Showing posts with label contraception. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contraception. Show all posts

Saturday, July 9, 2022

It’s Iimi! Duel to the Life!

Sumeja, thinking she has no other choice, reveals a plan that horrifies Kismetta. To prevent her mother from acting on it, Kismetta, must appeal to her mother to consider the matter differently. However, since Sumeja is getting increasingly suspicious of arguments that come from her Christian friends, Kismetta must make use of what she learned from Iimi in a way that will reach and persuade her mother in a… Duel to the Life!

Post Comic notes: 

This comic evolved drastically from when I started scripting until the final product was ready. Originally, it was a response to a rather dishonest Washington Post article (published a few hours before the Dobbs decision was released) that tried to imply that Muslims favored—or were at least more sympathetic towards—abortion on demand to argue “religious freedom.” But that’s far from true.

While that framework still exists in the comic, I decided it wasn’t enough to base a comic on. It needed to address Kismetta and her mother dealing with a decision that could cost them the life of a new family member. I thought the topic of helping the mother regardless of federal or state policies needed to be covered.

So, why did I spend time discussing Muslim views on abortion in a Catholic webcomic? Partly because the propaganda is trying to make it seem like only Catholics oppose abortion and other religions are having their religious rights violated. That can be demoralizing for Catholics to feel alone when they are attacked daily. I think it’s important to know that things are not as claimed.

But also, because Kismetta’s growing understanding on what God requires of her are shaping her views on Islam and Christianity. But that’s more of a story for later.

In case I did a bad job, and it wasn’t obvious from my writing in the comic, this is not intended to be a message of “bad Muslims support abortion and Kismetta corrects them.” Rather it’s about Kismetta trying to change her mother’s mind over a plan that most Muslims also find morally wrong. Kismetta realizes that her mother mistrusts the influence her Christian friends have and needs to appeal to what is right using the Islamic values Sumeja does hold.

Sumeja’s position is at odds with most fiqh of Sunni Islam. She wasn’t considering an abortion because she was Muslim. She was looking for loopholes because the endless drumbeat over Dobbs made the thought of being pregnant again  frightening, and planning for a move overwhelming to her. Wafiqah is not a pro-abortion activist. Instead, she assumed that the only reason Sumeja would seek one must be fetal deformity (because she was in good physical and mental health otherwise). But abortion would have been a sin in Islam for the reasons Sumeja considered it.

Kismetta’s views are formed by seeking to do what is right before God and suspecting that her own religion is in the wrong about the exceptions. So, she questions those conditions where Islam allows it.

In terms of the beliefs of the Muslims in the webcomic, my basic assumption is that the characters would follow the fiqh of the region they (or their parents) lived in before coming to America unless there were strong reasons to create a character who disagreed. For example, Najiyah (coming from Qatar) is Hanbali fiqh… considered the most rigorous in Sunni Islam. Imam Kouri comes from Egypt. Imam Hamdan comes from Jordan (both Hanafi nations).

The Masjid Ur-Rahman is a Sunni Mosque (Shiite or Ibadi Muslims have visited while travelling, but they don’t have a presence in Hipso Hill) where roughly half of the Muslims (including both Imams and the Dhumzur family) are Hanafi, and the others are mostly Maliki or Hanbali with a few from other fiqh. The mosque tends to be conservative to avoid disputes among the members on whether it is “too liberal.” But it opposes radicalism. Wahhabism is not popular here. The Imam give Hanafi interpretations for those seeking advice while advising those who feel more strictly bound to follow their own fiqh but not to harass other members over that difference.

Below I have a summary of the views Islam and abortion covered in this story, I will be speaking generally, of course. The nuances could probably fill a book. As I’ve said, there is no overall authority in Islam. I certainly don’t want to commit the fallacy of composition here (claiming that because some think one way means all do).

