I was notified of this story by Jeremiah of Jeremayakovka. Thank you, Jeremiah!
The story: On June 6, 2006, a Christian man in Lahore is beaten to unconsciousness after he drinks out of a public water service for the poor. He was beaten for “polluting” the glass. (Here is a link to the story by WorldNetDaily; and here is a link from a blog, The World Now.) WorldNetDaily’s story follows below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
A popular feature of Ramadan is the tarāwīH prayers (صلاة التّراويح, Salāt at-tarāwīH; the latter word is pronounced as tarāvī by South Asian Muslims). What is striking–and many have noticed and remarked about this–is that this seems to quite the rage these days, a most fashionable thing to do. Although mosques had tarāwīH prayers even before, they were nowhere as popular as they are today. So much so that many mosques have more than one tarāwīH prayer time to accomodate the large numbers of people who can’t fit at one time. There is som dispute whether this is an indication of an increase in religiosity and piety, whether this indicates social pressure to exhibit more religiosity, or whether this is some sort of weird passing fad. To explain why it is somewhat surprising and puzzling that tarāwīH prayers, of all things, are so popular, let me explain what they are. Read the rest of this entry »
At first I thought it was a bit weird. I could not access Blogspot pages in Karachi. This problem remained even in Islamabad. It seems that what I thought could not have been true was true: Blogspot has been banned in Pakistan, and so I cannot access any Blogspot webpage while here.
But thanks to Pakistanis, who are not known for perfectly legal internet activities, I have found a way to bypass this blocking.
I encourage you to read what Isaac Schrödinger has written about his situation: “Fear and Loathing in The Land of the Pure”. (Possible translation into Urdu: پاک سرزمین میں ڈر اور نفرت , pāk sarzamīn maiN Darr awr nafrat.)
Note: “The Land of the Pure” refers to Pakistan, which name comes from Persian: (پاک, pāk, “pure”) and (إستان, istān, “land”), giving us (پاکستان, pākistān, “Pakistan”), “the Land of the Pure” or “the Pure Land”. The latter is a very common ending to indicate the land of something, such as Hindūstān, Turkmenistān, Uzbekistān, and so on.
I am an admirer of Pope John Paul II. He has certainly been one of history’s earth-moving men. But this is not to say that he was perfect. His tendency to apologize, sometimes to people or for issues one need not to apologize, was a bit jarring. Of course, it seems that some (especially conservative and traditionalist Catholics) dispute how his apologies were interpreted.
Nevertheless, many expected (or desired) Pope Benedict XVI to emulate the previous pope.
I admire Pope Benedict XVI. But I am not afraid to criticize him, as I have done here in the past, when I believe he is wrong. But the recent brouhaha over his comments have revealed some good points about him. Read the rest of this entry »
In an e-mail, Dicentra alerted me to an article written by the eminent Dr. Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online: “Islamic Fascism 101″.
This is an issue that is perplexing to a very large degree.
You see, homosexuality is banned in Islam. There is no ambiguity about this. Homosexuals found guilty of homosexualling are to be executed. It’s the sharī‛ah.
On the other hand – and this is what’s most puzzling – homosexuality has a very rich history in the Muslim world. Read the rest of this entry »
Some characteristics of a fascist state or ideology is excessive nationalism or patriotism, authoritarianism, and subjecting everything to The Cause (which is often The Nation). They also tend towards totalitarianism.
In Germany during the Third Reich and in Italy during Mussolini’s regime (and even in Japan during the militarists), everything and everyone was rated relative to how it contributed to the State. Thus, capitalism, to some degree, remained, as long as the corporations served or contributed to the State. The State – which included with such designation its fascist government – could not be challenged. To challenge the State would be to commit high treason. To fail to love the State as much as its citizens were directed to, to fail to contribute as one may or as one is directed to would also be to commit high treason. Any crime against the State was high treason; all enemies of the State were enemies of the people, the Nation, the State, and so on. Read the rest of this entry »
Many are quite fond of saying that Islam is not a religion: it’s a way of life. I have recently become quite war of anyone who advocates or wants to promote a way of life.
What would you call a system that has rules and commands for everything one does and does not do, from the trivial, such as with which foot one enters a room, to the significant, such as the moral value ascribed to what beings in what order? What would you call a system that is all-encompassing and cannot (or should not) be challenged? What would you call a system that has something to say about practically everything – and if it does not, it can be made to do so? Would you not call such a system totalitarian?
What would you call a system that has practically unimpeachable authorities whose pronouncements and decrees are authoritative and, in some cases, absolute? What would you call a system where one must rely on the prevailing authorities? What would you call a system where allegiance to the authorities is practically a mandatory duty of all people in the system, failure of which may result in punishment, expulsion, and even death? What would you call a system where these authorities call the shots, are consulted on every matter, and are heeded without question or challenge? What would you call a system where challenging, questioning, or opposing its authorities – even when blind obedience to them results in an environment of suffering and despair – is soundly condemned and may be punishable by expulsion, other punishments, or even death? Would you not call such a system authoritarian?
And now, what would you say if, considering the above, I were to say that any society under Islamic sharī‛ah (sacred law) and its ulamā‛ (religious jurisprudents and authorities) — in other words, Islamism — would be totalitarian and authoritarian?
Just something to think about.
We are ordered to recommend the right to other Muslims and to prevent them from doing anything wrong or against Islam so that the society stays in a respective manner. I think the society is preferred over ones’ acts. Right?
I would have to say no. One major contrast between The West and The Rest is the prevalence of individuality and individual autonomy in The West. No religion or even way of life is imposed on anyone. Crimes are prohibited, and punished accordingly. But as long as one does not commit a crime, one is free to do what one wants or free to not do whatever one has decided not to do. It is for this reason that The West has flourished while The Rest are mired in backwardness. Read the rest of this entry »
Ramadan (, ramaDān or ramzān) is one of the holiest months of the Islamic calendar. During this lunar month, Muslims are ordered to fast (refraining from all food and drink) from dawn to dusk. It is customary to eat a breakfast (سحري, saHarī, also pronounced sehrī by South Asians, “of or pertaining to سحر, saHar, “dawn”) before keeping one’s fast and to eat a meal (إفطار, ifTār, “breaking a fast”; also إفطاري, ifTārī, “of or pertaining to breaking a fast”) while breaking it. Oftentimes people will eat a large sehrī, break it with a lavish ifTār, and eat dinner later at night. Considering the type and quantity foods eaten during sehrī and ifTār, it should not be surprising that some people actually gain weight during Ramadan. Read the rest of this entry »
I have reached Pakistan safe and sound. The flight was nice, though long. It’s hot here.
The Islamic month of Ramadan (رمضان, ramaDān; Persian- and Urdu-speakers and other South Asians pronounce it as ramZān) has started, which obviously gives me lots of material to write about.
This is a bit of a long post, I realize, but it is a very important post. If you want to skip the pontificating in the middle, feel free to do so. The last four paragraphs are the most important.
Isaac Schrödinger is someone we all should know about and whose blog we should all follow. I do. (He’s a very enjoyable blogger, as well as being enlightening.) He is part of a very, very special group: people who were born Muslim, grew up in Muslim environments, apostatized, and then informs us – the world – of what he knows about the Muslim world.
There are plenty of Muslims who critique Islam – most are not outspoken about it – but even they cannot go all the way and critique it to its very roots, as that would endanger the entire edifice, and if it falls they will be crushed within it. It’s a natural defense mechanism. So although we ought to listen to those Muslims who critique Islam, we are forced to ask ourselves whether they are intentionally or not leaving anything out.
But people like Isaac Schrödinger are different: because they have left the edifice whose construction and even foundations they seek to examine, they have no reason to spare their observations. They call it, as they say, as they see it. They give us the full picture.
To continue the analogy of a building, an outside expert (who was never a Muslim) can go inside and describe what he or she sees: the furnishings, the wallpaper, the floor, the doors, and so on. But only an insider can tell what the building’s inhabitants feel and think about the same. It’s one thing to say “the Qur’an is the sacred book of Islam,” but it’s quite another to relate the precise mentality and emotions and traditions of the people towards and regarding the Qur’an.
And so I am so very grateful for people like Isaac Schrödinger, especially since being so outspoken is not easy nor safe to begin with, but on top of that being an apostate can endanger one’s life.
Apostasy is punishable by execution in Islam. Practically every school of religious jurisprudence agrees with this rule. Not all states enforce this ruling as it is: some do so with actions less than execution that are nonetheless harsh. For example, apostates might be confined in a psychiatric facility. Or they may be jailed. Or they may be charged with blasphemy and punished accordingly. (Recall for a second that torture in non-Western prisons is the norm.) Or – and this is a more significant danger than what the state may do – they may permit a mob to take the law in their hands. In Pakistan, many people have died at the hands of mobs, and the state has taken no action whatsoever to bring to justice the criminals who led the violent group. Even if it wanted to, it would not be able to: no one would cooperate with the authorities in their investigation. What is sickening, of course, is that there is no escape, regardless whether one is guilty or not: the mob will kill whomever it thinks deserves to be executed in the name of Islam.
And this is where the main point of my post comes in. I would never ask anything from my readers for me. That you read and follow my insane rantings for me is reward enough. But I do make a request for someone I admire.
Isaac Schrödinger is now in Canada. However, he has been on a student visa and has applied for asylum. If his application is rejected – Heaven forfend! – he will have to return to Pakistan, where his fate will be utterly unknown. What I have said above – confinement in a psychiatric facility, charged with blasphemy, time and torture in jail, actions by the state, lethal actions by a mob – these events that to us may seem far away and remote will become a very real possibility for him. There are so few insightful critics of Islam that are like him that losing him will be a major, major blow for all of us – and this applies to even his online silence. It is obvious that if he returns to Pakistan, he will no longer be able to inform us through his blog.
Isaac Schrödinger is special in another way: he has spent a lot of time in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Thus, he can give us the perspective of a number of societies and peoples – Pakistanis in Pakistan, Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, Saudis in Saudi Arabia, other Arabs and peoples.
Isaac Schrödinger has a blog and a link to a PayPal account thereon, and I most sincerely and wholeheartedly encourage you to donate what you can and to send him messages of support. If you have any information that may be able to help him, please feel free to email him. To give an indication of the cost, he will need $2,500.00 Canadian Dollars before the court date:,he has received $1,493.00 Canadian Dollars so far. (For an update on where his case stands so far, check out this post; you may read his posts on his case in this category on his blog.)
I obviously will not be able to tell who donated what or who e-mailed what – but to everyone who may support him in whatever way he or she can, I thank you. I thank you from my heart. To me, this is a personal cause, not just ideological or political. As a fellow apostate, I feel his fears quite acutely. I was fortunate enough to have been born in The United States, and so I have a refuge here. Not so with Isaac Schrödinger. Let us help a strong ally of The West remain in The West so he can help us win, help us understand other peoples, and help us promote the cause of freedom, rights, liberty, and free conscience. No one should have to feel one’s life endangered because of one’s thoughts and beliefs – but not all are so fortunate. So let us be thankful for what liberty we have and express our thanks through actions. I have donated, and I support him. Please help me in furthering his very just cause.
I would like to wish my Jewish readers and commenters – and all Jews everywhere – a very happy and sweet new year. Shanah Tovah! IY”H may you inscribed for a good, healthy, and sweet new year. Amein.
Richard Armitage threatened that The United States would bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate with The United States against al-Qā’idah. This is to be expected. Pakistan had many reasons to cooperate with The United States, but it also had many reasons not to. One, of course, was Pakistan’s active support for the Tālibān, whom they would then have to essentially destroy. It is not easy for anyone to destroy one’s own creation.
Pakistan has been a crucial partner in The West’s War on Terrorism. Without Pakistan’s assistance, for example, The United Kingdom would not have been able to break the terrorist ring to bring down American airplanes. But there is a shadowy side to this relationship as well, and we had better pay close attention to this aspect as well. Read the rest of this entry »
The Qur’an says: “There is no compulsion in religion” (لآ إكراه في الدين, lā ikrāha fi-d-dīn; 2:256: verse/āyah 256, chapter/sūrah 2 (sūratu-l-baqarah)). This refers to conversion: “there is no occasion for employing coercion in the matter of adopting and embracing Islam as its excellence is self-evident. This is the doctrine of toleration in Islam.” (Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi. Tafsir-ul-Quran. Lucknow, India: Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, 1981, v. I, p. 178.)
The above verse continues: (قد تبين الرشد من الغي, qa(d)-ttabayyana-r-rushdu mina-l-ghayy; ibid.), “The correct has been distinguished from the wrong.”
As such, because anyone with a brain ought to tell right from wrong, and thus choose Islam over everything else, there’s no need to convert anyone to Islam. Those who refuse to convert are actively and consciously rebelling against God.
But then the question arises: what about the use of force or compulsion after conversion? Considering the widespread use of “religious police” – such as the (مطوّعين, muTawwa‛īn, also known as the “mutaween”) of Saudi Arabia, the (بسیجی, basījī) of Iran, and similar groups in other areas – there has to be a shar‛ī (شرعي, shar‛ī, “of or pertaining to (ألشريعة, ash-sharī‛ah) or Islamic religious law”) justification for the use of force and compulsion by Muslims on other Muslims. I will have to hunt down the specific ruling or interpretation that permits this.
