The Osama Dialogues: Part 3

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver Obama: “Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader, in fact, he slaughtered many Muslims.

…so have you, Barack Hussein…

Now that he’s dead, can we start looking for the REAL 9-11 culprits? Or do we already know who they are?

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Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver I was in NYC on 9-11, & all I can say is: never forget…

… and you just don’t get it

you keep it copacetic

and you learn to accept it

and oh, you’re so pathetic

Colleague Z Are you saying it wasn’t Al Qaeda? That’s news to me.


Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver check out the videos, and there’s also a group called “architects and engineers for 9/11 truth”. that’s a start, not the finish, but there’s more than evidence out there to question the official story. there are two kinds of americans in my view: those who believe the george-washington-and-the-cherry-tree story and those who know he was the richest man inamerica when he became president, and forced soldiers to

fight at the threat of death. red pill, blue pill…

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver here’s some further reading:

these illustrate how and why the war on terror is forged and waged, in addition to what’s in the aforementioned video links…

Former Colleague/Coffee Mate You are a knucklehead! Osama himself claimed responsibility many times. Why not listen to him? Daniel, I know you are bright, but to think that Bin Ladin did not do these things is to wander far off into conspiracyland my friend.

Former Schoolmate ‎”It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” -Samuel Adams

Austin Muslim Former Colleague/Coffee Mate, who told us that Osama himself claimed responsibility many time? If you are going to base your facts on doctored videos of him speaking in arabic then your argument doesn’t stand. To this day, we have yet to know who was behind the attacks. If you think for a second that our govt. would never lie to us (wmds inIraq), then honestly nothing can change your mind.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver I think it’s more important to evaluate evidence and analyze arguments, than to just pick a side. We all have certain inclinations, so only by thinking can we overcome our inclination to be inclined. I don’t care as much about someone agreeing with me as I do about that said someone constantly reading, thinking and self-evaluating.


The Osama Dialogues: Intro. + Part 1

The Osama Dialogues are a cut-and-paste of Facebook discussions surrounding posts I published about Osama bin Laden.  From Obama to Osama to Wills & Kate, no stone has been left unturned.  You’ll laugh, you’ll get pissed, you’ll agree…

…but you won’t regret reading them…
 Feel free to leave a comment and/or add me as a friend on Facebook!


Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver: A civilian’s a civilian, and Bush/Obama have admittedly directed the killing of many, many more of them than Osama bin Laden is even accused of. Is anyone out there ready to admit, though, that ‘democracy’ and “American” (military/industrial) ‘interests’ (hegemony), rather than Islam-“ism”/extremism/fundamentalism that is the true threat?

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Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver Would people be more justified if they danced at the news of their deaths?

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Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver Do they not see how their own logic is a proof againt them?

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Former Colleague/Coffemate Daniel, Justice is the thing Americans are celebrating

Colleague Z’s Husband They have NEVER sanctioned the killing of civilians!

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Former Colleage/Coffeemate: i agree. i’m only pointing out that if this is justice, similar retaliation against american leaders could also be considered justice, for they are guilty of some of the same crimes, in particular overseeing the killing of civilians. i don’t think though, that many people on either side are intellectually or morally mature enough to see things from the other side…

Former Colleague KSA Until proven guilty Osama was definitely a ‘civilian’ – the very method of his death (shooting an unarmed man in the head) shows how low we have sunk – I don’t hear any reports that he was able to defend himself or was armed. All I here wa…s a women tried to shield him (even if you consider him evil he was basically an old defenseless man confronted by a well armed group of determined well trained soldiers). It is amazing that a woman faced down several soldiers….she should be commended for her bravery. Sometimes you have to respect the bravery of your enemy. This kind of mutual respect was very clear throughout WWI and WWII – we have lost that altogether. What was the point of shooting Osama? By doing this we just lost the best source of information we could ever dream of – unless of course he was spirited away to some foreign prison (Gitmo) to be tortured year after year (more likely). At least question him put him on trial and let him prove his guilt or innocence to prove that we still have some shreds of humanity and are better than those who unleash terror in the world (GWB, Hitler, Saddam, Mubarak et al). Until we understand are enemy and respect that he too has a voice people will only resort to horrific acts of violence in a vain attempt to be heard. Dialogue not war is the only lasting answer – to kill a human soul (even a blackened soul) and then profit from T-Shirt sales and the media frenzy shows we have no more human dignity. It is a dark day for the West and can only

