A Fatwa of the Heart

I hesitate to post this, but I'll go ahead. Just promise me before you read it that you won't take it too seriously.


Today, we found out that The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) issued a fatwa.* No big deal. Happens all the time.

The fatwa was against Israel. Again, no big deal. Happens pretty much every day.

It was against heart surgeries for Iraqi children in Israel and the organizations involved in such activities.

Hmm. That's new.

You can read it in English here via Google translation. Or, if your feeling up to it, you can read the original Arabic.

Here are the important bits:

  1. AMSI calls on Iraq's Muslim neighbors to provide alternatives to Israel
  2. AMSI calls on Iraq's Muslim neighbors to pay for the surgeries in other countries
  3. Muslim families who go to Israel are being tricked into it and/or are traitors to Islam
  4. Those who go to Israel for surgery must be punished
  5. Those who help them go to surgery must be punished

Rumor has it that AMSI has also promised to pay for surgeries in Muslim Nations, but I can't find that in the English version.

Now, here's the break down in my opinion:

Good: Points 1 and 2. More surgeries mean more lives saved. I am all for that. Many of Iraq's neighbors have the facilities necessary to perform these operations (Turkey, Iran, Jordan) and many of Iraq's neighbors have the cash to pay (Saudi Arabia! and Kuwait - not to mention regional neighbors).

Bad: Points 3, 4 and 5. Calling these families traitors to Islam will only scare them away from seeking treatment to save their children or at least, it will add pressure into an already stressful situation.

And, of course, the call to punish those involved is a little over the top.

I don't know what has made AMSI take notice, but I hope that this can help raise awareness for a very real issue here in Iraq. Children do not have access to a health care system that has the tools to actually care for their health.

Even in the (relatively) prosperous north, the hospital system lags decades behind the west. And the east.

And the Middle East.

This isn't the place to debate the causes of this epidemic. We all know the list: Saddam, UN sanctions, the US invasion, insurrection, civil war. There's no need to argue of which caused (or causes) the most damage.

The important part is that we realize that children die here everyday. They die when something can be done, so I for one, applaud AMSI for shedding some light on the need and trying to get Iraq's neighbors involved.

However, it saddens me that their hate of Israel overshadows the very real happiness of each family that has a living child when they'd otherwise have died.

* A fatwa is defined as a legal opinion or a ruling issued by an Islamic scholar.

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