Paris et al.

Person 1: It’s tragic what’s happened in Paris

Person 2: Yeah, totally insane. All these innocent people.

Person 1: Yes. I have a couple of French friends so I was up all night trying to make sure they were fine.

Person 2: Oh, I hope they were safe.

Person 1: Yes, thank God. I couldn’t know what to say except to express my deep sympathy and my apologies.

Person 2: Wait, what were you apologizing for?

Person 1: The bombings, you know.

Person 2: I’m sorry, I’m not following. What did you have to do with the bombings?

Person 1: Not me, but you know, because those were our people who did it,

Person 2: “Our people”, person 1, when did you join ISIS?

Person 1: I didn’t, it’s just that they are from here and they are Muslims

Person 2: They call themselves Muslims, that doesn’t make them our people and doesn’t make us responsible for their heinous acts.

Person 1: Well, we share something.

Person 2: Really? Tell me now because I don’t get it, as a Muslim living in the Middle East, who has never been to France, never incited against non-Muslims, never committed any discriminatory acts or promoted self-supremacy and have always spoken against terrorism, how am I supposed to be held responsible for the acts of some lunatics miles away who were created by certain powers for the sake of their own political agendas and then they were made to believe that killing people gives an express trip to Heaven? How am I supposed to be put in the same circle as these criminals just because at face value we seem to share the same beliefs?

Person 1: But people in the West don’t know that.

Person 2: Well then they need to educate themselves about it. You know what else they need to know? They need to know that ISIS kills many more Muslims that it does None-Muslims. How many people in the West know that? How many people heard about the bombings at the Mosque in Beirut one night before the Paris bombings where scores of people were killed? How about all the others slaughtered by ISIS in Syria? How about the bombings in the mosques in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait perpetrated by none other than ISIS? How about the Jordanian pilot who was burned to death by ISIS, that was a devout Muslim by the way. How can we be held accountable when we are victims ourselves?

Person 1: Well, for them those ISIS members came from amongst us

Person 2: Every society has its deluded bunch, and extremism can thrive wherever it finds fertile soil. As there are Islamic extremists there are right wing extremists in Europe and America, Jewish extremists in Israel, extremism isn’t confined to one religion or nationality. Heck, there are even extremist Buddhist killing Muslims in Burma by the hundreds, did the world know about that? No, because they only see what the media shows them.  So, instead of blaming a whole religion or people, go blame those who are funding terrorist groups and funding the war in Syria and the Middle East.

Person 1: That’s true, but perhaps they feel they have the right to demand an apology.

Person 2: Look, I understand what happened was horrendous, and they have the right to be angry, but we’re not the people they should be angry at, nor are we the ones who need to be making apologies. You don’t see Arabs going around demanding apology from every Jew in the world because of the Israeli on-slaughter of the Palestinians, and we surely didn’t demand an apology from every Christian in the world after Bush invaded Iraq killing hundreds of thousands while calling it a crusade. In fact, we Arabs, Muslims, the French people, the Latino people and everyone suffering from these wars all over the world have one common enemy. The powers that be who work in the shadows to serve their own political and fiscal agendas. Those may claim to belong to different religions, but in the end they all share the same values of greed and thirst for power. Those are the ones who pin us against each other, those are the ones whose interest lies in spreading hatred and discrimination, the ones who divide to rule. Those are the ones we should look out for, and the ones who should be making apologies.

Don’t be naïve, Person 1, this is much bigger than you and me, much bigger than all of us.

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عن الإيمان والإلحاد وما بينهما

تنبيه: هذا البوست قد يجرح المشاعر الدينية أو اللادينية لدى البعض، إذا إنت حساس لا تكمل قراءة.0

المؤمنين أنواع، واحد انولد لقى حاله مؤمن فضل مؤمن لأنه هيك أهله علموه، وواحد بحث ودور وسأل وصار أو ضل مؤمن. والملحدين أنواع كمان، فيه ملحد عن علم ودراسة، يعني بتلاقيه قرأ كتب وقارن أديان وتفكر وفي الآخر عقله وصله إنه ما في إله والكون انخلق صدفة وما إلى ذلك. هذا لنوع ممكن تناقشه وممكن تتعلم منه وممكن تحترم عقله ولو اختلفت معاه في أمور جذرية، وبكون عندك أمل إنه يغير رأيه برضه عن علم ودراسة.0

