Confessions on a Sunday...

I must be somewhat of a masochist.
Whenever I feel a kind of " blah" pervading me, I watch these "religious" TV stations, with the secret hope for a " pick me up" kind of feeling.
The "pick me up" has to do more with a few giggles rather than a "moment of Grace" even though I would not refuse the latter.

I have no particular preference. I zap from the depressing shia al-Forat channel to the equally depressing sunni Iqra channel and to the even more depressing "born again" Christian channels.

And each time I do that and watch what these guys (and most of them are guys) have to say, I feel like flagellating myself afterwards.

No, no, it is not due to some secret hidden desire to become a "sect martyr". It has more to do with a sense of guilt for having put my poor mind through so much torture.
What is torturing about it is the way I feel afterwards...

The subliminal message is almost always identical : " You are not good enough, you are sinful, repent..."

I am sure all religions are guilty of this and inflict that guilt on their followers.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Religion per se. As a matter of fact, I have spent considerable time studying comparative religions because this is a subject that greatly interests me. And I do not dismiss the concept of Transcendence either. In fact religion from latin (relegare) means to re-connect. And am all for re-connections...

And by the way, I do not discount the fact that evil and sin exist but somehow these T.V programs seem to misplace the evil/sin equation away from the real source.

For me the real source is Injustice. Injustice is the source of all evil and all sin.

"Al Haq" in Arabic, another attribute /name for the Divine, also means (the ultimate)Reality, Truth and Justice.

Injustice is a wide concept and we can debate for hours. Each one of us has her/his perception of what injustice means. But we can all agree that perfect Justice does not exist and that perfect Injustice does. In fact, it is a world made in our own image!

In my opinion, there are personal injustices and collective ones and both are interrelated.

So when writing about the Middle East, the personal is political and the collective is political and both are intertwined.

In fact when thinking and writing about the Middle East, everything becomes political, even religion.

Religion does not exist in the void. Religion exists in the minds of its people.
Religion or should I say the "transcendental" needs a receptacle.
Hence, in my opinion , since there are many receptacles, there cannot be only one understanding of any particular religion.
Hence I find blaming religion per se, or God or whatever you wish to call It, very naive and simplistic...
Injustices committed in the name of religion have to do more with the receptacles than the Divine Himself, Herself, Itself...

So getting back to my TV programs. Come to think about it , in fact what annoys me is not so much the religion per se, it is the receptacles.
It is the mind that thinks...
The tongue that utters...
The eye that judges...

I will leave Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, their own receptacles to deal with. Not that I don't care but they are simply not my priority right now. They are not my main concern.

My main concern was and remains the Middle East and I would thus like to address the minds of Muslim women and men and in particular Arab Muslim ones.

In all honesty, don't you people find something very "wrong" with some of the current "religious" discourses?

I mean don't you find it "strange" that at the height of "Occupation Freedom", sorry meant "Operation Freedom" (that was a genuine "lapsus"), when bombs were raining on Baghdad, covering it like Noah's flood, one hears a sermon diffused from some Arab Muslim capital talking about whether "women should or should not go to a male hair dresser".

Don't you also find it very "strange" that mullahs who give a Friday sermon about "Ahl Al Bayt" (the family of the prophet Mohammed), go into a frenzy, start hitting their heads and profusely cry (specially if there is a TV camera filming) whilst their followers torture and drill people?

Or don't you find it "strange" that Fatwas are debated for hours, arguing if it is ok for a woman to become a President or not and if she does, more debate - if it is ok for her to sit alone with another male head of state ?

And I have so many more examples of Fatwas and debates from all over the Middle East...and of course I have live examples from Iraq.

I personally find it very "strange" when women are forcibly clad from head to toe in black and forcibly look like walking tents. I mean, why black? Why not pink? Or purple or yellow or red? Where does it say in the Quran that women ought to look like in perpetual mourning? And this is only a tiny example.

I find it even stranger when auntie Sameera calls me and says :

- Layla, do you have any of those Afghani looking tunics ? You know those very long shirts one wears over trousers.

- No Auntie I don't. Why? Are you planning to emigrate to Tora Bora or something ?

- Layla! Am serious. I need one ..."

- What for? You already dress conservatively. I mean you wear a head veil/scarf. You wear loose clothes and ample shirts, ample enough for two to fit in...What do you need these tunics for?

- It seems it is not enough.

- What do you mean it is not enough? What is not enough ?

- The guys (guys again of course!) "in charge" of the neighborhood said that the shirt has to reach the knees if worn over trousers and blue jeans skirts are not allowed even if they are long enough to sweep the floors..."

Even boys and men are not spared. Auntie Sameera continues...