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Former Colleague KSA Only good I see coming from this is that once and for allPakistan has to admit they tolerate if not openly sponsor terrorism. The other good news (especially good if you’re an Indian) is thatPakistan’s air defense is non existent….

Colleague Z So are we, in fact, saying that the 9/11 victims do not get to be considered innocent civilians? Are we saying that the attack was okay becauseAmerica has killed civilians in the past? If so, and 9/11 was an act of war, then Osama does not get to hide behind the word ‘civilian’ either.

Colleague Z’s Husband I can not argue with pure fiction. If you choose to go down the road of complete uneducated conspiracy theories then that leaves facts by the way side and thus truth can not be found in your minds because the moment your presented with something you just don’t like you simply change the facts to soot your fantasies. So intelligent conversation and discussion are no longer yours to have.

Colleague Z’s Husband ‎”…to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Z’s Husband: i think what you are saying is absolutely true, for every perspective or side of an argument or debate. the truth is, speaking for my self, i am not knowledgeable about OBL or 9/11. i simply have not put in the time to investigate beyond a few videos, articles or conversations. and i am not well-studied enough in the sciences involved to draw a conclusion that i could reasonably expect others to accept.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver there is a science of knowing. either you are knowledgeable about a thing from having studied or rare cases of people with verifiable intuition (e.g. einstein). if you do not fit either case on a given subject, you can still gain knowledg…e/certainty from someone who is knowledgeable/intuitive AND trustworthy. what other way is there to know something? you either study or are intuitive, or you pay attention to someone you know and trust who has studied or is intuitive. this i consider direct knowledge.

Colleague Z People who hate Bush try to find ways to blame Bush for 9/11. People who hateAmerica try to find a way to blameAmerica for it. People who watched the news after 9/11 heard Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden claim responsibility for it and watched Palestinians dance in the streets to celebrate it. What are we, as Americans, supposed to think?

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver going back to ObL/9-11, very few people have direct access to the facts with the knowledge to understand them. very few people know and trust someone with such access and understanding. (books of course, preclude having to actually talk t…o somebody, but the author’s credentials should be verified.) as such, no matter what people think about ObL/9-11, they should be most sure of the fact that thinking is all they do about it. you don’t know. and if you unjustifiably claim to know what you only think, you are feeding the “conspiracy theories” of the other side. “most people think they know, but i know that most people only think.” i for one am unconvinced by any explanation that has been offered of ObL/9-11 simply because i have not had the chance to meet my own standards of verifiability, and no one i’ve met has either. i think it is dishonest for most of us to feel otherwise…See More

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Z: the 9/11 civilians were innocent civilians, but who killed them? who killed them? we’ve all heard a lot, but what can anyone be sure of unless they review the evidence themselves, or if the accused are put on trial if they can be? without that everything else is speculative/incidental. without producing the methodology, evidence and results of thorough studies, or a conviction in a convincingly-fair trial, each person is just forcing everyone else to doubt his/her claim and therefore convincing them, by default of their own. it’s vicious cycle of baseless bravado and doubt fed by all sides.

Colleague Z Well, I thought someone claiming responsibility answered that question..


Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver the last thing i’ll add now is: (1) i don’t hate bush. i disagree with him but i respect him as a fellow human, husband and father (i’ve even met his daughters at a high school party). i disagree with people disrespecting him or talking about him in ways which they would not like with themselves. (2) my doubts about ObL/9-11 are not based on my being a Muslim. they started when i was in NYC on 9-11, and, generally, before that. i simply have never let anyone make up my mind for me, and until now, i’ve not been presented with anything fully convincing, from EITHER side…

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver @ becky: are you in the office? we coulda done this over coffee… anyway, you’re right, and this is why i am of the opinion that he should have been put on a trial in which this statement of his, after being verified, would have led to an easy conviction. would that not have put all rational doubts to rest, and saved the masses from the temptation of irrational far-flung theories?

