Saturday, June 30, 2007


No one is saying that everyone in Muslim countries is directly responsible for the actions of others. What we are saying is that it is not only conceivable that we are holding you responsible for your own actions, we are doing so. Remember the words of a wise man:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

There are many good Muslims. Why aren't they doing anything? Your public condemnation of groups like al Qaeda and a boycott of the hajj and a refusal to attend mosques where imams preach that all non-Muslims are evil would go a long way. Your silence makes you an accessory.

2. Nazi Germany was a wonderful example. People wanted to avoid a war and so they turned a blind eye to what was done in Germany. The desire for "peace in our time" made us want to find ways to accommodate his demands. The reason Nazi Germany did NOT triumph is that good people were willing to fight and give their own lives for others. It took some time for us to come to terms with what had to be done but we did it.

Westerners were complicit to a degree in the Holocaust but that doesn't absolve Nazi Germany of its responsibility. Fighting the Nazis doesn't absolve us of our own sins in letting this take place, but it was an attempt to rectify it. In any case, Nazi Germany is NOT part of the West. Nazi Germany was destroyed in World War II. Berlin was reduced to rubble. The country was occupied by the allies and many of its people lived under communist rule for almost fifty years.

Germany still functions with treaty provisions that limit its behavior. The WWII Nazi leaders were put on trial for crimes against humanity and many were hung. Some stayed in prison for the rest of their lives. Some were able to escape and live in the jungles of South America, but many were ultimately brought to justice. None of them were lionized.

Compare that to the Muslims in Palestine who cheered as the WTC towers came down. They were filled with people who had done nothing to the Palestinians. The Palestinians, and all Muslims, lionize Muhammad Atta. They shield Osama bin Laden. If he really went against Islam he would have been killed or turned over to the UN.

I would also say that, on the same basis, Muslims have their own share of responsibility. Unlike the US and most of western Europe, Muslims were allied with the Nazis.

Many people believe that this type of hard look at reality on the ground is doom-mongering and worse, God forbid, racist. I guess it depends whether you see this as a war or not. If you don't, a lot of the discourse here will seem frightful and insane. I think some people use certain dehumanizing language because they need to buck themselves up for a long battle. If it's a war, it is either us or them, and I prefer us. If we survive with our freedoms intact, and their effort to cut us down fail, then we can wring our hands over 'what we've become.' We seem to have gotten over the awful demonization of the German and Japanese people during WWII. And if we fail, it's all a moot question.

George Orwell is said to have opined, "Decent people sleep soundly in their beds because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

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You are probably a decent Muslim—I don't know how old you are. But I get the impression that you've grown up in the west. So far your entire life experience and consequently your understanding of what islam is about has been forged in an era when Islam was probably at its lowest ebb in its entire 1400 year history. The caliphate was abolished back in the 1920's and for many years Islamic countries were constrained by western colonial control. Furthermore, globalization as we now know it, didn't exist. Which means that Muslims didn't have access to the modern technologies, especially the internet, created by the west. So your entire experience and understanding of islam was forged when Islam was basically the weakest its ever been.

But if you studied Islam a bit, especially what the classicists had to say—the Sunnah of the prophet means everything! It's right up there with the Koran in Islam. And clearly the Sunnah (example) of Muhammad is to lay low while powerless and then to advance and conquer once in a position of strength to do so.

It's no great mystery why you have fundamentally misunderstood your own religion. It's because islam was weak—in ALL of our lifetimes. That temporary quiescence, historically speaking, evidently fooled a whole lot of people—not only us, but apparently many Muslims as well.

But for all the reasons that Hugh Fitzgerald of Juhad Watch has elucidated, Islam is strong once again and now once again, it's true nature is revealed. It's a shock for all of us. But it shouldn't be. Its all in there in the Koran and the Sunnah combined. All of the explanation—backed up by the classical jurists—or what is happening today—is there.

So get you head out of your ass sublimer. The truth about your religion may well be as shocking to you as it is for us—but that's no damned excuse for your denial.

Thanks to Caroline, another Jihad Watcher, for this sage assessment.

But hold on Tonto! Here is the response of that Muslim to whom Caroline was writing:

First, let me laugh. As a Muslim who lived in Muslim lands all his life and who still travels around the Muslim world every year, I think I have a better perception not only than the commenters who analyze Islam behind a computer but also a better perception than Spencer and Hugh who seem to get all they learned about Islam from books and none from Muslims' daily lives. Your narrative of how Islam was strong weak and strong again seems apt for a James Bond novel. Although know you wish it were that simple it is not. First anyone who talks about the Muslim world and the west as a bloc or a body is a complete idiot who like to throw nuances out the window since his neurons cannot handle the complexity.

Imagine a Muslim telling you that you killed 6 million jews during world war II. What would you answer? You'd say that it wasn't me it was Nazi Germany. What if he said that that argument doesn't suffice because nazi Germany is still part of the west. So as long as the West killed 6 million Jews, you must have done so too. It just doesn't hold and that's what you are doing by thinking about islam/islamic countries as one bloc.

Clever dodge, but Caroline is not finished. She responds:

When you show me an example of Muslims waging a wide scale world war against the jihadists (or as some call them, "islamo-fascists") among you, like many westerners did against the Nazis, then I'll think you have a point. Until then, I believe that makes you complicit in their crimes. And you are. The fact is that the ummah stands up for every atrocity committed by Muslims all over the world (or merely remains silent in tacit agreement with those crimes.

Enough said. So in summation of this little exercise in critical thinking, I ask you dear reader, how did your own opinions shift or slide during this brief argument? Were you persuaded first by Caroline, only to be gently swayed by the retorts of the Muslim apologist? We know details matter, but are we diligent in gathering them. Do you have ALL the pertinent details? Are you an informed defender of the US Constitution, the faith of your own conscience, a clear-headed patriot, or are you a deceiver always hiding in the shadows of an argument, or worse, an apathetic appeaser of those who tickle your fancy but are merely an enemy in disguise? Do you truly know where you stand in this noisy crowd of political gamesmanship? Do you even care?

Or do you care profoundly, but feel that these matters seem so remote and complex, and beyond your reach when real life is grabbing at every thrust of your existence for attention, and you just don't have the time to wrestle with things beyond your immediate control? Perhaps none of the atrocities that have been visited upon far too many people of different faiths, nations, and personalities in this aggressive struggle with global Islam have affected you, but what if they do someday find you, or your family, and even your entire community? Will you be then suddenly and without previous investigation be prepared? Will you know how and why these things are happening?

Sure, it's a tough world, but it's up to you to know where you stand, one detail at a time. The silly virgin parable comes to mind. I'm not selling anything. Not books, not subscriptions, not CDs, not anything that pertains to this most pressing of matters, at least, not at the present time. But I do stridently believe that each person in America must come to grips with the global phenomenon of aggressive Islam which is fast-tracking everywhere one looks upon the populated face of the earth, and this educating process is warranted, is urgent and needs to occur within each American household sooner rather than later, in fact, right now.

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democracy, In respose to a young voice naive complaining about the penetrating certainty that many Jihad Watch commentors convey in their assessment of today's political climate with regards to Islam, Jihad, and parsing the so-called moderate Muslim issue, here is a lean but strengthening response posted by a writer who calls herself Miss Anthrope:

I personally recommend you listen to those of us who don't have a nefarious religious/political agenda. Who is that? Only you can decide for yourself who on this board is trying to sway opinion.

I can tell you, as a non-religious person, that I don't fall into the 'box' most of my non-religuous peers wish for me. I am not blind to the agendas of those who wish to trample upon my individual freedoms.

I have had trouble defining myself based on current definitions, but you could say I fit, to an extensive degree, into the following categories: Moralist, Constitutionalist, Humanist, and, most recently, Secular Conservative (my terminology).

For many years, those who wish to trample upon my individual freedoms have been the Left. They use such terms as Military Industrial Complex instead of Military. They enjoy using such jargon to make you distrustful of every organization with ANY semblance of authority.

This is an old Communist tactic that has been used against the US since the '30s. And yet, despite their 'anti-authoritarian' slant, they are insistent that they know better than you anyway in order to tell you what to do! Does this make sense? Of course not. If they REALLY despised authority, they would despise it ALL. That's not the case...they just despise DEMOCRACY.

So, why am I giving you all of this background? For this reason only: Substitute Islam for the Left, and any Western country for the US. I think you see my point. As a thinking individual, you are to take or leave as you deem fit. I'm not one to do more here than have my say.


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Friday, June 29, 2007


From Hugh Fitzgerald:

Muslims feel "isolated." Muslims feel "unwanted." Muslims feel "unloved." That's why they do what they do in southern Thailand, and the southern Philippines. That's why they decaptiate Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia, attack Christan churches in Alexandria, or Baghdad, kill Hindus in Bangladesh and drive millions of them out, why the Taliban, those hyper-Muslims, forced Hindus in Afghanistan to wear yellow identifying robes, why they felt compelled to blow up the Bamiyan Buddhas, or destory churches in Gaza, or drive even "Palestinian" Christians out of Bethlehem. It's why death threats were made against Danish tourists, unless and until the editors of Jyllands-Posten were punished for daring to publish a handful of anodyne cartoons. That's why bombs went off in Atocha Station in Madrid, on the Underground in London, why a Moscow theatre was seized, why Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh were murdered.

"Not integrated." "Unwanted." "Unloved." Prove, Infidels, the contrary. Do everything you can to integrate those Muslims. Lavish every possible program on them—language, culture, all the things that no other group of immigrants appears to need, lest members of that group start hating those among whom they live. Provide every conceivable benefit: education, health care, subsidized housing, all far beyond what those hundreds of thousands, say, of Somalis now living in this country could ever have dreamed of at home, living in Muslim Misrule, Muslim Malgoverno. Pile it on. Dedicate, re-dedicate those mosques. Do whatever it takes. Don't say a word against Islam, don't even hint at it. Always and everywhere denounce those who beg to point out this or that disturbing feature of Islam. Shout them down. Censor their websites. Banish those "hate-mongers" to the outer darkness.

Keep it up.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007


To me from my liberal friend
I haven't heard from you lately. Just seeing how everything is going. Thanks for dropping my rain suit off. I hope you and your family are doing well.

Reply from me
I don't feel like complaining and trying to scare people lately, so I haven't been sending out my 'xenophobic' materials (as my friend in California says). We're busy and life's good for the moment.

I'm busy building the concrete bunker and stocking up on ammunition, so I don't have time to write much. The neighbors think it's a swimming pool, boy what a bunch of crazies.

Note: I'm just kidding—I'm not actually building a bunker and my neighbors are very reasonable people...

Response from my friend
Life may be good for the moment, but unless we have social discourse about the radicals who want to destroy our, and our children's, way of life we are sure to feel the repercussions. Although I don't like the means of our current "War on Terror" it is necessary for people like you to continue to educate whoever you can on the hate the other side is spreading and attempting to eradicate our way of life. You have certainly influenced me. Keep up the good work. An ostrich can only keep his head under the sand so long until he smothers or a predator attacks.