- You know Samya's son, he is not 11 years old yet. She was walking him to school when they pointed a gun to his head. Poor thing she got the scare of her life. They said his hair was too long and combed the wrong way. He had it spiked up...
Samya rushed back home and shaved the poor boy's hair off. Now he is completely bald.
Oh and not only him. Do you remember the driver Abu Tawfeek? Well, at the traffic lights someone pointed a gun to his head. Do you know why?

- Why? What did he do?

- He was wearing a short sleeve shirt. He had to drive back to his home through endless checkpoints and change shirts. Now he never leaves home without his long sleeves shirt. So Layla, where can I find those long tunics?

- Auntie, I think you may be better off seeking asylum in Tora Bora..."

Here is Baghdad, a once secular capital but not any less "pious", where women had their word to say, now turns into this bastardly melange of Saudi Arabia and Iran combined ? And run by Americans ?

I mean , don't you find all of that very "strange "?

Haram (prohibited) is everywhere. But :

Indiscriminately killing innocents is not Haram.
Raping, abducting, kidnaping people is not Haram.
Torturing, drilling and gouging eyes out is not Haram.
Starving people and seeing kids search garbage bins for food is not Haram.
Cholera and other diseases from overflowing sewage is not Haram.
Dehydration from lack of water and rising infant mortality is not Haram.
Girls as young as 14 selling their bodies to feed their families is not Haram.
Orphans sniffing glue in the streets is not Haram.
Patients undergoing surgery with no anesthetics is not Haram.

All of the above and much more is not Haram but a sleeveless shirt is ...
All of the above is not Haram but a female shirt that is not long enough to cover all of your butt and

I mean don't you really find all of that very "strange"?

Does that not move you when you bow down and prostrate 5 times a day?
Does that not touch you when you heed to your Friday prayers?
Or are you too engrossed discussing what kind of veil is best to cover your strands of hair and how to pin it, back or front and whether your sleeves should reach your wrists or not...And how long your beard should be and whether the water should reach your elbow or a little above or a little below during your ablutions...

Do you think that is "normal"?

Do you think that it is "normal" for so called "religious men" who grow beards and speak of God all the time to do such things or to allow them?

Do you think it is "normal" that the current religious discourses by these perverts has to include and refer to women's bodies all the time?

I mean, do you think this is natural? Do you think this is Islamic?

Do you really think that this is the kind of receptacle - mind, the Divine wants you to have?

Is there any chance at all that you will wake up from your own stupor? Is there any chance at all that you will stop tolerating Allah and Islam being insulted that way ?


Anonymous said…
i would get into a deep philosophical debate with you but i cant be bothered........religion is a load of crap anyway so why bother
Anonymous said…
"You wear loose clothes and ample shirts, ample enough for two to fit in..."
Maybe she needs the loose clothes precisely to fit two people in!
I feel being silly.
I have very few nice words about religions. Religion is an excuse for failures. For those who don't think, religion is there answer.
There an observation: the three religions of book, Judiasim, Christianity and Islam were authored by the same people, the Arabs. Billions of people all over the world following these religions, the teaching of Arabs, and at the same time they call Arabs stupid. It remind me of the bumber sticker:
If you think I'm too slow, why are you following me.

Maybe the world subconsciously resent religion and they are taking it out on its Authors.
I made a conscious decision long time ago, that if all those killers in the name of God/religion are going to be in heaven, I rather be in hell. Hell cannot be worse than what innocent people go through in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and a lot of places through out the world. As far as why the Arabs debate trivial issues over their lives..... I think they authored a new religion, though this one is top secret. In this new religion they are going to go to heaven. And they put their fate in God's hands - esier than to think. And went to their oasis to eat their dates...

By the way, on the previous article. Alqaeda at this point is, I think, a myth. The media successfully turned it in the minds of public into an evil religion. And the media in the US is trying to make Iran and Alqaeda as one by association.
Anonymous said…
maybe it is the mullahs' chauvinistic response to protecting you from the occupiers...blame them for invading the country and then hiding inside the green zone...nobody thinks of you as liberators when you are holding
90 000 Iraqis in prison camps
btw i wanted to know, how educated is Bush?
Anonymous said…
layla (if presume I can say that)

I agree with you,it's our receptacle, ic. our mind, that causes the injustice, is the obstacle...
and our minds are conditioned according the different circumstances.
but maybe sometimes the indifference stops if one notes this?
we can not know this..

thank you again for yor writing,

t simen
Anonymous said…
Dear Layla,

I believe you have answered your own questions. The sermons, the behaviour of the thugs, the rapists and murderers, the sectarians...None of these represent "Islam" nor can they ever.

"And if they commit evil acts, they say: 'We found our fathers doing such, and God ordered us to it.' Say: 'God does not order evil! Do you say about God what you do not know?' Say: 'My Lord orders justice, and that you be devoted at every temple, and that you call on Him, while being faithful to Him in the system; as He initiated you, so you will return.'" (Quran 7:28-29)

God sent the prophets to liberate humanity from evil and oppression, not to enslave them. However, it is the evildoers who twist God's commands and make them a tool for their own desires.