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague’s Husband: the drone strikes in pakistan andafghanistan alone refute what you are saying

Colleague Z’s Husband We do not in any way target civilians on purpose the only civilians are accidental causalities of war. By implying that we do target civilians you are either ignorant of the facts or your trying to istugate the uneducated masses to belive the lies.

Colleague Q There are people who consider the Iraqi and Afghani people killed by US forces as collateral damage… There are people who consider the ones killed on 9/11 as collateral damage too.


Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Q: (as salamu alaykum) this is part of my point. and i’m sure neither you nor i fit into either of these groups, btw.

@ Colleague Z’s Husband: let’s assume for the sake of (not having an) argument that

you are correct. even so, the taking of a life, even if

unintentional, still incurs a penalty. if a man oversaw or a group committed voluntary manslaughter against hundreds of people, what

would you say the penalty should be? would they not be told to stop? (i’m anticipating the excuse that it is to stop terror, but is it not then terror and indiscriminate killing itself?) we’re moving towards something like the film “minority report” where people are punished

for crimes we anticipate them committing. either way, i’m not taking sides, for the Qur-an says to seek justice even against yourselves.

i’m only calling for all criminals to be punished, and all murderers

to be executed, after convicted in a fair trial, unless their victims’ families accept a ransom from them and choose to forgive. would you call that fair?

Colleague Z’s Husband Ah but you see the huge difference is that those radical Islamist who killed innocents in 9/11 did it on purpose. the causilties of war done by our troops are regretted by even the most battle hardened soldiers. The brainwashed morons who killed innocents in 9/11 and those morons who support it, kill innocents and think its ok matter of fact they celebrate it. that is called evil. So please don’t even compare those who accidently kill the innocent and regret what has happened to those who take pride in shedding innocent blood.

Daniel Al-Qãhırıï Oliver ‎@ Colleague Z’s Husband (and this point is also pertains to Former Colleague/Coffeemate’s last comment on this post): this is one issue on which we are unlikely to agree.

Allah says in the Qur-an that mankind is the most argumentative thing, which is a criticism, not a compliment. Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “do not argue, even when you’re right”. i find that as an injunction never to argue, for when does one argue, except when they feel they are right? so i’ll leave you with a question whose answer i also seek: have you or any trustworthy, knowledgeable person you know well observed evidence, from a thorough investigation, about the 9/11 culprits? if the answer is yes, please pass that to me. if it is no, then how can you or anyone in a like position insist that it was Islam-“ists” and, further, that it was ONLY Islam-“ists”?

Moving from that point, both accidental and intentional killing, in every legal system that i know-U.S., Judeo-Christian, Islamic, etc.- incur a penalty. i only insist that such penalties be incurred by all. doing so would prevent the accident. (perhaps visualizing another perspective would be useful: what if hindus were accidentally killing christians in the your country while trying to target criminals? how acceptable would you find it?)

Dealing with Doubt: finding certainty when faith is attacked

Islam is the flavor of the month.  It’s on the tip of every tongue, and the front page of every publication.  News reports start and end with Muslims, and the negativity is at times overwhelming.  How can a Muslim cope?  How can they and non-Muslims filter the gold from the garbage to find the truth about Islam?  One famous saying comes to mind:

Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali said, “I memorised from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, ‘Leave what gives you doubt for what gives you no doubt.'”

– at-Tirmidhi

The theme of this essay is leaving what is found to be false, for what is found to be true, and how.  It uses examples from the website WikiIslam to show how all people who disparage Islam exercise their hateful and deceitful agenda.

  1. I. Bias under the guise of academic objectivity

In its “About” page, WikiIslam claims to be a “website where anyone can post anything about Islam”, “a community-edited website where Muslims and non-Muslims are able to share their knowledge of Islam in separate articles”.  It also claims to be “the one-stop source of high-quality factual and objective information about Islam” and promises  to allow Muslims to have their own articles in response to an article on the site.”

The claims to objectivity and image of academic neutrality that WikiIslam aims to present are provable fallacies.

There are, to be fair, articles by Muslims, but these are nowhere to be found when reading the articles that they address.  In other words, Muslim submissions, specifically pro-Islamic ones, are kept separate, hidden, in fact, from the non-Muslim submissions.  Why could all points not have been presented in the same article, if indeed objectivity is the aim?  The discriminatory, separate-but-unequal treatment of Islamic viewpoints is a token offering of fairness that does not stop the reader from gaining a skewed perspective, as they will most likely read the anti-Islamic viewpoints and never find the hard-to-find pro-Islamic viewpoints. (I for one read many articles on the site for hours without encountering a single pro-Islamic viewpoint or Muslim-submitted article.  I only came across them by accident by later going to the “About” page.)

Perhaps WikiIslam intends the noun form of the word ‘objective’, rather than its adjective.

The “Recent Testimonies from Former Muslims” section on the Main Page is another obvious hole in WikiIslam’s claim to objectivity.  The testimonies are followed by more testimonies of people who left Islam.  Why, if they are neutral or objective, is their no invitation for testimonies of people who have converted to Islam?  Why, if it is claimed that no convert to Islam has submitted a testimonial, are there no links to the many articles about conversion to Islam?  There are in fact many high profile recent stories, such as Lauren Booth, journalist and sister-in-law of former UK prime minister Tony Blair.  Mike Tyson, a former heavyweight boxing champion, also seems to have had his story neglected.  There are many other famous and non-famous converts of many walks of life whom WikiIslam neglects or chooses to ignore.

In the “Non-Muslims” section at the bottom right of the Main Page, under the heading “Apostasy”, there is another link to “People who left Islam.”  Next to that is a form to “add your testimony”.  There is no corresponding section, or certainly not one that is as prominently placed, for people who have entered Islam, nor is there a place for them to submit their testimonials.

This is neither, objective, balanced, nor fair.  WikiIslam is biased in the academic sense of the word.  This can be forgiven and over looked as a failing, a falling short of standards that all academics struggle against.  It could be forgiven and overlooked, rather, if bias, in the intentional sense of the word, did not exist.

  1. II. Misinterpreting evidence by quoting it out of context

Unfortunately, an intentional bias does in fact exist.  On its page about Islam’s (supposed) racism, there is a heading “Racism against Infidel Arab Tribes.”  Under this heading is a translation of a verse of the Qur-an.

“The Arabs of the desert are the worst in Unbelief and hypocrisy, and most fitted to be in ignorance of the command which Allah hath sent down to His Messenger: But Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise.”

This is a sound translation of the meaning of the Qur-an, chapter 9, verse 97 to be exact.

According to the above verse, the Qur-an is indeed racist (or desertist, perhaps) against the Bedouin Arabs.

Read two verses further, though, and the Qur-an paints a more balanced picture of them:

“But some of the desert Arabs believe in Allah and the Last Day, and look on their payments as pious gifts bringing them nearer to Allah and obtaining the prayers of the Messenger. Aye, indeed they bring them nearer (to Him): soon will Allah admit them to His Mercy: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur-an 9.99)

Considering the length to which the website goes in other places to review and present Islamic evidence, it is naïve to assume that this was a mistake.  This omission, which reverses both the context and meaning of the verse, is either unforgivably negligent, or intentionally misleading.  In fact, this is a textbook trick used to slander Islam.

WikiIslam’s claim to a neutral, open or unbiased presentation of Islam has been disproved.

Its true intention of slandering Islam at any cost, even that of its own integrity, has been proven.

  1. III. Faulty methodology and logic

According to WikiIslam, Muhammad was impotent.

“As per my research, Muhammad, during the last years of his life was suffering from acromegaly. One side-effect of this degenerative disease is impotence. He had erectile dysfunction.”

