“True” Islam vs. “Violent” Islam

One of my girlfriends from Pakistan is from the Bohra community in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I didn’t know when I lived in Pakistan but since then, I have found out that the Bohra community people are orthodox Muslims and one of the things they do is to genitally mutilate their daughters.

So she has suffered this fate. Part of her body has been cut away because her parents believed that they are doing right by the Allah of Islam. She has been able to share this story and her pain with me only because she no longer lives in Pakistan. I cannot even imagine the physical pain she suffered as a child and the psychological scars that resonate through her soul. What a way to shame a whole human being? What a way to torture and punish a child?

People have been telling me that, instead of blaming Islam, I should actually blame the individuals who commit such heinous acts.

People tell me that the “true” Islam is a religion of peace and I should spend more time learning the true Islam.

People tell me that things have changed in Pakistan and what I and my fellow women experienced were isolated events.

During some of these debates on Facebook, I came across this comment made last week on my blog Violence against Women made Right.

True Islam vs Violent Islam

Since he has made these comments publicly, I guess I can use these as an example. Hamd is a 20-year-old young man, who is smart, intelligent and knows the ways of the world. Yet, when it comes to his religion, he is unable to question and he blindly believes what he has been taught.

Where did he learn that? How can one so blindly claim and condemn millions to Hell? Are his views isolated and individual? or a representative of the collective beliefs of the young minds in Pakistan.

We forget that we don’t choose our religion; we are born into it. Hamd Rashid is a Muslim simply because he was born one. So many of us are Christian or Jews or Buddhists because we are born into a household that is of that faith.

I was born Muslim and for many many years, I believed exactly what Hamd believes. I never questioned my beliefs because I was surrounded by Muslims who believed what I believed.

Then I received an opportunity to live in Singapore. There, I met people of many faiths and beliefs. One day, a friend of mine invited me to her “baptism” ceremony in a Christian church. I was really excited. Prior to this, I had only been to a church as a tourist but this was my opportunity to see an actual ritual. When I arrived, I was handed out a piece of paper, which had the sermon written on it.

I browsed the paper until I came across this line

“He who is not baptised is condemned to Hell”

I couldn’t believe it. This is exactly the same kind of thing I grew up with, in Islam. “I am right! and everyone else is Wrong!!”

Then I realised that “faith” has an unquestioning power. If you ask a person to kill another, they would say NO. But if you ask them to kill in the name of “Faith”, they gladly will. The promise of salvation and becoming “good” in the eyes of God has a blinding power, which makes us accept what we otherwise wouldn’t accept.

What other “excuse” could Hamd use to so openly condemn ALL people who don’t believe in Islam. Only religion has that sort of power.

People tell me to not blame Islam. I ask them, how does one learn? Do we only listen to the generations that came before us and blindly accept or do we question and find our own truth?

Why is Islam so afraid of questioning? The true God wouldn’t be afraid of questions. The true God is above fear, so why can’t we find the true “Islam” by questioning, by reflecting and by challenging the “inhumane” ways of some Muslim practices.

I say, we have no other choice but to question Islam – blame Islam if we have to – in order to find a new “Islam” – find a new version, a new interpretation that treats all human beings with respect; that doesn’t condemn people just because they are not Muslims but looks at their actions; that protects the vulnerable; that protects women and children?

After all, isn’t this what Muslims claim? Why don’t we raise “fatwa” against people who are violent to women and children in the name of Islam? Why can’t the powerful Muslim scholars, moulvis and imams of the world allow women equal rights?

I wish we could stop unthinkingly defending Islam and instead start to be brave and courageous. I wish, we could start to speak against the wrong that happens in the name of Islam and stop it.

Every day we don’t speak, more women and children are violated in the name of Islam. More girls are genitally mutilated because people are afraid to say anything about Islam.

People talk about the “true” Islam!! Where is it? I wish we could start to speak against the “Violent” Islam so that we can open people’s minds and start to find the “True” Islam.

I haven’t seen the “true” Islam. In my 44 years of life, what I have observed and experienced is the violent Islam… You want me to see something different, then SHOW ME… because I am sitting here feeling nauseous at all the violence and pain women and children suffer in the name of Islam.