To be reminded that you’re human….

May 19, 2016

Do not sigh for Lindbergh’s wonderful luck, but determine to emulate Lindy’s glorious pluck” wrote a young Lyndon Baines Johnson, passionate for what he perceived as a revived American spirit following the disaster of World War 1. In Lindbergh, Johnson saw not just the American spirit, but the human need to explore, the extraordinary feats of progress when deep ideological chains are replaced by politically ensured freedoms (advanced for the time period) combined with individual determination. 
Lindbergh’s achievement may seem so distant to those of us almost 100 years later, but that represents perhaps just two prior generations when the whole picture is examined. Indeed, my grandparents were born in that decade that saw the conquering of the Atlantic by flight, and my dad – not yet at retirement age – was born a decade before LBJ ascended to the Presidency on the death of Kennedy. In the time frame of human history, it is a click of the fingers.

Too often the religious are quick to mock the concept of human evolution from ape-like ancestors, as if it a negative. You’ll hear scorn poured on the idea that we “come from monkeys”. Ed Husain disappointed his legion of liberal fans recently by implying that Darwin’s discovery was necessarily racist (a bizarre conflation of morality and ethics, with nature, when no such thing exists). There is a desire in the mind of the parties of god to deny basic scientific fact if it happens to contradict their official origins story. Yet it is our ape-like ancestors whom we have to thank for everything. It is they who sparked the first controlled fires, it is they who left the safety of the jungle and crossed the World, it is they who purified water, it is they who created the tools that gave us a hunting advantage when threatened with daily starvation, it is they who against the odds fought the elements, came close to extinction & survived, it is they who created the first remedies, it is they who developed language and art, it is they who began to try to explain their place in the universe, contemplate the stars, harness the sun, and whose self awareness was the beginning of the universe trying to understand itself & who invented the gods that are now used to obscure their extraordinary achievements. From those ancestors, we have all the innovations that lead to Lindbergh, and to me sitting on a plane somewhere over France, watching the sunset from a vantage point that so few humans have ever had the privilege of seeing. Indeed, from early humans, to Roman republicans, from Homo Habilis, to Ben Franklin & Rousseau, such a small percentage of we apes have enjoyed this sight. From this vantage point, it is inconceivable to me that we would not honour those ancestors that out of necessity, created & conquered & gave us luxury.

And even if by some miracle, a thesis is produced that thoroughly disproved evolution, instead confirming the story of Adam & Eve, we still wouldn’t have them nor a god to thank for human progress. We’d have the devil snake that permitted free-thought to thank for our ingenuity and survival.

Perhaps our desire to explore comes from the same place as our desire to understand everything immediately (thus creating gods as quick and easy explanations). Perhaps our wonderful sense of touch that permits the wind to take our breath away or the sun in summer to revitalise us after a grey winter persuades us to seek those sensations. Perhaps our fear of death, of existing in a finite speck of time conflicts with our desire to know all and see all. I am now sat watching my fellow apes on the beach with a spectacular view of the Meditarranean sea, the jagged rocks with layers of history, the buildings we have created across the shoreline, the clear and cold water reminding me that I’m alive as it crashes against my legs, placating that desirous sense of touch, and at the back of my mind is the theme that runs through human history, from the moment our species burst onto the tapestry of life right through to Lindbergh & beyond; at some point – any point – I will cease to exist, and never see this beautiful picture, nor feel the sea breeze nor the waves against me again. And so I need to experience it all now. 