On the same page, he is accused of having a “scandalous love affair”.  He also apparently deprived his wives of sex that he was not able to have:

“So the prophet decides to punish all of them and not sleep with any one of his wives for one month. Depriving one’s wives sexually is the second grade of punishment recomendedn in Quran.”

In another places WikiIslam alleges that he was a pedophile, rapist and sex addict.

So, according to WikiIslam, a man is impotent, that is, unable to have sex.  While he is unable to have sex, he has a love affair.  He punishes his wives that he is unable to have sex with by depriving them of sex he is apparently not having with them.  Then, while unable to get an erection, he rapes women.  He also has an apparent addiction for this thing that he can not do.

Are they serious?

How could one person, never mind a group of people, publish such self-contradictory information?  Shouldn’t it have caught at least one person’s attention?

How could they arrive at these differing conclusions from the same sources of evidence?

These laughable blunders could only have happened under one of three scenarios:

  1. A. The WikiIslam team is confused.

At best, they are confused.  Everyone gets confused sometimes, and while we can forgive them for this, we can not take their word about the thing they are confused about.

  1. B. WikiIslamists are methodologically unsound.

If they are not confused, then they have devised a methodology which leads them to contradicting conclusions.  If that is the case, i.e. that their use of reason is faulty and/or inconsistent, then we can not consider any single conclusion found by this methodology to be reliable.

  1. C. The WikiIslamists are blinded by their own hatred.

At worst, they bear so much malice towards Islam that they will disparage it in any way they can think of, without apparently thinking.  If this is so, not only are they blinded by hatred, in a way that makes their judgment questionable, but they are deceitful about their claim to objectivity, putting them doubly in doubt.  Further and lastly, as they are not objective and in fact maliciously biased, their word can not be trusted.

The correct conclusions are both B and C.  WikiIslam is methodologically unsound.  A simple but crude way of saying that is:  they don’t know how to think.  Going back to their long accusation against Muhammad, there is a point in the discussion when they accuse Muslims of fabricating a hadith.

In making an accusation against Muhammad regarding an incident in his household, WikiLeaks narrates a long narration, whose chief narrator was a companion of the prophet named Abdullah bin ‘Abbas.  In a later discussion about the narration, they defend it in the following manner.

“Yet some Muslims still claim that the Hadiths quoted above narrated by Abdullah bin ‘Abbas are false and the correct version is the one about honey. This is a nonsense. This hadith is recorded by both Bukahri and by Muslim.”

As a part of the same argument, they quote the following narration:

“A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrated that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) used to spend time with Zainab daughter of Jahsh and drank honey at her house. She (‘A’isha further) said: I and Hafsa agreed that one whom Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) would visit first should say: I notice that you have an odour of the Maghafir (gum of mimosa). He (the Holy Prophet) visited one of them and she said to him like this, whereupon he said: I have taken honey in the house of Zainab bint Jabsh and I will never do it again. It was at this (that the following verse was revealed): ‘Why do you hold to be forbidden what Allah has made lawful for you… (up to). If you both (‘A’isha and Hafsa) turn to Allah” up to:” And when the Holy Prophet confided an information to one of his wives” (lxvi. 3). This refers to his saying: But I have taken honey.”

However, they refute this narration and its support of the refutation of the argument they are trying to make, because, they claim:  “This hadith has been forged…” (Note:  ‘Hadith’ is árabic for “narration”.)

Now, let’s note that the narration of Abdullah bin ‘Abbas was defended on the grounds that it was recorded by Bukhari (mis-spelled as Bukahri) and Muslim.  In fact, it is recorded by these two famous collectors of narrations.

(The background is that authentic narrations of the prophet are the secondary source of knowledge and legislation in Islam, after the Qur-an.  These narrations, narrated first from a companion of the Prophet, and then passed down from one person to another in an oral tradition, were later collected by several famed collectors, of which Bukhari and Muslim are the most famous.  They devised various methodologies by which they graded the authenticity of these narrations, based on whether everyone in the chain of narrators had ever met each other, or whether any of them was known to be dishonest and others.)