Here is a brief list of differences in Islam according to the Quran Vs. Islam according to the sects:

- In Islam, the requirement to be a Muslim is to simply accept and live according to the ‘Straight Path’ (6:151-153), Vs. the Sunni or Shia 5-pillars which come from unauthorized books…

- In Islam, abolishing Slavery is taught to be an act of righteousness (90:12-13), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings which encourages slavery under war…

- In Islam, women are never forbidden from praying or fasting during Menstruation (2:222), nor is there a specific dress code (i.e. the Headscarf) imposed on them beyond modesty, Vs. the Sunni and Shia which teach the undermining of women and forcing them to cover their hair and avoid praying or fasting at certain times...

- In Islam, a man or women may leave a Will, after settlement of debt (4:12), Vs. Sunnis who refuse to accept wills if there are any direct descendants...

- In Islam, Monogamy is the basis for normal relationships, while polygamy is only allowed in cases involving marrying the mothers of orphans under the man’s guardianship (4:3), Vs. Sunnis where a man may be a polygamist simply if he can afford to, and Shia which allow sex for pleasure (Mut’a)...

- In Islam, Divorce is enforceable only after a two-phase period, and it may be made nullified if the couple reconcile before the end of this period (65:1, 65:4), Vs. Sunni teachings that destroy families by allowing a divorce to occur on the spot with no waiting period and no nullification...

- In Islam, Thieves do not have their hands cut-off, but are made to work until they return that which is stolen (12:76), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings which brutally amputate the hands causing disability...

- In Islam, no one is allowed to be killed or Stoned for adultery (24:2), Vs. Sunni and Shia laws of stoning married adulterers to death...

- In Islam, absolute Freedom of Faith is allowed (2:256, 10:99; 18:29; 88:21-22), Vs. Sunni and Shia requiring apostates to be killed and rejecting the practice of other faiths...

- In Islam, people are acknowledged as being diverse and each is to be respected for his/her level of spiritual growth. A Submitter ‘Muslim’ must work to attain the status of Faithful ‘Mumin’ (49:14), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings that all followers of their religion must think, act, and even look the same (cult syndrome)...

- In Islam, War can only be declared in cases of self-defence - no offensives (2:190), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings allowing raids and attacks on any people who are considered non-Muslim by their standards...

- In Islam, Pilgrimage is a centre for gathering of nations and for all to witness the benefits of being together (22:27-28), Vs. Sunni and Shia bringing in polytheistic rituals and superstition (touching of black stone, circling 7 times, etc..)...

- In Islam, a Year is a luni-solar count made of 365-days (17:12, 9:36), with all the seasons fitting-in-place Vs. Sunnis teaching it to be a lunar one based on 354 days which creates confusion of seasons and time…

- In Islam, males and females are not required to be Circumcised (32:7), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings requiring all males to be circumcised and females in some cases...

- In Islam, music, statues, gold and silk are all Lawful (7:32-33, 16:116), Vs. Sunni beliefs forbidding silk & gold for men, and forbidding music & statues for all...

- In Islam, rule of Government is under the constitution of the Qur'an through consultation and free-speech (5:48, 42:38). Vs. Sunni teachings which allow the rise of dictators or monarchs, and Shia teachings which uphold self-appointed religious leaders based on genealogy.

So to answer your question once again...These people do not and will never represent "Islam".

LostHere said…
You have been very prolific lately and the quality of thought (and expression) has not suffered in any way.

You have addressed exactly many of my thought in this post, although I am one of those that DO blame religions for many of humanities worst traits.
In my defense I will say that I do make a major difference between religion and religious thought.

Actually the personal believe in a God, or transcendental concept is, I believe, completely separated from following the precepts of a religion ORGANIZED with human hierarchy. That is where I see the fault! A religion is an organization that uses the human needs to belong (or transcend) with the porpose of acquiring power by committing their followers to the fallible human interpretations of the "sacred scriptures" by their hierarchy. The rest... I do believe like you that it's in the hands of the "receptacles" to follow their instincts for good or evil.

I see religions as the worst form of politics inasmuch as it has the power of millions of believers ready to be taken advantage of.

And yes, I will end agreeing with you and making mine your last paragraph. I believe organize religions to be a great insult to the concept of God, Allah, Islam, Cristianism, Buddhism or whatever other consciousness we tend to believe on...

Judy Mitchell in one of her songs breaks the word justice into JUST-ICE, perhaps a better representation of what we have made of the true concept of goodness.

