Y’know, I met a man yesterday, and I feel the need to make it known that he is a CORE muslim. I honestly almost cancelled that meeting because of the experiences and feelings I have had and attached to Islam. I have never really met or known Muslims who are open minded and wouldn’t already categorize me as the “others” or an infidel and the next thing they attempt to do is convert me to doing something I absolutely do not want to do.
When one of my uncles converted to Islam, the whole family erupted and I was the only one making a case for him to let him be, as he had the right to do whatever he wanted. I was the only one who didn’t see him as any different than what or who he used to be. Right before my very eyes, my uncle changed from being one of the most intelligent persons I know to a dogmatic short-sighted and bigoted person, who kept insisting that I would look better with hijab. I accepted him but he saw me as “others” who didn’t know any better and I had to stop going to his house.
I listened attentively to the stories this man that I met yesterday told me about the religious crises in the north and how his father, also a core Muslim man, saved their Christian neighbours from being offed.
He doesn’t drink alcohol but ordered a bottle for me on request, without any judgement.
He was a total gentleman and I told a friend that since 2020, a man hadn’t treated me this nicely “without a comma.”
I saw he got defensive about I seeing him as a bad person just because he’s a practicing Muslim. I can’t deny I didn’t form an opinion about him already, because of course, he practiced a religion that doesn’t preach peaceful ideas. You wouldn’t be truthful if you deny this.
I indeed saw him as a good person, but in his own right and NOT because he’s a Muslim because AS a Muslim, when push comes to shove and a religious crisis happens, I do not trust that he would not kill an infidel who does not subscribe to any religion like me. If I subtract that idea from him, I would TOTALLY trust in his goodness.
Contrary to popular belief, humans do NOT need religion to guide their sense of morality. I believe we can actually do better WITHOUT religion with its accompanying dogmatism, narcissism and the US vs THEM division. Religious people can be and are good people and I believe that the dogmatism in religion stains their white.
Today, March 23, is the first day of Ramadan and World Atheist day!
On one hand, we have Ramadan, a holy month of fasting, prayer, and reflection for Muslims around the world. And on the other hand, we have World Atheist Day, a day for non-believers like me to celebrate our unbelief and promote secularism.
The irony of Muslims sharing the same day with the ‘infidels’ that they won’t mind offing, and the irony of Atheists sharing the same day with the most dogmatic believers that they sometimes detest is funny. It’s really funny to me, and it feels like maybe the universe is passing a message across to all of us, because I’m sure this coincidence is not meant to troll us.
Maybe instead of trolling one another today, we should take today to appreciate the diversity in our world. We have people of different tribes, races, religions, and beliefs coexisting on this planet and I think we should take today to appreciate that. We may not agree on everything but we should respect one another’s right to practice and believe as we see fit, as long as those practices do not cause physical harm to another person. I guess it’s time for us to recognize that people have the right to practice their religion or lack thereof, ESPECIALLY lack thereof, without being discriminated against or oppressed. It’s time to put aside our differences and embrace each other’s beliefs, or lack of belief, with respect and understanding. Those who hold social power because they are a majority as believers should stop using it against unbelievers.
We should use today to remember that Mubarak Bala does not deserve to be in prison for his unbelief.
As an atheist/agnostic, while I still believe that religion and religiosity are always used to justify heinous acts, I don’t want to forget that it has also been a source of comfort, community, and hope for many people. A lot of people practice religion for these reasons, not because they want to do evil. Being an atheist doesn’t automatically make people rational or enlightened. I know of misogynistic, tribalistic, capitalistic and homophobic morons who claim to be atheists. I know of homely and lovely religious people too.
My own problem with religion is the dogmatism that makes religion unquestionable and incapable of being infused with logic, and thus very dangerous.
Anything that cannot be questioned is dangerous indeed.
So today we’re going to accept those good people that we know of their goodness and look away from how religion can make them do bad things sometimes, and attack the idea of religiosity with reason. Some of them are our family members and some of them are our friends. We can’t off them because we hate the fact that they are religious, but our daily interactions with them can show them how it’s better to be a reasonable person than to be a dogmatic person. That’s all we can do on an individual level: Make our lives into examples of how it pays to be reasonable.
The poetry in the fact that we share this day with Muslims (who have sometimes oppressed us because we’re atheists) is to use this day to celebrate our differences and find common ground. Whether you’re fasting or feasting, praying or doing ‘yoga yoga’ at the club, let’s see that we have a lot in common, more than this day that we share.
After the end of the day, we all just want to live our lives in peace and harmony, so let’s remember that we’re all in this together. I think the universe’s message to us today is that we should celebrate our diversity and differences, not inflame it.
FOR MUBARAK BALA