Tag Archives: Apostasy

The dehumanising done by Islam

I have written that we should not dehumanise Muslims. However, we can be critical of religion and certainly those that try to be the apologists of it. Mehdi Hasan in writing “Woolwich Attack: Demonising Muslims Won’t Help” does not help by trying to rewrite the history of Islam. It feels like he is trying to take advantage of the solidarity we show Muslims by trying to get us to swallow that Islam has been misunderstood.

Perversely, it was the non-Muslim cub scout leader who, in trying to save the soldier’s life and standing up to his alleged attackers, was acting in accordance with Qur’anic principles. Let’s be clear: Islam, like every other faith, doesn’t permit the killing of innocents.

I have asked him via twitter what could possibly be perverse about a non Muslim going to help someone she thought was injured in the road, and verbally challenging the attackers? He may be wanting to contrast her actions with the killers. That is not what perversely means. Rather it sounds like a Freudian slip that Ingrid Loyau-Kennett showed heroism and compassion without needing to be a Muslim – how out of character for a non-believer, how perverse.

In case you think I am being too hard read what Hasan had to say in 2009:

“We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.”

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The problem Hasan has is the belief the Koran must be right as the Word of God. As such, if we find anything there which is an anathema to us we must be mistaken in our interpretation. That does not work. The translation is very clear, and how the Koran and Hadith are applied in the world a testament that followers of Islam can think that too.

If Islam does not want us ever to harm the innocent, it becomes most important to know who qualifies. Clearly the following people are not as innocent as we would like them to be.

    Apostates

Qur’an (4:89) – “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”

Bukhari (52:260) – “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ ” Note that there is no distinction as to how that Muslim came to be a Muslim.

Hasan suggests apostasy is only a sin awaiting punishment in next life

Speaking of dehumanising:

Our rights in Egypt, as Christians or converts, are less than the rights of animals,” El-Gohary said. “We are deprived of social and civil rights, deprived of our inheritance and left to the fundamentalists to be killed. Nobody bothers to investigate or care about us.” El-Gohary, 56, has been attacked in the street, spat at and knocked down in his effort to win the right to officially convert. He said he and his 14-year-old daughter continue to receive death threats by text message and phone call. (Source)

    Homosexuals

al-Tirmidhi, Sunan 1:152 – Muhammad said “Whoever is found conducting himself in the manner of the people of Lot, kill the doer and the receiver.”

Speaking of dehumanising:

Citing the Qur’an, Javadi-Amoli said politicians who pass laws in favour of homosexuals are lower than animals. “Even animals … dogs and pigs don’t engage in this disgusting act [homosexuality] but yet they [western politicians] pass laws in favour of them in their parliaments.” (Source)

    Unbelievers

Sura 9:29
YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

Speaking of dehumanising:

The restrictions placed on non-Islamic faiths, and enshrined in law in some countries different legal status of non believers.

    Women

Quran 4:34
“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.”

Sura 2:223 – Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like.

Speaking of dehumanising:

“The passage of a law in Afghanistan asking Muslim women to unconditionally submit to the sexual whims of their husbands once in four days is a shocking piece of legislation that seeks to dehumanise women reducing them to mere chattels devoid of human rights.” (Source)

My secularism means no Muslim should be threatened or denied their rights and must be treated equally as a citizen. An issue that I want Hasan to go further on is promoting acceptance and equal rights for gay Muslims. I know humanist Muslims that condemn the verses above. But the rights we give apostates, unbelievers, homosexuals and women are not because of Islam.

It is in spite of Islam.

UPDATE 1pm: The article above is concerned with how cherry picking is used, indeed by all faiths, or a different interpretation given to fit in with enlightenment values. All can quote mine, but my point above is not just that detractors of Islam quote mine – extreme Islamists do too to legitimise their actions, by law or by terror.

The key difference being I want Muslims to live in peace and harmony. Jihadists want us all, believer or not, to accept their version of faith and will do this by all means they can.

Because of how they view a book written over a millennia ago.

Is it too much to ask we move beyond one ancient book to work out how we should treat one another?

Follow up blogs: Hasan replies – perverse meaning of words

Buffet Style religion – the cherry pickers

A response to terror

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Filed under atheism, British Society, Religion, secular

A Journey into Apostasy – a brave new world

The journey picks up where we left off, on my becoming an apostate. The first part of the journey – studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and leaving can be read here.

