(Obviously this is the one I know best)
- Founder/s: Abul-Qasim Muhammad Ibn Abd-Allah Ibn Abdul-Muttalib Ibn Hashim (aka. Muhammad or Prophet Muhammad)
- Approximate age: 1400 years
- Place of origin: Arabia
- Holy book/s: Qur’ān & aḥādiyth*
- Original language of holy book/s: Arabic
- Demonym of adherents: Muslims
- Approximate number of current global adherents: 1,570,000,000
- Place of worship name/s: mosque, masjid
* There’s also the aḥādiyth qudsiy, a group of 40 reports that supposedly came directly from Allah to Muhammad. Some count them separately, I don’t.
It’s important to remember Muslims are absolutely adamant that Islam did not start with Muhammad, but with Allah himself before even Adam was created. But there’s no evidence to support this. Its origins are clearly traceable to a now-extinct Arab religion called Sabianism/ Aḥnāf (which is mentioned in the Qur’ān via its adherents – ḥunafā, plural of ḥaniyf), with hints of Arabised Christianity & Judaism.
Features I consider good about Islam:
- The Qur’ān is much more egalitarian than the Torah or the Bible, and it at least tries to make logical sense. It uses analogies and similes rather than metaphors to explain its metaphysical points, just so readers really understand the difference between A-is-like-B and A-is-B,
- It blames Adam and Eve equally for the fall, and it doesn’t claim Shayṭān was a serpent – or in any particular physical form,
- Unlike its Abrahamic predecessors it doesn’t believe in trying to bribe God with animal sacrifices. In fact, it’s denounced as useless since only a person’s piety “reaches” him (22:37)*,
* Having said that, it does use animal sacrifice to feed the people in ‘Iydul-aḍḥā. The sacrifice is called either uḍḥiyyah or, more often, qurbāni.
- There’s no such thing as original sin because Adam & Eve were forgiven by Allah after leaving the garden. Even if they weren’t, every person is responsible only for the sins they’ve committed. The son does not bear the sins of his father,
- Many verses emphasise the importance of personal understanding, intelligence and research. There is – in theory – no room for blind faith,
- It’s a very anti-racist revolutionary doctrine: 49:13 says our diverse colours & tongues are to be recognised not hated, Muhammad’s last sermon explicitly says no-one has any superiority over anyone except by individual works and piety, and there is absolutely no reference in the sources to Islam being exclusively for Arabs. In fact, when it first came out the Arabs claimed it was a foreign faith, and in one report Bilal (one of Muhammad’s disciples) claimed Islam is just like the religion he used to follow back home – home being al-Habash, what we now call Ethiopia,
- Like Christianity Allah’s mercy is constantly emphasised. In one ḥadiyth it’s said Allah told a prophet (forgot which one) that even if Shayṭān himself repents Allah would forgive him! That’s actually kinda cool (if Satan were real)!
Things I don’t like:
- The Qur’ān is harder to read than the Bible or Torah because it’s not in chronological order. There is a chronological order, but the chapters and even the verses aren’t arranged accordingly! They’re divided into 2 types: Makki (those ‘revealed’ in Makkah, before Muhammad’s emigration to Ethiopia) and Madani (those ‘revealed’ in Madinah, after Muhammad came back to Arabia from Ethiopia), and to know which is which you have to study Islamic history.
On a point of information, some verses were ‘revealed’ in Ethiopia so there should be a Habashi (Ethiopian) category. And there isn’t.
- On top of that, many Qur’ānic verses are repetitions of each other. What’s the point?
- Admittedly Islam is fairer to women than its Abrahamic predecessors but still far from perfect. The Qur’an very rarely mentions women by name, Maryam (Mary) being the only one I know of. Even Eve, or Hawwa, isn’t named! Women are to be veiled so they’ll be recognised as respectable women (which arguably made sense back then, as in Jewish & Christian culture a woman with an uncovered head = prostitute = OK to rape),
- Muslims nowadays are as sexually repressed as medieval European Christians. Back then Christians complained Muslims were too carnal and gave women too much freedom, now they say the exact opposite! Why? Quite simply because it’s true. In Saudi Arabia women aren’t allowed to drive, or go out in public without a maḥram (male chaperone whom she can’t marry, e.g. blood relative) or a yellow card giving his written approval. Bangladeshis bury newborn daughters alive just like back in pre-Islamic Arabia. Many Muslim men here in England don’t know how to keep their eyes off female skin or figures, because they come from countries where sexual segregation is the rule. Meanwhile sexual stuff was discussed openly in Muhammad’s days! Muslims have changed over the centuries and therefore so has Islam,
- Despite the Qur’ān’s anti-racist nature, Muslims have never stopped being racist throughout their entire history. When the ‘white’ Turks took over ‘black’ Arab lands they practised racism even against Muhammad’s grandchildren. It was so bad a ‘black’ Iraqi man called al-Jāḥiẓ wrote The Pride of the Blacks over the Whites (https://selfuni.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/al-jahiz-the-pride-of-the-blacks-over-the-whites/) to refute them. For a few centuries now Muhammad has been depicted as looking identical to the ‘white’ Turks/ Persians. This was the beginning of the ‘Aryanisation’ of Islam (Wesley Muhammad’s term), even if Turks’ status as ‘white’ is debatable,
Three pictorial renditions of Muhammad. Arguments over the permissibility of pictures notwithstanding, now tell me Islam hasn’t been ‘Aryanised’.