Is it anti-Semitic? A handy guide…

May 12, 2016

Today, it is Israel’s birthday.
As you can imagine, this means everyone will lose their shit very quickly. Especially as I continue….. Israel, despite its questionable, quasi-religious and often violent origins (of which, many nations have a similar background), has managed to survive 68 years of invasions, rockets fired daily at it, threats to wipe it off the map, racist attitudes on the far-right and the far-left, a refusal for many of its critics to criticise the Islamist fascists on its doorstep. But it’s survived. Survived with a stable democratic settlement, and whilst I take issue with right winged Israeli policy in the West Bank, designed as I think it seems to be, to derail a two state solution (and certainly an insane way to ensure security for Jewish folk), I find my fellow liberal lefties often crossing the line from criticism of Israeli government policy, into repeating centuries of anti-Semitic blood-libel, conspiracy nonsense, or a refusal to accept a Jewish right to self determination 68 years later, whilst fighting for everyone else’s right to the same. So here’s my handy guide to what I believe to be that line.

Criticism of Israel:

  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution, not making Israeli’s any safer, and should stop.


  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…. and let’s deport Jews to the US! Problem solved! (here).
  • I think the Israeli Government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…….. and Hamas – the group that seeks a Theocratic settlement, and is derived from the Muslim Brotherhood’s flirtations with Nazism, still using the Protocols of Zion in its literature, with a Charter that rejects peace initiatives unless the entire region is handed to its religion, and meanwhile indiscriminately hurl rockets at homes and schools in Israel – are dedicated to peace, social justice, and the good of all Palestinians (here).
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…. And the media is run by Zionists (those who don’t query Israel’s right to exist)! Forget that the media doesn’t question any other country on the planet’s right to exist either, they should only be labelled for not querying Israel’s right to exist.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…….. and if I use the word ‘Zionist’ instead of ‘Jews’ whilst using centuries-old conspiracy theories surrounding secretive Jewish control of media, eduction, and governments, everyone will think it’s legitimate criticism rather than regurgitating anti-Semitic tropes.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……. and Hitler – the man responsible for wiping out 6,000,000 Jews –  was actually a Zionist (the support for a Jewish right to self determination) because he once supported the desperate attempt by persecuted Jews to leave Germany. Motives are irrelevant, just repeat ‘Ha’avarra’ and send a link to a Wikipedia article to prove it!
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…… and whilst we’re on ‘self determination’, we will argue for the right to self determination for all peoples – including those whose revolutionary leaders are illiberal, anti-Secular, anti-democratic , far-right, homophobic, misogynistic Theocrats with no intention of empowering anyone but themselves – but absolutely not for Jews.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……and ISIS are created by the great Jewish global conspiracy to create ‘Greater Israel’ across the entire  Middle East (here).
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution…… And it’s perfectly reasonable to use Holocaust Memorial Day to 1) Complain that we focus on this one holocaust, and 2) use it to imply that Israelis are the new Nazis, committing a genocide in Palestine.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……. so let’s boycott Israel, completely ignore any racism or violence coming from Palestine, defend that racism and violence if someone brings it up, ignore the Arab press continually characterising Jews as rats, and not even entertain the notion of boycotting nations involved in any other land dispute across the Planet – like Pakistan in the Baloch region – just the one dispute the pesky Jews are involved in.
  • I think the Israeli government’s settlement policy in the West Bank is derailing a two state solution……. And we shall only use the term ‘apartheid’ daily, to refer to Israel. Absolutely never to refer to any of the surrounding states that are religious supremacist in nature, privilege heterosexuality whilst punishing homosexuality (some may call this sexuality apartheid, but that’s us applying ‘Western values’ …. which I think we’re supposed to call ‘Colonial’), outlaw criticism of state power, punish apostasy, and disenfranchise women.

Here is the crux; One can criticise Israeli policy, indeed one can argue with evidence that the way Israel was birthed represented an injustice against local populations, without implying apartheid, genocide, excusing & defending anti-Jewish thugs, how Hitler helped Jews, utilising centuries of anti-Semitic myths of Jewish global conquest, shipping Jews to another country, wishing for Jewish self determination to collapse, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, giving the media a name for not questioning Jewish self determination but not giving a name to the media for not questioning any other self determination anywhere in the World. It really is a simple distinction. However, if you do decide to descend into anti-Semitic absurdity, do not then tantrum, playing the victim of a vast Jewish media conspiracy when you’re called out on its blatant bigotry.

