The following is an opinion piece submitted by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.
My time in Iran as a Muslim now seems like the distant past. The beautiful and almost transcendent experience of being a Muslim comes with its costs. But what are these costs, some people ask? Is it not true that having a religious foundation helps society and isn’t Islam the religion of peace?
Well, the answers to those questions are all ‘yes’ if you are a typical person living in Iran. However, let’s not forget that belief - or even fanatical conviction - is not the same as truth. At the time, I was only 16 and was certainly influenced by the constant Islamic propaganda that pervaded every aspect of the Iranian society. I now ask myself whether it was even possible not to believe in the Islamic doctrines at the time since everything ranging from music to media and books were heavily shaped by Islamic beliefs.
In essence, our epistemology was based on supposedly revealed scriptures and doctrines. In schools, for instance, the humanities were taught from a purely Islamic perspective, as though these were objective facts alongside science. Any criticism of these would be like saying that atoms do not exist. I am not exaggerating. It is extremely important for non-Iranians to understand how much of an independent thinker one must be in order to go against Islamic doctrines in Iran.
So why did I leave Islam? Well, after my migration to the UK in 2014, the Islamic propaganda was no longer present in my life. There was this sense of mental liberation that had begun to manifest itself. Despite this, the toxicity and the virus-like the behavior of Islamic ideas made it such that it took me two years to abandon all of my faith in Islam. So for those of you who are reading this, the first step is to understand your religion from within. In my case, I started educating myself about the Hadith and the history of Islam and the more I investigated, the more disillusioned I became with the faith. It was as though I was walking in a dark tunnel, and soon enough I realised that my expectation of the existing light at the end of the tunnel was illusory.
As a 16 year old Iranian studying these texts and the history of Islam, I soon became aware that it was not that difficult to lose faith in Islam. Why was it so easy? It would not have been easy in Iran but here in the UK I had access to a vast number of resources and was being exposed to various points of view. In Iran, all I was taught was that the Quran was a text filled with amazing scientific truths as well as accurate historical facts. Conversely, it was only in the UK that for the first time I had heard criticism against Muhammad’s character. Surely he was the perfect human being, right? Well, with some study, I realised that that was not the case at all. In fact, all I found was that in the Islamic sources themselves such as in Bukhari and other Hadiths, Muhammad was not only a prophet without any prophecy, but that his actions and beliefs utterly and precisely mirrors that of those in the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
I mean, the clue is in the name ‘The Islamic State’ and I am not naïve enough to think that a name could on its own make this proposition true. But, when one looks at the history of Islam and learns about Muhammad who had, on many occasions, committed acts of genocide, pedophilia and had engaged in the institution of sex slavery, one need not go any further. Are those accusations accurate? It depends on what sources you think are credible and statistically speaking, the Hadiths especially by Bukhari are believed by Muslims to provide the life of Prophet Muhammad with a fair amount of accuracy. And, for those who do not subscribe to the credibility of these texts, there is an even more challenging problem; which is that, they do not have any credible source of even making the proposition that Muhammad existed as a person in history. So either, Muhammad was a morally repugnant human being or he never existed, and even if he did, there is not enough historical evidence to render that belief plausible.
Something even more embarrassing is that Muhammad is actually rarely mentioned in the Quran, which is, also a book filled with commands for sex slavery and genocide; in addition to that, the Quran clearly places women on a far lower pedestal than men. All these are not mere assertions. Those who study these texts are well aware of the existence of these commands and events but they try to contextualise them and give reasons for why they happened. Here, I think I am completely justified to compare this to someone who justifies the crimes committed by Hitler by giving reasons as to why they happened, in order to provide a moral account for the actions committed by him. There is no excuse for this.
This is the most reprehensible of all crimes against humanity: to justify the evils of the past and to not recognise them. For if we don’t recognise them, we are doomed to repeat them. The fact that Muhammad (PeACE Be UPoN hIM) married a six year old should not be something up for contextualisation or debate. The fact that Muhammad took sex slaves should not be a matter for contextualisation or debate. Some actions are just so intrinsically wrong that no reasoning could render them moral. Similarly, there is absolutely no situation under which Muhammad was justified to take sex slaves (Quran 33:50, Quran 4:24). Let’s look at the latter example:
“And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.”
Here, we see that slaves regardless of their marital status are basically the property of those who capture them, as Nadia Murad was. In essence, the deity of the Quran clearly permits rape for war slaves. This is what I mean when I say that there are actions which are never justified. And hopefully, now you see why I lost my faith so rapidly after reading these texts.
I really hope that Muslims start to read and educate themselves with their own sources, for if not, history is bound to repeat itself as it is repeating itself now and no one is paying attention.
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