Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

As i was working out at the gym today the News Screens flashed at me from all main Australian Broadcasters. It revealed two Muslim women from the group called “Hizb Ut Tahrir” having a discussion about if and how it is justified for a man to physically hit his wife or not. In the video the two women talk about different interpretations of a certain verse in the Qur’an and they take out a Siwak (toothbrush) and tap each other with it to indicate this is the “beating” that is accepted, though not encouraged according to some Islamic opinions.

The video made all mainstream news and as i was working out i did indeed shake my head at this moment because it seems that Muslims are often the ones that shoot themselves in the foot by having such discussions and leaving the grounds of interpretation open far and wide.

Yet in a way, it’s actually good that this video was released and the Media published it because, let’s face it, we as Muslims and Islam as a faith already have a deplorable reputation and that bar could barely be raised any lower sadly, but at the same time it has opened up a discussion and dialogue about a huge problem, not necessarily in the Muslim community but in the Australian community at large, and that is domestic violence.

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The video in question of two women in Australia discussing if wife beating is permissible in Islam.

Now theologically, without a shadow of a doubt, beating your wife, or in fact anyone for that matter is absolutely unacceptable and a widely condemned action from an Islamic standpoint and this is the important crux of the discussion because all we are seeing right now are superficial opinions and snippets of dialogues that scrape the surface of this troubling detail.

What we need to do, or i need to do for that matter, is get to the core of the matter and we must examine, if indeed this action of “wife beating” is an accepted practice of Islam- the religion- and if i can convince you that it is not, then we can clearly make a distinction on whether or not this person is acting in accordance of not only the laws of his religion but also the laws of the land that he lives in and in this case we’re talking about Australia.

Now let us start with the verse in Question, which is found in the Qur’an. Chapter 4, verse 34.  “Men  are the supporters  of  women   by  what Allah has  given  one  over  the  other  and what   they  spend  from  their  wealth.  So  righteous   women  are  obedient,  guarding  in absence what Allah would  have  them  guard.  But those from  whom you  fear  rebellion  –   advise  them;  forsake  them  in  bed;  and (finally) strike  them.  But   if  they  heed to you  ,  seek no  means  against  them.   Indeed, Allah is  ever  Exalted  and  Grand.

The verse in question from its origins has been open to much interpretation, confusion and dissension upon Islamic scholars and believers alike, yet this verse as a standalone doesn’t carry with it enough information on whether this language is that of symbolism or one of absolute literal instruction. The Hadith literature that at times further clarifies some of the more ambiguous verses of the Qur’an can shed more light on certain topics and this topic of “wife beating” is widely covered.

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Does the Qur’an and Islamic literature really indicate to beat your wives?

What we now need to do is observe if the founder of Islam, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (pbuh) followed the above instructions literally, did he hit his wives? Did he endorse hitting women? If he is a role model on how a man should treat his wife and if he was the living, breathing and walking Qur’an – we must then assume that if the above verse was literal, that he would then indeed beat his wives.

Our first piece of evidence comes from one of Muhammads wives, her name was Aisha. This woman later came to be a massive collector of Hadiths (sayings of Muhammad) that have been preserved for the last 1300 years. In one Hadith that is actually rarely cited we see something that is very clear cut and absolute. She states in the Hadith Below:

Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not strike a servant or a woman, and he never struck anything with his hand.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2328, 

Not only that, Muhammad himself convinced a woman not to marry a man because he had a reputation of beating women. She had three men make proposals to her and Muhammad helped her measure up who would be the most suitable. One man was poor, the other was a wife beater and the third was pious. It was stated:

Allah’s Messenger said: So far as Mu’awiya is concerned, he is a poor man without any property. So far as Abu Jahm is concerned, he is a beater of women, but take for marriage instead Usama b. Zaid. (The Pious man)

Source: Muslim, Book 009, Number 3526:

When a companion of Muhammad approached him and asked how he should treat his wife, Muhammad responded with a very simple and clear instruction.

I went to the Apostle of Allah and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them.

Source: Abu Dawud, Book 11, Number 2139:

Yet one of the greatest evidences that beating is clearly not allowed or mandated in Islam is a historical event that occurred with Muhammad and his wives. There was a situation that ensued where Muhammad was dissatisfied with his wives, they were charged with jealousy amongst each other and conspired against their husband in order to “get even” about certain woes they felt in regards to their relationship. Clearly, if Muhammad had the green light in his book to “beat” his wives for “disobedience” then this would have been the perfect opportunity for him to recite this verse and then get physical!

Yet this never happened. This particular event was called the “Incident of I’la”.

Thereupon, he vowed that he would keep away from his wives for a month in order to show them that the worldly life was unimportant for him, to teach them a lesson, to decrease the jealousy among them and to measure their love of and loyalty to him.

After this vow, he started to live in the arbor called Mashraba. This was a small humble room with a straw bed, a pillow stuffed with bark and his food items were barley and water. His companions were convinced he had divorced his wives and they wept at his poor form while indicating the high figures of Persia and Rome lived like Kings.

Yet this was his way of dealing with supposed “disobedient” wives. He had already advised them and spoken to them, he then separated himself from their beds for an entire month and he did not lay a single hand on them before, during or after this event.

