Tag Archives: faith

The Big 6 and their undue influence…?

What are The Big 6?

That’s my title for the six religions pretty much everyone has heard of all over the world: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism & Sikhism. They encompass a stupidly wide range of beliefs, opinions, practices and historical development paths.

However, I recently noticed something. Despite their differences of original language, beliefs, number of gods,  etc. there’s one thing they all have in common. With one arguable exception, they all originated from Asia!

Really?

Yep. Hinduism, Buddhism & Sikhism all originated in India – SOUTH ASIA.

Christianity was drafted in Judea (Palestine) – SOUTHWEST ASIA. Islam was created in Arabia – SOUTHWEST ASIA. Judaism started in Canaan (Palestine) – SOUTHWEST ASIA, although the Torah never lets Jews forget “their” enslavement in Egypt (NORTH AFRICA) and their dispersion around the world, hence why I call it the arguable exception.

Why is this significant?

Is it significant that Judaism, Christianity & Islam’s original languages fall under the Afro-Asiatic family, while the others’ fall under the Indo-“European” family?

Honestly I don’t know. This post is an invitation to discuss & debate the matter. How important is a religion’s geographic origin? Why are Asian religions so predominant in the world, especially Christianity & Islam? Does it matter at all, as long as their teachings are valid?

Reply below…

Theological Musings part 2 – Post-apostasy

…Then I stopped being Muslim.

No wait, not yet I didn’t! I had certain experiences that caused me to re-examine my understanding of spiritual matters. One of the most prominent was one that I still remember to this day:

I was going home from school, walking past Pymmes Park when I looked up at the sky. For a split second I saw a face. The face was a woman’s, literally black skinned, bald, and smiling at me. She didn’t look like anyone I knew at the time.

(and admittedly she was hot! LOL)

Just the face, just the face, just the face, just the face…

Then I ignored it and carried on walking. It was just a figment of my imagination… except it was unbidden. I hadn’t been thinking about women beforehand, I just looked up and saw it as easily as I would’ve seen a cloud had any been there. For years I didn’t think about it again.

Another experience was a bit more recognisable to other people. Years before the one above, I was walking home from school (again) and it was snowing. It had been snowing for a fair few hours so the snow had settled. When I turned onto my road I looked at the settled snow and WHOA! The road was covered in a few inches of snow, and it was completely undisturbed! No footprints, no tyre tracks, no fallen leaves or branches, no other people or animals around, nothing! And it was still snowing so It was beautiful, and I was suddenly really happy!

Some time after that, round about the age of 16, I’d finally worked out the secret to happiness: don’t express strong emotions! In my head (and on paper) I’d grouped emotions into good and bad. Good ones were Calm, Joy & Love; bad ones were Anger, Fear & Grief. I’d found a website (radically reworked from when I first saw it) that explained Islam in a new way, a way that incorporated scientific understanding and I loved it! It only relied on the Qur’ān for guidance not the ahādiyth (nowadays known as the Qur’āniyyah or Qur’ān-alone movement*). I’d heard of and read works from Adnan Oktar (pen name: Harun Yahya), Tariq Ramadan, Khalid Yasin and others, but this website was really clear.

Islam really was the truth after all!

Allahu akbar!

You’d think other Muslims would be all good with that but HELL NO! There are tons of detractors calling them Satanic, innovators, anti-sunnah, etc. Even following the Islamic line of thought that was backward thinking; so the ahādiyth (which were made up from the minds of men) are as essential to Islam as the Qur’ān (the “direct words of Allah Himself”)? Did Muhammad rely on al-Bukhari, at-Tirmidhi, Muslim or al-Muwatta to explain the revelation, or did he forbid his followers from writing anything from him except the Qur’an? Relying on ahādiyth seems like borderline shirk to me. 

Astagfirullah wa a’uwdhu billah wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā billah!

In my early 20s I also read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I used it as a guide for my creativity, because like most creatives I’d been stifled, convinced that writing could only ever be a hobby at best. This book taught me to not just indulge in my creativity, but to see it as a way of life and source of energy that would guide me to whatever I wanted in life. Basically the Law of Attraction, but with real-life examples and techniques I could actually use in my ordinary life.

And I’d had many other such experiences, both entrenched in and independent of Islamic influence. Mostly they involved visions, visualisations, dreams (that made bloody sense to me for once!) and new life experiences.

Suffice it to say, the most defining one so far is my choice to apostatise. That came about through looking back on my life up to that point (mid-September 2013, 1 year & 10 months ago now) and realising that ultimately Islam didn’t help me. It held me back in areas of my life that would’ve made me a better person, and other reasons in the link below.

