Once upon a time, in the land of the pure, I was a religious fundamentalist

Published: May 1, 2014

The more you are exposed to a diversity of people, the more you broaden your mind and cease thinking in absolutes.

I have a mantra on life which I wish to share with all of you – ignorance restricts and breeds hatred and extremism, while knowledge liberates and breeds compassion and understanding. Fundamentalism stems from ignorance and thus, only breeds negativity. It is a venomous disease that kills positivity and growth. It needs to be identified and cured, on a very personal level.

As a Muslim, who had adopted a fundamentalist approach in his earlier days, I have come a long way by internalising a basic yet painful truth – I do not have all the answers, hence different points of view are not only necessary for my own growth and evolution, being the prime purpose of life, but respecting diversity is the only solution for progress and coexistence. I have come to realise that only those who hold a shallow outlook are afraid of diversity in thought, for it threatens ungrounded and un-researched prejudices and beliefs.

Bertrand Russell, puts it wisely as,

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts”.

So here are four factors that fuel religious fundamentalism:

1. Lack of independent study and exposure to different schools of thought

In my opinion, the biggest factor of fundamentalism and dogmatism is that most people do not critically examine the philosophy of life they profess to accept and believe in. Naively believing whatever is told to them by their family, friends and scholars, they lack the exposure to different schools of thought that have the tendency of humbling one’s self.

So, when their blind faith is threatened by an opposing point of view, such people, unable to prove their point by reasoning, resort to insults and bad language or in extreme cases, to violence in order to protect that belief and gain a feeling of supremacy and self-worth. This, in medical terms, is also known as cognitive dissonance.

2. Inconsistency in approach

Whether it be theism or atheism, dogmatism and fundamentalism exists on both sides of the coin. This is the bitter truth that I’ve observed over the years. One would expect atheists and ‘progressive religionists’ to be more open-minded towards those whose perspective differs from theirs, but unfortunately, this is not the case with all of them. Ironically, they become what they detest the most – hardliner preachers of their ‘religion’, looking down upon anyone and everyone who differs. Of course, I do not mean to imply that every atheist or theist behaves like that, which brings me to my next point of generalisations.

3. Generalisations and thinking in absolutes

Generalisations play a key role in fundamentalism and dogmatism – all Muslims are terrorists; all atheists are proud and arrogant; every black person is a thug; every white person a racist. Fundamentalists perceive everything in a black and white manner, refusing, or simply uninterested, to observe the many shades of grey within.

This, again, brings me back to my previous factor regarding exposure. The more you are exposed to a diversity of people, their way of living, their way of thinking, their way of worshiping (or the lack thereof), the more you broaden your mind and cease thinking in absolutes.

4. Possessing the key to ‘the sole truth’

Religionists are brought up believing that their path to God is the ‘only’ rightful path worthy of salvation, and hence, this brainwashing turns some, if not most, of them into bigots. For example, Atheists believe that atheism is the ‘only’ rational approach and such perspective turns some of them into bigots.

What needs to be eliminated is the personal belief of having a monopoly over the truth, even the idea of there being a sole truth out there. But it’s challenging because having a monopoly over truth and looking down upon others is a great boost for the ego and a major source of self-worth for some. In addition, this feeling of superiority, due to having the key to ‘the truth’, may well be the defining part of their personality, making it even harder for them to abolish this self-centred belief.

However, sincere people in all walks of life eventually realise the need for pluralism and tolerance. A sincere person analyses the contradictions in his own approach and works on continually reforming himself, instead of always finding faults with others. Such a person strives for consistency in approach. If he detests something in others, he makes it incumbent upon himself that that negative trait is not a part of his own personality. And when he does so, he automatically becomes more tolerant, more compassionate, more humble, and above all, he is able to acquire peace within himself which ultimately is the prime purpose of any philosophy of life. All in all, he is more interested in his own evolution instead of proving others wrong.

As Gandhi said,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

Rohail Waseem

Ro Waseem

The author is a Muslim who writes about Progressive Islam. He runs a weekly blog on Patheos (www.patheos.com/blogs/quranalyzeit) and has contributed some of his articles to Huffington Post, Onfaith, & Tikkun, among others. He tweets as @Quranalyzeit (twitter.com/quranalyzeit)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • shehryar

    So trueRecommend

  • BlackJack

    This is an excellent piece. An important truth that is often overlooked is the ‘fanaticism’ of the non-believer, and I am very happy that the author has picked up on this. I think acceptance is the key to harmony in society, and this acceptance requires acknowledging that one does not have access to all the answers, and that religion can at best serve as a moral compass that points in the direction of truth and not as a blueprint that ignores the greatest lesson of all – the journey itself.Recommend

  • Faisal

    What’s the meaning of different signs in the picture “Atheist” ??Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    You shouldn’t be overlooking proportionality for the sake of ‘consistency in approach’.

    To present bigoted loudmouths and internet trolls as the atheist equivalents of child-marriage advocating, suicide-bombing religious terrorists, is ‘consistent’ but ultimately illogical. They are not ‘equally’ dangerous.

    You cannot just invent symmetry to make the dialogue easier..Recommend

  • Malik Abdul Rehman

    You seem to have a constraint approach while writing this and that to me is due to the lack of acceptance that your blog would have faced by readers belonging to any of the monotheist ideologies,since every person has a different perspective while reading specific content I in my limited percept would regard this writing straight out of an immature polytheist mindRecommend

  • Critical

    You talked about generalizing and you generalized all atheists as one…

    Actually there are many kind of atheists

    1.Deist – Who believe that God is real,but all religions are invented for political and financial gains
    2.Agnostic – Is still in doubt if God exists or not
    3.Normal atheist- Who dont believe in God but also believe that you have a right to ur beliefs no matter how crazy it is as long asit doenst harm anyone
    4.Anti-theist – Those who reject God vehemently and for those someone wearing a cross or praying is seen as a slavery

    FYI,its strange that you equated atheists with religious fundamentalists….When was the last time an atheist suicide bomber detonated himself in a religious place??? How come someone arguing over internet is treated in the same depth as someone who can physically harm others???

