QUITE OFTEN I RECEIVE E-MAILS asking me why I have so much dislike for religion in general and Islam, my religion at birth, in particular. This question is not easy to answer. A person’s religion is the most sacred, and to some, the most valuable asset one may claim to possess. Wars are waged, genocide perpetrated, friendships broken, love turned into hatred, peace into turmoil, harmony into discord, enlightenment into darkness just because of religious difference. Nothing is more sensitive and dangerous than fomenting the religious feeling of people. As demonstrated by many suicide bombers, many believers consider their faith more precious than their own lives. Under such scenarios, it is not so simple for any one to look at his religion of birth critically. Many years, possibly decades of observations, experience, study and contemplation are required to examine one’s so-called religion of birth.
Below, I have listed a few issues that may make an ardent believer to question his/her ‘religion of birth’, and may eventually turn him into an unbeliever. These listed concerns are not comprehensive. As the current events unfold, there will be many new aspects that may be more critical than what I have mentioned. Please spend a little time and ponder on what might turn a believer into an unbeliever.
Four million diehard devotees (the Biswa Ijtema in Bangladesh) from many Islamic Paradises beseech Allah in three languages (Bengali, Urdu and Arabic) for His blessings. Yet Allah keeps these countries the most corrupt, the least developed, the most crime-infested, utterly terrorised and amongst the poorest in the world. You start doubting if Allah ever understood any of those languages of prayer, especially His own language, that is, Arabic. This epidemic of prayer has been going on for decades, but Allah remains adamant. To the total chagrin of the true believers, Allah continues to bestow prosperity to the infidels. You question the fairness of Allah.
When the Mullahs are in power in one of the Islamic Paradises (e.g., Bangladesh) a great deluge of flood creates havoc there. The Mullahs term this devastating natural calamity as a test of Iman (faith) from Allah-just like Nuh’s flood. Curiously, when a secular government is elected to power, the same Mullahs call the raging flood a punishment from Allah for the electorate for choosing a secular government. You marvel at the capricious mind of Allah.
When a 14-year-old boy is mercilessly flogged to death (in Iran) in the month of Ramadan for not fasting strictly to the stringent specifications of the religion you question the very authenticity of Allah’s Scripture on which this punishment is meted out.
A 16-year-old girl (in Iran) is raped by gangsters but she cannot prove her innocence for lack of resources to hire a competent lawyer. The Mullahs swiftly hang her in public without giving her a right to appeal. Her rapists go scot-free. You tremble in fear as you have a few teen-age daughters. You are frightened to death thinking what might happen to your young daughters if they become victims of similar rape.
Allah decides to send His soldiers to kindergarten schools to slaughter infidels’ infants (Beslan in Russia). This action of Allah shakes the very foundation of your belief. You assume the savage perpetrators of this infanticide were not true believers. When you consult the Hadis you are profoundly shocked to learn that wanton killing of infidels’ children is religiously sanctioned. You become fearful about the safety of your own child when he/she is enrolled in a childcare/pre-school/kindergarten.
You remember your past secret love life and suddenly learn from newspaper reports that a hapless widow in an Islamic Paradise is to be stoned to death for merely becoming pregnant and giving birth out of wed-lock to an innocent daughter. You thank yourself that none of those women with whom you had illicit sex became pregnant. You wonder what would have happened if you were caught.
You sincerely fall in love with an infidel woman but you cannot marry her unless she embraces the ‘religion of tolerance’. You and your lover decide to flee the Islamic Paradise and immigrate to an infidel land just to exercise your fundamental human right.
You and your wife for 12-years go on a holiday trip to a scenic beach resort (e.g., the state of Trengganu in Malaysia). You lodge in the luxurious beach hotel Club Med. Out of blue; at the dead of night, the religious police heckle you demanding to witness your marriage certificate. Unable to produce the matrimony document, you and your wife have no choice but to be hand-cuffed and immediately whisked by the ‘guardians of Allah’ to be locked up in dingy cells. You and your distraught wife are separated and threatened with lashing until you can prove your Islamic marriage. You desperately fax to your relative to send you the original marriage certificate. Until that arrives you and your dear wife spend a few weeks in tenterhook. While all the infidel guests at the resort sleep in peace you suffer this despicable indignation because you have an Islamic (read Arabic) name. After you return to your home of infidels you promise not to set foot in an Islamic Paradise, ever.
