Belief to Enlightenment:
The treacherous and
by Ali Sina
I was born
into a moderately religious family.
On my mother’s side I have a few relatives who are Ayatollahs.
Although my grandfather (whom I never met) was somewhat a
skeptic, we were believers. My
parents were not fond of the mullahs.
In fact, we did not have much to do with our more fundamentalist
relatives. We liked to think
of ourselves as believing in “true Islam,” not the one taught and
practiced by the mullahs.
discussing religion with the husband of one of my aunts when I was about
15 years old. He was a
fanatical Muslim who was very concerned about the fiqh (Islamic
prescribes the way Muslims should pray, fast, run their public and
private lives, do business, clean themselves, use the toilet, and even
copulate. I argued this has
nothing to do with true Islam, that it is a fabrication of the Mullahs,
that excessive attention to fiqh diminishes the impact and importance of
the pure message of Islam, to unite man with his creator.
This view is mostly inspired by Sufism.
Many Iranians, thanks to Rumi's poems, are to a great degree
Sufis in their outlook.
In my early
youth I noticed discriminations and cruelties against the members of
religious minorities in Iran. This
was more noticeable in provincial towns where the level of education was
low and the mullahs had a better grip over gullible people.
Due to my father’s work we spent a few years in small towns out
of the capital. I recall one
of my teachers who planned to take the class swimming.
We were excited and looked forward to it.
In the class there were a couple of kids who were Baha'i and
Jewish. The teacher did not
let them accompany us. He
said they are not allowed to swim in the same pool that Muslims swim in.
I cannot forget the kids’ disappointment as they left school
with tears in their eyes, subdued and heartbroken.
At that age, maybe nine or ten, I could not make sense of and was
saddened by this injustice. I
thought it was the kid’s fault for not being Muslims.
I believe I
was lucky for having open-minded parents who encouraged me to think
critically. They tried to
instill in me the love of God and his messenger, yet upheld humanistic
values like equality of rights between man and woman, and love for all
humankind. In a sense, this
is how most modern Iranian families were.
In fact, the majority of Muslims who have some education believe
Islam is a humanistic religion that respects human rights, that elevates
the status of women and protects their rights.
Most Muslims believe that Islam means peace. Needless to say, few
of them have read the Quran.
I spent my
early youth in this sweet dream, advocating “true Islam” as I
thought it should be, and criticizing the mullahs and their deviations
from the real teachings of Islam. I
idealized an Islam that conformed to my own humanistic values.
Of course my imaginary Islam was a beautiful religion.
It was a religion of equality and peace.
It was a religion that encouraged its followers to go after
knowledge and be inquisitive. It
was a religion that was in harmony with science and reason.
In fact, I thought that science got its inspiration from this
religion. The Islam I
believed was a religion that sparkled with modern
science, which eventually bore its fruit in the West and made modern
discoveries and inventions possible.
Islam, I believed, was the real cause of modern civilization.
The reason Muslims were living in such a miserable state of
ignorance, I thought, was all the fault of the self-centered mullahs and
religious leaders who for their own personal gain had misinterpreted the
real teachings of Islam.
honestly believe that the great Western civilization has its roots in
Islam. They recall great
Middle Eastern scientific minds whose contributions to science have been
crucial in the birth of modern science.
was a great mathematician who calculated the length of the year with a
precision of .74% of a second. Zakaria
Razi can very well be regarded as one of the first founders of empirical
science who based his knowledge on research and experimentation.
Avicenna's (Bu Ali Sina) monumental encyclopedia of medicine was
taught in European universities for centuries.
There are so many more great luminaries who have “Islamic
names” who were the pioneers of modern science when Europe was
languishing in the medieval Dark Ages.
Like all Muslims, I believed all these great men were Muslims,
that they were inspired by the wealth of hidden knowledge in the Quran;
and that if today's Muslims could regain the original purity of Islam,
the long lost glorious days of Islam would return and Muslims would lead
the advancement of World civilization once again.
was a Muslim country
but it was also a corrupt country. The
chance of getting into a university was slim.
Only one in ten applicants could get into the university. Often
they were forced to choose subjects that they did not want to study
because they could not get enough points for the subjects of their
choice. Students with the
right connections often got the seats.
of education in Iran was not ideal.
Universities were under-funded, as the Shah preferred building a
powerful military might to become the gendarme of the Middle East rather
than build the infrastructure of the country and invest in people’s
education. These were
reasons why my father thought I would be better off to leave Iran to
continue my education elsewhere.
America and Europe, but my father, acting upon the counsel of a few of
his religious friends, thought another Islamic country would be better
for a 16 year old boy. We
were told that the West’s morality is too lax, people are perverted,
the beaches are full of nudes, and they drink and have licentious
lifestyles, all of which are dangers to a young man.
So I was sent to Pakistan instead, where people were religious
and thus it was safe and moral. A
friend of the family told us that Pakistan is just like England, except
that it is cheaper.
course, proved to be untrue. I
found Pakistanis to be as immoral and corrupt as Iranians.
Yes they were very religious.
They did not eat pork and I saw no one consuming alcohol in
public, but I noticed they had dirty minds, lied, were hypocrites, were
cruel to women, and above all, were filled with hatred of the Indians.
I did not find them better than Iranians in any way.
They were religious but not moral or ethical.
instead of taking Urdu I took Pakistani Culture to complete my A level
FSc (Fellow of Science). I
learned the reason for Pakistan's partition from India and for the first
time heard about Muhammad Ali Jinah, the man Pakistanis called Qaid-e
A’zam, the great leader. He
was presented as an intelligent man, the Father of the Nation, while
Gandhi was spoken of in a derogatory way.
Even then, I could not but side with Gandhi and condemn Jinah as
an arrogant, ambitious man who was the culprit for breaking up a country
and causing millions of deaths. You
could say I always had a mind of my own and was a maverick in my
thinking. No matter what I
was taught, I always came to my own conclusion and did not believe what
I was told.
I did not see
differences of religion as valid reasons for breaking up a country.
The very word Pakistan was an insult to the Indians.
They called themselves pak (clean) to distinguish themselves from
the Indians who were najis (unclean).
