Leaving Islam




 Shahsay Vahsay
by Yashiko Sagamori

    Sadly, our ignorance of Islam is overwhelming. Here is an example.

    A letter attributed to a Marine chaplain serving in Iraq has been widely circulated over the Internet, hailing glorious accomplishments of the US-led coalition in that country. The chaplain leaves military victories to other historians, concentrating instead on the improvements the occupation has brought to the lives of ordinary Iraqis. Among those, he lists the lifting of restrictions on Shiite religious practices: “Shia religious festivals (all but banned [under Saddam Hussein]) are no longer illegal. For the first time in 35 years, in Karbala, thousands of Shiites celebrate the pilgrimage of the 12th Imam.

    To an innocent eye, this looks like restoration of religious freedom, and religious freedom, as every American will agree, is a precious thing. Of course, the question remains whether the religious freedom of Iraqi Shiites is precious enough for the American people to be paid for with the lives of American soldiers. Personally, I'd rather see every single one of them get home in one piece, even if it meant continued suppression of Shiite observances in Iraq. The vehement opposition of the Iraqi Shiites, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, to the US presence in their country does not alleviate my doubts. But, most importantly, our invasion in Iraq is a part of the War on Terror. Unless those newly restored freedoms somehow contribute to the safety of my country, I do not see a reason to consider them a victory for us. Rather it's a victory for the Iraqi Shiites who have managed to manipulate the occupiers into granting them previously denied liberties, which they are now (ab)using trying to snatch power for themselves. Do we want Iraq to be ruled by the ayatollahs?

    Unfortunately, the chaplain does not even attempt to explain the connection between Shiite rituals in Iraq and the terror level indicator in the United States. He does not describe those rituals either, although they definitely present an insight into the world of Islam.

    Few Westerners know that those celebrations culminate in a rampage of mass self-flagellation. Mobs of fanatical followers of the twelfth Imam roam the streets, covered with blood from self-inflicted wounds, chanting “Shahsay! Vahsay!” (“Shah Husayn! Alas Husayn!”), beating and cutting themselves with chains, swords, and whatever else can be used to inflict injury. Men and youths ecstatically mutilate themselves. Parents ecstatically mutilate their toddlers. Regardless of the price the United States had to pay for the freedom of such barbaric _expression of religious fervor, any sane person should ask whether a cult allowing such festivals should be outlawed altogether in every civilized country.

    Try to imagine a young American in the military uniform watching such a parade of the most primitive cruelty, thinking, “Yes! This is worth dying for.” Try to imagine a mother or a widow of an American soldier recently killed in Iraq, watching such an orgy of religious fanaticism and saying to herself, “Now it makes perfect sense.”

    Try to imagine what those people, given a chance, would do to you.
    These festivities present an example of the senseless blood lust and flair for gratuitous violence inherent to Islam. However, I don't want to mislead my readers into thinking that such tendencies are unique to Shiites only. Two recent news items, both related to the just ended period of hajj, present an opportunity to demonstrate that these traits are common for all varieties of Islam.

    Traditionally, at the conclusion of the hajj, the participants “stone the Devil”, which is symbolically represented by three pillars. (This year, by the way, one of the pillars had “USA” inscribed on it.) A stampede that somehow began during the ceremony killed more than 250 pilgrims and wounded scores more. This may sound like a freak accident, until you get the (partial) statistics of the hajj:


last year, 36 pilgrims were trampled to death under similar circumstances;


in 2001, the number was 35;


in 1994, 270 pilgrims died in a stampede;


in 1990, 1,426 pilgrims died in a stampede;


in 1989, a bomb exploded outside the Great Mosque in Mecca, killing one pilgrim and injuring 16;


in 1987, roughly 400 people, mostly Iranians, were killed in clashes with the local security forces.

    These numbers may seem terrifying, but not to Muslims who believe that death during the hajj erases one's sins and guarantees him or her a place in heaven.
    Think for a second about the implications. Religious people often refer to their “fear of God” as a major factor preventing them from sinning. All a Muslim sinner has to do to be forgiven is to arrange the circumstances of his or her death appropriately. To make it easier for them, Islamic teachings offer a variety of ways to die that guarantee them eternity in Paradise regardless of the life they lead. Here is what the Hadith says on the subject:


Volume 4, Book 52, Number 82:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, “Five are regarded as martyrs: They are those who die because of plague, abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building etc., and the martyrs in Allah's Cause.”

    This gives a “faithful” an easy way to erase all his or her misdeeds: a drowning, for example, whether accidental or arranged, entitles any villain to eternity of fornication with a platoon of indestructible virgins. Please note the reference to “Allah's Cause” in the quotation above. This is one hell of a loophole. If you fail to see a direct justification of suicide bombings here, you probably believe they are caused by economic hardships inflicted by cruel Israelis. I am not sure if Muslim women are entitled to any pornographic pleasures in what the Muslims mistake for heaven, but they are admitted there under some conditions. Not so long ago, a married Arab woman, a mother of two young children, was caught in an adulterous relationship with a local Hamas leader. The penalty for such crime is, of course, death, and the woman died, but in a way that got all her digressions annulled: she blew herself up along with four Israelis who happened to be nearby. Her lover provided the belt with explosives; her husband did not object.

