From Belief to Enlightenment (How I Left Islam)
From Belief to Enlightenment: The treacherous and arduous path
I was born to a religious family. From my mother’s side I have few relatives who are Ayatollahs. Although my grandfather was a skeptic, in the family were I grew religion has been the pivot around which our lives revolved. My parents were not much 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 the “real Islam” not the one taught and practiced by the Mullahs.
I recall discussing religion with the husband of one of my aunts when I was about 15 years old. He was a fanatical Muslim who was much concerned about the fiqh. Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. It determines the way Muslims should pray, fast, run their public and private life, do business, clean themselves, use the toilet and even copulate. I argued that this has nothing to do with the real Islam, that it is a fabrication of the Mullahs and that excessive attention to fiqh diminishes the impact and the importance of the pure message of Islam that is a religion to unite man with his creator.
In my early youth I noticed discrimination 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 the gullible people. Due to my father’s work we spent few years in small towns out of the capital. I recall our teacher made a schedule to take the class for swimming. We were excited and looked forward to it until the day arrived. In our class there were a couple of kids who were Baha’is and Jews. But the teacher did not let them accompany us. He said that they are not allowed to swim in the same pool that Muslims swim. I cannot forget the disappointment of these kids who left the school with tears in the eyes, subdued and heartbroken. At that age, may be nine or ten, I could not make sense of this injustice. I thought it was the kid’s fault for not being Muslims, but still I was sad.
I believe that 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 men and women 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 that 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.
I spent my early youth in this sweet dream. Advocating the “real 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 of 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 that I believed, was a religion that sparkled the modern science, which eventually bore its fruits in the West and made the modern discoveries and inventions possible. Islam, as I used to believe, was the real cause of the modern civilization. The reason the Muslims were living is such a miserable state of ignorance in comparison to the un-Islamic West was all the fault of the self-centered Mullahs and the religious leaders who for their own personal gain had misinterpreted the real teachings of Islam, I thought.
Muslims honestly believe that the great Western civilization has its roots in Islam. They recall great Middle Eastern scientific minds whose contributions to the science have been crucial in the birth of Modern science.
Omar Khayyam was a great mathematician who calculated the length of the year with a precision of 0.74% 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 have been the pioneers of modern science when Europe was languishing in the medieval Dark Ages. Like all Muslims I used to believe that all these great men were Muslims, that they had been inspired by the wealth of hidden knowledge that is in the Quran and that if the today’s Muslims could regain the original purity of Islam, the long lost glorious days of Islam will return and the Muslims will lead the advancement of the World civilization once again.
Yet the reality was harsher than dream. Iran was a Muslim country but it was also a corrupt country. The chance of getting to university was slim. Only one in ten of the applicants could get to the university and 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. The students with right connections often got the seats.
The Regime of the Shah was a repressive regime and freedoms of thoughts were suppressed. People feared each other as each person could be an informer or a secret agent of the dreaded SAVAK (Shah’s secret police). I was always outspoken and hardly had any tact to keep my mouth shut when my life was in danger. The standard of education in Iran was not ideal. Universities were under-funded; as Shah preferred building a powerful military might and become the gendarme of the Middle East than build the infrastructure of the country and invest in people’s education. All these were factors that my father thought I would be better off if I leave Iran and continue my education elsewhere.
We considered 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 is too lax in morality, that people are pervert, that the beaches are full of nudes, that they drink and have licentious lifestyles and all that could represent a danger to a young man. So I was sent to Pakistan instead. Pakistan being a religious country was safe. People were religious and therefore moral. A friend of the family told us that Pakistan is just like England, except that it is cheaper.
This, of course, proved to be untrue. I found Pakistanis were as immoral and corrupt as Iranians. Yes they were very religious. Yes they did not eat pork and I saw no one consuming alcohol in public, but I noticed they had dirty minds, they lied, they were hypocrites, and they were cruel to the women and above all filled with hatred of the Indians. I did not find them better than Iranians in any ways. They were religious but not moral or ethical.
