There are many interesting ironies associated with Islam; the one that used to catch my eye most was that women, who are disdained in Islam, tend to be more devout Muslims than men. However, the irony that I now find even more interesting is that the non-Arabs in general tend to be more devout Muslims than the Arabs.
- The Arabs commonly say: Aazana Allahu bil Islam, which means that ‘Allah has made us (the Arabs) valued because of Islam’. The Arabs point of view is straight forward; they were insignificant Arab tribes in the desert of Arabia who later ruled a vast Islamic empire. I don’t think there are many Arabs who question the accuracy of the above statement; even some Arab atheists tend to agree with it despite their belief that Mohammed was a liar and brutal gang leader. However, the subject that the Arabs are far better off without Islam is beyond the scope of this article. But the question that springs to my mind whenever I hear the above Arabic adage is: can any other Muslim nation claim that Allah made them valued because of Islam? Can the Indians or the Iranians, who had a formidable empire in the seventh century, make such a claim?
Islam, a language-based religion
Islam is the only religion in the world that is completely based on a language. Islam can only survive in an Arabic language environment, if the Arabic language disappears, so does Islam. Learning the Arabic language is mandatory to all Muslims in order to read the Quran and perform the Islamic rituals.
Nowadays, almost all Muslims claim that their devotion to Islam is because they are convinced of its authenticity and dismiss the fact that they inherited it from their parents as a sheer coincidence. The Muslims’ claims suggest that they researched and studied their religion and found it to be flawless. Studying Islam entails reading the Quran carefully, in Arabic, and concluding that it is too good to be authored by humans, therefore, must be divine. Oddly enough, if you ask those ‘convinced’ Muslims for an explanation of any of the Quran’s contradictions or blunders they would refer you to Muslim scholars.
I explained in previous articles that when the Arabs had a free choice they did not like the Quran. After fourteen centuries, we still do not have convincing explanations to any of the hundreds of errors that litter the Quran. In addition to the errors, the Quran also contains some serious weaknesses in style that would not be acceptable by any decent author. It does not matter how good some verses are because the unprejudiced reader would never be convinced of the Quran in the presence of any error.
It is perfectly possible for an ordinary person who speaks little Arabic or no Arabic at all, to read the Quran and identify its contradictions or mistakes. That kind of critical assessment is within the reach of any impartial person who reads the Quran with judicious objectivity. However, it is not possible for the same person to read a few verses and claims they are so nicely composed and must be divine. Such an assertive conclusion depends on personal taste and requires thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and its literature, which most of the non-Arabs do not have. I am afraid that the claims of the non-Arab Muslims to be convinced of Islam are false claims that hide the uncomfortable reality that they believe in Islam because they take the Arabs’ word for it.
The language issue and the Quran
The Quran was revealed, or rather released, in the Quraysh language, which was the Arabic language as spoken by the Arabs of Mecca including Mohammed. Throughout Mohammed’s stay in Mecca there were no language issues at all because Mohammed had only to deal with his own clan who spoke his own language and in his own dialect. The dialect issue only surfaced after Mohammed assumed power in Yathrib and started to deal with the Arab tribes in distant regions of Arabia. Even though Arabic was spoken throughout Arabia, but different regions had different dialects, as would be expected in a country as vast as Arabia. It didn’t fit the Arabs’ tribal pride to be asked to speak another tribe’s dialect when it comes to reading the Quran. Mohammed didn’t want this issue to stop the Arabs from joining him so he allowed each tribe to read the Quran as they please in their own dialects. As with everything else, it was Allah who whispered to Mohammed to demonstrate that flexibility and give his permission to the tribes. The divine gesture worked well and preserved the national identity of each Arab tribe.
However, the above gesture and divine flexibility didn’t extend to other nations, it was a privilege only to the Arabs. All other nations must learn Arabic to read the Quran and practice Islam. At this point, it is remarkable to note that while the early Arabs felt offended by just being asked to speak a dialect other than own, today’s Muslims are happy to read the Quran, not in a different dialect, but in a completely foreign language, without feeling offended! The non-Arab Muslims accept this obvious bias towards the Arabs as a natural part of life.
This association between the Arabic language and Islam was a kind of divine windfall to the Arabs; they automatically became leaders in the world of Islam just because they can speak their own language! Even though other Muslim nations may produce some very good scholars, but unless those scholars learn the Arabic language perfectly well they won’t be highly credited in the Islamic world.
Signs of selfishness, tribalism and racism in Mohammed’s behaviour
Judged by the number of personal privileges that Mohammed granted himself, he was probably the most selfish leader in history. The following is only a small sample of those privileges:
- Mohammed, through the Quran, granted himself the right to marry as many women as he wished but restricted the other Muslims to marry only four women. In addition Mohammed granted himself the right to have sex with women who offer themselves to him.
- Mohammed granted himself the right to marry other Muslims’ widows but declared, through the Quran, that it is a sin for other Muslims to marry his own wives (after his death).
- Mohammed declared that his shares from any war booty were 20%, the remaining 80% to be shared by the rest of the Muslims.
- Mohammed considered himself to be the first among all human beings including the previous prophets. According to him, he was second only to Allah. As a matter of fact there was no difference between Islam and the other religions already practiced in Arabia except that in Islam Mohammed added his name next to Allah’s name.
- Mohammed’s egocentricity extended to his immediate family, called aal Mohammed, for whom Muslims are required to pray in every Islamic prayer.