Ironically I never saw a people dirtier than the Pakistanis both
physically and mentally. It
was disappointing to see another Islamic nation in such intellectual and
moral bankruptcy. In
discussions with my friends I failed to convince anyone of “true
Islam.” I condemned their
bigotry and fanaticism while they disapproved of me for my un-Islamic
I related all
this to my father and decided to go to Italy for my university studies.
In Italy people drink wine and eat pork, but they were more
hospitable, friendlier, and less hypocritical than Muslims.
I noticed people were willing to help without expecting something
in return. I met a very
hospitable elderly couple, who
invited me to have lunch with them on Sundays, so I would not have to
stay home alone. They did
not want anything from me. They
just wanted someone to love. I
was almost a grandson to them. Only
strangers in a new country, who do not know anyone and cannot speak the
language, can truly appreciate the value of the help and hospitality of
was sparkling clean, with shiny marble floors. This
contradicted my idea of Westerners.
Although my family was very open towards other people, Islam
taught me that non-Muslims are najis (Q.9:28)
and one should not befriend them.
I still have a copy of the Farsi translation of the Quran I
used to often read from. One
of the underlined verses is:
“O you who believe! Take not the
Jews and the Christians as awliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers,
etc.), they are but awliya’ to one another…Q.5:
difficulty understanding the wisdom of such a verse.
I wondered why I should not befriend this wonderful elderly
couple who had no ulterior motives in showing me their hospitality than
just making me feel at home. I
thought they were “true Muslims” and I tried to raise the subject of
religion hoping they would see the truth of Islam and embrace it.
But they were not interested and politely changed the subject.
I was not stupid enough at anytime in my life to believe that all
non-believers would go to hell. I
read this in the Quran before but never wanted to think about it.
I simply brushed it off or ignored it.
Of course, I knew that God would be pleased if someone recognized
his messenger but never thought he would actually be cruel enough to
burn someone in hell for eternity, even if that person only does good
deeds, just because he was not a Muslim.
I read the following warning:
anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never
will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks
of those who have lost (All spiritual good).
Yet I paid
little heed and tried to convince myself the meaning is something other
than what it appears to be. At
that moment this was not a subject that I was ready to handle.
So I did not think about it.
I hung around
with my Muslim friends and noticed that most of them lived a very
immoral life of double standards. Most
of them found girlfriends and slept with them.
That was very un-Islamic, or so I thought at that time.
What bothered me most was the fact that they did not value these
girls as real human beings who deserved respect.
These girls were not Muslim girls and therefore were used just
for sex. This attitude was
not general. Those who made
less show of religiosity were more respectful and sincere towards their
western girlfriends and some even loved them and wanted to marry them. Paradoxically.
those who were more religious were less faithful towards their
girlfriends. I always
thought that true Islam is what is right.
If something is immoral, unethical, dishonest or cruel, it cannot
be Islam. I could not see how the behavior of these immoral and
callous Muslims could be the result of what was taught in Islam.
Years later I
realized that the truth is exactly the opposite. I
found many verses that were disturbing and made me revise my whole
opinion of Islam.
As I saw it,
the tragedy was that the very same people who lived unethically and
immorally were the ones who called themselves Muslims, said their
prayers, fasted and were the first to defend Islam angrily if anyone
raised a question about it. They
where the ones who would lose their temper and start a fight if someone
dared to say a word against Islam.
befriended a young Iranian man at the university restaurant, later
introducing him to two other Muslim friends of mine.
We were all about the same age. He
was an erudite, virtuous, wise, young man. My
other two friends and I were captivated by his charm and high moral
values We used to wait for
him and sit next to him during lunch hour, as we always learned
something from him. We used
to eat a lot of spaghetti and risotto and craved a good Persian ghorme
sabzi and chelow.
Our friend said his mother sent him some dried vegetables and
invited us to his house the next Sunday for lunch.
We found his two-room apartment very clean, unlike the houses of
other guys. He made us a
delicious ghorme sabzi which
we ate with great gusto and then sat back chatting and sipping our tea.
It was then we noticed his Baha’i books.
When we asked about them, he said he was a Baha’i.
That did not
bother me at all, but on the way home my two friends said they did not
wish to continue their friendship with him.
I was surprised and asked why. They
said that being a Baha’i makes him najis and had they known he was a
Baha’i, they would not have befriended him.
I was puzzled and enquired why they thought he was najis if we
all were complementing him on his cleanliness.
We all agreed he was a morally superior man than all of the
Muslim young men we knew, so why this sudden change of attitude? Their
response was very disturbing. They
said the name itself had something in it that made them dislike this
religion. They asked me if I
knew why everyone disliked the Baha’is.
I told them I didn’t know, and that I liked everyone.
But since they disliked the Baha’is, perhaps they should
explain their reasons. They
did not know why! This man
was the first Baha’i they knew this well, and he
was an exemplary man. I
wanted to know the reason for their dislike.
There was no particular reason, they said.
It’s just they know that Baha’is are bad.
I am happy I
did not continue my friendship with these two bigots. From
them I learned how prejudice is formed and operates.
realized the prejudices and hatred that Muslims harbor against almost
all non-Muslims is not the result of any misinterpretation of the
teachings of the Quran, but is because this book teaches hate and
encourages prejudice. Those Muslims who go to the mosques and listen to
the sermons of the mullahs are affected. There
are many verses in the Quran that call believers to hate non-believers,
fight them, call them najis, subdue and humiliate them, chop off their
heads and limbs, crucify them, and kill them wherever they find them.
I Learned the truth from the Quran
I left the religion
on the backburner for several years.
Not that my views about religion had changed or I didn’t
consider myself religious any more.
I just had so much to do that expending time on religion had
become scarce. Meanwhile I
learned more about democracy, human rights and other values, like
equality of rights between men and women, and I liked what I learned.
Did I pray? Whenever
I could, but not fanatically. After
all, I was living and working in a Western country and did not want to
look too different.
One day, I decided
that it was time to deepen my knowledge of Islam and read the Quran from
cover to cover. I found an
Arabic copy of the Quran with an English translation.
Previously I read only bits and pieces of the Quran.
This time I read all of it. I
would read a verse in Arabic, then its English translation, then refer
back to the Arabic, and did not read the next verse until I was
completely satisfied I understood the Arabic.
take long before I came upon verses I found hard to accept.