Great post Layla!
Layla Anwar said…

No I do not believe the US is linking al Qaeda to Iran. Seems you do not read the papers at all.
The US stated in only two days ago that it wants to stay in Iraq with 100'000 soldiers to fight al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. And only today, Iran (which seems to be a darling of yours) and the US agreed on a broad policy on how to fight the
"terrorists" in Iraq.

On another note you seem to be an arab hater and you missed the point of my post. Naturally, since you are an arab hater that you would be a logical thing on your part.
Layla Anwar said…

are you ok? Why bother reading this blog if you are not bothered by anything?
Anonymous said…
hi layla, yes im fine thanks. i only skim over the blog now....the comments section keeps me entertained mostly
Layla Anwar said…
Dear Layth,

Salam and many thanks for taking the time to point all these nuances.
I do not agree with everything you have stated above but I do agree with most of the points you have raised.
For instance and this is only one example that I will use to highlight where our differences lie.
The black cubic stone is a SYMBOL for the center of the world and the SELF.

Take for example the circling of 7 times around the Ka'aba.
the Number 7 is a highly symbolic number which represents COMPLETION and you find it in almost ALL religious beliefs (monotheistic and non monotheistic).
Circumcision of females is an AFRICAN practice and have been found in HEAVILY ANIMISTIC,MATRIARCHAL SOCIETIES according to a good deal of anthropological research.

So my point joins yours inasmuch that Islam has been influenced by other beliefs ...Yet I personally feel the need to sieve through all of this and retain what makes sense to me without having to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Layla Anwar said…
lost here,

I am not against organized religion by the way. I feel that some people need to get together and find force and strength in some structure that reflects their unity. This is not where my problem lies even though Î am not myself into groups whatever they are...
My problems lies when a category of people (followers, clerics, etc...) APPROPRIATE the teachings of ANY religion and present themselves as the "HOLDERS" of that particular "TRUTH".
It is more the dynamic of intellectual monopoly and expropriation that bothers me most.
But then all systems of thoughts have witnessed this kind of behavior. Religious thoughts, political ideologies, parties etc...
Thanks again for your intelligent comments.
Anonymous said…
Too beautiful. Bravo and thanks.
G.Gar said…
what a touching post? Arabs are muslims by intuition! you are living example of how a muslim woman should be ( look at your neighbours)

our religon is abducted by those people. In the mean time I fail to to lay all the balme on way and another, they are a reaction to anti-arabism exeplified by the rape of palestine,Israel, Bush and worst of all the invasion of Iraq.....etc.

Your writings make me imagine how difficult it must be for a modern Arab Muslim like yourself to be told what to do by those who has just come from a recently rediscovered Jurassic era!

But what could they do? I would hate to see Iraq and Arab women converted into philpenes or a banana republic. Some radicalism is essential at the present.
Anonymous said…

I found Confessions to be very good it many ways. It opened my mind to how others think and believe in. As you know my people have their own ways of higher power also.

As far as Christion tv there are many messages I find good, I've even been on TCT on one of their advertisments. You never now, if you've watched it you could have seen me and not know it, because it went out world wide.

I am a believer in the Bible and I try to live as good as I can. Where I find myself a little different then most religions is they don't follow the sabbath and I try to.

Am I perfect? No! Do I believe everthing I hear? No! But when I do read the Bible I try to have an understanding that makes me as good as a person as I can be without following others that most of the time do not know their own way or ways let alone my way or ways.

I am at peace with all nature and with the spirit, I believe inter peace brings outer peace. Where most religions go wrong is it's their way or no way.

They all have their rights, but they do not have the right to guide me for I do not hear their voice. My calling is that of a much higher place and power.

Layla you know I love you and have much respect for you. Your heart is that of the people and of the nations. Your mind is controled by your heart and you know whats right. My sister just don't become cold because of the shaded rocks that may be around you let the sun warm your heart as you have done mine.

Anonymous said…
Nice touch on the juxtaposing of the 'is it strange' question to the 'is it normal' question.
What once used to be black and white, have now been blurred into shades of grey that can't be understood no matter which way you look at.

Anonymous said…
amre el-moron r all modern arabs smug arrogant knobs like u??
Anonymous said…
"I've even been on TCT on one of their advertisments."


hahhaa what a knob
Anonymous said…
Dear Layla,

I think what I am trying to point out is that its not the fault of the people whom you mentioned (be it the Shias or Sunnis) as in thier view they are simply walking the path set out in thier books.

The Sunni laws (that Hadith) were not compiled until 250 years after the death of the prophet. As for the Shia laws, they began being handed out well after the death of the prophet and most of his companions.

It is not a matter of the baby with the bathwater as the sects follow religions which have no relation to Islam.

The same can be said of Christianity. Jesus never claimed to be the son of God or God incarnate (heaven forbid). Yet, nearly 300 years after Christ was dead, the church leaders agreed in the Nicene conference that this was to be the established doctirine of Christianity henceforth.

