My Faith In Islam

A few days ago I posted a piece on the right wing response to Jill Carroll’s release. In the comments section following that piece I started a discussion with Jim Benton that quickly turned to a discussion of Islam. He has posted a series of questions on his blog for moderate Muslims. I agreed over the weekend to try to give my answers. I am finally getting around to it. I have decided to post my answers here and then I will try to cross post on Jim’s blog with answers for each individual question.

To begin, I should state that I am not a Muslim scholar nor do I play one on TV. I am however a Muslim. I was born in Bangladesh (which was East Pakistan at the time) and grew up in an overwhelmingly Muslim but secular country. I have lived half my life (and most of my adult life) in the United States. I now find myself in the unusual and sometimes difficult position of being an American and a Muslim in these turbulent times. I am often asked the obligatory "Why do Muslims hate freedom?" question. To me that question is very similar to the "When was the last time you beat your wife?" question.

I am also often commended for being one of those "good" Muslims or a "moderate Muslim". So the only part of Jim’s questions I will take issue with is that he directs his questions to "moderate Muslims". To me, there are two kinds of Muslims: there are Muslims, and then there are Fanatics (I think this distinction probably exists in most organized religions). I happen to be a Muslim. Of course the current news is about the two sects of Islam: the Shia and the Sunni. There are many good books that discuss the two sects of Islam; for my part, I will just say that it is a political dispute that has lasted to this day. All Muslims share one holy book, The Koran, and any difference that exists between practicing Muslims is the work of man not of God.

A significant part of my thinking in terms of Islam is rooted in having seen and experienced man’s inhumanity to man first hand. As I mentioned, I was born in Bangladesh during a time when it was part of Pakistan. The word "Pakistan" means, for those who do not know, "The Land of the Pure". Bengalis, the ethnic group primarily in Bangladesh and in parts of India, were considered by many in the leadership of Pakistan at the time to be "napak", that is "impure". We were considered this largely because most Bengalis were converts to Islam from Hinduism. Bengalis retained their cultural identity through their conversion to Islam and a large minority in Bangladesh continued to practice Hinduism and other religions. The resulting war for the independence of Bangladesh saw perhaps the most egregious persecution of Muslims by Muslims in the twentieth century. Toward the end of the war, when it became clear that Pakistan was about to lose the war, death squads called "Al Badr" (this name should sound familiar to Iraq watchers) spread out across Bangladesh with the goal of finding and killing Bengali technocrats, scholars and intellectuals. The goal was to try to decimate Bengali culture that the Pakistanis felt was tainted, made impure, by our Hindu influence. One of the targets of Al Badr was my father, who if not for the courage and compassion of our Pakistani neighbors would have been murdered in front of his children’s eyes. Instead we watched in horror as my cousin was mercilessly beaten to an inch of his death for not revealing the whereabouts of my father and his family.

So, I know a little bit about what fanaticism can do, and I know a little of what Muslim Fanaticism can do. Now Jim, onto your questions:

1: Do you accept that the Qur’an is the final revelation of God, dictated, through Gabriel, to Mohammed?

I accept that The Koran is the divine word of God. The Koran was orally delivered by The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and was not written down until after Mohammed’s death. During his life, the Prophet did not allow The Koran to be transcribed. To this day, Muslims accept that The Koran in its Arabic form is the word of God and any translation into other languages is considered an interpretation and not literal translation. You will find that most interpretions of the Koran into English or other languages differ in meaning simply because of the difficulty in translating Koranic Arabic precisely. A lot of the meaning, the tone, of phrases is lost once translated and the words certainly do not sound as poetic as they do in the original Arabic. Most Muslims, including me, will in the course of their lives learn to recite the Koran in Arabic.

1a: If you do not, what do you consider it is, and what authority do you believe it holds?

I think this is a N/A since I answered the first one in the affirmative :)

 1b: If you do, how do you explain the inconsistencies, contradictions, and specifically the scientific and historical errors, for example (all quotes are from Pickthal)

18:86:86 Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring

18:90.90 Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom.
And the many other places where the Qur’an supports a geocentric Universe…

Most misinterpretations of the Koran arise from people (both Muslims and non-Muslims) taking the Revelations in the Koran out of their historical context. Most scholars accept that the Koran is divided into two parts, the early Surahs and the Medina Surahs. Some Revelations in the Koran speak to what it means to be a Muslim while other Revelations are specifically given to Mohammed in response to a particular event. So, reading the Koran without putting the latter Surahs in their historical context is an exercise in failure and frustration. To make matters more confusing, the Surahs in Koran when they were transcribed were not done in a chronological manner. The order of the Surahs in the Koran is from largest to smallest, with the notable exception of Surah Fateha, which is the first Surah.

You cite two verses from the Surah Al Kahaf ( "The Cave" ). Both these verses relate to the travels of Zulqarnain (who a lot of scholars think might be Cyrus the Persian, although the Koran never specifies it). The Surah was revealed probably in response to three questions asked by the Quraish. I think you are misreading the phrases. The more supportable reading is that the traveler went in three directions, the East (18:90) ,  the West (18:86) and some other direction not specified in the Surah. This is the more plausible explanation if you read the Surah as a whole.

 2: Do you believe that Muslims should be under Shariah law — not obey it but be governed by it — either in Muslim countries or in Muslim communities existing in non-Muslim countries?

Shariah law does not come from the Koran. Shariah came about in the ninth century during a political struggle between the traditionalists and the rationalists. The Koran is not a book of laws, unlike texts in some other religions. In fact, early on, the political and religious was specifically kept separate. At some point in the ninth century all that changed with Shariah coming into being from specific cultural conditions of the day. Somehow the notion developed that we must live in the ninth century and these laws are immutable. That is bunk. The Koran itself does not support this notion of immutable human law. On the contrary, the Koran was tailored for the people and culture of the time and the progression of time and societal change should logically follow from a sound reading of the Koran. By the way, any notion that Shariah is divine law is simply false, and wholly unsupported by the Koran.

So, to answer your question, no, I do not believe we should be governed by Shariah. In fact, I think the only two countries that are governed by Shariah are Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, not exactly shining examples of Islamic enlightenment. I should also note the notion that there is one Shariah that should govern is also nonsense. There are at least four schools of thought in Shariah, and if you go back to the ninth century (if you must, I wouldn’t go there), you will find that you were free to choose which Shariah you wanted to follow, if any. Something then happened on the way to the Forum.

2a: In what ways do you see Sharia law as superior to secular law as promulgated in countries such as the US, Canada, and England — or in other Western countries if you know them better and would prefer to discuss them. In what ways, if any, do you see these secular legal systems preferably to Sharia?