“Why do you care about hell? You’re an atheist!”

April 21, 2016

“Those that deny Our revelations We will burn in fire. No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste the scourge. God is mighty and wise.” – Quran 4:56

Imagine for a second if the above passage was written by a World leader, and instead of “those that deny our revelations“, it was “Muslims…“. Quite rightly we would call it out for the violent bigotry, the dehumanising nature of its narrative. And yet, strangely, some seem to argue that as long as it’s religious, it isn’t bigoted, and thus isn’t a problem at all.

An early task in my university days was to explain to the group how we identify ourselves made up of our beliefs, our gender, our ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, or any other form of identification we may assume for ourselves. I included ‘atheist‘ in my identification. A weird identifier given that it relies solely on denying something that isn’t there. For that, I’m also a-unicornist. But the latter has no real-world affects, whilst the former absolutely does – an important distinction as we shall see. A religious guy in our group told me he’d like to hear my perspective on the World – a welcome discussion and one that continued for the next three years – but that he “couldn’t endorse your lifestyle“.

Around the same time that a man who had never met me told me he “couldn’t endorse my lifestyle“, Mehdi Hasan was giving a talk to the Al Khoei Islamic Centre, in which he states of others he’s never met:

“The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God.”

– And this is the problem of religious doctrines. It influences mentalities and behaviour. It casts non-believers as inferior, with believers the superior. It influences moderates & Islamists alike. Whilst Mehdi dehumanises us, a member of Malay Islamist group ISMA told me:

“I am better than you because I believe in Allah. You simply do not believe in Him. Need another reason?”

Around three years after Mehdi expressed some shockingly dehumanising views – based solely on religious dogma – about non-believers, Alexander Aan in Indonesia was being stripped of his job, beaten by religious thugs, and imprisoned for expressing his atheism online.

The point is, religious bigotry is the bedrock for a supremacist narrative that feeds policy. Once you dehumanise a section of the population, withdrawing their basic rights becomes easy. According to a report on the treatment of non-believers across the World, by The International Humanist & Ethical Union:

“12 countries in Africa, 9 in Asia, and 10 in the Middle East, were given the worst rating for committing “Grave Violations”. Some of these governments were found to openly incite hatred against atheists, or authorities which systematically fail to prosecute violent crimes against atheists.

Furthermore, in 12 of the worst-offending states, religious authorities can put atheists to death for the crime of “apostasy” (i.e. leaving religion; in all cases the religion was Islam).”

– It kills to be a non-believer in a society dominated by religion. And yet, if you highlight the real-world affects of bigotry inherent to religious texts, your concerns are dismissed:


– So what if billions of people believe a doctrine that includes you having no intelligence, and deserving of nothing but setting on fire for eternity. So what if that religion has control over the lives of others. So what if it the divisive, supremacist nature of it is taught to children? It is as if beginning a dangerously discriminatory sentence with “God says….” negates whatever follows.

The fact is, person A not believing a religion to be true, does not suddenly mean the religion is not promoting bigoted ideas to those who do believe it to be true.

So “why do you care about hell if you’re an atheist?”
– Because whether hell exists or not is irrelevant, the behaviour of those who believe it does is exceptionally cruel.

Labour’s anti-Semitism problem.

April 2, 2016

Khadim Hussain is a local councillor for Keighley Central Ward. This week Mr Hussain sensationally announced his resignation from the Labour Party following claims of anti-Semitism. Here is Hussain’s resignation post on Facebook:


Khadim is clear that the allegations of anti-semitism against him are ‘unfounded’. Indeed, his supporters echo this. One of his supporters on Facebook expressed his anger:

– Not only is he convinced this is a vast injustice, a witch hunt against Khadim the social justice warrior, he’s also convinced that any allegations of anti-Semitism against Khadim, are simply a conspiratorial attempt to silence criticism of Israeli policy.