Sending information to people, backing it up in a reasonable way and persisting in the effort WILL get this nation to comprehend the threat we're under.

Eventually this awareness will show itself in candidates for office.

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BAGHDAD - Twenty beheaded bodies were discovered Thursday on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, while a parked car bomb killed another 20 people in one of the capital's busy outdoor bus stations, police said. The beheaded remains were found in the Sunni Muslim village of Um al-Abeed, near the city of Salman Pak, which lies 14 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The bodies—all men aged 20 to 40 years old—had their hands and legs bound, and some of the heads were found next to the bodies, two officers said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Meanwhile, a parked car bomb ripped through a crowded transport hub in southwest Baghdad's Baiyaa neighborhood at morning rush hour, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 50, another officer said on the same condition.

From the peanut gallery:

Molech savages! Filthy Molech savages! Another glorious day at the alter of Allah! How a religious one keeps a straight face while claiming islam is a religion of peace suggests the adherent must have Allah's help. Islamic followers are like cannibals with toothy smiles! When they tell you they are here to "serve you", run for your life. When the follower tells you "We are a religion of peace." Gather ten friends around you while you simply respond: "Liar!"

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi once noted that the Jesus mandate to "turn the other cheek" was a call to absolute bravery. He said, "What Jesus was saying is that when you speak and stand for the truth, you may have to take a blow, you may have to take several blows but that you should stand your ground". He said that Jesus was "offering us a way out of the madness". Muhammad offers and Islam offers a way to dehumanize the other and a way to universal madness. Islam mandates violence against those who do not accept this cover for Imperialism (Islam is at its core the engine of Arab Imperialism). It is what it is.

A very human and very great man....

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Thanks to Glen Reinsford for the following:

Pardon the crude analogy, but what if someone handed you a revolver with one bullet and five empty chambers and asked you to put it to your temple and squeeze the trigger? Would you indulge them?

If you are a sane person, then you would naturally decline the offer, regardless of the number of empty chambers. Even a one in a hundred chance of doing harm is hardly a reason, in and of itself, for taking an unnecessary risk.

Consider the similarities to Muslim immigration:

1) In most cases, nothing bad will happen.
2) In some cases, it will.
3) The risk increases as the process continues.
4) There is an utter pointlessness to the whole affair.

First, let's concede that the majority of Muslim immigrants mean Americans no harm. They have their reasons for not wanting to live in Muslim countries and these aren't hard to guess. Of the fifty-three Islamic nations on the planet, there is hardly a single one that isn't characterized by some combination of debilitating corruption, economic blight, third-world standard of living, political repression, or an appalling human rights condition.

Unfortunately, however, more Muslims in America will inevitably result in a more Muslim America, which ultimately means having to deal with the problems that plague Muslim society. If there are tangible benefits that offset the added strain of trying to accommodate a religion that is very much at odds with Western liberal values (including freedom of conscience, social tolerance, democracy, and the equality of women), then they are not immediately apparent.

Even the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the most vocal advocates of unfettered Islamic immigration into America rarely bothers to try and make the case that non-Muslim citizens will benefit from an influx of those believing that Islam is meant to be the dominant political, religious and social system that Muhammad required it to be. Instead, CAIR merely implies that Muslims are entitled to America by virtue of the fact that the U.S. accepts other immigrants.

Beyond flirting with cultural catastrophe, there is also the loss of American lives resulting from the domestic terror attacks that will certainly escalate as the U.S. inexplicably imports a fifth column in a time of war.

A Pew Research poll released in May shows that one out of every four Muslims in America either supports al-Qaeda outright or is ambivalent about the terrorists that slaughtered 3,000 fellow citizens in the name of Allah just six short years ago. About the same percentage of younger Muslims also believe that suicide bombings can be justified in "defense of Islam."

Support for terrorism isn't just theoretical. The release of the study was sandwiched between news of a shooting rampage plot by Muslims against Fort Dix residents and a separate Fedayeen plot literally to blow up JFK airport in New York. It also follows the murder of five Americans at a Utah shopping mall by a Muslim teenager in February.

In each case, the terrorists are immigrants to America.

This is also true of Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, who murdered two people waiting in line at an LAX airline counter in 2002, Mohammed Taheri-azar, who intentionally ran down nine students with an SUV in North Carolina in 2006, and OsamaAhmedIbrahim, a Muslim doctor in Chicago who allegedly allowed a Jewish patient to die under his care in 2003. NaveedHaq, who shot six women at a Seattle Jewish center last year, was the son of immigrants.

The Qur'an, Islam's holiest text, contains dozens of verses that directly encourage religious violence, and there are literally hundreds more that speak of Hell or hatred toward nonbelievers. Muslim apologists usually insist that the bloodiest directives are reserved for times of war (even if this stipulation is not always evident from the context of the passage).

Many Americans naively assume that they are safe from Islamic terror because they mean Muslims no harm. Indeed, the Pew Research study showed that the majority of American Muslims are "well-assimilated" and have a "positive view" of American society, something that simply would not be the case if there truly was a "war on Islam." Even CAIR (an organization that normally tries to convince the world of just how miserable life is for Muslims in the U.S.) hastily touted this part of the study, as it tried to assuage the concerns of Americans over the news that their Muslim neighbors may not be who they appear.

But whether or not there actually is a war on Islam matters far less than what Muslims choose to believe. Unfortunately, an overwhelming majority of Muslims overseas and an alarming number of Muslims in the U.S. are convinced that there is a war against their religion. In fact, high-profile organizations like CAIR and MPAC routinely feed this misconception with negative propaganda, while very few Muslim leaders are active in countering it.

Suddenly the issue of whether or not those Qur'anic mandates to "slay the infidels wherever ye find them" are limited to times of war becomes somewhat academic. A Muslim who actually believes the rhetoric of war (as most Muslims now do) has, at his fingertips, a manual of instruction telling him to strike off heads and fingertips in the cause of Allah. What sense does it make for the U.S. to draw its future citizens from a pool of potential terrorists?

As if this weren't bad enough, the Pew Research study also finds that the younger generation of Muslims is more accommodating of terrorism than their parents - a trend that is supported by surveys of Muslims elsewhere in the West, with alarming implications. While moderates are capable of breeding radicals, radicals rarely breed moderates. Islamic extremism will expand with each new generation, even if the overall number of Muslims stays the same.

Progressive radicalization is a persistent theme in Islam, not just in the West, but in other parts of the world as well, where fundamentalism usually has a way of winning out over pragmatism.

In Gaza, for example, Palestinians recently used their new-found "independence" to elect the bloody Islamist terror group, Hamas, to power, even though it meant an immediate and drastic reduction in foreign aid.

It is also highly unlikely that the Pakistan of today (where Islamists are forcing the implementation of Sharia and the persecution of surviving religious minorities) is what the father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had in mind when he engineered an independent Muslim nation just 60 years ago. Jinnah was a secularist who believed in the separation of church and state.

Lebanon, a vibrant and predominantly Christian nation before 1975, is perhaps the most vivid example of Muslim immigration pushing a nation past the tipping point in the modern age. Native Lebanese expert, Brigitte Gabriel, traces the downfall of her country to the absorption of Palestinian refugees, which gave radical Islam the foothold that it needed to trigger the civil war.

The subsequent occupation by Syria forced out huge numbers of Christians and devastated the social fabric of what had been the Arab world's best example of economic success, civil liberty and tolerance. The free reign of Hezbollah and other radical groups has virtually ensured Muslim hegemony and Lebanon's grinding descent into the abyss of dysfunction that defines those nations under Islamic rule.

Every country that is Muslim today was once non-Muslim. Every culture that found itself under the heel of Islam died a pitiful death as the concentration of Muslims within the population gradually exceeded critical mass. This is because Islam is an end unto itself. Like a virus, once it is introduced, it uses the host's machinery to make copies and eventually strangle native religions into tiny, persecuted minorities.

In the past, Islam achieved its imperial goals by the sword. Today - notwithstanding the occasional terror attack - Jihad against the West is waged via the tactics of unilateral immigration and one-sided proselytizing.

This is not to say that all Muslims are a threat to America's future, of course. Indeed, there is a handful in the United States that does stand against extremism, trying their best to convince the rest of the Islamic world that America is not a legitimate target for terror. Unlike, say, the first-generation immigrants who mostly make up the executive leadership of the Hamas-linked CAIR, these Muslims aren't takers. They are makers—giving back to America, rather than existing merely to foment grievance and group identity for personal indulgence.

Presumably, there are potential Muslim immigrants who would also become patriotic and productive citizens. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing who they are or predicting who their children might become. Like putting a partially-loaded gun to one's head, there is absolutely no compelling reason to gamble with American life and civil liberty. What reward have Americans gained so far that can possibly offset the loss of those already killed by Muslims on American soil?

For potential immigrants who believe that Islam is the true religion, America's message should be one of challenge rather than appeasement. Over the course of fourteen centuries now, Islam has demonstrated a proven ability to take prosperous countries and turn them into disaster zones. Now it is time for Muslims to show that their "one, true religion" is capable of building societies in which Muslims themselves actually want to live rather than escape.

After all, what service to the Muslim world does the United States do by absorbing the most reform-minded individuals from where they are needed most?

It should go without saying that citizens of America who happen to be Muslim should not be viewed with suspicion or treated any differently than anyone else merely on the basis of their religion. But neither should Americans be afraid of confronting organizations like CAIR, which cynically exploit Western tolerance for the purpose of ultimately destroying that tolerance and advancing a theocratic system that is fundamentally opposed to the very principles that made America successful and attractive.

Again, the message should be clear: If you want to live in a Muslim country, then go live in one. On the other hand, if you don't want to live in a Muslim country, then stop trying to turn America into one.

The problems are not uniquely American, of course. But Americans are best positioned to avoid them if they can muster the courage. Others in the West are not as fortunate. Some have developed a pathetic resignation to their fate.

On a recent visit to the United States, Queen Elizabeth talked positively of the "challenges" posed by "diversity." This was a thinly-veiled reference to the consequences of British immigration policy over the last fifty years, which now include a disaffected Muslim underclass that is just beginning to flex its muscle. In the Queen's mind, it would appear that diversity is the tautological justification for very social "challenges" that diversity creates.

But "diversity" is merely a description, not a self-evident moral axiom that confers any sort of legitimacy in its own right. The same social engineers who champion the cause of diversity are often known to sing a different tune when it comes to poverty, the uneven distribution of wealth and the many other elements of economic diversity.

Challenge and risk often have their place at the personal level. There is usually nothing wrong with the challenge to exercise, eat right or become more productive, for example. Likewise, there are rewards in life, such as a lucrative career or meaningful friendships that are often accomplished only through taking a measure of personal risk.

