Leaving Islam




Lies vs. Hate

By Ali Sina

The bitter experience of the Islamic revolution in Iran has made many wary of Islam in particular and of all religions in general. Some freethinkers opine that all religions must be eradicated completely to avoid repeating the same errors that were committed under Islam.   

In the Internet based discussion board of Jebhe Melli (The Democratic National Front of Iran) in a debate between a secularist and a respected member of a religious minority the secularist argued that lies are as dangerous and evil as hate and he suggested that we should confront and expose the beliefs that are not based on the truth. The writer reasoned: 

"Dear friend, … I hope that after all we can agree upon a few points here; the centrality and importance of truthfulness, that lies and deceptions, if not more dangerous and evil, are at least as evil as hatred and should be strongly exposed, confronted, and condemned...." 

I decided to jump in and add my two cents with the following comments:

At the first sight it seems that the above statement is true, i.e. "lies are at least as evil and dangerous as hatred and consequently should be strongly exposed, confronted and condemned".  But this blanket condemnation of lies presents a technical difficulty. The problem is that it assumes that the truth is something that everyone can understand and anyone deviating from it is lying. However this is not the case. People have different perceptions of the Truth. What to one may look as Truth, it may not to others. Our understanding of the Truth depends on our perceptions, and our perceptions are based on our limitations, social and cultural upbringings, our intellectual capacity and other conditionings.  

Truth is not a defined and a finite concept that anyone can understand. We all see part of the Truth and none of us can claim exclusivity to it. Truth is infinite and is multi-faceted. Take the example of the Earth. You can stand in any place on the surface of the Earth and get a glimpse of it. But you cannot see all of it. Two observers standing in deferent vantage points see different things. When they describe what they see, neither one of them is lying. They tell you the truth of what they see and what they see is different.   

I recall an old story that is humorous as well as educational that I believe explains the nature of the truth and can shed some light on this concept. Two Jews argued about a religious matter. One of them went to the rabbi and explained his views. The rabbi listened attentively and nodded his head saying: “Yes, you are right my son”. He went home happily. Then the second one paid him a visit and explained to him his understanding. The rabbi listened to him too and said: “You are right my son”. Later on when his wife catches him alone, she objected: “how can it be that both these men are right when they believe in different things?”, The rabbi chafed his chin and responded: “yes my dear YOU are right”.   

The good rabbi was not pulling anyone’s legs. He was telling the truth and he was right. What he knew, and what we must learn from him, is that each person sees the truth according to his understanding and is right from his point of view. And since all points of views are relative, no one is right or wrong in absolute terms.  

There was a time that I was searching after the truth. There was a time that I thought that truth is accessible and one can reach it if one looks for it.  But not anymore! Truth is not something you can grasp in its entirety. All what you can attain is a partial truth. If truth can be compared to the world, the best way to see the truth is to be a traveler. Go from one place to another, listen to everyone and from each person learn something. The more you travel, the more people you meet, the more things you see, your understanding of The truth expands. You never see all the truth but you see more of it. Therefore knowing that truth is unattainable and that it is relative, I give less weight to the truth and more to the good.  The truth may be relative and may vary from one person to another, but good is always good. 

The Differences of opinions that to some may seem lies do not hurt us. The belief is Santa Clause is a lie. Is it “more dangerous and evil than hate”? To believe that cows are sacred is a lie. Does it hurt anyone? The belief in Zartosht and Baha’u’llah as messengers of God, according to the understanding of those who don’t believe that God sends messengers is also not true. But is there anything harmful in these beliefs? 

The danger of imposing one's truth on others, apart from its logical absurdity is also ethically wrong. It is reminiscent of the inquisitions, where the majority would assault the minority, whether physically or intellectually, to straighten their thoughts and impose their version of the truth.  I find the statements like "Lies if not more dangerous and evil, are at least as evil as hatred and should be strongly exposed, confronted, and condemned...." extremely disturbing. How are we going to achieve this? Are we going to inaugurate a new era of intellectual witch hunt? Should we deny others to have the freedom to believe in whatever they choose to believe with respect without being constantly harassed by intellectual crusaders?  

Not everyone can live happily without a personal god. There are many good and intelligent people who still need to believe in a heavenly father. That need is real, even when the father is not. You may call it a crutch but to take away that crutch is cruelty. I do not believe in a personal god and therefore according to my understanding, which is by no means infallible, God is a lie. Should I fight with everyone who believes in God? What if they believe that their god has told them to speak good, to think good and to do good like Zoroastrians do? What if they believe that their god wants them to abolish the prejudices, love all humankind; establish equality between men and women and foster unity between all the races, nationalities, and religions like Baha’is do? Is there anything inherently wrong, evil and dangerous in these beliefs? Isn’t it better to be misguided and do good than be "guided" and do evil? 