What do I think of spiritual stuff now? This is what I said in The Big News:

  • Monotheistic, still deciding what to call ‘God’ (Allah, Yahweh & God all have an anthropomorphic slant, but I believe It is not human or like any biological organism, and is definitely not male or female)
  • Trusting of emotions as well as rationality, subjectivity and objectivity
  • Understanding the importance of self-esteem, sense of purpose and following my desires
  • Trusting of my real-time experiences over pronouncements of ancient books
  • Prioritising external material blessings over internal spiritual ones (not because I think it’s more important, but because I’ve been brought up to do the reverse so much I’m trying to balance it out)
  • Situationist, fallible & liable to change without notice (which is a good thing; change is the foundation of reality. People who refuse to change refuse to improve, and people who refuse to improve are fucked)
  • No longer feel guilty about swearing!

Update:

  • I’ve decided what to call ‘God’. I call it Divinity or The Divinity – I know you can translate Allah this way but let me explain. Allah is contracted from al-ilāh, and ilah means god/ divinity. However, ilāh is specifically male/ masculine so al-ilāh (Allah) is referring to a male. How do I know this? Because it has a feminine/ female form – ilāhah. Remember Arabic has no neuter pronoun, so linguistically a deity has to be either male or female. However the word divinity is neuter; it can refer to a female, male or sexless being,
  • Regarding the word god, it is usually used in reference to a humanoid being. In fact, if you look at mythologies all over the world that describe gods & goddesses, you’d swear they were talking about normal humans most of the time! They have parents, siblings and children; use weapons & tools; live in physical places; eat, drink & shag (especially Zeus); and even own pets and slaves! So now when I hear the word god or God I think of that,
You have a problem with my sexual escapades, mortal? Come talk to my lightning bolts!
  • More than ever now I understand that physical and spiritual happiness cannot exist independently. They could very well be the same thing,
  • There’s no difference between mind, soul, spirit or psyche. They are all different names for exactly the same thing. I’d come to this conclusion ages ago but forgot to mention it on this blog,
  • Destiny/ fate is not just Divinity’s creation, we humans (I’d argue all living things) co-create it both for ourselves and for others. It’s true that we are largely responsible for our lives (karma, law of attraction, whatever) but not completely. Situations outside our control (aka. accidents) happen, and we are influenced by family/ friends/ environment/ culture, but it’s still within our control to change them. The more we practise manipulating our destinies by large-scale actions, the more luck we create for and attract to ourselves. Again I understood this years ago but forgot to mention it here,
  • Angels and devils are nothing but figments of our imagination, HOWEVER this doesn’t make them non-existent. For some weird reason it makes sense to think of there being other spirits among/ within us, since the soul behaves like different beings at times. Devils are often scapegoats we use to avoid admitting we are evil at times. However, I like the Jewish understanding of Satan: he’s NOT the cause of evil, he’s doing what Yahweh told him to do – tempt us away from good. But it’s totally on our heads if we obey ’cause it was our job to fail! There’s a website which gives intriguing info on the history of spiritual beings but…

Oh wait, now I remember: angelsghosts.com.

  • Before I believed sex was unnecessary for individual survival, only necessary for procreation. When doing it, though, it’s still important to make it pleasurable – especially for the woman since we men have done so much psychological damage to them. And the concept of spiritual sexuality always appealed to me. Now I see sexuality as a fundamental function of the soul even from before birth. Why? I don’t know, but it gives us energy, sharper senses, greater awareness of the immediate surroundings, greater impetus to think for ourselves, and PLEASURE!!! Also, whereas I used to think all sex outside of heterosexual marriage was wrong, I now think any sex is good as long as it’s between consenting adults (or coevals in the case of adolescents) who care about giving pleasure to the other party. Oh, and no STIs,
  • In fact, now I believe that sexual pleasure is MUCH more important than procreation. A happy sex life makes a better example for children to follow when they grow up. And yes, children should be taught about sex young. Even Islam isn’t that prudish (even if muslims are). The argument that it’ll make them want to do it more is crap; I knew about sex since I was 8 but lost my virginity at 25. If children are taught how it works when young they won’t have to rely on porn for guidance, and if taught properly they’ll know how to avoid inflicting pain, unnecessary hurt feelings, unwanted pregnancies, STIs, etc,
  • My stance on emotions is totally inverted. Now I think strong emotions that generate action are generally better than weak ones that inhibit action. I’ve reclassified Anger as good and Calm as bad. As I said in The Big News, I also believe “patience is not a virtue” and “good things come to those who don’t wait”. In fact, with my girlfriend I use a new stock phrase – “the power of impatience”!
  • We humans share a lot more in common with animals than we like to think. In fact, we are just another species of animal. We have bodies as they do, and we have souls AS THEY DO (note: animal comes from anima/ animus, Latin for soul!),
  • Strangely, despite the stereotype it seems humans are the most sex-crazed animals on Earth! As far as I know we’re the only animals whose sexual urges aren’t limited by time of year or availability of partners. We’re always at it and always thinking about it,
I dunno Tawny, I kinda like the stereotype…
PHUT PHUT PHUT PHUT… wait, what?
  • I no longer feel obligated to respect any religion. In fact, I kinda see it as important to challenge people’s religiosity otherwise they typically don’t learn. Ironically, since quitting Islam I have become more interested in religious history!
  • Still situationist, fallible & liable to change without notice.

