By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, November 30, 2012
Not long ago, a virtual friend of mine shared, on Facebook, a caricature mocking bearded Muslim men and their black-dressed wives. The caricature was about a bearded man who asked a male doctor not to touch his wife and intervened to help the doctor check his wife’s chest with a stethoscope. In the process, the bearded man put the stethoscope on his wife’s chest while the doctor is sitting next to them, listening to the heart beats and averting his glance from the wife. Here, the bottom line is that the caricature made a clear mockery of the “don’t touch my wife” attitude that many bearded, Muslim men have adopted.
Despite the fact that I personally disagree with the “don’t touch my wife” attitude when a doctor is needed to perform a diagnosis on Muslim women, I went on to comment on the caricature, arguing that we may not like the way others think or behave, but we must defend to death their right to think or behave in the way they like.
Nowadays, it is a pity that some intellectuals spread such hatred-causing caricatures, forgetting the apocryphal quote often attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” In this regard, the intellectuals who are supposed to evince mutual respect and tolerance are the ones who write denigrating articles and draw caricatures on this hot issue.
I am not, necessarily, supporting the “don’t touch my wife” attitude nor am I castigating it. Simply put, my position is that as long as a bearded man’s freedom to dress and think does not trespass on my own freedom, I don’t have the slightest right to interfere into his way of life, be it backward or modern.
If we mock and hold each other in contempt on the basis of our differences, we will be in danger of getting into confrontations and bitter conflicts. If we continue to disseminate caricatures mocking a certain category of our society, we are, by implication, calling for a clash of modes of life instead of calling for mutual understanding and, most importantly, tolerance.
Isn’t it the right of bearded men not to have their wives touched by male doctors? I agree that today this may appear backward and incongruous for many of us. Yet, is there anything wrong in helping male doctors while they are medically checking bearded men’s wives? Just as it is the doctor’s right to feel at ease doing his job, it is also the bearded men’s right to call for an ample number of female doctors at hospitals.
Backward, ignorant, and primitive are some epithets we usually associate with the bearded men whose trousers are not level with their feet and whose wives are covered from head to foot. In reality, there are times when bearded men with their wives pass by and bystanders gaze at them with mockery and disdain. At other times, bystanders wonder about the ‘dark’ life the couple is leading. Unfortunately, most of people who are critical of this category of society are some so-called left-wing intellectuals. The latter hold that their own way of life is the right one and that “don’t touch my wife” is a good-for-nothing attitude that dates back to the Stone Age.
Surprising though it may be, a number of bearded Muslim men living in America and some European countries have admitted that they enjoy more freedom in the host countries than in their Muslim home countries. Here, the reasons are self-evident. For instance, in America, they are not looked upon as different because this country is full of people with different religions, ethnic groups, and polarized modes of life. Moreover, they live freely and uninhibitedly there. No doubt, living freely holds the most important thing in one’s life. Hence, making a mockery of a bearded man just because he strongly believes in “don’t touch my wife,” as clarified in several Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH), curtails and curbs one’s life rather than frees it.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy