mal’s Weblog

{March 11, 2013}   Islam for Atheists, Logically

faith & reasonI was quite the late adopter of social media, especially twitter, (and have yet to explore several more platforms such as pinterest, Reddit, you name it). So it was only natural for me to discover a handful of things quite late. One of these things that I came across was twitter accounts with bio’s that for some reason proudly claimed they were ex-Muslims and now Atheists. This actually came as a shock to me, because I had heard of atheism, and had not yet gotten over the fact that there are people who don’t believe in the concept of a god, any god, and here was something even closer to me, Muslims/Islam, slapping my brain with an ‘ex’. I just could not comprehend this latest find.

So here is the post I promised last week – a post that addresses especially those atheists who look down upon others who exercise their choice and right to practice religion (whichever religion for that matter), and those twitterati who proudly claim to ex-Muslim-now-Atheists, because these idiots have nothing to be ‘proud’ of, and for all their harping on about logic and science, don’t make an ounce of sense to me.

Here’s to calling on their BS.

The simple reason for my shock at such a find: I do not for one second believe, or let me rephrase for the benefit of those who would prefer & understand if I use the terms logic and science and numbers and proof, I do not for one second find myself convinced that anyone who calls themselves an ex-Muslim converting straight to atheism, would actually be so illogical as to ever even consider this option, let alone to go ahead and exercise it, after having been a Muslim. It only highlights the fact that they were not proper Muslims to begin with. And this is simply because in my 26 years of having been born a Muslim, having been taught Islam, having studied & observed this religion, and having lived Islam, I am convinced without bias that more than religion, Islam is a way of life, and the perfect or at least the best way of life at that.

There will be those who claim that I am biased because I was born a Muslim, or that I was raised a Muslim. To those I would just like to point out that logically speaking, I am well aware of my choice & ability to exercise that choice of not practicing what is ‘forced down my throat’ or what I was born as. I would also like to point out here that for your information, there have been times when I have realized that I would probably have been a better Muslim had I not been born a Muslim to begin with, because then I would not have taken my religion of birth for granted. And I would also like to point out that just because I was born and raised a Muslim does not mean I am an exemplary perfection of what a Muslim should be, because I am not – I miss my prayers / namazain (pl), I don’t read the Quran regularly, I can’t always practice what Islam preaches (such as controlling anger or being gentle and kind to all) because I am human after all, etc etc.

But the point remains that I am convinced that Islam is a way of life more than just a religion. And the perfect way of life at that. Or at least the best. And I can say it is the best despite having experienced all other religions (an argument by Islam-haters / ex-Muslims) because I have lived it, and never felt the need to try any other religion. Why would I look elsewhere when satisfied with the current? Do not give me the crap about having checked all before settling down with one because if your girlfriend/boyfriend/potential-partner asked you to wait for him/her to check everyone out before choosing one (you or anyone else), you’d be outraged.
And the same logic applies here, even more so, in the case of religion.
You choose one, and if it doesn’t work for you at all, ever, then you move on to the next possibility. And so far, I have found no reason to leave Islam.
I find this religion to be perfectly in line with my natural human life’s needs & course.

Speaking according to the logic of these atheists & science lovers etc, someone who believes in science and science alone should not simply believe what scientists of the past said centuries ago but rather, should do all those experiments and research themselves too. If they can believe the work of others, so can I – (notice the irony here? non believers ‘believe’). And I believe the work and experiments and words and way of life of those who practiced Islam centuries ago before me. They wrote books, they noted down the holy word and passed it on generation by generation.

Faith, a concept readily ridiculed by those who arrogantly believe in science & logic alone or with maximum weightage, is nothing but the patience to believe something someone else claims (without making the same mistakes or spending the same resources over again, without reinventing the cycle) because you trust their experience before you. And faith is most certainly not blind belief. And I can vouch for this because I questioned, and I have never been without answer.

I questioned why I needed to pray 5 times a day – and I found the answer in the following points:
– because it is best for my body and soul in so many ways – it makes me take a natural break during my day that energizes me by refreshing the blood flow in my body, calms me down, it reminds me not to be angry or frustrated due to school/office work; allows me to do much more than the equivalent of ‘take a deep breath, think, step back, restart, exercise your body & posture’ that people try to tell office going workers in order to minimize the effects of the wear & tear of the body that comes from sitting in harmful posture for extended periods of time
– because it sounds like an order for no good reason, but it is an instruction because god knows better about us, as our Creator, and this is part of the manual he gave us for our own better functioning, otherwise we will wear and tear faster & worse, so following this order is actually for our own good (just like when a parent orders a child about something and the child has to have faith that the parent knows better). —> I once had a young cousin who, when he was 3 or 4 years old, wanted to get away from me doting on him. I wanted to crush him with my hugs and he wanted to get away so he tried to, but I was holding on to his hands, so I told him, “Ok ok I’ll let you go, but stop resisting because if I let you go now you will fall back, you stop resisting and then I promise I will let go of your hands, so that you don’t fall back,” (obviously I said it in Urdu and in a shorter sentence – “Acha ruko ruko, main chhorti hoon lekin pehle aap ruko, warna gir jao gay”) and he listened, and I let him go, and he did not fall. And what’s more, in the future he then started believing me / listening to me even more when I said something. And that tiny experience made/makes me realize that things work in exactly the same way with god – he says no/wait and gives you better/best, he orders for your own good, and when you follow what sound like His “orders” and “directives”, you slowly start to see a pattern that benefits no one but yourself.
– because it gives me the benefits of things like yoga, for example, plus the sawab too, sawab that nothing else can provide me. —> An atheist/exMuslim acquaintance once tried to challenge me about namaz when I tried to tell him that praying 5 times a day is beneficial for our own good because you clean yourself 5 times a day, you exercise 5 times a day, you get that much needed break 5 times a day, and you get the same and even greater benefits than doing yoga etc because in namaz you touch your body in exactly the same or perhaps better way as 8 parts of your body touch the ground for earthing like yoga emphasizes. Very conveniently, he chose to ignore the first 3 points, started his argument/challenge from the last point, and pointed out that there is a hindu/buddhist way of touching the body’s 8 parts on the ground in the same manner. He thus missed the whole point – that with namaz you get a way more complete package plus the benefit of sawab – why wouldn’t one go for the maximum benefit, and settle for a similar procedure that gives lesser return? Sounds logical? Thought so 🙂