Well, given that I don’t think Shariah governs, I think I get a pass on this question. I will note that Islam does not have a clergy class or a papacy. As such, the religion is meant to be a deeply personal thing as well as a communal thing without political structure. Islam should then be wholly consistent with most political systems.

2b: Should apostates be punished criminally if they merely leave Islam? What if they attempt to convince others of their position, with the possibility that they would leave as well?

Should there be a difference if
i) the apostate converts to another ‘religion of the book
ii) converts to a different religion entirely
iii) becomes an agnostic
iv) converts to an ‘Islamic heresy’
v) converts from Sunni to Shia or vice versa

If you have read my previous posts on Abdul Rahman, you probably know the answer I am about to give. Islam states that there should be no compulsion in religion. You cannot square that notion with killing a man for his beliefs. Besides, there is no Church in Islam and you cannot be excommunicated. You become a Muslim by internally having faith in Islam. It’s that simple. So, unless the Afghans have some cool new mind control tool, I dont know how they think they will determine whether a man claiming to be Muslim is a Muslim. So, the whole punishment for apostasy argument kind of falls on its face. Further, if you truly believe that this is a sin, and it may be, will not God make that judgment? I don’t know about the Afghanis, but I am much more comfortable leaving judgments about a person’s faith to God than to man, especially some illiterate judge in Afghanistan.

2c: Should blasphemy be punishable by law?

Again, this refers to Shariah law. Refer to my answers to earlier questions.

2d: As far as I know, neither the Qur’an nor the Hadiths specifically condemn rape, distinctly from other — consensual — sexual sins. If I am wrong, can you quote me a hadith or verse of a Sura where such a condemnation occurs?

I have not searched the Koran for rape, but there are many places in the Koran where it speaks specifically to the rights of women and orphans. As I mentioned above, the Koran is not a book of laws, however it does have a lot to say about women’s and orphan’s rights as these rights did not exist for women in Mohammed’s time. The Koran also forbids violence against women and that presumably would include the violent act of rape. Here are two verses from the Koran concerning women and orphans:

     4.127: And they ask you a decision about women. Say: Allah makes known to you His decision concerning them, and that which is recited to you in the Book concerning female orphans whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you desire to marry them, and concerning the weak among children, and that you should deal towards orphans with equity; and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it.

     4.128: And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of her husband, there is no blame on them, if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to be present in the (people’s) minds; and if you do good (to others) and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is aware of what you do.

Finally, according to Hadith, Mohammed once said "Heaven lies at the foot of one’s mother". I have always taken that to mean respect for women (my mother made sure it meant that).

2e: What rights should homosexuals have? Homosexual Muslims?

One important aspect of Islam is the notion that man was instilled with free will. The idea that there should be no compulsion in religion comes from that. Koran asks of the Muslim to seek guidance from God. God is the judge of whether one has lived a good life. Koran preaches treating people with dignity and self-respect. I would think that means all people, not just heterosexuals. I know a good number of Homosexual Muslims and I haven’t felt the urge to flog them recently. Not to turn things political, but the gay issue gets the masses running to the polling booth, but how many thinking people care, or should care, what you do behind closed doors. I care a lot more about high officials molesting the children of our society than who one chooses to love and care for. There’s plenty of hate in this world and we should not be in the business of getting in the way of people who want to make love not hate, be they Muslims, Jews, Christians, or any other religion.

2f: Many of the punishments that are supposedly based on sharia and on specific verses of the Qur’an or on Hadiths are seen as excessively harsh, and when countries have attempted to impliment them, there have been outcries against them, both from within and without the countries. Do you accept such punishments, and if not, how do you get around the Qur’anic verses that seem to call for them?

I think my discussion of Shariah above answers the first part of your question. As for the Koran, many verses that talk of punishment refer very specifically to a particular incident or battle. Most critics of Islam like to take those verses out of context and try to paint with a broad brush. This goes back to my earlier comments about reading the Surahs within their historical context. The Koran is not a straightforward text of laws and doctrine. It is a complex text and those who want to interpret certain verses to serve their own ends are free to do so. I interpret the Koran as it applies to my life in the 21st century as I believe God would want me to do. If I’m wrong, I guess I will see you and most other people in Hell.

3: What values, ethical or moral principles, philosophical ideas or other concepts in Islam cause you to remain a Muslim, rather than to either join another religion or to become ‘a secular good person’?

Three things:

  • There is no compulsion in religion.
  • Religion is between the believer and God. There is no middleman.
  • Man is endowed with Free Will.

I am, and I hope most people are, not shopping for a religion. So the question of switching to another religion does not arise. There are great and horrible things in all religions. After all, religion may be based on Revelation, but the implementation is all man. I choose to look at the good in all religions and find things that unite us, rather than divide us. I also believe in The Bill of Rights – quite frankly, as a work of man it is almost divine in its humanity.

3a: In which cases do you consider Islamic values superior to Western ones on similar topics?

Who says Islamic values are non-western? And what specific western values do you mean? I think there are some basic human values that we all share. I point you to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which even Afghanistan is a signatory.

3b: In which cases do you consider Western values superior?

I refer you to my answer to the previous question.

3c: How can those Western values you prefer be joined onto an Islam many of whose believers consider is unchangeable.

As I stated above, Islam is not unchangeable. The first word in the Koran is "read". Islam acknowledges man has free will and free will means that you learn and explore and not close your mind.

3d: Is Islam compatible with democracy and democratic values?

Bangladesh has been a secular Islamic country since 1971. Bangladesh has had free (and mostly fair) elections since 1996 after overthrowing a military dictatorship in a bloodless coup. The notion that Bangladesh somehow is overrun with extremists is fantasy. Is the current Government in Bangladesh corrupt? Yes? Although it is more Tom Delay corruption than Mullah Omar corruption.

3e: If you feel it is, how do you answer an ultraconservative who argues as follows (referring to our ultraconservative "Islam Q&A" )

"Question :Is the one who fails to rule by that which Allaah has revealed and bases the entire legal system on man-made laws a kaafir? Should we differentiate between him and one who judges according to sharee’ah, but may rule in a manner contrary to sharee’ah on some issues, because of his own whims and desires or because of a bribe, etc.?

Answer : Praise be to Allaah.Yes, we must make this distinction. The one who rejects the law of Allaah and casts it aside, and replaces it with man-made laws and the opinions of individuals has committed an act of kufr which puts him beyond the pale of Islam. Whereas the one who adheres to the religion of Islam, but is a sinner and wrongdoer by virtue of his following his whims and desires in some cases, or pursuing some worldly interest, but admits that he is a wrongdoer by doing so, is not guilty of kufr which would put him beyond the pale of Islam.Whoever thinks that ruling by man-made laws is equal to ruling by sharee’ah, and thinks that it is OK to do that, is also guilty of kufr that puts him beyond the pale of Islam, even if it is only in one instance. Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah al-Ghunaymaan

I would ask the Shaykh to check his facts and read history. Shariah is man-made law. Anyone who does not know or understand that is simply ignorant.

3f: There are many tenets of Islam that I can wholeheartedly agree with, such as giving to the poor, the equality of all, taking care of relatives, etc. But in Islam, these commands seem to be limited to believers, thus ‘all Muslims are equal before God. Other religions are less strict in such dinstinctions. For example, Jewish and Christian charities, in most cases — not all — give benefits to those not of their faiths. Can Islam extend those ideas to non-believers as well?

The Koran does not support your assertion that Muslims should only give to poor Muslims. A poor man is a poor man, regardless of his creed. Islam very specifically preaches mercy to all, especially your enemy in battle. Rules of battle in Islam are surprisingly modern considering when the Koran was revealed. Some of these rules include the treatment of non-combatants, women, children, etc. For a very well known practical example of mercy, read about Salahuddin’s retaking of Jerusalem and contrast that with what had happened when the Crusaders had done the same thing. Incidentally, for our friends in the Middle East fomenting hatred, please note that the most famous of Muslim warriors, Salahuddin, was a Kurd.

3g: Several places in the Qur’an assume the existence of slavery, particularly the enslavement of prisoners of war. (Thus the first punishment for killing a believer accidentally is to free a believing slave. And there are several verses permitting a — male — Muslim to have sex with a slave.) Yet, today, slavery is viewed as barbaric, inhuman, and something that humanity has ‘put behind itself." How do you reconcile or accept this?

The Koran was revealed at a time slavery existed and women had no rights. The Koran progressively moved that society to grant women rights, grant orphans rights, and grant slaves rights. The most famous Muezzin (the one who calls to prayer) in Islam had been a slave (Hazrat Bilal). The verses in the Koran, again, need to be read in their historical context and the evolution within the Koran can be seen as moving a society from ignorance into knowledge. Sadly, some have decided that Islam did not need to evolve after the ninth century.

I hope you find the answers I’ve given to be satisfactory. I am sure I am not the only Muslim to have similar thoughts. When you look a little deeper into Islam, and beyond the caricatures and the Fanatics, you might find that the vast majority of practicing devout Muslims live a life of peace and tolerance. It may not fit the image of Islam some people want to see; it may not fit the Clash of Civilizations argument; but it reflects reality.

I will submit to you that most people in the world want the same things: a little bit of dignity, ability to live without fear of persecution, ability to raise their children in a safe environment, the ability to work and feed one’s family, and the occasional chance at laughter. Sadly, most of the world’s population lives in abject poverty while we play "my religion can beat up your religion" and the slaughter of millions happens right in front of our eyes. There is nothing Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Jewish about standing by as a large part of the world’s children starve to death.

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39 Responses to My Faith In Islam

  1. Pingback: Polimom Says » Something happened on the way to the forum

  2. proximity1 says:

    ” To me, there are two kinds of Muslims: there are Muslims, and then there are Fanatics (I think this distinction probably exists in most organized religions). I happen to be a Muslim. ”

    So, you can simply rule out as “fanatics” those who are by every objective measure members of the Muslim faith? People who have grown up in families which have been for generations practicing muslims? How do you account for the people who you took to be good, regular muslims as you define them, one day turning out to exhibit what even you would have to admit is “fanatical” behavior?

    My view is that all such attempts to cordon off the fanatics among one’s religious community as not “really” members of the faith –and, yes, I think this tendency runs through all religious faiths–is faulty in its logic.

    You’re by very many respects an unusually enlightened and tolerant fellow, religious belief completely aside. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that you’d be the same whatever your religious or other cultural upbringing had been. Human characteristics run the entire gamut from good to bad in all religious groups and in all groups which number in the many millions, whatever their defining traits.

    And yet, there are certain aspects which religious communities seem to tend to share; these relate to their attachment to faith itself as an organizing principle of their world view. Unfortunately, the stronger one’s attachment to faith-based belief, the more likely one is to veer into the fanatical. And, this is all the more the case as social conditions degrade and become desperate. Even otherwise reasonable people whose religious beliefs don’t unduely render them closed to the ways of the secular world, can, when times turn desperate, become much more like what you’d call fanatical–not real, regular members of islam.

    We have a current example in Iraq where, in cities which have large numbers of Shia and Sunni muslims living for decades side by side, there are now neighborhoods of people which are segregating themselves according to religious sect; families once able to live peacably among members of the other muslim sect are now having to abandon their homes in the middle of the night taking only what they can carry.

    To deplore that behavior as not really in keeping with the true islam is simply to deny what is and has always been integral aspect of religious practicality across all religions in similar times of conflict.

    In belonging to a large group, religious, or otherwise, and especially ones in which membership typically comes about through birth into a family which are praticing members of the group, it just doesn’t wash to say that one can exclude the embarrassing elements of the membership. The fact is, rather, that you’re stuck with the good, the bad and the ugly–whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or what have you.

    My view is that one’s admirable, reputable personal qualities are to one’s personal credit, just as the disreputable ones are to one’s discredit.

    That said, there have been long periods in all religions when the highest authorities of the faith have actively, enthusiastically, taught their members and required from these same what is plain bigotry, hatred, racism, and all the varieties of intolerance and cruelty that human beings exhibit–and they have done so in full possession of their mental faculties and with a complete grasp of the immediate and longer term consequences. In such periods, a disinterested observer has every right and even the responsibility to state that such-and-such members of a definable community are cruel, intolerant, bigoted, etc. in their overwhelming majority . That majority may be, of course, a large off-shoot or faction of the greater religious group but it is not, for all that, simply excludable by definition from the community of the faithful.

    Recommended reading : “The End of Faith” by
    Sam Harris. A “full-service” web-site, including discussion fora exists for this arresting and vitally important book.

    It’s central message is that faith itself, deep-seated, unreasoning faith, is the problem, not simply the occasional band of fanatics going off the rails, as is now manifestly the case among some significant number of muslims.

    We have every reason to expect and to fear that in this climate, Christians and Jews, as well as other practicants of religions, shall grow more fanatical, more intolerant and more openly aggressive. Indeed, if there is one single unifying thread among religions, it is these common elements cropping up over and over and over again throughout human history. For Sam Harris and others, it is time to examine what the trouble is with faith itself.

    P.

  3. Rezwan says:

    A thoroughly enlightening post Mash. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I have learnt a lot.

  4. prozacula says:

    thank you for elucidating this subject. all the wingers that hate islam do so mainly out of jingoistic ignorance. don’t they realize that timothy mcveigh was a christian extremist? or is he just not ‘part of that religion’?

