Tag Archives: Mary

The big news

This is going to be another personal post. A year and 3 months ago I made a life-altering decision, one that continues to affect me. To convey its significance, a bit of background:

My mother has been a devout Muslim my entire life, and of course that’s what I was born into. In case anyone’s curious, both my parents are ‘black’ Afro-Caribbean, not African, not south Asian, and especially not Arab.

Why especially not Arab? You wanna start somefing?

She doesn’t follow any sect like Sunni, Shi’i, etc. and neither have I, in accordance with the Qur’an’s direct command “Don’t divide the religion”. I prayed 5 times a day every day; fasted all 30 days in Ramadan; paid my 2.5% zakah; did jumma’ every Friday; read the whole Qur’an in Arabic and English (I’d memorised about 30 surahs + translations in my late teens); avoided ever being totally alone with a girl; agreed that cherry-picking what to believe in was a sin; sought marriage in my early 20s; never bared my chest or shoulders in public – not even in front of other guys; believed all sexual activity was sinful except between a husband & wife; agreed there should be no divide between religion and other aspects of life; and sincerely thought it was the best, most comprehensive and only uncorrupted religion.

But in mid-September 2013, something changed.

I’d always been introspective and stuff, but at that point I admitted that my piety could be a bad thing. There was no getting away from the fact that this level of devotion has made me worse off in certain ways, e.g. no experience with attracting girls (despite wanting to get married young!); unwillingness to acknowledge historical evidences in the religion (i.e. the ubiquitous tug-of-war of peace v. violence, political acquiescence v. revolution, tolerance v. intolerance of non-Muslims, enslavement v. emancipation, racism v. anti-racism, observance v. suppression of female rights, conservatism v. moderation v. laxity, monetary & sexual greed v. restriction, nationalism v. universalism); disconnect between myself and other people.

Ironically, though I felt non-Muslims couldn’t completely relate to me for reasons of belief, it was easier than relating to most other Muslims. I felt I couldn’t relate to Muslims around me simply because most of them were of south Asian background. They don’t even know Caribbean Muslims exist let alone try to get on with them! And as much as they don’t like to think so (especially Pakistanis) their cultures are founded on Hinduism, which in some respects they still practise, anti-Islamic as they may be.

HOW DARE YOU claim we are Hindu?!? Astagfirullah! By the merciful will of Allah we are Muslims, and we always have been Muslims, and we always will be Muslims, and may your takfiri ass burn in the lowest level of Hellfire, and…

Furthermore, most Muslims are too narrow-minded to deliberately explore subjects that contradict the Islamic paradigm, or even parts of the religion that scholars don’t discuss. Basic questions don’t get answered, or even asked, like:

  • What religion did Muhammad follow before Islam? To this day no Muslim knows or cares
  • Why is circumcision so common despite the Qur’an making no mention of it?
  • Why do some ahadiyth describe Muhammad as ‘black’ and others as ‘white’?
  • Why are many Muslims uncomfortable discussing sexual matters when Muhammad himself had no qualms? In 1 hadiyth a woman came up to him and asked if women can ejaculate, and he just said yes! Also, in the Qur’anic account of Jesus’s birth the angel – which had “the likeness of a man” – blew into Mary’s farj. Modern translations render farj as sleeve, but just check any online Arabic-English translator and it translates as vulva/ vagina!
  • What age was A’ishah when Muhammad married her? This is still hugely debated
  • Why’s it accepted that there were no female prophets despite Mary mother of Jesus being mentioned amongst a list of prophets in the Qur’an?
  • Why does the Qur’an directly tell believers to free enslaved people yet throughout all of Islamic history taking slaves (concubines & sex slaves too, not just prisoners of war) was standard?
  • Why should divine revelation be the criterion to judge & live life by when people disagree on what it says or means?

All in all, most Muslims have a romanticised understanding of Islam; back during the Islamic empire the world was much better off and would be again if we just returned to it. But this simply doesn’t agree with historical evidence or present-day reality.