One of these verses was:
forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth
anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is
to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.” 4:48
I found it
hard to accept that Gandhi would burn in hell forever because he was a
polytheist with no hope of redemption, while a Muslim murderer could
hope to receive Allah’s forgiveness.
This raised a disturbing question.
Why is Allah so desperate to be known as the only God? If
there is no other god but him, what is the fuss? Against
whom is he competing? Why
should he even care whether anyone knows him and praises him or not.
about the size of this universe. Light,
which travels at a speed of 300 thousand kilometers per second takes 20
billion years to reach us from the galaxies that are at the edges of the
universe. How many galaxies
are there? How many stars
are there in these galaxies? How
many planets are there in this universe? These
thoughts were mind-boggling. If
Allah is the creator of this vast universe, why he is so concerned about
being known as the only god by a bunch of apes living on a small planet
down the Milky Way?
Now that I
had lived in the West, had many western friends who were kind to me,
liked me, opened their hearts and homes to me, and accepted me as their
friend, it was really hard to accept that Allah didn’t want me to
not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers
rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help
from Allah 3:28,
the creator of the unbelievers too? Isn’t
he the god of everybody? Why
he should be so unkind to the unbelievers? Wouldn’t
it be better if Muslims befriended unbelievers and taught them Islam
by a good example? By
keeping ourselves aloof and distant from unbelievers, the gap of
misunderstandings will never be bridged.
How in the world will unbelievers learn about Islam if we do not
associate with them? These
were the questions I kept asking myself.
The answer to these questions came in a very disconcerting verse.
Allah’s order was to, “slay them wherever ye catch
I thought of
my own friends, remembering their kindnesses and love for me, and
wondered how in the world a true god would ask anyone to kill another
human being just because he does not believe.
That seemed absurd, yet this concept was repeated so often in the
Quran there was no doubt about it. In
Allah tells his prophet:
rouse the Believers to the fight.
If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they
will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand
of the Unbelievers.”
why would Allah send a messenger to make war? Shouldn’t
God teach us to love each other and be tolerant towards each other’s
beliefs? And if Allah is
really so concerned about making people believe in him to the extent
that he would kill them if they don’t believe, why would he not kill
them himself? Why does he
ask us to do his dirty work? Are
we Allah’s hit men?
knew of Jihad and never questioned it before, I found it hard to accept
that God would resort to imposing such violent measures on people.
What was more shocking was the cruelty of Allah in dealing with
will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above
their necks and smite all their fingertips off them 8:12
Allah was not just satisfied with killing unbelievers, he enjoyed
torturing them before killing them.
Smiting people’s heads from above their necks and chopping
their fingertips were very cruel acts.
Would God really give such orders? And
yet the worst is what he promised to do with unbelievers in the other
These two antagonists dispute with each other about
their Lord: But those who deny (their Lord),- for
them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured
out boiling water. With it
will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins.
In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them.
Every time they wish to get away therefrom, from anguish,
they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), “Taste ye the
Penalty of Burning!” 22:19-22
How could the
creator of this universe be so cruel? I
was shocked to learn that Quran tells Muslims to:
unbelievers wherever they find them (Q.2:191),
them and treat them harshly (Q.9:123),
until no other religion than Islam is left (Q.2:193)
them and impose on them a penalty tax if they are Christians or Jews,
them if they are Pagans (Q.9:5),
crucify, or cut off their hands and feet,
them from the land in disgrace. And
as if this were not enough, “they shall have a great punishment in
world hereafter” (Q.5:34),
befriend their own fathers or brothers if they are not believers (Q.9:23),
their own family in the battles of Badr and Uhud and asks Muslims to
“strive against the unbelievers with great endeavor” (Q.25:52),
with them because they belong to hell (Q.66:9).
How can any
sensible person remain unmoved when he or she finds the Quran saying:
“strike off the heads of the unbelievers” then after a “wide
slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives” (Q.47:4).
I was also
shocked to learn the Quran denies freedom of belief for all and clearly
states Islam is the only acceptable religion (Q.3:85).
Allah relegates those who do not believe in the Quran to hell (Q.5:11)
and calls them najis (filthy, untouchable, impure) (Q.9:28).
He says unbelievers will go to hell and will drink boiling water
Further, “As for the unbelievers, for them garments of fire
shall be cut and there shall be poured over their heads boiling water
whereby whatever is in their bowls and skin shall be dissolved and they
will be punished with hooked iron rods” (Q.22:9).
The book of
Allah says women are inferior to men and their husbands have the right
to beat them (Q.4:34),
and that women will go to hell if they are disobedient to their husbands
It says men have an advantage over women (Q.2:228).
It not only denies women equal right to their inheritance (Q.4:11-12),
it also regards them as imbeciles and decrees that their testimony alone
is not admissible in court (Q.2:282).
This means that a woman who is raped cannot accuse her rapist
unless she can produce a male witness, which of course is a joke.
Rapists don't rape in the presence of witnesses.
But the most shocking verse is where Allah allows Muslims to rape
women captured in wars even if they are married before being captured
The holy prophet raped the prettiest women he captured in his
raids on the same day he killed their husbands and loved ones.
This is why anytime a Muslim army subdues another nation, they
call them kafir and rape their women.
Pakistani soldiers raped up to 250,000 Bengali women in 1971 and
massacred 3,000,000 unarmed civilians when their religious leader
decreed that Bangladeshis are un-Islamic.
This is why the prison guards in the Islamic regime of Iran rape
the women and then kill them after calling them apostates and the
enemies of Allah.
Quran is full of verses that teach killing of unbelievers and how Allah
would torture them after they die. There
are no lessons on morality, justice, honesty, or love.
The only message of the Quran is to believe in Allah and his
messenger. The Quran coaxes
people with celestial rewards of unlimited sex with fair houris in
paradise and threatens them with blazing fires of hell.
When the Quran speaks of righteousness, it does not mean
righteousness as we understand it, but it means belief in Allah and his
messenger. A Muslim can be a
killer and murder non-Muslims and yet be a righteous person.
Good actions are secondary. Belief
in Allah and his messenger are the ultimate purpose of a person’s
the Quran I became greatly depressed.