  5. Ashish Gupta says:

    A good post Mash. It definitely helps to clear issues that Islam is not wrong inherently. Though, as proximity1 said, you apprear to be too moderate to be a Muslim (if there is such thing!) because usual view is Koran in unchnagable and unquestionable.

    Also, while it is observed that majority of Muslims are as normal as any other group of people (and it is immaterial to non-Muslims whether this is because of what Koran says, or despite of) but most of views you have written do not appear as having significant, or even noticeable, following among belivers. I was quite surprised to hear that Sharia law has no Koranic sanction. Yet, Muslims in India are setting up parallel court system, and using them for most of their internal matters. And we have as well noticed the public support for execution for Afghan convert in Afghanistan.

    If you exculde these views as inconsistent with true Islam and Koran, then it appears to me, that you will have to excommune 90% of Muslims, given things are now.

  6. Shapps says:

    Excellent post Mash. I’m so glad you brought up the point about Sharia not having Quranic sanction. Many people don’t believe this when you say it, but I abhor the sentiment that Sharia cannot be adapted. Sharia law in its initial form was produced in an environment which was hostile and considered to be barbaric. Interestingly however such areas such as punishments for Hudud crimes, i.e. adultery etc etc were never performed in the time of the prophet, hence true sharia law dictates that you need countless number of witnesses etc etc. But what we see in the ‘local courts’ is effectively the judges’/elders’ whims being meted out as opposed to what is just. People who study the religion have diminished to a great degree scholars such as Al-Ghazali or even the late Dr Martin Lings will most likely not appear soon.

  7. Pingback: DesiPundit » Faith in Islam

  8. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Bangladesh: Moderate Muslims

  9. Mash: Thank you for the wonderful reply to this — and thank you as well for cross-posting this to Daily Kos. I will be checking there — and wish I didn’t have to wait a day to comment. I will be replying to your comments shortly — after five hungry and VERY demanding cats get fed, but I had to say something abour Prozacula’s comments.

    If there were an Olympic medal for conclusion-jumping, and your comments were meant to refer to me, then you’d get it. (In general I think they are inaccurate as well.) Personally I am a left winger and an opponent of the war. I’m patriotic yes, but hardly jingoistic. And the reason for asking these questions is that yes, there are a number of people who either hate or fear Islam — I am DEINITELY one of the fearers — because of the various actions in the last six months that have been performed ‘in the name of Islam.’ This includes the Indonesian beheadings, the cartoon riots, Ali Gooma’s fatwa of a couple of days ago against statues, the Abdul Rahman case, the destruction of the Samarra mosque, and — just outside the timeline, I believe — the attempt of the Saudi government to destory Muyslim historical sites, including the house where Mohammed lived and supposedly received part of the Qur’an. Add in the election of Hamas, the growth of the political support for the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, my knowledge of the Mukhtar Mai case and the sudden appearance of honor killings by Muslims in Western Europe and the situation is very scary.
    I have been trying to understand Islam, to understand what makes these people tick, and to try and find out if there is any mass of moderate Muslims that can counter the dangerous actions of so many — hardly a few. I am an atheist and not a Christian, and have no brief for Timothy McVeigh. But he is ONE lone example of a Christian whacko. There are many more, but even then, the ones that are violent is an almost invisible proportion of the number of Christians out there. The same CANNOT be said for Muslims.

    But the important thing is that there HASN’T been the outcry among the Muslim comunity at large and particularly among the muslim religious and political ‘establishments’ (I know this is technically inaccurate, see my answer in the next post) against these actions, at least not an effective one.

    I am afraid that the actions of Muslims are creating a dangerous situation, are causing people who ARE ignorant and unwilling to investigate their own ignorance and overcome it, to simply hate Muslims, and there will be a serious and bloody clash. I’m trying to convince myself I am wrong, and that’s why I have asked this sort of questions and have been examining Islam from all points of view from the ultraconservative to the rejectionist (Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan, etc.). I am holding on to the same thin line that Irshan Manji is by her own refusal to leave Islam.

    That’s why I am so curious and so questioning.

  10. Concerned Muslim says:

    http://www.faithfreedom.org/index.htm

    One thing that they repeat consistently seems to be that Mohammed (PBUH) was, according to them, a pedophile. This is becuase he married Aisha (RA). What do you say to this?

  11. Mash: As I said, a wonderful set of answers, yet one with considerable problems. I’ll discuss most of them individually when you cross post this on my blog, since I am much more interested in making a couple of general points. But in checking through your responses I came across one easy example of why, without in the slightest accusing you of insincerity, I find problems in trying to ‘get to the bottom of Islam.’
    I mentioned the verses from “The Cave” where the Qur’an specifically says that Zulquarnain traveled to the place where the sun set and to where the sun rose, implying that this was a place on Earth.
    You said “I think you are misreading the phrases. The more supportable reading is that the traveler went in three directions, the East (18:90) , the West (18:86) and some other direction not specified in the Surah. This is the more plausible explanation if you read the Surah as a whole.” (And certainly it is a plausible ‘way out’ of a possibly inaccurate translation, and preserves the Qur’an from being accused of error.)
    So I checked the other translations I had available. Obviously, if Pickthal messed this up, the other writers would get it right.
    Shakir:
    [18.86] Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people…
    [18.90] Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It;

    Yusuf Ali:86. Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People:
    90. Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.

    Palmer: (does not use verse numbers)
    he followed a way until when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it setting in a black muddy spring and he found thereat a people.

    Then he followed a way until when he reached the rising of the sun, he found it rise upon a people to whom we had given no shelter therefrom

    (Please understand that I am not being insulting in what I am going to say, I am making a very serious point.)

    In other words, ALL FOUR translations I have available — yes, I could probably have found more on the net — read the Arabic in one way. Mash reads it another. The four translations are of various types, yes, from the very old fashioned Palmer to the Yusf Ali (that I have seen criticized as being too ‘slanted to western ears so they would accept things they might otherwise reject.)

    Why should I accept your reading, and not dismiss it as ‘special pleading’ to wiggle out of a difficulty rather than question the words themselves?

    A similar situation has occurred with the question of ‘punishment for apostasy.’

    You state: “If you have read my previous posts on Abdul Rahman, you probably know the answer I am about to give. Islam states that there should be no compulsion in religion. You cannot square that notion with killing a man for his beliefs. …So, the whole punishment for apostasy argument kind of falls on its face.”

    I have read a lot of discussion on this, and I think I was one of the first to post on it on my obscure blog. When Muslims have answered, about 75% have given similar answers to you. 25% (the numbers are guesses) have responded “There is no doubt that an apostate deserves death.”) But all of you have been laymen. There is one prominent cleric in Malayasia that has agreed with you, and, of course, CAIR. There may have been more.