The challenges posed by Muslim immigration are not personal, however, and neither do the esoteric rewards (whatever they may be) offset the all-too-tangible consequences for the broader society, particularly since it will affect those members who never wanted to incur these risks in the first place.

Muslim immigration adds nothing that is truly necessary to the lives of Americans, but its degenerative effects are already starting to threaten the American way of life through demoralization, litigation and the other subtle tactics of cultural Jihad.

In this sense, Americans are following in Europe's footsteps when they would do better to avoid the example being set. Although the Brits may brag about the problems that they have created for themselves, a more sensible France is quietly trying to pay some of its five million Muslims to leave the country. Other Western nations are also trying to accommodate the social strain that is rising from a petulant and increasingly unruly Islamic minority.

The Muslim world does not accept non-Muslim immigrants. In fact, it is becoming more homogenous as Islamic regimes drive out religious minorities or whittle them down through other means of attrition. Even Muslims who feel entitled to life in the West often decry the presence of foreigners in Muslim lands.

But if Muslim lands are for Muslims, then it is all the more reason for insisting that this is where they stay, particularly since the legacy of Islamic immigration into the West is becoming a series of unilateral concessions to appease Muslims that not only go unreciprocated, but are then the new foothold for even bolder demands.

Muslim immigration is a losing proposition for America. At best, it is an unnecessary risk that offers no comparable benefit. At worst, it is suicidal.

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Years back, we had the Communists being all for "peace". But they were operating off of Marx's definition:

"The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism."

Similarly, in the Islamic viewpoint, peace can only come when all accept Islam. Refusal to accept Islam is, in itself, a crime against Allah. So no one who rejects Islam can be considered an "innocent". Therefore it was legitimate to kill 3000 people on 9/11, because they were non-innocent rejectors of Allah, and therefore legitimate targets.

Therefore, terrorism does not include Jihad. The label "terrorism" only applies to those acts which oppose jihad, such as arresting Jihadis and putting them in Gitmo.

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Friday, June 22, 2007


From Abdul-Quddus:

I’m often asked, despite knowing the pros and cons of Islaam, why would a Westerner embrace a religion they hated? Though surrounded by believers, while growing up as a child, I was essentially an agnostic. I pondered that, if this Creator actually existed, an unbiased investigation was needed to discover who He was and what He wanted from me. The following testimony is a trustworthy account of a journey through Islaam.

I was raised by non-practicing Christians who immigrated to Canada from an anonymous country near the Caribbean. In the beginning, our family would occasionally attend Sunday’s church services. However, my mother later realized that her husband’s inattention and son’s rebellious behaviour during the sermons conveyed an undeniable expression of disbelief. Considering we had more nominal believers in the household, our church visits as a family unit slowly withered and then finally ended abruptly.

To my adolescent mind, the deity of the Judeo-Christian faith baffled me. I would curse the Biblical God, who although was once supposedly involved in human affairs, for now being idle during all the injustice and suffering I saw rampant in my world. However, following the blasphemous utterance, I’d immediately reprimand myself. To battle my agnosticism, during age twelve, my parents gave permission for the public school to have myself proselytized to by a Christian minister.

In an experiment that would likely be illegal today within public school walls, a few other parents consented and we children were in the library being handed a red book labeled ‘The New Testament’. This book I would soon abuse with a black-ink marker with obscenities and my scissors. Without any guidance or education, I was left confused about God, albeit, the Judeo-Christian interpretation of the being.

Beside from my almost quasi-religious upbringing, early in my youth I had close contact with a conservative Christian family that would subsequently influence my behaviour and thinking. One of their boys was my age and I would never find a closer companion and friend in life like him. Originally from Newfoundland, the father was a minister and both husband and wife had a zealous demeanor towards their sons.

To my shock, even uttering “damn” in their home was reprehensible and would bring chastisement. The mother always fed me as if I were her visiting nephew, even though we were not related by blood. Aside from my immediate family, from these people I perceived love and friendship. Although disciplined and strict, the warmth and compassion received from this God-fearing family I would consider ideal and exemplary in a world void of.

As a teenager, an encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness introduced me to another kind of believer. While waiting at a bus-stop, standing beside myself was a woman who suddenly began preaching to me from her copy of the Bible. Throughout the pages, her penned notes around the verses, which accumulated over the years, caught my interest. In order to approach a complete stranger in this manner, she must surely have believed in her religion, I thought. The sense of purpose and spiritual fulfillment she seemed to receive from her religious practice would plant a seed on my own spiritual path.

During my mid-teenage high school years, I developed a severe clinical depression that would endure for many years affecting my religious perspective. My social and academic life became strained and eventually I found myself dropping-out of high schools repeatedly. During one early morning, I came across Nightlite Live, a call-in television show about prayer, repentance, and salvation.

The messages of hope from the counsellors were candy for the downtrodden folk and I would frequently view the program. I resonated with the despondent callers. This Christian-owned television station CTS was balanced and tolerant enough to allot program space for other religions faiths in order to reach their adherents. The hope I was receiving from these Christian ministers watered that planted seed given earlier by the Jehovah’s Witness preacher. My clinical depression would become propellant for a now unequivocal spiritual endeavour.

Browsing through a CD-ROM encyclopedia, I came across the section on ‘Religion’ and would gravitate towards the entries on Buddhism. The biographies of the world’s religious figures was a favourite read but I then attempted to educate myself on doctrine and theology. An upbringing of Christianity could not motivate me, however, the gnostic perspective on the Gospel almost renewed a passion for Christ.

The Baha’i Faith, being fairly new compared to other organized religions, was difficult to view as anything but a cult eclectically borrowing from a multitude of sources. The idea of a direct and transcribed communication with God, along with a photograph of the Arabic verses, ignited an interest in Islaam but my agnostic mindset squashed it within days.

Hinduism offered nothing that Buddhism couldn’t deliver and, to my knowledge, even absorbed many elements of Buddhism. From the outside, Sikhism appeared steeply cultural and as a hybridization of Hinduism and Islaam. Daoism intrigued me for a brief period, but I later discarded the philosophy because it seemed to lack direction and purpose. From a comparative analysis of the world religions, the path of Buddhism and it’s founder resonated with me deeply and seemed closest to an absolute truth I’ve been searching for.

I would return to the character of Siddhartha Gautama, who I resonated with personally. According to my comprehension, his character was impeccably ideal and his dispensation faultlessly moral and rational. Buddhism had profound wisdom, encouraged independent thinking, discouraged blind faith, was not exclusive but inclusive for all humankind, and could be practiced without the superstitious beliefs abound in other religions.

With an agnostic and/or atheistic temperament, and a leaning towards scientific inquiry than blind faith, Buddhism seemed befitting. Influenced by my discoveries in the encyclopedia, I would pursue a devout Buddhist practice that would last six years.

However, for reasons and causes unbeknownst to me then, the Buddhist practice that once filled my life with meaning and purpose would meet with disenchantment. I would perform quadrupled fasts each month for uposatha, an occasion dedicated for intense discipline, doctrinal study, chanting and reflection. The duration of each fast spanned from noon until the next day, with a break in between for plain tea.

Although most Buddhists partaking in this observance would be at the temple, I eventually chose the confines of my bedroom in isolation. My withdrawal from public life and anti-social behaviour would be the result stemming from a surging illness of clinical depression. The total lack of guidance from engaging mentors, and sole reliance on inanimate books for my religion stifled my inspiration and I began to experience disenchantment.

In retrospect, if it were not for a family member converting to Islaam, I would likely have not embraced it myself. Having a lost loved one unanticipatedly reappear and noticeably dedicated to this Arab “cult” would spark my curiosity. Recent terrorist campaigns overseas by Muslim extremists were escalating and the need to understand the Muslim perspective was paramount. My obligation to reconnect with my sibling would contribute Islaam to affect my own religious experience.

Out of curiosity of Muslims, belief in Islaam, and fear of Allaah, I considered the process of converting to Islaam to become Muslim. Beforehand, I’d been a mild opponent of Abrahamic religions. After an exigent probing of Islamic websites, inconceivably, I was mesmerized. Islaam wasn’t a cult, but a rich faith tradition that rivalled all others. I highly regarded the comradeship of the ummah (Muslim community), clarity of the Qur’aanic text, and simplicity of the religion for the adherent.

I brought myself to open the Qur’aan, beginning with page numeral uno, Soorah al-Faatihah. Islaam seemed created in a competently organized fashion. Allaah (Arabic; lit. The God) was distinguishably one and without partnership. Understandably, all those sincerely contemplating on converting to Islaam have already accepted theism over atheism.

The primary attraction to Islaam was not in geometric Arabesque art, Islaamic-inspired calligraphy and architecture, the constant argumentatious fights over Middle Eastern politics, nor the latest innovative model of hookah. No question about it, on the minds of all sincere converts to Islaam was tawheed (monotheism, affirmation of the Oneness and Uniqueness of Allaah).

In the past, I had encountered some uncompromising critics who vigorously presented explosive accusations on Islaam and the character of Prophet Muhammad. I was not unfamiliar with the charges of pedophilia, genocide, thievery, rape, and murder. Supposedly, Islaam was a barbaric cult stuck in seventh-century Arabia bereft of human rights and with a disavowal for advancement. Initially, as a kaafir (unbeliever), I had accepted some of the charges as true and was perhaps an “Islamophobe.”

However, once I held a belief in Allaah and an admiration for Islaam, any propaganda or criticism could easily be dismissed as an undertaking to discredit the religion. I beared in mind that all organized religions harboured objectionable and disagreeable content, at least in the eyes of some. I was given a sanitized version of Islaam by moderate Muslims and read merely segments of the Qur’aan in English translation. Naturally, I felt compelled to fully trust the Muslims’ explanations since a selected few had the monopoly on this Arabic revelation from God. I decided to reject any subconscious Islamophobic mentality, ignore all anti-Islaamic subject matter, and solely submit myself to brainwashing

Despite having close friendships with Muslims, my initial exposure to Islaamic subjects was via cable television. Airing on VisionTV, a nationwide Canadian multifaith and multicultural television network was a program called ‘Journey Through Islam’. Using material from the Islamic Information Service (IIS) based in California, this one-hour show featured conversion testimonials, documentries, interviews with scholars and thinkers (Maher Hathout, Muhammad Asad, Muzammil Siddiqi, Jamal Badawi, John Esposito, Yusuf Estes, Yusuf Islam, Hamza Yusuf, etc.), and snippets from Harun Yahya’s cunning videos on Creationism.

Another program was ‘Let The Qur’an Speak’ by Shabir Ally which featured mostly Qur’aanic lectures and interviews. ‘Reflections on Islam’ by Ezz E. Gad and ‘Call of the Minaret’ by Steve Rockwell also were influential to my indoctrination. Besides the wealth of Islaamic programs on VisionTV, the Christian CTS network aired ‘Islam Today’ with host Bashir Khan and ‘The Muslim Chronicle’ hosted by Tarek Fatah. Both programs featured local interviews, documentaries and educational material. With this wealth of Islaamic education, my heart and mind was won.