So, speaking generally, abortion is absolutely prohibited by most Muslims after 120 days except for the life of the mother. Between 0 and 120 days, the additional permitted conditions are cases of rape and fetal deformity where the child is not expected to survive. Now, you will find some modern scholars within a fiqh that tolerate additional conditions (like poverty). But these are disputed and cannot be portrayed as “All Muslims hold this.” Muslims from outside of America tend to be stricter than those living in America.

The general rules on when certain fiqh see it as permissible for those reasons other than the life of the mother runs as follows:

Sunni fiqh:
Hanafi, Zaydi, Some Shafi’i: 120 days.
Hanbali, most Shafi’i: 0-40 days.
Maliki: 0 days.

Shiite fiqh: Generally, around 80 days. Because the Muslim characters in this comic are Sunni, I didn’t look too deeply into their varied fiqh, though it seems to be stricter than the Hanafi Sunni.

Ibadi (it’s a third “denomination,” found mostly in Oman): 0 days.

Because the Dhumzur family is planning to move to the UAE, I’ll break down their position. The individual Emirates seem to be made up of Maliki and Hanbali fiqh (with some Ismali Shiite Muslims in the Northeast). According to their government website, the United Arab Emirates (which tends to be the most liberalized Muslim nation in the Middle East, allowing more than the Maliki fiqh does) the law is as follows: 

According to the UAE law, it is a crime to abort a pregnancy unless:
it endangers the woman's life or
there is evidence that the baby will be born with fatal deformities and will not survive.

In the latter case, the foetus must be aborted before it is 120 days old, which is during the 17th week of the pregnancy and one week into the second trimester. The abortion must be approved by an authorised medical board. Abortion of foetus after 120 days of pregnancy is not permitted.
(note, rape is not listed as a valid reason).

Those curious about what the Hanafi hold can see this link (keeping in mind the disclaimer of variant views):

Another article that discusses the different fiqh: Note that the Maliki consider it forbidden once the semen has entered the woman. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

It’s Iimi! The Lies That Bind

Ever since Paula witnessed Krysta make the same bad judgment that led her to sexual activity, she’s been struggling with how to deal with it. Iimi’s still grounded. So, she’ll need to approach Krysta on her own. Will she be able to show to Krysta that the belief that carrying contraception “just in case” is not the last line of defense but instead something that weakens resolve. It’s not the truth that frees. It’s… The Lie That Binds.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

American Kulturkampf

The 19th century Kulturkampf (literally Culture War or Culture Struggle) of Germany is an important event to consider for 21st century America because of what it was – the transformation of hostility towards Catholicism into an attempt by the government to control and limit the Church.  I believe it is important to be aware of what happened then because, unlike other historical events, this one can be duplicated.

Preliminary Note

This is not an "Obama = Hitler" article.  I don't approve of that meme.  Obama is Obama.  Hitler is Hitler.  Hitler's rise to power and subsequent actions depended on attitudes and political conditions not found in America.  Hitler was an extreme German nationalist who believed in a strong Germanic volk at the expense of other peoples and nations.  Obama appears to believe that his policies will benefit all people, but "right wingers" are trying to block his policies.

In contrast, the current Kulturkampf is an event which began before Obama, and may continue after he has left office.  Obama is certainly taking part in the Kulturkampf, but it does not depend on him.

What Was the Kulturkampf?

The Kulturkampf arose in 19th century Germany from an attitude from different factions of society which believed Catholicism was harmful to a strong Germany.  Specifically it was a combination of the nationalist state, nominal Catholics and certain hostile Protestants.  This hostility began at a time when the Catholic Church in Germany was awakening the morals of German Catholics.  The factions in question made accusations of the Church interfering in politics and of intolerance – of trying to impose their values on others.  They were accused of being enemies of progress.

Basically, it was assumed that Catholicism was in opposition to what was "right."  Therefore, for the good of the people, Catholicism had to be opposed.