وفي نوع آخر ملحد لأنه مش قادر يطلع من عقلية الصف الأول وسبيس تون. كيف يعني؟ يعني هو ملحد لأنه بشوف مصايب وكوارث فبستنتج إنه ما دام في أشياء كتير سيئة بتصير بالكون معناته ما في حدا داير باله عليه، يعني فش رب. بالنسبة لهذا النوع، الكون عبارة عن روضة والبشر أطفال والرب هو المس اللي بتراقب كل شي وبتعاقب الطفل المشاغب وبتكافئ الطفل الشاطر وبتتحاسب على أي شي بصير في الروضة لأنها المشرفة الراشدة الوحيدة على أطفال قاصرين. هاد النوع صعب تناقشه، وغالباً ما بكون ملحد أصلاً، هو مؤمن عنده غضب مش عارف كيف يتعامل معاه.0

لنواجه الحقائق، مؤمنين وملحدين. الحوادث بتصير في المساجد ةالأماكن المقدسة زي ما بتصير في المراقص وبيوت الدعارة والخمارات. الكوارث بتصير في الدول الظالمة زي ما بتصير في الدول العادلة. الأمراض بتصيب الأغنياء والفقراء، الطيبين والعاطلين، الكبار والصغار.0

هلأ إذا إنت ملحد، ما بقدر أساعدك. ممكن تفسر الموضوع زي ما بدك. ممكن تعتبر الحياة عبثية وكل شي بصير عشوائي وبدون معنى والموضوع سايب. وممكن تفسر الموضوع بطريقة أقل سوداوية، ما بعرف، إنت حر.0

أما إذا كنت مؤمن، فإنت أمام خيارين: إما إنك بتآمن برب عادل وله حكمة قد لا تراها ويمكن تموت وإنت مش عارفها، لكنك مآمن فيها، وإما إنك بتآمن إنه في إله بس هو ظالم ومتجبر وطائش، يعني شغل أساطير يونانية، إله بنكهة بشرية، يسري عليه ما يسري على البشر من مشاعر وحب للسلطة، وتسري عليه قوانين المادة والكون. وهذا، لا مؤاخذة، غباء وقصر نظر.0

أنا بعرف إنه الموضوع مش دايماً سهل. صعب تشوف ناس رايحة تحج وتعبد ربنا وتموت بهالطريقة المؤلمة. صعب تشوف أطفال غرقانين وهم ما شافوا من الدنيا إشي. صعب تشوف الظالمين والفاسدين عم بزيدوا قوة وثروة كل يوم بدون ما تنزل صاعقة تمحيهم عن بكرة أبيهم. لكن أعتقد الجواب يتلخص في جزئين من آية، الأول: “إني جاعل في الأرض خليفة: والثاني: “إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون”.0

في القرآن، قال الله للملائكة: “إني جاعل في الأرض خليفة”0

كوننا خلفاء في الأرض يعني مسؤولين. يعني ما تشوف الظلم وتقعد تدعي وتستنى ربنا يبعت طير الأبابيل على بني صهيون أو زلزال يمحو داعش عن الأرض. احنا كبشر عنا مسؤولية فردية ومسؤولية جمعية كجنس بشري، واحنا مسؤولين عن الحروب وعن الفساد وعن الظلم وعن الاحتباس الحراري وعن ضحايا كل هاي الأشياء المباشرين وغير المباشرين. نعم، مش دايماً بنقدر نعمل إشي في وجه المصايب والكوارث اللي بتصير، لكن هاد الإشي جوابه في الجزء الثاني.0

لما سمعت الملائكة بالخبر قالوا: “أتجعل فيها من يفسد فيها ويسفك الدماء”، يعني الملائكة شافوا الموضوع شر واستغربوه، وجود البشر بالنسبة إلهم كان بلاء للأرض. لكن ربنا سبحانه وتعالى قال: “إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون”. بدون شرح، بدون تفسير، فقط “إني أعلم ما لا تعلمون”.0

