The evil that Muslims do

On November 13, 2015, as many of us know, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks took place in the French capital of Paris. More than 100 people were killed and numerous others were injured. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

Words cannot describe the atrocities committed that day and every civilized, peace-loving human being is in a state of shock. This senseless violence in the name of Islam needs to be stopped. It must come to an end. How many more innocent lives will be taken in the name of Allah Almighty? Allah: The Most Gracious and the Most Merciful. What will this bloodshed achieve?

An atheist friend of mine put up the following as his Facebook status:

Pray for Paris people say.. George was so right.. Couldn’t we as a species just grow up and forget all this religious nonsense??? But surely Muslims should start, they are way too serious about their imaginary friend..

Underneath his status, he shared a picture of George Carlin, which I’m sharing as well.

george-carlin

George Carlin is right and so is my friend. Humanity, as a whole, might be wasting its time praying to a God that might not exist. But what’s much more concerning than wastage of time is justification for violence based on a 1400 years old, outdated ideology. Ideas derived from Islamic scriptures such as the Qur’an are at the heart of all Jihadist organizations.

A very important point raised by Maajid Nawaz in the following discussion, and one which I have been saying for quite a while, is that Islam definitely has a role to play in these extreme acts of terrorism.

Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is not a religion of war. Islam is a religion. As a religion, it has peaceful and violent elements in it and one has to be cognizant of this fact. Many so-called liberal Muslims, unfortunately, do not realize this fact and think ISIS is not a representation of Islam. One such friend of mine shared the following picture on Facebook:

isis-mcdonalds

My friend, like many such liberal Muslims, is, in the words of Maajid Nawaz, ‘too scared to actually make that connection and to say there is something to do here with Islam as well as the many other factors that cause radicalization such as maybe foreign policy or grievances. But Islam also has a role.’

Without the realization of this important fact, there is no way to combat extreme Islam. The terrible Parisian tragedy will continue to haunt us everyday. We must unite to ward off the evil of Islamic fundamentalism and strive towards a more peaceful and tolerant world.

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Thrashing Women the Islamic Way

Yesterday, I found out from one of my ex-Professors that members of the Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT), the militant student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, attacked and subsequently banned girls from playing cricket in my alma mater, University of Karachi.

Hearing about this incident and reading more about it on the Internet took me down the rather unpleasant and dark memory alley, where I had confronted these Jamati thugs. It reminded me of the time when I stood strong in face of adversity and was willing to take a bullet for my beliefs.

My core values of freedom and justice for all haven’t changed and have only grown stronger with time. Incidents like these make my skin crawl and I wonder if the situation back in Pakistan will ever improve. Pakistan is going to the dogs. Almost every month, I seem to be greeted with news such as this one. And Islam is one of the root causes for all this mess.

cricket-girls-ku

What kind of a culture do these Islamic zealots want to promote? They want to convert Valentines Day into Haya Day. (Haya is an Urdu word meaning modesty). But exactly what sort of modesty are they looking for?

Beating women in the 21st century and not allowing them to play a sport of their liking  appears to be their definition of modesty. I just don’t have words to describe the situation and their twisted logic any more.

According to me, university life is an embodiment of freedom. That’s what students want: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of action.

In Pakistan, however, Islamists don’t want freedom. They want to impose 1400 year old Shariah system that is supposedly God-sent and cannot, in any way, be changed by mere mortals like us. The Islamists such as members of IJT are willing to take all measures necessary to impose their parochial interpretation of Islam on the entire society. There’s no room for disagreement. Those who differ, face dire consequences. This is the sad reality. This is the bitter truth.

This interpretation of Islam will continue to repulse every sane person and modest person living in modern times. And as long as events like these happen, we, as freedom-and-peace-loving individuals, will continue to provide counter-narratives in a hope that things improve.

Joining Ex-Muslims – Part Two

The mysterious character I talked about in my previous post is just a satiated version of our own selves. As the first rays of the dawning sun filter through the window curtains, gently caressing our faces, we wake up to a newer version of ourselves. The newer version is a day older than the previous one. Time makes us old and less intense. The passionate yearning to know transforms into a deep calmness of surrender. We are getting closer to our physical end. Death seems inevitable. Are we any closer to the truth? The Absolute Truth which is the summum bonum?

Absolute-Truth

Perhaps not. And so the struggle continues. Another day of endless possibilities to enrich one’s life experiences lies in front of us. Perhaps, just perhaps, this might be the day when the mystery of being will be unraveled and the transcendent powers that be will manifest themselves in full glory. We long for such ecstatically profound moments. Moments that will transform ourselves forever and provide us with the ultimate vision of all that we know on earth and all we need to know…

My struggle with faith is somewhat similar. Every day I wake up, hoping to learn something new, something profound about religions in general and Islam in particular that might transform myself. Yet I find myself to be disappointed by my own efforts and failures. I wholeheartedly accept that I definitely am not putting in enough time and energy required to systematically study the Qur’an and the Ahadith.

However, the limited time I do allocate to my theological interests, seems to be wasted at times. Maybe Islam is inaccurate and is ‘nothing more than Bronze Age mythology’ as stated on EXMNA’s website.

I don’t know. There is massive confusion and the quest for Absolute Truth with regards to religious claims, as made by Islam, does not seem to be coming to an end. Religion is obvious nonsense for the likes of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss and I should, perhaps, be doing something more worthwhile with my time.

richarddawkins

During my screening interview with MoTheAtheist, I said that some Muslim scholars argue that it is important to know Arabic in order to truly understand and appreciate the Qur’an. To this, the President of EXMNA said that what about the numerous Arabic-speaking people who have left Islam? Surely, they speak and understand the language and yet choose to leave the religion. According to him, this is a trivial argument.

I was asked about any particular part of the Qur’an that I found unsettling during my search. I mentioned the famous verse related to wife-beating that I had also blogged about.

There was also a discussion about morality wherein I adopted a meta-ethical moral relativist position arguing that there is no objective and absolute yardstick to gauge morality. There is no way to quantify morality, so to speak.

Of course, slavery is bad. It’s immoral and inhumane but only by modern standards. Our moral code, much like our genetic code, is subject to evolution. What was acceptable a century ago is unacceptable today. Similarly, it is fairly possible that what is acceptable today may end up becoming unacceptable a century from now. Moral and ethical values, I believe, are not set in stone.

In my humble opinion, the search for an objective and absolute moral code is futile. Moreover, it is a characteristic of an extremist mind that only wishes to see reality in black and white, ignoring the varying shades of gray.

Anyway, coming back to my interview, I was informed by MoTheAtheist that local chapters of EXMNA often organize events like Islamoween in which people dress up in Islamic themes. In past such events, some people came wearing burqas. One person dressed up as Buraq: the mythical horse-like creature on which Prophet Muhammad allegedly visited the heavens. But the highlight of the event was the one who dressed up as the Ka’aba. Circumambulating around him was a no-brainer.

They also prepared a drink by mixing Zamzam water with Jack Daniel’s and few other types of alcohol that I don’t remember. There was Kulfies (Indian frozen dairy dessert) prepared with Baileys Irish Cream and haleem made with ham, which tasted terrible.

baileys

We talked for almost 2 hours. Towards the end, MoTheAtheist asked me to show him some form of identification. With that out of the way, I was officially welcomed to EXMNA and joined the group. I’ll conclude this post at this juncture. In the coming days, I will talk about some of the discussions I have had on the EXMNA group with other fellow ex-Muslims. Stay tuned.