So, with all of those denials, and the victim-playing, let’s take a quick look at what Khadim has posted on his social media recently. Firstly, who is responsible for ISIS, in the Councillor’s mind:


– The Jews! Of course! This is blatant anti-Semitism. It is disheartening that Labour Party supporters (of which until very recently, I’d count myself as one) attempt to twist this sort of bigotry into something that is simply framed as criticism of a random state. But it is, as I said, blatant anti-Semitism in that instead of any meaningful analysis of the past few decades of Middle Eastern politics, of the role of romanticising the Caliphate, of the massive civil war in Syria, of the role played by both Saudi Arabia and Iran in competing for influence, of the US and Russia in a power play, or how restrictions of individual rights of expression and belief might contribute to animosity, or Saddam’s successful attempts to further the rift between Sunni and Shia (an absurd and pathetic religious squabble) it instead jumps straight to reviving centuries of false blood-libel and simply blames Jewish folk, through the tried-and-tested means inventing conspiracy used to dehumanise & provoke suspicion (based on nothing…… the article that Hussain posted is full of “you’d have to be mad to believe that it’s not Israel!” conjecture). When confronted with a clear problem, if not civil war, in his own religion, Khadim would rather just blame Jews.

Now, you may think I’m using the term ‘Jews’ when Khadim clearly means Israel (though focus on this one state, this Jewish state, rather than a much wider contextual analysis that the situation requires, choosing to ignore all the states that surround Israel implies either a very simple mind, or bigotry at its heart). Well, Khadim answers that himself, by reposting an image that refers to all those Jewish people murdered in the holocaust as “Zionists”:

– A shocking image for a Labour politician to be posting and propagating. If not just for the child-like “shut up about the dead Jews already!” mentality of the entire piece, nor just for the fact that Khadim has no problem referring to millions of Jews as ‘Zionists’ (something he doesn’t like), nor for just the grotesque use of murdered Africans to take a dig at Jews, but also that Khadim seems to again ignore the problems his own religion caused in Africa. In 1866 – two years after the Egyptian cotton boom – Dr David Livingston writing from Africa noted the horrifying treatment of slaves by their Arab ‘owners’:

“We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead, the people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting a time. . . . we saw others tied up in a similar manner . . . the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing his money by the slaves becoming unable to march, and vented his spleen by murdering them.”

– The point of this picture was not to highlight the brutality that Africa faced during the colonial period. Indeed, those victims were simply used to highlight the actual point. The point was to re-emphasise at every possible moment how European colonialism was a grave evil (true), that Jewish folk – dehumanised here as 6 million ‘Zionists’ – always get all the attention (ironically exactly what the anti-Israel lobby do by focusing little to none of their energy on the abuses of the states that surround Israel). If the abuse of Africa were at all the point of the image, Khadim might have spent – or ever spent – some time explaining that his own religion and its supremacists were also culpable for the mistreatment of Africa. He might further accept that if we are to talk about World War II in the school classroom in the United Kingdom, we may extend the sphere of discourse to include both the Grand Mufti’s, and Hassan al-Banna’s flirtations with Nazism, that in turn lead to groups like Hamas using Nazi propaganda from time to time. It might take us up to the present day, when a publication – Al-Hayat al-Jadida, Official daily newspaper of the Palestinian National Authority – published right next to the only Jewish state in the World published an article in March 2013 that praises the man who committed a mass genocide against those neighbours:

“Had Hitler won, Nazism would be an honor that people would be competing to belong to, and not a disgrace punishable by law. Churchill and Roosevelt were alcoholics, and in their youth were questioned more than once about brawls they started in bars, while Hitler hated alcohol and was not addicted to it. He used to go to sleep early and wake up early, and was very organized. These facts have been turned upside down as well, and Satan has been dressed with angels’ wings.”