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Above: My companions while taught at home

Even now twenty years on I can trace the route of my father’s tears of joy as I told him the news we had left the study of Jehovah’s Witnesses, on one of his weekly visits to see me. For years he had not let on his true feelings: regarding my being taught at home or being so close to baptism, and demanding a blood transfusion if needed. He feared not being allowed to see me or my brother had his displeasure been realised. His amateur dramatics in local Gilbert and Sullivan productions had paid off in his once a week performance as Dad. Shows like Princess Ida which no one could stop me seeing now. It was roughly a year or so after the divorce that mum had accepted the bible study. Timing is, as they say, everything as to what happens in your life. It felt like six years of mine had been wasted.

The biggest loss was a religious community, even though it had enforced every facet of belief on my child self. Our lodger was tolerated by the elders of the congregation because he did not “practise” his homosexuality at our home and used the back door to enter his part of the house. Word play is something he taught me, together with an appreciation for Douglas Adams, which I shall always be grateful for. There was no one else, besides him and my father outside the faith because “bad associations spoil useful habits.” Satan and his minions were considered able to use people outside the faith to get you to leave. Apostates are willing agents of the evil one by this reckoning.

There was no one to talk too about losing my religion. My mother had been concerned I would be the one still committed. However we reacted very differently on leaving. She still believed Jehovah existed, but the Society had failed to represent him. My own view was initially a deist but I had my work cut out learning about other faiths and whether science had answers that scripture did not know, before I could be sure of anything. Our views drifted further in time and my future atheism would distress her. She still read the Society publications, whilst I did not even want them on the book shelf. I had realised how easy it was to believe passionately in something that was not worthy of such devotion.

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Playing as a war god to be worshipped on a new planet – definite NO

The congregation did shun, literally not talking or meeting with us, save for contact three months later by a ministerial servant (one down from an elder) seeing how we all were. With glee I happened to be playing the strategy god war game Mega-lo-mania on my newly acquired Mega Drive and thought – here is one game you are not burning. Note that playing card games or chess were not allowed because of the tarot origins of cards and the military aspect of chess. Naturally I bought books to learn card games and taught myself to play chess to fill in the spare time I now had by not attending or preparing for eight hours worth of meetings each week.

Being taught at home meant I had no other children to talk too accept at the Kingdom Hall and study meetings. What was now available to openly explore in the world had exponentially increased while the known population had dramatically declined. This was made harsher because I had no childhood friends to call on having existed mainly in a world of suited men and well dressed women old enough to adopt me. Those people from my childhood no longer existed.

Like the elder who led our local weekly study group who I called Uncle (his idea not mine) who grilled me on my bible knowledge; a challenge I revelled in showing off on. The other elder old enough to be my grandfather who used to take me weekly for swimming and diving – his dives from the top board were legendary in the swimming baths. My mother as a single parent with a younger disabled son could not provide such social outlets. To avoid being lonely I read books – but I was now alone.

My private study on evolution reading Richard Dawkins, and desire to go back to school to obtain qualifications, destroyed the relationship with my mother. With the TV aerial back on the roof (absent for two years because of “evil TV”) she shouted at David Attenborough whenever he said “evolution” on his wildlife documentaries. I was no longer turning to her for advice or counsel, nor able to help with the care of my brother when at secondary school as I had when taught at home. I was hitting the library as somewhere to do homework without the distractions of family life. Plus I finally discovered why Ford Prefect liked parties as I socialised. There was resentment too on my part that she had been so gullible to believe what the Jehovah’s Witnesses said. I mourned a childhood of no celebration and no friends to speak of. My adolescent self was being reborn in a brave new world.

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Even chess was off limits with the military undertones – yet I could read Old Testament

Going back to secondary school seven months after leaving the faith helped in so many ways beyond obtaining qualifications. There was bullying to start with as the new kid (though I had been there for two terms four years previous). Being in the school play changed everything – there was a camaraderie and sense of belonging with my own peer group. Plus it helped me to understand why my father had the acting bug. I also became the chess captain when chess had a brief resurgence as Britain’s Nigel Short took on the Russian Thinking Machine that is Gary Kasparov.