Iraq prior to the 1991 war, was far more intwined with the true teachings of Islam (freedom of faith, liberation of women, etc.) than the Iraq we see now which represents the teachings of the Sunnis and the Shia.

Saddam (may he rest in peace) was never a Sunni or a Shia, but in my view was closer in his understandings to that of a Muslim.

Anonymous said…
You are the last person I want to upset. Your heart is in the right place. And I appeciate your writings and what you are trying to do. You are very mistaking about me. I'm an Arab, and proud of it. And by no means, shape or form I'm an Arab hater... I'm not an Arab hater.
In one of your writings, you mentioned that you were an internationlist. I assume you love all people regardless of religion or race.
I don't like what Iran is doing in Iraq. Yes, Iran is trying to turn Iraq into an Iran territory. And also, Iran is trying to control the entire Arab region. But also the USA, China and Russia. If you looked at the world history, you'll find nothing new. The strong dominates the weak and takes its wealth. If we, Arabs, to survive and live in dignity, we must learn history, how the world works. And learn what is happening to us. And learn whose brain is behind the killing and what for. The West against the Arabs and Islam started over hundred 100 years ago. Started, when the British sent emissaries to Al-Saud family, helped them over throw the Hashemite family and take over Hijaz and established Saudi Arabia. Then they used the deposed Hasheimite family to help with the creation of Israel and the division of the Arab world. The British and the French divided the Arab world in such a way that it will always be unstable. And it will be easier to control and occupy it in the future. This is what is happening today. We, the Sunnies, treat the Shia as second class citezens in their own countries. The Shia in Iraq were oppressed. The Shia in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon are oppressed. The kurds were oppressed. Why do we get surprized when a forgein country is using that sect or the other against us. This should be very obvious. If you surveyed the USA citzens today, 2/3 of them will tell that Iran is an Arab country. What is better than the enemies kill each other?
There is nothing new here.
Also naively, the Kurds think they are are getting their own country. Your previous article is that Turkey ready to invade northern Iraq. Why is that? In politics every thing is planned. Again, Muslen is killing another.
I read newspapers. But unfortunately, no one writes the true plans on invading, occupying goals. These newspapers are to deceive the reader.
And allready answered your question in my previous comments.
But I'll add. Arabic saying: boos el kalb min thumuh hatta tohketh hajtek minuh, kiss the dog on the mouth until you take your need from it. Unfortunately, the west uses this method and we forgot its existance.
If we don't learn history, we will be forced to repeat it.

My point is, if it is not obvious, that if we don't like what others are doing to us, wether Iran, USA or....., we have to learn how defend ourselves. We have to learn that no outsider is really coming to help us, but to divide us to their advantage.
Did the USA come to liberate Kuwait or establish permenant bases and take/ control the oil?

You fight in your own way and I do in mine.
I don't wish the destruction Iraq be duplicated on any other country.

I'm not Optomistic today, Good bye
Layla Anwar said…
Dear Layth,

Was Mohammed or Ali a shia or a sunni? Hadiths and laws then were all first transmitted through an ORAL tradition before being written on anything. The only thing that was grafted on animal skin was the word of God...
Try telling a sectarian Shia that Saddam Hussein was a true warrior
And you will see what am talking about.
Layla Anwar said…
Hi Savage,

I must admit I don't watch long enough to get to the ads bit.
Some preachers on these christian channels are swindlers...You have father Million and the other guy in Texas who looks like Reagan and the club 600 or was it 700 and the israeli jewish guy who wants to convert all of muslim asia and keeps asking for donations and rides in rolls royces...
Weird stuff...very weird stuff.
Thanks for your words of love and support though and they are mutual.
Layla Anwar said…

The shia being oppressed is the typical Chomsky zionist line that the so called left internationalist keep repeating ad hoc hence participating in the ideological and ethnic divisions of the Middle East.
Since you are not in an optomistic mood let me make it worse for you.
Ask yourself this simple basic question. Why would the US have talks with Iran or why would Iran have talks with the great Satan concerning the Security of IRAQ ?
Why not have talks with syria or egypt or turkey...Think and think deep please.
Layla Anwar said…
and one more thing optomistic, you really do not know what is happening in Iraq. You simply don't . Because if you care so much about the palestinians as you say you do then you need to know that they are massacred daily.
Out of a population of roughly 35'000 only 10'000 are left and they have all been slaughtered by the SHIA IRANIAN MAHDI. BADR MILITIAS....And that is a FACT!
Anonymous said…
It seems the more I comment, the more I upset you. I don't know what this comment will trigger in you.
So you of al people, accusing me of parrating Chomsky. So, we are not allowed to expess a fact because somebody else said it. Ask the Shia in Saudi Arabia. And by the way, it is going to be the big one. If they don't realize that and treat them equally.
I knew exactly what was going happen in ME when Saddam fell for the trap and invaded Kuwait. I know, I know Kuwait is part of Iraq. In Lebanon the shia have speciaal name, demeaning one. That is what my Lebanese ex wife told me.
In Syria, the other way around only the Alawite/ Shia are supposed to rule and be advantaged. I wounder what is going to happen to them when th Sunnah take over. ALso in Syria, about 3 million Kurds, according to a Syrian Alawy friend of mine, are not allowed to have a Syrian passport. I wonder why they ask for thier own country.