The second narration, the one about the honey, was recorded by- you guessed it- Bukhari.  You’ll notice that not only are they from the same narration collector, but even from the same website.

WikiIslam defends one narration specifically because Bukhari narrated it, with no other reason given.  Then, in the same argument, they reject a narration, collected by the same person, with no reason given.

So is his name good or not?  WikiIslam has no way, or a very flawed one, of classifying a narration as sound or unsound.  They accept Bukhari’s narration on one occasion and reject it from another arbitrarily.  They, for example, do not make a comment on Bukhari’s particular science of narrations.  This is because they have no science.  They are (mis)guided only by the drive to prove what they are not investigating but have already decided to be true, and they disavow by any or no reason anything that contests their pre-conceived conclusions.  These simplistic and ignoble guidelines can never lead to a correct conclusion.

As for C, WikiIslam’s animosity towards Islam, discussion of that continues in the next section.

  1. IV. Open hostility towards Islam

This hostility towards Islam is not a mere accusation.  It is a documented fact.

In the middle of the aforementioned long accusation, the author’s argument breaks into the exclamation:

“What can a prophet ask more?…  Alhamdulillah! AllahuAkbar! Subhanallah. Isn’t Allah great?”

This is far removed from any intellectual or academic language.  (It isn’t even good English, but that’s not the point.)  Its sarcastic use of sacred words shows the antagonism and hatred that is the true objective behind’s WikiIslam’s thin veil of objectivity.

It is not hostility towards Islam that makes WikiIslam problematic.  Its contributors have the right to feel hostile or any other way towards Islam or any other thing, and so does everybody.  The problem arises from the fact that their hatred prevents them from being objective and neutral.  It has corrupted them, rotting away at their integrity from the inside until they have become all but open hypocrites.  They try to spread their hostility through trickery and deceit.  They present themselves as taking the moral, intellectual and academic high road while they are in fact groveling deep below it.

If WikiIslam were objective, but happened to paint a negative view of Islam in the end, I, as a Muslim, would accept it.  This is not the case.

A person who is willing to deceive about something can only be thought to be willing to deceive about anything, and, perhaps, everything.

A person who is willing to distort the truth once is willing, more than likely, to distort it again, or all the time.

We should not be convinced by the testimony of one who is himself or herself confused.

As such, this paper does not claim to have refuted WikiIslam’s every point.  It has not and will not address every one of their points.  It has exposed their willful dishonesty and malintent, which is sufficient to negate all of what they have said or will ever say from ever being acceptable.

We should throw the testimony of this biased witness and dishonest accuser out of the court of reason.  WikiIslam, for its part, should close, and its contributors and editors should inspect their morality, integrity, and ability to reason.  WikiIslam readers would do better to read only from credible, reliable and knowledgeable sources about Islam or any other subject they would like to learn about.

As a Muslim, I leave that which I doubt for that which I do not doubt.  As an intelligent human being, I do the same (which is why I became Muslim.)  It is not that I turn a blind eye to whatever refutes my ideology, it is that I leave what I find to be false (and therefore doubt) for what I find to be true (and, therefore, do not doubt).  In the case of WikiIslam and everyone who is like them, my advice to the world is to do the same.

To prove my critique of Islam is not based on my status as a Muslim, I am providing links to non-Muslims who also find it incredibly biased.  See what an atheist and the students and staff of the University of Central Florida had to say.

  1. V. What this all means

The wider application of this is that WikiIslam is not alone.  Muslim-bashing, Islamophobia, call it whatever you like, there is a growing and concerted effort to disparage Islam and Muslims, and unfortunately it’s working.  Almost no Muslims are terrorists, and almost no terrorists are Muslims, but the media is leading people to think the opposite.  WikiIslam is important only because it, in one place, compiles the various wiles and tactics of those who are out to denigrate Islam and Muslims in the name of supposedly noble causes.  In fact, because of their provable deceit and obvious biases, they are confirming what they are so vehement in guiding people away from.  They are false, which shows what they oppose to be true.  They falsify, which only clarifies the truth they are trying to hide.