Source: Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 63, Narration 212

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In Australia 56 women a year are killed in domestic violence disputes.

So given the above information we can clearly see something is amiss. If the Prophet of Islam and the verbal communicator of the Qur’an never beat his wives, then how is it possible that this verse can be taken literally? This is why a Muslim man who intends on following their Prophet in his treatment to his wives should live by his ideals, which was NOT to beat them- ever! Muslim men that use this verse in their holy book to legitimize them beating their spouses are not only cowards, they have a clear and negligible misunderstanding of their own faith and their own Messenger.

Not only is this abhorrent and debasing action clearly unacceptable within the context of religion, it is clearly unacceptable within the society of which we live in. In Australia domestic violence is a major issue. According to the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre :

“On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia. One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.”

These statistics are alarming, it indicates that in Australia alone 56 women are KILLED in domestic violence incidents yearly and a staggering one in three women has experienced physical violence from the age of 15. That is approximately 4.5 million Australian women.! 

So let us not pretend this is a “Muslim issue” and let’s not make it a Muslim issue as the media seems to be stipulating that domestic violence is an ESPECIALLY Muslim problem, it most definitely is not and the majority of the domestic violence cases in Australia are not being conducted by men reading Quran 4:34.

In Australia it is illegal to beat your wife, period. It is a highly intolerable action that should be dealt with in accordance to the law, yes the Australian law. Protections are already in place for women that encounter domestic violence encounters and they should utilize them, whether they are Muslim or not.

Muslim women that are dealing with abusive husbands should remind them of the examples above, inform them that their treatment against you is not in accordance to the Messenger of Allah and make it clear that if they are believers and want to replicate Muhammads treatment of their wives to their own lives that they should not, and cannot beat you!

I hope you have read this article and gained a better understanding on how and why this problem exists not only Worldwide but also within the Muslim world. All of my sources are Authentic Islamic sources that are verified and accepted by all mainstream scholars of Islam. I ask my fellow Muslims to please discuss this situation while the heat is still on.

People are on TV boasting about wife beating and making excuses on how some elements of wife beating are okay and it clearly enables others to navigate their way through to domestic violence when all of my examples show, without a shadow of a doubt, in clear language that Muhammad never hit his wives.

Today is our day to speak out and highlight to the media, to the wider general Australian public AND to fellow Muslims that we do not accept wife beating in our theology, hence in our lives. We reject it and we are law abiding citizens that stand by the laws of our land and our religion.

Peace and blessings be upon you.

Ramey

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Just a couple of days ago there was a terrible knife attack at a Hostel in Queensland, Australia . The victim was Mia Ayliffe-Chung,  a 21 year old British National who was stabbed by a 29 year old French Backpacker Smail Ayad.  The tragic murder sparked suspicion of extremism because the attacker yelled “Allahu’Akbar” (God is Great) whilst attacking the victim and whist being arrested.

This immediately caused a media stir with all major media outlets hastening to call this a “terror attack” on Australian soil because of the attackers use of “extremist language”.Yet the Police have already cleared this crime as a Murder based on jealousy and not at all terror related, regardless of what he shouted out.

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French National Smail (inset) attacked and killed Mia in a small hostel community in Queensland while shouting “Allahu’Akbar”.

Despite the Police commissioner being very quick to clear this act from terrorism– claiming there is no evidence at all that this man was radicalized- we see that xenophobic politicians immediately used this case as a means to loudly call – yet again- for the banning of Muslim Immigration of Australia claiming that “terror” and “jihad” has hit our shores simply because a man is shouting “Allahu’Akbar“.

A lot of people don’t realize that the term “Allahu’Akbar” (“God is Great”) is widely used in the Muslim community for a huge array of reasons, yet there is a disturbing trend i am noticing about the statement. Both extremists and bigots are taking the statement from the general Muslim population and are turning it into a phrase that one should fear.

Just to remind you that hearing someone say “Allahu’Akbar” is not all doom and gloom- i will present to you 9 other examples where “Allahu’Akbar” has been used for something
besides violence, hatred and bloodshed.

1) “Allahu’Akbar” Used Whilst SAVING lives.
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In this video footage in Aleppo, Syria- filmed in January 2014 we see a bunch of men unearthing a child from the rubble of a destroyed building. After doing all they can they chant “Allahu’Akbar” (God is Great) whilst holding the child after the rescue.

In fact there are multiple videos online showing the phrase being chanted whilst people are SAVING lives (as opposed to taking them.)

2) “Allahu’Akbar” during the call to PRAYER.
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If you’ve traveled to any country in the Middle East you may have noticed mysterious and mesmerizing voices coming out of the minarets. This is called the Call To Prayer and the very first line is “Allahu’Akbar”. This call is to remind Muslims to stop what they are doing and go to prayer.

3) “Allahu’Akbar” used in Music (and Nasheeds).
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Popular Muslim artists such as Sami Yusuf use the popular phrase in many of his songs including the popular hit “Asma Allah” which has almost 14 million views on Youtube. The term is an expression that is popular in many “Nasheeds” or songs that glorify.