You visit Thailand, the land of smiles. Out of curiosity you visit a massage parlour or a Turkish bath. Inside the dimly-lit premise you spot your bearded but impeccably western-dressed Tabligifriends who were once your university mates. Astounded, you ask them what Tabligi work they are doing in such a sex joint. To your utter surprise your Tabligi friends tell you that Thai massage girls/prostitutes are halal for them. They claim that while they may have wives and children at Dar-ul-Islam (home country of Islam) but since they are in a Dar-ul-Harb (the land of warfare) or the land of infidels, it is alright for them to have sex with Thai women as these sex-kittens are like captives to the Muslims. You return home and check the Sharia book (Islamic Law) for their outrageous claim. To your complete disbelief you find that the Sharia fully supports your Tabligi friends’ claims.
You attend the party of an infidel colleague and drink only orange juice because all other foods ostensibly look haram. But you have no courage to ask your host. When the host enquires if anything is wrong with you, you tell a lie that you have stomach problem, or that you are not hungry. You become ashamed that you have to tell lies because of your faith.
When you tell your best friend that you like western life-style and enjoy its freedom he cuts you off from the list of his guest. He stops phoning you, and when you enquire about his well-being he says he is busy and has very little time. Religion has now stood between you and your best friend.
Your infidel neighbour invites you to his Christmas gala party but you pretend to be sick because you know alcoholic drinks will be served. You note that despite being teetotaller throughout their lives most Muslims have very poor health and quite short life-span. You genuinely question why you could not drink a sip or two of haram drink while the infidels can easily indulge in such absolute haram practice, yet they enjoy far superior health than the Muslims. You wonder why the infidels can enjoy wine, beer, whisky, port, Martini, Campari, Cinzano, Remy Martin, VSOP brandy, champagne, shandy but you have to be contented only with Mecca Cola or orange juice!
Your father threatens to kick you out of his house because you went out dating with boys/girls of the infidels. You wonder why you cannot have an easy mixing with opposite sex. Crossed, you decide to get even with your parents at an appropriate time.
When your child visits his infidel friend’s house you give your child the strict order not to eat or drink any foodstuff as you suspect that they may not be halal. Your child is simply agitated, sad, confused when he observes that while he has to go hungry, all other children can happily eat the delicious food served. He does not understand why he has to practice such dim-witted food habits.
When you plan to visit another city/town you desperately seek halal restaurants even though they serve smelly, stale food in very unhygienic premises. You refuse to eat nutritious food served in a superbly hygienic, delightfully pleasant and plush comfortable environment simply because these food outlets are patronised by the haram-eating infidels. You simply cannot find any logic behind this bizarre practice. Nevertheless, you go ahead with the herd of believers as you do not want to lose your standing in the community (Ummah). Deep inside, you question your faith but are afraid to become an outcast.
When the Allah’s soldiers (in Iraq) behead the dedicated aid workers, ordinary poor labourers, engineers, doctors and make snuff videos for the Ummah to watch the mercy of ‘religion of compassion’ you have great difficulty explaining this ‘religion of compassion’ to your colleagues. You even try to hide your face when the neighbours learn that you belong to the ‘religion of compassion.’
When you are in an infidel land you try to conceal your ‘religion of forgiveness’ by faking an infidel name to a stranger. You try to hide the passport issued by an Islamic Paradise. You show it only to the immigration officials. You wonder why you have to play such a hide-and-seek game.
Your family hates you for becoming friendly with the infidels. You become very sad, but later, you find out that they are simply following the commands of all Powerful Allah. Consulting the Holy Scripture, you find out that a Muslim son must disown his own parents and vice versa if they or you do not convert to Islam.