– Khadim’s narrative can be found all too often recently in the Labour Party. It takes three steps. Step 1) Find a way to blame Jews for something, usually conspiratorial, attempts to dominate the Globe, a flashback to Catholic Church-inspired blood-libel, if it requires ignoring the influence and history of your own ideological position, that’s fine. Step 2) Plead ignorance when your anti-Semitism is highlighted, and try to claim you’re just anti-occupation. Step 3) Whether it be your religion or your political ideology, play the victim for it. The media is against you, the Zionists are out to get you (or steal your shoe), you are probably being oppressed. Khadim followed this formula to the letter, and Labour’s current leadership – a man who referred to Hamas as ‘dedicated to social justice’ – cannot possibly understand why this is unacceptable.

Caitlyn Jenner and the liberals embracing transphobia.

March 15, 2016

There’s an odd self-defeating narrative that my fellow liberals sometimes espouse. Whether attacking Muslims fighting Islamist narratives, or excusing anti-Semitism, it either seems to be getting worse, or I’m becoming more observant to it.

To be liberal is to champion the rights and the dignity of the individual to make choices free from group coercion. To be oneself, free from expectations & coercion of others is the very essence of liberalism. To be liberal is to consider the agency of the individual inherently a right, over the demands of a group, culture, religion which of course, have no inherent rights. It is the most fundamental principle of liberalism that liberals seems so confused with how to apply.

Take, for example, Caitlyn Jenner. Since coming out as transgender, liberals held her up as a pillar of strength. An inspiration to those struggling with their identity. She was not afraid to be herself, and we liked that. Indeed, individual identity and the freedom to express oneself according to our how we identify ourselves, because we know ourselves greater than others know us, is exactly the liberal proposition. Conservatives decided she was awful, an abomination, she angered the magic sky man invented in 1st Century Palestine that seems to confirm their deeply held prejudices. And a yet a strange flip occurred recently. Jenner – in perhaps a bigger show of individual strength than coming out as transgender – came out as a transgendered Republican Party supporter. Liberals everywhere lost the plot:


– It is deeply unsettling to me that fellow liberals are so quick to embrace bigotry, to be so transphobic, the moment transgendered women think differently to what is expected of them, from ‘liberals’. They have taken on her appearance only. They have decided exactly what thoughts Jenner ought to have, and that if she doesn’t conform to what is expected of her, she is a traitor, deserving of transphobic language. Indeed, some even imply that women in general who do not vote for Democrats, are traitors to women. They do not deal with her arguments (which are weak at best; she implies that Republicans handle the economy better, create jobs, defend the country to a greater degree than Democrats, small government, self-responsibility…. a simple argument that is easily refuted without having to resort to bigotry), they focus on her appearance and a group-mentality they think she should have embraced, thus depriving her of her right to be an individual, as if she the moment she came out as transgendered, her faculties of reason should be replaced by the thoughts of the group, and anything short of that, permits bigotry. It doesn’t. This isn’t liberalism.

Consider this; liberals accept that conservatives have had a detrimental affect on racial issues in the United States in current years. This is our political belief. I suspect Ben Carson disagrees. At that point, would liberals be so quick to start referring to Ben Carson using racist language, or would we focus on his arguments? Would be call him a traitor to his skin tone, or would be analyse his points and form a counter narrative? Is focusing on his skin-tone, rather than the content of his argument in itself not a form of white privilege, given that we with white skin are never expected to be a single voting block? Is the same not true here for Caitlyn Jenner?

Joey from Friends drove past the Cenotaph of freedom… and you should be banned from seeing it!

March 14, 2016

I’m sat right now watching Piers Morgan being very upset and offended. Offended that Matt LeBlanc from Top Gear had driven quite fast past the Cenotaph on Whitehall. This meant that he disrespected veterans, we were told. People felt the need to reveal that Joey from Friends has not done as much for this country, as troops who died in WW2. Morgan was so offended, that he had to quickly move on to a story about a West Highland Terrier that won Crufts. But then it came back to being offended again. A good three minutes per hour was dedicated to being offended.