4) “Allahu’Akbar” used to support Sportsmen/Women.
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Marathon Runner Mo Farah did the United Kingdom proud during the Rio Olympics this year- yet during one of his practice Marathon Runs in London in 2014 spectators of his could be heard shouting “Allahu’Akbar” at him in support for him to win.

5) “Allahu’Akbar” used by a talkative Parrot.
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Nothing to see here – simply a Parrot that shouts out “Allahu’Akbar” whilst raising his foot, simulating a Muslim rising during prayer.

6) “Allahu’Akbar” used in Awe of Nature.
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Many times during extreme weather events, or witnessing natural marvels- including the one featured in this video-  you will hear Muslims shouting “Allahu’Akbar” to symbolize Gods strength and power.

7) “Allahu’Akbar” used to celebrate Success.
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Sonny Bill Williams is a very popular footballer in Australia who converted to Islam a few years ago. During one of his wins he publicly declared on live television “last but not least, Allahu’Akbar!” whilst pointing to the sky.

8) “Allahu’Akbar” used during last moments in life 😦
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Adam Air- an Indonesian Airline was plummeting to the sea at rapid speed in 2007 due to Mechanical failure and the Black Box in the Cockpit clearly records the flight crew praying in fear as they realize they are helpless against this crash- shouting “Allahu’Akbar” until their final second on Earth.

9) “Allahu’Akbar” used when one converts to Islam.
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People from around the World Convert to Islam and after one states the Shahada (testimony of faith) they are met with a smothering of hugs and the famous “Takbir” which is proclaiming “Allahu’Akbar” (God is Great) out loud.

So there you have it, that was 9 other times you may have heard the term “Allah’u Akbar.” Please do not be like the media and ONLY associate the phrase with violence, bloodshed and evil behaviour. The bottom line is this statement is made by Muslims on a daily basis and we do not want extremists AND the media to Hijack this word and use it as a mouthpiece for evil.

Salam Alaykum, PEACE! 🙂

 

You know i like to think of myself as quite a modern gentleman. Sure i stick with some traditionalist views and i am a bit old fashioned in some aspect but i am more than open to new ideas and advancements in the World. Lately there has been many loud cries in regards to gender segregation, particularly of Muslims in the Western World.

Apparently events run by Muslims have been “investigated” to be segregating genders, males on one side of the room and females on the opposite side of the room. Sure this does sound like a very different format that we are all used to- seeming we are a nation that identifies with co-mingling in every sense of the word.

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Scenes like the ones pictured above where Men and Women are “Segregated” In Muslim events has caused major uproar in the media about sexism.

 

This uproar though has caused massive media stir and juicy controversy. In order to prove that Islam is a religion that hates women, the fact that they must sit across from men in their religious meetings and mosques indeed proves this is a religion that discriminates against women- apparently.

Yet hold on one moment, you might be surprised to know Gender Segregation is already alive and well in our communities and nobody is kicking up a stink about it at all! In fact, even worse – we openly practice Gender discrimination– Let me give you a few classic examples here in the West that is happening right now.

 

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Female only gyms are becoming more popular.

Womens Only Gyms:

Currently across the country there are women only gyms. Am i as a male to take offence at this? Why can’t a woman workout in the same room as me? Is it because i am a man? Am i being perceived as a pervert?  Are women frightened of me?

Womens Only Cycling Group:

There are groups right now in Australia where women can only cycle with other women. Women instructors and Women cyclists. 

Womens Only Clubs:

The Lyceum Club in Melbourne, Australia is a perfect example of a strictly female only club. One of the main reasons this club exists is to keep every day women away from the “gaze” of men. Only male guests that know female members can visit.

Womens Only Cosmetic Surgery Teams:

Feel like a quick nip and a tuck but don’t want a dirty man to touch you? Too easy because right now you can take advantage of an all female cosmetic surgery team here in Sydney, Australia.

*Yet when a Muslim lady once asked for a female only doctor, her request made NEWS HEADLINES!Monash Hospital Agrees to female only doctor-after complaint”

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Dinah, the Worlds Biggest Party. For Women Only. For Lesbians only. No Males. No Straights.


World’s Biggest Party- For Women Only!:

Dinah is the Worlds Biggest Lesbian Pool Party that attracts up to 20,000 women only in Los Angeles, USA. Gay males? Keep out! Girls only bucko!

Womens Only Aged Care Facility:

The Opal Austral House in Manly, Sydney, Australia is one of many examples of “Womens Only” aged care facilities. Here they can feel safe and secure from their fellow old men.

Womens Only “Hackathon” Events:

Sydney and Melbourne last year hosted their first Womens Only Hackathon events. Where only female coders got together to share their tech-savvy views.

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Womens only train carriages exist Worldwide. Now proposed in Australia.

Womens Only Train Carriages:

Up to 10 countries already have “Women Only” carriages on their trains and a few of them are in developed countries too. This year Australia proposed a potential new “pink carriage” for female travelers only.

Now there is one very important difference between all of the examples above and the examples of Muslim Gender segregation in events. The Muslim events that are being scrutinized are INCLUSIVE of both sexes. Regardless of seating practicalities both men and women can attend.