Without that lifeline provided by teachers who really did look out for my education and gaining life experiences – I honestly do not know what story I would be writing now. My mind was made up that I would achieve something that nobody in my family had done before – attend university. Something which is a low priority when you think the end of the world is soon to be upon you.

It took me five years to get over instincts that constant mind training at meetings had installed on an impressionable young mind. In adult life I have twice on the off chance met people like myself who grew up in the faith only to leave. They had not met someone else like themselves, and the ability to talk about these things with someone who knew first hand was one I wish my adolescent self had access to.

Social media via the Internet makes talking to such people possible now. I hope people take advantage of it. That is why the apostasy project is so important. However, when you are brought up to consider apostates as capable of being a shining light while working for the dark evil one, none of us should take for granted how difficult it is for someone with doubts to reach out.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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A journey into Apostasy – the beginning of the end

“Does Jehovah have as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice.” – 1 Samuel 15:22

Watching your childhood toys being packed up invokes memories of an innocent age lost in a sea of time, preserved in a cardboard box. Presents from Christmas like the Millennium Falcon and X Wing fighters bought after watching Star Wars for the first time. Spectrum games given for your birthday where you fight valiantly against hordes of ghosts and monsters to save the damsel in distress.

I was still a child when such things were gathered, and what was chosen by an elder would be buried or burnt for all time. For those things above suggested a power beyond that of Jehovah, referencing the occult and satanic machinations. My mistake was playing one of my computer games where you collected a crystal ball during a visit by an elder. Even PAC man did not escape this moral maze. I was nine years old when childish things were put away.

The year before at school assembly we had thanked God for the rain. Which made me wonder, if God decided where the rain should fall, why was there drought and people starving as a result in Africa? If we were all God’s children we all deserved life giving water.

My mother did not have the answers. There were no science books at home, and the internet did not exist. That same evening there was a knock on the door by Jehovah’s Witnesses. She put the question to them, and their answer made her start a bible study with them.

By the time I was ten this study involved four meetings of two hours a week each, door to door ministry at the weekend and about 20 odd hours of personal study preparing for questions at meetings. At these meetings Watchtower and Bible Tract Society publications were read, and bibles checked to see scripture said what the publications referenced. My aim was to find the verse while the sound of rustling still resonated in the hall.

To prepare for the end of this system of things I was taught at home during high school. The aerial for the TV was removed to prevent watching subversive programming shortly after the first Iraq war. The end of days were clearly at hand were the mutterings of the faithful.

Not even one per cent of the population identifies as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and of all faith groups it has the biggest exodus of children once they are adults. My time came early having read subversively Douglas Adam’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It had been banned by the elders because it suggested an alien race built the earth, not Jehovah, and for mice not us. The humorous quotes a lodger mentioned made me want to read.

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Hitchhikers made me think how would I prove God not aliens made the earth? Researching Society publications for this ultimate answer unearthed instead prophecies made that did not happen during the 1920s. My head swooned. The bible warns against false prophets and to reject them. Plus new editions of books I had read changed dogma while quoting different scriptures. Once, those destroyed at Sodom and Gomorrah would be given a second chance after Judgement day in an old edition. Now, the new edition said they had already been judged for eternal destruction. There was no acknowledgement of the change – it just happened.

I was fourteen when my mother and I decided to leave. Her doubts started because she would not say “only those that call on the name of Jehovah will be saved”. She felt it was for God, not man, to make such judgements. So she was not allowed to go door to door.

Wonder and curiosity – these are qualities that made me to want to understand the world and universe I live in. For me there is a greater comfort in knowing we are working to reduce suffering caused by disease than thinking God will end this but probably kill 99% of the living population in the process.

Those qualities are not childlike but essential qualities to go beyond unquestioned obedience and sacrifice.

I had gone from bible student to being regarded as an apostate. Despite the elders best efforts I found there was a richer world of knowledge, culture and humour than was imaginable in the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

For more on The Apostasy Project click here

Follow up blog: A Brave New World (on becoming an apostate)

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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International Conference Council of Ex Muslims of Britain (CEMB)

Human Rights Approach

At the first conference of the CEMB, there was two things underlying the talks: that human rights require that people are protected, rather than groups or religions. The other was that political Islam is different from many other religions because it rejects the distinction between private and public aspects of modern life – and rejects the secular notion that your faith should do no harm to others. Ideas are protected by blood, whether by the death of Apostates, or threats to the life of those that speak out against Islam.