Whether they accept it or rage against it, Islam is reviving and spreading all over the globe.  Muslims, despite the backwardness they are accused of, are thriving wherever they are found, which is not to deny that there are many who have yet to reach Islam’s ideals.

Islam is the rock that will not break, and it is a pity to have to find that out only after having broken one’s self against it.

Read more here.

windows without walls (my improbably journey to Islam & a lot of other places, part III)

There was nothing but me. No one had been more free than I had. I
took that to mean that I was the one to blame for the troubles in my
life. It also meant that nothing could stop me. I let everything go,
literally thrown everything away, knowing that everything and everyone
that had ever really been there would come back.

To make a long story short, I took a vow of celibacy (which no one
took seriously) and went back home, the prodigal son. One sharp look
from my mom said all that needed to be said about my dredlocks and a
lot of other things. My first order of business was to get back into
school. Imagine telling people that you dropped out of your third
year in the Ivy League to be a player.

I got re-accepted- they were no match for my characteristic
hard-headedness- and ran into an old friend from the basketball court.
My suitemates and I were having a monthly party called “Last Friday”
at the end of every month, very low key for me, so I invited him.

“I don’t drink, I don’t dance, I don’t listen to music. I’m a
Muslim,” he smiled, and then I saw it.

He had changed.

Gone was the tight-lipped bravado and swagger of one of the nation’s
best high school ballers. In place of his usual cool was an
uncharacteristic constant smile and a beard. His whole face had
changed. And his clothes too. His pants were tucked into his

At that moment I knew: this is it. I’ve been trying to change, a
believer without a way, and he’s changed. Whatever he believed was
the truth.

I wasn’t ready to cancel the party just yet, but I asked him to tell me more.

“And if you are in doubt about that which we have sent to our servant,
Then bring a single chapter of its equal and likeness,
and call forward your witnesses (to its making) besides Allah,
if you are indeed truthful.
And if you have not done (this)-
and you will never do (it)-
then be wary of the fire whose fuel is men and stone,
prepared for the rejecters (of truth and right).
And give glad tidings to those who affirm (truth and right) and work
righteousness that theirs are gardens (of paradise), underneath
which flow rivers…”
-Qur-an 2.23-5

I couldn’t believe it. I had to believe it. No one could say that.
I had read hundreds of books- autobiographies, encyclopedias,
textbooks of every subject, histories, diaries, fiction, poetry,
political manifestos, fables and folklore- and no one had ever made
such a claim, of infallibility, of supreme confidence, of ultimate
challenge. Even the most widely-accepted scientific knowledge was
mostly considered theory. Every textbook was in its umpteenth
edition; why? Because mistakes or updated knowledge had been
discovered since the last edition. No one- not Einstein, not Michael
Jordan, not Criss Angel, no one- had ever claimed to have done
something which could be neither surpassed nor approached, even in its
details. No one, of course, who had not been subsequently made a fool
of, if they were not already known to be a fool, and summarily erased
from history.

No this, this shocked me. Only God could say that, I thought. If
this book was indeed of a miraculous nature, then it was the greatest
miracle of all time. Why? Why would a book be greater than Ram’s
stringing of Shiva’s bow, or Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, or Jesus’
revival of the dead Lazarus? It was greater because, again, if it was
indeed a miracle, if there ever was a miracle, this was the only one
left standing.

No one claims to have Shiva’s bow, and even so, long deceased are the
witnesses of its stringing. The Red Sea- and I have been to its coast
and talked to someone as he sailed across it- is definitely back to
normal. And Lazarus has since died again. But the Qur-an, if there
is any miracle about it, is still standing, and the one in my office
is no different that the thousand year-old copy in Uzbekistan, or even
the oldest hand-written original. Anyone who can read Arabic can
verify that.

