Leaving Islam




Finding the Truth

There are thousands of “beliefs”, political, religious and philosophical doctrines and all of them are in contrast with each other. Of course not all of them can be true. Yet their supporters claim that theirs is the only true doctrine. In my opinion truth is infinite and therefore no person, group or religion can claim to possess it. There is no book that can contain the infinite truth. All doctrines and ideologies posses a part of the truth. Things are not black and white. They come in different shades and colors. The light of the sun shines on all things, yet each thing reflects that light with a different wavelength and that is why you see the variety of colors in this world. The light is one, yet it manifests itself in millions of colors.

Truth is also one, yet each person understands it differently. We see the truth in different ways; each sees a facet of it. Who can decry the facet that someone holds true and dear to his heart? The Truth is one and only, but because each person’s mental capacity, social and cultural background is different, that same Truth for each person has a different flavor. The variety is not in the Truth itself but in its containers.

The absolute Truth is unattainable. It is too big for us humans with our limited mental capacity to grasp. All we can aspire is to see and understand one or a few aspects of the Truth. Think of the truth as this Earth. We are all in contact with it and experience it. But while we are standing on its surface our experience of it is limited. Since the Earth is made of mountains, plateaus, oceans, forests, deserts, and many more features, each one of us can only see what is around him. No one can claim to have the only true view of the Earth.

That is exactly how we see the truth. We see only part of it. And what we see depends on the social, cultural and religious ground on which we are standing.

People see the same reality from different angles. What they see is different, but they are just seeing different facets of the same reality. This realization, that my truth and yours are not different, will enrich our understanding instead of becoming points of contention.

Once we become aware of our limitations, we stop having “blind faith” about anything. We know that our understanding is limited and it is subject to change. So we learn to think laterally, become open to other possibilities, doubt and question. Though we may think we have found the truth, we know that the truth has other hidden facets that we have not seen yet. By having an open mind, listening to other theories, we learn more. The more we know, the more we find how little we know. This is the essence of freethinking. This is how philosophers think. It is much different from the thinking of a religious person who believes all truth can be contained in few pages of a book, and that is all there is to it, and nothing more.

Just as there is truth in everything, there is also falsehood in everything. There is nothing that can be defined as absolutely wrong, just as there is nothing that can be defined as absolutely true. In every black there is an element of whiteness and in every white there is a component of blackness. The method to arrive at the truth is through critical analysis of different ideas. Truth will sparkle when different ideas clash. If you and I never talk, you will never know my point of view and I will not know yours.

I do not believe that any religion is true. They are all man made. And just as any other man made philosophy and school of thought, every religion is partially true and partially wrong. The proportion may vary from religion to religion. But since the absolute truth is unattainable and what we can understand is relative and subject to our cultural biases and personal predispositions, what you think is true may seem untrue to me and vice versa.

So what shall we do? If we never talk, we’ll never learn each other’s points of view and the gap between us grows deeper. Some matters are of taste and should be left to the individual. For example, whether you believe in reincarnation, the survival of the soul after death, and the existence of God are personal beliefs. Whether we agree  with them or not, it does not change anything. We may disagree on these personal issues and still live and work together in the same society in peace and harmony.

But what if our beliefs infringe on the rights of the others? What if I believe in a god as the owner of this universe that has ordered me to kill anyone who fails to recognize him? What if I believe that my god wants me to beat my wife if she is not obedient to me, or kill my daughter if I suspect lewdness on her part, or subdue and humiliate my neighbor if his religion is not the right one?

You obviously cannot sit idle and “respect” my belief. You have two choices, you either arm yourself and try to kill me before I kill you or you try to educate me and make me see that what I believe is morally and rationally wrong.

In my opinion, since we all have different beliefs, if we opt the first route and start killing each other very few of us will remain in this world. Islam advocates Jihad, it encourages you to fight and kill the unbelievers until everyone’s religion is Islam. This is  a barbaric way to handle the differences. The winner is not necessarily the one who is right but the one who has the might. Hitler and Muhammad both believed in violence as a legitimate mean to impose their philosophy. The result, in both cases was catastrophic.