You go to a religious school and find that girls, as little as 6 or 7-years-old are forced to wear ugly Hijab. When the confused innocent little girls ask for the reason of wearing such tormenting apparel, you hear the ‘Hujur’ (religious teacher) says Allah loves those girls who ‘cover’ themselves. He also says that the infidel girls (those who do not wear Hijab) are prostitutes, harlots and characterless. You wonder how come Allah did not cover these little Muslimahsduring their birth-why Allah let them be born naked!
Your child goes to a Madrassah (a theological seminary) to memorise the Holy Scripture. When he returns home he/she complains about the beating he/she received at the hands of the‘Hujur’. When you confront the ‘Hujur’ for child-abuse he shows you the irrefutable proof that beating a child is allowed as per Hadis. You simply shake your head in disbelief, but the ‘Hujur’shows you the clear proof from the Holy Scriptures. You truly become dumb-founded.
As a migrant you sincerely believe that the best way to be the integral part of a society is to mix with the local mainstream people, become friendly with them and learn some of their traditions and customs. When you visit a mosque you hear the Imam warns the congregation not to be friendly with the local infidels. He even exhorts that as a believer you must endeavour to convert the local infidels to adopt your culture and religion. Doubting Imam’s preaching, you check the Holy Scriptures. You are utterly shocked that the Imam is absolutely correct.
You live in an Islamic Paradise which preaches ‘religious tolerance’, ‘peace’, ‘democracy’, ‘freedom of thought’—When you visit the religious congregation of the infidels to learn about their religion you are arrested, fined or imprisoned (e.g., in .Malaysia) for patronising the enemies of the ‘religion of tolerance’. You question the very Holy words ‘No compulsion in religion.’
In an Islamic Paradise you go out dating an infidel girl. While both of you are seated on a wooden bench in the local park, the ‘moral guardians’ of Allah (religious police), checks your I.D., arrests you, fines you and jails you. Your infidel girl-friend goes scot-free. You question how could there be two sets of laws in one country? You decide that this is nothing but religious apartheid.
In a moderate Muslim Paradise (e.g., Malaysia) you visit a pub or a disco to have a good time with your infidel friends. There, you notice the religious police checking the I.D. of each patron. Wondering how come the ‘religion of tolerance’ would not allow you such a simple pleasure, you sneak out of the haram premise. Meanwhile, your infidel friends had a ‘good time’ in the pub, while you returned home and asked Allah’s forgiveness.
Your religious-scholar friend tells you that Allah’s ‘only’ religion has lots of goodies for women. When you open the newspaper (in Pakistan) you read, ‘Let these women be warned,’ said a mullah to the dissenting women of Rawalpindi. ‘We will tear them to pieces. We will give them such terrible punishments that no one in future will dare to raise a voice against Islam.’ In desperation you consult the Holy Scriptures and find that the Mullahs are completely correct. You start doubting your friend’s scholarship on the good stuff for women in the ‘religion for women’.
Even though you are not ethnically an Arab, you must keep an Arabic name, follow Arabic culture; adopt their food, clothing, hygiene and toilet habits; memorise their Holy Scriptures without comprehending a single word of it and prostrate endlessly to their Allah. When you go on pilgrimage or when they hire you as slaves to work for them they ridicule you as a ‘miskin’(indigent). But they treat the white infidel workers with respect and offer them higher pay and more fringe benefits than the black and brown immigrant workers (like you) .Though you are better qualified than many of them (white infidels) your Arab brothers discriminate you against the white infidel workers. As a general rule, you are paid half compared to a white unbeliever. Yet, you consider the Arabs superior to you and you imitate their dress and Bedouin habits. Some Islamic Paradises (like Pakistan) even broadcast news in Arabic when not even 0.1% of their population understand the Arabic language. You wonder why a desperately poor country should spend money to Arabise its population?
When you question your religion you fear for your life. When you make a movie that criticises the religion of ‘peace’ you are beheaded a la Islamic style.
Those are some of the issues all believers should ponder upon. Thanks to the advent of Internet; it is now possible to publicise those pertinent points. We must welcome well-designed, easily navigable websites that highlight the concerns mentioned above and shake the minds of the believers, compelling them to re-think what they always thought to be the eternal truth.
Abul Kasem writes from Sydney. His e-mail address is [email protected]