The attacks began with trying to change public opinion to assume that the Catholic teachings were unnatural.  Isolated scandals were portrayed as the norm for the Church.  The clergy was treated as predatory, controlling and heartless to the concerns of the people.  It was argued that the Church had no right to teach as she did and needed to change.

Once the state became involved we began to see attempts through law to target the Church.  It was argued certain Catholic institutions were not protected under the concept of the freedom of religion.  Gradually, attempts were made to remove Church control from their properties, instituting fines against Catholics that did not comply with demands of the State and fines against churches which spoke out against the wrongdoing of the state from the pulpit.

Eventually it got to the point where the state demanded the right to choose who would fill Church positions, often preventing these positions from being filled.  Bishops and priests were jailed for refusing to comply.

Essentially, the Kulturkampf was an attempt to silence the Church and limit her when her activities did not serve the state.

Similarities to Today are Striking

Now of course there are some differences between today and then.  Today, faithful Protestants are standing with the Church against the government, recognizing the government and not the Church is the threat.  The state has not (yet?) attempted to control who can become a priest or bishop or jailed clergy for opposing them.  The state is not motivated by nationalism, but by a belief that Christian morality is a restriction of "rights."

But for the most part, the similarities between 19th century Germany and 21st century America are undeniable.  Political factions, nominal Catholics and Protestants, and the state itself is attempting to dictate to the Church whether her institutions can follow Church teaching in the realm of sexual morality.  The Church is deemed backwards and contrary to American values of freedom by refusing to compromise on issues like the HHS mandate, abortion and "gay marriage."

It is claimed that the Catholic hospitals and universities are not protected by the freedom of religion because they serve more than Catholics.

Scandals are portrayed as being universal within the Church, when they are not.

Ultimately, the portrayal is that Catholics who are faithful to the Church are dangerous right wingers who need to be isolated.

What Are We to Do?

Catholics today do need to be aware of the fact that groups hostile to us are trying to use the law to infringe on our religious freedoms.  What we will need to do is to explain and defend the faith and demonstrate to people of good will that this is not merely a "Catholic Issue."  It is an issue of freedom which harms everyone if the government is not opposed.

We will have to show both the issue of religious freedom and demonstrate why the Catholic moral teachings are right.  The former is necessary to alert people to the dangers of a government violating the Constitution unchallenged.  The latter is necessary to explain to people why contraception and abortion are not issues of "rights" but of reducing people to things.

We also need to be responsible voters.  Ultimately the supporters of the German Kulturkampf suffered reverses in elections and some of the most hostile to the Church were voted out.  We can't say, "Well this politician is bad on religious freedom, but I like his stand on taxes, so I'll vote for him anyway."  We have to realize that the greatest threats must be dealt with first.

As the US Bishops said in 1998:

Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care.  Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas. Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. But being 'right' in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the 'rightness' of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as the "temple of the Holy Spirit" -- the living house of God -- then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house's foundation.

(Living the Gospel of Life #23.  Italics original.  Underline added for emphasis)

Yes, there are many issues the Church teaches about.  However, as the Bishops wisely pointed out. when the fundamental values are attacked, those attackers who support the secondary values are suspect.

Catholics and Non-Catholics of good faith need to recognize that we cannot be complacent.  When faced with a government overtly hostile to our moral teachings and seeking to demand of us that we disobey our Church, we must oppose that government as part of our correcting the person in error.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The American Bishops, Pius XII and their Detractors

I really don't write much any more to be sure.  My life has been more complicated these past few months.  That doesn't mean I'm not keeping up with what is going on in the world.  Mostly I lurk and pass links on to relatives and friends on Facebook to articles I think helps explain or exhort.  In doing this, I tend to catch the trends of the Catholic blogosphere.

Unfortunately, there is a trend arising among certain conservative Catholics taking issue with the response of the American Bishops towards the Obama administration's attack on religious freedom, and this trend is the claim that if the Bishops were serious they would have done more and continue to do more then they are.