إذا كنت ملحد، إنت حر في إنك ما تشوف إنه في أي حكمة وتعتبر إنه الإنسان هو القوة العظمى في الكون وبيعرف كل شي، وإذا كان في إشي البشر مش شايفينه أو ما بقدروا يتصوروه فمعناته هو مش موجود ومستحيل. لكن إذا كنت مؤمن فمن مستلزمات الإيمان تآمن بالغيب، وبالحكمة الربانية ولو ما قدرت تشوفها. بس لا تقولي إنك كإنسان عقلك ممكن يستوعب كل إشي وبالتالي إنت شايف إنه ما في سبب ولا مبرر لكل اللي عم بصير ولا ممكن يكون في حكمة كونك مش قادر تفكرشو ممكن تكون. ولا تقولي إنك مؤمن بالله بس شايف إنه ظالم، لأنك ساعتها بتكون مؤمن بإله تاني، زيوس أو أوزوريس أو حورس يمكن، مش إله خالق لكون واسع احنا فيه أصغر من جزيئات في ذرة في قطرة ماء في محيط.0

On the Charlie Hebdo Shootings

I guess by now everyone has heard of the Charlie Hebdo shootings that took place in Paris last week. To avoid any confusion let me start by making a clear point: I do not condone the attack in anyway and there is no reason in my mind to justify it. It was an act of terrorism, and a stupid one for that matter.

Having established that let me move on to what I found mind boggling about this whole thing. People have been dealing with the issue as a matter of terrorism against freedom of speech, but I really couldn’t see it that way. This was a conflict of extremes. A clash between 2 kind of extremists: On the one obvious side of course we have the killers, those who planned and carried out the armed attack on the newspaper. However, on the other side we have another kind of extremists, those who took it upon themselves to ridicule the beliefs and culture of a large part of the French population, let alone the world, and hence alienate and humiliate them by insulting what they choose to believe in. And in between these two extremes we have hundreds of thousands of French people, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, people of all faiths and ideologies who don’t make it their life quest to insult and ridicule other people’s beliefs or stage terrorist attacks on them.

You cannot ask for a peaceful world if you are not willing to respect other people and their right to believe in whatever they believe in. Again, I’m against terrorism and violence, but I’m also against disrespect and alienation. You know what I’m also against? Double standards. When a person like Netanyahu who killed 17 journalists in Gaza last year goes to Paris to participate in a march for freedom of speech then you know it’s an utter farce. When this same newspaper pretending to defend freedom of speech has fired a cartoonist in 2009 over “anti-Semitic” cartoons then you see that this is a march for elective freedom, one that agrees with the current world order and which the powers that be approve of.

But was it really a shock for this to happen in a country like France? Think about it. A country that keeps bragging about being the land of freedom and equality while continuing to issue discriminatory laws and regulations limiting the freedoms of certain groups of its population, giving way for more resentment and feelings of injustice to build among these groups and giving other groups more reason to be racists and hateful on the micro level, creating a fertile soil for hate and sectarian grudges to thrive in all directions.

Hate breeds hate, and violence breeds even more violence, and people everywhere continue to pay the ultimate price because other people won’t let go of their prejudices, and others give themselves the right to kill over them, end of story.

Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran

Lesley Hazleton explores the Koran and finds much that is quite different from what is reported in commonly cited accounts.

 

Lesley Hazleton (born 1945) is an award-winning British-American writer whose work focuses on the intersection of politics, religion, and history, especially in the Middle East. She reported from Israel for Time, and has written on the Middle East for numerous publications including The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, The Nation, and The New Republic.

Hazleton was born in England, and became a United States citizen in 1994. She was based in Jerusalem from 1966 to 1979 and in New York City from 1979 to 1992, when she moved to her current home in Seattle WA, originally to get her pilot’s license. She has two degrees in psychology (B.A. Manchester University, M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

She has described herself as “a Jew who once seriously considered becoming a rabbi, a former convent schoolgirl who daydreamed about being a nun, She is an agnostic with a deep sense of religious mystery.

A psychologist by training and Middle East reporter by experience, British-born Lesley Hazleton has spent the last ten years exploring the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion, past and present, intersect. Her most recent book, After the Prophet: the Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split, was a finalist for the 2010 PEN-USA nonfiction award.

She lived and worked in Jerusalem for thirteen years — a city where politics and religion are at their most incendiary — then moved to New York. She came to Seattle to get her pilot’s license in 1992, saw the perfect houseboat, and stayed. By 1994, she’d flown away all of her savings, and has never regretted a single cent of it. Now her raft rides low in the water under the weight of research as she works on her next book, The First Muslim, a new look at the life of Muhammad.