But by far, the most stimulating and persuasive piece of all was footage of a talk (titled: ‘Glorious Qur’an, The Liberator’) delivered in 1987 by Yusuf Islam (formerly the pop singer Cat Stevens) at the University of Houston wherein he spoke of the Prophets and their struggle to present the same revelation to mankind. With a pointed index finger and green Qur’aan in hand, he spoke with profound meaning, contentment, spirit, composure and enlightenment. His gift left me in awe and craving what a billion Muslims possessed; a sense of purpose.

With assistance from cunning Muslim proselytizers, I deprogrammed my acquired beliefs and swallowed the da’waganda. After one converts and embraces this religion, all previous sins will be blotted out. Even the name ‘Islaam’ (submission, to the will of God) seemed truthful and posed actual meaning; the other religions were either named after a man or tribe. Apparently, the Jews were strict monotheists but had rejected Jesus, while the Christians accepted Jesus but then rejected Muhammad.

At the time, Islaam seemed a sure option as “Judaism was for Jews” and Christianity had the “polytheistic” Trinity. One common point delivered repeatedly to me was how only in Islaam had a revelation been absolutely preserved in its original language uncorrupted. No brilliant criticisms of Buddhism were given; no Muslims knew what the Buddha actually taught. As I became increasingly impressed with the Islaamic position on theism, Buddhism seemed odd with its absence of an omnipotent Creator God and obscure purpose for man’s existence.

I saw the superb design pervasive throughout creationism that pointed to a higher intelligence. Coupled with clinical depression and a loss of conviction, I became disillusioned with Buddhism. Vegetarianism became too strenuous to endure. If Allaah willed meat for our consumption, and I disagreed by being a vegetarian, it would put me with the munafiqeen (hypocrites) since I would be protesting to have more knowledge than Allaah al-Hakeem (the Most Wise). With Islaam, I could return to succulent meat-eating dinners and abandon my daunting dream of becoming a monk. However, now that I was admonished with threats by al-Qur’aan, I was fearing Hellfire for believing yet denying the revelation simultaneously.

Harbouring an aversion for a decadent Judaeo-Christian modernity, believers born into Christianity began to search for meaning elsewhere. The prevailing vehicles facilitative to escaping a sinking Western society were usually Buddhism, Islaam, and secular humanism. Islaam, “the fastest growing religion,” was an ubiquitous mantra. The vast majority considered converting to Islaam following a relationship with a Muslim. When an empathetic accord with a Muslim peer ensued, exposure to Islaam increased in addition to curiosity while submerging into a foreign culture.

The media’s popular portrayal of Islaam would be contradictory with a first-hand experience with Muslims. Western society seemed to degrade women as exploitable objects while Islaam offered a woman security and respect. When juxtaposed to our Christian environment, adherents to Islaam exhibited uppermost consciousness of God; they appeared pietistic to the halaal (permissible) and apathetic to the haraam (impermissible). The foremost decisive factor captivating soul searchers to Islaam was aversion for and disillusionment with the West or dunyaa (this temporal world, as opposed to the Hereafter).

While home alone contemplating and pacing repeatedly back and forth, I sensed my existence in jeopardy and so decided to plunge into Islaam wholeheartedly. I rode my bicycle to the local masjid (mosque) with the ulterior motive of requesting books. The Islaamic building was a fortress, surrounded by concrete and brick walls and metal gates. Since the main entrance was sealed off by a barrier, I attempted to access the masjid through the car entrance. The building’s rear had an entrance for “Sisters Only” so I ran away with lightening speed. Through another entrance, I wandered about searching for the masjid office. Inside that office, while looking at the security-camera monitors, I awaited assistance while noticing the unclean and disorganized mess.

A middle-aged committee member approached me, a man that would later order me to come to the masjid everyday. I received some moderate Islaamic material and a Yusuf Ali translated Qur’aan. Out of fear of Hellfire, and with a growing belief in Islaam, I confessed that I wanted to say the shahaadah (declaration of faith). It was either during ‘Asr (mid-afternoon) or Maghrib (sunset) prayer that I sat on the floor and viewed the men prostrate in prayer. Just as the speaker announced a statement, someone grabbed my hand and then guided me to the front.

The Pakistani imaam asked if anyone was forcing me to convert, to which I replied negative. He recited with me, in Arabic and English, the shahaadah (declaration of faith - “There is no deity but Allaah, Muhammad is His Messenger”). An individual yelled “Takbeer!” This signalled the congregation to chant “Allaahu akbar!” (Allaah is the Greatest) two more times. A procession formed wherein everyone anticipated to hug the new Muslim. After the ceremony, I felt frightened, extremely drained, and disorientated.

At the end was a fully bearded Muslim in Islaamic wardrobe who asked the committee member of my previous religion. When told of my Buddhist past, he scorned twice, “So he’s a loser? So he’s a loser?” After mocking my conversion, he offered a hug. I later learned that he viewed me as an idolater that could never make it to jannah (paradise). According to al-Qur’aan, Allaah will never forgive shirk (associating partners with Allaah) and “And whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” (3:85) On my first day as Muslim, even before taking my first steps, I encountered fitnah (trials, tribulations, sedition). The Muslim that chastised me, who was perhaps of the Salafiyoon, never was seen again.

I was led into the masjid office to sign a document testifying to my Islaamic faith, in case I wanted to perform hajj (pilgrimage) and needed verification in Saudi Arabia. Then, I was given a prayer mat, many Islaamic books and Syed Abu-Ala Maududi’s Arabic-English Qur’aan with his famous commentary. This was a totally different ideology given to me before they knew I was “with them” and not simply interested in studying the religion as a kaafir (unbeliever).

My parent’s reaction to the conversion was tolerant, to say the least. After two days as a Muslim, I approached them in our living room and uttered, “Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. You won’t get angry, will you?” When they said no, I replied, “I’m a Muslim.” The excitement from their faces quickly vanished. Regardless, they responded with tolerance and acceptance, saying, “Are you sure? If it’s what you want, it’s your decision.”

With Islaam my only obligation, the following year after my conversion was devoutly productive. As a high school drop-out without employment, all my energy was dedicated to worship Allaah and learning the deen (religion, way of life). Day and night, I resided at the local masjid. In my Arabic class, the teacher remarked about me, “I’ve never seen anyone learn it this quick.”

I grew my beard unshaven like the Prophet, studied the Qur’aan and ahaadeeth, would pay zakaat, give sadaqah, sawm during Ramadaan, walk by foot to the masjid, perform all the fard, sunnah, waajib, nafl, dua’a prayers, and basically do everything right down to Islaamic toiletry etiquette.

Successfully, I gave da’wah (missionary activity to invite others to Islaam) and converted people to the religion. My conversion testimony was being read on Islaamic websites. Most reverts were often paraded around as tokens. As trophy Muslims, our conversion to the religion apparently was validation for the insecure Muslims born into the faith that Islaam was true. Before going to sleep, I sincerely yelled, “Ya Allaah (Oh Allaah)! I am a Muslim. Alhamdulillah (Thanks to Allaah), I am safe and secure now. Don’t you dare ever leave the deen, boy! You’re going to jannah (paradise)!”

Over time, certain individuals were introduced to me that changed the course of my journey. Being a revert (convert) and impressionable, I was vulnerable prey and acquainted with predators. After taking shahaadah, I was given many telephone numbers for contacts. The first contact being from a brother named Yusuf eagerly seeking my attendance to reinstate a revert support group dismantled after the founder left the country.

I’d encounter numerous brothers attempting to recruit me into their organizations. My hesitation to partake in many activities perhaps saved my life. The claims by brothers who left us for “Arabic studies” or “humanitarian work” overseas caught my suspicion. Some actually went for jihaad; one brother returned very depressed from qitaal (warfare, fighting) in Iraq. Yet, even with all precautions, the dreadable risk of having “tea with terrorists” supervened.

When over a dozen Muslims were arrested on terrorism-related charges, we discovered one “suspect” was from my close-knit clique of brothers, passing his house hundreds of times while he plotted using three metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Reverts were wandering sheep that had to be extra cautious of acquaintances.

The only way for the non-Muslims to consider Islaam was by proving our Qur’aan superseded previous revelations. To establish the immaculacy of the Qur’aan to Christians, it was imperative to expose the fallibility of the Bible. Once the Christian had encountered inconsistencies in the substructure of his faith, he became more open to the possibility of Biblical errancy. Faced with numerous contradictions, the keen recipient would be guided to a more agreeable theology found within the Qur’aan.

They knew not Arabic, so we provided selected material to them. In specific cases where Christianity and/or Judaism lacked in subject matter and Islaam had the leeway, I took advantage to prove the superiority of the Islaamic religion and its honor by staying true to the previous revelations with Ibraaheem (Abraham), Moosaa (Moses), or ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary). To convince atheists and agnostics, we exposed the loopholes in evolution and modern science, presented the finest examples of Islaamic creationism, and perhaps mock their presumption of the universe existing merely by chance.

Once the non-Muslim was eagerly reading the Qur’aan and Islaamic material, I would present Muhammad as a prophet of God no different from the accepted Hebrew prophets. Guilt and fear were common tactics used to pressure the conversion process. Just as the Jews denied Jesus, so did I admonish the Christian for rejecting Muhammad. If they recognized monotheism and Muhammad, I seized the opportunity by recommending the individual to embrace Islaam and take the shahaadah (declaration of faith - There is no deity but Allaah, Muhammad is His Messenger).

As I gained experience as a Muslim, I sought a more literal interpretation of Islaam closer to the pristine deen of Prophet Muhammad. Without equivocation, the notorious “Yusuf Ali” Qur’aan was a translation that pandered to Western liberal values attempting to lure non-Muslims to Islaam. Although I used Syed Abu-Ala Maududi’s Qur’aanic commentary as a reference, I closely adhered to Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s translated work ‘The Noble Qur’aan’ which offered a summarized version including the efforts of At-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, and Al-Bukhari. Tasawwuf (Sufism) and modern progressive movements conniving to reform Islaam were not considered the real McCoy for they presented serious drawbacks and discrepancies that revealed an intentional divergence from Sunnah (the sanctioned practices, sayings, or actions of Prophet Muhammad).

The Saudi-based movement of Salafiyyah, heavily influenced by ibn Taymiyyah’s call to renounce innovation and return to the genuine Islaam, seemed to be a viable option. However, concluding that being “Muslim” was sufficient, I rejected any labels of sectarianism that would consequently divide the Islaamic ummah.

Guidance and companionship from my brothers in Islaam gave me a sense of belonging. Being a “revert” signified the reversion to a state of fitrah (the inherently pure disposition a being was created with). Everyone adopted an Islaamic first name, shunned music, and only ate halaal. We new Muslims delightfully welcomed a “brainwashing” since years in kufr (disbelief, ungratefulness to Allaah) left us feeling filthy. An unadulterated Islaam was difficult for the kuffaar (unbelievers) to digest so deviants evidently had a higher success rate in their propagation of Islaam (da’wah) as they modified principles to suit the nafs (carnal self) of recipients.