Yet all of the examples that i highlight to you above (and there are many more). We find that it is gender EXCLUSIVE. So genders aren’t segregated but one entire gender is openly discriminated against. For example- as a male i could visit these Muslim events and functions. As a female you could visit these Muslim events and functions. Yet as a male i could NOT visit the above gyms. As a male i could NOT visit the above clubs. As a male i could NOT take part in the above events.

So when you scope out and take a look at these scenarios comparatively, we would clearly see that one of them is actually more discriminatory, because it openly doesn’t “segregate” the sexes but it actually isolates an entire sex. Yet there are no complaints about the above examples we find in our Western nations.

I believe that life is about choices. A woman, in a Muslim event should have the choice to sit with women or sit in an “open” environment- should she choose.  Yet with the examples i show above, do i- as a male have the choice to workout in that gym or join that party? Not at all! So essentially…Is Gender Segregation really such a big deal?

 

Bristol Jamia Mosque,  Totterdown

Muslims in general, like any other community can and do free-mingle. Yet they wish to maintain the option for gender segregation in Islamic functions and events.

The option of having a “female only” section is something i have no problem with. Should a woman (or man) choose to prefer to be segregated then that is their prerogative. Yet for society to openly ban this idea of segregation and hence therefor force women, or men for that matter to sit in a manner that makes them uncomfortable is not a beneficial environment to me.

If a woman today is given the freedom to workout in a Female only gym to feel more comfortable, then i do not see the hostility to giving a Muslim woman the freedom to sit with females only in a Muslim function. 

To me there is a clear double standard where our current Western Society proudly boasts about the examples i gave you above. Where sexes are not segregated but sexes are clearly discriminated against. Nobody raises their voices in concern, cries foul or writes lengthy news articles about this norm. Yet once a Muslim wants to exercise their choice to sit in a segregated environment then all hell breaks loose.

It’s just oddly peculiar.

Peace

-R

So last night i decided to pay visit to my personal favourite spoof News website called News.com.au. Oh wait, that is actually meant to be a reputable Australian news source that is viewed by Millions of Australians and International guests on a daily basis, great.

First thing that caught my eye was the scary image of Jihadi John. The ISIS member from the United Kingdom that was infamous for his brutal beheadings. Yet what was even more frightening than staring at this terrorists eyes was the article headline that read “Chilling letter predicts WW3 (World War 3) with Islam.”

The summary of the article underneath the image and headline read “A scarily accurate letter that predicted World Wars 1 and 2 also claimed that a third global battle would be fought between the West and Islam“.

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The article that plagued Australian News sites last night. “Chilling letter predicts WW3 with Islam

 

First of all you cannot be at war with “Islam” for it is not a monolithic universal entity. The more frightening reality is that the only realistic thing you could be at war with, as subjects, are Muslims- not Islam.

Reading this article shocked me because it was used to evoke fear and this article is dangerous because it already empowers war mongers to become more thirsty for this “predicted war” and it reaffirms to many crazies out there that this “war” is inevitable and the famous US VS THEM mantra will rear its ugly head.

As a matter of fact this US VS THEM ideology is already in full swing– hence such a low brow article is basically fodder to these dangerous people. Yet the most terrible thing about this entire article was that- besides it being simply a tool to stir up more fear and division in a society that is already on the brink– is the fact that this supposedly “accurate letter” that predicts a “war with Islam” is nothing but a hoax and it has been recognized as a clear hoax for at least 5 years now.

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Albert Pikes is the supposed late 19th century Author of the “3 predicted wars”.

Yet last night,  News.com.au along with other classy press toilet wipes like “The Daily Maildecided to publish it anyways. That’s right, a known hoax has made it to the front page news as a “scarily accurate” prediction- coming to you very soon!!

This supposed letter was apparently written by Free Mason Albert Pike in the late 1800’s. Apparently this man managed to speak about groups and movements that existed many decades later like “Nazism”. His letter talks about the fall of Christendom, the final battle with Islam and the New World Order. Such dramatic visionary comes with this letter, yet the fact of the matter is there is no prime or formal source of this letter in its original form, it simply does not exist.

All of the quotes from this supposed letter are quotes of quotes of quotes that trail back to absolutely nothing. There is not a single clear cut source for this letter that we could trace back to today, yet our news outlets in the year 2016 believe this is an important news article that the world must know about.

What will always stand true though is that the Governments and the Media are definitely buddies in promoting societal dysfunction and warfare. Considering the current climate we live in now with the refugee crisis, right wing leaders, ISIS and our military involvement overseas the last thing we need are our “reliable” news sources telling us that World War 3 is coming and Islam is enemy #1.

 

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Fear works. Donald Trump is rising in popularity.

Even worse is that this News Breaking article comes with no actual source, trace it back and all you will find is thin air. Something that is vacating the minds of our journalists today, all air- no brains. The sad fact is most people would be too lazy, careless or unmindful to further research such ludicrous statements spread by our news outlets. As a matter of fact such articles could only act as an “I told you so!” to many bigots in our society who already are suspicious and hateful towards their fellow Muslim countrymen and women.

There will be no war with “Islam” and there already is a war with Muslims. A war people like me are fighting every day by correcting our News Sources, who have absolutely no problem with quite literally peddling warfare and promoting the narrative of a “final battle” between Islam and the West.