    But the most powerful comment I have seen comes from the person who answers questions on the “Understanding Islam” website from the “Al Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences.” Not this is not an ultraconservative obvious nut-job like the “Islam Q&A” or “Ask Imam” sites — which would bar television and excessive laughter to Muslims. (And I should mention that this answer was posted in 1998 or 1999, long before the current controversy arose.)
    The answerer AGREES with you. But he also says the following…
    “Now let us turn to the real point of your question. In a nutshell, I do not ascribe to the opinion that the punishment for apostasy is death. As I shall explain in the following paragraphs, in my opinion, the Shari`ah has not fixed any punishment for apostasy. I must also point out here that there is, more or less, a consensus among the scholars that an apostate should be killed. However, I think that the basis of this opinion of the Muslim scholars is questionable. I do acknowledge the possibility that the opinion of the majority of the Muslim scholars is correct, but I request all those who read this reply to please point out the error in my reasoning that follows, rather than informing me that I have presented an opinion that is different from the majority of the Muslim scholars.”

    “There is a consensus among Muslim scholars that an apostate should be killed…I have presented an opinion that is different from the majority of Muslim scholars.”

    (And I should point out that other countries punish apostasy, though with prison sentences and forced divorce rather than with death. There have been recent cases in both Egypt and Jordan where this has occurred.)

    One final example, then I will make my point in a following post.

    You argue that sharia law does not have Qur’anic sanction. Yet I have, in numerous discussions with Muslims, have found very few that would agree with you, and again, there are movements not just to impose DShariah law in most Muslin countries, but to use it for disputes between Muslims — especially in matters of families and inheritance — in non-Muslim countries, including Canada. You aregue that the Qur’an is not a ‘book of law’ yet it does set down rules for inheritance, to pick one obvious and less controversial measure.

    I have to agree with Ashish Gupta that, in many areas
    “If you exculde these views as inconsistent with true Islam and Koran, then it appears to me, that you will have to excommune 90% of Muslims,”

  12. My point is that you give a very appealing and ‘innocuous’ picture of Islam, and I have no doubt that you and the many other people who have said similar things are totally sincere. But you, and most of the people I have seen, are layman, and the major proportion of you are located in America. (I have the feeling that Americans have the least respect among the Ummah, that it is too easy to describe them as ‘corrupted’ by the ‘materialism and unbelief’ of the West.)

    When i look at Muslims in the Middle East whose ideas are close to yours, much of their blogging seems to be taken up with complaints about the l;atest ‘jihadi horror’ or absurd or vicious ruling.

    When i look to the clerics, I see them making statements that are much more repugnant, and claiming — with citations — that they come from the Qur’an and the hadiths. Recently an Egyptian blogger put forth Ali Gomaa, the mufti of Egypt, as a fine example of a comparatively moderate, modern Muslim. I read the article he referred to, and immediately argued that what i was seeing was a conservative, a ‘fanatic’ in your words, who used modern dress and language to cover over some very repugnant ideas. (In the article he said something about ‘the West, those people are simply evil.”) This week a news story broke that he had given a fatwa — yes, I DO know that the word means an answer to a request for a Qur’anic based opinion — that Muslims were not allowed to keep statues in their houses. (A couple of bloggers were convinced that some of his hearers would take this as a licesnse to blow up the great pre-Islamic Egyptian monuments.)

    And Naipaul tells a story of an imam in Malaysia who convinced his followers that destroying pagan statuary would win them specific numbers of days in paradise, and there was a series of attacks on Tamil statues until they found a group who fought back.

    When i look at Muslim governments, I don’t see them moving against the fanatics. I don’t see them punishing the forced marriages, the rapists (see the Hudood ordinances in Pakistan), the honor killers, rather they go out of their way to let them off. (Mukhtar Mai was an exception, but only after the world’s eyes were focused on her, and because her local imam fought for her.)

    No Islamic government protested on behalf of Abdul Rahman. No important minority party in an Islamic government comes close to expressing the sort of ideas you do. The secular ruling parties are continually being pressed by the religious extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood type, and make concessions to them, not to the moderate and modern Muslims.

    So my point it, why should I accept your version of Islam as being anything more than the attempt of a very good hearted man, whose ideas I agree with in so many areas, to get out of facing problems inherent in islam without abandoning it?

    Why should I take your version of Islam over that of the clerics and the Muslim governments?

  13. Mash says:

    Concerned Muslim said:

    http://www.faithfreedom.org/index.htm

    One thing that they repeat consistently seems to be that Mohammed (PBUH) was, according to them, a pedophile. This is becuase he married Aisha (RA). What do you say to this?

    I just visited the web site that you linked to. All I can say is “wow!” It is very easy to disguise hate as truth in today’s world. After all, extremists of all stripes have learned this lesson well.

    Thanks for linking to the website. I had not seen it before. I am struck by how many people visit that web site. There is certainly a market for hate in this world.

    I think extremists all around have one thing in common, they are convinced of the rightness of their cause. Any evidence to the contrary is explained away. So, as much as I am tempted, I won’t respond to the specific allegation you mentioned. I think there are others, much more learned than me, that can address this and a Google search should suffice to debunk the allegation.
    I’d prefer today to deal with the more substantial issues facing us as Muslims and Non-Muslims. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post.

  14. Mash says:

    Jim,

    I am heading out of my secular job right now so I cant answer both your comments now :)

    But I will try to address all points in the comments to the best of my ability in due time. I will start with your first comment (#11).

    As for your interpretation of “The Cave”, I dont dispute any of the English translations, specifically Yusuf Ali and Pichtal are the most respected of the ones you cited. I do disagree with you on how you are reading the passage. You are being too clever by a half in trying to decipher meaning from every word. Its clear to me, and it seems to be consensus amongst Muslim scholars that this Surah refers to the travels of Cyrus, of his travels east and west. I don’t ask you to accept my reading, but read the words as intricate language, much better to say that than how I might phrase it: “I knew a man who drove east to meet some people, and then drove west to meet some people.” I really like the Koranic phrasing much better. If you dont accept my argument here, I’m afraid I cant offer much more (I’ve fired all my bullets :)). We may simply agree to disagree.

    A better example would be reading this sonnet from Keats (the last lines are a favorite of mine):

    MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
    Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
    Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne:
    Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
    Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
    Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

    Does Keats mean that he walked on streets made of gold? I’m pretty sure thats not what he meant. And leaving aside that Keats meant Balboa and not Cortez, his language is much better than mine: “I felt like an astronomer when he gets excited by discovering a new uncharted star; or like Balboa’s men when they finally reached the Pacific and looked out onto the ocean and felt good inside.” Which version would you rather read?

    On the question of apostasy, I would simply repeat what I said in my earlier statement that the Koran does not prescribe death for apostasy. In fact, the Koran is very clear about there being no compulsion in Religion.