    We,atheists,have suffered from your hands for several centuries with murder,torture and you cannot even bear a few insults over internet ???Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Being the only ones on the right path does not necessarily result in a feeling of superiority. For many people this is the reason for being humble. Remember that there is just one correct way. There are similarities between different religions but the fundamental differences are so big that all cannot be the path to salvation. Plus it doesn’t really matter what we think. If God has chosen one correct religion that we can’t make things on our own.Recommend

  • MHZ

    Excellent article..
    I would also endores BlackJack’s point here.Recommend

  • MJ

    “Taqleed” or blind following has done Islam and Pakistan the most damage. People who consider themselves Hanafi don’t have a clue about Imam Abu Hanifa’s teachings and just blindly follow their Imam or cleric who himself has no clue of what he is talking about and adhering to. ALLAH SWT did not make us Hanafi, Hambli, Shafaa’i, Maliki & Jaafri etc. HE made us Muslims and gave us a brain to discern right from wrong. None of the Imams ever claimed that they are 100% right and the others are wrong. People should follow “daleel” or evidence rather than personalities and cults. For those who still persists, specially in majority Hanafi Pakistan, to blindly follow this madhab …. the great Abu Hanifa himself did not do taqleed and had difference of opinions from his own teacher Imam Jafar Sadiq.Recommend

  • gp65

    Well written. May your tribe increase.Recommend

  • http://kashifmd.com/ Kashif Chaudhry

    Once we have established a principle, we can talk of proportions. We can argue on who is a bigger bigot – a theist Mullah (Taliban) or an atheist Mullah (militant atheists like Hirsi Ali, Hitchens). You should not be so defensive when atheist Mullahs are called out. You should not plead proprtions. If the principle troubles you, join Ro in speaking against it. No defenses. Thanks.Recommend

  • Parvez

    A nice piece on religion, belief and what-not, explained in a way that makes sense…….and avoided hypocrisy and confrontation.Recommend

  • HA

    “Lack of independent study and exposure to different schools of thought”

    I will only respond with the following points in favour of Islam:

    1. I have studied Islam and compared it with other religions, and have found Islam
    to be true – not just because I was born in a Muslim family!

    2. There are really ample proofs in Quran that it is a true revelation from the Creator. There are scientific proofs (facts told in Quran, before the discoveries were made). There are predictions that have already come to pass. The consistency and the style of Quran throughout (revealed in 23 years) are beyond human. It does not reflect that it was man-made.

    3. Despite all the negative propaganda, Islam is the fastest growing religion on the face of the earth!

    4. Prophesies about coming of the Last Prophet (pbuh) have already been told in the earlier scriptures.

    5. A simple logical thinking also confirms the existence of Creator, accountability of our deeds (some kind of judgment day) and the sending of His messages.

    Further, nowhere in Islam, it is told to disrespect other religions. In an Islamic state, non-Muslims are allowed to practise their religion. However, like every citizen of the state, they also have to respect the laws of Islam. Laws are not discrimination; they
    are laws. Non-Muslims have equal opportunities in education and jobs, and their protection is state’s responsibility just like others.Recommend

  • India

    This is an excellent piece. Somewhat spoiled by the authors insistence on equating “fundamental atheists” with religious fundamentalists. The former are much less percentage of their community, much less dangerous and much more educated. As Faraz Talat says in his comment, you cannot invent symmetry to make the dialogue easier and “balanced”.Recommend

  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir

    A Muslim, is one who believes in the oneness of Allah, and that Prophet Mohammed SAWS, is the last and final Prophet, sent to mankind.
    This world, is only a big joke, and a temporary life. The real eternal life is the hereafter.
    Only those who believe will be in sha Allah, successful. The disbelievers will have an
    eternal punishment. The Quran is the living miracle, a mercy and guide for the
    believers. But for those who think like you, it adds to their loss and deficit.
    It is therefore important to understand the Quran, specially in Arabic, since the beauty
    of the Quran, lies in understanding it in the Arabic language.
    The plight of Muslims, today is their failure, and lethargy in understanding the book
    of Allah, which is the only solution to the problems and issues of humanity.
    The shaytan is the eternal enemy of Muslims, and a declared open enemy.
    Do not fall in his trap, for he is a sworn enemy. May Allah Subhana guide us all
    on sirat e mustaqeem, his straight path, and enable us to die as Muslim, Ameen,
    Ya Rabal Alameen.Recommend

  • Prashant

    Is it a crime to be an atheist?Recommend

  • Sajid I. Barcha

    Looks like he still has to understand some of the most tempting fallacies, that sound intelligent at surface but are flawed at root. I am sure in due time, he will come to understand the fallacy of false balance.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Balance_fallacyRecommend

  • Azm

    I cant help but heap lavish praise on this fantastically written article. One must be rational and continually question the status quo rather than blindly accept what has been told by his or her parents, friends, teachers, government etc. A society or a community should be strong enough to be able to introspect and look within itself, accept any shortcoming and overcome those shortcomings through reform and progress. Such actions can only lead to a better outcome for not only the person’s community and society but the for everyone at large. The West has gone through a continuous cycle of reform over the centuries and can now proudly boast to have some of the highest standards of living and a population which for most parts is well off than the rest of the world.