In college I did not take Urdu and instead 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 Jinnah, 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 Jinnah as an arrogant and ambitious man who was the culprit for breaking up a country and causing millions of deaths. You can 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 the difference of religion as enough reason to break up a country. The very word Pakistan seemed to be 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 an intellectual and moral bankruptcy. In my discussions with my friends I failed to convince anyone of the “real Islam”. I condemned their bigotry and fanaticism while they disapproved of me for my un-Islamic views.
I told that to my father and decided to go to Italy for my university studies. In Italy people drank wine and ate pork. But I found they were more hospitable, friendlier and less hypocrite than Muslims. I noticed people were willing to help without expecting something in return. I met an elderly couple that was very hospitable to me. They called me on Sundays to have lunch with them and not stay home alone. They did not want anything from me. They just wanted to have someone to give their love. I was almost a grandson to them. Only those who have come to a new country, who do not know anyone and cannot speak even the language can appreciate how much the help and hospitality of the locals is worth.
Their house was sparklingly clean and the floor was marble and always shiny. This contradicted my idea of the Westerners. Although my family was very open towards other people, Islam had taught me that the non-Muslims are najis (Q.9:28) and one should not take them as friends. I had a copy of the Quran that I still have and used to read from it often. The verses were underlined with a Farsi translation. I came across this verse:
“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: 51
I had difficulty understanding the wisdom of such verse. I wondered why I should not befriend with this wonderful elderly couple that had no ulterior motives in showing me their hospitality than just making me feel at home. I thought that they were “real Muslims” and I tried to raise the subject of religion hoping they will see the truth of Islam and embrace it. But they were not interested and politely changed the subject. I was not that stupid to believe that all non-believers will go to hell at anytime in my life. I suppose I read this in the Quran before but never wanted to think about it. I simply brushed it off or wanted to close my eyes to it. Of course, I knew that God would be pleased if someone recognized his messenger but never thought he would actually be that cruel to burn someone in Hell for eternity, even if that person is the author of all the good deeds just because he was not a Muslim. I read the following warning:
If 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). Q 3:85,
Yet I paid little heed and tried to convince myself that the meaning is something else 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 hanged 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 that 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, but paradoxically those who were more religious were less faithful towards their girlfriends. I had such high esteem of religion in my mind that it was hard for me to relate the immoral and callous behavior of the Muslims to what is being taught in Islam. I always thought that the true Islam is what is right. If something is immoral, unethical, dishonest or cruel, it cannot be Islam.
Years later I realized that the truth is completely the reverse. I found many verses that were disturbing and made me revise my whole opinion of Islam.
The funny thing was that the same very people who lived, according to me, 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.
Once I met a young Iranian man at the University restaurant. I sat next to him and became his friend. Later I introduced him to two other Muslim friends of mine. We were all of the same age but he was an erudite young man full of virtues and wisdom. I was captivated by his charm and high moral values, and so were my other two friends. We used to wait for him and sit next to him during the lunch hours as we always learned something from him. We used to eat a lot of spaghetti and risotto and were craving for a good Persian ghorme sabzi and chelow. Our friend said that his mother had sent him some dried vegetables and invited us to go to his house the next Sunday for lunch. We found his two-room apartment very clean, unlike the houses of other guys. He had made us the delicious ghorme sabzi that all of us ate with a lot of gusto and then we sat back chatting and sipping our tea.
It was then that among his books we found some Baha’i books. When we asked about it, he said that he was a Baha’i. Of course that did not bother me at all but on the way back home my two friends said that they do not wish to continue their friendship with him anymore. I was surprised and asked why! They said that being a Baha’i makes him a najis person and had they knew that he was a Baha’i, they would not have befriended him. I was puzzled and enquired why they think he was najis if we all were complementing him on his cleanliness. Also we all agreed that 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 that the name itself had something in it that made them dislike this religion. Then they asked me whether I knew why everyone disliked the Baha’is. I told them I don’t know because I don’t dislike anyone. But since they dislike the Baha’is perhaps they should explain their reasons. They did not know why. This man was the first Baha’i they had come to know this close, and in fact he was an exemplar man. So 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 that I did not continue my friendship with these two bigots, yet from them I learned how prejudice is formed and operates.
