Leaving Islam





Undetermined Sex
by Yashiko Sagamori

    When Arabs promise to destroy Israel or turn American and European cities into infernos with rivers of blood running along the streets, I don't question their sincerity: as soon as they think they can do it, they will try. In most other matters, I tend to distrust them. I certainly get suspicious whenever it comes to numbers. It's not just because the so-called “Arabic numerals” were in fact invented by Hindus. It's mainly because the Islamic concepts of good and evil can be exhaustively described in a single sentence: Whatever is good for jihad is good, period. It just so happens that truth is usually bad for jihad. Remember the arithmetic of Jenin, Jenin?

   Nevertheless, when I read an article posted on an English-language Al-Jazeera website about the Brits converting to Islam by the thousand, I felt compelled to believe it, because I know from other sources, including private letters, that this is happening not only in (formerly) Great Britain, but all across Western Europe. As bizarre as it may seem, this is not unprecedented. The British Union of Fascists, organized by Sir Oswald Mosley in 1932, survived World War II and became, in 1949, one of the very first proponents of the European Union. Interesting, isn't it? If some Brits could join a Nazi party during the Battle of Britain, I don't see why they shouldn't convert to Islam during jihad. Still, the mentality of betrayal — and conversion to Islam even in the time of peace constitutes the ultimate betrayal of all our values — remains a fascinating topic, which is why the Al-Jazeera article is worth reading.

    One of the new converts honored by a personal reference in the article is Yahya (nee Jonathan) Birt, son of Sir John Birt, the former director general of the BBC. Even taking into account the proverbial eccentricity of the British elite, I still find it hard to fathom. It will forever remain a mystery to us whether the Master Yahya was influenced by the consistent pro-terrorist bias of the establishment headed until 2000 by Sir John, or both father and son fell victim to the same dreadful genetic disorder. The article quotes Yahya Birt's own explanation (the original punctuation preserved — YS): 


Initially, Birt said he had no coherent reasons for converting, but “in the longer term I think it was the overall profundity, balance and coherence and spirituality of the Muslim way of life which convinced me,” he said.

    I find the absence of a coherent reason easier to believe than the rest of his statement. After all, a truly pristine oasis of Muslim life unmarred by the corrupting influence of the West is hard to come by. Afghanistan under the Taliban rule was probably the closest to the ideal. The profundity was there all right, if you can use the term to denote the bottomless desperation of its suffering people. But balance? Coherence? Spirituality? I'd like examples, please. In lieu of those, I am prepared to presume some deeply personal reasons for Yahya Birt's decision to join people who look and act like villains in a high school production of Sinbad the Sailor. Maybe his wife, assuming he is married, is so ugly that nothing can alleviate his eternal embarrassment but a good chador? Or maybe he is afflicted with that common manifestation of British eccentricity, homosexuality, and wrapping his life partner head to toe in a hijab is but a desperate attempt to gain social acceptance?

    Trying to be realistic though, I have to admit that the last hypothesis is sheer rubbish. In today's society, you can come to a party with a live rhino in tow, introduce it as your significant other, and no one, except for the most contemptible homophobic bigot, will ask you about the rhino's sex. Could this be the root of the problem? The article quotes another British convert to Islam, a former diplomat, Charles Le Gai Eaton, who wrote in one of his many books on the religion of his choice (the original punctuation preserved — YS): 


I have received letters from people who are put off by the wishy-washy standards of contemporary Christianity and they are looking for a religion which does not compromise too much with the modern world.

    Let me start with the rejection of the modernity. A vital religion evolves with time. Its progress is similar to the progress of science: our understanding of the subject either develops ever further or stagnates as it has happened with Islam. Therefore, modernity does not present a problem for a true religion. Look, for example, at Orthodox Jews who, in the modern world, manage to live in the strictest compliance with the laws of Talmud that were written down centuries before the emergence of Islam and, unlike the “holy” texts of the Muslims, have never been edited since. And yet, Europeans convert to Islam rather than Judaism. Let me ask a funny question: Why?
    Probably, because Judaism presumes the freedom of will, that implies the level of personal responsibility that some people are unwilling or unable to accept.

    Probably, because the level of both faith and understanding required by true Judaism is too much for most of those who did not absorb them with mother's milk.

    Probably, because being a Jew of any persuasion requires a commitment that most people who weren't born with that burden find excessive. It's easier for Christians: Jews, by killing Jesus, saved every single one of them, from 2,000 years ago till Judgment Day. For Jews it's a bit trickier. With 2,000 years of ruthless persecution behind them, with one Holocaust in recent history and the next one looming ahead, they know that every one of them is the sole savior of him or herself and, hopefully, their loved ones, and, with God's help, their people. Who in his sane mind would chose a religion whose road to salvation leads through the ovens and gas chambers?

    In comparison, conversion to Islam is easy. All it takes is a single statement acknowledging an Arabic deity as your god and one of the most abysmal characters in human history as its ultimate prophet. Say it, and you are in. Of course, it is a deceptive ease. Remember countless bad movies where the enemies make sure the turncoat is sincere by forcing him to kill his former comrades? In one form or another, there is no escaping that test for newly converted Muslims, but never fear: as the American war on terror has demonstrated, most of them pass it with flying colors.

    Please do not overlook this interesting fact: Islam, even in its most rigid form, lives in a state of permanent conflict with itself caused by inevitable compromise with modernity. Every piece of technology Muslims are using, from AK-47's to gold-plated Cadillacs, to cell phones, to running water, to suitcase nuclear bombs — all of it comes from the infidels, simply because all the past, present, and, I assure you, future technology on this planet comes from the infidels. The fact that use of this modern technology causes no intellectual discomfort among the followers of the vile non-prophet suggests that the ability to experience cognitive dissonance, as well as the urge to invent and discover, emerges only at later stages of societal evolution than those attained so far by Muslim countries.

