Work in Progress (No, really)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Story of Sheikh Sa'aman

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The story of Sheikh Sa'aman tells the story of a sheikh (religious scholar) who has recurring dreams in which he sees himself praying in front of an idol (a woman). The sheikh is known for his steadfastness to his faith and has even lead prayers in the city of Makkah and yet, these dreams constantly bug him and make him double-guess his own resolve. The dream takes place in Rome, and so he, along with his disciples, set out to go to Rome.

The full story can be found here.

The points of interest for me is the progression of the sheikh's detachment from religion (Islam). He goes to reject every tenant of his religion but one -- eating pork. Despite his love for this woman, he can't allow himself to eat pork.

I think it speaks volumes about the Muslim psyche, and even how those who leave the religion still remain affected by it to some extent, although the argument can be made that it may very well be more of a cultural influence than religious. Still, I've always loved how whenever I read this story I can somewhat understand the sheikh's logic. Liquids are liquids. They're easy to drink and one needn't think about what the liquid is (especially given how many liquids have similar colours). Pork though is a meat. It has it's own texture, taste , and like most food will leave an after-taste. If alcohol could be considered one time cheating, pork is cheating in public -- an official end to whatever relationship was occurring legally beforehand. Now, in view of the law (Islamic) such a distinction could not be made and in effect both are unlawful, but while there's a cultural stigma associated with drinking, one could argue that eating pork is so far beyond that stigma that the very idea is inconceivable.

False God? Sure. Alcohol and dirtiness? No problem for love. Eating swine? That's too much.

It's ridiculous at some level, but oddly understandable at another level.

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