Muslims either Reform or become Extinct
1 January 2015
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“Do not adhere to what you have no knowledge of. For the hearing, eyesight, and mind, all these are held responsible for that.” (Quran 17:36)
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
“The messenger will say, ‘My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran.’ (Quran 25:30)
November 7, 2014. Somehow, he was able to find my phone number and contacted me during one of my European lecture tours. I was at Hotel Terminal, Köln. His voice was urgent. He insisted to meet me in person at the hotel. As someone who frequently receives death threats, after a few moments of hesitation, I accepted to meet him. He was a young Turkish expatriate who just wanted to thank me face-to-face and share his story. He showed me a picture he received from his friend via Facebook. His friend’s hand was holding a hand grenade. His best friend’s message to him from Syria: “You deserve this.” He had split feelings, a trilemma. Thankful to me for saving him from leaving his family to join ISIS militants in Syria, and at the same time was sad for losing his best friend, and fearful for the lives of both his friend and his own. My books in various languages, articles, lectures, especially youtube videos have been very effective in changing the hearts and minds of thousands of potential and actual members of radical Sunni and Shiite groups. He was one of them.
Recently, 2 million pilgrims in Mecca circumambulated around the historic Cube-Stone building dressed in black silk embroidered with 120kg of gold and 25kg of silver threads. They then competed with each other to kiss the Black-Stone encased in an oval-shaped silver frame. Finally, they walked from Mina to purchase pre-packed bags of small stones in order to stone the Devil-Stone where he/she/it waits to be stoned. Stoned with silly holy stories, obsessed with stones, every year pilgrims kill each other in stampede, ending up with hundreds, and occasionally thousands dead. This year, the number exceeded a thousand dead, perhaps several thousands. Where is the real devil? Where is the metaphoric stone?
In the last few years, in Iraq and Syria, we saw ISIS militants shooting and beheading people, burying women alive in black sacks, even literally enslaving some; always accompanied with the cry of Allah-u Akbar. They competed with the Catholic Church in breaking the torture record. In Nigeria we saw Boko Haram competing with ISIS in committing atrocities. They made Mullahs of Iran, Talibans of Afghanistan and al-Qaida of anywhere to appear civilized. They all showed off their common denominator; they stoned several women to death in accordance to the Sharia Law. Farkhunda Malikzada, a reformist muslim heretic, was one of their victims. All in the name of Islam! What is real islam? Where can one find the real islam?
These were the actions and practices, but they were matched by the ideas produced in theological and intellectual arena. Religious scholars of both Sunni and Shiite religions competed with each other to come up with the most stupid and appalling religious fatwas. Saudi Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari repeated the fatwa of late top Saudi Cleric, the blind Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ben Baz who declared the earth to be stationary, and threatened those who reject his hadith-based fatwa with death penalty (His book on this topic was published by the University of Medina in 1975, six years after Americans landed on the Moon). This was from bearded Sunni-Salafists.
But, the modern-looking and soft-talking Sunni-Hanafi clerics did not come short. The Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who controls billions of dollars of The Gulen Movement cult, produced numerous top-quality nonsense, including his discovery of Jesus’ mysterious father: according to Gülen, Jesus’ father was no more than Muhammad, the last prophet. Another very popular Sufi cleric, Cübbeli Ahmet, whose most important mission has been growing beards on men’s face, and burying women in black sacks, claimed, on a very popular Turkish TV program, that Muhammad’s followers loved him so much that they were drinking his urine for cure. While talking about the miracle in Muhammad’s shit and urine, Cübbeli’s face was straight, and the popular TV host too went along with him. Another very popular preacher named Nihat Hatipoğlu too has been re-discovering the treasures of religious nonsense for the millions of Turkish people affixed to his top rating TV programs. For example, once Hatipoğlu talked about a “saint” named Sülemi, who supposedly did not look at the sky for 40 years because of his respect to God, and one day he breaks this admirable inactivity of his cervical vertebra. Lo and behold! He breaks his neck too and dies afterwards. Of course, not from calcification of his neck, but from divine retribution!
The list of such novel ideas and stories is too long. For instance, declaring jihad against lizards and the virtue of killing more lizards with fewer hits (which is an authentic hadith); or the miracle of the holy hungry goat that ate the verse about the stoning-to death after Muhammad’s death; or the “great news” for women: raping a women would not nullify her fasting; or marketing holly coffins that protect the dead from torture in the grave, which is exclusively caused by nothing other than molecules of urine in one’s pants. Hundreds of such holy nonsense are produced by the most popular religious leaders around the so-called Islamic world, and I am sure, they can compete globally and win the top Ig Noble Prize, every year.
Let me just give you a few examples how the Sunni and Shiite scholars worked hard to distort the message of the Quran, beyond recognition. None of the following practices and beliefs can be found in the Quran: Veil for women; Killing heretics, apostates; Stoning the adulterers to death; Slavery; Smiting the necks of captives; Forcing people to pray; Imposing morality (which is the same as imposing hypocrisy); Worshipping stones; Asking help from shrines or dead sains; Following clergymen or scholars blindly; Believing extra-ordinary stories without extra-ordinary evidences; Punishing those who mock their religion or insult Muhammad; Declaring wars to promote religion; Taxation based on religion (jizya); Prohibiting music, drawing picture or making sculptures; Beating women; Establishing sultanate; And hundreds of more laws, prohibitions, rules, and thousands of frivolous rituals…
I have written more than 30 books in Turkish and English on religion, philosophy, politics and law. But the most important ones are the two translations: I have translated the Quran into both Turkish and English languages. As I have demonstrated in my books, especially in the introduction and endnotes of Quran: a Reformist Translation, if Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were back today, Jews would condemn the first as Anti-Semite, Christians would denounce the second as Anti-Christ, and Muslims would revile the third as the Dajjal, the imposter. Most of what you know about “Islam” (Peacemaking) has nothing to do with the rational, liberating, progressive and peaceful system delivered by Muhammad, which is no different than the original message delivered by all messengers. They all delivered the message of peacefully surrendering to the Truth, to the Just, to the Loving, to the Peaceful, to Compassionate God to establish peace among humans.
In short, the so-called two billion muslim ummah is sick, very sick. We are intoxicated with religious and historic lies, which are 175° proof. We are terribly afflicted with endemic polytheism, ignorance, violence, oppression, pseudoscience, superstitions, misogyny, intolerance, racism, jingoism, economic inequality, poverty, nepotism, corruption, tyranny, delusion, logical fallacies, hypocrisy…. Find all the bad words from a dictionary and we have plenty of all those in our homes, mosques, streets, and governments… Mosques, madrasas, schools, streets and homes continuously produce sick people. Individualism, critical and creative thinking and self-confidence is killed in early age by fathers, teachers, and religious leaders whose role models are authoritative, cruel, bigoted and psychopathic historic characters.
The end is near; either we will become extinct like Neanderthals or we reform ourselves. How? By becoming critical thinkers and questioning the dogmas that have turned us into zombies, barbarians, and the clowns of the world. We can no more afford of doing nothing but blaming the Western world, which might be foolishly enjoying our demise.
*Edip Yüksel, J.D. is a Kurdish/Turkish/American author residing in Arizona. He teaches philosophy and promotes Islamic reform. His website is 19.org