Later I realized that these prejudices and hatreds that Muslims harbor in their hearts against almost all the 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. There are many verses in the Quran that call the believers to hate the non-believers, fight with them, call them najis, subdue and humiliate them chop their heads and limbs, crucify them and kill them wherever they find them.
I Learned the truth from the Quran
I left the religion in 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. I simply lived the way I thought I was supposed to live according to my understanding of how a good Muslim should be. 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 like to look too different.
One good day I decided that it is time that I should 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. Before that I had read the Quran but only bits and pieces of it. This time I started to read all of it. I read a verse in Arabic then I read its English translation moving back to Arabic and did not go to the next verse unless I was satisfied that I had understood it in Arabic completely.
It didn’t take me long before I came upon verses that I found hard to accept. One of the verses that I found puzzling was this one.
“Allah 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 will be burned in hell forever because he was a polytheist with no hope of redemption while a Muslim murderer can hope to receive Allah’s forgiveness. This raised a disturbing question. Why Allah is 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. I learned about the size of this universe. That the 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? The thought of that was 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 in a small planet down the Milky Way?
Now that I had lived in the West, had many western friends who were kind to me, who liked me, who had opened their hearts and their homes to me and accepted me as their friend, it was really hard to accept that Allah wanted me not to take them as friends.
Let 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,
Isn’t Allah the creator of the unbelievers too? Isn’t he the god of everybody? Why he should be so unkind to the unbelievers? Wasn’t it better if the Muslims befriended the unbelievers and taught them the Islam with good example? By keeping ourselves aloof and distant from the unbelievers, the gap of misunderstandings will never be bridged. How in the world the unbelievers will 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 them”. (Q.2:191)
I thought of my own friends, remembered their kindness and their 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 to be absurd, yet this concept was so much repeated in the Quran that obviously there was no doubt in it. In the verse 8:65, Allah tells his prophet:
“O 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 should Allah send a messenger to make war? I wondered. Shouldn’t God teach us to love each other and be tolerant towards each other’s beliefs? And if really Allah is so concerned about making people believe in him to the extent that he would kill them if they disbelieve, why he would not kill them himself? Why he asks us to do his dirty work? Are we supposed to be Allah’s hit men?
Although I knew of Jihad and never questioned it before, I found it hard to accept that God would recourse to such violent measures to impose himself on people. What was more shocking was the cruelty of Allah in dealing with the unbelievers.
I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them 8:12
It seemed that Allah was not just satisfied with killing the 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 really God give such orders? And yet the worst is what he promised to do with the unbelievers in the other world:
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 petty? These verses of the Quran shocked me. I was shocked to learn how Allah ordered killing people, how he would torture them eternally in such a horrible ways for no reason but disbelief. I was shocked to learn that Quran tells Muslims to kill the disbelievers wherever they find them (Q.2:191), to murder them and treat them harshly (Q.9:123), fight with them, (Q.8:65) humiliate them and impose on them a penalty tax if they are Christians or Jews, (Q.9:29) and slay them if they are Pagans (Q.9:5). I was shocked when I learned that Quran takes away the freedom of belief from all humanity and tells clearly that no other religion except Islam is accepted (Q.3:85). That Allah would relegate those who disbelieve in the Quran to Hell (Q.5:11) and calls them najis (filthy, untouchable, impure) (Q.9:28). I was shocked to learn that Allah orders the Muslims to fight the unbelievers until no other religion is left other than Islam (Q.2:193), or that he says that the non-believers will go to hell and will drink boiling water (Q.14:17), and asks the Muslims to slay or crucify or cut the hands and the feet of the unbelievers, that they be expelled from the land with disgrace. And as if this were not enough, that “they shall have a great punishment in world hereafter” (Q.5:34). I was shocked when I reads words such as “As for the disbelievers, 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). How sadistic! But that was not all. The Quran also prohibits Muslims to befriend their own fathers or brothers if they are not believers (Q.9:23), (Q.3:28) and that actually Muhammad encouraged his followers to kill their own family in the battles of Badr and Uhud and asks the Muslims to “strive against the unbelievers with great endeavor (Q.25:52), and be stern with them because they belong to hell (Q.66:9). How can any sinsible person remain unmoved when he of she finds the Quran saying: “strike off the heads of the disbelievers” then after making a “wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives” (Q.47:4).