So protect your men, women and children because apparently World War 3 is coming and Islam is coming for you too! Who told me so? The airheads at News.com.au- that’s who!!

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Peace, SALAM (PS- just kidding- cant wait to kill you)

Ramey, you cannot be half Muslim and half Christian, you can only be one“…These words echoed by my Religion teacher Mrs. Young at my former High School in 1998 had to have been one of the most earth shattering, mind boggling and mentally challenging words i had ever heard at the tender age of 15.

You see, i had a very interesting upbringing. I was raised in a household that was interfaith. My Mother of Croatian ancestry is a Christian whilst my father of Lebanese ancestry is a Muslim. Their marriage in the late 1970’s caused shock-waves through both communities and families from both sides couldn’t understand it, due to the supposed “taboo” of it all.

Not only two very different cultures but also two different religions. What about the children? would be the cry of concerned relatives from both ends of the spectrum, little did they knew this upbringing of mine was one of the most healthiest and happiest when it came to tolerance and understanding.

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My brother hugging me under our Christmas tree. 1983.

So what was it like growing up in a household where i was both exposed to Christian and Muslim elements? Let me be honest. Pretty amazing! I truly looked forward to every Christmas and decking out that tree, helping my Mother decorate it and turning it on every night ensuring it faced a window so our neighbours could get tree envy!

I remember the excitement of sitting under the Christmas tree with all of those amazing colours shining on the floor and my obsession with the Christmas tree Angel we used to have sitting on top with her glittery halo and roughed up blonde hair. There was something so euphoric, beautiful and heartfelt about this time of the year and my house felt like a sanctuary.

Then came the period of Ramadan, the month long Muslim Holy month where Muslims are told to fast, read the Quran, pray and give to charity. Growing up i always remember being in complete awe as to how my father could refrain from food and water for long periods of the day. The unifying factor was dinner time, come sunset- we would all converge over a delicious feast that my mother would make up and my father would listen to the radio waiting for the Adhan (call to prayer) to start before we’d enjoy our usually eccentric over the top dinner.

Then came the “Eid” festivities where all the family from my Dads side would dress up in their best attire, head over to cafes and restaurants and enjoy time with family and friends. The vibe of the streets in our area during Ramadan was buzzing with excitement and energy, it truly was a beautiful time of the year that i grew further fond of .

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My too cool for school parents 1970s’.

Yet then came that moment, when i was happily 50% Christian and 50% Muslim in my own eyes- where all of that fantasy came to a sudden crash. When my High School Religion teacher asked me what religion i was- i stared her right in the eyes with a big smile and said “I am half Christian and half Muslim” – assuming that was a perfectly acceptable answer. She glared at me and smiled telling me that indeed my “beliefs” are in pure conflict and that i cannot be both, i had to pick one. This was when my perception of religions and the religious changed, almost like a perversion entered my mind about the life that i was living and it was time to reflect. She had basically told me my religious expression was invalid.

During this time neither of my parents pushed their religions onto me, respectably. Even though both parents were observant to degrees in their religion, neither was completely compliant. Yet i always felt religiously free to think as i wanted to think and this was a blessing in disguise. After doing a brief study of the religions i decided that for the time being i was happy to simply be an Agnostic. A person that is unsure about the existence of God, yet someone who still holds appreciation and respect for what religion can do to people. During my Agnostic stage of my life (from 15 years of age until about 18) i did not express my beliefs to anybody. I felt no need to and even though i had a numb feeling for religion, there was a yearning inside me to find out more and continue to explore.

Then at about 18 years of age i decided to become a Unitarian. This religion was very interesting because it was very inclusive and it mirrored my thoughts exactly. The Christian branch of Unitarianism was even better because it saw Jesus as a role model but also rejected him as a God figure.

I felt proud of my decision to become a Unitarian and i would engage with other people on discussion boards about it. When i told my Mother i had identified myself as a Unitarian (Christian branch) she was ecstatic. She expressed that i was “chosen” and that God loved me.  (Suddenly?)

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Me in front of Zagreb Cathedral 2015

When i expressed to my father that i identified with the Unitarian movement in my late teens, he was not impressed. He concluded that i was lost and needed some guidance. Hell was potentially on the horizon. Either way it was interesting to see that the more i expressed myself when it came to my faith and beliefs the more it would irritate and irk my parents- at different times, for different reasons. As i become more profound in my beliefs the perversions of religion and the religious reared its ugly head again.

Years down the path, especially after all the horrible terror attacks committed by supposed Muslims i had decided to study Islam. I truly needed to know and find out if indeed my father held the same beliefs as these lunatics. I knew instantly that there is no way, my Father, whom i love dearly would actively engage himself in a religion that encourages Murder and terrorism. So i hit the books again in my Early 20’s and i really studied the faith and the Qur’an. I remember each night before bed i would open a copy of my Dads Quran and read it for 30 minutes.

It was a mesmerizing read at times, i often remember nodding my head, in agreement, at what i read because the God concept the Qur’an expressed was exactly the God concept i believed in and when it started talking about the Prophets, especially Jesus (pbuh) it really chimed intensely for me. By the time i hit 23 years of age i decided to “Upgrade” my beliefs from a Unitarian to a Muslim and this again was something i had not immediately shared.