"Why not have talks with syria or egypt or turkey...Think and think deep please."
Simple, because the squeecky wheel gets the grease first.

I'll try to answer it politely.
Turkey is a NATO and an ally country. It can be ordered to think. Turkey has one of the lagest USA/ NATO military base. And its troops are ready to enter Iraq. Egypt is a puppet regime country. It is told what to think. Syria is not even elevated to a status of worth talking. It is weightless. Iran on the other hand is causing alot of trouble in Iraq. Countries at war talk to each other when it serve its goals.
Let me ask u question. With all the killing of Palestinians at the hands of Iran-supported terrorists, why the Palestinians are supporting Iran?
Good night
Anonymous said…

Thank you I must agree most of them are swindlers in the name of God, but as many others they will pay in the end. We as people can only pick our own path and it will be what we want and not what other want for us.

I find many mixxed messages from just about any and all religions. To me most religous leaders are like politions they tell you what they think you want to hear to get your money or vote and then do what they want.

I'd cover your back anytime GD keep up the good work. Your True American Brother

Anonymous said…
Dear Layla,

I have read your blog with interest for a while now. The subject of religion interests me.
I am a protestant Christian by upbringing. I am interested in religions and there was a mosque near by. I was made very welcome. There was a group of ladies with a lovely young women who taught us to read arabic.
I have never spend much time alone with only women before. I miss it. I have sinced moved and I miss them they where all lovely people and I can understand the desire to be veiled. However as a Anglican the fight for women to be priests has been won. In the mosque it was not the men who enforced the seperation but the women who insisted.

I had the feeling that the big difference was that Islam has not had a reformation. That experience of bloodshed that triggered generations of war and hate but hopefully has laid the concept (not the practice!) of tolerance.
From my observations the Koran has about as much to do with Islam as the New Testament has to do with Christians.

Have you an opinion on this?

Keep well

Anonymous said…
Dear Layla,

> Hadiths and laws then were all first transmitted through an ORAL tradition before being written on anything.

I apologize for my repeat postings, please bear with me.

If we accept the Hadith (oral or written) then we are acknowledging the claims that Mohammed was a man who suffered from a split personality disorder and therefore could never have really been the messenger of God.

- On the one hand, Mohammed through the Quran tells people that any proven adultery is punishable by lashings (24:2), yet, the Hadith Mohammed tells people that adulterers (if married) should be murdered like the Yazidi girl who was recently and brutally stoned?

- On the one hand, Mohammed through the Quran tells people that women are to be treated with kindness even if they are being divorced (2:229), yet, the Hadith Mohammed tells people that women are deficient in mind and religion and that they are equivalent to a black dog and a donkey which both nullify a man's prayer if they pass in-front of him?

- On the one hand, Mohammed through the Quran tells people that freedom of faith is a right to all people (2:256), yet, the Hadith Mohammed tells people that anyone who leaves Islam should be murdered?

The above my dear sister is just the "tip of the iceberg" and the above are all based on the so called "authentic" Hadiths if you were wondering.

Will the Sunnis and Shia realize what they have been doing and revert to the Islam that the Prophet delivered? Or, will they continue to follow the religions they inherited from their fathers and falsely claimed to be from God?

Judging by history, I fear the latter will be the case.

“And if they are told: “Follow that which God has sent down.” They say: “No, we will follow what we found our fathers doing.” What if the devil had been leading them to the agony of Hell? (31:21)

And, surely enough, they will continue to claim that the Scripture is incomplete and not detailed even if God and His messenger have stated otherwise:

“’Shall I seek other than God as a judge when He has sent down to you this Scripture fully detailed?’ Those to whom We have given the Scripture know it is sent down from your Lord with truth; so do not be of those who have doubt.” (6:114)

G.Gar said…

Looking into your reply to optmistic, has made me think about something.I have to sayI have nothing on my mind apart of work, except Iraq.

I'm not trying to cheer you up by wishful thinking. But on the ground resistance has got the upper hand. And despite of media campaign, it has resonated very well in the Arab world, Turkey and so many free people all over the world.

you have won. Maybe the yanks are trying to bring the patriotic forces to negotiations by flirting with iranian dogs in qum? They want a way out without giving Arabs a chance to say they have won.

