I thought I would never say this, but the Huffington Post has an article on hypocrisy in the practice of Islam that is both entertaining and important, although I would also argue that a lot of what he says can be divorced from the religious context and still be brutally effective. The image he paints of Egypt post-revolution is not particularly chirpy, but then again I’m not very knowledgeable about Egyptian politics and society. But his points about the triviality of religious expression are extremely well-made.
Two ideas perhaps. First, there is an interesting principles vs. consequences issue here that is slightly perverse:
Egyptians go [to Saudi Arabia] and see a society different from Egyptian society. Men and women are completely segregated but rates of sexual harassment and rape are among the highest in the world. Alcohol is banned but many people drink in secret.
The emphasis on appearance is obviously a very principle-based thing, but the Saudis’ disregard for what actually happens as long as everything looks fine suggests perhaps that policing of the external has crowded out policing of the less visible.
I am wondering what this says about religion, and I’m inclined to think not much, because this is so much an issue of how religion is actually practiced. But perhaps there is a point to be made about religion and its rule-based moral system, that it can lead to over emphasis on less important things over more fundamental problems. But I have a question that I am not sure of the answer to: why does religion have so many rules related to less important things like eating pigs and eating shellfish and having sex etc.? Is it because simply that God wants it so, or does it have something to do with chains of moral causality?