A Prophet of Peace or Pieces?

Many years ago, a prophet was born in the Middle East.  The angel Gabriel foretold a select few of this man’s promise to bring God’s word to Earth. He was not popular in his time and many conspired to kill him. He often spent much time alone in desolate places communing with God directly, and learning of His divine plan. He preached to a select group of believers who traveled the world telling others of the good word he had brought to humans straight from God’s mouth. Do you know who this man is? Of course, I am referring to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). And this will be the last time I will refer to him by name seeing as how any time you express his name audibly it must be followed by “peace and blessing upon him.” Because I don’t care for piousness and also don’t want to anger such a wrathful group of people with my careless blasphemy, I will just call him the prophet. I trust that is vague enough to save me from death by Allah’s (glorified and exalted) warriors. Yes, there is also a follow up for saying the man in the heavens’ name.

The U.S. embassy was stormed in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen this week. Stories are still rolling in, but it was presumed to be in response to a callous and yet also seemingly crappy film depicting Muslims in an unflattering light. Others believe that this was an orchestrated attack by Al-Qaeda in the newly fledgling democracies of Northern Africa. No matter what provoked the attacks, they were designed, led, and carried out by Muslims to defend the great and unbesmirchable honor of their prophet. Here is where the line gets so blurry as to create a sightless and sickening cataract upon our global society.

We are living in a condensed, urban and over-populated world. We can ill afford a group who believes that not only is the rest of the world infidels but also that they are occasionally dispensable in an Islam-centered worldview. If they curse the holy ones, then they die. The if-then argument is clearly defined.

Although it is constantly publicized as a love-based religion, it is not often the perspective visible through world events. Granted, most religions have had their black sheep and those who pervert the true concepts into self-motivated and usually insane goals, Islam has been at the front of the pack recently. The followers of Islam can hold up all the pictures and posters they want saying this is not the real Islam and apologize for the killing of a blameless diplomat, but guess what, it is A real Islam. It may not be yours, but it is A version of Islam. It is A version of Quranical teachings. It is A version that involves death to non-believers, death to desecrators, and especially death to those who make public their opinion of my God.

And the best/worst part is, that nobody wants to stand up to 1.6 billion people. That is not a fight you can win. And then, if by some “miracle” you were able to “win”, by producing a film, book or story disparaging or denigrating the prophet in any way, what did you really do? You simply expressed an opinion, which should be the right of any free people in any free society on this world composed of free will. Nobody wants to die just to insult a religion. Everything deserves to be ridiculed. Islam has produced a nice little Damacles Sword to hang over anyone who dares to insult their belief system. That constant fear one would live in makes any type of defamation against their religion seem unworthy of the result.

I have believed for some time that since the prophet lived in the 7th century (his religion became worldwide in the 8th and 9th century) and Jesus lived in the 1st century, it only stands to reason that the Islamists are around 800-900 years behind the Christians in religious fervor. Do you remember what Christians were doing 800-900 years ago from 2012, yes; they were fighting “crusades” against infidels. It’s not a coincidence; it’s not a theory. I feel it to be empirically true as evidenced by the last 3-4 decades of Islamic terrorist behavior. Christians aren’t fighting for their God anymore, perhaps because they have the autonomy to worship in freedom of any God they want, and perhaps because most Christian countries (for some inexplicable reason) are not hopeless deserts of endless summers with high unemployment and no alcohol. I am oversimplifying the geography to emphasize how personality may be linked to climate. Could the dry heat of deserts and brutal climes of mountainous regions contribute to a culture’s general disposition?

These events, combined with the vitriol toward Salman Rushdie in the 80’s, with the death of Theo Van Gogh, with the threats to Israel, with the Danish cartoon uproar and the generally nasty disorder associated with Islamic fundamentalism should raise our collective red flags. We should be aware of this as a threat to global security and safety. We should be aware that all religion is subjective and nobody has guessed correctly as far as we know. We should be aware that others don’t have to think how we do. We should be aware enough to know that when people call your God a devil, or say your prophet disrespects women, that doesn’t make them correct and it doesn’t mark them for death. We should be aware that religion remains the opiate of the masses, creates a flawed idea of self-importance, with an unneeded hostility and separateness in a growingly connected civilization, completed by an overarchingly simplistic view of the cosmos.