The book of Allah says that 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 (Q.66:10). It says that men have an advantage over the 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 the 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. Rapist don’t rape in the presence of witnesses. But the most shocking verse was where Allah allows Muslims to rape the women captured in wars even if they are married before being captured, (Q.4:24) (Q.4:3). I was shocked to learn that the holy prophet raped the prettiest women that he captured in his raids in the same day that 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 Islamic regime of Iran rape the women and then kill them after calling them apostates and the enemies of Allah.
After reading the Quran I was overtaken by a great depression. It was hard to accept all that. At first I started denying and searched for exoteric meanings to these cruel verses of the Quran. But it wasn’t possible. The proof was overwhelming. There was no misunderstanding! Quran was inhumane. Of course it contained a lot of scientific heresies and absurdities. But that was not what hit me most. It was the violence of this book that really jolted me and shook the foundation of my belief.
The traitorous passage to enlightenment
After my bitter experience with the Quran I found myself traveling in 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 read and obey. But 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 in 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 journey proved to be more arduous than I was prepared for. I was on the road to enlightenment. But the passage was not an easy one. The road was slippery. There were mountains of obstacles to climb and precipices of errors to avert. I traveled uncharted territories alone, not knowing what I will find next. Little I knew that this journey would change my life. It would became my odyssey in the realm of understanding and the discoveries of Truth, eventually leading me to the shores of enlightenment and freedom.
I will chart these territories for all those who may also commit the sin of thinking, find themselves kicked out of the paradise of ignorance and in the route to an unknown destination.
If you doubt; if the mantle of ignorance in which you had wrapped yourself is shredded into pieces and you find yourself naked, know that you can not stay in the paradise of ignorance any longer. You have been cast out forever. Just as a child, once out of the womb, can not go back, you will not be readmitted in 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 to there. 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.
The passage from faith to enlightenment consists of seven valleys.
The first stage is shock and then it is denial. The majority of the Muslims are trapped in denial. They are unable and unwilling to admit that 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 of the paradise of ignorance. You try to go back and are reluctant to take the next step and go forward. In denial you find your comfort zone. In denial you are not going to be hurt, every thing is okay; everything is fine.
Truth is 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. This might be true yet the child who adulates his father will not be able to accept it. The shock would be so great that the first thing he will do is to deny it. He will call you a liar and he will hate you for hurting him. He will curse you; hold you as his enemy and he may even discharge his anger at you and physically attack you.
This is the stage of denial. It is a self defense mechanism. If pain is too big, 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. In a moment of great catastrophes usually one is overwhelmed by a weary sense that this is all a bad dream and that he eventually would wake up everything would be okay. But unfortunately facts are stubborn and they will not go away. One can live in denial for a while but s/he must accept the truth sooner or later.
Muslims are 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 silenced very soon. So how would you know the truth if all you hear are lies? On one hand Quran claims to be a miracle and challenges anyone to produce a Surah like it, on the other hand it 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 your will be accused of mocking Islam and your punishment is death. In such an atmosphere of insincerity and deceit, truth is always the casualty. The pain of coming face to face with the truth and realizing that all what we believed were lies is extremely agonizing. The only mechanism and the natural way to deal with it is denial. Denial takes away the pain. Denial is soothing. Denial is bliss. But denial is hiding one’s head in the sand. One cannot 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 lock is 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 a destiny of which you have no idea. You grabble and fumble your way and reluctantly try to stay focused. But fear overwhelms you and each time to run back to the garden to face once again the closed door.
