Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stoning and Music

Two stories regarding Islam caught my attention in the past few days (haven't had a spare moment to write about them until now).

First, the more horrific story:  An Iranian woman is sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.  Jerry Coyne already said it very well:
Capital punishment is barbaric, capital punishment for adultery is more than barbaric, and stoning to death for adultery is so far beyond the bounds of human decency that I can’t imagine a mind that would promote it.
I can't imagine it either, except when such actions are condoned in a holy book, believed to be the words of a god.  Unfortunately, compassion and reason usually takes a back seat in those situations.

The second story, while less barbaric, got to me personally:  "Hundreds of Muslim parents are withdrawing their children from music lessons because their beliefs beliefs forbid them from learning an instrument" (from Atheist Media Blog).  The video below talks more about the exodus from music education:

So music is harmful to a Muslim, but stoning a woman to death is perfectly fine...

This story affects me so much because I know that my education was greatly enhanced by music.  And it seems to me that music education is one way for everyone: Muslims, Christians, atheists, etc., to come together and create something beautiful.  I've always liked the fact that unlike most classes in primary and secondary school, music classes are a completely cooperative effort.  Everyone does their part to make the piece sound as it should.  Everyone in a band or orchestra has to work together, and each person has responsibilities to the group to do their part.  There's a certain bond that exists between musicians, that you don't often develop in your other classes.*

This just seems like one more way to divide children, creating even more of an "us versus them" mentality as they continue through school.  Not to mention the fact that Muslim children are being denied part of their education, as music is required curriculum in Britain.  While I'm sure some of the children would never have developed much of an interest for music, there certainly are a few who are being denied something that can grow into a beautiful passion, as it did for me.  Though I don't play much anymore, I know that I appreciate music more than I ever could if I wasn't a musician myself.  And all of that is taken away from a child because their parents decide that Muhammad's musings are more important than their child's education.

* I suppose sports teams, as another example, have a similar bond.  But music is one way to include a lot more diverse children in a single group (athletic skill isn't required to learn an instrument).  Music always seemed more accessible to me than sports.
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