The general thrust of this claim runs as follows:

  1. If the bishops were serious they would do [X].
  2. The bishops are not doing [X].
  3. Therefore the bishops are not serious.

[X] can be the excommunication of certain quisling Catholics in government or speaking out more from the ambo about what the Church really teaches.  The fact that the bishops do not appear to be doing these things is taken as grounds for criticism.

I've written on this before, and I believe the points I made are relevant here as well.

I believe both criticisms are wrong now, just as they were wrong in attacking the Bishops of New York back in July.

I think one of the problems here is the fact that these conservative Catholics are making the same attack on American Bishops that liberals made against Pope Pius XII during WWII.  That argument was that if Pius XII really [Opposed the Nazis, Wanted to save the Jews] he would [Excommunicate Hitler, Spoke publically denouncing the Nazis].  He didn't [Excommunicate Hitler, Speak publically denouncing the Nazis]. Therefore he didn't oppose the Nazis or want to save the Jews.

That's the kind of argument against Pope Pius XII that shows up in Hochhuth's play The Deputy and John Cornwell's book Hitler's Pope and gets repeated constantly despite evidence that the Pope was more interested in saving Jews than in rhetoric which would not only fail to accomplish something positive, but also probably accelerate greater levels of evil.

In other words, while excommunicating Hitler or denouncing the Nazis by name were one possible approach for Pope Pius XII to take, he chose a different approach – one that often required private communication and secrecy – to oppose Hitler and save Jews.  It would be wrong to claim that Pius XII was indifferent or pro-Nazi or ineffectual just because his plan of action did not match our approval.

I believe that this same error is being committed by those conservative Catholics who are belittling the efforts of our Bishops (every Catholic diocese in the US has condemned the Obama administration's action).

The problem is, these complaints are unjust.  Logically, they are the fallacy of Ignoratio Elenchi (irrelevant conclusion).  While one may prefer the bishops taking a hard, "**** You!" approach to the Obama administration and those quisling Catholics who support him, those arguments favoring such an approach do not in fact reach the conclusion that the bishops are doing nothing or not enough.

We really need to recognize that when it comes to barring from communion, it doesn't always work.  Kathleen Sebelius is already barred (since 2008) from receiving communion, and that seems to have no effect whatsoever on her acting in defiance of the Catholic faith she claims allegiance to.  Are we supposed to believe that excommunication is automatically going to change the minds of Pelosi or Biden or the Catholic senators who voted against religious freedom?  Might they not use it as propaganda to argue "Look!  The Bishops are trying to control the government!"?

Now I believe that canonical sanctions would be good as a warning to those Catholics in the government that they are endangering their immortal souls, but I do not believe that we can justly argue that because the bishops have not opted to take this route that they are failing in their task as bishops.

As for the speaking out accusation, can any informed Catholic claim that they do not know what the Catholic Church teaches on the issue of contraception?  Every bishop who leads a diocese has come out against the Obama administration.  They are speaking out publicly and to the government saying, "This is wrong."

Those Catholics who still employ contraception or vote in favor of contraception and abortion do not do so out of invincible ignorance, but out of defiance or out of laziness to discover the truth.  Did we not have Humanae VitaeVeritatis SplendorEvangelium Vitae?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church?

We have the continual witness of the Church, and the bishops are public with affirming the teaching of the Church.  Any Catholic can learn what the Church teaches with ease.  It is simply a matter of being willing to look.

So as Catholics, let us cease our useless murmuring about how everything would be fine if the bishops would only do [X].  Yes it is legitimate to favor certain approaches (so long as they are compatible with the Church).  But we must remember: Before claiming the bishops aren't doing "enough" we must ask ourselves whether we have the full knowledge to declare what we think should be done is automatically the only approach that can be taken.

Otherwise our treatment of the bishops become as ignorant as the attacks on Pope Pius XII.