’t cook pork (giggling myself into a tizzy here).

    Jose:

    I did pick up a pamphlet in a mosque which revealed that among other health risks, pork causes baldness.

    And in very fine print – it also causes death by stoning.

  • suek

    Heh. Who do you think did the cooking at the butcher’s house…the butcher??? Bet not! Bet he told you (best he could) what he _thought_ his wife did. And missed the mark – slightly. Ever asked a kid how his/her mother made “something”??? It can be amusing.

    We had a cleaning lady one time who would occasionally make biscuits. From scratch. I watched her make them. Carefully. And tried to do it exactly the same way. Don’t know what little detail I missed (might well have been a _big_ detail) but I’m here to tell you the results in no way resembled those wonderful biscuits she made! Well. They were the same shape.

    These days, I use Bisquick and everybody thinks my biscuits are great! “How do you _do_ those?” they ask. It’s a bit embarrassing actually.