    No, if I were looking for the cause of mass conversion to Islam among the Europeans, I would leave modernity alone and take a hard look at those “wishy-washy standards of contemporary Christianity”, because they derive straight from the very glue that holds our civilization together: our tolerance. Our tolerance takes many forms, and for each of those forms there exists a wide variety of misinterpretations, both intentional and purely naïve.

    Take, for example, the First Amendment, which is, essentially, a codification of our tolerance of expressions of dissenting views and opinions. Imagine, for instance that your interior decorator ignores your detailed instructions. When you come to inspect his work, you find out that the walls of your living room, instead of light peach, are now the color of fresh blood, interrupted only by portraits of Marx, Stalin, Mao and Fidel. Your bedroom is grass green and decorated with inscriptions of Allah akbar in both Arabic and Roman letters, lest you miss their meaning, while your pre-teen son's room is adorned with blown-up reproductions from the Hustler.

    Does the First Amendment mean that the creativity of your interior decorator shall remain unrewarded? No, the First Amendment means only that the Congress shall pass no laws that might impede freedom to express one's views. The government won't lock him up for being a Communist, a Muslim, or a pornographer. However, in a reasonable society, he will be forced to return everything you paid him, and recover the costs of undoing his exercises, and compensate you for whatever legal fees you may incur in the process. Believe it or not, in addition to granting your interior decorator the freedom to use and abuse all his freedoms, the First Amendment also implies that Congress shall pass no laws forcing you to view, listen to, or otherwise consume expressions of views you find offensive.

    Another vitally important manifestation of tolerance is our freedom of religion. No matter what I believe, no matter what you believe, none of us has a right to impose his or her beliefs on the other. This simple rule has managed to keep a terrible can of worms closed for so long, that we tend to forget that some of our beliefs are mutually exclusive and cannot be true at the same time, because there is only one truth. Just one. Any other version of events is false, regardless of how strong your belief in it is. The only reason we need freedom of religion is that there is no legal or scientific way to determine whose version is the closest to the truth.

    There is either one god, or several, or none. God either spoke to Moses from a burning bush or Moses made it up. The parting of the Red Sea is either a metaphor or an historic event. Jesus either lived or was invented. If he did, he either was a Messiah or wasn't. Jews either killed him or they didn't. Mohammad was either God's prophet or one of the worst criminals in human history. He either ascended to heaven on a winged horse or it is a stupid fairy tale of illiterate savages.

    Freedom of religion entitles each one of us to make his or her own choice among these almost endless possibilities. However, it does not guarantee that any theoretically possible choice is true. You have no right to tell me that your faith is truer than mine. But if you forget that, even for a second, then your faith is as good as dead.

    It gets more complicated. Our tolerance extends so unbelievably far that some creationists acknowledge the right of others to believe in evolution. They don't understand that the theory of evolution is not a religious dogma but a scientific theory, that it is a matter not of faith but of scientific facts, that, unlike any religion, it is inherently incomplete and limited, and always subject to revision whenever new relevant facts come up. I, for one, believe that God is the Creator of the universe. I don't believe however that He created everything the way it exists today. I can't imagine God drawing pictures and writing phone numbers on the walls of public toilets; I believe those art forms are a manifestation of evolution, one of many. I don't see why God would create a puppet theater rather than a living universe capable of evolving. According to my belief, there is no incompatibility between creation and evolution. God made Adam out of clay. An assumption that God has hands seems a bit of a stretch to me. Is there a reason that would prevent God from using evolution He Himself started as an instrument of His creation?

    Tolerance allows us to avoid a great many unnecessary conflicts. One day, we discovered that it was awfully convenient to tolerate more than just the other guy's religion. Whenever there is a possibility of a disagreement, polite people avoid the potentially dangerous topic. This way, we can all party together and have fun instead of clashing over each other's concepts of right and wrong. This way, there is no right and wrong outside our minds. Everything is relative. Everyone is entitled to one's own opinion. Any two opinions on any subject are equally valid. Insisting that 2x2=4 is not politically correct.

    Take, for instance, the abortion issue. When performed early, it does not hurt anyone, because the embryo is not really a human being yet, and the mother-not-to-be gets adequately anesthetized. Why then would we allow the government to dictate to us what to do in such intimately personal matters? This, by the way, has long been my own point of view.

    But abortion has an aspect that is rarely considered by either pro-choicers or even pro-lifers. Before the children of today's baby boomers are ready to retire, there will be a shortage of workers in the United States . There will not be enough of them to support the retirees. The country will have to import workers from abroad by the million. Since Canada will be facing a similar problem, our workers will have to come from the south if we are lucky or from Greater Arabia if we are not. How long will it take for the United States of America to become a mere extension of Mexico or Iraq ? This, by the way, includes Mexican or, respectively, Iraqi standards of living, public and personal hygiene, integrity of elected officials, and all other imaginable and unimaginable fringe benefits. Try to figure out who will be defending this country when that time comes. Try to imagine why they would want to risk their lives to defend it. Oops!

    We classify things as good or bad depending upon their consequences. Sometimes however those consequences are too distant and too difficult to predict, and when you are finally able to see them, it's way too late to change anything. So, the next time you feel like saying that something should be legal because it doesn't hurt anyone, consider the possibility that what you are drinking is a very slow acting poison.

    Complicated? You bet it is. It is so complicated, in fact, that most people become disoriented. They are neither capable nor willing to decide for themselves what's right and what's wrong. Eroded by tolerance, Christianity is no longer capable of guidance. This creates gaping vacuum. What's going to fill it?

    You know the answer.






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