The fact that people are rioting and killing people over a movie, or the fact that people are killing and rioting over a movie that disgraces a religion is beyond reason. It enters the realm of preposterousness. I don’t want to die in the cause of fighting for the right to make fun of religion. I don’t even want to have to explain why that fight may be worth fighting for the future of the world. I want sanity to win on its own accord.


A Whole New World…

In case anyone has been watching, a new world is beginning.  The Arab countries, North Africa and most of the Mid-East are approaching democracy like a scared crab smelling a salty, beached whale.  They know they want it, they know it’s good, but it’s much bigger than what they’re used to and not sure if they can handle the excitement.  Their religion is 600 years younger than Christianity, the other young religion living on the sacred block.  Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Confucianism all date to the B.C. eras.  Islam rattles my nerves because their followers haven’t gotten to express themselves enough to realize that holy books are merely guides to living righteously, not literal translations of “one true God.”  Their Imams have been teaching them in the same manner the Catholics taught the Germans until Martin Luther had enough of the hypocrisy and nailed his 99 problems to the cathedral door.  Islam is still waiting for their Martin Luther, someone to call out the insanity of killing any “infidels” who don’t worship Allah.  They are waiting for their King Henry VIII to say that the church’s rules don’t apply to him; and then seeing that he still went to “heaven”, still got 72 virgins (and a few on Earth) and still remained King without being smote by lightning from the angry God in the sky might prompt some swift reforms.  Being 600 years behind in, say, 1500 would not have been as big a deal as it is today.  Today, there are advanced computers, weaponry and agriculture.  Today, there are billions instead of millions of people walking the Earth, all believing in a different form of God.  Today, there are countries with confident, jingoistic militaries capable of raining more than fire and brimstone upon cities that may enjoy sodomy and/or alcohol.  There is little room left for God in modern society.  Faith is the only remaining proof left for the Christian God.  Yet, truth has been eclipsed by blind, obstinate faith in many Islamic countries.  Saudi Arabia still disciplines women harshly with archaic punishments for seemingly innocuous behavior like riding in cars with boys or exposing neck skin.  I believe the moral behind the story unfolding around the lower Mediterranean countries is that the freedom teenagers found on the now inexorable and ubiquitous internet has infringed upon the sacred tenets of dictatorship.  Leaders could use the Koran to keep their citizens in check.  Objective people are aware of the utility of making rules for people to follow when no one is looking.  If you think the man in the sky will see you stealing that goat from the sleeping shepherd, you are less likely to do it, lest you spend eternity wearing scratchy burlap bags eating sulfur in Hell.  Rules usually only beget followers if they are coupled with strong penalties.  In the time before lawyers, humanity needed a code to live by without chaos erupting.  With supreme courts, police, teachers and senators making rules for a collected mass of humanity, we don’t need to be told stealing and killing is wrong anymore.  Others, like honor your parents or honor the church seem a bit trivial today with all the child abuse and priest scandals.

It is being called the “Facebook Revolution.”  Iran’s population is 30% under 30 years old.  “Your old road is rapidly aging,” warbled Bob Dylan.  As the world turns, as a younger, repressed generation becomes the rulers, as the people begin to see science and facts replace religion and faith, we will see more revolutions.  There is nothing implicitly wrong with religion.  There is something wrong with thinking you talk to God or you know God’s plan or you are on God’s side and the others are demons or devils.  There is something dangerous in misinterpreting Holy Books to suit your deadly or extreme agendas.  Anyone who can stand outside a soldier’s funeral holding signs that read, “God Hates Fags,” has become a toxic believer.  God, whatever it is, doesn’t hate anything.  You hate something or someone and use God as your shield from criticism and condemnation.  Islam will be thrust 600 years forward in the next decade.  They will develop more web pages, web cams at Mecca, create more safe places to pray in more countries and see Allah’s work through science.  How else can you explain quantum mechanics or the tides?  Sure, indivisible atoms and gravity are there all around us, but who put them there?   Plato and Aristotle, the rock stars of their day, posited that the world was “imparted motion” and therefore required some “self-originated motion” to set the chain moving.  If you want to believe in God, use science to prove it, or at least stop anyone from arguing against you.  Don’t tell me that you prayed for a miracle and then passed your Algebra test to prove God’s existence.  To all the faithful of any God, your proof for it lies in scientific evidence, not a book written by spurious prophets thousands of years ago.  To all the freedom lovers, desperate for sovereignty, patience is a virtue and in the 21st century, the pen is certainly mightier than the sword.