Musings, ruminations, thoughts and discussions on life & living, music, religion, politics, love, philosophy, and all other eccentricities of this sort.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

A Treatise Against the Punishment and Execution of Apostates

1. A person forms a belief when (s)he reaches a conclusion after a specific observation of events, ideas in action, natural phenomena, and suchlike. This person does not form this belief purely out of spite, vindictiveness or immorality, but by sincere contention. I therefore consider it unreasonable, unrealistic and utterly fascistic and totalitarian to punish someone for a conclusion they cannot help but reach.

2. Deciding that Islâm carries as much truth as any other man–made religion, and thereby labelling it ‘false’ after believing it as true, represents nothing more than a change of belief.

3. Agreeing with the concept of execution for apostates means advocating (state–sanctioned) murder of people who reject what they now believe as nothing more than legends, fairytales and ancient fables.

4. Receiving punishment for changing your belief means that an ex–muslim ends up compelled by force to remain — at least for show — in that specific belief. This I would describe as nothing other than compulsion, and renders the famous ayat at 2:256 in the Qur’ân patently false.

5. Death for apostates merely extends the charade of Islâm — utter hypocrisy, and the Qur’ân itself denounces hypocrisy. Killing in the name of hypocrisy simply turns fundamentalism into another idol, and sacrificing apostates to this idol represents ‘shirk’ — worshipping others as God, and effectively dismantling the tawhîd of Allâh.

6. Punishing someone with execution for apostasy from Islâm (or any other cult) remains, in my opinion, a fundamentally despicable concept. It displays a complete and shocking lack of empathy and understanding as to what motivates someone’s convictions (in other words, something they cannot help but believe, and not necessarily a free choice).

7. This makes it a complete attack on freedom of thought, on freedom of speech and as such we, as rational and straight–thinking people, must speak out and act against it wherever we encounter it. It deserves nothing else but utter contempt and scorn.

8. Brutally murdering a murtad does not prevent harm in the slightest. The affected victim’s family and friends, his/her workplace, and so on, all lose someone dear or essential to them simply because that person had the audacity to believe something and change their mind.

9. Additionally, how does this affect a person’s position in the (I believe non–existent) Afterlife? Executing the apostate will not absolve him/her of supposed sinfulness, which means (s)he will not go to heaven. Threatening someone with death does not cause them suddenly to change their deep–seated philosophical views. Any claim to the contrary by the apostate in question amounts to blatant insincerity and, therefore, we can discard the sentiment as meaningless.

10. I submit that to label a change in a belief as commensurate with treason represents the height of illogicality. It indicates nothing other than a dismissal of a previously held philosophical position. When comparing apostasy to treason, the only proportionate analogy comes with a person renouncing his/her citizenship of any nation — hardly an act worthy of capital punishment.

11. A final point, in the form of two queries: in a secular and liberal democratic society (in which the general belief and value of democracy and libertarianism binds the state together), does a person disagreeing with democracy or libertarianism constitute having committed treason? Should such a person suffer threats of capital punishment?

Against Bigotry

People must, as a general rule, always speak out in the face of bigoted intolerance. In your personal life, never give a platform for someone to mouth off with hate–filled, racist, narrow–minded and contemptibly intolerant diatribes, whether or not you know the person or his intended victim.

People must band together to defeat such prejudiced and primitive mindsets through effecting an unwillingness to engage with the person any longer, and denying such a person the personal space to express such despicable shit in their presence. Although people may believe they have an inalienable right to freedom of speech this does not give them the right to violate an innocent bystander with erupting, geysering volcanoes of bullshit. Actively opposing racist bigotry by going cold on one presenting no rationale or reason for their abhorrent and spiteful belching marks the only way to defeat this malaise — as long as the one doing so expresses in no uncertain terms that they do not welcome such behaviour in their presence.

The source matters not: whether a hilariously wild–bearded, doddering, old, vicious, 60–year–old ex–military white man in a dirty suit and grimy trainers spewing forth invidious tirades; black ‘gangstaz’ gibbering about ‘white devilz’; or muslims casting aspersions on kaffirs, murtads and Jews.

To do so, actively and positively, would mean we achieve something positive in this life, for society as a whole and, by extension, for the good of Humanity.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Zoroastrianism & Islam (again)

More on the influence of Zoroastrianism on Islam. I didn’t think that Muhammad had directly encountered Zoroastrianism during his lifetime. Indeed, later rulers had to add Zoroastrians to the accepted list of ‘People of the Book’. I had thought that Muhammad took a central view between 3 prayers of the Jews and 7 prayers he’d encountered from another religious sect (possibly Christians prevalent at that time).
clipped from
The Muslim institution of five daily prayers also has a Persian origin. Muhammad
himself, at first, instituted only two daily prayers. Then, as recounted in the
Koran, a third was added, giving the morning prayer, the evening prayer, and the
middle prayer, which corresponded to the Jewish shakarith, minkah, and arbith.
But on encountering the religious fervor of the Zoroastrians, Muslims, not
wishing to be outdone in devotion, simply adopted their custom; henceforth,
Muslims paid homage to their God five times a day, in imitation of the five gahs
(prayers) of the Persians.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