    No Islamic scholar can reasonably make a case that the Koran supports death for apostasy. They can only cite 9th century Shariah law as a source. I challange the notion that the Shariah is Koranic law. So, I would reject any scholarly argument based on Shariah. The purpose of my post was to give you my perspective on how I see my faith. Islamic scholars are free to disagree with me, and in keeping with no compulsion in religion, I will respect their right to differ with me.

    Islam at its core is a deeply personal faith between man and God. There is no clergy between the two. This is fundemental to Islam. Somewhere along the way, the political got intertwined with the religious and things went to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly.

    As to your final point about the Koran being a book of laws. It generally is not, but with one notable exception as I pointed out in my post, and you cited in your comments. The Koran is not silent on the treatment of women or orphans. Before the Koran, women had NO rights in Arabia. Through the Prophet, the Koran sought to remedy that by giving women the right to divorce, setting out inheritence, etc. It is really the only area the Koran spells out law, and it was done to right a social wrong, as every passage in the Koran related to these issues repeatedly states. So, no the Koran is not a book of laws. It is silent on almost every aspect of law, except when it comes to granting rights to women who hitherto were treated like property.

    Again let me reiterate that I am not a scholar by any means, but a layman, but when it comes to a relationship between man and God, the layman’s view is no less than that of a scholar. I have the freedom to practice religion the way I see fit or not to practice any religion at all – and that is according to the Koran, and not surprisingly according to the Bill of Rights.

    I cannot change centuries of ignorance with the stroke of my pen nor do I believe I have any such sanction. I do however have a responsibility to my fellow man (human) to leave in peace and tolerance. I assure you many others feel the way that I do, and I suspect the majority of muslims feel the way I do, though my only evidence is anecdotal, and the rest is my hope.

    I would caution you from painting with a broad brush about Islam after hearing only from politically active muslims. Given the nature of Islam, most muslims will tend to not be politically active. So to say that 90% of muslims behave in a certain way may feed a prejudice, but it does nothing to further understanding of the real issues. And, to sum up, there is no excommunication in Islam. That I guess is part of my larger point about Islam, that it is not organized as a Church. Becoming a muslim and rejecting Islam are both matters of personal faith and between man and God. You cannot understate the number of times this is repeated in the Koran.

  15. Shakia says:

    It’s quite fun to see how some people goes through the “trouble” of learning/understanding Islam, and still they don’t understand it fully, referring to the questions. Anyway enjoyed reading the enlightening post, keep it up!

  16. Sunny says:

    A good post Mash, and good to see someone with the patience and understanding to answer people :)

  17. bharath says:

    Wonderful post Mash. I also very much followed your discussion with Jim. I would like to thank you for posting this blog. It is in many ways educational.

    I think, it reaffirms everyone’s belief that all human beings are basically the same underneath the garb.

    But, I would like you to explore more and comment on the acts of violence as they appear in the middle east and elsewhere. Is Islam involved in this? All these “fanatics” as you call them (and I agree with you there) quote the Quran, religious texts and/or the the clergy as supporting their actions.

    What role do you believe Clergy have in the middle-eatern countries? In the way people organise themselves, I the way they express themselves in social spheres. I would like to belive 90% of muslims (and every religious sect) are, as you say, tolerant and good natured.

    Especially, during the caroon incident, there were mass protests, violence in the streets. These were not some 10 people in secret planning to bomb to cause confusion. I could actually see all these people on the streets. And they did seem to be part of any particular organised extremist sect.

    On seeing these images, I wondered, if these people go back to their wifes and children at the end of the day and become normal muslims? Are these muslims normal? and not extremist but just egged on by some communal force?

    I realise you may not have the answers to any of these questions. But in many ways for people who are not in Islam, there is a very strange circumstance created around them today. In a way the moderates among those hope to grapple with them with the help of Muslims who know and can understand Islam and the situation around us, even if slightly better than I do.

    I know you have been extra patient with questions. I am pushing at your limits and still wanting to understand what is happening around us. :)

  18. Pingback: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying » More On My Faith In Islam

  19. Bharath:
    The questions you ask are the reason I have spent much of the last few months attempting to understand Islam.
    To Shakia, do you assume that anyone who attempts to understand Islam must finally come to agree with it? I don’t feel that way. I would have been unsurprised if I had come out on either side of the question. I could have found Islam a beautiful, subtle, uplifting structure that a few fanatics had misinterpreted into a horror, or I could have found it a basically flawed and malevolent system that some basically good-hearted and good people had misinterpreted into beauty, or somewhere in between. That after all is the nature of ‘exploring’ that you do NOT know what you will find.

    Of course I was aware of all sorts of views of Islam. But it would have been just as wrong for me to start out assuming that Mash’s version — or equivalents I had heard before I had the chance to become acquainted with someone I both like and admire as much as I do him — was the ‘true Islam” (whatever that means) than to assume that Osama’s, or Ibn Warraq’s, or Irshad Manji’s, or “Islam Q&A” was.

    To explain where I am at perhaps better than the questions did, let me quote from a letter I wrote to another person who has commented on my blog:

    “From my unbelieving perspective, it is fairly easy to find holes in the three main ‘sacred-texts.’ Certainly the picture of “Jesus the Christ” seems to have very little to do with the actual teaching of the apocalyptic Jewish reformer Yeshua bar-Joseph (which is what he would have been called) whatever that might have been. Equally obviously, the Torah is filed with myths and absurdities and occasional moral abominations (not just the obvious creation myths — check out “God’s advice on mildew” for a laugh, or the incredibly ugly hypocrisy of the story of Judah and Tamar — the end of the Onan story that every Christian and Jew looks up after they discover masturbation).
    Similarly, the Qur’an has its own absurdities, finding the places where the sun rises and sets, seeing Mary as the third person of the Christian Trinity, having Pharaoh threaten to crucify people centuries before the punishment was introduced (by the Romans, not the Egyptians) and many more.

    The difference is that many (liberal) Christians and Jews — I use the term religiously not politically — can admit this about their sacred texts, can admit that there is ugliness in them, and say “Yes, but once you take this out, Christianity or Judaism has the following ethical, moral, philosophical principles that are worth accepting and which ‘redeem’ the religion from the things you mention.’ They can also mention some of the great saints, and their teachings, or Rabbis and teachers like Maimonedes. They can even mention the music, the art, the architecture that their religions have inspired, or the joyousness and beauty of hoilidays like Christmas, Passover, Yom Kippur. (Even the charm of some of the stories in the Bible, like the delightful one of Paul raising a young boy from the dead because he’d preached so long one night that the boy had gone to sleep and fallen out of a third-story window.)