    I wish this article was printed in multiple languages, in a wider set of newspapers and other news media. Views such as those expressed by the author are the need of the hour and can help this country from submitting to fundamentalists and other religiously inspired ideological dogmas which can only pull the country further backwards.Recommend

  • PCG

    Well written article. This phenomenon of growing fundamentalism in Pakistan is also a product of the parasitism of ignorance and poverty. It will not be wrong to say that this country a land of adulterated instead of land of pure.

    So called religious heads have now becaome a cancer and I thing the best treatment to get rid of this Mullah desease is what regime of Suharto carried out during mid 60 in East Timor.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Atheists can be hard headed, but there is no Atheist version of Jihad or the Crusades.

    Thera are no Atheist Terror groups. Nor, has any Athiest group tried to takeover the State in any country.

    So comparing Athiests to Religious Fanaticism is simply ludicrous, considering Pakistan itself is a very good example of the latter.

    There are no Atheist Republics of XYZ going bonkers.

    I’d rather prefer a Athiest as a neighbour, than a Religious Fanatic. Be honest, wouldn’t you?Recommend

  • Tariq Rizwan

    What about the role of clerics’ so called self esteem that i am right and the other is wrong. Most of the fundamentalists and dogmatists are not clear on their respective schools of thought and only led by their clerics’ self belief about their religions. This struggle results into intolerance and clash of religions.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Evolution has invalidated Abrahamic Religions, you do know that, right?

    How can you claim then that “There are scientific proofs (facts told in Quran, before the discoveries were made)”?

    Before you say Evolution is just a theory not a fact(because that is the standard excuse of Religionists / Creationists), let me remind of another theory “Theory of Gravitation”. You are free to disagree with this particular non-fact and try to test this only-a-theory of Gravitation from the nearby balcony.

    So, anything which goes against Science is not and cannot be true. Right?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    This is rather amusing. Unless you have had a formal education on comparative religion in a non-Muslim country, there is absolutely no way that you could have actually compared your religion with other faiths. What you possibly did was search for proof points to confirm your existing bias. Most of your other points also are also confirmation-seeking in nature.

    Let me give you my equivalent. I am a Hindu because I was born into a Hindu family; I am a practising Hindu because I choose to be one – and there are certain aspects of my religion that I like, which are coincidentally the ones that I find to be in stark contrast to more organized, doctrine-based faiths – primarily the one that my thoughts and actions determine my future state, and not whether I choose to pay obeisance to a particular deity or not. I don’t care if other practising Hindus believe this or not, or whether people are converting into Hinduism or out of it; if human beings can gradually move to a stage when such labels are meaningless, the same purpose would still be served. I don’t care if I am going to heaven or hell (eternal life sounds like hell anyway :) or will be reborn as a toad – all I can try and do is justice to my role as a son, father, brother, husband, student, teacher, employee, employer, cook, cleaner, social worker or whatever it is that I do or that I am. This world is the one that I can influence, so I might as well devote my energies here instead of wasting time imagining reward or punishment, not just to me, but to the rest of humanity based on a set of rules that majority don’t accept. Last, a link related to your point # 3 as available on Wikipedia (ET – pls allow). You really cannot talk about fastest growing religions without considering outflow, which is necessarily a secret in most Muslim countries where it is a crime punished most severely.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastest_growing_religionRecommend

  • Ilmana Fasih

    Wonderful piece. Would just add a quote from Reza Aslan, an Iranian American author, “It is relationships not knowledge that change minds.”Recommend

  • Feroz

    Very good article but please do not equate atheists with fundamentalists. The atheists do not believe their views are superior neither do they suffer a craving to impose them on others. Violence is the tool of only the religious fundamentalists, no one else subscribes to their actions.Recommend

  • Meera Ghani

    Odd as your premise seems to exactly the one the article warns against- generalization. Here bigots are being compared to bigots, not terrorists or other criminals. Not all mullahs are gun trotting, suicide bombing terrorists. And if we must speak of blood on people’s hand and conscience then how can we ever ignore or discount the late Hitchens fervour and support for the Iraq war. That has killed so many more innocents than any other form of violence- all deplorable of course. Yes he didn’t go out and kill people- well neither do all the mullahs. It’s the incitement to violence and it’s support that’s the same on both sides. One side advocates state violence against those the despise and think it’s justified while the other calls for vigilante violence to get what they want. Not much difference if you ask me. One should talk about proportionality while looking at the whole spectrum. And I’m glad someone linked to the fallacy of balance because arguments like Faraz made are much too common.

    Other than that good blog but he got cognative dissonance wrong- which isn’t a bad thing as it allows you to resolve inner conflicts and sometimes see more that one perspective. Recommend

  • Meera Ghani

    Oh and I know this comment was aimed at the author and not Faraz, but applicable. By saying that atheists don’t go out and kill you are assuming that most fundamentalist Muslims go out and kill. How’s that even rational? Recommend

  • Meera Ghani

    Well said Recommend

  • kafir

    Last two lines are near perfect !Recommend

  • kafir

    You are victim of Islamic propaganda …Recommend

  • Vineeth

    Ever considered that possibility that God has not chosen any particular faith, and that the multitude of beliefs that exists in human societies were merely created as our answers regarding the unknown? Why believe that there can be only one ‘correct way’ for doing anything? Does it take a degree to know that such a thought is the beginning of ignorance and intolerance?Recommend

  • Vineeth

    Please… Take a moment to consider the possibility that you could be wrong, and others could be right. Or, at least that others could be right in their way. That is what I call wisdom. The opposite is what I would call arrogance and intolerance.Recommend

  • Vineeth

    On your last point, it should then be okay for Muslims to live under Hindu law and Christian law in areas where these religious groups are in majority, right?Recommend

  • Ahmad

    Excellent remark in the first part. (my own 2 posts were not published for a rebuttal).Recommend

  • Critical

    Not sure how you equate Chris Hitchen’s support on Iraq War with his views on atheism…Next you will equate his support for smoking with atheism???