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are. – Don Miguel Ruiz

In Conway Hall, where the conference took place, above the stage by the celling emblazoned on the wall is To thine Own Self Be True. In a pluralistic society that should not be difficult – where more then one idea can be accepted. A.C Grayling made the point that tolerance should not be easy, while you should not move to the point that you tolerate the intolerant. Sharia Law does not treat women and men equally before the court, and many women do not speak English – to claim that the whole process is voluntary when British law has rights for women from dividing estates to custody of children is absurd when there is in reality no access to the law of the land in Muslim communities for women.

Ahadi made the point though that how the left and the right of politics deal with this issue is wrong. The right that it is a threat to the British way of life, while on the left that different cultures need to be accommodated. In practise the question is do we want a European ideal or a human rights ideal? The dutch politician Ehsan Jami seemed to be of the former notion, requiring an end to dual citizenship with an Islamic country. As Ahadi mentioned, the debate had changed since 9/11 from foreigners as they were called to being called Muslim – even though she had renounced Islam and many refugees were escaping political Islam.

Apostasy by its nature rejects free expression – the penalty being death in some countries, though whether the Koran itself advocates such punishment is disputed. In that sense one would hope that one day those that view the afterlife as being the judgement would prevail. However Sharia Law is gaining acceptance in Muslim countries, and even in Britain is established supposedly on a voluntary basis for civil matters but legal sanction given to the outcome of cases. Sharai Law was likened to a Trojan Horse that political Islam uses to take on the apparatus of the state.

in that use of free expression we have to make the distinction that we are against Islamophobia. This is a struggle of ideology on the nature of the relationship between the state and citizens. It may be argued that the only logical consequence is that you have to allow all forms of speech to allow criticism and guard freedom, with Pooya arguing that it should unlimited, unconditional. A.C. Grayling made the point that you had to be very specific about the limitations – which namely should be on what you cannot choose as a person. For example: gender, age, race but religious belief is free game because you consciously choose that.

One video that was shown was Fitna Remade which outlines the case rather well (without the Islamophoba immigration bashing of the original documentary).

Islamic Penal Code

President Ahmadinejad has been supporting efforts to have the death penalty for Apostasy judicially sanctioned once again. Iran needs to know that the world is watching – the Islamic Penal Code would allow men to be executed for abandoning Islam, with women serving life imprisonment. The Iranian Parliament voted 196 in favour with 7 against. This goes against the existing constitution in Iran.

On one subject, however, sharia law is unequivocal: men who change their religion from Islam must be punished with death. So when the judge heard the case of Rashid’s father, he could refer to sharia and reach a straightforward decision: the death penalty. There was no procedure for appeal.

Nevertheless, in the 18 years since Hossein Soodmand’s execution, there have been no judicially sanctioned killings of apostates in Iran, although there have been many reports of disappearances and even murders. “As the number of converts from Islam grows,” notes Ms Papadouris, “apostasy has again become a serious concern for the Iranian government.” In addition to 10,000 Christian converts living in Iran, there are several hundred thousand Baha’is who are deemed apostates.

There is another factor: President Ahmadinejad. “The President didn’t initiate the law mandating the death penalty for apostates,” says Papadouris, “but he has been lobbying for it. It is an effective form of playing populist politics. The Iranian economy is doing very badly, and the country is in a mess: Ahmadinejad may be calculating that he can gain support, and deflect attention from Iran’s problems, by persecuting apostates.”

The new law is not yet in force in Iran: it requires another vote in parliament, and then the signature of the Ayatollah. But that could happen within a matter of weeks. “Or,” says Papadouris, “it could conceivably be allowed to drop, were there a powerful enough international outcry”.

Time may be running out for Rashin’s brother. She believes that the new law will be applied in an arbitrary fashion, with individuals selected for death being chosen to frighten others into submission. That is why she fears for her brother. “We just don’t know what will happen to him. We only know that if they want to kill him, they will.” [Daily Telegraph]

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