Relative sins

It is amazing that we forget what sin is when it is our beloved sages that stand accused. All of a sudden we are charitable, telling each other that it is not so bad, and certainly not as bad as it could have been. How utterly bizarre. Would you be so charitable to the unknown or the poor? Or is it only the rich and famous who escape rebuke?

1984

Critics come to me demanding to know where I stand on political violence, but despite making absolutely clear exactly where I stand, that is still not enough. Because I grant to people the rights granted to them by international law, and do not simply roll over and capitulate to the demands to deny our enemies those rights. Continue reading “1984”

Acts of faith

They come to you brandishing what they claim to be an undoubtable historical work, in which they have absolute faith — faith much like that of any believer — which proves your misguidance. Ask them if that work is extant and they will grudgingly admit that the original has not survived. Ask if his student’s work survived, and once more we learn, no, not so. So what is our source? Various students of the student, who passed the information on to others that we don’t know much about, who then edited their versions of the work, resulting in significant differences between editions.   Continue reading “Acts of faith”

Viral outrage

For all I know, the “Punish a Muslim Day” hoax — now the talk of Muslamic social media — could have been started by mischievous Muslims. Clearly, was it intended to incite real violence and not just fear, the letters would have been sent out not to high profile Muslims, but to mean white nationalists.

As it is, the only people promoting this event are Muslims, who have taken to reposting old news, videos of unrelated incidents and exaggerations (such as that it is an official holiday) as proof that a terrible scheme of victimisation is in full swing. It all reminds me of Barry from Four Lions and his plan to blow up a mosque in order to radicalise the moderate Muslims and mobilise them to action.

For my part, I am tired of activism based on propaganda, half truths and outright lies. Left and right, Muslim, Christian and atheist: they all do it. Repurposing images from one setting to represent persecution in another; starting websites documenting every alleged misdemeanour of the other; using underhand means to sow the seeds of conflict between communities: all these methods and more are deemed appropriate methods to achieve one’s ultimate goal. However those that believe there to be no harm in mixing truth and lies if it ultimately serves a higher goal are sorely mistaken…

“And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know it.” — Qur’an 2:43

So much better is it to be people of peace, than people striving for strife and conflict. Whoever really created the “Punish a Muslim Day” letter — be it Muslims or their opponents — ought to reflect on that. Taking us down the road to conflict will only end in disaster.

Cost

Everyone says these rulers are pious sages, but to me they seem to be hyper capitalists, bamboozled by development above all else, be it the environment, tradition or social welfare. They will build a glorious state, perhaps, but it will come at an enormous cost.

Natural rebels

Being a Muslim as a minority may make you vulnerable to hostile currents, but at least you can be driven by conscience. Come to a place where Muslims are the majority and you will notice that the people of conscience are not the masses, but the dissenting minorities.

Conspiracy

Everybody wants the world to be black and white, with the good folk on one side and the bad on the other: a simplistic binary world we can easily align ourselves with according to our disposition. Unfortunately the world is not like this at all. Continue reading “Conspiracy”

Agitated faith

I wonder. Should I be envious of my fellow converts who know themselves to be rightly guided? Should I be envious of their fanaticism, which enables them to declare others heretics with such certainty? Should I wish for a faith like theirs?

Daily I rebuke myself for my sins. Daily I measure myself against truer believers, clothed in their righteous garb, and see how far I fall short. Constantly I question my own faith, and my sincerity, praying for guidance despite myself. And when, momentarily, that fleeting thought crosses my mind, suggesting for an instant that I am rightly guided, my inner voice quickly admonishes me: ‘Why would a sinner like you be blessed so?’

Sometimes, it is true, I am envious of the pious ones, with their self belief and constancy. But in truth: I despise the fanaticism which blinds us to possibilities beyond ourselves: to insist on the absolutely preposterous, in the face of all evidence, simply because we have convinced ourselves that it is part of faith. No, leave me to my agitated faith that might, one day, carry me home.

Obscure outliers

How satisfyingly simple the world of Islam must appear from outside: just those two big groups of Sunni and Shia Muslims, and a scattering of obscure outliers.

How peculiar is reality, once you’ve passed through the door and find yourself in that claustrophobic room looking out. Here are the multitudinous sects and sub-sects, each one rejoicing in what they themselves have, as they declare all others than themselves outside the fold. Continue reading “Obscure outliers”