Religious bullies

Deal with the religious bullies that deploy ancient texts to browbeat the young and vulnerable into actions they would shun if they were older or more mature.

I was once bullied by such a chap. Ah, but that fellow is now celebrated all over, embraced by the same media which vilifies his victims. Today he is a talkshow host, a social commentator, a published author and apparently an authority on extremism.

I just feel fortunate that I was a young Muslim before the age of social media. Thank goodness I only had to deal with one man visiting my flat to talk me into submission, into to agreeing with him that it was my religious duty to strive towards all those goals he said were obligatory. Thank goodness I could escape his harassment.

Perhaps he is penitent today. Perhaps he has made amends. I have not spoken to him in over twenty years. I don’t care to. But sadly he has been replaced by a vast army of religious bullies, who now teem online, who will pressure the young without relent with their religious-sounding arguments.

I don’t let my own kids have smartphones. They have limited access to the web at home. I have already had a conversation with them about religious bullies, about extremism and this false call to faith. I will keep on having that conversation with them. I am protective of them and will not let them chat with proselytisers online.

For me, religious bullies are beyond the pale. They will exploit the young and vulnerable once, and then they will dump them when society turns on their victims. Protect your kids from religious bullies. Tonight, another conversation with my kids, prompted once more by that interview with that girl.

Vox Pop

If you’re going to interview someone like that, leave it to a journalist, not the TV equivalent of a newspaper columnist. Give us facts. Give us analysis. Give us probing research, investigative journalism. Not verbal diarrhoea and a tabloid opinion piece. Comment is free, but facts are sacred. What a wasted opportunity.

Of mice and men

Mark Zuckerberg conducted an experiment, where they gathered all the idiots in a web app and studied how long it would take for them to start explaining human psychology on the basis of rodent behaviour observed in a flawed 1960s research paper.

Crimes against humanity

The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York twenty years ago was a crime against humanity. An act of unimaginable and unforgivable barbarity. The events of that day will forever remain etched in the psyche of a generation.

Continue reading “Crimes against humanity”

Here on the periphery

O self, what are you wittering on about now? You have always been destined for a life on the periphery, so why start grumbling now? I thought you had reconciled yourself to your station.

So what if your fellow Muslamic bloggers despise you? So what if your convert brethren ignore you, judging you a renegade or backslider? Who cares if you are nobody amongst the Muslims? Is it the creation that you serve now? Is it their pleasure you seek?

Did school and college teach you nothing? From the first day of primary school, you should have learnt that you would be picked last for every team. Long ago, you should have learnt that you would forever remain on the outer circle, gazing in.

So why this sudden disquiet? It does not matter if your work colleagues consider you an idiot; you have your way and they have theirs. It does not matter if your brother in faith writes you off as a perpetual loser; who are you to those who love you? It does not matter if you have been forgotten by all who once knew you; perhaps you have discovered a special kind of freedom.

O self, your place is on the periphery. Be glad in it. Embrace it. Cherish it. Just as I thought you long ago had.

Khorasan

Here we go again. Another generation redeploying the same old tales as the last one, speaking of amazing prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes. They don’t remember the exact same claims in the 1990s and 1980s, and back through the centuries.

No, the Taliban is not the Mahdi’s army. They are just one of many rival political movements with the backing of Pakistan. No, they come not from historical Khorasan, but from the Pashtun regions of southern and eastern Afghanistan. They do not even try to mimic the black flags of everybody’s favourite hadith; their flag is white.

What nobody is telling you, dear young fellow, is that the black flags referred to events in the 8th century, 130 years after hijrah, when the Abbasid Revolution overthrew the Umayyad caliphate. Those tales have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with contemporary politics. They were deployed a millennium and a quarter ago to galvanise the people behind a political movement claiming religious authority.

Don’t be drawn into associating partners with God, placing your trust in some saviour figure who will never come. That is not the message of your Book at all. That is an invention of the parallel religion made real only by cunning politicians. Go back to the Book. Have faith in it.

They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the Hour: when is its arrival? Say, “Its knowledge is only with my Lord. None will reveal its time except Him. It lays heavily upon the heavens and the earth. It will not come upon you except unexpectedly.” They ask you as if you are familiar with it. Say, “Its knowledge is only with Allah, but most of the people do not know.” — Qur’an 7:187

Daylight robbery

We managed to book a four-day holiday by the sea. It cost us an absolute fortune. The hotel was as basic as it gets. The beds in our family room were comfortable, but the bathroom was a disgrace. Our four night stay cost us the equivalent of a month’s rent for a furnished house. We got breakfast with the room, but no evening meals were available. They blamed Brexit.

We found some nice places to eat, but it was very expensive. We found nice places to visit too. But parking charges were extortionate. I paid in full, but got a parking ticket for parking outside a bay in one car park. I was careful to park considerately and cause inconvenience to no one, but I fell foul of the rules. I acknowledge my error, but still feel like the state has robbed me.

I spent a small fortune suppoting local businesses today. Presumably they will pay business rates and taxes back to the local council on their earnings. But never mind, I’ve been taxed multiple times today, for the pleasure of sunning myself in their locality. A real tourist’s welcome.

There has been some pleasure these past few days. But the overwhelming feeling: I have been utterly ripped off. I cannot sleep tonight. Restless ahead of the four hour journey home.

Local vs global

How grand. In our local interactions with our immediate neighbours, we are called upon to anathematise the sectarian other of Deoband, due to their alleged beliefs and mildly different positions on the minutae of Hanafi fiqh. But on the international geopolitical scene, the local mosque is right behind the militant Deobandis of the east.

Nothing new here, I suppose. In the battle between the West and the rest, we are one. Yes, and in the UK vs Europe we are one. And in England vs Scotland we are one. And in North vs South we are one. And in Yorkshire vs Lancashire we are one. And in Hull vs Leeds we are one. And in West Hull vs East Hull we are one. And in Bransholme vs Sutton we are one. And in Warne Road vs Honiton Road we are one. Yes, but the Pickerings hate the bloody Jibsons through and through.