    Hitch supporting Iraq War is different from ur local mullah supporting war on Israel… It doesnt have any hidden atheist agenda to attack a muslim country… It was more about his views on Saddam govt…If atheist agenda is the case,he would have been fuelling people to attack Saudi Arabia not Iraq…

    Just because Hitchens or Dawkins are popular speaker on atheism doesnt mean everything they say is keeping atheism in mind…Recommend

  • Talal

    Including that. you might like to know that Atheism is not a “BELIEF” system. It’s lack of belief because of the scientific, logical and rational thinking (i.e. No word as ‘belief’ is used in that).. so you might like to read more about evolutionary sciences to widen your perspective..Recommend

  • Guest

    Science/education are killing Islam and all religions…….right now it’s the educated and strong who’re leaving Islam in droves, and radical Islam heavily relies on the people being gullible as they are controlled by fear/deceit/threats (blasphemy laws).
    So Muslim leaders/clerics are rightfully concerned about the stagnation of Islam as becoming irrelevant by the day. Saudi clerics even now admit they’re ‘losing influence over the youth’. Sadly, we are all in for a very bumpy ride ahead due the aggressive nature of radical fundamentalists, but inversely these hostile attacks lead some Muslims astray from their beliefs.Recommend

  • Critical

    I’m sorry but I do know that atheists dont have “belief”..and one becomes an atheist after questioning his beliefs and his acceptance of evolution has no relevance on the same..
    In fact,one can be an atheist and reject evolution,big bang theory etc….

    The religious people club all those who have a central belief system as atheists..I just wanted to tell that there are different forms of them and he shouldnt confuse between atheists and anti-theist…Recommend

  • Jawad Ul Hassan

    Good one buddy as rightly pointed out…waiting for the time when we will start discussing the solutions…Recommend

  • Mehdi

    So you have understood the Quran really well, now please go to your humble abode that is full of heavenly fallacies. Only 15% of Muslims know arabic, what suggestion do you have for others to gain that heavenly knowledge, can’t the God’s miracle words be translated into Sanskrit or Japanese and still remain a God’s word. As a muslim the only miracle I can attest to Quran, that it hasn’t been modified from its original form. I have read bible and torah, Quranic stories resemble the other scriptures. Can you please tell me if can find a solution to my grand unified theory (Physics) in Quran because you are such a learned person of Arabic literature. If you can please cite an equation in Arabic numerals, it would be really helpful :) I can win the Nobel prize.Recommend

  • gp65

    Deists are NOT atheists. Deists believe in God atheists donot. Nor are agnostics atheists for they claim not to be sure whether God exists or not whereas atheists are certain that God does not exist.Recommend

  • gp65

    “Violence is the tool of only the religious fundamentalists, no one else subscribes to their actions.”
    I am unable to agree with this sentence while I agree with rest of your comment. Hitler wasn’t a religious fundamentalist nor Stalin nor MAo nor all those slave traders who enslaved milllions of Africans for purely economic purposes.Recommend

  • HA

    It is really difficult for a non-Muslim to know the state of mind of a firm believer – a believer who has no doubt whatsoever about Islam. This firmness/confidence does not come by just being born in a Muslim family. It comes after continuous contemplation, study and analysis. In my opinion, since people of other religions (or non-religion) cannot attain this much confidence over their beliefs (whatever they are), many of them do not get serious about their or any religion or faith, and therefore tend to generalize all of them as (possible) lies or stories. Unless you study Quran without any bias, it would not come to you as truth.
    I had lived in Canada for 11 years, and therefore got a chance to explore different religions, specially Christianity, though not formally. But, going through that exposure, had actually allowed me to further confirm my belief to be true.Recommend

  • HA

    Theory of evolution cannot be compared with theory of gravity as far as proof is concerned. The theory of gravitation proves itself, as we are standing on the earth. On the other hand, theory of evolution cannot prove itself. There are innumerable species, we say created,
    you say evolved, but that just doesn’t prove the theory. Well, they could have been created. Even if there had been any evolution it could be part of creation by the Creator. The main thing where theory of evolution fails is how the life first originated. It can, at the most, give some strange theories, but can never prove the origin of life.Recommend

  • salman

    1. Did you really study other religions and ideas with an open mind and heart? Or merely to look at points to deny those beliefs? Would you be able to consider that your belief is incorrect or not the absolute truth?
    2. Every religious person says that about their scriptures.
    3. Fastest growing does not mean it’s the truth necessarily.
    4. They are interpretations of what muslims think. Not necessarily truths.
    5. According to who? You’ve decided that it’s simple logic without any proof – isn’t your logic based on your upbringing? Which brings me to your first point – how much did you really approach things with an open mind and humbleness of opinion? Could you live for a month with a new set of beliefs to see how that feels?Recommend

  • Qaiser Habib

    Ghussa is haraam. So tolerate others point of view. But also see that your point of view do not hurt others.Recommend

  • Feroz

    Se are living in the present not in the long gone past, there being no Hitler or Mao. If you want to bring the past 100 years into the discussion, why not 5000 years ?Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    Hitler was Catholic by birth and, though he may not have believed in it later on, he was actually in favour of Christianity and against atheism.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    Your argument is also employing a false equivalence. Militant atheists as you call them do not seek to control people’s lives but merely aim to allow people to control their own lives without being oppressed by religion.
    A theist mullah (like the Taliban) aims to control lives and freedom of people.
    I’d choose the first category of people over the second any day.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    Most fundamentalist Muslims may not go out and kill, but some do and many more want to impose their fundamentalist views on everyone else by other means.
    You can’t say that about atheists. Even “fundamental” atheists as you could call them, would not want to interfere in your personal life and choices. And no atheists go out and kill people to further atheism. Before you bring up Stalin and Mao: they killed people in their aim to keep their communist governments running. Not because atheism told them to…because atheism is merely a lack of belief in God and does not ask anything else of you.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Thank God Evolution is proved by something called Genetic Sciences.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1350807/How-humans-97-orangutans-New-research-shows-DNA-matches.html

    DNA of Chimps and Orangutans are very closely related to us Humans, the most advanced Monkeys. Science has comprehensively proved that Theory of Evolution is a fact, just like Gravitational theory.