In fact, when I told the big news to my mum I gave her this list of criticisms:

  • Islam doesn’t make sense to me. There are too many mythical and magical aspects of it, eg. Satan (where is he? If he’s so real, why can’t we see/ hear/ feel him?), jinn (what are they? How come we can’t see or hear or feel them? Is there a scientific explanation for them?), prophethood (why would God only send messages to certain people in certain time periods?), the ahadiyth (the isra & mi’raj – only make sense as a dream/ hallucination, the dajjal, al-Mahdi, the return of Jesus, all the signs of the day of judgment’s approach, the story about Muhammad going to heaven and asking Allah to reduce the prayers from 50 to 5, etc.), Islam’s status as the religion of the fitrah (bollocks. There’s no evidence of Islam as we know it existing before Muhammad’s time, or of being somehow innate in people’s natures), angels (despite my personal understanding of them as mere forces of nature, Islam sees them as living beings with wings and faculties that bear similarities to humans’. Where are they?). And there are so many questions I’ve had for years that no-one can answer, so I’ve had to find my own answers. The only answers that I’ve gained have come from using my own brain, not relying on Islamic sources or ‘knowledgeable’ people.
  • (update: now I realise that Allah was a tribal god, just like Yahweh was for the original Jews who happened to become universalised as the religion spread to other parts of the world. It’s true muslims changed polytheism to monotheism, setting up Allah as the ONLY god, but I’ve found no evidence that they had a different perception of who/ what Allah is. Ancient Semitic people saw him as basically a man, with hands, a face, shins, feet, eyes, etc. not as an intangible omnipresent ‘force’. How else would he supposedly have daughters?)
What daughters?
  •  It’s incompatible with what I understand and have experienced for myself. I used to believe patience and suppression of anger were virtues but I’ve experienced too many times to ignore how impatience and anger have helped me. I was led to believe Islam is the perfect religion and it has answers for all of life’s problems, so why have I had to look outside the religion for answers to my problems, whether deep emotional ones or mundane everyday ones? I always thought controlling my sexual desires was a virtue and felt guilty for looking at women and porn – even dating was haram, but if you don’t approach women how the raas are you meant to find one you like? Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what people call themselves, what matters is what they personally believe, want, prioritise and care about. All religions can be and have been used to justify anything and everything – war, peace, slavery, emancipation, racism, anti-racism, misogyny, sexual equality, etc. so what good are they by themselves without people to apply them?
  • It’s boring and inane. All the God-damn repetition of prayers, fasting, and all the du’as for every little thing we do is reminiscent of someone with OCD or something! All the little prohibitions are bullshit too, eg. not eating & drinking with the left hand (that one really pisses me off, and it only makes sense when you’re wiping your ass with your bare hand and have no guarantee of being able to wash it like back in those days), not praying dead on midday or sunset (wtf? Prayer is prayer any time of day!). How does any of that matter to everyday life? And there’s no let-up, no change, no room for new input, nothing!
  • Masajid are full of shit. I reckon they used to be good back in the days of Muhammad but now they’ve become places to pray and nothing else. And they’re run by old Pakistani & Bengali men, who are out of touch with this generation, this culture, who pass off their backwards cultures as Islam and usually don’t cater for women, the disabled or non-Asians. The ummah is also full of shit, what ummah is there really? When muslims in Africa are starving or being killed off, how many Asians bat an eyelid? How many Asians even know about Caribbean muslims?
  • I’ve outgrown it. Simple as.
  • (most important) It’s never helped me in anything I really cared about. It’s never helped me develop or even see the importance of self-confidence, it’s never helped me find what I really want to do in life, it’s never helped me make friends or take an active interest in the dunya, it’s been of absolutely no relevance in my recent successes in creativity. If it really were such a good religion it should’ve done all of that, but it hasn’t.

Now that I’ve looked into it with this new perspective, I understand Islam is a collection of man-made guidelines, opinions, tribal add-ons & superstitions – just like every other religion, philosophy or systematised belief. In an ethnic and historical context it’s an Arabised fusion of Judaism* (hence the appeal to clear laws, circumcision, distinctive behaviour & dress code and references to Old Testament figures) and Christianity* (hence the relative flexibility, ethnic inclusiveness and inordinate focus on Jesus).

* Remember that Christianity was originally a sect of Judaism diluted down to appease non-Jews, while Judaism was just another tribal faith that was spread around the world by the Jewish diaspora & foreigners invading Judea (Palestine), and both faiths were already spread to the nearby Arabian peninsula and adapted to local audiences.