(In case you’re wondering about the featured image of the dark-skinned Indian woman, that’s to symbolise my shift in focus from the spiritual/ conceptual to the physical.)

List of Influential Books

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In accordance with my predominantly scholarly role*, I’m making a list of the sources of my information in my life. This is a list of some of the books I either have read or am reading, in no particular order. If I’ve listed any of the ISBN codes as 10 digit numbers, the full code is always preceded by 978 unless stated otherwise:

Continue reading List of Influential Books

Discussion with a muslim

This post is inspired by an incident last night (7/4/2015).

My gf and I were in central London and we passed by a masjid (mosque), the London Central Mosque Trust Ltd. and the Islamic Cultural Centre to be exact. Coming from a Christian background, she had never been in a masjid before and it sparked her curiosity. If she wanted to see inside this was a perfect chance. So we went in and watched the prayer – from the time of day it would’ve been ‘ishā.

As we neared the prayer room, standing in the part where they keep their shoes, one of the guys – an elderly guy of what I presume is Nafrican background – started telling us to separate! In a “holy place” a couple holding hands is indecent. My gf pointed out there was a ‘white’ couple almost right beside us. I think the ‘white’ guy was muslim explaining the prayers to the woman. Though they weren’t touching (as far as I could see) they were well within touching distance of each other, and the Nafrican guy didn’t even look at them. So I asked why he was telling us to separate and not them, and he carried on with his “holy place” rant. Then he tried to make me step back because I had my shoes on, even though we weren’t standing in the prayer room itself.

A security guard came and intervened, telling the guy to calm down – but agreed that our behaviour was indecent. He explained that what we were doing was private and children’s minds are pure.

Shouldn’t this be impure/ indecent/ private too? Even if they’re not gay and this is just an Arab custom, why would man-man or woman-woman contact in public be OK but woman-man contact isn’t?

He (the security guard) then asked if I’d want my children to see people snogging in the streets, totally ignoring the fact we were just holding hands. As I got exasperated I said “Listen, I used to be a muslim so I know all these conditions.” That REALLY got the ball rolling; “You used to be a muslim?” That evolved into a new discussion:

  • First he didn’t believe me, which is no surprise. It’s no exaggeration that most Muslims don’t know that ex-muslims exist!
  • He assumed I’d been ignorant of the religion and proceeded to tell me what Islam is,
  • I showed him that not only was I not ignorant but more knowledgeable than him (I told him a Qur’anic verse about abrogation that he didn’t know*) and challenged him to show me a single verse that gave believers permission to stand up to verbal abuse and bullying – which he couldn’t. Back when I was reading the whole Qur’an I never found it; the closest was just giving the oppressed the right to armed resistance against physical violence,
  • He got scared and admitted he’s not a shaykh or scholar (do you have to be to know your own faith?), then referred me to the masjid’s shaykh.
* Suwrah 2 verse 106: “What we abrogate from a sign or cause to be forgotten, we give better or similar. Don’t you know that indeed Allah has power over everything?” Abrogate = cancel out, so Google’s translation of duplication/ reproduction makes no sense

And the shaykh had just gone home.

The best the security guard could do was tell me to come back during one of their talks on Saturdays & Sundays, and bring my gf if she wanted to come too. That way I could have my questions answered – which I never asked for since most of my questions about Islam have been answered, just by using my own brain and searching for myself. We refused the offer as we were just passing through the area for the day.

Oh well, at least she got to see the inside of a masjid – a rare chance since most masajid in London don’t let women in at all.