From my perspective religions are wrong, but who said my perspective is the only right perspective?  Tolerance means also tolerating people’s beliefs. I don’t say that beliefs and ideologies are sacred and you should not criticize any belief least its followers are offended. On the contrary I believe beliefs are there to be probed, scrutinized, criticized and if found hollow, discarded. PEOPLE are sacred; beliefs are not! However, this does not license me to lash out at everyone and try to disprove the beliefs of all those whose thinking differs from mine. Who said my beliefs are right? Of course I think that they are or I would not have them, but doesn’t everyone else think the same way? What good does it make if you and I constantly fight over who is right and who is not? The truth is that neither one of us has the truth. And that is the truth. 

The history of humankind is written with the blood of people who fought for the Truth. Yet when we look back, we see no trace for the Truth they fought for and died for. 

“Forgotten lie the martyrs in their dusty catacombs
And the faiths, for which they died, are cold and dead.”

(Margaret A Murray in The Genesis of Religion) 

Truth is relative. No truth is completely true. The ancient Chinese when drawing the symbol of yin and yang, placed a dot of white in the core of the black and a dot of black in the heart of the white to say: nothing is absolute; everything is relative. No black is completely black and no white is completely white. Truth is a lighter gray and lies are darker ones. There is no definite line dividing them. All lies are partially true and all truths are partially false. Some lies are harmless and some are amusing. But hate is a different story.  

Hate of the people for their color of skin or belief is odious. It is evil and dangerous. Hate is not lack of love but a powerful force of malevolence. Lies do not harm us, hates do. Lies do not kill us, hates do. We cannot compare hate with lie. As I said above, some perceived lies are not lies at all but different viewpoints. The person who in your view is telling a lie may even be convinced that s/he is telling the truth. But there is no excuse for hate.  Hate invokes violence. It is an intense feeling of aversion.  

To fight the lies you have to know the truth. But who knows the truth and who is the one to decide? Your truth and mine may be completely different. Who should be the teacher and who the student? Which truth is the right truth?  

Truth may be one but the perceived truths are many. It may be as numerous as the number of alive people on Earth. Hate is also one. It may show its ugly face differently and may have different names. Hate is hate and in all its forms and manifestations it is destructive and evil.  

There is more harm in trying to be the crusader of the truth than let the spread of lies. Lies that are harmless will die on their own without our help. All you have to do is to tell your version of the truth. This is the age of information and old age fallacies are crumbling one after the other. Knowledge is stronger than ignorance and truth is more powerful than lies. Fighting for the truth will only feed fanaticism and increase rivalry.  

It is futile to pick fights with every person whose thinking differs from us. Actually it is more than futile—it is counterproductive and dangerous. Practically every other person on this planet thinks differently from you or me. Are we going to fight with all of them and correct everybody’s thinking? We have to understand that none of us is the bearer of the standard of the Truth and it is okay if other’s beliefs do not match ours. Our job is not to find faults with the beliefs of everyone we come across. Our job is to be the instrument of unity and love among the people of the world.  Humanity is diverse and unity of humanity cannot be achieved without diversity. Diversity of races, diversity of thoughts and diversity of beliefs are what enrich the world of humanity.  

However, doctrines and beliefs that promote hate are different stories. We should oppose them and we should eliminate them, not because they are false but because thy are dangerous. Nazism and Islam are doctrines that promote hate. It is a mistake not to confront them. We should not fight against Islam because it is a false doctrine. We should fight against it because it is threatening the peace and security of the world. The teachings of Islam are teachings of hate. We cannot stand by and let this hate consume everything in its path, ruin lives and kill people. Of course the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the right to believe even if that belief advocates hate. But this does not mean we should sit silent and not confront hate mongering beliefs. It is a moral obligation of every human being who cares about human liberties to speak out and condemn doctrines that advocate hate. Remaining silent in the face of tyranny is condoning it.   

I do not acknowledge anybody as a messenger of God. In fact I do not believe in a personal god that thinks, cares and sends messengers. This is an absurdity. But I will stand along with those who want to worship a god and have a religion. I don’t care about the truthfulness of the beliefs of the people, but rather about their actions and what they teach. In a free world people must be free to believe in any religion they choose, worship any god they like and pray at any altar they prefer. Humanity has lived with lies happily since its early beginning. It was the hate that has embittered its living not those sweet-little lies. If we want to fight lies it is better to start fighting the lies of our own beliefs than decry the lies that someone else hold so dear and cherish so much. This aggressive attitude that "I have the truth and you better accept my truth or else" is evil. it is something that is introduced by the Semitic religions and Muhammad banked on it to impose his religion on others. Unfortunately after thousands of years of religious indoctrination, we are conditioned to think in the absolute truth and believe there is ONE right way that is the only way and those who do not agree with it are liars and must be corrected, fought against or eliminated. Even the secular doctrines that we invent, like communism, fascism, and nazism are imbued with this religious spirit of self righteousness.     

There is no such thing at all. No way is the only right way. Acceptance of other people and tolerance of their beliefs is the right way. The truth is not in what we believe but in how we live. It is how we interact with people of other creeds that makes us right or wrong. We should not fight the religions that believe in a god or gods but those creeds that advocate hate, that order killing those who disagree with them, and discourage unity of human kind. A quick review of the teaching of Quran and the life of its author shows clearly that Islam is such religion and therefore it is an obstacle to the peace and brotherhood of humankind.


March  2001






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