    But, if you remove the ‘truth’ of the Qur’an, take out the fighting and the condemnations to hell of the unbelievers, and the fairly elemental ethical principles like honesty, being good to parents, and giving to the poor that any religion and any secular good person would share, what is there left to ‘redeem’ Islam in the sense I mentioned.

    This is what I keep asking and not getting an answer to.”

    Believe me, there is nothing I would like more than to find that the Islam you and Mash see is in fact what is there. I keep looking and asking, but I keep on having problems with the answers I get from people like Mash. (I could, for example, have continued our discussion in the previous thread, perhaps I will if you can put up with what seems to be irrelevant nit-picking, but which is not (it goes to the basis of ‘fundamentalism/literalism’ and the way of dealing with the Qur’an) and explained why it is in fact, to me, a scary point of view — not in Mash’s very good hands, but in general.)

  20. Mash says:

    Jim,

    To address your last comment, I am pretty sure Shakia quipped that people don’t “understand” Islam and not that people don’t “agree” with Islam. I for one am glad we are here debating the issue and not on the street raging against it.

    Look, religion by its very nature is a sensitive issue for a lot of believers. No one likes to have their faith questioned. After all, it is their faith because they have taken a leap of faith to accept it and not arrived at it through some form of logical deduction. The opposite is also true, one who believes in his or her faith at the same time has to accept that a different person may have a different faith or no faith at all. That is the essence of free will.

    I think where debate ends hatred begins – so dont stop questioning what you feel are legitimate issues. For me, it is the first time I have ever put to pen my feelings about my religion. I have avoided it for this long because my faith is mine alone and it almost feels like an intrusion on the reader’s faith to do so. So, I have been trying to find my voice in this challanging debate. My goal is not to defend my faith, but my only goal is to answer questions on my views about my faith. Anything more would be irresponsible.

    As to the second part of your question, what has Islam done to redeem itself. I was careful to answer only the questions you posed and your questions, as far as I interpreted them, did not seek to know about the cultural or literary impact of Islam.

    I wont try to deal with this topic in any detail in the comments here. But I think it is quite clear that Islam has spurred a rich cultural legacy in those practicing countries. Islamic literature, its contribution to science, and to the field of architecture and calligraphy, to name a few, are quite well known and documented. Islam has enhanced the cultural fabric of most societies that have practiced it. Islamic societies and their rich tradition and heritage stand on their own without me trying to sell them to anyone. I am neither qualified nor eloquent enough to address these topics with any amount of credibility.

    Unfortunately the topic of the day is “will that muslim try to blow me up”. So, as they say, we are where we are, and we are where the debate has led us.

  21. Mash says:

    Bharat,

    Sorry for the delay in responding, but this post has overwhelmed me both here and on Daily Kos, where I cross posted. I’m glad for the discussion and debate however.

    You raise a very good point. And here is where I think religion is both good in its concept and sometimes evil in its practice.

    Imagine what happens if you have blind faith in something. You can be made to do anything. I think the problem in the Islamic world is a nexus of religion and poverty. This nexus is understood well by opportunistic clergy. Islam gives these clergy a platform in the mosques, and they can use this platform to exhort their faithful to the streets for any cause.

    What you see on your tv screen when you see protests is a thousand followers of some cleric or other marching because one cleric has told them so. Poverty leads to ignorance and ignorance allows mass manipulation. Do you think that most of those marchers actually know that the Danish government does not control the press? They see their own press controlled by their government – why wouldnt they assume that the same is true for Denmark. Its not as if they can just google the issue to find out. Most of these people are so poor that they barely get rice on the table for dinner, computers and the Internet are not within their reach. Most of their info comes from local newspapers, tea room chats, and most importantly from Friday sermons at the mosque.

    The solution here is two fold and not at all one that can be achieved in the short term.

    First, clearly a long term education strategy is needed. However, this is not in the best interests of most dictators or monarchs in the Middle East. Knowledge is truly power and knowledge is the enemy of all autocratic regimes.

    Second, you must separate religion from politics. In practical terms, clergy must not be allowed to enter politics. Even in the US, with the tradition of the separation of church and state, this is becoming an increasing problem as the republican party lurches ever to the right to satisfy its political base. And religious leaders on the right are using the pulpit of the church to tell their followers who to vote for.

    Imagine if this can happen in the US, how much worse it can be in a third world country that has basically no rule of law and no tradition of separation of islam and state.

    Finally, to those who will inevitably say that this is a characteristic of Islam, nothing could be further from the truth. Islam simply does not have a clergy class. Those who call themselves clergy get their designation by virtue of being either scholars of Islam or by leading prayers as a full time job in mosques. Well, in Islam, when more than one person gathers to pray, one person is chosen to lead the prayer (that is, he is the imam). This does not have to be the same person all the time. In that, the religion is quite egalitarian.

    People say that Islam has been hijacked by the fanatics. I think not. These guys are not organized enough to pull something like that off. All they can do is create chaos by bombing and other heineous acts. The real hijackers are the leaders who have allowed clergy to power grab in a faustian deal to retain power. On this point, President Bush is quite right that what is needed is systemic change in the middle east. Where I disagree with Mr. Bush is how that change should or can be brought around.

    I discuss this in a comment I posted on my diary in Kos. Here’s the link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/4/5/114334/1977. Go to the comment entitled “99%” by me.

    Alright, i see that once again I’ve rambled on, so I will end here.

  22. adi says:

    Each and every time some “terrorists” bomb and kill innocent people, these type of articles come. but the facts mentioned here are not accepted by “muslim authorities” hence can not be considered as “Islamic views” but can be regarded as “view of a person about Islam”. sadly, all the religious authorities of Islam seem to be “fanatics”. Strangly every muslim accepts these people as true leaders.

  23. Mash says:

    Adi said:

    sadly, all the religious authorities of Islam seem to be “fanatics”. Strangly every muslim accepts these people as true leaders.

    That is a very broad statement unsupported by the facts. It is this kind of generalization that leads to a lack of understanding between cultures.

    Sometimes it is helpful to reassess one’s own prejiduces before calling over one billion of the world’s people fanatics or followers of fanatics.

  24. violet says:

    Thank you very much for this long and thoughtful post, and your willingness to open up in such a personal way.

    I was once married to a muslim (we still share one child), and as a resutl, spent a lot of time in the muslim world. What you write here rings true, in terms of my experience with individuals.

    I am not a religious person, but I do know something of history. At one time, Christianity – when it was used as an arm of various governements – was every bit as barbaric as much of what we see in many muslim countries (Turkey being a notable exception, due to the advantage of having a secular gov.). By which I mean it was a state-sanctioned means to bully the masses into submission. But that changed, in my view, with the rise of a literate and educated middle class. Most muslims have been denied this opportunity, and you are right to point out the role of poverty in the rise of fanaticism.

