This Sunday, while with a group of friends who get together once or twice a month to provide food aid to orphaned or abandoned kids, we drove past a Mosque in a rundown area called Grasmere. I think it was towards the middle of the day and the call to prayer was being sounded through loudspeakers, probably mounted on one of the minarets. One of my friends quite uncharacteristically remarked that these Mosques were springing up everywhere, and that he hated the Muslims for their militant behaviour and the spreading of Islam. My friend is religious of course, but his religious allegiance is not important; the hatred shown toward a competing faith is.
I must have surprised the others in the car for the rebuke I offered, because they are all aware of my irreligious or Atheist stance. I commented that one should not hate a man for his religious beliefs, but rather hate what his religion and his religious teachers or clerics make him believe. Before I could continue exhorting my abhorrence of the word “hate” we came to our turn-off to the children’s Place of Safety and the subject changed to something else. Since Sunday, several incidents have made me reflect on hatred, justification for hatred, and religion, Islam in particular.
When I got home that Sunday, I came across an article and a video in the online heraldsun, an Australian publication, “It’s OK to hit your wife, says Melbourne Islamic cleric.” The video clearly shows Islamic cleric Samir Abu Hamza instructing his male followers “…to hit their wives as a last resort, but they were not to make them bleed or become bruised. ” In case you’re thinking I’ve resorted to some sort of quote mining to deliberately distort his meaning and intention, the video available together with the article is quite clear that this is what he said. He went on to state that “If the husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing the bread on the stove she must leave it and come and respond to her husband, she must respond,” in a clear reference to a man’s right to demand sex from his wife.
Apart from the fact that this disgustingly patriarchal attitude belonged in times long gone by, why is it that clerics from the Abrahamic religions, but more especially Islam getting involved in the domestic affairs of men and women? It’s bad enough that clerics make wild pronouncements on prophets and gods, but this insidious need to pronounce on the private lives of adherents as well, is quite frankly, alarming. Is the hold of religious clerics on their congregations so tenuous, that they need to now control every aspect of your life to ensure total and utter submission and compliance? Are the clerics merely re-iterating what is written in the Koran? I found three English translations at ConversationalAtheist, for the Koranic verse that refers to (governs?) wife beating, and although they differ only slightly, they clearly condone such behaviour. What drives a cleric to re-inforce behaviour that is universally condemned as unacceptable? His religious conviction? His unquestioning belief? His religion? Or his teacher before him? The vicious cycle continues…
Over the last few days I’ve been conducting an online discussion via the comments page on one of my previous blogs “The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know…,” with a young Muslim women from Singapore Malaysia, I think. She’s obviously a bright young women, but some of her naive religious beliefs are quite depressing; frightening actually. It’s quite clear that her thinking has been moulded by her religious instructors, the clerics. She like so many others, people from all religions are quite oblivious that their religious “panel-beating” shows clearly when they defend their beliefs.
Now I don’t want to create the impression that Islam is the worst religion by singling it out for attention; all the other religions are on the same footing when it comes to perpetuating irrational beliefs and behaviour. The point I’m trying to get across is that religion needs the clerics to keep it alive; and these are the people we need to despise, not hate.
hi lenny 🙂 interesting post! i’ve got like heaps and heaps to say, not to mention, i learned many new things today as well from this post and your reply 😉 nevertheless, this reply is going to be short, as i try to construct everything into a novel to post as a comment. lol! but just to clear a few things out…i’m from Malaysia (you were reallythisclose though) 😉 and just for the record, i was born Muslim. and for the past 25 years of my life…i’ve been practicing Islam for the past 8 months 🙂 and i really mean like if before i was wearing short skirts, partying and going to clubs, not praying at all…i am now a full on hijabi, and living Islam as best as I can..because I just LOVE it 😀 (and this is through a lot of reading and the benefits of the internet ;). on the other hand, i’d like to think i’m a born muslim cum convert (cause i don’t know what to call myself) 😉 speaking of converts…
in your opinion, why are there so many people who converted to Islam…especially AFTER 9/11?
and in terms of the whole wife/husband..woman/man thing..there’s always a reason in Islam. cause we don’t see Islam as a religion…rather, it is the way of life 😀
Thanks for the info. on your location. Blog post updated accordingly. Very interesting city – Kuala Lumpur; hope to visit some day soon.
From what you tell me, you’re very lucky that Malaysia is pretty liberal politically and religiously. Not so in the Middle East, and some parts of Africa; Somalia and Nigeria to name a few. I hope you can take the time to read of the experiences of the women in these countries; repressed politically, socially and religiously, to add insult to injury. Check out the books, Infidel and The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Women’s Cry for Reason by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It will give you an appreciation of what you have been spared.
Do you perhaps have verifiable statistics for the conversions to Islam? How many women voluntarily converted?
“…there’s always a reason in Islam.” That’s a really perculiar statement; there’s always a reason for anything and everything that happens, but is that reason a good one, or noble one, or honourable one, or valid one, or moral one, or ethical one….you get the point?
Also, stating that Islam is a way of life, is rather strange; hilarious even. If Islam is a way of life, it’s most strange that adherents seem to revel in worshipping death; dead prophets, dead ideas, dead morals, death and destruction, suicide, war, jihad, etc. etc. etc. But, if Islam is really a way of life, that would then explain why the clerics are so intent on controlling every facet of a Muslim’s life; they tell you what to wear, what to eat, what not to eat, when to pray, how to pray, who to worship, who not to worship, how to marry, who to marry, when to marry, when to have sex, how to have sex, how to maintain a household, how to manage finances, how to behave at home, at Mosque, everywhere, how to resolve domestic disputes, how hard to beat your wife, well how to do damn near everything. I don’t mean to poke fun at your assertion, but if you examine it logically and rationally, there is no other conclusion.