    Palaeontology is a branch of Science, which is dedicated to finding evidence of early life on Earth, related to fossils.

    I hope you have seen this before :

    http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn9989/dn9989-1_300.jpg

    Any lay man just look at these photo and say how related Humans and Apes are, which is what Evolution talks about and which goes against what many Religious Texts say.

    Science has gone so far as to even Map out the DNA to tell us where our ancestors lived, thereby giving us origin of Humans(which is what Abrahamic Religions talk about)

    http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/dna-gps-maps-where-your-ancestors-lived

    What about now? So, is it proved that Evolution has successfully invalidated the ideologies in Question? Or, are do doubts persist still. I’ll be happy to clear them for you, thanks to my Googling skills and countless Scientific Journals.Recommend

  • Brother Aly

    You made one wrong statement when ascribing the meaning of atheists. We do say there is no god, rather the lack of evidence to prove his existence. For someone who was defending Christopher Hitchens he always used to clarify this silly conundrum at the start of his debate.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    “One Upon a Time in the Land of Pure, I was a Religious Fundamentalist”- The title of this write up is wrong. A religious fundamentalist is one who follows the fundamentals of a religion. I do not want to speak about other religions, but regarding Islam all of its fundamentals are for the betterment of humanity. One fundamental out of the 5 fundamentals of Islam is Zakaat (Giving Charity to the poor). The other four fundamentals also lead to self discipline among humans and a consciousness that every human is accountable for their actions.
    You need to differentiate between fundamentalism and fanatism. The former being right and the latter being wrong.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    There is only one right path. There is only one divine religion from God which was conveyed by all the messengers of God (peace be on them). That is acquiring peace by submitting your will to the Real God. This is the message of Islam.
    However tolerance is of paramount importance. Even if other people are on the wrong path. Even if they do not practice Islam correctly, all you can do is tell them about the right path and leave it to them to accept it or not. God shall take account of every human’s actions.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Evolution is a theory which some scientists allude to. other scientists disagree with it. Secondly Science is constantly changing, as new experiments are done, old theories become obsolete.

    Finally even if the theory of evolution is proved correct, it has no issue with the Quran. Because in the Quran it is mentioned that certain humans were turned into apes as a punishment for their sins. The Quran also mentions that God is forgiving and does not punish the descendants for the sins of the ancestors. So it can be interpreted that some sinful humans were turned into apes and the descendants of the apes were turned back into humans.Recommend

  • Rakib

    You say: {However tolerance is of paramount importance. Even if other people are on the wrong path.}
    I am reminded of this sentence:-“….Toleration means that I think you are wrong and I am just allowing you to live. Is it not a blasphemy to think that you and I are allowing others to live?….” (Swami Vivekananda speaking at Universalist Church, Pasadena, California, on 28th January 1900.)Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    When it comes to a Scientific theory you cast a shadow of doubt, but when it comes to Religion you readily believe “humans were turned into apes as a punishment for their sins”.

    This Theory-slash-fact is NOT changing. Medicines are now first tested on Chimps before Human trials begins, based on the Genetic evidence of them being alike us. In a way Evolution is giving you the greatest gift of all – life saving Medicines.

    If you believe Evolution is not 100% accurate, are you willing to forgo modern medicine almost all of which are tested on Chimps and other Apes?

    You question Evolution, but enjoy its fruits. You twist Science and cast shadows on Scientific Theories, but have no problem believing in fiction originated 2000 years ago among Tribals in Arabia.

    You believe Religion first and then study Science. Then, twist Science to suit your needs.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    A firm believer with no doubts is very likely to have a closed mind. The excellent quote from Bertrand Russell in the blog above seems most apt in this case, and also brings to mind his eponymous concept now called the Russell’s teapot, which indicates that the burden of proof for faith-based claims rests with those who make/ support said claims. But do tell, how did you ‘explore’ Christianity? How many times did you read the Bible ‘without bias’? What about the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, Mahasamghika or the Kitab-i-Aqdas? I am sure that you know hardly anything about any of these – so your claim to arriving at the truth through comparing religions is, ironically, itself untruthful. No issues, most of us are similar, much like the six blind men of Hindostan, as summed up by John Godfrey Saxe:

    So oft in theologic wars,
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance
    Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seenRecommend

  • Guest

    Absolutely loved the Blog, especially the ”Coexist” Picture! The only thing that I not-so liked was the inclusion of the ”Satanist” Symbol (above the letter ‘I’) alongside the other Symbols- as you would know why. However I do understand that the Picture was not yours, as it is searched up from the net. Massive kudos to you @Ro Waseem, for ”striving to bring reformation to the ‘Islamic world’ and…
    separating culture from religion”. This is surely something which we need in Pakistani Society, in the Land of the Pure!Recommend

  • Parvez

    My friend who is a practising devout Muslim once asked me : Do you know what our problem is ? …..and then went on to answer it himself, he said : Our problem is that we have convinced ourselves that only we will be allowed into heaven, all the rest are not good enough…..and then he laughed and said…….yes, we are that stupid.Recommend

  • HA

    Since, I did not have any doubt about Islam, – it is a straight-forward religion, containing a living miracle that is called “Quran” – I really did not find any illogical belief in Islam from my childhood. I, however, had found (smetimes very) illogical beliefs in other religions also from my childhood. I do not think that that is the case with the followers of every other religion. Deep inside evrey one there is a conscience, that can differentiate right from wrong. One can either suppress its voice or follow it. From the depth of my conscience, I did not and do not find any basic belief illogical in Islam and Quran. Just to give you an example, one Creator makes more sense than more than one creators, taking a statue as a creator makes not much sense to me anytime of my life, and it cannot. The reason is it is in contradiction with conscience or wisdom that the Creator has bestowed to us. So on and so forth. There has never been a basis to doubt the foundation of Islam.

