Photo credit: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
By Maajid Nawaz
Somewhere in the world there is a Muslim-majority country in which a 15-year-old boy accidentally raised his hand to answer the wrong question at a religious sermon. The boy said yes, when he meant to say no.
His religious instructor, his mullah, had been asking, “Who among you loves their prophet?” All present raised their hands. The mullah then followed with another question: “Who among you doesn’t believe in the teachings of the Holy Prophet? Raise your hands!”
The boy thought he was answering the first question again. He stuck his right hand up in pride. Yes. Yes, I love my prophet, he thought. But to the poor boy’s horror, the mullah had asked the question in the negative. Upon realizing his mistake, which I remind you was raising his hand too quickly, the boy was told before 100 worshippers that he had committed blasphemy. He was mortified.
The boy promptly departed that day and walked home. All along the way he must have been thinking about his mistake. Had his hand exposed him as an apostate by bearing false witness against his soul? How could he ever regain his lost status as a believer?
In his utter depression, perhaps the boy recalled the passage of the Quran that describes the Day of Reckoning in which believers’ own limbs will testify against them, betraying their misdeeds.
He may even have recalled a traditional saying ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad, “Even if my own daughter Fatima stole, by God I would cut off her hand.”
In this spirit, hadn’t a member of ISIS just executed his own mother for apostasy? Whatever was on his mind, this boy, who wanted so much to be considered a true, fearful believer, decided that he must take action to fix his terrible mistake. What happened next has alternately shocked, embarrassed, infuriated, and depressed me. It has come to symbolize the collective suicide—let’s call it Islamicide—of this boy’s country.
The boy went into his father’s workshop, placed his right hand inside the grass-cutting machine, and chopped it clean off.
That’s right. He cut off his own hand in the name of the prophet. “When I raised my right hand unwittingly, I realized I had committed blasphemy and needed to atone for this,” he told the BBC. “I came back home… but found the place dark, so I took my uncle’s phone to point some light at my hand. I placed it under the machine and chopped it off in a single swirl.”
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