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Me in front of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul, 2014.

This time the tables turned and when i expressed my love and faith for Islam to my father he  was jubilant and happy, confidently asserting he knew i’d make the decision. Whereas my Mother was highly irritated, she saw it as some sort of betrayal and her Son was indeed lost in a Philosophical limbo.

Then it all became crystal clear to me. Even though my parents played it cool, deep down inside both of them had yearned for me to bat for their “team”. The bottom line is my spiritual journey is my own and i came to it without an indoctrinated mind. When i expected people to be happy that i, as a grown man, was taking observation and fleeting decisions about the World around me, i noticed it only increased their agitation and there was little support.

I remember my Father one day looking downcast and saying to me “I wish i taught you Islam when you were a kid“. I looked at him puzzled and asked why? Look at me today, i came to Islam all on my own, with a fresh mind that queried and alternated between different beliefs to come to my own “truth” or conclusion. I thanked him for not shoving religion down my throat as a kid.

I explained to him that kids that are forced into religion turn into Adults that don’t actually KNOW about their religion but instead repeat religious duties like chores. I also noticed that kids that were religiously forced into things in later years turned out to “rebel”.  I told him the fact that you both left me alone to take my own spiritual adventure was a blessing and that he has nothing to be ashamed of.

When i have children i will NOT force feed them my religious beliefs. My reasoning behind it is that i will explain to my children my beliefs and why i believe what i do, yet i will encourage them to research and embark on their journey through the path of curiosity and honesty. 

I had high hopes and expectations that my family would be proud of my spiritual journey from a lack of belief, to a Unifying belief to finally a belief of Submitting my will to the Almighty. Yet the way my Parents saw it was that i was playing with fire, quite literally! They’d selectively be happy for me if my journey stopped at their station of beliefs, yet then be upset and harsh if my beliefs went on to explore other stations.

Snow-let-it-all-go

I will teach my kids to embark on their own spiritual journey and explain my own to them as well.

That is what i mean by the hypocrisy of religion and the religious. It is only about YOUR religion. Yet for me its about ALL religions and what you connect with the most. I want my children to find their way on their own, with their own senses, intuition and faith of which they naturally will develop. As opposed to me “corrupting” them at a young age and forcing them – out of their own will- to be a carbon copy of myself.

Today i can proudly say i am a Muslim, even if it annoys family, friends or strangers. Either side i am accused of being “brainwashed” into the religion or a “betrayer” for abandoning another. The bottom line is i have abandoned nobody or nothing. My upbringing under the Christmas lights and Crescent Moon of Ramadan really was the light of tolerance beaming down upon me and truly became the staple of my spiritual journey.

I wish my parents were more proud as to how they brought me up and held no regrets for their decisions in life. I believe because i truly believe, from the heart- as an Adult. Not a child that was forced to become an adult too soon and have their journey “cut short” because their ignorant parents don’t want them to face the reality of choice.

Peace, Salam Alaykum.
Ramey

In essence it appears that almost every person has their addictions. Something they are compelled to do, and with the utmost constancy- with an urge and a push that almost never fails them. These addictions could be anything from coffee, alcohol, drugs to porn. Of all the addictions i succumbed to i feel i was part of one of the worst- gambling. My gambling addiction occurred for me between the ages of 24-27.  In these few years i lost up to or around $25,000. No- i am not rich. I would gamble until i literally had nothing of my wages left for another week. I’d eat away at my savings until there was nothing left, indeed i was in a downward spiral.

At my age to have no money saved- whilst being in no debt was indeed embarrassing. This gambling addiction was never seen because i hid it so well. I’d scrape the surface, but never ask anyone for money or make it obvious that i was broke. Instead i would become a hermit, i would do nothing that involved money and would stay home declining on many tempting invitations from family and friends. It was never clear to me how my gambling addiction came to be, near my home is a “hotel” with a good amount of pokie gambling machines. I am pretty sure it took a few casual visits until i found myself in numerous joints with gambling machines– I’d withdraw hundreds after hundreds of dollars in one session- i remember once during pay day i found myself spending $900 in that night, having $400 remaining for a fortnight.

Sure, it was good when i won- which was a rare event. My biggest win was probably $1,200. Yet the feeling of loss cut the most. I’d go back to my car in tears, I’d cry and yell at myself- literally screaming at myself in the car. I don’t consider myself a stupid guy, and i know i have plenty of wisdom- why did i not use this wisdom on myself? I knew that i knew better– yet i was far too weak and I’d find myself in the same position the next week. I’d look around and notice the environment i was in- these dark pubs full of brightly lit pokie machines- sounds of machines and flashy lights with people staring into a screen like zombies, tapping on the same button over and over again.

I’d observe the people around me and their reactions, mostly it was negative. I’d see people smashing the screens, swearing, cursing and walking around aggressively. I’d see people looking at my win jealously, i’d see people running out of the pub whilst hitting the “reserve” button to lie to their loved ones on their whereabouts. Indeed what i would witness are peoples lives being destroyed and seeing it from this perspective actually was the beginning of the end for me. All it took was for me to stop being a robot and clearly observe the environment i voluntarily put myself in– what a hell hole! For me my addiction had nothing to do with money, i didn’t want to become rich via gambling yet there was something enticing and exciting about the imagery and sounds- i put money in the machine just like paper, it meant nothing to me. I lived this double life that no one else knew i had, when people found out they were shocked because they couldn’t see me putting myself in such a position for so long, but i did and i am ashamed.