It was hard to accept it all.
At first I denied and searched for esoteric meanings to these
cruel verses of the Quran, all in vain.
There was no misunderstanding! The
Quran was overwhelmingly inhumane. Of
course it contained a lot of scientific heresies and absurdities, but
they were not what impacted me the most.
It was the violence of this book that really jolted me and shook
the foundation of my belief.
The treacherous passage to enlightenment:
bitter experience with the Quran I found myself traveling on a torturous
road riddled with torments. I
was kicked out of the blissful garden of ignorance, where all my
questions were answered. There
I did not have to think. All
I had to do was believe. Now,the gates to that garden were closed to me
forever. I had committed the
unthinkable sin of thinking. I
had eaten from the forbidden tree of knowledge, and my eyes had been
opened. I could see the
fallacy of it all and my own nakedness.
I knew I would not be let into that paradise of oblivion again.
Once you start thinking, you don't belong there anymore.
I had only one way to go and that was forward.
This road to
to be more arduous than I was prepared for.
It was slippery. There
were mountains of obstacles to climb and precipices of errors to avert.
I traveled uncharted territories alone, not knowing what I would
find next. It would become
my odyssey in the realm of understanding and discovering truth,
eventually leading me to the land of enlightenment and freedom.
I will chart these territories for all those who also commit
the sin of thinking, find themselves kicked out of the paradise of
ignorance and are en route to an unknown destination.
If you doubt, if the mantle of ignorance in which you wrapped
yourself is shredded to pieces and you find yourself naked, know that
you cannot stay in the paradise of ignorance any longer.
You have been cast out forever.
Just as a child, once out of the womb, cannot go back, you will
not be readmitted into that blissful garden of oblivion again.
Listen to one who has been there and done that, and don't cling
despondently to the gates. That
door is locked.
Instead look forward. You
have a trip ahead of you. You
can fly to your destination or you can crawl.
I crawled! But
because I crawled, I know this path quite well.
I will chart the road, so hopefully you don't have to crawl.
from faith to enlightenment consists of seven valleys.
the Quran my perspective of reality was jolted.
I found myself standing face to face with the truth and I was
scared to look at it. It
certainly was not what I was expecting to see.
I had no one to blame, to curse and call a liar.
I found all the absurdities of Islam and inhumanity of its author
by reading the Quran. And I
was shocked. Only this shock
made me come to my senses and face the truth.
Unfortunately this is a very difficult, painful process.
The followers of Muhammad must see the naked truth and they must
be shocked. We cannot keep
sugarcoating the truth. The
truth is bitter and it must be accepted.
Facts are stubborn and refuse to go away.
Only then does the process of enlightenment start.
each person’s sensitivity is different, what shocks one person may not
shock the other. Even as a
man I was shocked when I read that Muhammad instructed his followers to
beat their wives and called women “deficient in intelligence.”
Yet I have come to know many Muslim women who have no difficulty
accepting these derogatory statements uttered by their prophet.
It’s not that they agree they are deficient in intelligence or
they believe the majority of the inhabitants of hell are women just
because the Prophet said so, but they simply block out that information.
They read it, but it doesn’t sink in.
They are in denial. The
denial acts as a shield that covers and protects them, that saves them
from facing the pain of reality. Once
that shield is up, nothing can bring it down.
At this point their beliefs must be attacked from other
directions. We have to
bombard them with other shocking teachings of the Quran.
They may have a weak spot for one of them.
That is all they need: a good shock.
Shocks are painful, but they can be lifesavers.
Shocks are used by doctors to bring back to life a dead patient.
For the first
time, the Internet has changed the balance of power.
Now the brutal force of the guns, prisons and death squads are
helpless and the pen is almighty. For
the first time Muslims cannot stop the truth by killing its messenger.
Now a great number of them are coming in contact with the truth
and they feel helpless. They
want to silence this voice, but they cannot.
They want to kill the messenger, but they cannot.
They try to ban the sites exposing their cherished beliefs,
sometimes they succeed momentarily, but most of the time they don't.
I created a site to educate Muslims about true Islam.
I hosted it at Tripod.com. The
Islamists forced Tripod to shut it down and they cowardly complied to
appease them Muslims. I got
my domain and the site was back again in a couple of weeks.
So the old way of killing the apostates, burning their books and
silencing them by terror does not work.
They cannot stop people from reading.
Even though my site is banned in Saudi Arabia, Emirates and many
other Islamic countries, a great number of Muslims who never knew the
truth about Islam are being exposed to the truth for the first time, and
I met a lady
on the net who converted to Islam and started to wear the Islamic veil.
She had a web site with her picture completely covered in a black veil
along with her story of how she became a Muslim.
She was very active and she used to advise others not to read my
writings. But when she read
the story of Safiyah, the Jewish woman that Muhammad captured and raped
after killing her father, husband and many of her relatives, she was
shocked. She questioned
other Muslims about this in vain. Then
the door was open and she was cast out of the paradise of ignorance.
She kept writing to me and asking questions.
Finally, she passed through the other stages from blind faith to
enlightenment very quickly and wrote thanking me for guiding her though
this arduous path. She
withdrew from the Yahoo Islamic clubs altogether.
learn about the unholy life of Muhammad and the absurdities of the Quran
they are shocked. I want to
expose Islam, write the truth about Muhammad’s unholy life, his
hateful words, his senseless assertions, and bombard Muslims with facts.
They will be angry. They
will curse me, insult me and tell me that after reading my articles
their faith in Islam is “strengthened.”
But that is when I know that I have sown the seed of doubt in
their mind. They say all
this because they are shocked and have entered the stage of denial.
The seed of doubt is planted and it will germinate.
In some people it takes years, but given the chance it will
Doubt is the
greatest gift we can give to each other.
It is the gift of enlightenment.
Doubt will set us free, will advance knowledge, and will unravel
the mysteries of this universe. Faith
will keep us ignorant.
hurdles we have to overcome is the hurdle of tradition and false values
imposed on us by thousands of years of religious upbringing.
The world still values faith and considers doubt as the sign of
weakness. People talk of men
of faith with respect and disdain men of little faith.
We are screwed up in our values.