- Continuing from the racism point, Arabs (Euro-Arabs) refer to ‘blacks’ as ‘abid (slave). Some scholars say having visions of Muhammad as a ‘black’ man is actually a vision of Shayṭān. The ‘black’ aborigines of the Arabian Peninsula are kept out of international media’s attention. Muhammad’s hijrah to al-Habash before Madinah is unknown to most Muslims; I only knew about it from watching The Message. Some claim Bilal was Muhammad’s slave – like the “scholar” I studied under in my childhood. With the typical Sasian caste mentality, he also said Bilal was ‘black’ and ugly and Muhammad had to force a woman to marry him even though she didn’t want to because of his ‘blackness’,
- Some verses in modern translations of the Qur’ān are deliberate lies. 21:91 & 66:12 describe an angel “in the likeness of a man” (whatever the fuck that means!) blowing into Mary’s farj. Farj means vulva/ vagina not sleeve,
- Despite Bible-bashers’ rants, Islam is very pro-Jesus. In fact, all the verses about Mary or Jesus are rehashed Bible stories. And it’s very telling they were only ‘revealed’ during Muhammad’s hiding in Ethiopia, a Christian-ruled country, when he was in front of the Negus or king. It reads very much like a suck-up to the pagan virgin birth myth,
- Even when I was a Muslim I was bored of always saying “peace be upon him”/ “ṣallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam”/ “‘alayhis-salam”/ “raḍiyallahu ‘anhu” when referring to prophets or significant people. For fuck’s sake, just say the names and done! If you respect them you shouldn’t need to prove it upon every single recitation of their name!
- As much as they don’t like to think so, many Muslims effectively worship Muhammad. The insistence on learning as much about him as possible, the aḥādiyth pedantically chronicling unimportant details about his life (e.g. he knelt down to drink water, when opening the fast he’d eat an odd number of dates, he used to enter the masjid right foot first and exit left foot first) and no such emphasis is given to other “prophets”. Funny, they’re all meant to be of equal status,
- Talking about worshipping Muhammad, some aḥādiyth blatantly do that: Allah created the universe from the nuwr (light) of Muhammad, if he hadn’t created Muhammad Allah wouldn’t have created the universe (so Muhammad was alive before the universe?!?), even Adam bowed down upon hearing Muhammad’s name (the first man prostrated to his not-yet-existent descendant?!?), Muhammad declared he’s an Arab without the ‘ayn & Ahmad without the miym*!
* To understand this you have to be clued-up on the Arabic language. Arab is spelt ‘ayn-rā-bā; take off the ‘ayn and you’re left with rā-bā which means lord (one of the names of Allah). Aḥmad is a variant form of Muḥammad, spelt alif-ḥā-miym-dāl; take off the miym and you’re left with alif-ḥā-dāl which means one & only (another of Allah’s names). Blatant shirk, the only sin Allah doesn’t forgive.
- There are way too many questions that even scholars can’t be assed to give straight answers to, e.g. why are Muhammad & Ibrahim (Abraham) mentioned by name in the prayers? Why are so many details about Muhammad’s pre-prophethood life left unknown, like what religion he followed? Why is Allah invisible to us now but will become visible to the believers in Paradise after Judgment Day? What’s the point of Allah creating Jesus without a father when all Adam’s other descendants came about through sex? Do we have free will to disbelieve, or does Allah harden our hearts to make us disbelieve?
(And can any Muslim face these questions without saying “you’re thinking too much”, “these are whisperings of the Shayṭān”, “there are some things humans aren’t meant to know” or anything along those lines?)
- The aḥādiyth. If the Qur’an is Allah’s final and only complete revelation, why does it need extra texts to explain itself? Furthermore, there are various categories: ṣaḥiyḥ (authentic), ḥasan (good), ḍa’iyf (weak), mursal (rushed), mawḍuw’ (fabricated) and more, because the scholars who analysed them knew many were shit. However, they disagreed on what was and wasn’t authentic. That’s why Malik’s ḥadiyth collection is much shorter than al-Bukhari’s, because he was much more meticulous and cautious,
- Regarding scholars, most Muslims have created sects out of the ones they follow, but they call them madhāhib (schools of thought) – Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali and the resurrected Ẓāhiriy. Though they don’t wage war on doctrinal differences (as far as I know!), they maintain that all Muslims must follow a school. In my Muslim days I never followed a school so I got into regular arguments with other Muslims. We were supposed to be just Muslims and nothing else; did Muhammad belong to a madhhab? They claim, though, that only scholars are smart enough to analyse and understand the texts properly. Very Hindu mentality if you ask me, which I’ll cover in another post,
sectsschools of thought, as well as the Sunni/Shi’i split, goes against the Qur’ān’s clear prohibition on dividing the religion (3:103, 6:159, 30:31-32, 42:14). As if to be even more hypocritical, this split happened literally as soon as Muhammad died!!!
- Muslims are indirectly encouraged to shit on their own ethnic backgrounds. Metaphorically of course! Why? Because race doesn’t matter in Islam. Shaykh Khalid Yasin said it best when he said about Malcolm X:
Especially ignorant considering Khalid is a ‘black’ American man just like Malcolm X!
- The aḥādiyth unambiguously state that Muhammad married A’ishah when she was 6 and consummated the marriage when she was 9. That would make him a child rapist – assuming those reports are true!
- Muslims aren’t allowed to take credit for anything good they do. Scholars, imams and laypersons alike always say “any good that comes from me is from Allah, and any bad that comes from me is from me.” Helpful for those prone to arrogance, suicide-inducing for those prone to low self-esteem,
- Too many young Muslim women, with and without headscarves, are thoughtlessly copying Western fashions:
If you’re interested, see the Qur’ān in Arabic and English at http://www.quranexplorer.com/quran/.
Back to Part 2
On to Part 4