I wanted to look deeper into my faith, and what exactly my religion told me about gambling and really try to understand the message within it and this for me was the big awakening and the solution for me- a believing man- was so simple. When i read the Qur’an and its verse on gambling something clicked inside my heart and what began as a simple reading for me- became a challenge…a challenge of faith– how REAL am i? Surely i am not the most practicing Muslim in the world and surely i speak of Islam much, but how much do i actually practice of what i “preach”. The Qur’an states on gambling the following:

They ask you concerning intoxicants and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some benefit for mankind, but the sin is greater than the profit.
(Quran 2:219)

The next verse did it for me.

O you who have believed, surely intoxicants and gambling, (idol) altars and divining are only an abomination of Satan’s handiwork-  So avoid it, that you may prosper. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?
(Quran 5:91)

I did decipher both verses and to me, it made perfect sense. Yes i know that we know gambling and alcohol may have some temporary good for people to a certain degree- yet that pleasure and joy is not worth it knowing we have the chance to become addicted to such things, they are indeed dangerous. So yes there is some good, but the bad outweighs the good– so why do it? The other saying really hit home for me as well, when i looked at the environment around me (negative, angry, depressing, gloomy) i could easily see it was a house of evil in there. Alcohol DOES cause animosity and hatred between people, even if its just for a limited stage. Go look at how many fights and indecencies occur when people are drunk, go look at the envy, anger and resentment gambling does to people.! It breaks families, relationships and a mans confidence- it literally eats him up to be a former image of himself… You feel so worthless and at times suicidal– It’s astonishing.

Finally the verse tells me it makes me forget Allah- who i do believe in, and that it diverts me from prayer and my own faith asks me- “Will you not desist?” . Given the logical reasoning and my love for God and his wanting for me to “prosper” i knew there was only one thing i had to do, for myself- and that was QUIT. I came up with a simple quitting plan that would test myself and my faith- whenever gambling or the pub/casino came to my mind i would REMEMBER Allah instead. In a short time, this worked for me like magic would. I was a changed man so soon and a huge majority of the time despite my strong impulse to gamble i knew that my God wants me to be the most successful and prosperous person and that he supports me and is with me- but i need to do it for myself first and indeed weeks later i stopped and since then i have not gone near gambling.

Although i barely drink nowadays, alcohol is the next thing i would like to abolish seeming we as humans have an instinct for addiction– we love repetitive patterns and we enjoy doing things with consistency – sometimes we are so caught up and deluded by our addictions we don’t even realize we are addicted to things. Now i am on a saving streak, i am building my savings account and i am catering for all those losses in those few short years, i want to be a man of responsibility, i want to be financially stable and i want to PROSPER.

Thanks for reading on my experience.

Salam Alaykum, Peace.

This is the sound that sends shock-waves throughout the world of the internet – we already know the Theist/Atheist debate is one that is often drizzled with mockery, suspicion and tension. Yet common words we hear coming from the Atheistic band is that “Religion is the root of all evil” and that “Religion poisons everything” or furthermore “The world would be peaceful without religion”. Let me be the first to admit, that as a Muslim i am more than honest to admit that religion has played a very deep part in our history- both positive and negative– indeed it has been an entity that has brought the world some good and some evils.

The common idea is that religion is a harmful force and we often hear that atheism has never been the cause for any worldwide atrocities- this half baked assumption is a very weak argument. The fact is if the wrong man or woman is given power- despite their creed it is a recipe for disaster. Although it is fair to say that no Atheist can claim to have committed wrong doing based on “atheism” – simply the lack of a belief in a God. We tend to forget that a branch that stems from Atheism is ANTI-theism, and this cause has spread much mischief around the world throughout history and i will highlight some classic examples below.

A person that is Anti-Theist quiet literally has a strong opposition against religion, they find religion harmful to society and believe it should be eradicated. When you have this mindset and a person with such hardline ideas is given a position of power, then hall hath no fury- prepare for instability, discrimination, oppression, murder and social deterioration. These anti-theists clear hatred for religion impacted their decisions- their belief that religion should be wiped out could only come from a person who initially had atheistic roots- remember you must first be an Atheist (disbelieve in Gods) in order to become an ANTI-Theist and once an Anti-theist is given political presence then state atheism is a direct threat- just as much as any extreme religious elements are.

Let us look at some GENUINE historical Anti-Theist people and groups plus their terrible impact on our society- and hopefully we can be more observant before laying all claims of evil to the religious.

1) Plutarco Elías Calles (1877-1945)

An Atheist Mexican general and politician. He was president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928, but he continued to be the de facto ruler from 1928–1935, a period known as the Maximato. Calles is most noted for a fierce oppression of Catholics that led to the Cristero War (90,000 casualties) – a civil war between Catholic rebels and government forces. He was raised by his uncle who was devoutly atheist who raised Plutarco with a searing hatred of the Catholic Church. His Anti-Catholic actions included outlawing religious orders, depriving the Church of property rights and depriving the clergy of civil liberties, including their right to trial by jury (in cases involving anti-clerical laws) and the right to vote. Catholic antipathy towards Calles was enhanced because of his vocal atheism. 4,000 Priests were killed or expelled- Catholics were hung on powerline poles. He later apparently declared himself a “spiritualist” in his later life- and it is said he had some ties to the Freemasons.

