05 May 2008

Hounding Mahound

While I was enjoying a cup of shai outside the Sultan’s palace in Seiyun, Yemen, someone gave me a small book—actually, the book just appeared in front of me, so perhaps this was a case of divine intervention. The book in question was “The Religion of Truth” by Abdul Rahman Ben Hammad Al-Omar. I love Muslim names, by the way. They’re more like little family histories than names. If I ever convert, I’m going to pick a really cool one that goes on forever, like Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Sharif Al-Islam bin Hamid Aziz Ali Al-Omar bin Akbar bin Yosef bin Ismail Al-Sheik (“Shakes” for short). Anyway, “The Religion of Truth” is an Islam primer for unbelievers like myself (how did they know?) printed by the ultra-conservative Wahabis in Saudi Arabia. I read it on the plane from Sana’a to Sharjah, where, at an airport Costa Coffee, I abandoned it.

Those of you who frequent my society are no doubt familiar with my pitiless, uncharitable contempt for most forms of religion and spirituality. Given this profound and no doubt excessively intolerant prejudice, you might normally expect me to eviscerate the more sincerely idiotic passages from a book such as this, subjecting them to a biting, narcissistically cynical scorn that, while amusing to myself and a few others, is nonetheless unoriginal, offensive, and rather cowardly insofar as my victims are unable to respond to my vituperations. Friends, if these are truly your expectations, I should not like to fail meeting them, and so this is exactly what I am going to do.

Please note that I am not attacking Islam itself in this case, however much I may regard it, like (to be fair) every other, as a stupid religion with ridiculous premises, but only Mr. Al-Omar’s book, which is certainly one of the blatantly dumbest works of proselytizing literature I’ve ever encountered and would be more likely to send me rushing into the arms of the Mormons than to induce me to start wearing gowns and stoning my wives were I susceptible to proselytizing in the first place. That said, I’ll never forgive the Muslims for stealing Cat Stevens away from us.

“One of the most demonstrative and logical evidences which prove that the Quran is the revelation of Allah to His Messenger Muhammed is the fact that Allah had challenged the unbelievers of Qurayesh to produce a book like the Quran.”

And they couldn’t do it! But other than being asinine (the language of the King James Bible is quite beautiful, too, though it was only produced by human beings), isn’t this argument circular? The Quran is true because nobody in Qurayesh (and they were clever fellows) could write a Quran? I suppose that isn’t as circular as most of the Omar’s arguments, which are usually something like “The Quran is true because Mohammed said it was, and Mohammed spoke the truth because the Quran says he did” or, more laconically, “According to the Quran, the Quran is the truth.” But it’s still pretty stupid. And so is this notion that God only speaks Arabic. Abdul, if you’re going to win converts in the skeptical West, you’re going to have to come up with better “demonstrative and logical evidences” than these. I’d stick with IEDs if I were you.

That was just a warm-up.

“People, by their natural and innate character, believe that they came to existence by the creation and sustenance of a Creator. Allah is the Creator and Sustainer of all creatures. Whoever denies this innate nature is going astray and throwing himself into distress. Thus, the communist, who denies the existence of his Creator and Sustainer, leads a miserable life, and in the Hereafter his end will be in Hell-fire.”

OK, I’m going to have to skip right over the false deductive premises this bit opens with, because I want to know why he goes after the Communists! Granted, most of them probably do live miserable lives (not too many happy faces here in the former USSR), but is he suggesting that all atheists are, by definition, Communists? And that Communism is unnatural? Was this book funded by the US government? Perhaps there’s a deeper message here, that Hell itself is something like a Communist state. I suppose everyone there is equal (unlike the rigid hierarchies of grace found in the class-oriented Heaven) and, as in Communism on Earth, equally miserable, and I guess this pretense of infernal democracy is likewise lorded over by a dictatorial tyrant who ensures his subjects constant suffering. Hey, I think you’re on to something here, Ben! Well, I never considered myself a Communist before, but I guess I’ll be seeing you in hell, comrades.

“It is a fact that a healthy man can satisfy the sexual desires of four women.”

A fact! Just ask women! Seriously, Hammad, are you, like, a virgin or something? Have you, in fact, tried satisfying, for example, one woman? I like to think that I myself am a healthy man, but I find your rationale for polygamy just ever so slightly completely terrifying. I have just one more question, Mr. Ramen Noodles, why stop at four?

I suppose that’s enough shitting all over Islam for this week. Now that I’ve left the Middle East and arrived in Armenia (wait, is Armenia in the Middle East? I don’t know!), there are upcoming bigger and better things for me to shit all over. Literally and metaphorically, I wonder if I’ve done much else this entire trip. Food for thought (sorry) for those of you considering a similar voyage. Ciao! (sorry again)

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