A great majority of Muslims live in denial. They stay behind the closed door. They cannot go in nor they can 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. But you cannot get in. That garden is the garden of certitude. It is reserved for the faithful, for those who do not doubt, for those who do not think. That place is the blissful garden of ignorance where those who believe and not think. They would believe anything. They would believe that night is day and day is night. They would believe that the Earth was created 6000 years ago, that Moses parted the sea, that Noah collected all the animals of the Earth in an ark, that Jesus rose with his body and ascended to heaven, that Muhammad climbed the seventh heaven met with God, split the moon and conversed with jinns. But just as Voltaire said, those who believe in absurdities commit atrocities, they also believe that killing the infidels is good, bombing is holy, stoning is divine, beating wives is prescribed by God, hating the unbelievers is the will of God. These inhabitants of the paradise of ignorance constitute the majority. Those who doubt are still the minority.
This group of believers will ever see the truth if they are kept cocooned permanently in lies. All they have heard so far is the lie that Islam is good and if only Muslims practiced the true Islam the world would become a paradise, that the problems of Islam are all the faults of the Muslims. This is a lie. Most Muslims are good people. They are kind, generous, caring, hospitable, wonderful human beings. What is wrong is Islam. Those Muslims who do bad things are those who follow Islam. Islam rears the criminal instinct of the people. The more a person is Islamist, the more bloodthirsty, hate mongering, zombie s/he becomes.
I wanted to deny what I was reading. I wanted to believe that the real meaning of what is in the Quran is something else. But I could not. I had read the whole thing and could no more fool myself saying that these inhumane verses were taken out of the context. I saw that the Quran does not have a context. Verses are jammed together at random often lacking any coherence. Yet the whole Quran was full of verses that taught killing the unbelievers and how Allah would torture them after they die. There were no lessons on morality, on justice, on honesty or on love. The only message of the Quran is to believe in Allah and to achieve this; Quran coaxes people with celestial rewards of unlimited sex with fair houris in Paradise and coerces them with the threat of blazing fires of Hell. When Quran speaks of righteousness, it really does not mean righteousness as we intend it but it means belief in Allah. A Muslim can be a killer and murder the non-Muslims and yet be a righteous person. Good actions are secondary; belief in Allah is the ultimate purpose of a person’s life.
What happened to me, after reading the Quran is that 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 had found all those absurdities of Islam and the inhumanities 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 painful process and I do not say it is easy. 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 swallowed. Facts are stubborn and they don’t go away. Only then the process of enlightenment starts.
But because every 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. Not that they agree that they are deficient in intelligence or that they believe that 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. They are in denial. The denial acts as a shield that covers and protects them, that saves them from facing the pain of shock and disillusionment. 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 and one of those absurd teachings may shock 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 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 times they don’t. I created a site to educate Muslims about the real Islam. I hosted it at Tripod.com. The Islamists forced Tripod to shut it down. But I got my own site back and it 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. Also they cannot stop people from reading. My site is banned in Saudi Arabia, Emirates and many other Islamic countries, despite that a great number of Muslims who never knew the truth about Islam are being shocked after they are exposed to the truth for the first time.
I met a lady on the net (a Yahoo clubs) who had converted to Islam and had started to wear the Islamic veil. (liberty, if you read this please contact me.) She had a web site with her picture completely covered in black veil and her story of how she had become 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 asked explanation from other Muslims who could not answer her. 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 that exist between the blind faith and enlightenment very quickly and wrote a thank-you letter to me for guiding her though this arduous road and withdrew from the Yahoo Islamic clubs altogether.
I believe when people learn about the unholy life of Muhammad and the absurdities of the Quran they will be shocked. Their first reaction is to deny. But when they recover from denial, they will be in their way to enlightenment. That is what I intend to do. I want to expose Islam, write the truth about Muhammad’s unholy life, his hateful words, his senseless assertions and bombard the Muslims with facts. They will be angry. They would 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 they have entered the stage of denial. The seed of doubt is planted and it will wait for the first chance to germinate. In some people it takes years, but given the chance it will eventually germinate.
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.
One of 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 to think independently, being capable to question and to be 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 thoughts, they were philosophers, inventors, and discoverers, but those who believed lived and died as followers, made little or no contribution to the advancement of science and human understanding.
Those who read my articles about Islam and are hurt by what I tell them about the Quran are lucky. They have me to blame. They can hate me, curse me and direct all their angers 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 for finding faults with what I regarded to be the words of God.