The word faith means belief without evidence; gullibility also
means belief without evidence. Therefore
there is no glory in faithfulness. Faithfulness
means gullibility, credulity, susceptibility and easy to fleece.
How can one be proud of such qualities?
Doubt on the
other hand means the reverse of the above.
It means being capable of thinking independently, of questioning,
and of being a skeptic. We
owe our science and our modern civilization to men and women who
doubted, not to those who believed.
Those who doubted were the pioneers; they were the leaders of
thought. They were
philosophers, inventors, and discoverers.
Those who believed lived and died as followers, made little or no
contribution to the advancement of science and human understanding.
shocked, or maybe simultaneously, one denies.
The majority of Muslims are trapped in denial.
They are unable and unwilling to admit the Quran is a hoax.
They desperately try to explain the unexplainable, find miracles
in it and would willingly bend all the rules of logic to prove that the
Quran is right. Each time
they are exposed to a shocking statement in the Quran or a reprehensible
act performed by Muhammad they retreat in denial.
This is what I did in the first phase of my journey.
Denial is a safe place. It
is the unwillingness to admit that you have been kicked out of the
paradise of ignorance. You
try to go back, reluctant to take the next step forward.
In denial you find your comfort zone.
In denial you are not going to be hurt, everything is okay;
everything is fine.
extremely painful, especially if one has been accustomed to lies all his
life. It is not easy for a
Muslim to see Muhammad for who he was.
It is like telling a child that his father is a murderer, a
rapist, and a thief. A child
who adulates his father will not be able to accept it even if all the
proofs in the world is shown to him.
The shock is so great that all he can do is to deny it.
He will call you a liar. hate you for hurting him, curse you,
consider you his enemy, and may even explode in anger and physically
This is the
stage of denial. It is a
self defense mechanism. If
pain is too great, denial will take that pain away.
If a mother is informed that her child has died in an accident,
her first reaction is often denial.
At the moment of great catastrophes, one is usually overwhelmed
by a weary sense that this is all a bad dream and that eventually
you’ll wake up and everything will be okay.
But unfortunately facts are stubborn and will not go away.
One can live in denial for a while, but sooner or later the truth
must be accepted.
cocooned in lies. Because
speaking against Islam is a crime punishable by death, no one dares to
tell the truth. Those who
do, do not live long. They
are quickly silenced. So how
would you know the truth if all you hear are lies? On one hand the
Quran claims to be a miracle and challenges anyone to produce a Surah
And if you are in doubt as
to which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a sura like it,
and call on your helper, besides Allah, if you are truthful. (Q: 2:23)
instructs its followers to kill anyone who dares to criticize it or
challenge it. If you ever
dare to take up the challenge and produce a Surah as poorly written as
the Quran you will be accused of mocking Islam for which the punishment
is death. In this atmosphere
of insincerity and deceit, truth is the casualty.
The pain of
coming face to face with the truth and realizing all that we believed
were lies is extremely agonizing. The
only mechanism and natural way to deal with it is denial.
Denial takes away the pain. It
is a soothing bliss,even though it is hiding one’s head in the sand.
stay in denial forever. Soon
the night will fall and the cold shivering reality freezes one’s bones
and you realize that you are out of the paradise of ignorance.
That door is closed and the key has been thrown away.
You know too much. You
are an outcast. Fearfully
you look at the dark and twining road barely visible in the twilight of
your uncertainties and gingerly you take your first steps towards an
unknown destiny. You grapple
and fumble, reluctantly trying to stay focused.
But fear overwhelms you and each time you try to run back to the
garden you once again face the closed door.
majority of Muslims live in denial.
They stay behind the closed door.
They cannot go back nor do they dare to walk away from it.
Those who are inside the garden are those who never left it.
This door will only let you out.
You cannot get in. That
blissful garden is the garden of certitude.
It is reserved for the faithful, for those who do not doubt, for
those who do not think. They
believe anything. They would
believe that night is day and day is night.
They would believe that Muhammad climbed the seventh heaven, met
with God, split the moon and conversed with jinns.
said, those who believe in absurdities commit atrocities. They
also believe that killing infidels is good, bombing is holy, stoning is
divine, beating wives is prescribed by God, and hating unbelievers is
the will of God. These
inhabitants of the paradise of ignorance constitute the majority.
Those who doubt are still the minority.
believers will never see the truth if they are permanently kept cocooned
in lies. All they have heard
so far is the lie that Islam is good and if only Muslims practiced true
Islam, the world would become a paradise, that the problems of
Islam are all the fault of Muslims.
This is a lie. Most
Muslims are good people. They are no worse and no better than others.
It’s Islam that makes them commit atrocities. Those Muslims who do bad
things are those who follow Islam. Islam
rears the criminal instinct in people.
The more a person is Islamist, the more bloodthirsty, hate
mongering, and zombie s/he becomes.
I wanted to
deny what I was reading. I
wanted to believe that the real meaning of the Quran is something else,
but I could not. I could no
longer fool myself saying these inhumane verses were taken out of the
context. The Quran does not
have a context. Verses are
jammed together at random often lacking any coherence.
read my articles and are hurt by what I say about the Quran and Islam
are lucky. They have me to
blame. They can hate me,
curse me and direct all their anger at me.
But when I read the Quran and learned about its content, I could
not blame anyone. After
going through the stages of shock and denial, I was confused and started
to blame myself. I hated
myself for thinking, for doubting and finding fault with what I regarded
to be the words of God.
other Muslims, I was exposed to and accepted all the many lies,
absurdities and inhumanities. I
was brought up as a religious person.
I believed in whatever I was told.
These lies were given to me in small doses, gradually, since my
childhood. I was never given
an alternative to compare. It
is like vaccination. I was
immune to the truth. But
when I started to read the Quran seriously from cover to cover and
understood what this book is actually saying.
I felt nauseated. All
those lies suddenly appeared in front of me.
I had heard
them all and had accepted them. My
rational thinking was numbed. I
had become insensitive to the absurdities of the Quran.
When I found something that did not make sense, I brushed it off
and said to myself that one has to look at the “big picture.”