One more thing i want to share with you, i have been observing readers comments in aljazeera and i am starting to notic an astronmical rise in anti Iranian feelings among Arabs. Also egyptans who are the least politicised among Arabs due to economic difficulties and the rise of the Pharoanic disourse encouraged by Sadat, are becoming very anti iranian( i see it in egyptian blogs, newpapers both governmental and independent. I wouldnt be exaggerating, when i say
that your heroic resistance is proliferating a new culure of political dissent in Egypt. Moreover most Egyptians despite of the grinding economic pressure consider your cause their cause.

Iraq is coming back, dont worry princess
Anonymous said…
The West against the Arabs and Islam started over hundred 100 years ago.
Firstly correction to above, on 1095 when first Crusades a series of military of a religious character waged by Christians to recapturing Jerusalem and the sacred "Holy Land" from Muslim. That’s when the West against the Arabs and Islam started.

Secondly, I agree with you with some points, but I like to ask you and if happen to you seeing some Iraqi asked them.

Those you talking about them in Iraq from Shia and Kurds now working with the occupier where and when they got their learning and graduations and their university degrees?
Ask any one he will tell from Iraq, university of Baghdad, University of Basra, University of Sulaymaniayh and so on, so those doctors, lawyers, and Nuclear scientist all their BSC degree gained from Ira University and they graduated from Iraqi schools and collages.
Moreover they rewarded a scholarship to gain their PhD’s from US, UK, France and other countries and all their study and living fees paid by Iraqi governments.

So if those Shia and Kurds as you put it “oppressed” how all what said above happen?

All Iraqi suffer from the old regime, the regime had no religion and no faith, so we can call that regime Sunni or any religious identity.

If you don’t agree with that then the current regime is Shia and also its more lethal and criminal than old regime because what they brought to Iraq and Iraqi is far worse that what old regime did in 35 years, I wonder if this regime hold the power for that long what will be Iraq after 30 years from now?

Layla Anwar said…
I will try to answer some of the questions above and make my own comments in the process. But do forgive me if I don't tackle all of them at once as I am short of time right now.
Layla Anwar said…

Seems you and I have a communication problem here.
1) I made a mistake when I typed Egypt, I actually meant Jordan, Syria ,Turkey and Saudi Arabia- i,e countries who share borders with Iraq.

2) Concerning the So called repression of the Shias in Iraq.
how in your opinion were the shias repreesed in Iraq?
a) Were they not allowed access to the following ?
schooling, education, work, medical services ?
The answer IS NO. They were allowed.
b) Were they not allowed grants for higher education. Were they not allowed to be doctors, lawyers, scientists
The Answer is NO - They were allowed.
c) were they segregated in special neighborhoods , not allowed to inter marry with sunnis, not allowed to practice their own brand of faith, not allowed to thave their mosques, nor their mullahs ?
The answer is NO - they were allowed all of the ABove.
d) were they not allowed to be in the military, or hold goverment positions,
The answer NO they were allowed all the above.

Did you know optomistic, that shias and sunnis intermarried for centuries. Did you know that the army who fought Iran was majority Shia, did you know that over 35 members of those on the wanted list by the americans were Shia? Did you know that Iraq has shia artists, shia doctors, shia lawyers, shia academics...etc...

So please tell me now how do you define oppression of shias?

3) Chomsky and Bush and the zionist American think tank have many things in common. As a matter of fact they both parrot the shia repression bit that you seem to be quoting ad infinitum. And hence they are both equally responsible for laying the blue print for the division of Iraq into ethnic lines and giving birth to ethnic strife.
And the one who jumped on the bandwagon and helped them overtly and covertly in this objective is none other but IRAN.

Now the bingo question for you optimistic and that relates to the palestinians.

What do the sadr-badr IRANIAN militias , the Israeli IDF and the Lebanese army have in common?
Until you solve that puzzle, I bid you another goodbye.
Layla Anwar said…
Dear Layth,

1)Insofar as the treatment and the denigration of women are concerned both sunnis and shia hadiths are EQUALLY guilty.

2) I do not deny that all the hadith corpus including the ahl al bayt shia epics have been CONTAMINATED by outside sources and reflect some of the misogyny that permeates the minds of those who not only compile them, interpret them and quote them.

3) There is a historical notion called "CONTEXT" (time, place and circumstances) and I feel both your position and that of mainstream "orthodox" (shia and sunni alike) do not take CONTEXT into consideration.

4)The hadith corpus (the masnood and not masnood) is to muslims what the Bible is to the christians. The bible is nothing but a compilation of Hadiths of Jesus Christ. And are therefore open to intepretations, mistakes, errors etc...