My point: don’t let the verse “There is no compulsion in religion” mislead one. It refers to conversion only. After conversion, all bets are off, as it were.
Three men who were found guilty (in what many have reported to be a sham trial) of “touching off” a conflict between Muslims and Christians in Sulawesi, Indonedia, have been executed. This is notable because none of the Muslim instigators (whether of this incident or of any of the other Muslim-Christian massacres) have been arrested or investigated. Indonesian authorities held off executing these men before, in response to an appeal of Pope Benedict XVI and mass protests.
Christian Indonesians responded with violence, particularly in Atumbua, West Timor, the birthplace of one of the men. All calls for the government to investigate and bring to justice other leaders of that massacre or others that have occured since 1998, have been rejected by the government. Considering the number of people – Muslim and Christian – who have died in inter-religious riots since 1998, and considering the sham-ness of this trial, people are understandably upset. (Note: The conflict among Muslims and Christians in Sulawesi and other areas is separate from the Islamist terrorist movements and attacks in Bali and Aceh.)
I do condemn the violence by the Christians. This is not the way to respond. They used international pressure before, and should find a way to use it again.
I also condemn the government of Indonesia for its biased policies. It ought to punish all instigators, Muslim and Christian, rather than select three scapegoats and execute them. It sends a wrong message to both parties: to Muslims that they can perhaps get away with violence, and to Christians that the state is uninterested in their pleas and that they will be unfairly punished when they respond to violence.
If someone is aware of a good article on the whole Muslim-Christian riots in Indonesia, please e-mail me the link or post it in the comments. I’d appreciate it very much.
In this comment, Dex wrote:
Safe trip, dude. Try not to use the phrase “stone age” if you can help it.
Back when we were living in Pakistan, someone from my father’s company’s headquarters in The United States came to Karachi. While they were being driven through the city, this gentleman looked around and remarked to my father, “I thought the war with India had already ended!”
My father responded, “There is no war with India.”
The gentleman replied, “Oh. Sorry. Just that it looks like this was bombed recently.”
This is how Karachi looks sometimes. And in some places thereof, most of the time.
Qabalah (which, like many Hebrew words, is spelled about a hundred and one ways) – so mysterious! so exotic! so in! What do you think about when you hear or read the word “Qabalah”? People tying red wristbands (bendels)? Esoteric doctrines? The Tree of Life?
“Qabalah” – and I use this spelling because it most closely reflects the original Hebrew word from which it came – comes from the Hebrew (קַבָּלָה, qabalah, “reception” or “the act of receiving”). There is nothing exotic about this word. In every-day Hebrew, it means “reception” as in a hotel’s reception desk. I don’t know why this word was chosen to refer to what it refers to. Technically, all Jewish tradition, texts, rituals, beliefs, observances, law, and so on, is received by one generation, handed down by the one before it. In any case, “Qabalah” also refers to a part of Jewish mysticism. (There’s more to Jewish mysticism than Qabalah.) Read the rest of this entry »
In this comment, Alaa wrote:
“My question to you is, IF you knew in your heart that Christianity is true (as outlined above with Jesus being the Son of God), would you follow Him?”
I would like to add that Christianity is based on belief only I don’t think it’s easy for someone to know that god is three and the three is one. Add to that what jesus did! all you can come up with is just a belief! while it’s easy to know that there is GOD but not to know his “number”! Christianity and Judaism were mentioned in Quran but Quran is not mentioned in both of them so Christians and Jews are the ones who should try to know more about Quran.
(First off, the reasoning behind your statement that Christians and Jews should know more about the Qur’an is somewhat vacuous. However, if one accepts such reasoning, one may say that considering Islam claims descent from Christianity and Judaism, Muslims should study and try to learn more about Christianity and Judaism. And from reputable sources, not Islamic propaganda and falsehoods.)
Such comments – claiming Christianity makes no sense because of the Trinity – are very common by Muslims. Almost every mufassir (مفسّر, mufassir, “one who comments” or “commentator”) of the Qur’an brings this point up. (Perhaps because the Qur’an brings it up a number of times.) I have often heard in my youth, “How can Christianity be right? We know there’s only one God but Christians believe in three Gods! They claim to be monotheist too – but it makes no sense!” I sometimes heard, “There can only be one God. If there’s more, they’ll get into a fight. How will they run the universe then?” Read the rest of this entry »