I have practiced, seen the pattern of benefit to myself & society, and never needed to explore elsewhere, Islam has not disappointed me yet.

Then, I questioned the need to fast. Fasting in the month of Ramzan seems like torture, so I questioned it. I first read about it in Islamiyat books and saw the benefits pointed out. Initially I used to fast because I was scared of gunah and I knew my parents would have the upper hand if they wanted to penalize me for not fasting etc. But after the age of 9 or 10, when I could easily pretend-fast, I started getting lazy. Thanks to my god who acts like my conscience from closer to my jugular vein, the guilt made me ‘suffer’ honestly through it nonetheless. I forced myself to fast during the entire month, trying never to miss any fast even when I got anemic later in life, because until the time in life that I got anemic (due to my overall unhealthy eating and sleeping and overworking lifestyle the rest of the year), I saw how it always helped me – it helped me come back to a healthy weight, it helped me realize that I used to get thirsty so the 3-4 months after Ramzan I used to maintain a healthy daily intake of water, ensuring that I prayed 5 times a day made me realize that with food intake during non-Ramzan days, this ‘exercise’ will build the stamina I cry about having lost over the years. Fasting helped me correct my digestive system, it helped me sleep better, it helped me maintain a routine which in turn helped my own body and peace of mind. And thus my productivity in worldly matters. And thus my success/achievement rate. And thus my self-esteem and further motivation. You see the cycle?

Then, I questioned why man is given more authority over woman, and I was only in class 8 when I realized the following:
1. That it is only authority that God has assigned more to man, as compared to woman.
2. God made us as 2: man, and woman (countering arguments preemptively: biologically different people who make up the 3rd ‘gender’ are equatable to biologically incomplete humans who are born without limbs or senses, so let’s just focus on the point here). If he had made both of them (man & woman, that is) absolutely equal and strong, there would have been absolutely no room for interdependence and coexistence and there would have been constant struggle for power between the two. If he had made both of them absolutely weak (which is equal again), neither would have been able to help the self or the other, and both kinds of the species would have simply died out. So he made both of them equitably interdependent. He made both man and woman strong in different areas so they would manage life on the basis of team work. Sounds logical? Thought so.

There is so much more I have questioned, and I have always found an answer, whether immediately, or in time (which in turn helped me build sabr, i.e. patience).
And I have questioned why I don’t always have answers – and I find the answer in the fact that humans can only hear and see a limited portion of the environment they live in, and when someone can hear and see such limited part of an entirety, they can most certainly be denied the comprehension of something that huge.

A friend of mine once explained it beautifully, with absolute logical sense: the thing with Islam (or for sake of argument, any religion that promises a hereafter and the concept of heaven and hell), is that if you follow it and it turns out that it was all true, you will be prepared to receive & enjoy your return on investment, and if you follow it and it turns out that there’s nothing after death, you have nothing to lose (no, not even the pleasures of sin you give up in this life because there’s no proof or reason to believe that you will be able to recall the life before death or regret the things you did not try).

If you can follow the guidelines given to you during your school or during your google search on Time Management, Conflict Management, Negotiation tips, Anger Management, Sleep Management, and so on, how illogical and stupid of you to have a manual on your entire life (the Quran), and not read it and follow it and trust its wisdom that is as old as 28-30 times your modern day human’s average life span.

There indeed are signs (hints, intuitive clues nudging in the right direction, just like in a math problem or science question) for those who believe.

PS. Another of the several things ‘ordered’/’guided’/’prophesized’ centuries ago that are now being scientifically confirmed: The Holy Prophet said it is better to chew your food 32 times before swallowing, and now science too is proving that 32 times is on average the ideal time it takes to turn a mouthful/bite into the perfect ball of mucus that your esophagus can then process with ease, while at the same time extracting the right amount of energy (protien etc etc) from it absorbing it into the bloodstream perfectly.

Another example from the perfect life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and why it is ‘perfect’ or at least without flaw & better for human nature: miswaak (tree bark stick) was used by the prophet for brushing his teeth, and you know how that is better than the modern day toothbrush? A toothbrush (be it soft, hard, and despite the claimed wear & tear which requires you to change your tooth brush every 3 months (hint: marketing gimmick in favor of business sales)) scrubs off the tooth layer by layer, while a miswaak scrubs off only the stuff off the surface of the tooth, only dying away itself in the process, without hurting the tooth. Try it.

PPS. Will add a few more soon.

what say you?

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