5) I do not deny the overridance of the Quran over the hadith. Yet at the same time I feel and believe that even the Quran has to be taken in its context in as far as "laws and customs " are concerned- So how do YOU reconcile this with a Koran alone approach?

I can go on for hours but I really do not wish to get into theological debates right now.
I will say though that in essence I do agree with a lot of your position but I would not WRITE OFF the messenger of Allah, Mohammed as easily as the Koran only people do.
Layla Anwar said…
Susie, Amre and Anonymous above.
Hello and will get back to you with more later.
Anonymous said…
I can't read your blog, :(.

The wall paper is too dark and the print is not light enough.

I can't make out any of the words except the titles.

Is it just me or does anyone else have this problem?

Please advise Layla.

Thank you for your blog.
Layla Anwar said…
Hi anonymous above,

Someone else who is using firefox has the same problem. Can anyone help anonymous above with this technical problem. I can personally see my own blog. Am sorry you can't :(
Layla Anwar said…
Hu susie, as I said I will try to reply to your question.
You asked me if there was a reformation era in Islam akin to the Protestant Reformation.
My answer is no. There have been many tendencies and trends in Islamic thought and there was a period of Reformed Islamic Thought with thinkers like al Afghani and M.Abdo and others...
But the answer would be an overall NO simply because we do not have a ruling Clergy like in christianity. We have no pope and no vatican so to speak. Except the ruling govt now in Shia Iran is the closest I have seen to the vatican. With the ideological differences of course!
On the other hand I did not understand your reference to the Koran being the same as the bible...I did not quite get it.
The Koran is the essential kernel of truth for all muslims. Islam was revealed through the recited word.

As for your the gathering of women and finding some sense of "support" or however you would like to call it. I can understand your appreciating that. I guess it is the same way when men get together and appreciate their togetherness. As for the curtain being insisted upon by the women themselves. I have nothing to say about that. They wanted it, they got it and I hope that one day they will realize that this curtain extends beyond the worshipping place and they have contributed to it.
Layla Anwar said…
typo- its HI not HU
Anonymous said…
"In fact religion from latin (relegare) means to re-connect. And am all for re-connections...

And by the way, I do not discount the fact that evil and sin exist but somehow these T.V programs seem to misplace the evil/sin equation away from the real source."

Before I get into that excerpt I pulled from your abstract... I want to say I relate completely with all that you have written about in this blog. For me, this is the reason I do not associate myself as being part of any specific religion. I focus more on my spiritual self and strengthening my very real, intimate and personal relationship with God... I do this through meditation, almost like the salats I would make five times a day. I feel the beauty of all religions has been lost in the recepticles as you so elequintly put it. I let God guide me now. Truth is unmistakeably appearent when you quiet yourself and just listen... Think.

Sin it's original meaning is off the mark or off target... I take that as when we do something sinful we are missing what it is we need to do to (relegare) reconnect... When I say reconnect I mean reconnect with God who isn't off in some far secret realm up high looking down low. But he is amoungst us, in us, around us, supporting our very existence...

I'm also becoming of the mind set that evil does not exist... Let me explain; As I've said God is love. He/she/it creates out of love, He also loves all of his creation. God does not create evil. God does not do battle with evil. God does not have to compete with any entity for superiority. Thus there is no evil... only seperation from God... Extreme cases of sinning. Characters on life's stage that are serverely off the mark... whether they be physical or meta-physical what we perceive in our minds as evil are individuals or acts that have decided for what ever reason to seperate and disassociate themselves from God... Albeit Lost or intentional they have become seperate. For surely we agree if God is with you verily none can be against... If I remember correctly in islam it is said even Shatan makes his salats for he knows the true power of God.

I am beginning to feel by labelling these acts and individuals as "evil" we give them power simply by acknowledging their existence. Now I don't want my thoughts to be confused with the idea of doing nothing. I firmly believe certain circumstances require action... But we should think not react and when we respond it should be done through acts of love. whether that be toiling work or fighting... it should be done without stress and the confidence that God is not only with us but also those who oppose us as well... So our actions regardless of what we are moved to do should be done out of love.

In closing I quote Pantangali, he says, "sinning is no reason to immerse ourselves in guilt and wallow in it." What does this accomplish? Wasting your life energy with such negative thoughts taking you further away from your Source (God). Rather it should be viewed as an obstacle that we have yet to overcome, opportunities to strengthen our connection to that which sustains the universe...
Montag said…
This is a great bit of writing.

When it comes to women's clothes being discussed in the Middle East and Afghanistan and points East and South, I seem to remember getting as far as reading that "JUYUUBUHUNNA" should be covered.

What these greybeards of religion said suddenly broke into my consciousness - Arabic is not my native tongue.
I threw the book away and never read another word. In a most unusual fit of prudishness and modesty, I found the impropriety of reading such expressions from old mullahs to be infinitely immoral.

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