Hi Lenny 🙂
Yes, you should visit Kuala Lumpur! and yes i’m lucky to be in Malaysia..no war either..but it doesn’t mean our challenges are lesser. We’re a Muslim country, yet we are heavily exposed and influenced by western culture, values and influences. Education wise, it’s great. But moral, social, lifestyle…I cannot say the same.
You’re right, a lot of Muslims in other parts of the world, are being oppressed. But how can we blame God and religion, when it is the interpretation, the education or the lack of it, and the ignorance of men that is the cause of all problems? Islam is Surrender, Submission, Obedience, Sincerity and Peace… what makes you think what these people do is out of love and understanding for God and the Prophet (s.a.w) and not just wrong-doing themselves? Just like that beating you mentioned in your post. It is beating, (with anything smaller than a toothbrush), not to bruise nor bleed – not to bash up. So if it’s clearly stated…why do people do otherwise? Islam tells us that we should abstain sex before marriage, do not drink alcohol or do drugs, to guard our modesty (dressing, socializing, etc) but do we adhere? We tend to rebel. And when we face the consequences, we blame God. So there MUST be a reason to everything that He has mentioned in the Book, for it isn’t just a book, it is His words and Guidance. It’s actually like a manual book. Only that it doesn’t have all the Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. Why? To me, it makes life more interesting. THIS is how you find the reason.
O my servants who have wronged themselves, never despair of the mercy of Allah – for truly He forgives all sins. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
We can only repent when we know our mistakes.
Like the wearing of the hijab and veiling. In short, you will find women who are forced by their husbands or families to cover everything up. On the other hand, you will find women, who do it voluntarily, with pride and happiness. Why? Many reasons of course. But the main point is that God just told us to cover ourselves. HOW and WHY a person covers themselves is really up to them. Only God can judge a person for what they do based on their true intentions and amount of knowledge. If they are oppressed by anyone, do not despair, God will see they get a fair trial. Or…we can pray that they come to realization of their mistakes.
I would look for the stats but I have none. I’ve been reading a lot on it (okay I guess that’s not a reliable source!) and also come across many bloggers who are converts. Feel free to drop by my website as I’ve links to theirs 🙂
I can share with you what I think about the whole “worshipping death; dead prophets, dead ideas, dead morals, death and destruction, suicide, war, jihad, etc. etc. etc. But, if Islam is really a way of life, that would then explain why the clerics are so intent on controlling every facet of a Muslim’s life; they tell you what to wear, what to eat, what not to eat, when to pray, how to pray, who to worship, who not to worship, how to marry, who to marry, when to marry, when to have sex, how to have sex, how to maintain a household, how to manage finances, how to behave at home, at Mosque, everywhere, how to resolve domestic disputes, how hard to beat your wife.” All I can say for now is that we teach children how to do a lot of things, because they need guidance. But who is the one who told us that by the time you reach this and this age, you are an adult, and you should be able to stand on your own two feet, and you should be this and you should be that and you are on your own. How do we live if not through trial and error, making mistakes, doing our best…and credit goes to who? You. Now that’s our biggest mistake. You think you’ve done everything on your own. For we forget that a higher Power has put things in our lives for us. i mean, yes…we can pat ourselves on the back if we did put in effort and do good deeds and all that…all i’m saying is, the Book of God actually feeds us with guidance to life. yet, we are the ones who do not want to be guided!
The way He guides us is through His books and His Prophets. Does that make any sense to you at all? If it were only the books, people didn’t know how to do or interpret things. So He sent us Prophets, who are human just like us…though they are near perfect (as what we should strive to be, although we are not). What if there was nothing? This is what is happening now…there is no order. People do as they like. Lets say, Gays. Once upon a time they were not accepted. Even in the Qur’an states about them. My grandmother tells me she would not have believed a man looking like a woman or the opposite, yet the Qur’an has revealed the future and she’s like, “It actually happened faster than I thought it would.” Heck…a ‘man’ got pregnant and gave birth?? And we’re like wow instead of wth??? And now there’s Gay rights. Great. Here’s to more order in the world. We are human beings, and we have freewill. Depending on what you use it for…it will either bring you towards the right path, or the other.
It is simply like this…if you are against God, you will find everything against Him. All the knowledge you seek, is to affirm that non belief that one already has. It will be difficult for you to see the beauty of things when all you’re looking for is the illogical aspects of it. I’ve been there, and I’m still there concerning other aspects of my beliefs. But we won’t know unless we seek the knowledge. See what I mean when Islam encourages you to seek knowledge? Cause we are nothing without it. And truly, if you want to find out the good…trust me, He WILL guide you. If He created us, don’t you think He knows all of our imperfections and flaws and weaknesses, among the strengths and our intellect? If everything and everyone is already perfect here and now…what is the point of being rewarded Heaven or Hell when you die?? Look around you…this is not Heaven, neither is it Hell. This here, is just a test of patience, and faith.
🙂 take care and hope you have a nice day ahead 🙂
on the other hand, here’s a link to some better explanations on Islam and wife ‘beating’.
btw…i’d like to point out that these way of living, counseling and respect women and men should have for one another, is not simply an ‘old-school, traditional or conservative’ thought. it it supposed to suit human beings be it last time, today or 10 years down the road. God knows best 🙂
Dayana, I have nothing “against god…” simply because it’s impossible to have something against something that does not exist. I also have no intention “finding” something that does not exist either.
You have your mind set on this god thing, and I concede that there is no way I can change your mind. You are still young, and I guess I need to leave you to discover the truth for yourself.
Take care and please drop in from time to time to time to see what’s new.
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