Just like all the other Muslims I was exposed to many lies, absurdities and inhumanities inherent in Islam but I had accepted them all. I was brought 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 all of them before and had accepted them. It was as if 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”. The big picture however was nowhere to be found except in my own mind. I had made a picture of Islam in my mind that was perfect. So all those absurdities did not bother me because I did not pay attention to them. When I read the whole Quran I discovered a different picture very much distinct from the picture I had made of it in my mind. The new picture of Islam emerging from the pages of the Quran was a violent, intolerant, irrational, arrogant picture that was a far cry from my mental picture that depicted Islam as a religion of peace, equality and of tolerance.
My first reaction, of course was denial. That was the easiest thing to do. I had to deny it, to keep my sanity. But for how long I could keep denying when the truth was out like the sun right in front of me? I was reading the Quran in Arabic so I could not say it is the question of the bad translation. Later I saw other translations, I realized many translations in English are not entirely reliable. The poor translators had tried very hard to hide the inhumanity and the violence of the Quran by twisting the words and adding their own words sometimes in parenthesis or brackets to soften its harsh tone. When you read the Quran in Arabic and understand it, it is much more shocking than its English translations.
I went through a period of depression. It was as if my whole world had fallen apart. I felt like the floor on which I was standing is no more there and I am falling to a bottomless dept. If I say that was like being in the hell I am not exaggerating. I was confused and I did not know where to turn. My faith was shaken and my world had crumbled. I could no more 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. How could it be that so many people have not seen the truth and I see it? How could it be that great seers and saints like Moulana Jalaleddin Rumi did not see that Muhammad was an impostor and that Quran is a hoax, and I see it? It was then that I entered into another stage and that was guilt.
The guilt lasted for many months. I hated myself for having these thoughts. I felt God is testing my faith. I felt ashamed. I spoke with learned people that 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 strengthen my faith. I did that, but it did not help. The thoughts about the absurd, sometimes-ruthless sometimes-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 the Quran and hide it behind the other books. I thought if I do not think about it for a while my negative thoughts will go away and I will regain my faith once again. But they didn’t go away. I denied as much as I could, until I could no more. I was shocked and it was painful.
I was confused and bewildered, pleading for help and no one could help. I felt guilty, ashamed of my thoughts and hating myself for having such thoughts. This sense of guilt was accompanied by a profound sense of loss and depression. Naturally 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 that would get depressed easily. But this feeling of loss was overbearing. I still recall that weight on 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 had gone out of my way to help anyone whose life has crossed mine and asked me for help. I stopped eating meat because I did not want to destroy a life just to satisfy my taste buds, although the smell and the taste of a good stake derived me crazy. So, why God wants to punish me in this way? Why He is not answering my prayers? Why He has abandoned me to myself and to these thoughts for which I find no answers? Does he want to test me? Then where is the answer to my prayers? Would I pass this test if I became stupid and stopped using my brain? If so why he gave me the brain? Would only unintelligent people pass this test?
This period 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 for 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 like to be killed, then why his messenger killed so many innocent people and asked his followers to kill those who disbelieve? If rape is bad and I know that it is bad because I do not want it to happen to people I love, why Allah’s prophet raped the women he captured in war? Is slavery is bad and I know it is bad because I hate to lose my freedom and become a slave why the Prophet of God reduced so many free people into slaves 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 the Prophet eulogized Jihad and exhorted his followers to kill the 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 his prophet did the reverse of that thing?
It was then that guilt was lifted off my shoulders but entered the next stage, which is dismay, disillusionment or cynicism. I felt sorry for having wasted so many years of my life. I felt sorry for all the religious people and especially for the Muslims who are still trapped in these foolish beliefs. I felt sorry for all those who lost their lives in the name of these false doctrines. I felt sorry for all the women in virtually all the Islamic countries that suffer all sorts of abuses and are so subdued that do not even know they are being abused or what is the source of their abuse.