It was an odd thing to be offended by, and an odd reaction from the always outraged Patriotic brigade, who, on balance, didn’t seem to care when Clarkson was mocking dead prostitutes and punching producers. So it goes.

But then it soon became oddly ironic as well (perhaps more so than Morgan – a man fired from his job as editor of The Mirror for publishing faked photographs of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment abusing Iraqi prisoners).

Good Morning Britain included a quote from an angry British Commander in Afghanistan who insisted that the BBC should never show that clip ever. It is so offensive to the memory of people who fought for freedom, that we shouldn’t be free to see it. For liberals like me, a person in a position of power implying that we – as adults – should not be allowed to see a clip of something he finds personally offensive, is a much greater insult to those who understand and fought for freedom, than Joey from Friends driving fast past a memorial. Play the clip, if it offends me, I’ll turn it over. Do not tell me I shouldn’t be free to see it in the first place. This is an insult to the memory of my grandparents who fought for freedom. He should apologise.

Further on the ironic side of this whole bizarre episode, he was a commander in Afghanistan. British troops are fighting an Islamist Taliban regime, that during the ’90s had funded support from the Saudis. Somewhere on Whitehall, close to the Cenotaph, the decision was made that the UK would send arms to the Saudis throughout the late 80s, the 90s, and today. Daily the PM or the Conservative Party is forced to defend the Saudis, to drop the British flag to half mast when their monstrous leaders finally die, to conspire to sit that grotesque nation at the head of the UN Human Rights Council as it beheads democratic reformers. A nation that funded a regime that killed British troops, that we lower the flag in support, that we now hand over arms is apparently not as offensive to the memory of our troops, than driving a car quite fast down the road.
And we must be banned from watching that car driving fast down a road.


On a side note, I once walked drunkenly past the Cenotaph, from one of the many drinking establishments on that road. This must imply that I hate our troo….. what a cute West Highland Terrier!

‘Heaven On Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law’ – A Critique.

February 10, 2016

kadatI confess that I am only at the very beginning of Sadakat Kadri’s book ‘Heaven on Earth; A Journey Through Shari’a Law‘ and yet on every page of the opening chapters, I find myself compelled to comment.

Kadri presents a time period before the Qur’an as much in need of revolutionary ideas. Infanticide if the child was female is the norm, stoning of those accused on flimsy evidence is rampant. Pre-Islamic Arabia is a cruel and divided land, for Kadat. And yet, when the similar cruelties of the religion that rapidly took over the area, and the dictates of its leader are highlighted, Kadri seems to excuse the most grotesque behaviour. For example, Kadri writes:

“The criminal justice provisions instituted at this time, as reflected in the text of the Qur’an were straightforward enough. God required humanity to punish four sins, known as haddood. Theft was said to merit amputation of the right hand, fornication earned a hundred lashes, and falsely accusing someone of the same crime was punishable by 80 strokes. The gravest crime, the ‘waging of war against Islam or spreading disorder in the land’, was attended by an entire battery of punitive possibilities: exile, double amputation, suspension from a cross, and decapitation.”

– We must take from this, the dangerous idea – belonging to a faith that is taught to children – that God believes chopping someone’s limbs off is the morally correct way to handle theft. That physically harming someone, is morally better than stealing someone’s property. After such a gruesome back catalogue of violent attacks upon the individual, and the unquestioned assumption of religious supremacy over the individual, a page later Kadri bizarrely writes:

“Torture, which was routine under the Christianised Roman law of Byzantium, found no place in the Qur’an.”

– It takes an extraordinary mind to note that hands were ordered to be put on blocks and chopped off, for theft, and to follow that note up with a denial of torture. I suspect the one receiving a double amputation, or being decapitated may consider themselves tortured. One may claim that it was the context of time, that believers nowadays know better, but that of course requires dismissing the fact that this is all conceived by a divine rule giver who transcends time, and so is supposedly morally superior to not only Muhammad 1400 years ago, but also believers today. Context of time is irrelevant when dealing with a time-transcending being.