    As far as sriptures are concerned, not a single scripture, other than Quran, has been preserved, to start with. Quran is the only scripture that has been learnt by heart by hundreds of thousands of Muslims (in Arabic – the original language of its revelation), including small children! Amazing indeed! The preservance of Quran has been foretold in the Quran.

    When a religion, that is being projected not so good, a larger number of people converting into it, is this not unusual? Imagine the growth if it’s being projected as a good religion! Yes, it may not 100% prove the truthfulness, but it is a very good indicator/ measure of a true religion, specially when media is bent upon proving it bad/false.

    I agree that Prophesies are not clearcut, because they are prophesies. But, when many prophesies fit one Personality (pbuh) more than anyone, then, you can guess what? Still a guess – I guess; but with extremely high probability!

    Let me elaborate about my simple logic…
    Proof of the Existence of a Creator:
    – Any material thing has itself no power to think. For, example, our brain is a piece of flesh, or like a computer, where signals travel to and fro. It is not the computer that understands a bit about anything. It is we, the humans, who understands the results on the monitor. We are the driving force behind computer which is just a machine. Similarly, our brain is like a computer machine, whose driver is outside the materialistic domain. It is our soul, which is the driving force behind our brain. Science, has not been able to explain soul, but it is indispensable with our brain. It is true that soul has not created our eyes. An eye is a complex thing to have been created to accomplish the process of “seeing”, and it can only be created by someone with a purpose. It is useless without a soul though. Just like our soul is indispensable, the One who has actually implemented the idea of “seeing” is also
    indispensable.
    – Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can convert into mass and mass into energy. Since, in the beginning the universe has a zero mass, that means at one point, there was only energy. But we know that energy cannot be created. So, the energy was there with no beginning. Everything that has been created after that – the universe, plants, animals and humans are all created with wisdom and intelligence, for instance, eyes to convert the surrounding light signals into sight/picture for the soul to see/understand, ears to convert the surrounding movements (vibrations) into something called “sound” for the soul to hear/understand! Similarly production of milk inside mother to fulfill her baby’s need. Amazingly intelligent creations! – moreover, created purposefully. Without One Supreme Driving Force, it is not possible to have that system in place!

    Proof of the Judgment Day and the Messages sent from the Creator:
    When existence of a Creator has been proven, then it makes sense that we are accountable for our thoughts and actions. Since, it is beyond wisdom to have created all the life on this planet without any purpose – like a bubble of water; our Creator has sent His chain of messages to get us to know our purpose and our final destination. As, nothing is really achieved, if we die forever! That’s why life-after-death is also quite imminent.Recommend

  • Dante

    The fanatics are usually the ones who rule and change this world (their self-belief allows them to). The wise people just lounge on their dining tables or stare into their computer screens and churn out philosophical masterpieces. Russell is right; wise people are full of doubts. That’s why they’re not game changers. And I’m not referring to religious fundamentalism. Just talking in general terms.Recommend

  • Dante

    Regardless of the “types” of Atheism, in the end it’s all Atheism. It doesn’t matter what type you belong to. If you lack belief, you’re an Atheist.Recommend

  • Nobody

    Agreed.
    @Kashif……”Militant atheists”, although bigoted, don’t seek to impose their ideology on others using violence as a method. Child marriage to square a debt or rape of an accused “criminal’s” female family member are among many “justice” methods unique to religious militants and I, as many, find that far more frightening and damaging than having a bigoted, semi-self-righteous attitude about a belief in a higher power.
    Cheers.Recommend

  • Alann

    Now just need to publish this in Urdu.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    The burden of proof you demand from Science, you will not demand from Religion.

    I just gave you a picture of fossils gathered by Palaeontologists to prove man indeed evolve from Apes.

    But I’m sure deep down you don’t believe in the lies you propagate. Modern medicines are tested on Chimps and other Apes before Human trials because of the theory of evolution. Since Evolution is not true or not confirmed, will you stop taking Modern Medicines? Obviously they are not tested as per ur high standards.

    Which is strong, your faith or your Rationality? If you take modern medicines from this day forward you will only be another believing hypocrite.Recommend

  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir

    You speak like one of those who lack common sense.
    I said understanding Arabic, makes it a lot easier to comprehend the
    beauty of the miraculous Quran. You could read it in several languages, and indeed the book of Allah, has been transalated in
    several languages. The Arabic text of the Quran, is the original
    revelation, while translations can have different choice of words.
    How ever there are many ayahs in present, or past tense used in the
    Quran, which can be well understood if a person cares to learn
    Arabic. The Arabic used by Allah Subhana in the Quran, is classical
    Arabic, and Arabic spoken presently has many slangs.
    My point is basically emphasizing that understanding Arabic helps
    one to comprehend many things which translations can never
    accomplish. Kindly get your perspectives correct before commenting
    on noble ideas.
    All the best.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    You could not respond to my previous comment that the theory of evolution has no issue with the Quran. Secondly Science never said that it is anti religion. Also religion never said that it is anti science. In fact in the Quran, Allah tells humans to ponder over the creation of this universe. Science explains the ‘how things work’ Religion explains ‘Why things work’. Science explains how this universe came to creation, religion explains why this universe came to creation. There is no conflict between the two. You need to come out of your confused mindset.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    You need to understand that there is no conflict between Science and Islam. In fact science only proves with time and experiments what the Quran already mentioned 1450 years ago.
    The Quran mentioned that some sinful humans were turned into apes as a punishment. Then the Quran also mentioned that Allah is forgiving and does not punish the descendants for the sins of their ancestors. 1450 years ago, when the Quran was revealed, every human would have found it hard to believe that humans can turn into apes and then apes can turn back into humans.