I thought of all the wars waged in the name of religion, so many people died and all was for nothing. Millions of believers left their homes and families to wage war in the name of God and in their minds they thought they are spreading the religion of God but never came back. In so doing they massacred millions of innocent people just because they were not believers. Civilizations were destroyed, libraries were burned and so much human 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 vodu. I recalled him coming home hungry and thirsty during the month of fast and I thought billions of people torture themselves in this way for nothing. The realization that all what I believed were lies and all what I did were 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 appear to be water was disappointing.
Prior to that I had always God in the back of my mind. I used to talk to him in my imagination and those conversations seemed to be real to me. I thought God is watching and taking account of every good act that I did. The feeling that someone is 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, Allah is not it. I did not give up the belief in God but by then I knew for sure that that if this universe has a maker, it cannot be the deity that Muhammad envisioned. Allah was ignorant to the core. Quran was full of errors. No maker of this universe could be so stupid as it appeared to be in the Quran. Allah could not have existed anywhere else except in the mind of sick Muhammad. I realized that he was but a figment of a Muhammad’s imagination and nothing more. How disappointing was I when I realized all these years I was praying to a fantasy.
This feeling of loss and disappointment was accompanies with a sense of sadness, or some kind of depression. I felt betrayed and violated. I cannot say which feeling was predominant. At times I was disillusioned, then I was sad and then again dismayed. But curiously I was no more confused nor I felt guilty. I knew for sure that Quran was a hoax and Muhammad was an impostor. But despite that feeling of liberation, I had some sense of loss and sadness. It was as if I had lost something and I was feeling empty within my soul. Even if faith is false, it is still sweet. It is very comforting to believe.
To overcome this sadness I tried to keep myself busy with other activities. I even took dance classes and experienced what does it mean to be alive, to be free of guilt, to enjoy life and to be just normal. I realized how much I missed and how foolishly I deprived myself of the simple pleasures of life. Of course self-negation is the way cults exert their control over the believers. I had negated myself the simplest pleasures of life and was living in constant fear of God and I thought this was normal. I am talking of pleasures like sleeping in the morning, like dancing, like dating, like sipping a glass of fine wine.
At this time, I entered another stage of my spiritual journey to enlightenment. I became angry. Angry I became for having believed in those lies for so many years. Angry I was for wasting so many years of my life chasing a wild goose. I was angry at my culture for it had betrayed me, for the wrong values it gave me. I was angry with my parents for teaching me a lie. I was angry of my self for not thinking before, for believing in lies, for trusting an impostor and I was angry of God for letting me down, for not intervening and stopping the lies that were being inseminated in His name.
When I saw the pictures of the millions of Muslims who with so much devotion went to Saudi Arabia, many of them spending their life-savings to perform haj, I became angry for the lies that these people were brought up with. When I read someone had converted to Islam, something that Muslims love to advertise and make a big issue I became saddened and angry. I was sad for that poor soul and angry of the lies.
I was angry of the whole world that tries to protect this lie, defend it and would even abuse you if you raise your voice and try to tell them what you know. And this is not just the Muslims, but even the westerners who do not believe in Islam. It is as if it is okay to criticize anything but to question Islam. What amazed me and made me even angrier was the resistance I faced when I tried to let others know that Islam is not the truth.
However this anger fortunately did not last much. By then 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 that all those childish stories of a hell with scorching fire and a heaven with rivers of wine, honey and milk full of 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.
Soon I realized that 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 community, society, and culture because my people were just as misinformed as my parents and myself. When I looked carefully I saw everyone is a victim. There are one billion or more victims. Even those who have become victimizers are victims of Islam too. How I could blame the Muslims if they do not know what Islam stands for and honestly, though erroneously, believe that it is a religion of peace?
Muhammad the narcissist:
What about Muhammad? Should I be angry with him for lying, deceiving and misleading people? How could I be angry with a dead corps? Muhammad was an emotionally sick man who was not in control of himself. He grew as an orphan, changed five foster parents before he reached the age of eight. As soon as he came to be attached to someone, he was snatched 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 tried to make up for it by becoming a narcissist. A narcissist is a person who has not received enough love in his childhood, who is incapable to love, but instead craves for 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.