Even though Mohammed’s own tribe, Quraysh, despised him and fought wars against him and did nothing to promote Islam, the evidence is that Mohammed preferred them to the rest of the Arabs. In fact, Mohammed preferred the tribe of Quraysh to the tribes of Yathrib who supported him, converted to Islam and fought on his side. Mohammed used the Arabs of Yarhrib, known as the Aws and Khazraj tribes, for his purposes but neither he nor any of his companions respected them. The Muslims frequently claim that there were social or political motives behind some of Mohammed’s marriages, which he used as a tool to strengthen his ties with the various tribes. From this perspective, it is noteworthy that Mohammed did not bother to marry from the Aws or Khazraj tribes. Mohammed preferred Quraysh, so did his influential companions, who all came from Quraysh. It is striking that while the Aws and Khazraj completely disappeared from history, the Quraysh Arabs ruled the Islamic empire (khilafa) until 1258 AD and they continue to rule some states up to our time. Mohammed believed that the Aws and Khazraj were politically too naive and too weak to be trusted to govern. Mohammed’s attitude towards the Aws and Khazraj reminds me with an interview I watched about ten years ago on Aljazeera in which the Islamic cleric AbuHamza was asked: why do you live in the west if you disrespect it that much? His answer was: “we Muslims consider the west like a toilet, we visit it because we need to, but once we finish we leave.”
During the campaign of the ‘trench’ the Quraysh tribe came close to defeating Muhammed in his own stronghold, Yathrib, which was put under siege. After the siege was over, Mohammed sensed some Jewish conspiracy between Bani Quraiza and the Quraysh to which he responded by killing all the men of bani Quraiza and taking all women and children as slaves. Compare this cruel genocide with how Mohammed treated Quraysh after they surrendered the city of Mecca to him. Even though the Quraysh did not only conspire, but fought actual wars against Mohammed, he let them go free. Mohammed asked the Arabs of Quraysh: “O Quraysh! What do you think I am going to do to you?” to which they answered: “nothing, after all you are one of us” then Mohammed said: “You all may go free.”
What does it mean to become a Muslim?
Non-Arabs who convert to Islam undergo a complete change of personality that affects all aspects of their lives. They acquire new Islamic names, which are Arabic names, and start learning Arabic and use Arabic words in their daily language. They do not only dress and look like the Arabs but they start to think like the Arabs. They like what the Arabs like and hate what the Arabs hate. They automatically hold the Arabs’ political views on issues like Palestine and Iraq, which become their main concerns while their own national interests fade away into triviality.
A decision to convert to Islam is a big decision in any person’s life, but not all big decisions are good decisions. Every day, there are thousands of people who make big decisions to take their lives or other people’s lives. However, there is one thing sure behind every conversion to Islam and that is none of the converts truly understands the Quran or Islam.
The only true Muslims
After thirteen years of preaching Islam in Mecca, only a handful of followers joined Mohammed, all of them where friends and relatives. Those Arabs are the only Muslims who accepted Islam freely without being forced to do so. It is beyond this article to discuss the reasons behind Mohammed’s success in recruiting this handful of followers, but any gang leader, in a similar sized city, would be able to recruit a similar or even larger number of followers. Most probably those people were motivated by Mohammed’s own personality and recruiting skills, the Quran factor was insignificant especially that only a few verses were released. All those who converted to Islam, since those early days, did so for personal or political gains or simply because of fear.
The next people to join Mohammed were delegates from the city of Yathrib who happened to meet Mohammed during their pre Islamic hajj to Mecca. The delegates represented the Aws and Khazraj tribes who suffered, for years, from bitter tribal rivalry and continuous political disputes. Mohammed convinced the delegates that he was oppressed in Mecca and that he had big plans for Islam. The Yathrib Arabs were probably tempted by the prospect of making their city a religious centre and agreed to allow Mohammed in their city with the hope this might give Yathrib a new lease of life. After Mohammed’s arrival to Yathrib, the entire Arab population of the city converted to Islam overnight! What happened in Yathrib was a politically motivated mass conversion because most of the ordinary people of the city didn’t even hear the Quran.
Ten years later, Mohammed conquered Mecca, the city that loathed him and opposed Islam for twenty three years. Again, the entire population of the conquered city converted to Islam within hours. It is naive to think that the Arabs of Mecca, who detested the Quran for over two decades, suddenly realized that it was such a good book and must be divine. That conversion was achieved only under military pressure; Mohammed famously said to the Meccan Arabs: aslim taslam, meaning ‘be a Muslim and you are safe.’
The same scenario was repeated in every country that was conquered by the Muslims’ armies. The conquered nations were offered three options: to convert, to become dhimmi and pay its high tax (called jizia) or fight (often a losing battle). Converting to Islam was often the safest option but no one would call that a free choice, after all those nations did not speak Arabic and hardly knew anything about the Quran or Islam.
I often receive emails from Muslims who do not like my articles about the Quran. All the emails I received so far were from non-Arab Muslims who defend the Quran using the usual Islamic strategy. They claim the Quran is clear, logical and full with wisdom; the problem is never in the Quran but in my misunderstanding. What I found interesting is that a number of the senders openly expressed their hate towards the Arabs accusing them of being dishonest. I never allow myself to engage in racist confrontations, but I am still waiting for any of them to explain to me why they place their full trust in those dishonest Arabs when it comes to the Quran. Also it would be interesting to know what makes the non-Arabs so comfortable in a religion that reserves all the front seats to the Arabs.
Islam is an Arabic religion brought by an Arab for the Arabs. It is based on an Arabic book that even the Arabs didn’t like. The non-Arab Muslims devotion to Islam defies logic, not only because Islam is biased against them, but also because they believe in a religion that is completely based on a foreign language which they do not speak or understand.