    Today the theory of evolution has proved the second part that apes can turn into humans. after 1000 years or may be even before that, another scientific theory will also prove the first part that some humans turned into apes.

    Regarding Medicine, Islam clearly says that humans have to take medicines to support their ailing bodies but the actual recovery comes from Allah. If you analyse scientifically your body heals itself as medicines support your body and helps it in fighting off the viruses. If your body did not have the God given ability to fight back, medicines on their own would be useless. God has given your body the power to recover with the help of cure (modern medicines, herbal medicines, etc). Finally the source product of all modern medicines is a natural ingredient i.e provided by God. Ask any pharmacist about the source of medicines or any doctor about the source of recovery.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    People like Zakir Naik do not think so. Are you a better scholar than him on Islam?

    Evolution is not taught in all Islamic Republics, because it invalidates Islam. So your claim is simply not true that there is no contradiction between Quran and Science.

    Here are a list of Scientific contradictions.

    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Scientific_Errors_in_the_Qur'an

    To be fair all Religions do this before the advent of modern Science. But, please be rational enough to admit its man-made.

    First, you cast doubts on Evolution, when I provide you evidence, you go on to claim there is no contradiction between Science and Religion. Then I point out Modern Medicines are based on the theory you casted doubts on and you quite conveniently use the Quran to justify utilising the theory-which-invalidates-Islam to heal yourself.

    I find all this opportunistic and convenient.

    There are so many Religions which claim they possess the ultimate truth. How can all be true?

    Salman Rushdie once remarked when he heard 2 people defending their Religion against the other : “Each one was claiming ‘My fiction is better than yours'”.Recommend

  • Rakib

    Apropos your comment following story might interest you:-Maulana Mohammad Ali, his brother Shaukat Ali and Mahatma Gandhi made a strange partnership in the 1920s while resisting the British in India. The three along with millions of Indians H&M both took up the Turkish cause & struggled together for a while in the Khilafat Movement of the ’20s. In 1921 September Ali Bros & Shankaracharya of Sarda Peeth Shringeri Mysore-high pontiff of Hindus were arrested and tried in Karachi on charge of influencing Army soldiers to disobey the British.

    While highlighting his devotion to Islam Mohammed Ali said thus…Quote:[ I hold Islam to be the highest gift of God (and) I am impelled by the love I bear for Mahatma to pray to God that He might illumine his soul with the true light of Islam.

    I deeply revere my own mother.Similarly,I regard Maulana Bari as my religious guide. But in spite of all this I make bold to say that I have not yet found any person who in actual character is entitled to a higher place than Mahatma Gandhi.

    But between belief and actual character there is a wide difference. As a follower of Islam I am bound to regard the creed of even a fallen and degraded Muslim (as) entitled to a higher place than that of any other non-Muslim irrespective of his high character, even though the person in question be Mahatma Gandhi himself].:Unquote

    This led to protests by Hindus. Gandhi had just been released by the British from jail due to illness and only comment that he had to make was typical of the man. He dismissed off Hindu protests as their effort to make a mountain out of mole-hill and praised Maulana Mohammad Ali for his statement that showed nothing but “the purity of the Maulana’s faith in his own religion”Recommend

  • HA

    Just to clarify a thing, as I explained in my reply to salman below, there had never been any basis for me to doubt the foundation of Islam. With this background, I was not searching for the truth as many others (followers of other religions) really do. I only responded to the author’s
    first point “Lack of independent study and exposure to different schools of thought”. Because, this does not apply to me, even though, I didn’t study every bit of every religion, but atleast had some exposure to know where and what went wrong to earlier messages sent from the Creator. Every religion today, might have originally been revealed from the Creator. But later on with changes made into them, they are not only not reliable any more, but also
    contradict the voice of conscience or wisdom. Forget about me, just imagine a person who is till now unaware of any religion. If this person is given knowledge and allowed to study different religions on his own (a perfect example of without bias), and has to pick just one religion that seems more truthful to him than all the rest. What will he pick will be the religion that is closer to his inner voice of conscience and wisdom.

    In my first point, I should have written, “…..and have STILL found Islam to be true….”

    One more thing about the Creator, as I have also explained in my reply to Salman, it is not necessary that every thing we must see physically to believe in it. I can give you a number of examples. Energy cannot be seen, but one can’t deny its presence. Pain can’t be seen, but it is felt. We can’t see our
    soul, but its existence is indispensable/ undeniable. In the same way, we may not see our Creator (His dimension is probably higher than our time-space dimension), but His existence/presence is indispensable due to the factors I explained in replying to Salman. As an example, one can’t create an eye without the knowledge of “seeing” and seeing is something requiring another invisible entity – soul – to comprehend. Who is that knowledgable Entity? I think is an invaluable question here to answer.

    So, only seeing is not believing, but seeing with wisdom is also believing. Additionally, as said, there are number of facts (scientific and others) foretold in Quran. And there had been many scientists who after seeing these, have converted into Islam. There are priests, etc, who have converted into Islam.