    To a civilized person, such lack of respect to human life is clear evidence that Islam is in fact a death cult, rather than a legitimate religion. My drastic conclusion is corroborated by another item distributed by the Associated Press and posted on several news sites. On CNN, it was titled Top Saudi religious authority condemns terrorists.

    There is no shortage of condemnations of terrorism these days. Terrorist acts have become an almost daily occurrence, and every one of them is usually followed by a string of tepid condemnations. Yasser Arafat used to condemn every single terrorist act he ordered, but now he has a prime minister to do it for him. Kofi Annan used to do it routinely, but eventually grew tired of it; he refused to condemn the latest suicide bombing in Jerusalem. Colin Powel seems to have a few carefully worded versions of such condemnations prepared for him in advance, like obituaries for aging celebrities. He rotates them from one occasion to the next, every time looking his gravest and noblest, although you have to agree that he sounded more sincere when he was assuring the Security Council that Iraq had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. In the past, Europe used to present an off-key chorus of half-hearted condemnations, but now Europe is united and speaks with a single voice, which doesn't sound too convincing either.

    However, Islamic religious authorities do not condemn terrorism on a regular basis. I remember how, in the aftermath of September 11, desperate attempts were made to extract at least a marginally appropriate statement from any Islamic figurehead in the United States. The imams heroically withstood the pressure and refused to compromise themselves or their religion with an opposition to the slaughter of the infidels unless it was perpetrated by combined efforts of the CIA and Mossad. Americans with hateful eyes and unbelievable names, like Ibrahim Hooper, politely, but insistently grilled in front of the cameras, employed convoluted syllogisms striving to prove that the attack that was organized, financed, and perpetrated by Muslims as one of many battles of jihad, was nevertheless unrelated to their religion, did not amount to a terrorist act, and did not warrant a condemnation either as un-Islamic or for any other reason. Those of them who were forced to admit, however reluctantly, that killing innocent people is wrong, inevitably brought up Zionist aggressors murdering innocent "Palestinians".

    Don't you find it strange that Islam became widely known as a “religion of peace and love” only after September 11? Considering all the facts, we have to agree that either all Muslims are lying in unison, or, in the Islamic culture, the concepts of peace and love are very different from ours. It's quite possible, of course, that we are witnessing a combination of the two.

    That's why the headline made me curious. To my utter disappointment, it was blatantly misleading. The article quoted Sheik Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, whom it described as “Saudi Arabia's top cleric”, as saying, “Is it holy war to shed Muslim blood? Is it holy war to shed the blood of non-Muslims given sanctuary in Muslim lands? Is it holy war to destroy the possession of Muslims?” In his sermon attended live by millions of pilgrims and transmitted to millions more in Saudi Arabia and other countries of Persian Gulf, the sheik specifically condemned acts of violence against fellow Muslims. He quoted Mohammad, the founder of the cult: “Know that every Muslim is a Muslim's brother, and the Muslims are brethren. Fighting between them should be avoided.” The good sheik kept on preaching that Muslims should not harm other Muslims. Non-Muslims were eligible for protection only as dhimmis. Not a single word was uttered about the sanctity of human life, regardless of the person's faith. Not a single word was uttered in defense of the “infidels” in general or Americans or, Allah forbid, Jews specifically. In effect, the cleric publicly confirmed that, according to Islam, no act can be deemed terrorist if the victims are not Muslim. Therefore, in my humble opinion, the cleric's “condemnation” amounted to incitement of religiously motivated murder, which is, after all, the essence of jihad. For Muslims, peace means an alliance against the “unbelievers”, and whatever passes for love among them is only possible between members of their own cult.

    Just to conclude on an upbeat note, here is another news item related to the Muslim holiday of Eid, which marks the end of the hajj and is traditionally celebrated with the slaughter of sheep. The Paris suburb of Evry, which, thanks to its predominantly Muslim population, represents the accurate image of France in the near future, decided to televise the ritual slaughter of the sheep. The number of sheep they are planning to slaughter in front of the cameras: three thousand, three hundred. Municipal officials promise to try this novelty in other places in France if it works out in Evry. That's what I call a reality show! As long as they don't install TV cameras in American slaughterhouses, I say, Vive la Différence!

The article above is presented as a public service.
It may be reproduced without charge — with attribution.

To read my other articles, please visit

To be added to or removed from my mailing list,
please contact me at
[email protected]

© 2002—2004 Yashiko Sagamori. All rights reserved.

February 3, 2004







Articles Op-ed Authors Debates Leaving Islam FAQ
Comments Library Gallery Video Clips Books Sina's Challenge

  ©  copyright You may translate and publish the articles in this site only if you provide a link to the original page.