People’s Socialist Republic Of Albania

Religion is banned post World War 2. The Agrarian Reform Law of August 1945 nationalized most property of religious institutions, including the estates of monasteries, orders, and dioceses. Many clergy and believers were tried, tortured, and executed. All foreign Roman Catholic priests, monks, and nuns were expelled in 1946. Campaign against religion peaked in the 1960’s and 70’s. All churches, mosques, monasteries, and other religious institutions were either closed down or converted into warehouses, gymnasiums, or workshops by the end of 1967. As the literary monthly Nendori reported the event, the youth had thus “created the first atheist nation in the world”. The clergy were publicly vilified and humiliated, their vestments taken and desecrated. More than 200 clerics of various faiths were imprisoned, others were forced to seek work in either industry or agriculture, and some were executed or starved to death. Officials tried to entrap practicing Christians and Muslims during religious fasts, such as Lent and Ramadan, by distributing dairy products and other forbidden foods in school and at work, and then publicly denouncing those who refused the food, and clergy who conducted secret services were incarcerated.Catholic priest Shtjefan Kurti had been executed for secretly baptizing a child in Shkoder in 1972.

The State recognizes no religion, and supports atheistic propaganda in order to implant a scientific materialistic world outlook in people.”

-Article 37 of the Albanian Constitution of 1976.

The Soviet Union

State atheism in the Soviet Union was known as “Gosateizm” and was based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism.

Marxism-Leninism has consistently advocated the control, suppression,and, ultimately, the elimination of religion. Within about a year of the revolution the state took all church property, including the churches themselves, and in the period from 1922 to 1926, 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and more than 1,200 priests were killed (a much greater number was subjected to persecution).

From the late 1920s to the late 1930s, such organizations as the League Of The Militant Godless ridiculed all religions and harassed believers. Anti-religious and atheistic propaganda was implemented into every portion of soviet life, in schools, communist organizations (such as the Young Pioneer Oganization), and the media.

Khmer Rouge Rule Of Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge period(1975–1979) refers to the rule of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Khieu Samphan and the Khmer Rouge Communist Party over Cambodia.

Article 20 of the 1976 Constitution of Democratic Kampuchea guaranteed religious freedom, but it also declared that “all reactionary religions that are detrimental to Democratic Kampuchea and the Kampuchean People are strictly forbidden.” About 85 percent of the population follows the Theravada school of Buddhism. The country’s 40,000 to 60,000 Buddhist monks, regarded by the regime as social parasites, were defrocked and forced into labour brigades.

Many monks were executed; temples and pagodas were destroyed or turned into storehouses or gaols. Images of the Buddha were defaced and dumped into rivers and lakes. People who were discovered praying or expressing religious sentiments were often killed. The Christian and Muslim communities also were even more persecuted, as they were labelled as part of a pro-Western cosmopolitan sphere, hindering Cambodian culture and society. The Roman Catholic cathedral of Phnom Penh was completely razed. The Khmer Rouge forced Muslims to eat pork, which they regard as forbidden (haram). Many of those who refused were killed. Christian clergy and Muslim imams were executed.

Mongolian People’s Republic

In 1936, and especially after Japanese encroachments had given the Soviets enough reason to deploy Soviet troops in Mongolia in 1937, a whole-scale attack on the Buddhist Faith began. At the same time, Soviet Style Purges took place in the Communist Party and in the Mongolian army. Mongolia’s leader at that time was Khorloogiin Choibalsan , a follower of Joseph Stalin who emulated many of the policies Stalin had implemented in the Soviet Union. The purges led to the almost complete eradication of Tibetan Buddhism in the country, and cost an estimated 30,000–35,000 lives.

North Korea

North Korea’s government exercises virtual total control over society and imposes state sanctioned atheism, the cult of personality of  Kim Jung Il and Kim Il Sung, described as a Political Religion Although the North Korean constitution states that freedom of religion is permitted, free religious activities no longer exists in North Korea. A minor example was in the late 1940’s – 166 priests and religious people were kidnapped or murdered.

Ladies and Gentlemen these are only a few examples of the atrocities and horrors that were committed due to people who held Anti-theistic views. We know that peoples beliefs were not always the main and sole cause of these wars, yet the fact that these men in power and policies allowed the eradication, destruction of religions and the religious- allowing massacres and mass oppression is enough for us to realise that NO- religion is not the root of ALL EVIL. Evil is something incumbent on mankind- regardless of their religion- and just as a religious person can commit an atrocity and blame God- an anti-theist can commit an atrocity and blame religion- in the end let us open up to the fact that religion is not the root of all evil. There are many examples of how simple Atheism could feed Anti-Theism which in return when coupled with powerful positions and politics could  be just as catastrophic as any extremist organization running the show.

Trust nobody.

Peace, Salam Alaykum