    One more point, I didn’t mention earlier. Accepting Islam requires a submission and commitment from the believer, some restrictions are imposed, you have to put a good amount of your time daily for the Creator, starting from before the sun even rises, that is at dawn. You have to do fasting from dawn to dusk (no food, drink, etc.) for one complete month. You have to pay a mandatory charity each year if you can afford. That is, day in and day out, you need to submit yourself to the Creator. With this knowledge, if a non-Muslim converts into Islam, he/she will make sure that it is really the true religion before giving so much sacrifices.Recommend

  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir

    A Muslim, is so certain about his belief, as one is about day, or night.
    The books of non Muslims, are distorted versions of revelations that
    we’re given to different Prophets. Allah Subhana says there was not a
    single community on this earth, where he did not send a Prophet.
    I seriously recommend you to meet Dr Zakir Naik, in Mumbai, and ask
    all questions. I am sure you will return satisfied.
    Take a shower, say the shahadah, and accept Islam. You will see the
    difference In sha Allah.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Can you name some incidents where “militant atheists” have highjacked planes or kidnapped little girls?Recommend

  • Prof

    If the military/political actions of an atheist can be considered as separate from his beliefs (or lack there of) why must the actions (good or bad) of theists be associated with their beliefs?

    To which you’ve said that the beliefs of the theists ask the believer to do certain things, buUUutttt what the beliefs actually say/imply depends on interpretation of the individual and there is wide array of interpretations so one can not generalize.
    But if one insists on comparing Theist Militants and Atheist Militants; then in order to compare the two, the same approach must be applied equally. If the actions of one are associated with their beliefs so must the actions of the other be associated with their beliefs (or lack of it).

    P.S. Atheists, much like theists, worship their maker… the only difference is theists believe they were made by God while the atheists believe that they are self made. :DRecommend

  • Prof

    Honestly, I’d prefer a financially, socially, emotionally and educationally prosperous ‘religious fundamentalist’ neighbor to an atheist who is hungry, poor, illiterate and emotionally unstable.. specially if the later is well armed.

    Unfortunately it is the believers who are most often poor, hungry, illiterate and armed. If an atheist found himself in such a situation… well, you know what they say… there are no atheists in foxholes :) .Recommend

  • Parvez

    That was interesting…..and Mohammad Ali was wrong. I hold that my friend’s contention is right.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    As you have reminded me earlier.

    Religion is just a theory. And, like Evolution, theories are not facts.

    :)Recommend

  • AlexJha

    The only reason why I don’t like rabid atheists like Dawkins. Religious fundamentalists are worse than Dawkins though.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    All the ‘so called’ contradictions link you gave are not contradictions but merely misstatements. see their reply here : http://www.islamic-life.com/forums/faithfreedom-wikiislam/rebuttal-wikiislam-contradictions-quran-5629

    Secondly I already mentioned that not all scientists agree to the theory of evolution, but I gave you the answer on the assumption that even if the theory of evolution is right, it supports the verses of the Quran.

    Regarding modern medicines, all modern doctors say what I have said that medicines help your body to heal. The human body’s healing capability is a God given thing without which medicine would be useless.

    Finally Islam is the only religion where the focus of worship is God and no one else, hence proof that it is divine. Other religions focus on dieties/people apart from God ie Jesus, Buddha, Rama, Shiva, Vishnu, etc hence proof of their being man made.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Abrahamic Religions talk about Adam and Eve. That is why Creationism, which claims Earth is 6000 years old consists mostly of people of the 3 Religions.

    Please show me a non-Muslim/non-Christian/non-Jewish who say Evolution is not true.

    You are being a hypocrite by consuming medicines which based on a theory you reject as false. This shows utter opportunism.

    “all modern doctors say what I have said that medicines help your body to heal.”

    What does this sentence even mean? When did I say it the contrary? The Medicines which are prescribed by Doctors are tested on Apes, who are our ancestors based on Darwin’s theory.

    You want to believe in Islam, not believe in Evolution, but want Evolution to save your life? Why not rely on Quran?

    “Finally Islam is the only religion where the focus of worship is God and no one else, hence proof that it is divine.”

    Since, God is only a theory and theories are not fact, I don’t know how this sentence makes sense.

    Do you agree that the concept of God itself is a theory, which no one has every proved?

    At least Evolution has fossils and DNA to back it up, can you tell me why you believe in this fiction?Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    You are really confused with the theory of evolution and even more
    confused about religion. Firstly no where in the Quran does it say that
    this world is 6000 years old. This error of 6000 years is from the
    bible. secondly evolution is not even accepted by all Scientists but for
    argument sake even if we accept evolution as a right theory, I have
    proved that it does not go against the Quran. Thirdly modern medicines
    for humans are even tried on cats and mice apart from apes. Hence modern
    medicines and evolution are two separate topics which you are
    completely confused about. study both science and Islam properly, only
    then, will your confusion clear. Finally belief in God comes when you
    experience and analyse the presence of God in events that happen in your
    life. If you use your brains you will accept that this planet earth is
    so human friendly. if we did not have water or air, no human could
    survive. and no human provides the air we breath or the rain water we
    use for harvesting of crops. So its simple to understand that God is
    there to provide humans the basic things we need for our survival. But
    as Allah mentions in the Quran, the disbelievers have a veil over their
    understanding and a painful torment awaits them on resurrection.Recommend

  • ram

    dude to make chicken Biryani you need chikcen rice and masalas, however in Pakistan you guys left with only Chicken and everyone else has left the country, there should plural society with right balance to achieve a secular nation.

    When you live in a society you tend to follow the norms and feels majority is always right, I remember entire Gaddafi stadium shouting Pakistan ka Matalab kya slogans, when you have christian or a hindu next to you any decent person will try to avoid showing these sentiments.Recommend