The Necessity of Rational Thinking

Julian Baggini, in “A walk on the dark side?”, wrote:
We are not purely rational. It is not just that we are often in the grip of irrational or non–rational forces and desires, it is that our thinking is itself infused with emotion. These feelings shape our thought, often without us realizing it…

I am also aware that we do not approach such rational discussions with blank, open minds. We come to them with prejudices, fears and commitments. Some of these are not founded on reason and that confers on them a certain immunity to the power of rational argumentation…

This is important because such associations can interfere with clear thinking, leading us to prejudge issues and reject arguments without good grounds.
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Zoroastrianism & Islam

This made me sit up and take notice. One of the more hellish Islamic tales that did the rounds while I grew up featured the person having to cross a razor–sharp bridge. Of course, a true mu’min (believer) would cross it safely. The kafir would plunge to their doom into eternal Hell. Now I see it, like quite a few elements, could possibly come from Zoroastrianism.

I must look into this further…
The chinvat bridge is another Zoroastrian concept that after death the soul
crosses a razor sharp bridge that could mean one would fall from... YOu either
meet a beautiful maiden or a hag on the bridge depending on your life in this
The word "Paradise" we use comes froman ancient Persian word meaing walled
garden and so even our concept of the after life owe much to Zoroastrianism.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

“Happy New Year!” (from a Muharram Murtad)

1st of Muharram 1429 AH — the start of the new year according to the Islamic calendar. Though, of course, due to bickering between parties and inability to resolve sightings of the moon it could take place tomorrow… At any rate, New Year, New Attitude, New Resolution, New Actions. I figured it would prove the perfect time to announce my apostasy from Islam. I went onto my favourite muslim forum (mainly due to some of the posters there), and announced I had turned murtad.

I simply don’t believe. Not only in Islam as a divinely–sanctioned religion, but in divinity altogether. I have read too much, seen too much the manmade origins of each religion, felt no divine presence throughout my life, seen the way nature doesn’t need a conscious guiding hand… I have seen and felt all this too much to give any credence to commonly–held notions of Divinity and Theism.

Some of the members there expressed sadness and shock, others incandescent rage and sneering hostility — and most of the latter came when I pointed out that the founder of Islam, Muhammad, sanctioned the death of apostates from Islam. At that point people acted as though I’d ‘done a Rushdie’ and one of the moderators closed my thread quicksmart. It interests me that the ultimate act of betrayal and evil (I had announced I do not believe in God) met with some shocked reactions, but only when I mentioned Muhammad did the moderator close my thread. Odd, that, don’t you think?

Only one of the members really touched me with her passion, her sincere regret, and her gentle and patient responses to my posts. A pity none of the others acted more like she did.

I don’t regret leaving Islam: I realise that I’d never lived particularly religiously though I’d tried damn hard over the past few years — but not hard enough. I didn’t pray the mandatory Salah prayers 5 times a day. In fact, I used to joke about myself as a ‘2 Salah Man’: ‘Eid–ul–Fitr and ‘Eid–ul–Adha! Needless to say, comments like that have never gone down well. Of course, I did used to preface any act of eating by reciting the basmala, and I catch myself occasionally doing so now, but those acts simply represent phrases and actions I’ve inculcated in myself but wish to abandon now.

A chap on another forum has tasked me with a list of actions I should complete in order to continue moving on in my life, eg. making a pot of chili and eating it, watching the sun rise, and suchlike. None of it far removed from the way I’ve lived my life normally — but I suppose working through the list will provide me with something specific to look forward to and even push me out of my comfort zone (one of the items involves telling an attractive stranger on the street that I think she looks beautiful).

I suppose I feel a loss of group identity in that I’ve grown up in a quite secular but nonetheless Muslim South Asian community, but I shall dig deep inside me and try to transcend that loss by relying on the force of my own beliefs and personal identity.

On with the programme…

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Against Religion:

AC Grayling contributes a simple and well–written but deep (as usual) article, this one at last speaking out against the claim that any particular religion merits special attention or privileges.

clipped from
It is time to reverse the prevailing notion that religious commitment is intrinsically deserving of respect.
to believe something in the face of evidence and against reason - to believe
something by faith - is ignoble, irresponsible and ignorant, and merits the
opposite of respect. It is time to say so.
it is time to demand and apply a right for the rest of us to non-interference by
religious persons and organisations - a right to be free of proselytisation and
the efforts of self-selected minority groups to impose their own choice of
morality and practice on those who do not share their outlook.
But no organised religion, as an institution, has a greater claim to the
attention of others in society than does a trade union, political party,
voluntary organisation, or any other special interest group - for "special
interest groups" are exactly what churches and organised religious bodies are.
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Saturday, 5 January 2008

Atheism vs Restrictive Cultures

most of the Atheists I know that came from religious backgrounds didn't give a
care about restrictive cultures that much, we just didn't buy into the tripe we
were being fed.
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Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism