I was born in a Muslim family that did not push religion down the kids’ throats. Yet, religion always cast a big shadow on everything. I just had to deal with it and couldn’t simply set it aside. And Islam, the Shiite Islam was the most pervasive religion around. I went to all kinds of sources, people and books to settle the issue. Should I believe in religion? If so, should it be the religion of the overwhelming majority? If not, then what? I couldn’t let this question just hang in the air.
My relentless search took me to numerous sources, with all kinds of explanations. Some praised, Islam, specifically Shiite Islam, to high heaven and presented their evidence in support of the adulation, never mind the fact that even Shiite Islam is fractured into no less than one hundred different sects.
I found the house of Muhammad fractured so extensively that there was no way any one of them could represent what Muhammad launched. The Sunnis, for instance, consider all Shiites as infidels and the Shiites label Sunnis as betrayer of Muhammad’s faith and his household.
One interesting version I encountered has to do with how Islam was born in the first place. It is an enchanting account, narrated to me by a greatly learned agnostic who confessed disaffection for religions in general. This is what he told me about the role Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, played in what he called, birthing Islam. Here is gist of my conversation with the man, from the notes I scribbled, mostly in answers to my questions.
“Leopards have spots,” he said at one point “to deceive their prey and devour them.” People don’t have spots. They have something much more effective in getting them what they want. Their brain is a big deceptive machine. So, depending on any situation, the brain can devise a scheme in an attempt to secure what it wants. Not always successfully, because the other brain it is trying to deceive may not fall for the scheme. But, people try anyway. It is the best tool they have for getting what they want. And as they keep using this deceptive machine, they get better at using it and as they get better they are rewarded more and are likely to keep on using it further.”
“Forgive me sir,” I interrupted, “Are you using your machine right now answering my questions? Telling me the truth or deceiving me for your own purposes?”
“I ignore your rudeness,” he said, “but let me explain. Islam is fraud and deception. To begin with ‘Islam’ does not mean ‘peace.’ I’m not Arab, but I know the language as well as any educated Arab. ‘Islam’ comes from the root word ‘taslim’ which means surrender. Surrender to whom, you may ask? To Allah. Who is Allah? The lord of the universe, there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his sole emissary for now and eternity, they say. And their rallying cry is Allah-u-Akbar. They deceptively translate that as meaning God is Great. It literally means, Allah is the greatest. The word for great is kabir. Akbar is the superlative of the word and means greatest. It is an exclusionary supremacist claim. It rejects our Persian lord Ahuramazda and the gods of other people.”
“I must learn Arabic to read these things on my own. My father always tells me I should find things for myself. I am not questioning what you are telling me. But I also know you disapprove of Islam, perhaps for good reasons. And from what I have seen, there is not much I find agreeable in Islam.”
“Yes, yes. One must use his own good judgment as lamp to his feet in life’s journey. I am glad you intend to find things for yourself. Let me tell you a gem from the Christian Bible. It says, ‘by their fruit shall ye know them.’ Muslims are the fruits of Islam. What they believe and practice is the best evidence condemning the belief.”
“Not all Muslims are bad, sir.”
“Yes. There are always exceptions. I am speaking about the big picture. The overall evilness of this belief and its devastating negative impact on all of us. Give you one example. The Quran ordains, ‘Al rejalo qavamoon ala al nesa.’ Men are rulers over women, it means. Now, what benevolent creator would ordain creators of human life as subservient chattel to men, I ask you? This Islam thing is cooked up by chauvinistic misogynist men for the benefit of men. And you can see that in all their Sharia law where women are worth one half of men, they receive less inheritance, and on and on and on. Study it for yourself, as your wise father had admonished you.”
“Thank you sir, I intend to do just that. But if Islam is such a bad thing and a big fraud, why have it endured for so long, why billions adhere to it, and why it is even thriving?”
“For one, millions of professionally paid agents of this chauvinistic male-serving, women-enslaving fraud, all of them men, are busy around the clock and all over the world promoting it by any and all means that seem to work. Often customizing what they claim to be the word for word dictates of Allah to suit their objective. They Keep the fraud going and make it thrive so that these unscrupulous agents, the mullahs and imams, can keep on leading their charmed life on the back of the ignorant masses. A huge factor working in their favor is people's death anxiety and the concern about what becomes of them after they die. The Islam fraud addresses this paramount existential dread craftily and with great success. You do as Allah commands and you will end up for immortal life in his unimaginably glorious sensuous paradise. You fail to do so and your abode is the indescribably horrific hell from which you shall never escape.
“Huge promises of goodies both in this as well as the next are reserved for men including pleasure objects women. Four wives and as many concubines as a man desires and can afford. What to women get, if they are servile to men and satisfy them? They will be also admitted to paradise. No specific goodies for them in paradise. Perhaps even there they must continue to service men's lust. Not a bad fraud launched by Muhammad and perpetrated by hook or crook by a bunch of his savage follower men.”
