31 December 1998, 981 words
I am not a Muslim. I do not think Muhammad was a prophet of God; I do not think the Qu'ran is the Word of God; and I think the existence of God is highly improbable. But this is not my fault, but Allah's. According to the Holy Qu'ran, "Allah sends whom He will astray and guides whom He will" (surah35, verse 8). So it is hardly my fault that Allah decided to lead me astray. After all, it is He who "...has sealed [the disbelievers] hearing and their hearts and put a covering on their eyes." (1:7). In fact, even though I went to the trouble of reading the Qu'ran, it was Allah Himself who ensured I would not believe what I read because "We place upon their hearts veils lest they should understand it, and in their ears a deafness." (17:46).
What I find a little unfair, though, is the fate that Allah reserves for people like me. He says, "They who disbelieve and deny our Revelations, such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein." (2:39). But if He's the one who has decided that I must be a disbeliever, then why is He going to send me to Hell for His decision? Ah well, maybe it's all those seals, coverings and veils that have me confused. And the Qu'ran does thoroughly confuse me.
Before I go on, though, I must pause to warn all devout Muslims that they must not read the rest of this column. The Qu'ran clearly says, "When you meet those who meddle with our Revelations, withdraw from them until they meddle with another topic" (6:68). I am now about to meddle. Any Muslim who does not at this point withdraw is therefore disobeying Allah's orders. Come back next week when I'll be meddling with somebody else.
One of the things I find most confusing about the Qu'ran is the verse which says, "There is no compulsion in religion." (2:256) That's pretty clear, isn't it? It means that, for all the rules that Muslims are supposed to follow, any time a person is forced to follow those rules, Allah is being disobeyed. It means that theocracies like Iran and Pakistan and Saudia Arabia are all un-Islamic. But I've never heard or read one Islamic scholar point this out. Indeed, if Muslims followed Qu'ranic injunctions strictly, religious wars would be virtually impossible. Devout Muslims are supposed to run rather than fight. The Qu'ran says, "We were oppressed in the land...Was not Allah's earth spacious that you could have migrated therein?...Who migrates in the cause of Allah will find much refuge and abundance" (4: 97, 100). Of course, it also says "Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you" (9:123) but presumably you can fight only after you runs out of places to run. And you aren't even supposed to fight until attacked: "Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities." (2:190) And the world, as the Qu'ran itself points out, is a pretty big place. But I've never heard any Islamic scholar point any of this out, either.
In fact, the term "Islamic scholar seems to me to be an oxymoron. True, the Qu'ran says "Follow not that which you have no knowledge." (27:36) But it also says, "He who chooses disbelief instead of faith has gone astray from a plain road." But most knowledge begins from a basis of scepticism. "Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth" says the Qu'ran (2:42). Yet, if I obey this injunction, the Qu'ran also assures me that I shall go straight to Hell, inasmuch as my truth denies the Qu'ran's truth. I am thus caught between a rock and a hot place.
Yet, you know, I could make a pretty good Muslim, if Allah hadn't draw those damn veils across my heart. "Allah enjoins justice and kindness and giving to kinsfolk, and forbids lewdness and abomination and wickedness." (26:90) I am very concerned about justice, am pretty kind-hearted, and just last month I gave a cousin some money for his four-year-old daughter's heart operation. However, I am quite lewd, but maybe I wouldn't have any energy for lewdness if I had four wives. On the other hand, what some Muslims consider decent, I consider totally obscene.
Ahamad Baksh of Rio Claro, for example, thinks it is all right for a nine-year-old girl to have sex, once she's married. "...sin accumulates on the parents of daughters who have started to menstruate and are not wed," wrote Mr. Baksh in a letter to the editor. I suspect most Trinidadian Muslims, and indeed most Muslims world-wide, would object to their nine-year-old daughter marrying anyone. They would probably object even more to the child marrying a 54-year-old man. But no devout Muslim can voice such an objection because, according to Mr. Baksh, the Prophet Muhammad, at 54, married a nine-year-old girl. Me, I could never adhere to any belief system which holds that nine years (or twelve or fourteen) is a marriageable age. Thus, I could never be a Muslim, a Maha Sabha Hindu, or a paedophile.
I end by pointing out that no true Muslim can reply to anything I have written in this column. Even if somebody tells them what I wrote, they are not supposed to respond. The Qu'ran says so: "Thus we have appointed on to every Prophet an adversary - devils of humankind and jiin who inspire in one another plausible discourse through guile. If your Lord willed, they would not do so; so leave them alone in their devising." (6:113) So any Muslim who doesn't leave me alone is disobeying Allah, who will probably send them to Hell to keep me company.
Copyright ©1998 Kevin Baldeosingh