That idyllic big picture, however, was nowhere to be found except
in my own mind. I pictured a
So all those absurdities did not bother me because I paid no
attention to them. When I
read the whole Quran I discovered a distinctly different picture than
the one in my mind. The new
picture of Islam emerging from the pages of the Quran was violent,
intolerant, irrational, arrogant, a far cry from Islam as a religion of
peace, equality and tolerance.
In the face
of this much absurdity, I had to deny it, to keep my sanity.
But how long I could keep denying the truth when it was out like
the sun right in front of me? I
was reading the Quran in Arabic so I could not blame a bad translation.
Later I read other translations. I
realized many translations in English are not entirely reliable. The
translators had tried very hard to hide the inhumanity and the violence
in the Quran by twisting the words and adding their own words sometimes
in parenthesis or brackets to soften its harsh tone.
The Arabic Quran is more shocking than its English translations.
confused and I did not know where to turn.
My faith had beeen shaken and my world had crumbled.
I could no longer deny what I was reading.
But I could not accept the possibility that this was all a huge
lie. “How could it be, I
kept asking myself. that so many people have not seen the truth and I
could see it? How could
great seers like Jalaleddin Rumi did not see that Muhammad was an
impostor and that the Quran is a hoax, and I see it? It
was then that I entered the stage of guilt.
lasted for many months. I
hated myself for having these thoughts.
I felt God was testing my faith.
I felt ashamed. I
spoke with learned people whom I trusted, people who were not only
knowledgeable but whom I thought were wise.
I heard very little that could quench the burning fire within me.
One of these learned men told me not to read the Quran for a
while. He told me to pray
and read only books that would strengthen my faith.
I did that, but it did not help.
The thoughts about the absurd, sometimes ruthless, ridiculous
verses of the Quran kept throbbing in my head.
Each time I looked at my bookshelf and saw that book, I felt
pain. I took it and hid it
behind the other books. I
thought if I do not think about it for a while my negative thoughts
would go away and I would regain my faith once again.
But they didn’t go away. I
denied as much as I could, until I could no longer. I was shocked,
confused, felt guilty and it was painful.
of guilt lasted too long. One
day I decided enough is enough. I
told myself that it is not my fault.
I am not going to carry this guilt forever thinking about things
that make no sense to me. If
God gave me a brain, it is because he wants me to use it.
If what I perceive as right and wrong is skewed, then it is not
my fault. He tells me
killing is bad and I know it is bad because I do not want to be killed. Then
why did his messenger kill so many innocent people and order his
followers to kill those who do not believe? If
rape is bad, and I know it is bad because I do not want it to happen to
people I love, why did Allah's prophet rape the women he captured in
war? If slavery is bad, and
I know it is bad because I hate to lose my freedom and become a slave,
why has the Prophet of God enslaved so many people and made himself rich
by selling them? If
imposition of religion is bad, and I know that it is bad because I do
not like another person to force on me a religion that I don’t want,
then why did the Prophet eulogize Jihad and exhort his followers to kill
unbelievers, take their booty, and distribute their women and children
as spoils of war? If God
tells me something is good, and I know that it is good because it feels
good to me, then why did his prophet do the opposite of that thing?
guilt was lifted off my shoulders, dismay, disillusionment, or cynicism
followed. I felt sorry for
having wasted so many years of my life,and for all the Muslims who are
still trapped in these foolish beliefs, for all those who lost their
lives in the name of these false doctrines, for all the women in
virtually all the Islamic countries who suffer all sorts of abuses and
oppression.s. They do not even know they are being abused.
I thought of
all the wars waged in the name of religion, so many people died for
nothing. Millions of
believers left their homes and families to wage war in the name of God,
never to return, thinking they are spreading faith in God.
They massacred millions of innocent people.
Civilizations were destroyed, libraries were burned, and so much
knowledge was lost, for nothing. I
recalled my father waking up in the early hours of the morning and in
the icy water of the winter performing voodoo.
I recalled him coming home hungry and thirsty during the month of
fasting, and I thought of the billions of people who torture themselves
in this way for nothing. The
realization that all that I believed were lies and all that I did was a
waste of my life, and the fact that a billion other people are still
lost in this arid desert of ignorance chasing a mirage that to them
appears to be water was disappointing.
Prior to that
God was always in the back of my mind.
I used to talk to him in my imagination and those conversations
seemed me. I thought God was
watching and taking account of every good act that I did.
The feeling that someone was watching over me, guiding my steps
and protecting me was very comforting.
It was difficult to accept that there is no such thing as Allah
and even if there is a God, it is not Allah.
I did not give up the belief in God, but by then I knew for sure
that if this universe has a maker, it cannot be the deity that Muhammad
had envisioned. Allah was
ignorant to the core. The
Quran is full of errors. No
creator of this universe could be as stupid as the god of the Quran
appeared to be. Allah could
not have existed anywhere else except in the mind of a sick Man.
I understood that he was but a figment of Muhammad’s
imagination and nothing more. How
disappointed I was when I realized all these years I had been praying to
This feeling of loss and disappointment was accompanied by a sense of
sadness, or some kind of depression.
It was as if my whole world had
fallen apart. I felt like
the ground I was standing on
was no longer there and I was falling into a bottomless pit.
Without exaggerating, it felt like I was in hell.
bewildered, pleading for help and no one could help.
I felt ashamed of my thoughts and hating myself for having such
thoughts. The guilt was
accompanied by a profound sense of loss and depression.
As a rule, I am a positive thinker.
I see the good side of everything.
I always think tomorrow is going to be better than today.
I am not the kind of person who is easily depressed.
But this feeling of loss was overwhelming.
I still recall that weight in my heart.
I thought God has forsaken me and I did not know why.
“Is that God’s punishment?” I kept asking myself.
I do not remember hurting anyone ever.
I went out of my way to help anyone whose life crossed mine and
asked me for help. So, why did God want to punish me in this way?
Why was He not answering my prayers?
Why has He left me to myself and these thoughts I could find no
answers to? Does he want to
test me? Then where were the
answers to my prayers? Would
I pass this test if I became stupid and stopped using my brain?
If so, why did he give me a brain?
Would only dumb people pass the test of faith?
betrayed and violated. I
cannot say which feeling was predominant.
At times I was disillusioned, sad, or dismayed.
Even if faith is false, it is still sweet.