Narcissists have grandiose dreamers. They want to conquer the world and dominate everyone. Only in their megalomaniac reveries they find their narcissistic supply.
Some famous narcissists are Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and Mao. Narcissists are intelligent but they are 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 at 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.
Dr. Sam 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 measure. Pathological 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.”
The above perfectly describes Muhammad. Muhammad was a ruthless man with no human feelings. When he decided that the Jews are no more of use to him and he needed their wealth for the advancement of his plans, he stopped kowtowing 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 of an emotionally sick man who is dead 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 in the first years of his life when he needed her love most entrusted him to a Bedouin woman to raise him.
Muhammad was 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 of himself?
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 also Muhammad gave them big promises, who was as ruthless as him, as manipulative as him and as ambitious as him?
When I looked with care, I saw there is not a single person I could find guilty to be angry with. I realized we are all victims and victimizers at the same time. The only culprit is ignorance. It is our ignorance that makes us believe in charlatans and their lies. It is because of ignorance that we let these impostors inseminate hate among us in the name of false deities, ideologies or religions. It is our ignorance that does not allow us to see our oneness and hinders us from understanding that we are members of one body of humanity related to each other and interdependent with each other.
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 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.
Ideologies separate us. Religions cause disunity, hate and antagonism. Humanity needs no ideology nor it needs any religion. As members of the human race, we need no ideology, cause or religion to be united, but to be disunited, fight and kill each other we need to have an ideology, a cause or a religion. And this is enlightenment.
I realized 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, no philosophy or doctrine can teach you the truth. Truth is in the love we have for our fellow beings, in the laughter of a child, in friendship, in companionship, in the love of a parent and a child, and in our relationship with others. Truth is not in ideologies. The only think that is real, is love.
The process 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 oblivion until you are shocked and forced out of it. This is the first valley. The natural and the 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 have to take new challengers or face the unknown. This is the second valley. But growth doesn’t take place in the comfort zones. In order to go forward and to 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 the 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. Facts are stubborn and they will not go away. When we are exposed to facts, at one moment we will find ourselves unable to keep denying. That is when one of those facts will hit us and we go into shock. Suddenly we will find ourselves unable to keep our defenses up and the wall of denials come down. We no more can keep hiding our heads under the sand pretending that everything is okay. The first shock will have a domino effect and we find ourselves hit from all directions by facts that up until now we avoided and denied them. Suddenly all those absurdities that we had accepted and even defended, do not seem logical anymore and we won’t be able to accept them.
It is then that we are 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 of 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 the rehashing of some nonsense clichés. It seems that those who try to help us have no clue of what they are talking about, yet they are so convinced about it. They believe in what they don’t know. The arguments that 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.
This confusion eventually gives way to guilt and that is the fourth valley. You feel guilty for thinking. You feel guilty for doubting, for questioning, for not understanding. 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 between your emotions and your intellect. Emotions are not rational but they are extremely powerful. You want to go back, 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. You are cast out of the paradise of ignorance.
At this stage you find yourself naked, and ashamed of your thoughts. This is the valley of guilt. You are embarrassed of your own thoughts and strive to get rid of them and go back to the paradise of ignorance. But that door is closed.
Finally you decide that 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 had 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 you are liberated; yet like coming out of a prison after spending there a lifetime, you are overtaken by deep sense of depression. You feel lonely and despite your freedom, you miss something. You ponder upon time lost. You think of so many people who believed in this nonsense and foolishly sacrificed everything for it including their lives. How many millions of lives were sacrificed at the altars of these false religions? How many people voluntarily faced death and in the case of Islam how many people took the lives of other innocent people with complete clear conscience? 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 valley of anger and that is the sixth valley. You become angry at yourself, and at everything else. You realize how much you lost of your precious life believing in so much lies.
But then you realize that 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. There are billions of believers who are cocooned in lies and desperately try to stay there. 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 your 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.
In this odyssey you are not alone. You have a nagging companion that 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, the fear of hell, the fear of after death. It is completely irrational yet it controls you and acts on your subconscious mind at every step of the way. The passage from faith to enlightenment is arduous but you will not be able to make 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.
-by Ali Sina
25 June 2001