Kadri goes on to note that whilst stoning to death for illicit sex is prescribed in the Qur’an, it is actually progressive insomuch as it makes the penalty far harder to impose than that which came before. Kadri relates a story of Muhammad and an adulterer, quoting an Islamic criminal law book from the 20th century:

“Calling a spade a spade, (the Prophet asked) ‘Did you **** her? Ma’iz said ‘yes’. He asked ‘Like the kohl stick disappears into the kohl container and the bucket into the well?’ He answered ‘Yes’. Then he asked ‘Do you know what zina means?’ He said ‘Yes, I did with her unlawfully what a man does with his wife lawfully’. Then the Prophet asked ‘What do you intend with these words?’ He answered ‘That you purify me’. Then he ordered him to be stoned.”

– This vicious story, a story of a man who died from rocks being hurled at him by a man who claims (not proves) to be a messenger of god thus permitting himself the right to decide who lives and dies. A story of stoning human beings considered less morally questionable than having sex with someone you’re not married to, is a story that Kadri spends the next two pages making excuses for. For example, he says:

“Pious Muslims see only extraordinary restraint on the Prophet’s part, and they often point out additional signs of his mercy; the fact that he made no attempt to track down the woman concerned, for example. At the opposite end of the spectrum are people who focus on nothing but the outcome. But a single perspective on a controversial event never makes for balance…”

– It is difficult to know where to begin with this. Perhaps at the point where just a few pages earlier, Kadri highlights Muhammad’s forward thinking policy that ‘the killing of a single person was meanwhile tantamount to the killing of the whole of humanity’ apparently negated a few moments later, by his order to stone a man to death. Or perhaps that the point where Kadri implies that those who praise Muhammad for ‘extraordinary restraint’ for not slaughtering the woman involved also are of a similar short sightedness with those of us who ‘focus on nothing but the outcome’. The outcome in this instance, is the taking of the life of a human being, for having consensual sex with someone. Focusing on anything else is to relegate the life of that human being, to less as important as the philosophical reasoning behind it. Focusing on anything else is to accept without question a man’s self imposed right to decide who lives and dies based on the delusional supremacy of his own beliefs. Kadri clearly thinks that those of us who focus on that, on murder, are short sighted. I would argue that those who focus on anything other than that murder, or try to trivialise that murder, the brainwashing of a young man to believe he need be punished for sex, and the brutal order to stone him, is not only short sighted, it excuses cruelty. Kadri continues his excuses:

“…. and as soon as other hadiths are taken into account, a subtler picture begins to emerge. One of them states that the execution divided Muslims into two camps, and another has Muhammad asking the killers of Ma’iz ‘Why did you not leave him alone? He might have repented and been forgiven by God’. At least two more suggest that Ma’iz’s real offence was not illicit sex, but indiscretion. One contemporary was heard to ruminate many years later that the young man had been punished only because he insisted on telling everyone he was guilty.”

– Far from a ‘subtler picture’ emerging, we simply change the reasons for murdering a man from having sex, to saying he’s had sex. As if this is any more of a legitimate reason to end the life of another human being with rocks. Either way, we are given clear evidence that Islam was never simply reserved as a guide to how to live one’s life, to better oneself, a spiritual system of inner peace. It was always a system of control, because it decided who does and doesn’t deserve to be murdered by other believers. A political system, like liberalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, and thus open to all the criticisms that all other systems of power must be open to.

But for now, I will continue to make my way through Kadri’s book, fully in the knowledge that he begins from the premise that Muhammad’s cruelty can be excused if we simply focus on other things, and just not question the relationship between a man of his time, a transcendent god, and binding moral laws anchored to 1400 years ago. A tactic that continues to permit some from turning their heads to religious supremacy and the dangers of idolising moral squabbles from centuries ago.


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