By Arabised, I mean from the outset it was designed to appeal to a predominantly but not exclusively 7th century Arab audience; it’s in the Arabic language – the Qur’an was originally written in 7 different dialects, it speaks of deities that Arabs or their southwest Asian (“Semitic” or “Middle Eastern”) ancestors used to worship (Wadd, Suwa’, Yaguwth, Ya’uq, Nasr, Allah and his 3 daughters – al-Lat, al-‘Uzza & al-Manat), speaks of nations/ places that Arabs were familiar with (‘Ad, Thamuwd, Iram), and assumes listeners are already familiar with magic, angels & jinns, the Holy Spirit & “what your right hands possess” – which they would’ve been.

On a slight tangent, I also get the impression that Muhammad was seen as a good but somewhat weird guy back in his day before Islam. This is exemplified by the fact that he was generally a nice guy and easy to get on with; the typical 7th century Arab man was all about getting drunk, defending his honour & burying his newborn daughters alive. And he first married at 25 (which back then was fucking LATE!), to Khadijah, a 40-year-old widow who made more money than him! Most men nowadays would be gobsmacked at this! Then during Islam he became an active revolutionary, which made him an enemy to the state (Makkah) and his own tribe (Quraysh). There’s also a hadiyth which has Muhammad saying, “Islam began as something strange, and it will return to how it began – strange, so give good news to the strangers.” This suggests that Muhammad accepted his status as a weirdo by the standards of his day.

Though I admit I like those aspects of him, the possible paedophilia (if it’s true he married A’ishah when she was 6) stops me respecting him. Also, as good as Islam may have been back then, it’s irrelevant. People follow what they want and use aspects of a given religion to justify it, and when they get into positions of authority the reworked religion gets systematised and enforced on others as a new culture, for the benefit of some and the detriment of most. Hence the tug-of-war I mentioned above. That’s the state of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. in 2015.

Yes, Buddhism.

Back on topic. The big news is I’m not a Muslim anymore!!! I am a murtad, apostate, ex-Muslim, non-believer, a kafir if you will. However, I’m emphatically not atheist or agnostic. Definitive categories don’t work for me as my beliefs are fluid and dynamic, so brief descriptions of my current state of spirituality are in order:

  • 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!

Because of this change, I now have a working understanding of religious history, I relate to people better, I accept my quirks & faults, I no longer feel obliged to be patient with people or situations I don’t like, and I have a sexiness-incarnate dark-skinned GIRLFRIEND with whom I spent Christmas & New Year’s – and enjoyed every second of it! YAY!!!

Does Islam recognise female prophets?

This is an intriguing concept, at least because how one answers tends to reveal a lot about what one thinks of women in general. It also shows one’s level of knowledge (or lack thereof).


Among Muslims nowadays it’s generally accepted that there were no female prophets, prophetesses. This position prevails among both laypersons & scholars, open-minded & closed-minded alike. There are various reasons given for this, among them being: 

  • Women inherently lack the necessary psychological endurance/ focus/ stamina necessary to carry a message to the people. They’re more emotional & therefore less logical, 
  • Muslim women in history had other roles to fulfil, ie. motherhood & wifehood. They weren’t prophets but they were mothers & wives of prophets (which is damn good status so shut up & stop moaning!!!), and their unique physiological functions of pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation, etc. make them less physically capable of doing prophetic duties, 
  • Men are corporeally stronger & therefore more suited for the labour-intensive functions of prophethood, eg. leading people, debating with dissidents, travelling to only-God-knows-where, even preparing & leading armies,  
  • Women in Islam are forbidden from certain duties that would’ve been incumbent on prophets, such as meeting people in public & in private, 
  • Most if not all human societies have historically been very antagonistic toward women, seeing them as “the weaker sex”/ sex objects/ just generally inferior to men. If Allah had allowed women to send HIS message to the people under such conditions most simply wouldn’t have taken them seriously, and maybe even sexually assaulted them to make them stop preaching, 
  • There’s no evidence from Islamic texts (Qur-ān & aḥādiyth) that there were female prophets. 

And that’s it. 