The moderate and sanitized version of Islaam that initially brought me to conversion had to be reassessed. Through the local masjid (mosque), always available was a handshake and anticipated hug. This was a comfort unavailable at home, especially from a mother always unsatisfied with my performance and father unconcerned with my progress. Encouraged by my Muslim brothers, I desired to excel in my religion; possibly get married, master the Arabic language and be a mujaahid (partaker in jihaad) and shaheed (martyr).

We viewed contemporary Muslims as crippled by colonization and far adrift from the straight path. In much insecurity and drifting, I found fundamentalism a perdurable anchor. We romanticized the early generation of “pious predecessors” and sought to capture their vigor by imitation. To revive the Islamic spirit for a fresh renaissance, we propagated a fundamentalist version of Islaam to unite Muslims under one refined but exemplary model.

Unislaamic programs such as communism, democracy, socialism, and capitalism were thought as destined for the dustbin.

The ideal of freedom was vehemently rejected as implausible, even in a democracy. The latter we ridiculed as “democrazy.” The plan we envisioned was a homologous Islaamic ummah comprised of compliant Muslim nations willing to accept this nostalgic ideology, followed by a pan-Islaamic government. Funded by Arab petroleum sales, this jihaad could be sustained because Muslim countries held approximately 80% of the world’s readily accessible reserves of crude oil. This would enable the restoration of the Khilaafah, and thus usher in a Khaleefah. The military defeat of an emasculated mujaahideen brought about some promising perspective and reformation. Our focus was needed elsewhere, besides Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao, Pattani, Palestine, etc.

We chose the alternative frontier in jihaad, Islaamic da’wah, to rectify the decadent affair of present-day Muslims. However, from the very get-go, politicized Islaam was a dud that failed to launch. The Salaf (pious predecessors of the first three generations of Muslims) of seventh-century Islaam were far from exemplary and their ummah was riddled by schism and assassinations. With a religion that advocated jihaad and casus belli, it was inevitable to have infighting factions. We had never achieved an Islaamic utopia and, without an appropriate method for reformation of Islaam, the future seemed not promising without a strategic platform to alleviate the plight of Muslims.

With hindsight, I perceive the quintessential factor sustaining my Islaamic faith to be fear. I had buckled under the coercion. After embracing the notion of a Supreme Being, anxiety ensued while receiving admonishment from Allaah’s Book. A substantial amount of aayaat (verses) of the Qur’aan are intimidating threats against your personal well-being.

Consequently, after departure from the masjid as a new Muslim, I sensed regret and remorse. By taking precautionary action, I had determined the expected value of submission to Allaah overweighing the value of punishment in Hellfire or emptiness of non-belief. This erroneous and biased wager sought the necessity of considering God for personal convenience, without considering the necessity of truth for the sake of truth itself. There lies Pascal’s Flaw. When emotions took precedence, in dire desperation, I abandoned my most cherished opinions and chose to surrender voluntarily as Allaah’s slave.

Surprisingly, the greatest challenge that threatened my servitude to Allaah came, neither from criticism by Islamophobic orientalists nor polemics by Neo-conservative Christians but, from Muhammad’s holy book itself. Muslims may interpret my doubt as possession by the whispers of Shaytaan (Satan). Prior to my conversion, I had read merely a third of the Qur’aan accompanied by a minuscule amount of ahaadeeth. Since Arabic is foreign to the majority of non-Muslims, conniving proselytizers with impunity can expurgate a compromising interpretation of the Qur’aan.

Conceivably, had I examined Islaamic subjects more thoroughly, I likely would have never walked in a mosque, let alone convert. From my sincere study of al-Qur’aan was Sunnah, at an occurrence when my credence to Islaam and servitude to Allaah was culminating, I would become disillusioned with an apparently incongruous Qur’aanic text.

Once acquainted with a bona fide Islaam, I reevaluated my commitment and questioned whether or not to continue an adherence to the religion. A Muslim eventually stumbles across contestable matter in a Qur’aanic aayah or hadeeth. Paradoxically, we questioning Muslims had to use the very scripture under scrutiny that advises us to seek “the people of knowledge” (16:43), or the ‘Ulamaa (religious-legal scholars) for tafseer (Qur’aanic exegesis or commentary). As one brother put it, you either “believe in it or you don’t.” Now exposed to unadulterated Islaam, I would encounter a crucial test of submission. A decisive decision would follow; whether to blindly believe or independently scrutinize a book “wherein there is no doubt.” (10:37)

The strongest evidence and proof for Islaam was al-Qur’aan (Arabic; lit. the recitation). As Muslims, we spuriously believed Jibreel (archangel Gabriel) was sent by Allaah to bestow the revelations to Prophet Muhammad. In fact, empirically speaking, the Qur’aan definitively disembarked from the vocal cord of Muhammad’s larynx to be heard by his companion’s eardrums. If Muhammad was truly illiterate, without the ability to read nor write, then he couldn’t adequately supervise the written compilation of the Qur’aan nor proofread.

Our faith was reliant upon the fallible sahaaba (devoted companions of the Prophet), whom were not scholars, to manufacture the Qur’aan and preserve it. Devastatingly, most of the companions memorizing the Qur’aan were also illiterate and an enormously significant number of companions died in battle, before and after the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Although our Qur’aan was transmitted, memorized, and later written by men, I pondered, could it also have been tampered by them in the process? Religion being the machine and believers the automatons, while avoiding the monumental task of thinking hard, many Muslims would ignore any possible inconvenient truths and say, “Allaah knows best.” Instead of a cold-blooded answer, the evasive responses I’d receive from the ‘Ulamaa were unsatisfactory.

With the discovery of the Arabic Qur’aanic containing foreign linguistic influence, I doubted the claim of its preservation in “pure Arabic” (16:103). Our Qur’aanic text claimed to be “an exposition of everything” (16:89) and “the Book explained in detail” (6:114). Yet, the actual implementation of Islaam necessitated the assistance of ahaadeeth (narrations, the sayings or doings of Muhammad and his companions).

Without a hadeeth, we could not properly perform salaat. Regardless if the creation of al-Qur’aan occured by Allaah or in the confines of Muhammad’s cerebrum or cerebellum, an unbiased exegete would conclude that nothing “new” arrived with seventh-century Islaam. Likewise, we Muslims postulated the Islaamic belief that Islaam had the same message revealed to previous Prophets such as Ibraaheem (Abraham), ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam (Jesus, son of Mary), or Moosaa (Moses), all of whom had the same religion. Truthfully, I found nothing “revealed” by Prophet Muhammad that couldn’t be influenced by or plagiarized from existing sources, especially from the Judeo-Christian tradition (Tanakh, Talmud, New testament, apocryphal works).

Everything Islaamic could be traced to pre-Islaamic origins, from theology to pilgrimage rites. Islaam attempted to abolish idolatry when Muhammad, like Ibraaheem (Abraham) who was once an idolator (6:76-78), became disillusioned with idolatrous pagan rituals. Prophet Muhammad beseeched the monotheist deity of the Jewish constituents in the Arabian Peninsula but not without undertaking a reform of their Hebrew religion.

Evidently so, Moosaa (Moses), considered the greatest Prophet to the Jews, is the most mentioned Prophet in the Qur’aan. Disdain for the Jewish people permeates throughout al-Qur’aan and ahaadeeth for, when the Jewish people eventually rejected Muhammad as a possible Prophet, he vengefully sought against them in heartache. This is why Islaam harbours considerable disparagement and hatred for the Jews, a people exceptionally monotheist, rather than Christians or Zoroastrians who apparently commit shirk (polytheism, aligning partners with God). With the epiphany that al-Qur’aan was not Allaah’s infallible speech, subsequently, I would approach certain aspects of the religion as man-made.

My expectations of a Supreme Being was in contrast to the conventional god of Prophet Muhammad. I yearned for a deity that was transcendent, incomparable, and an indefinable holy unable to be conceptualized. To my discovery, the Islaamic deity was actually the generic anthropomorphic Sky Father abound in popular mythology. He was afflicted with psychological infirmities such as megalomania, melancholy, and malevolence. Allaah suffered from ambivalence, claiming to be ar-Rahmaan, ar-Raheem (The Most Merciful, The Most Beneficent), while simultaneously being malicious or fastidious.

As an omniscient entity, he should have exhibited irrevocable authorship in his scripture, instead of acting capricious by amending and abrogating revelations like a fallible redactor confused about what He should have written initially. On the one hand, there is the incapacity of man to grasp the nature of omnipotent Allaah, yet His Will can be altered by exterior forces such as the affects of human prayers. I could not worship a God that changed. As just another idol, Allaah was depicted and contained in the literary work of al-Qur’aan. According to one hadeeth (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 74, Number 246), the Islaamic God created Aadam upon His soorah (form, shape, image), sixty cubits in height. Allaah rested upon His Throne (arsh) near His Footstool (kursi). He claimed to have an Eye (20:39), a Shin (68:42), a Face (55:27), a Foot (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 93, Number 541), even both Right and Left Hands (39:67).

Surely, there were many “comparable unto Him.” (112:4) Discovering Allaah to be as mythical as the elephant-god Ganesha or temper tantrum Yahweh was a devastating blow to my heart. Relying on tawheed, the initial attraction to Islaam, was ineffectual for I now discerned Allaah as fictitious like the rest of the idols.

The god of Islaam, likely just Muhammad’s alter-ego, displayed masculinity, anger, indecision, misogyny, and other moral weaknesses unbefitting of a majestic deity. Between Muhammad and Allaah, there was an uncanny resemblance in personality. Similar to the 1939 musical fantasy film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, I realized that the Wizard (Allaah) was a fabrication concocted by the man (Muhammad) behind the curtain.

My withdrawal from Islaam occurred suddenly as I studied the Qur’aan and ahaadeeth. The same disillusionment I experienced as Buddhist and Christian began to now emerge while a Muslim. I found it difficult to believe in angels, jinn, or talking trees. My mind clustered with doubts and objections as I raged with discontent. The deity was fictitious and cruel, the founder deplorably barbaric and sinful, the scripture mediocre and uninspired, the laws primitive and unjust. I perceived Muhammad as a fraud and Allaah as his imaginary friend. Instantly, while holding the Qur’aan still open, I slammed the covers shut. I tossed the book across the room and ran downstairs.

With two garbage bags, I eagerly erased Islaam from my life. This included every Qur’aan, Arabic course tutorial, hadeeth book, da’wah pamphlet, tape, and paperback book on Islaam into the trash. The texts nearly burst the bags. My prayer rug, favourite woolen kufi caps, thobe, and compass followed next. I stored the garbage in our garage until night in order to dump near a neighbour’s curb for pick-up in the morning. Never had I eagerly renounced an attachment with such certainty and resentment.

