Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Sin of Pride

People manifest their pride in a host of ways. In Saudi Arabia, some enter camels that they have raised into "beauty" pageants, the equivalent of Western dog shows, yet according to one Islamic cleric, such displays are a wicked affront to God. As reported in this Reuters news story:

A leading authority of Saudi Arabia's hardline school of Islam has condemned camel beauty contests as evil, saying those involved should seek repentance in God.

Camel pageants have become major events in the desert kingdom in recent years as tribes hold ever larger competitions, with bigger prizes and wider publicity.

Delicate females or strapping males which attract the right attention during a show can sell for more than a million riyals (127,000 pounds). Sponsors spent 10 million riyals on prizes for one competition this year.

"Everyone must repent of these acts from which no good can come because of its evils, and they should beg forgiveness from God," said a fatwa, or religious ruling, issued this week by Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak and a lesser-known sheikh.

"Millions of riyals are spent on buying camels just to feel proud and not for the reasons God created camels, like for food, drink, riding and work," he said, attacking the contests as a backward tribal custom from pre-Islamic Arabia.
And heaven help the poor Islamist who feels pride in his earthly accomplishments. Contrast al-Barrak's view of "sinful" pride with Ayn Rand's:

The virtue of Pride can best be described by the term: "moral ambitiousness." It means that one must earn the right to hold oneself as one's own highest value by achieving one's own moral perfection—which one achieves by never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice and by never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational—by never accepting an unearned guilt and never earning any, or, if one has earned it, never leaving it uncorrected—by never resigning oneself passively to any flaws in one's character—by never placing any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment above the reality of one's own self-esteem. And, above all, it means one's rejection of the role of a sacrificial animal, the rejection of any doctrine that preaches self-immolation as a moral virtue or duty. [Source: The Ayn Rand Lexicon]
I say that if camel beauty pageants help lead men to reject the idea that they must pursue self-immolation as a virtue, let the camels be beautiful.

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