Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Freedom to choose, believe in or leave a religion

Nasir Khan, January 30, 2018

In the following article, I had some specific oppressive and coercive states in sight where laws of the countries and religious authorities stand in the way of freedom of conscience and thought.

One fact we need to keep in mind is that no large sections of the populations of a nation willingly leave their religion and their customary ways.


by Nasir Khan

Freedom to believe in any religion can also extend to freedom to change one’s religion. For example, when Christianity arose as a major religion, millions of followers of Egyptian, Roman and other Middle Eastern religions accepted Christianity, which had already split and developed into divergent sects.

Likewise, when Islam arose in the seventh-century Arabia and Islamic political power replaced the Byzantine and Persian empires of their possessions in Egypt, Syria and other countries, it gained millions of new followers. The Arabs vanquished the great Persian empire by force of arms and its ancient religion Zoroastrianism was replaced by Islam.

One fact we need to keep in mind is that no large sections of the populations of a nation willingly leave their religion and their customary ways. It was also the case during the early Arab conquests and the expansion of the Islamic empire.

Now, imagine a situation where Islamic victories led only to an expansion only in the political power and domination, but Islamic rulers found no converts to the new faith. That would mean Egypt, Syria and Palestine at this time would still be predominately Christian; Iran would be mostly Zoroastrian. But we know things changed drastically.

Millions of vanquished people converted to Islam. However, it would also be a mistake to assert that all such conversions to Islam took place because of imperial force and coercion. In fact, many conquered people and nations were also deeply influenced by the egalitarian spirit of the new faith. That made their transition to Islam easy. Therein lies a cardinal factor that explains large scale conversions to Islam in its early history.

The same thing happened in the Indian subcontinent. The conversions happened due to the missionary activities of Muslim saints, preachers and traders whose behavior and practical modes of living had an immense effect upon the people. If the Hindu rulers and communities had followed the example of the fanatics of present-day Muslim countries and punished anyone leaving the ancestral Hindu faith by beheading and torturing people, then there wouldn’t have been any Muslims in the part of the world I come from – India, Pakistan and Kashmir!

But why should any state or any society reject individuals’ freedom to follow any religion or stop them from converting to some religion as a matter of choice and convictions strikes at the roots of the notion of freedom to believe and follow one’s conscience.

The Qur’anic teaching on this matter is quite clear when it says: “There is no compulsion in religion (Arabic: La iqra fidd-deen). But what the present-day Muslim rulers, oligarchs and clerics say and do surprises the non-Muslim world.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Some religious people do good work, some don't

Nasir Khan, January 13, 2018

My Swedish friend, Lars Djerf, who is a Christian believer and a firm supporter of the cause of the Palestinian people wrote a short comment in reply to my post 'Feuerbach on Christianity'.

I reproduce his comment here, followed by my reply:

Lars Djerf wrote: 

As you know Nasir I don't agree with Feuerbach because there are a lot of examples that there are persons who thanks to their Christian belief could get a purpose to fight the evil here on earth

Nasir Khan's reply: 

Lars Djerf, Yes, I know. Some Christians and some (not all) followers of other religions also try their best to fight the injustices in the world. They make an enormous contribution to the cause of peace, helping the victims of wars, poverty and destitution. I always respect such people, and see them as noble friends.

But there are also religious people who kill others, spread hatred against the followers of other religions, victimize religious and ethnic minorities in their countries, support their governments if they invade other countries to kill and plunder the weaker nations and people.

We should also keep in mind what the former US president, George W. Bush, a devout Christian, and the former British prime minster, Tony Blair, another Christian, did, by invading Iraq and their allied forces killed hundreds of thousands Iraqis and destroyed an Arab country. They are Christian leaders and now they are living in peace and comfort.

We had seen that during this barbarian bloodbath and the destruction of Iraq many fundamentalist Christians and Christian Zionists fully supported the war of aggression. These are some simple facts.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Ahed Tamimi: Who Am I?

Who am I?

I am a Palestinian girl.
Before I was born, the occupation took most of my village’s lands to build a new settlement called Halamish.
Then they arrested my father. When my aunt went to visit him, one of the soldiers pushed her over the stairs of the court and she died.
Since I was little the settlers of Halamish keep stealing more and more of our lands to expand the settlement.
Our home has demolition order because it is in Area C. The settlers are allowed to build on our land, but not us.
In 2005, the settlers made the spring of our village part of the settlement and prevent us from using it, even though many of us are farmers.
All these things happened with great support from the Occupation army and government.

When the people of the my village started to resist the injustices with protest marches, my father was arrested again.
My mother was arrested too. My uncles, aunts, brothers, cousins - all of them were arrested too.
My cousin Mustafa was killed by the Israeli army. My uncle Rushdi was killed by the army too!
Later, an Israeli sniper shot my mom in the leg and she couldn’t move for long time.
Almost every week, the army breaks into our homes to arrest one of my family or to confiscate our laptops or phones.
During our marches, they shoot us with tear gas rubber bullets - my cousin is in hospital badly injured because he was shot in the face the week before.
A few days ago, two soldiers came to our house to take positions to shoot at the demonstrators from my village. I stood with my family to prevent them, the soldier pushed me and I slapped him.
And now I am in jail!
My mother and my cousin are in jail too!
The occupation government and media call me a terrorist.
Do you know who I am?
And what would you do if that was your life? Or the life of your child?
#ahed_tamimi #youth_activist