It is very comforting to believe.
my feelings of sadness and loss, I felt liberated. Curiously
I no longer felt confused or guilty.
I knew for sure the Quran was a hoax and Muhammad was an
this sadness I tried to keep myself busy with other activities.
I even took dancing lessons and experienced what it means to be
alive, to be free of guilt, to enjoy life and to just be normal.
I realized how much I had missed out on and how foolishly I
deprived myself of the simple pleasures of life.
Of course denial is the way cults exert their control over thier
believers. I denied
myself the simplest pleasures of life, was living in constant fear of
God, and I thought this was normal.
I am talking of pleasures like sleeping in the morning, dancing,
dating, or sipping a glass of fine wine.
At this time,
I entered another stage of my spiritual journey to enlightenment.
I became angry. Angry
for having believed
those lies for so many years, for wasting so many years of my life
chasing a wild goose. Angry
at my culture for betraying me, for the wrong values it gave me, with my
parents for teaching me a lie, with myself for not thinking before, for
believing in lies, trusting an impostor, with God for letting me down,
for not intervening and stopping the lies that were being disseminated
in His name.
When I saw
pictures of millions of Muslims who, with so much devotion, went to
Saudi Arabia, many of them spending their life’s savings to perform
hajj, I became angry with the lies these people were brought up with.
When I read someone had converted to Islam, something Muslims
love to advertise and make a big issue of I became saddened and angry.
I was sad for that poor soul and angry with the lies.
I was angry
with the whole world that tries to protect this lie, defend it, and even
abuse you if you raise your voice to try to tell them what you know.
It is not just Muslims, but even westerners who do not believe in
Islam. It’s okay to
criticize anything but Islam. What
amazed me and made me even angrier was the resistance I faced when I
tried to tell others that Islam is not the truth.
this anger did not last long. I
knew that Muhammad was no messenger of God but a charlatan, a demagogue
whose only intention was to beguile people and satisfy his own
narcissistic ambitions. I
knew all those childish stories of a hell with scorching fire and a
heaven with rivers of wine, milk and honey. orgies, were the figments of
a sick, wild, insecure and bullying mind of a man in desperate need to
dominate and affirm his own authority.
I realized I
could not be angry with my parents; for they did their best and taught
me what they thought to be the best.
I could not be angry with my society or culture because my people
were just as misinformed as my parents and myself.
Afer some thought, I realized everyone was a victim.
There are one billion or more victims.
Even those who have become victimizers are victims of Islam too.
How could I blame Muslims if they do not know what Islam stands
for and honestly, though erroneously, believe that it is a religion of
Muhammad the narcissist
Muhammad? Should I be angry
with him for lying, deceiving and misleading people? How
could I be angry with a dead person? Muhammad
was an emotionally sick man who was not in control of himself.
He grew up as an orphan in the care of five different foster
parents before he reached the age of eight.
As soon as he became attached to someone, he was snatched away
and given to someone else. This
must have been hard on him and was detrimental to his emotional health.
As a child, deprived of love and a sense of belonging, he grew
with deep feelings of fear and lack of self-confidence.
He became a narcissist. A
narcissist is a person who has not received enough love in his
childhood, who is incapable of loving, but instead craves attention,
respect and recognition. He
sees his own worth in the way others view him.
Without that recognition he is nobody.
He becomes manipulative and a pathetic liar.
are grandiose dreamers. They
want to conquer the world and dominate everyone.
Only in their megalomaniac reveries is their narcissism
narcissists are Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Pol
Pot and Mao. Narcissists are
intelligent, yet emotional wrecks. They
are deeply disturbed people. They
set themselves extremely high goals.
Their goals always have to do with domination, power and respect.
They are nobody if they are neglected.
Narcissists often seek alibis to impose their control over their
unwary victims. For Hitler
it was the party and race, for Mussolini it was fascism or the unity of
the nation against others and for Muhammad it was religion. These causes
are just tools in their quest for power.
Instead of promoting themselves, the narcissists promote a cause,
an ideology, or a religion while presenting themselves as the only
authority and the representative of these causes.
Hitler did not call the Germans to love him as a person but to
love and respect him because he was the Fuhrer.
Muhammad could not ask anyone to obey him.
But he could easily demand his followers to obey Allah and his
messenger. Of course Allah
was Muhammad’s own alter ego, so all the obedience was for him in the
final account. In this way
he could wield control over everyone's life by telling them he is the
representative of God and what he says is what God has ordained.
Vaknin, the author of “Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited”
explains: “Everyone is a narcissist, to varying degrees.
Narcissism is a healthy phenomenon.
It helps survival. The
difference between healthy and pathological narcissism is, indeed, in
narcissism and its extreme form, NPD (Narcissistic Pathological
Disorder), is characterized by extreme lack of empathy.
The narcissist regards and treats other people as objects to be
exploited. He uses them to
obtain narcissistic supply. He
believes that he is entitled to special treatment because he harbours
these grandiose fantasies about himself.
The narcissist is NOT self-aware.
His cognition and emotions are distorted.”
perfectly describes Muhammad. Muhammad
was a ruthless man with no feelings.
When he decided the Jews were of no use to him, he stopped
kowtowing to them and eliminated them all.
He massacred all the men of Bani Qurayza and banished or murdered
every other Jew and Christian from Arabia. Surely if God wanted to
destroy these people he would not have needed the help of his messenger.
So I found
there was no reason to be angry with an emotionally sick man who died a
long time ago. Muhammad was
a victim himself of the stupid culture of his people, of the ignorance
of his mother who, instead of keeping him during the first years of his
life when he needed her love most, entrusted him to a Bedouin woman to
raise him so she could find a new husband.
a man with profound emotional scars.
Dr. Vaknin writes that a narcissist "lies to himself
and to others, projecting ‘untouchability,’ emotional immunity, and
invincibility. For a
narcissist "everything is bigger than life.
If he is polite, then he is aggressively so.
His promises outlandish, his criticisms violent and ominous, his
generosity inane." Isn't this the image the Prophet projected
I could not
criticize or blame the ignorant Arabs of the 7th century for
not being able to discern that Muhammad was sick and not a prophet, that
his outlandish promises, his impressive dreams of conquering and
subduing the great nations when he was just a pauper, were caused by his
pathological emotional complications and were not due to a divine power.
How could I blame those ignorant Arabs for falling prey to a man
like Muhammad when only in the last century, millions of Germans fell
prey to the charisma of another narcissist who just as Muhammad, made
big promises, was as ruthless, as manipulative, and as ambitious as he
thought, I realized there is not a single person I could be angry with.
I realized we are all victims and victimizers at the same time.
The culprit is ignorance. Because
of our ignorance we believe in charlatans and their lies, allowing them
to disseminate hate among us in the name of false deities, ideologies or
religions. This hate
separates us from each other, and prevents us from seeing our oneness
and understanding that we are all members of the human race, related to
each other and interdependent.
It was then
that my anger gave way to a profound feeling of empathy, compassion and
love. I made a promise to
myself to fight this ignorance that divides the human race.
We paid, and are paying, dearly for our disunity.
This disunity is caused by ignorance and the ignorance is the
result of false beliefs and pernicious ideologies that are concocted by
emotionally unhealthy individuals for self-serving purposes.
separate us. Religions cause
disunity, hate,fighting, killing, and antagonism. As members of the
human race, we need no ideology, cause, or religion to be united.
that the purpose of life is not to believe but to doubt.
I realized that no one can teach us the truth because truth
cannot be taught. It can
only be experienced. In
reality, no religion, philosophy or doctrine can teach you the truth.
Truth is in the love we have for our fellow human beings, in the
laugher of a child, in friendship, in companionship, in the love of a
parent and a child, and in our relationships with others.
Truth is not in ideologies. The
only thing that is real, is love.
of going from faith to enlightenment is an arduous and painful process.
Let us borrow a term from Sufism and call that the seven
“valleys” of enlightenment.
Faith is the
state of being confirmed in ignorance.
You will continue to stay in that state of blissful ignorance
until you are shocked and forced out of it.
This shock is the first valley.
first reaction to shock is denial.
Denial acts like a shield.
It buffers the pain and protects you from the agony of going out
of your comfort zone. The
comfort zone is where we feel at ease, where we find everything
familiar, where we don't face new challenges or the unknown.
This is the second valley.
doesn’t take place in comfort zones.
In order to go forward and evolve we need to get out of our
comfort zones. We won't do
that unless we are shocked. It
is also natural to buffer the pain of shock by denial.
At this moment we need another shock, and we may decide to shield
ourselves again with another denial.
The more a person is exposed to facts and the more he is shocked,
the more he tries to protect himself with more denials.
But denials do not eliminate the facts.
They just shield us momentarily.
When we are exposed to facts, at a certain point we will be
unable to continue denying. Suddenly
we won’t be able to keep our defenses up and the wall of denials will
come down. We can’t keep
hiding our heads in the sand prepetually. Once doubt sets in, it will
have a domino effect and we find ourselves hit from all directions by
facts that up until now we avoided and denied.
Suddenly all those absurdities that we accepted and even
defended, are no longer logical and we reject them.
We are then
driven into the painful stage of confusion and that is the third valley.
The old beliefs seem unreasonable, foolish and unacceptable, yet
we have nothing to cling to. This
valley, I believe, is the most dreadful stage in the passage from faith
to enlightenment. In this
valley we lose our faith without having found the enlightenment.
We are basically standing in nowhere.
We experience a free fall. We
ask for help but all we get is a rehashing of some nonsense clichés.
It seems that those who try to help us are lost themselves, yet
they are so convinced. They
believe in what they don't know. The
arguments they present are not logical at all.
They expect us to believe without questioning.
They bring the example of the faith of others.
But the intensity of the faith of other people does not
prove the truth of what they believe in.
confusion eventually gives way to the fourth valley, guilt.
You feel guilty for thinking.
You feel guilty for doubting, for questioning, for not
understanding. You feel
naked, and ashamed of your thoughts. You
think it is your fault if the absurdities mentioned in your holy books
make no sense to you. You
think that God has abandoned you or that he is testing your faith.
In this valley you are torn apart by your emotions and your
intellect. Emotions are not
rational, but they are extremely powerful. You
want to go back to the paradise of ignorance, you desperately want to
believe but you simply can't. You
have committed the sin of thinking.
You have eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge.
You have angered the god of your imaginations.
decide there is no need to feel guilty for the understanding.
That guilt does not belong to you.
You feel liberated but at the same time dismayed for all those
lies that kept you in ignorance and the time wasted.
This is the valley of disillusionment.
At the same time you are overtaken by sadness.
You feel liberated; yet like coming out of prison after spending
a lifetime there, you are overtaken by deep sense of depression.
You feel lonely and despite your freedom, you miss something.
You ponder the time lost. You
think of the many people who believe(d) in this nonsense and foolishly
sacrifice(d) everything for it, including their lives. The pages of
history are written with the blood of people who were killed in the name
of Yahweh, Allah or other gods. All
for nothing! All for a lie!
Thereupon you enter the
sixth valley, of anger.
You become angry at yourself, and at everything else.
You realize how much of your precious life you lost believing in
so many lies.
But then you
realize you are the lucky one for having made it this far and that there
are billions of others who are still trying to shield themselves with
denials and not venture out of their comfort zone.
They are still wading in the quagmire of the first valley.
At this stage, when you are completely free from faith, guilt and
anger, you are ready to understand the ultimate truth and unravel the
mysteries of life. You are
filled with empathy and compassion.
You are ready to be enlightened.
The enlightenment comes when you realize that the truth is in
love and in our relationship with our fellow human beings and not in a
religion or a cult. You
realize that Truth is a pathless land.
No prophet or guru can take you there.
You are there already.
this odyssey you are not alone. You
have a nagging companion who will not leave you.
He will try to hinder your advancement and stop you from going
forwards. He is your fear:
the fear of punishment, of hell, of after death.
It is completely irrational, yet it controls you and acts on your
subconscious mind every step of the way.
The passage from faith to enlightenment is arduous and you
will not be able to take the first step if you cannot get rid of your
fears. You will only get rid of them completely when you arrive at your
destiny and you are enlightened. Then you break the chain of fear and
acquire wings of enlightenment. This
is the true liberation.