The Islamic Muslim rational for web censorship

I’m making this a different post from Web censorship in Saudi Arabia because it more has to deal with differences in the Qur’an and the Bible than SA’s take on censorship.

Usefulness of Filtering:

God Almighty directed humanity in the Nobel Qur’an in the words of His prophet Joseph: “He said: My Lord, prison is more beloved to me than that to which they entice me, and were you not to divert their plot away from me I will be drawn towards them and be of the ignorant. So his Lord answered him and diverted their plot away from him, truly, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower” Yusuf(12):33-34

This reasoning Seems to be the basic “If your eye offends you, pluck it out” logic extended to include “If your neighbor’s eye might offend him, pluck it out.” That may sound harsh, but there is a certain logic to it. If it is certainly better for you yourself to get to heaven with 1 eye than with none at all, wouldn’t the choice be the same for a loved neighbor? It takes a first party statement and moves it to third party. The side effect however is that with this specific verse as the example, it specifically has the state of Saudi Arabia taking on the place Allah in its people’s lives. In the Bible, though Christians are told to give unto Czar what is Czar’s, the government taking on the role of God is not supported. In fact the protestent and anabaptists movements were both started in part because the Church was taking on the role of God.

Though Saudi Arabia’s internet service also provides secular reasoning based upon scientific research done in the United States, their actions are based, religiously, upon two verses of the 12th chapter of the Qur’an. That Chapter/Book is called Yusuf.

Yusuf largely parallels the story of Joseph from Genesis 37 & 39 with, from my perspective, a few twists, details, motivations and editorials added in. Christian and agnostics alike will probably recognize the story as that of “Joseph and the coat of many colors” (or the Joseph and Technicolor dream coat if you only know of the Bible through Broadway Musicals).

The core elements of the story may be the same, there are different reasoning, motivations and different aspects to what is viewed in the Qur’an compared to what is in the Bible. It really seems like point of view is different. For instance, the Yosuf states how much Joseph was sold into slavery for, and that they could have gotten a much better deal: “[12:21] And they sold him for a paltry price, a few dirhems, and they were not at all keen on it. ” where as Genesis 39:1 states “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.”

Then, of course, his masters wife tries to seduce him and there is the Ripped shirt seen where the wife tears off Joseph’s shirt as he flees her advances…

Genesis 39:6-21

[…] So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, Come to bed with me! But he refused. With me in charge, he told her, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No-one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, Come to bed with me! But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. Look, she said to them, this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house. She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house. When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, This is how your slave treated me, he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder.

So, long and short, Joseph was bought Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him who made him head of his household. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph, he said no, and she wife ripped his shirt off his back, she called the servants to make them witnesses, condemned Joseph to her husband who takes her at her word, and throws Joseph in prison.

Yusuf(12):22-36

And the man from Egypt who bought him said to his wife, ‘Make his stay among us honourable. Maybe we will benefit from him or we may adopt him as a son.’ And thus did We establish Joseph in the land, and We did so that We might also teach him the interpretation of things. And Allah has full power over His decree, but most men know not. And when he attained his age of full strength, We granted him judgment and knowledge. And thus do We reward those who do good. And when he attained his age of full strength, We granted him judgment and knowledge. And thus do We reward those who do good. And she made up her mind with regard to him, to seduce him, and he made up his mind with regard to her, to resist her. If he had not seen manifest Sign of his Lord, he could not have shown such determination. Thus did it come about that We might turn away from him all evil and indecency. Surely, he was one of Our chosen servants. And they both raced to the door, and in the struggle she tore his shirt from behind, and they found her lord at the door. She said to him, ‘What shall be the punishment of one who intended evil to thy wife, save imprisonment or a grievous chastisement?’ Joseph said, ‘She it was who sought to seduce me against my will.’ And a witness of her household bore witness saying, ‘If his shirt is torn from the front, then she has spoken the truth and he is a liar; ‘But if his shirt is torn from behind, then she has lied and he is of the truthful’. So when he saw his shirt torn from behind, he said, Surely, this is a device of you women. Your device is indeed mighty; ‘O Joseph, do thou overlook this mischief and thou, O woman, ask forgiveness for thy sin. Certainly thou art of the guilty.’ And the women in the city said, ‘The wife of Aziz seek to seduce her slave-boy against his will. He has infatuated her with love. Indeed we see her in manifest error.’ And when she heard of their sly whisperings, she sent for them and prepared for them a repast, and gave everyone of them a knife and then said to Joseph, ‘Come forth to them.’ And when they saw him they found him to be a person of great dignity and in their amazement cut their hands, and said, Allah be glorified! This is not a human being; this is but a nobel angel.’ She said, ‘And this is he whom you blamed me. I did seek to seduce him against his will, but he preserved himself from sin. And now if he do not what I bid him, he shall certainly be imprisoned and become one of the humbled.’ Thereupon Joseph prayed: ‘O my Lord, prison is dearer to me than what they invite me to do; and unless thou turn away their guile from me I shall be inclined towards them and be of the ignorant.’ So his Lord heard his prayer, and turned away their guile from him. Verily, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. Then it occurred to them (the chiefs) after they had seen the Signs of his innocence that to preserve their good name, they should imprison him for a time.

So, long and short, “the man from Egypt who bought him” put him in charge of his household. “The Man’s” wife wanted Joseph and he said no. She ripped Joseph’s shirt off his back as the husband is walking in through the door. They calmly use deductive reasoning and the men determine that the woman is a liar and a bad one at that using those devices of women in such a way. And everything between Joseph and “the man” was good again. Then the all the town’s women gathered together started gossiping about Aziz’s wife (“the man” is now Aziz?) and how she fell for that slave boy and they would never do such a thing. She gathered them together and they agreed that he was a hunky dreamboat, so they sliced their hands open, because, after all, Mrs. Aziz was right to have desired Joseph. Mrs. Aziz now somehow order Joseph to do “something”, he refused saying he’d rather go to prison. So, Allah put him in prison by making the chiefs decide that Joseph was so obviously innocent that he must go to prison to protect the names of the chiefs.

I definately missed something in that section or it was a bad translation to English. I read it at least 10 times but I really don’t understand the logic. Maybe that was the point? Their logic didn’t make sense because Allah forced them into the decision? And who are the chiefs and where did they come from? And why to the people in the village know that the wife’s husband was Aziz, but through out the earlier verses, he is just “the man”?

Anyway, so this is just one example, but do you see what I was saying about point of view and where the details are known and where they are not? I’d have to think that the wife, lying adulteress that she was, and the women in the stories are portrayed very differently as well… Please feel free to comment on this post, whether you are more familiar with the Qur’an or the Bible. It could be an interesting discussion…

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