Here at the Islamic Research Bureau in Jeddah, we devote ourselves to unravelling the knottier issues of the law and practice of Islam and over the years we have contributed immensely to ascertaining the real meaning of many holy texts on that subject. Our work on female mutilation, for example, has been universally recognised as being at the cutting edge of medical research. And allowing women to drive is more than most men in Western countries would allow, if they had a free choice. However, one issue we examined over the years had proved impossible to resolve. Until last week. The question was basically whether it is more in keeping with Islamic law that a heretic or, say, an ordinary troublemaker should have his fingers amputated before he is beheaded, or whether it is better to approach that question, as it were, head first. Virtually every known method of scholarly enquiry had been brought to bear on this seemingly intractable issue. But all to no avail, and everything we tried ended in further disputation, for the morality of the two contending schools of thought between beheading and amputation was so finely balanced. Each of them could justly claim they had righteousness and justice on their side. Then, just last week, we cracked this long unresolved question that had divided Islamic scholars for centuries. We can now reveal our decision and at the same time explain certain events that occurred in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul concerning Jamal Khashoggi. The opportunity arose to resolve the aforementioned religious question at a conference of 15 Islamic sages that was taking place in the Consulate. Now I know that the cynical among you are already saying that this group of 15 was a violent hit squad armed with hack saws, pliers and a well-developed plan to execute an enemy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That is a typical Zionist lie. The noble 15 were in fact scholars of great renown and with beards, who were on an ecumenical excursion to visit the wonderful Salisbury Cathedral and its amazing 123 metre spire and they had stopped off in Istanbul for the spiritual nourishment of a seminar on Islamic love and compassion. Whilst they were there, they were caught up in events quite beyond their control and for which they have been unjustly blamed.
But to deal first with the deep theological issue under discussion, it is true that, depending on your perspective, amputating fingers is a gruesome act. But that is its true beauty. In fact, it is so gruesome, as many imams and ayatollahs have pointed out, that there is no point in amputating them (the fingers, that is, not the ayatollahs) unless the victim can see and feel what is being done to him for his own good. Even an Iranian nuclear scientist would know that if the victim is dead, he will not be cleansed by the experience of having his fingers amputated, because he will not know it is being done. The Amputation First school therefore makes the valid point that beheading before amputation denies the victim an awareness of the love and true Islamic compassion being shown to him by the hideous pain that the Prophet demands. As the Saudi representative at the UN Human Rights Council asked recently, what is the point of freedom of speech if you have no tongue? Likewise, what is the point of pain if you have no head? But in reply to that argument, the Beheading First school says with considerable logic that finger dismemberment is something of a muppet show and that the full wrath of the State and the demands of the Prophet can only be shown by getting straight into it without any preliminaries. Execution concentrates the mind and it is better that the victim and his family get the message as soon as possible.
But, hard though it is to believe, there was introduced into the debate at a late hour a third and even more difficult sub-issue of disputation. Torture. The question thus arose among the learned divines present: should the order of precedence be torture, fingers and beheading? It could hardly be beheading, torture, fingers or even beheading, fingers, torture. Again, the morality argument was strong for all three. But was there a window of opportunity for a fourth sequence: fingers, torture, beheading? The victim would first enjoy the full Sharia experience of cleansing love by having his fingers amputated; then the point could be driven home as it were by random torturing. Finally, and to give the traitor’s relatives a taste of what might also be coming their way if they did not shut up, beheading.
The argument ranged back and forth with such enthusiasm that some of the wise men present said it was like a fist fight. At its height, the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing, mainly because it was not there. Eventually, the modernising influence of our Crown Prince, peace be upon him, carried the day. We reminded ourselves that we were not medieval barbarians but modernists who are up to date with the latest trends and fashions of Western governments. We therefore settled on a compromise, just as they would, and went for the Sensible Centre, giving favour neither to one side nor the other in this titanic struggle, but agreeing that all three punishments, torture, amputation and beheading should be carried out simultaneously and several times.
As for Mr Khashoggi, he has disappeared. The suggestion that he was murdered during the theological fistfight is, of course, another Zionist lie. My belief is that he also has gone to Salisbury to see the cathedral with its amazing 123 metre spire. In fact, he often spoke affectionately of it while he was a guest in the Consulate, adding that he also had to deliver a rolled-up carpet in a plastic bag to a close friend in the forest just outside Istanbul.
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