When I accepted fundamentalism and uncovered the unadulterated religion of Islaam, I eventually became unimpressed. Besides tawheed, what the religion offered wasn’t much. To the naive, Islaam appeared divine with the hypnotic recitation of the Arabic Qur’aan, captivating Middle-Eastern architecture, and stunning Arabic calligraphy. Our Western culture and Judeo-Christian traditions just paled in comparison.

However, just like in art, it only seems creative when the influences and sources are left unknown. Once you uncover the plagiarism, what remains is tediously pedestrian. Reverts from a Christian upbringing, because of their dire hatred for Christianity, were blinded to the core principles as taught by Jesus. The grass seemed greener on the other side. But the reality is, where Christians sought forgiveness for sinners, Muslims sought punishment.

Muslims prayed towards an inanimate object (i.e., the Ka’bah at Makkah), while Christians prayed towards the heavens. Ahl us-Sunnah proudly ate on the floor with their hands like animals, while the kuffar used chairs and utensils like rightly guided people. As for the corpus of Islaam, unable to find a shred of originality, I concluded the Qur’aan as the most unoriginal composition in religion. I’ve read beautifully written books without any errors, but that doesn’t mean they’re divine. Judaism was actually more Islaamic than Muhammad’s religion for Yahweh forbid angels and humankind from bowing to creation, whereas Allaah commanded the angels to bow before Aadam. Religion should have man change for God, not vice versa. Allaah would make changes to suit the whims and desires of Muhammad. We reverts were lied to, though none admitted it. Islaam did not mean peace but “submission.” Even those religious groups - the Jews and Christians - which share theological similarities with the Islaamic faith are not to be taken as auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers). There was a legal hatred for the Jews, fully sanctioned by our scripture. It was a very politicized religion pushing much propaganda. The longer I was Muslim, the more ahaadeeth and less Qur’aanic aayaat we would receive. Sunnah became the obsession as man-made laws and traditions basically replaced Allaah’s revelations.

For an unbiased investigation, I examined the veracity of Islaamic Creationism. Muslims claim that the perfection of “creation” implies intelligent design. According to creationists, certain natural systems are too sophisticated to be adequately explained without help from an intelligent agent. Using their logic, for the sake of my argument, I will claim that Allaah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) al-Mutakabbir (The Supremely Great, The Majestic) is greater than any evidence found in “creation.” The Qur’aan agrees that not everything has a cause.

However, since Allaah merely “exists” Himself in arbitrariness, without any given antecedents, given purpose, nor given meaning, so can the universe itself. If the anomalistic existence of Allaah al-Kabeer (The Most Great) can just be without cause, no logical explanation should be required for the lessor entities in the universe such as bacteria, planets, cells, or DNA. This is their logic. Ironically, instead of perhaps concluding that the universe always existed, Muslims create the idol or anomaly of God in partnership with the universe. No longer impartial by blind faith and delusion, I rationally dismissed the Islamic assertion of a Creator in their absence of compelling evidences.

Although the non-zero probability of the existence of God was and will remain present, the same probability exists for gods, ghosts, monsters, and boogie-men. The stated entities have been encountered in every civilization during every time period throughout history. Primitive man once believed everything from trees to rocks contained a spirit. Animism is still practiced today by native populations around the globe. Even the Islaamic tradition has kept a few spirits, such as angels and jinn.

Eventually, two spirits remained in mainstream belief, because of atheism. Those two are God and the human soul. No reason surfaced to suggest that Muhammad’s Allaah was any more significant than the other quadrillion gods contrived throughout human history. Like all theists, Prophet Muhammad approached the “chicken or and egg” dilemma by guessing that a motherless chicken once upon a time created everything.

The whimsical being of Allaah, the epitome of arbitrariness and fortuitousness, exists superficially and accidentally by chance with no given purpose or meaning. He is the fiction of imaginative hope. The Islaamic understanding conclusively bypasses the probability consideration and boldly begins at a mind-boggling refutable truth: “There is no deity but God.”

Certain rituals and conditions required by Sunnah for the ibaadah (worship) of Allaah actually were a distraction from worship itself. One must be in a purified condition for acts of worship, and to facilitate this, a ritual of purification known as wudoo (partial ablution) or ghusl (full ablution) must be conducted. The wudoo would be rendered nullified if, for example, the Muslim defecated, urinated, bled, fell asleep, or passed gas.

Since Sunnah allocated a limited time frame for each of the five prayers, the result would be disastrous. If you completed al-wudoo to begin an obligatory salaah, and suddenly released gas, the entire cleansing ritual had to be redone. This entailed getting semi-undressed, making niyyah (intention), doing recitations (e.g., bismillah, shahaahah), washing the face, neck, arms, head, nasal cavity, mouth, ears, feet, including the repetition of each act three times.

By desperately undertaking to postpone flatulence and the call of nature, during prayer, a worshipper would experience consciousness of one’s own bowel movements, rather than consciousness of God. Instead of praying to God alone, we Muslims were submitting to the automatic prayers constituted by mere men. During worship in jamaa’ah (congregation), especially for ‘Eid or Jumu’ah salaat, you had to prostrate behind men. This position gave one a view of the carpet below, the masculine buttocks of the worshipper in front, or the holes in his socks. For any heterosexual revert, this was an uncomfortable predicament. Truthfully said, for this reason brothers came early to reserve a spot in the front row.

If a Muslimah was allowed in the masjid, she’d unfortunately be behind a man’s behind or in an enclosed section separated by a screen. Islaam was vehemently against idolatry, yet when we Muslims performed salaat, there was always a figure before us. And if you traveled to Makkah following the qiblah (direction of worship), you’d discover Muslims prostrating, touching, caressing, and even kissing the Ka’bah. During hajj (pilgrimage) at Mina, hundreds would be killed and thousands injured following the idolatrous ritual known as the “stoning of the devil.”

Al-Jamaraat, the three symbols representing the devil, have been since renovated into 26-metre-long walls in the hopes that more Muslims don’t die trying to make an impression on the idols. The Arabic Qur’aan, believed to be incarcerated Truth and the literal speech of Allaah, also became an idol for Muslims. With washed hands, we held our Holy Book and many would actually kiss it. For Christians, Jesus was the Word of God made flesh, while Muslims held the Qur’aan as the Word of God made text.

I questioned the necessity of prayers and Qur’aanic recitation being reserved only in Arabic, simply for the “pleasure of Allaah.” Clearly, we were following traditions for the sake of Arab supremacy. Most Muslims were not fluent in Arabic, so instead of reaping the benefits in our native languages, we recited in a foreign tongue what many could neither articulate with nor understand. If Allaah was omnipotent, he could understand English. In Islaam, instead of being Muslim for Allaah, we had to become Arab to be Muslim.

The Islamic world was a catastrophe for we Muslims were unable to reconcile the discrepancies in our religion, the bedrock of all predominantly Muslim states. In the Qur’aan, particular Madinan revelations conflicted with Makkan ones. Our foundation was an incomplete sacred text quite ambiguous, inconsistent, and without chronological order. With the Qur’aan lacking proper substance to be a constitution for a civilization, we implored man-made ahaadeeth to help a divine revelation.

Although this combination provided substance to implement Sharee’ah (Islaamic law), it brought more discrepancies into the religion. According to the Qur’aan, all men and women are born in a state of fitrah as Muslims. However, the Sunnah demands the adhaan (call to prayer) and shahaadah to be yelled into our infant’s ears at birth.

While the Qur’aan commanded worship in “neither aloud nor in a low voice,” (17:110) Sunnah instructed a Muslim to scream at pedestrians the adhaan (call to prayer) from the top of buildings. Allaah’s Creation is perfect, but Sunnah mandates that Muslim infants should be corrected with circumcision. The Qur’aan says to make no distinction between the Prophets, yet, the hadeeth-inspired Islaam with “Allaah and His Messenger” was awfully similar to the “Father and His Son” in Christianity.

Islaam has elevated the Prophet Muhammad to an infallible hero with almost godlike status. However, when Allaah commanded fifty prayers a day in the night of al-Israa’ and Mi’raaj, Muhammad could not “submit” and disobediently sought to reduce the amount repeatedly until it was down to five. Women could legally have no more than one husband, while the Prophet Muhammad could and did have several in one day.

Allaah created everything perfect, especially the Qur’aan which is considered to be the ultimate miracle (17:88) proving Islaam by containing aayaat (signs, verses, proofs, evidences, miracles). Non-Muslims who doubt the Qur’aan are challenged by Allaah to produce a soorah like it (2:23). Yet, throughout Muhammad’s prophetic career, Allaah would abrogate verses to “substitute one revelation for another” (2:106, 16:101) as if the “Truth” needed correction.

He claimed throughout the Qur’aan to be the “The Most Merciful” and “The Most Beneficent” while simultaneously threatening man in detail the prepared punishments and tortures awaiting him in Hellfire. Although the Qur’aan claimed to be the “best hadeeth” (39:23) and contained Sunnah, fundamentalists were not satisfied with the Qur’aan. Indeed, they abandoned the Qur’aan in the process as the Prophet Muhammad said of his people (25:30). With such inconsistencies, no wonder a schism in the Islamic ummah occurred immediately after the Prophet’s funeral.

The evolution and behaviour of a Muslim revert has always been predictable. Soofiyyah (Sufism) was what attracted the ample majority of today’s converts. In fact, without a military conquest by the sword, this has basically been the endorsed ideology for the amicable expansions of Islaam. Indeed, Islaam wasn’t completely spread by the sword but was welcomed by many. However, to be downright and straightforward, Sufism isn’t Islaam but a deviation from it. Tasawwuf or Soofiyyah ingratiated Islaam to the kaafir by accommodating a rigid theology into a compromising spiritual mysticism. Islaam almost took the backseat for some individuals.

Instead of pursuing the Muslim identity, many reverts would become obsessed with their Arab wardrobe, the Arab language, and Arab politics. If they converted in a predominantly South Asian neighbourhood, you’d notice the reverts mimicking desi culture in an attempt to assimilate. It’s a daunting task, especially for Muslims, to rectify the confusion of Islaam with culture and culture with Islaam. From firsthand experience, I’d generously estimate that merely a quarter of all converts actually remain Muslim by their first year.

Oftentimes, a serious revert would exhaust him/herself to the point of burn-out and would slowly disappear into apostasy. The latter individuals were never spoken of as we ignored anything that could possibly jeopardize eemaan (faith) and taqwaa (piety, fear of Allaah). Judging by their facial expression and physical posture, I could differentiate between a now moderate Muslim and a timid apostate trying to go undetected.

Those Mu’minoon (faithful believers) that actually kept their Islaam, now keen on fundamentalism, eventually disowned their native culture and decidedly lived and dressed as seventh century Arabian Muslims, even in a North American metropolitan city. The first turban I actually saw was on a Canadian, a Caucasian convert trying desperately hard to “be one” with his Pakistani congregation. These particular reverts—ripe for a picking by the Salafiyoon—would willingly yearn for a strict adherence to the fundamentals of Islam. As reverts, readily dupable and persuadable, our dependence and submission was crucial for a successful brainwashing.