  25. dude says:

    “…I am not a Muslim scholar nor do I play one on TV”

    but apparently u slept at a [insert motel name here whose name i forget with the ad about sleeping well]…

    i came across this post on The Religious Policeman Blog, linked by reader “timewarp” from the comment section of the “More Fish” post.

    i have been trying, in a very inadequate way to explain to Prup (aka Jim Benton), many of the points u make, except, i TOTALLY not being a scholar, didnt do a good job. by the looks of it, ur pts didnt make much of an impact on him either.

    if u havent checked it out, i ask that u do, it would be worth ur while, and would be nice to have a fellow s.Asian on the board as well…

    http://muttawa.blogspot.com/

  26. Mash says:

    Thanks for your kind not Violet. It took me a long time to start speaking about my faith. It is still difficult to talk about because faith even though it can bring out the best in us, often brings out the worst in us.

    The worst thing I can do by speaking out is create more friction between peoples of faith. To that end, I hope I can bring some understanding and respect back into the dialog.

  27. dude says:

    mash, glad to see you make it to rP. may i also suggest another blog who sorely needs another pair of deshi hands, this time though, bangladeshi hands.

    if u havent heard of sepia mutiny, try it out. its south asian in nature, u will like it, and it would probably mostly like u..

    http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/

  28. Mash says:

    Hi dude,

    Thanks for the link, I just posted a comment at that site. There is certainly a lively discussion going on there. As for Prup, I did very much appreciate his questions. Those questions made me think through my own feelings about my faith and has certainly helped me to find my voice on the topic somewhat.

    And I have no problem with him not accepting any of my arguments, that of course is his and anyone else’s right. The important thing is that he and I and you and everyone who posts or comments on this subject are talking instead of trying to kill each other. That is immense progress and certainly what I hope for the future.

    Too much death has already happened in God’s name. I fear that the voices that want to kill each other are much louder than the rest of the voices who want to just live. I am finding my voice, and I hope the many others of all faiths or no faith at all who appreciate diversity will continue to find their voices until we drown these lunatics out.

    That’s my hope in any case :) …off my soapbox…Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

  29. Mash says:

    Dude, thanks for the new link, I will check that out as well.

  30. dude says:

    ur welcome, now that i have discovered ur bit, hope to be a regular…

  31. Bengali Fob says:

    It’s ALL about education. Almost. But at least if you’re educated you can do what you want and you don’t have to be a slave for anyone.

    At least you will know the difference between right and wrong. At least you’ll be speaking your OWN mind and not for someone else.

    We need people to rise up against their governments and demand their basic rights!

  32. Rajan says:

    A wonderful post. Though I am not a ‘muslim’ I think most of us who practise ‘humanity’ are akin to ‘Muslims’ and what we see and hear about the so called ‘islamofascists’ are just ignoramuses, who arent all tha tinformed as our dear Mash. A great post, Mash. Keep spreading it.

  33. Joe the Infidel says:

    Homosexuality is and always has been widely practiced in Islamic countries (ya just don’t like to talk about it do ya?). To please the numerous homosexuals among his followers Mohamed promised them pre-pubescent boys in Paradise. So after committing plunder, loot, rape and murder in this life, the followers of Islam get “rewarded” by untouched virginal youths who are fresh like pearls.

    The relevant verses from the Koran are:

    Koran 52:24 Round about them will serve, to them, boys (handsome) as pearls well-guarded.

    Koran 56:17 Round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness.

    Koran 76:19 And round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness: if thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered pearls.

    Famous poets in Arabia glorified homosexuality. Example: a poem in ‘Perfumed Garden’ by Abu Nuwas:

    O the joy of sodomy!
    So now be sodomites, you Arabs.
    Turn not away from it–
    therein is wondrous pleasure.
    Take some coy lad with kiss-curls
    twisting on his temple
    and ride as he stands like some gazelle
    standing to her mate.
    A lad whom all can see girt with sword
    and belt not like your whore who has
    to go veiled.
    Make for smooth-faced boys and do your
    very best to mount them, for women are
    the mounts of the devils.

    So yes, you Muslim men and women (You Muslim women WTF are you thinking, you get/have to watch your man bang the young boys. READ YOUR KORAN it’s there) must really be on to something here. By Golly, you Muslims have heaven figured out. It’s not about eternal salvation by the grace of a merciful god. It’s not about living a righteous and just life here on earth that you might receive your just rewards in heaven. IT”S about fucking 10 year old boys in the ass after you spend you time here on earth raping, killing and torturing your non-Muslims neighbors here on earth in the name of allah. Hey, Glad you guys could make it to the party!

  34. Mash says:

    Joe, that’s the problem with you wingnuts. You think homosexuality is pedophilia. You might benefit from learning the difference.

    You also cant contain your hate. Read your comment above for yourself and ask yourself what your comment says about you.

    Also, reading your comment I am reminded of a scene from “A Fish called Wanda” where Otto brags that he is smart and not like a chimp because he reads Nietzsche, and Jamie Lee Curtis’ character responds: “Yes Otto, chimps read Nietzsche. They just don’t understand it.”

  35. bobtegner says:

    How can we avenge Allah; A clean page for Islam? His” Fatwa of Rebirth” revealed to American infidel, declared His Only Chosen.

    Muhammad dethroned. Handwriting on a wall:

    It is revealed that Allah will not continence the current usurpers and of His Name, pretenders to stand in His Light while uttering Darkness, and requires the extirpation of all that shames Him, namely those who call themselves”Muslims” the world over, and their works, so that no trace remains. They are to be hunted to extinction, and the blasphemy of the Qur’an expunged from the memory of man, for it is authored by mortals who brazenly affixed His Name to it without His Permission. He demands a Rebirth through just and thoughtful men, and not the dogs of war. No nation is to be spared His Cleansing, and it is to include the innocents as well, so men will tremble at His Wrath, forevermore.

    It is the Will of Allah that non-Muslims are His Instrument, for He would sweep the offal from the floors of His Tent, at last. He has closed the Gates of Heaven to all Pretenders living today, so no refuge awaits there. He has demurred to this late day so His Illegitimate Children might find their way, but. alas, they have chosen the bloody path leading to their doom. Now they must answer to His Law, of which the Pretenders have no inkling. More’s the pity. Let Allah’s Will be done. There shall be no dispensation. Amen. Heaven is barren these eons, for none has been found worthy, so seek not the past, within.

    Why He would choose this humble and fragile shell as Messenger, is beyond its ken, but it must submit. Lies have sustained the Pretenders, and now His Truth shall purge the offense. All that have come before This One are henceforth to be known as Pretenders, and cast into Pits. He is not to be defiled with Your Lies, for He is My Only Voice, and you heed it not at your peril. You perish by the Authority you have usurped. So let it be done. Your blood is My Seal.

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