How often god’s moral decrees bear no resemblance to justice.

The five year-old daughter of an Islamic preacher is dead at his hand, and not quickly or mercifully.

The girl, Lama, was the daughter of Fayhan al-Ghamdi, an Islamic preacher who made regular appearances on TV.

He was arrested after Lama’s death in November but was reportedly absolved by the judge in the case.

The verdict has sparked an online campaign calling for punishment for violence against women and children.

Saudi media reports said that Ghamdi had paid 200,000 riyals ($50,000; £31,500) in “blood money” – a sum that can be paid to relatives of a murder victim and which, if accepted, can replace a death sentence.

The amount is half what would have been necessary if Lama had been male.

I don’t know if Islam’s history of older men wedding (in all the ways that word gets used in that culture) minors is to blame in this case.  But what I can assert, easily and irrefutably, is that religion does not make people better.  If ever god should have been moved to inject a modicum of compassion into a person, this was the time.  It didn’t happen.

Sure, sometimes people believe a god wants them to give a sandwich to a homeless person, and they do so.  Such beliefs, held by people with a proper amount of compassion, are like people who pray to find their car keys while searching the house for them.  Yes, there’s faith involved, but it’s the other influences that actually change the world.  All the faith in the world won’t fix a mind that can’t imagine the pain of others.  That’s what this story says to me.

That’s why a preacher could do something like this.  His faith wasn’t the issue, for he had plenty of it.  It was his humanity that was broken.

It was his faith, however, that set the worth of the suffering and death of a young woman with her whole life ahead of her at $50,000.  Far from being the source of morality, once again an egregious injustice, obvious to almost every human being outside this particular culture contaminated by faith, is allowed because of religion.  Even if this were truly the will of god, anybody who elevates it above the interest in the well-being of other people is a monster.  Without religion, this man could never have bought an exemption from justice.

Source of all morality my ass.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    It is disgusting. It like those kids killed and maimed for being witches. Right now.

    We don’t need religion for morality. People will give help when they can just based on compassion and empathy. I give when I can based on that. Much like I did before I lost my faith. Religion takes credit for the good we do even though most of us would do the same good in a world without.

    What I see religion doing is putting an edge on our negative behaviors. In my own head, in all our heads, we have these stupid prejudices and stereotypes. These ideas pop into our minds as we are informed by what a certain type of people act like based off our shared culture. A moment’s thought will expunge those ideas, and allow us to get past them. Religion takes those, and codifies them. Look at the harm the Curse of Ham has done, in both Christianity and even Islam. It makes it easier to Other people. Look at how many religions treat the homosexual and transgender communities as sub-human.

    Look at how women are reduced to nothing more than chattel. This is a great example of how horrific the fallout of these religious ideas, that many people beyond criticism. This little girl was treated like a piece of fucking property. This patriarchal idea was given the shield by religion and it turned a nightmare into reality.

    Like you said, religion doesn’t make people better. People do good based on their compassion and empathy. Religion robs too many people of their compassion and empathy. And it provides a space where evil men like this can find shelter.

    Telling religion to get fucked was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.

  • SpaceGhoti

    Well, that’s not entirely true. Their god’s moral decrees resemble the sort of justice that used to be very common in the Bronze Age and Iron Age after. A brutal justice where your innocence was determined by who you were rather than what you’d done.

    The problem is that most of us have left that morality long ago. We’re much better than that now, and I don’t think they’ll ever be willing to forgive us for that insult.

  • Steve

    Apparently he questioned her virginity. WTF? Just another sick sex-obsessed muslim preacher.

  • Steve

    Oh it gets better:

    What really happened is that he raped and tortured her to death

    “In December 2011, Lama was admitted to hospital with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, and extensive bruising and burns, according to the activist group. Hospital worker Randa Kaleeb said that the girl’s back was broken, and that she had been raped “everywhere.” The hospital told the victim’s mother that her child’s “rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed,””

  • Jonathan

    Yeah.. I positively raged reading that.

  • Icytopaz

    wow way to turn this into “his religion made him do it.”kinda of a easy cop-out defense. I doubt it’s Islam that promotes women of being worthless but sexism is. This situation is no different than Jerry Sandusky case, people in power getting away with the most twisted shit. You don’t have to be “religious” to be morally bankrupt you can hide behind any other institution and do what this guy did.

    • John-Henry Beck

      How, Icytopaz, do you explain the sexism and misogyny being unrelated to the religion when it’s part of the holy books and taught by imams?

    • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      You doubt Islam promotes women being worthless?

      Well, you’re technically right. As JT said, Islam has fixed an exact figure on the value of a woman. It’s half that of a man.

      So Islam doesn’t say women are worthless. Just worth less.

      In fact, religion is all about declaring who is worth more. At its most obvious level, co-religionists are the most valuable people. Take Christianity for example. Apparently we atheists deserve an eternity of indescribably agonizing torture, and Christians don’t. Or is that not a value judgement, to say we deserve torture?

      Shall we speak only of Christianity and the value of women?

      Leviticus 27:2:

      “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate persons to the LORD by giving equivalent values, set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; and if it is a female, set her value at thirty shekels.

      Well done! Christianity has fixed the value of a woman to be slightly higher than the value given to a woman in Islam. Have a fucking cookie.

      • Kodie

        And that’s why there’s never any cookies left.

      • David Hart

        Islam has fixed an exact figure on the value of a woman. It’s half that of a man.

        Strictly speaking, that’s a relative value, not an exact value :-P


        • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

          Curses. Hoist by my favorite petard.

        • Glodson

          While it is a relative value to that of a man, it is still fixed at .5(manvalue).

      • M

        Huh, women as 3/5 of a person. Pretty sure I’ve heard that somewhere before … now where was it?

    • Glodson

      Umm, it is his religion that lets him get away with this shit. This is what happens when religion gets to dictate laws. So, yea, he is a bastard, but his country lets him legally be a bastard thanks to magical beliefs.

    • Azkyroth

      Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. The imam got off with a slap on the wrist because of religious rules. Fucking read, you smug jackass.

  • Brad1990

    Gah, not what I needed to read first thing when I’m ill :( Poor girl. I’m now angry but too lethargic to express it.

    Also, blood money is paid to the family of the victim, yes? But he’s her father. So who’s he paid?

    • baal

      I think the wife’s family has an honor interest in the dead girl. That might be where the $$ goes. Anyone familiar with the relevant customs and law?