Faith blinds. As a believer I am incapable of seeing my errors. If I am only talking with my peers who believe in what I believe they strengthen my faith and if our faith is wrong we are both confirmed in our ignorance. We will sit in our congregations and say how good we are and how evil you are; how much god loves us and how much he hates you and so on. This is the way we have done so far and it wasn’t a picnic. Now imagine we who have so much hate, also have  atomic and biological  weapons. Pakistan has atomic bombs and Iraq has biological weapons. Of course if they use their arsenals against the West or Israel, they will be wiped out. But they are fanatics. They are the suicide bombers. They cannot think straight. They believe that they will go to Paradise whether they kill or they are killed.

Obviously there is a lot at stake. We cannot just sit and let a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions happen. The destruction of our country, and our neighboring countries is painful and sad, yet it is nothing with what is going to befall us, if we do not stop this madness.

I suggest that we take another route. Let us discuss and make each other see where we are wrong. I believe in what I believe and you have faith in yours. I am not able to see the errors of my faith and you are not able to see yours. Let us find out the truth. You show my errors, and let me show yours. I won’t be offended if you tell me where I am wrong. But please don’t take it personally when I point out your errors. You and I should talk and let our ideas clash, let us debate, let us find the truth, but let us be friends and love each other like brothers and sisters.

What would you do if you find out that your son or someone you love has joined a very dangerous cult? Would you sit idle and let him harm himself and others because of his beliefs? Would you hate him, punish him or kill him for it? If you are a wise person you will educate yourself about that cult and try to help him see the dangerous road that he is taking.

We humans are brothers and sisters to each other. This is the first and foremost truth that we all must be aware of. Once this feeling of love and oneness is established among all the members of humanity, we should sit and talk to each other; listen and learn from each other. We have to point out to the errors of each other and not be offended if our own errors are singled out.

Love of your brother and sister in humanity comes first. Your beliefs, ideas, doctrines and religion, come next. Only with this spirit of empathy, care and understanding, should you sit with your Muslim , Jewish, Christian or Communist brothers and show them their errors. Only when you love them more than your religion you are not offended if they too criticize the errors of your beliefs.

I am a humanist. I love all humanity. For me, a Jew, a Baha'i, a Muslim, an Iranian, an Iraqi, an American, a black, or a white are all the same. I hate no one. I love every human being, irrespective of his or her color, race, nationality or religion. But that does not mean that I approve of what they do, say or believe. I feel it is my duty to show them their errors if those errors harm others. And I would accept with gratitude and humility if they helped me see mine.

I know that there is something good in every religion. But as a whole religions have done more harm than good. Religion is the most powerful force of disunity among humankind. All religions, without any exception, are based on false premises. We cannot build our prosperity on false and shaky foundations. Truth, and nothing but truth will set us free. And to find the truth, we have to talk and expose the fallacies of our beliefs.

I do not disagree with religion as a personal bliss. The belief in a deity that looks over our shoulders, takes care of us and comes to our aid when we need him is uplifting and very therapeutic. The faith in a personal god gives many people a sense of peace. It helps many overcome their weaknesses. It is a crutch that they can lean on. The psychological benefit of believing, for many millions of people is incalculable. To deprive people of believing in a personal god is not fair. People must wean themselves from religions, whenever THEY are ready. They will toss aside this crutch only when THEY feel that they can walk with their own feet, see with their own eyes and understand with their own rational thinking. We should not force people out of religion. We should let them mature on their own just as we would let a chicken to hatch in the egg until it is ready to break its shell and emerge from it on its own.

But when our belief becomes the cause of disunity and an excuse to kill, maim and hate others, we should not remain silent. We have to make reason prevail. We have to stop those who perpetrate crimes against humanity in the name of their god. No matter how strong their belief and how numerous their numbers; we have to put a halt to their insanity. If something is wrong, it does not become right just because the majority believes it.

About two years ago I started to participate in a few Internet discussion groups writing mostly about Islam and scrutinizing it with rational thinking. I had many discussions with a lot of people. Eventually I decided to polish some of those writings in the form of articles so when someone comes with a question that I had dealt with earlier I could simply cut and paste my answers to him. Eventually I created a Website and published those articles. Other writers contributed with their essays and the site kept growing.

This site does not pretend to have the answers to anyone's questions. What you find here are the answers that I have found satisfactory to my own questions. Although I share these answers with you, I also share many questions. What I hope to achieve is not to teach but to stimulate independent thinking. It is up to you, however, to pose your own questions and find your own answers. I hope that this site will kindle your interest in being inquisitive, learn to be skeptic, and as Buddha said, "doubt everything and find your own light".

Ali Sina

May 2001







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