Except that it’s not. Most people, even most Muslims, don’t know that the existence of prophetesses in Islam has always been up for debate. There has never been a unanimous consensus, especially not among scholars. There are and have been scholars who opine that Islam does accept the existence of female prophets. Some of the points to show this include: 

  • The general spirit of Islam, as well as the Qur-ān, doesn’t exclude the possibility. Admittedly there are some aḥādiyth that do, but their authenticity is under scrutiny, and the Qur-ān does explicitly mention that some women (ie. Moses’s mother Yuhanz, Jesus’s mother Mary, Abraham’s wife Sarah, and others) received revelation from Allah and/ or communicated with angels, 
  • Maryam (Mary, daughter of Imran, mother of Jesus) is named among a list of prophets in the Qur-ān. When I find the verse I’ll add it here, 
  • In the aḥādiyth it’s mentioned that there have been 124,000 prophets (this is debatable too; some say 224,000 but Allah knows for sure). The Qur-ān only names 25 so it’s almost ridiculous to think that absolutely none of the rest were women. 

However, among those who support this position it’s argued as to exactly how many & which women were prophets. Some say just Mary, while others include Sarah, Yuhanz, Asiya (the Pharaoh’s wife) & Eve (yes, the 1st woman, Adam’s wife Eve). Others include more.


The entire question of who in history was and wasn’t an Islamic prophet (who aren’t mentioned in the Qur-ān), male or female, isn’t set in stone. The Qur-ān very clearly states that all nations & peoples had at least 1 prophet at some point in their history. Some even reckon other figures like Siddartha Gautama (Buddha), Krishna, Rama, Confucius and others may have been prophets. Although we can’t prove they were, at the same time we can’t prove they weren’t.


I have a few further points to add. These are my personal gripes & opinions: 

  • Regarding the point about women being prophets’ mothers & wives, these seem to be the first and foremost roles Muslim women are praised for and judged by. When it comes to Muslim men, though, everything about them is highly valued except for their roles as husbands & fathers. Isn’t that a double standard? Do women have to be mothers & wives to gain importance? Don’t they have intrinsic value & personalities apart from that? 
  • On the same point, how does being a mother & wife impede the ability to perform prophetic duties? Most if not all male prophets were husbands & fathers (including the last and newest example for us to follow, Muhammad) yet they still juggled that with prophethood. 
  • Yes women are emotional and men are logical. What does this prove? Men are emotional and women are logical too! It’s a very common misconception that emotion & reason/ logic are enemies*. Not only are they intimately interrelated, it can be argued that emotion is the root of logic & reason! And when it’s said women are more emotional, what emotions are being referred to – love, anger, excitement, grief, calmness, what? Can it be objectively proven that women experience any/ all of these to a greater degree than men? 

* as is the other underlying assumption: that feelings can’t be controlled therefore being more emotional means having less self-discipline.

  • Regarding the people’s reaction to a woman as a prophet, this doesn’t seem significantly different from male prophets. They typically were ridiculed, disbelieved, abused, hated, accused of being mad/ liars, etc. What would’ve made that risk acceptable for men and not for women? 
  • On the same point, if women weren’t taken seriously in history, shouldn’t their message win people over in some way or another the same way it did from men? Wouldn’t it disprove the myth of women as weaker & inferior? As for those who argue prophetesses didn’t exist, your reasoning perpetuates the myth BUT what makes it worse in your case is when you say Islam respects & honours women you simultaneously expect people to believe you! Yes the religion values women as men’s equals but you, supposed promoters of the faith, don’t! Huh? 
  • Why don’t contemporary scholars make this belief in prophetesses well-known? Back in history this opinion, while not mainstream, wasn’t taboo, hidden or denied as it is today. It used to be just accepted that some people believed it, and those who disagreed didn’t consider them apostates or blasphemers. The problem now is that many Muslims come from nations who’ve had highly misogynistic cultures in their pre-Islamic past (eg. south Asians – Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indians; and Arabs & Middle Easterners in general), and not all of them gave that up wholesale. Worse, many of them are now in positions to influence whole swathes & nations of Muslims all over the world so their opinions get spread… and others sidelined, even extirpated. Non-belief in prophetesses is one such case.