I’ve been researching Islam and technology for a story due out later this week. There’s been some interesting gadgets enter the market place recently aimed at Muslims but what also interested me are the attitudes of Muslims towards technology: Was there any life left in the non-Muslim perception that Islam does somehow not approve of technology? Short answer: No.
Anyway, long introduction to what I hope is just a mere misunderstanding in a piece by Ali Al-Baghli, Kuwait’s former oil minister, in the Arab Times last week (thanks to blueserker), who writes an interesting article on the relationship between Muslims and technology. While I think I follow his tack, towards the end I share the confusion of blueserker who says “I’m really hoping there is a translation issue here”.
Al-Baghli’s main point is that technology can be used for good and bad. While ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘extremists’ have long opposed the use of technology, from satellite dishes to mobile phones, it is the extremists, he says, who have also benefitted from this such tools such as the mobile phone “because it can be used to carry out terrorist acts”. True: Jemaah Islamiyah relied on the mobile phone to plan and execute the Bali bombing in 2002. (It also led to their capture.)
But I lose him in his last paragraph on Bluetooth: “This device is being used by thousands of people and is most beneficial to engineers and medical staff because of the voice and view facility.” Can’t disagree so far. However he goes on:
This new device has sent shock waves in Kuwait because some young boys and girls make wrong use of it and the Ministry of Justice was prompt in forming a committee – comprising legal and legislative experts in addition to attorneys – to regulate its use. If what we have heard is right, the reaction is shameful. The Bluetooth is like a knife – you can use it in the kitchen while cooking or to kill someone. It is also like a ‘safe sex’ tool mostly used by whores to prevent pregnancies. Can we prevent people from using knives and ‘safe sex’ tools… just because some are making wrong use of it?
I can only assume the former minister is referring to the emergence of Bluetoothing — the art of picking up partners in public via Bluetooth — which, according to a comment added to this posting to Geek.com back in April, has been going on for quite a while in Kuwait. I have to confess, however, I’m not sure where the knives come in, and how, exactly, Bluetooth is used in safe sex. Can anyone explain?