Reverts to Islaam, ever so gullible and naive, were easily susceptible to the prevalent dysfunctional behaviours and propaganda infecting most Muslim societies. By striving to not conform with the kuffaar, we duly had to be ignorant by circumnavigating anything unislamic. We believed, if a Muslim concealed the faults of another in this world, his own faults would be concealed by Allaah on the Day (i.e., Day of Resurrection). One revert declared that Usama bin Laden was better than “a million George Bushes” and “a thousand Tony Blairs” simply because he’s a “Muslim”.

Arrogantly speaking, we Muslims were “the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind.” (3:110) So when an atrocity occurred that was obviously committed by Muslims in the name of Allaah, my fellow brothers and sisters were complacent. We obsequiously forsook the human rights violations in Muslim countries, even when the victims were Muslims. The conspiracy theories widespread in my Muslim society were outright delusion.

Not even the moderate Muslims, who neglected salaat and committed zinaa (illegal sex; fornication, adultery, etc.), could accept the Muslim identities of the 9/11 pilots. As my Afghani classmate remarked, “It was the Jews!” When the opportunity arose for self-criticism, inevitably, we instead blamed the Jews, our favourite scapegoat. Homogenizing oneself into the Islaamic ummah was ostensibly clinched if one supported the latest Arab-Muslim agenda, grew an outstanding beard, abstained from using beads during tasbeeh, expressed hatred for the Jews, uttered the word “bid’ah” occasionally, and repudiated the modern state of Israel.

We proudly acknowledged the jihaad, yet acted stupid if questioned by a kaafir and responded to their accusations with, for example, “How do you know it was done by Muslims? Where is the evidence?” Although they were not blind to the videotaped confessions by boasting Muslim terrorists, they chose to be.

Not all Muslims were terrorists, although it was unequivocally but agonizingly true that most terrorists were Muslims. Sunni Muslims, to be exact. If some Americans or Jews died, there was sympathetic joy and I observed this particular behaviour genially absorbed by one Muslimah just five years old. Reverts hopelessly adopted a rigid interpretation of Islam taught by immigrants from oppressive theocracies that incarcerated ijtihaad to keep freethinking and dissent criminal and their rule immutable.

The greatest threat to dogmatism is doubt because thinking leads to kufr (disbelief). Islaam thought for us. My classmate Mohammed once said, “You know what your problem is? You think too much!” Ironically, freethinking and open-mindedness brought me to tolerate their da’wah and convert. I embraced Islaam and gave Allaah my undivided worship. But because I now kindly disagree, Islaamic scholars say I should be killed. Even moderate Muslims living in the West concede with my death sentence. All Muslims encountered aayaat and ahaadeeth too unpalatable to digest.

Did submission (Islaam) mean accepting not just everything, but anything? I realized that I could not be a muqallid (follower who imitates another blindly and unquestioningly). I found it deplorable that Muhammad, a man over fifty years of age, married six year-old ‘Aishah and then consummated the marriage when she was nine. His hatred for the Jews rivaled the antisemitism of Adolf Hitler.

The Prophet, supposedly guided by God, did not abolish slavery but actually possessed slaves. He waged systematic campaigns to exterminate opponents. I came from a civilization where murder was considered, believe it or not, wrong? I had to draw the line somewhere. Yielding to fundamentals and authority is a legitimate endeavour, while fundamentalism and authoritarianism is not.

In the pursuit of a strict monotheistic belief system, I incidently had accepted the irrational and illogical along with the absurd. In the process of wishful thinking, we fell into willful delusion. As blindly obedient slaves of Allaah, resultantly, believers became subdued as mentally comatose Islamobots without the ability to doubt, question, or scrutinize.

This dogmatic approach by theists favoured delusion and coercion that intentionally set believers as sheep to be led by shepherds into justifying anything they so desired (e.g., Jonestown by Jim Jones, 9/11 by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed). We harboured the delusion that Islaam was perfect, while Muslims just did not live up to Islaam. We had to agree with the inferiority of women, the amputation of the hand for thieves, and antisemitic hatred of the Jews. There was stoning of women and animal sacrifices.

Even the incentives of Islaam were ignoble. Paradise, an apparent Club Med in the sky, contained earthly sensuality and materialism catering to primitive man, such as numerous women, wine, and couches. A married Muslimah would spend eternity attending her husband as he titillated with numerous women in bed. A sensible man should expect better treatment for his wife (i.e., an equal human being that is someone’s daughter, sister, or mother). No progressive interpretation of such scripture could hide the ignominiousness.

Although the Qur’aan alone was a revelation unto itself, to deny a saheeh hadeeth was an intellectual cop-out. One had to simultaneously obey Allaah and the Rasool (messenger), without bias to sound evidence. Reason can exist, but so long as its conclusions conflict not with the institutionalized logic frozen in seventh-century Islaamic orthodoxy. To be a Muslim, one had to absolutely relinquish heterodoxy, as the name of the game is literally “submission” (Islaam). No Muslim could rationally reform a religion that had been “perfected” (5:3) by an omniscient and omnipotent God. I realized that Islaam could likely not be reformed.

Surprisingly, even as an apostate of Islaam, I contemplated on reverting back to the religion on numerous of occasions. To outsiders, Islaam was an unfashionable and demanding faith tradition to adopt. However, contrary to most apostates, I view my experience with Islam as a blessing. I enjoyed the obligations and would establish my salaah regardless if I was under a staircase in a busy subway terminal or outdoors bracing the elements. I immensely miss fajr (dawn) salaah and cleansing myself by wudhoo (ablution), a reinvigorating ritual leaving your body, heart, mind, and soul in rejuvenation. Never had I felt so pure. Islaam was intentionally my chosen faith out of sincere submission to God, not for conniving to woo a Muslimah or it being adopted by my forefathers as my birthright.

Only with the Qur’aan could I facilitate a belief in God. There seems to exist a religiosity innate in man, including the atheist. Considerably, Allaah proved to be a comforting solace, though one day I contemplated on why none of my modest supplications had ever been answered. And I begged Allaah (swt) to keep me Muslim. If I could sustain the belief in Allaah, I would remain Muslim and try to courageously reform Islaam from the clutches of fascists.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that I was plagued with doubt from the veritable onset. Although once again skeptical of religion, I continued to uphold ethics and ideals such as pacifism and vegetarianism. I had faith, just not in a particular god or religion and held my quintessential identity to be as ex-Muslim. No longer a Muslim, life now was a vacuum and I knew Islaam could never fill that void.

As an apostate of Islaam, similar to all dissidents, I keep my views hidden. But on one occassion, I confessed about my apostasy and opinions to one Muslim and was almost physically assaulted. Living with fundamentalist Muslims certainly made for a tense situation. For safety reasons, I kept up appearances and preferred to pose as a nominal or nonpracticing Muslim instead of an apostate.

As an atheist, I view all religions as man-made institutions. Unfortunately, due to inadequate evidence, I’d concede the existence of God as highly unlikely. Most definitely, this “God” described in all world religions is but a trivial idol. The whole premise of my conversion to Islaam was to embrace a monotheistic view of God and fully submit to Him. I presumably accepted an omniscient, transcendent, and sublime deity, but after delving into Islaam, I realized that Allaah was just another conventional god.

God could still exist, but equally, so could the other supernatural beings abound in mythology. The time has come for adults to grow-up and discard their imaginary friends. I’d estimate that 99.99% of believers adhere to a particular religion, not by choice, but because their parents indoctrinated them.

Before I was an agnostic, but after my experience with Islaam, I’ve become an atheist. This testimony ideally must bear criticism of Islaam, but don’t be fooled. From my intimate experience with Islaam, I’ve encountered much truth and good. For that, I’m truthfully appreciative. Some of the best people I’ve met are, in fact, Muslims. Before my conversion, I despised the religion of Prophet Muhammad. However, I now respect Islaam, but notwithstanding that I kindly choose to disagree with Muhammad.

Leaving Islaam was likely the greatest decision I’ve ever had to make. The religion of Prophet Muhammad kept me shackled from the diverse richness that is life. I’ve since rediscovered love; the unconditional loving-kindness and equal respect for all humankind, irrespective of gender, caste, race, language, nationality, religion, or lack there of. By doubt, I scrutinized and by questioning, I sought. In seeking, I increase the possibility that I may come upon more truths.

But I’m not as arrogant to claim I possess “The Truth”, with a capital tee. In conclusion, for the Muslims in the audience, a quotation from Stephen F. Roberts who eloquently said it best: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

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The recent controversy over the knighting of Salman Rushdie and the rather predictable Muslim outrage that has followed is discussed in the following article was published by Tehelka in India. It is time Islam and other religions learned to shrug at some offence, says Shoma Chaudhury, one of India's most respected journalists.

This Sword Over My Head is a Good One
IN A MORE innocent time, all it would have deserved were the jokes. So it’s the Queen’s sword that finally caught up with Salman Rushdie—Inshallah, it’s the only sword that will. And sharper jabs in that vein. Or one could have laughed at the increasing and ironic consonances between Naipaul and Rushdie—always polar extremities in any literary argument. Now both knighted. Both critical of political Islam. Both completely adopted by Great Britian.

Instead, the curious incident of Sir Salman Rushdie has typhooned into a big political storm and one is required to have serious views on it. This oughtn’t be the case, but it is. And there are good reasons for it. Rushdie stopped being merely a writer the day the fatwa was issued against him 20 years ago. He became a public phenomenon, a battlefield over which large ideas were fought. He came to represent the right to freedom of speech and expression. A cardinal for any civilised society.

His detractors will say he was an unworthy cause: Satanic Verses was not a good book, and his writing since has been on a declining graph. They will say he is a conceited, self-obsessed man who turned his comparatively secure exile into a PR myth, whereas, as one incensed British columnist points out, others who defended him suffered much worse fates. Hitoshi Igarashi, who translated Satanic Verses into Japanese, was knifed to death in July 1991; Ettore Caprioli, its Italian translator, was seriously injured in a stabbing that same month; and William Nygard, its Norwegian publisher survived an assassination attempt in October 1993.

Which brings one to the nub of the thing. The furore over Rushdie’s knighthood is not centred on his literary merit or his pleasantness quotient. It is about tremendously fundamental debates. The twist is this time the opposition to him comes both from the Islamic world and Britain. The different nature of those oppositions, of course, tells its own story.

In Britian, the carping is mostly about Rushdie’s ingratitude. Some months ago at a festival in Jaipur, as sundry journalists were introduced to the autumnal lion, he growled, “I’ve always admired TEHELKA but it’s never returned the compliment.” He was referring to a TEHELKA story that had been critical of his work when his own columns have praised the paper in the past. That need for returned compliments has come back to haunt him.

