24 September 2008

Why chain letters/emails in the name of Islam piss me off

Chain emails are sometimes interesting to read.They may be inspiring, sarcastic, funny, or stupid. Obviously these must some of the reasons why they are being forwarded at breakneck speed.

I often receive some chain emails related to the faith I was brought up with (Islam). Religion, as we all know, is a very sensitive subject to touch upon so I shall only speak of my personal opinion and leave out all the drama.

Chain email #1 went like this:

Subject: A sign from Allah has come.

"If you're a Muslim, do not delete.
This is true.
Sheikh Ahmed from Medina has sent news. One Friday he dreamt of the Prophet Mohamed telling him that in one week 7000 people will die and none of them were Muslims. And it was because they never did what Allah had asked them to do.

Wives no longer look after their husbands, women go around uncovered, parents are being disrespected, and the rich do not help the poor.
The Prophet asked Sheikh Ahmed to promote awareness to all people about Zakat, Solah (prayers), and Fasting.

The day of judgement is near. When there is only a single star in the sky, Allah will no longer forgive our sins, the writings in the Quran will disappear, and the Sun will lower itself onto Earth (?).

The Prophet said that to whom passes on this message, granted upon them will be a place in Paradise. But to those who disbelieve they shall have no place in it.

Pass on this news and your wishes will come true, and you will be rewarded in three days. Do not think that this is false. Please forward this to as many people as possible."

This email was furthermore furnished with pictures of the Nabawi Mosque in Medina and of the Quran. How convincing, I thought. This is only a speck of many similar emails being passed on. It isn't the spawning of these sorts of emails that bothers me, it's what's written in it that gets under my skin. But people actually do believe this kind of rubbish. Why? Here is one very famous reason: If I believe and it isn't true then nothing happens to me, but if I don't believe and it's true then I'm screwed.

Reasons why this email pissed me off:

1. "This is true." 

...was the first thing that was emphasized. Yet based on what, I don't know. It just orders the reader to believe first because once that's over with then whatever the message is it will get passed on anyway.

2. "Sheikh Ahmed..."

And just who is this guy? I've never heard of him. I'm sure many others who received this email hadn't either. In my point of view that's the equivalent of a John Smith or a Jane Doe.

3. "...had a dream of the Prophet Mohamed."

Okay. We all know what hearsay is, right? It is defined as: heard through another rather than directly. In other words: a rumour. In religion I find that hearsay has been a serious problem, unfortunately it'll stick around until the end of time. Faith itself is blind. It's not called faith if it isn't blind. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. It's an impression or idea whereby some confidence is placed. In this case it's a 'fact' that just can't be supported by reason. The whole email was based on a dream that a non-existing guy had.

4. "...because they never did what Allah had asked them to do."

Ah... the best part - the infliction of fear begins. First it asks you to believe, and if you don't it then tries to convince you kindly, and if you still don't then it warns you. Eventually if you are a complete disbeliever then it shall threaten you in the name of God. And by "it" I'm referring to what may be written words (regardless of whether they are emails, letters, books, or articles) or those who - I'm sure with good intention - continue to disable the minds of every child the moment they are born.
"Don't do that, it's a sin. If you don't listen to your parents, you will be punished in hell. If you leave your religion you will be killed and your soul will be eternally damned. The reason you are miserable is because you wouldn't believe."
It's always about being punished, I wonder what's the point of being part of this whole Universe in the first place if that's going to be the fate of us all. Yet there are some people who strongly believe that they are good enough for paradise. And this precise arrogance drives their need to evangelize, indoctrinate, save souls, preach, pontificate, anything... because they think they know the truth.
Once again, we all know what hearsay is. Truth cannot reveal itself through hearsay, it just doesn't do it justice.

5. The signs of the coming of Judgement Day.

I'm sure most of us have heard horrible stories about it. I know I have. And there isn't enough horrible stories about it yet. Signs of Judgement Day is commonly mentioned in Islam, at least I know that during my growing years. I resented it. It was only one of the many things that contribute to the fear inside me. Fear of living, fear of dying, fear of making mistakes, fear of new things, fear of everything. How am I to live?
It no longer feeds my fear as of lately. I've grown to realize that this is not what religion is supposed to be. And it has no right to inflict fear just to get me to believe. I fell for that once, even so against my will, and being so engaged in my has-been faith never did make my life a lovely walk in the park.
I have heard so many stories, but not one sounded the most sincere to me. Of all that I have heard, I only saw that what such things did to me was cause paralyzing fear. I can never really heal from that.

6. Bashing or belittling of Non-Muslims.

It doesn't matter what the excuse it, it's unacceptable. See, religion puts certain people in a position where they feel like they have the right to look down upon others. Especially those who do not share the same faith as them. But it's arrogant, and there's no question to that.
I've experienced many instances where such words were said to me (about others):
"He's not Muslim, he's no one to me."
"How can you trust her? She's not Muslim."
"I'd rather not be friends with them, they're not Muslim."
"If you want to marry me, you have to convert because I'm Muslim and you're not."

The list goes on.

I'm sure it happens in any religion. It's a shame because very few people realize that this attitude has divided us in more ways that we can imagine. Hence ignorance, arrogance, violence, hate, and war.
There is nothing peaceful about that.

The point here is, this Sheikh Ahmed is non-existing in the first place so to believe that he indeed dreamt of the Prophet is like believing someone telling you that when you have happy thoughts you can literally fly. So go, just go up to the fucking roof and jump off - it must be true that you can fly!
If you would only believe.

Before I continue with Chain Email #2, let me clarify that I respect other people for the faith that they choose to believe in, regardless of what it is. I am only addressing a discreet problem that exists in the topic of religion, and even more so I speak from personal experience. I find it wrong to spread false information, regardless of how beautifully disguised it is. But I do not expect anyone to agree or disagree with me. I'm only stating my honest opinion and that's as far as it goes. So here I share with you the very surface of what I've had a hard time with for many years: religion.

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."
- Andre Gide

1 comment:

  1. Nice entry. But this merely highlights the bad part about religion, which in essence, isn't as screwed up as you'd believe. I don't blame you if you feel this way, since the world is fucked up enough right now to make religion look or sound like a bad thing.

    If anything, your entry underlines what religion does to screw people over:
    1. makes people kill others in the name of God i.e. terrorists
    2. makes people chide others for their different faiths because they believe theirs is superior
    3. makes these silly emails keep coming back

    Faith may be blind, but it does have a purpose. Sure, many very God fearing and religious individuals will continue preaching about the afterlife, consequences of not having faith in God and to always abide by their teachings etc. But it's merely a means to an end, and that end is to make people behave. If humans had something to believe in (especially the younger generation), no matter how unreal it may be, it would make them better people. It's better than having them believe in the horrors of the real world, and they might turn out to be people who think that it's OK to hurt others if they think they had just one reason.

    Of course, some people, like you Ira, may not need religion to be a good person. But we're all born differently, and we all have different weaknesses. The spiritually weaker people will need faith in God to learn how to be good human beings. Even if what they learn might have actually been written by a person instead of God himself, it'll be all right if they turned out to be better than when they started out in life.

    I think that religion is a tool to help us be good people. Yeah, I know it doesn't work all the time, since some people still misunderstand its purpose completely. But the point is, it's better to believe in something, than nothing at all. ('something' being the good parts about religion and its real purpose, not the twisted things the misguided ones talk about)

    By the way, you should find out who's sending you these emails and block them. I know you don't need to read all the crap in them.

    On a side note, I think you can spare us the second chain letter (if it's related to religion again). You've made your point. Jut my opinion, it's your blog.

    'You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it' - Samuel Butler