At this point the man was foaming at the mouth. Stopped and took a long breath. I held my peace.
“Woman, you challenge what Allah ordains? Be obedient woman. Or your eternal punishment is confinement to Allah's indescribably dreadful hell. Every day you will be placed in that dungeon of horror in the burning oven, then you will be placed for ravenous snakes, vampires, scorpions, tarantulas to devour your flesh and gnaw your bones in slow excruciatingly painful manner. The next day, reconstituted, you will be tormented in the same manner. For how long, you ask? For eternity. How long is eternity? If an eagle brushes its wings on a mountain 100,000 meter high, once every one 100,000 years, the time it takes to wear that mountain to sea level is one moment of eternity.”
“Sir, I am glad I am not a woman, if all this is true.”
“Islam is the greatest gift that Muhammad bequeathed on charlatan men to exploit the masses of fools. For as long as there are donkeys, there are those who would ride them, is our apt Persian metaphor that explains why the cast of Muslim clergy is so intent at keeping the donkeys they have and doing all they can to get more donkeys with fresh legs and strong backs to continue with their joyride.”
“Then why is it that people don’t wake up to this charade that has been going on for centuries, Sir?” I asked.
“It is sad, but true,” shook his head from side to side in bewilderment and continued, “People, more often than not, buy into any useless, fraudulent, and even harmful offering as long as it seems to provide them with a degree of relief. Many resort to mood and mind altering drugs, smoke the accursed opium, inject heroin, and much more even knowing full well how harmful they are. People seek relief from pain while they do many things to attain pleasure.
“Islam hooks people on a deadly habit forming psychological dope. You do exactly as you are told and your helper and protector will be none other than Allah, the one and only creator of this awe-striking universe. You prosper in this life and your rewards in the next life are guaranteed to exceed your highest fancy. If things don't seem to go well for you in this world, don't you worry and develop doubt. Because there is wisdom in it for you and you will be recompensed beyond your greatest expectations. Woe unto you if you ever betray the faith of Allah by leaving it or in any way violating its precepts. Death would only be the means of transporting you to his hell for eternal torment.”
“What exactly is what you call psychological dope, and how people get hooked on it, sir?”
“The main ingredients of Islam dope are the Quran, the Hadith, and the purported life conduct of Muhammad. As is the case with chemical dopes, the main composition can be cut or adulterated to various degrees to achieve the desired effect. The dope can be spiked, for instance, by other powerful ingredient or cut by inert fillers to moderate its action, depending on what suits the peddler -- the clergy. It is through this process of customization that numerous Islamic sects and hundreds of sub-sects have emerged. Hence, there is that coalescing core of Islam that is shared by all while each sect retains the version peddled by their own clergy.”
“I am studying hard to learn Arabic so that I can read the Quran in its original and other Islamic records to find more about this movement. I am puzzled about how it got started and what made it thrive. You already explained to me how Islam has endured for so long. The clergy with vested interest keeps it going. I tend to believe that. But, how did it really get started, honorable?”
“It is a long story. You study it for yourself. I’ll give you a short synopsis. Khadija, a very rich widow in her forties became enamored by the illiterate orphan Muhammad and married him. Muhammad was in his twenties and worked for her. The young Muhammad was afflicted with a form of mental disorder that induced seizures and made him see things and hear voices. He, Muhammad, would frequently retreat to a cave outside of Mecca and remain secluded there for long periods of time. While in the cave he would often experience mental upheaval and imagine he had all kinds of visitations by jinns. Khadija aimed to reassure her young troubled husband that he was indeed being communicated from God. She also took the young husband to her Christian relatives where Muhammad came in contact with Biblical teachings.”
“Was Khadija Christian?”
“No one is sure. There are different accounts on that point. The fact is that she did try to comfort her young husband and she did expose him to relatives who were staunch Christians. And that is where Muhammad obtained much material for his Quran.”
“That is very interesting.”
“More interesting and hugely despicable is the work of the treacherous Salman Farsi, Muhammad’s sidekick, so to speak. This man was greatly learned in the teachings of our ancient faith as well as those of Jews and Christians. He is the one who doctored much of Muhammad’s sayings into what eventually became the Quran.
“The Quran, the supposed word for word of Allah had several versions that popped up after Muhammad’s death. The third Caliph, Osman, picked the one he liked and ordered the rest burned. Thus, Osman, a political wheeler-dealer, became the real decider of what was the real Quran. Obviously the version he liked.”
“Do I understand you are saying Islam was born by Khadija’s encouragement and the machinations of other men?”
“Yes, that’s basically sums it up. But, as I said, it is a long sad story that cannot be fully addressed in a short session. I admire your taking time and looking into it for yourself to your own satisfaction. It is an enormous job that exacts a great effort. Yet, it is something that each one of us has to do to find truth.”