When the fatwa was announced, Britain had thrown a security cover over him that cost its taxpayers 10 million pounds over as many years. And though he had lampooned Mrs. Thatcher as the fascist “Mrs. Torture” in the book, she stood by him. The British ambassador was ordered back from Tehran, the Iranian charge d’affaires was expelled, and Scotland Yard instructed to spend whatever it took to keep him safe from avenging swords. This was the mark of a truly civilised society. But when things eased up, instead of staying in the country that had protected him, Rushdie hightailed it to Manhattan. His parting shots denounced Britain for its general provincialism and “backbiting and incestuous” literary culture. New York, he declared, was more worthy of a grand cosmopolite like him.

Justifiably, some of Britain’s cognoscenti haven’t taken well to the new honours being heaped on him and the fact that Rushdie says he’s “thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour”—never mind it’s provincial anachronism. As John Sutherland, a former Booker Prize judge, says with characteristic British restraint: “Rushdie is a supra-national, post-colonial nomad. It’s very hard to say who owns him. Yet now he has pledged himself to the service of the monarch! For the writer of the Satanic Verses, which was extremely rude about England, it’s certainly unusual.”

THE OPPOSITION from the Islamic end, unfortunately, holds no surprises. Religious heads in Kashmir say Britian must apologise as Rushdie’s knighthood has “hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world.” Some obscure Iranian group has announced a generous bounty on his head. Pakistan has equated the knighting to insulting Islam, and Ijaz-ul-Haq, its minister for religious affairs, has put his foot in it by saying honoring Rushdie is tantamount to justifying suicide bombers. Or something to that broad effect. A hundred odd youth have burned effigies of Rushdie. And Kashmir’s Maulana Mufti Bashiruddin says without irony that a death fatwa issued by him against Rushdie is still valid so the knighthood is “quite shocking”.

It’s important to remember that world media today has a dangerous way of blurring perspective. A hundred youth burning effigies of Rushdie do not the Muslim world make. Nor does Ijaz-ul-Haq or Maulana Bashiruddin or a score of bountyseeking organisations. Yet they do serve to crystallise the heart of the argument.

The most severe of Rushdie’s critics in Britain swear they would still support spending another 10 million to protect him. Because at the heart of the Rushdie debate is this crucial idea: the right to offend against the right to assault.

The freedom of expression debate often gets snarled in questions of how far one should go. It’s time one said it aloud: In a civilised world, the right to offend or, to use the more emotionally charged term, “hurt” anyone’s sentiment, be it Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian or Buddhist, should be inviolable. You can argue the merits and demerits of the offence: is it good art or bad art? Is it in poor taste or does it truly challenge received notions? Does it go too far or does it fall short? You can argue it, but you cannot prohibit it. And you most certainly cannot assault it.

How far should be a matter of personal discretion not physical threat. The spectre of “hurting feelings” cannot curb the fundamental human right to express oneself peacefully. One is tempted to say that the real crisis of Islam—if any—is that it tends to over react to bad art: bad Danish cartoons, bad Bangladeshi writer, and for too long, an overrated supra-national one. Surely a religion and culture as old and glorious as Islam can shrug its shoulder at a little badly-done offence.

If knighting Salman Rushdie is a political act that will drive home that point, more power to its sword.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


I've heard that diesel fuel can be made from coal. The price would correspond to making diesel from crude oil at $45 a barrel. My source for that number is the Governor of Montana. The US is switching to Europe’s clean diesel standard so this might be the time to do it. Coal diesel and biodiesel might be a good combo.

The oil markets could nix this by dropping to $30 again. We would need to place tariffs on oil imports below $50 to protect the domestic investments. The US with $60 a barrel oil is managing well enough. We can sustain our economy at this price and turn our backs on the Middle East.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Read and comprehend, my fellow believers in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The words of Hirsi Ali at the National Press Club here in Washington:

The first time that I was at a gathering like this one, it was November 2005, at the Krasnapolsky hotel in Amsterdam; not quite like this one, though, because there is only one National Press Club. I was invited to a session on media coverage of Islam, and Submission was shown. Submission is a 10-minute film I made with Theo van Gogh. As many of you know, he was killed for it by a Muslim.

I found myself in the odd position of defending freedom of expression, free press, and the rights of women against Arab-Islamic journalists and commentators. I found it odd because the Western journalists whose conference it was were either quiet, mumbled something about free expression, or approached me after the session and whispered into my ear that I had done a good job. I noticed the embarrassment they felt at defending the very right from which they earn their bread.

I noticed the same sense of uneasiness in early 2006 among Western journalists, academics, politicians, and commentators on how to respond to the cartoons of Muhammad in Denmark. In fact, many seriously defended the assertion that Denmark had to apologize for the cartoons. This attitude was repeated in the fall of last year when the Pope quoted a Byzantine emperor who wrote that the founder of Islam spread his religion by the sword, and the New York Times urged the Pope to apologize.

It is not the end of history. The 21st century began with a battle of ideas, and this battle is about the values of the West versus those of Islam.

Tony Blair, a leader I admire, wrote in the first issue of this year's Foreign Affairs magazine that what we were facing after the 11th of September was a battle of ideas, a battle of values. In his article, Blair began by incisively outlining the most crucial conflict of our time, but then lost the line of his argument in inconsistency when he came to clarifying the parties involved in the war of values. He backpedaled against his argument and declared that the Koran is a great book, ahead of its time and good for women.

Why are Westerners so insecure about everything that is so wonderful about the West: political freedom, free press, freedom of expression, equal rights for women and men, gays and heterosexuals, critical thinking, and the great strength of scrutinizing ideas—and especially faith?

It is not the end of history. The 21st century began with a battle of ideas, and this battle is about the values of the West versus those of Islam. Tony Blair and the Pope should not be embarrassed in saying it, and you should stop self-censoring. Islam and liberal democracy are incompatible; cultures and religions are not equal. And perhaps most important of all, Muslims are not half-wits who can respond only in violence. The Koran is not a great book; it is reactionary and full of misogyny. The Byzantine emperor's analysis of Muhammad was correct: he spread his faith by the sword.

From this perspective journalists like all the rest of us face the unpleasant reality of taking sides or getting lost in the incoherence of the so-called middle ground. The role of journalists serving the West, who understand what this particular battle is about, will be to inform their audiences accordingly.

As I travel from country to country to testify from experience and observation that Islamic dogma creates a cult of death, a cage for women, and a curse against knowledge, I get both support and opposition. Europeans and Americans ask:

But what about the good Muslim living next to me? What about the different schools of thought in Islam? Is there no difference between the Muslims of Indonesia and the ones in Somalia, or the Muslims in Saudi Arabia and those in Turkey? Can we really generalize? What about the women who voluntarily wear the headscarf and the burqa and are happy to relinquish their freedom as their faith requires? If we give Catholics and Protestants and Jews their schools and their universities, isn't it only fair to give Muslims theirs, too? If generations of Jews, Italians, and Irish have assimilated, is it unreasonable to think that Muslims will assimilate too, eventually?" Isn't it more fruitful to engage in debate with your opponent and convince him through dialogue to take back his declaration of war than to attack him? Isn't it obvious that military attacks, such as those in Afghanistan after 9/11 and in Iraq, create more terrorists, and therefore more people who are determined to destroy the West than there would be if we had dialogue with them?

These questions are legitimate and deserve serious answers. Let's make a moral distinction between Islam and Muslims. Muslims are diverse. Some, like Irshad Manji and Tawfiq Hamid, want to reform their faith. Others want to spread their beliefs through persuasion, violence or both. Others are apathetic and do not care much for politics. Others want to leave it and convert to Christianity, like Nonie Darwish, or become atheist, like me.

Islam unreformed, as a set of beliefs, is hostile to everything Western.

In a free society, if Jews, Protestants, and Catholics have their own schools, then Muslims should have theirs, too. But how long should we ignore that in Muslim schools in the West, kids are taught to believe that Jews are pigs and dogs? Or that they should distance themselves from unbelievers and jihad is a virtue? Isn't it odd that everywhere in Europe with large Muslim organizations, demands are made not to teach kids about the Holocaust, while in mosques and Muslim bookshops The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is distributed?

And what about in Muslim lands, where Jews, Catholics, and Protestants cannot have their own schools, or churches, or graveyards? If Muslims can proselytize in Vatican City, why can't Christians proselytize in Mecca? Why do we find this acceptable? If Christians, Jews, and Atheists take to the streets in large numbers to protest against their own elected governments in objection to the war in Iraq, to the war against terror, why don't Muslims march in equally large number against the beheadings of Western aid workers? Why don't Muslims stand up for their own? Why are Jews and Christians and Atheists in the West the ones fighting genocide in Darfur? Why does it pass unnoticed in Muslim lands when Shias kill Sunnis and Sunnis, Shias by the thousands? It doesn't add up, does it? If you ask me, "What is the role of journalism today?" I would urge you to look into these questions.

As a woman in the West I have access to education. I have a job, and I can change jobs as I wish. I can marry the man of my choice, or I can choose not to marry at all. If nature allows it, I can have any number of children I want. I can manipulate nature and freeze my eggs. I can have an abortion. I can own property. I can travel wherever I want. I can read whichever book, newspaper, or magazine I wish. I can watch any movie I want or go to the museum of my choice. I can have an opinion on the moral choices of others and express my opinion, even publish it. And I can change my mind as time goes by. I can establish a political party or join an existing one; I am free to change parties or give up my membership. I can vote. I can choose not to vote. I can stand for election to office or go into business. This is what makes the West so great.

In Muslim lands, except for a very lucky few, women are denied education, have no job, and are forced into marriage with strangers. In the name of Islam, women are denied the right to their bodies; they cannot choose whether to have children or how many to have. They have no rights to abortion, and often they die trying to get one. They cannot own property, trade, or travel without the risk of robbery or rape. Most women (and men) live in state and religious censorship on what to read (if they can read at all) and what films to watch, and they have hardly any museums or art they can enjoy. Of the 57 Muslim nations that are members of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference), only two are democracies. Both are frail and corrupt, and both face the risk of being overtaken by the agents of pure Islam. Turkey has a safety check in the shape of the army and Indonesia none. In none of these countries—except for the usual show-pieces to delude the West—are women allowed to establish their own political parties, play a meaningful role in one, vote, or run for office.

This obsession with subjugating women is one of the things that makes Islam so low. And the agents of Islam—from Riyadh to Tehran, from Islamabad to Cairo—know that any improvement in the lives of women will lead to the demise of Islam and a disappearance of their power. This is why, among other things, they are so desperate to cage in women. This is why they also hate the West.

Please don't be fooled by the few shrill voices—in or out of the veil—that enjoy the status quo and betray their fellow women.

If we do not understand the differences between Islam and the West—why one is so great and the other so low—and we don't fight back and win this battle of ideas in order to preserve our civilization, in my view there is no point to your profession or mine.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a resident fellow at AEI.

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