An excellent benchmark of Shariah's remarkable and, think of it, post-9/11 progress is that none of the above manifestations of Islamic law -- all designed to sync society with Islamic practice -- are shocking to us. Indeed, marital rape, permissible in Shariah culture wherever it spreads, got a "religious" pass from a New Jersey judge last month (overturned by an appellate court). Death by stoning, however, still seems to take everybody's breath away as those who read about last weekend's Taliban stoning in Afghanistan, I hope, would agree.
In brief, a couple -- he, 25, married and with 2 kids; she, 19 -- eloped before being lured to return to their town. They were then seized by the Taliban, who, as the New York Times reported, convened a Shariah court of mullahs from surrounding villages.
Verdict? Guilty. More than 200 local villagers, including family members, proceeded to stone the couple to death. "People were very happy seeing this," a local told the paper, who described a "festive" atmosphere.
"Let me tell you that according to Shariah law, if someone commits a crime like that, we have our courts and we deal with such crimes based on Islamic law," said a Taliban spokesman. The paper noted: "Perhaps most worrisome were signs of support for the action from mainstream religious authorities in Afghanistan."
"Worrisome," indeed -- particularly to American soldiers advised to remove their protective ballistic glasses and get to know these people. (Repeat after me, as Gen. Petraeus says: "The human terrain is the decisive terrain.") Still, Kunduz Province is not Lower Manhattan. Why the bad dreams about stoning? I promised a study in free association. Imam Rauf's efforts to advance Shariah law, which sanctions stoning, have involved Iran's "human rights" chief, a public advocate of stoning. What next sprang to mind was the polished and educated form of Tariq Ramadan, the celebrated European Muslim "moderate" and grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. Why? Infamously, Ramadan has refused to condemn stoning, calling merely for a "moratorium." Once, Ramadan's "moderate" stoning position stood out; now it fits into the nightmare -- only not for Ramadan, or Rauf or Larijami.
For them, at Ground Zero and elsewhere, the Shariah dream continues.