So is it a miracle? It welcomes your doubts as it still does mine.
Read this example:

“He has set free the two seas meeting together
Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress?
-Qur-an 55.19-20

Still not convinced? Check out the introduction to King Leopold’s
Ghost, a book about the Congo by Adam Hochshild. It describes how
this river pushes out into the sea for a great distance without its
freshwater mixing with the Atlantic. It is said that Jacques Cousteau
was the first to photograph this barrier phenomenon, which I’ve yet to
verify. At any rate, it is a known scientific phenomenon, and
research is even being done to use freshwater barriers to prevent
saltwater seepage.

If Muhammad, may Allah Bless him and Grant him peace, had invented the
Qur-an, how could he have known this? He was illiterate. Even if he
was educated, this knowledge was not available at the time. Supposing
he made it up and happened to guess right, for one, he would have had
to guess right for all the other scientific discoveries the Qur-an
preceded, which is impossible if not unlikely. Further, what value
would such a claim have had at the time? Because it was irrelevant
and unverifiable, and not altogether fantastic, it would have done
nothing to convince people towards Islam.

I did my research, and decided that that this verse, and the many
others like it, was a sign left by Allah not for the early Muslims,
but for all the generations that would follow them. As every copy of
the Qur-an is identical to the original scrolls, they are proof of a
wisdom that could only have come from above. They are a taste test
that everyone can individually scrutinize individually and openly.
They are miracles. Just as such verses were unobservable but
ultimately proven true, so, the Qur-an argues, is the case with its
claims of resurrection, recompense and reward and much else.

But there was something else, too, something besides all the eloquent
logic I was starting to read in translation. Something inside me. I
felt like I was finding something I’d already found, something I’d
known inside me like the vague, disparate recollections of a dream.
The signs I was reading were confirming and explaining signs I’d been
seeing in my self for years, great and small. Years earlier, without
knowing why, I’d resolutely given up eating pork. When I was in
Australia, I once fasted from morning to night for one month. I just
felt that it was right, that I needed it for strength and discipline.
I had stopped shaving because I found it unnatural. Also when I was
in Australia, I woke up everyday at sunrise and prayed, then washed. I
had begun to see it as an obligation to give, and in New York, let me
tell ya, there are plenty of people to give to. And why, I asked
looking back to my childhood, did my brother and I have a habit of
prostrating on our foreheads before we went to sleep? Maybe you can
imagine how many times my heart stopped, or how many times my eyes
still burst in tears at finding out that what was in me was true

As an intellectual, I’d made the world my classroom, and people and
places had become my books. I was a scribe of the spoken word, with a
library that catalogued thoughts and lives. That’s not to say that I
wasn’t well-read. I was, and perhaps extraordinarily so. In time my
interests turned toward religion. I don’t think I was looking for
something to believe. I just found it all interesting. Soon, and I
presented this theory at Sydney University, I surmised that all
religions were variants of some original, and differed on grounds of
culture based on the parts of the world they were in. After all,
language limits and allows the concepts its speakers are allowed to
think in, so it seemed natural to assume that the same religion would
vary on the surface across cultures. Some form of prayer or
meditation, asceticism, and other elements seemed to universal to be
independent. As such, I postulated that God must have spoken to
somebody somewhere, and that, those words and none other, were exactly
what I wanted to read. So I decided to study Hebrew and Sanskrit,
because those were the oldest languages I knew about, to find and
decipher just what God had said. I guess I was looking for something
to believe in.

Arabic is not the oldest language, but it does contain the oldest book
which is universally held to be untainted. Moreover, and this excited
me about my theory, Islam seemed to contain all those universal
elements of religion, in a unified, congruent system. It has the
asceticism of Buddhism without going to the extreme of monasticism.
There is the rhythmic profundity of the Vedas with no contradiction or
The all-embracing love of Christianity is honed with discipline, while the
moral guidance of the Torah is found without descending into formalism.
The social code is as comprehensive as Confucianism, and the
unifying theory of nature resonates with the principles of Daoism and
many other natural/mystic belief systems. It even deals masterfully with
the skepticism and rightful demand for the right to inquiry of atheism,
agnosticism and modern science.

I have suffered, admittedly at my own hands, for so long. It took me
years of searching to even realize I was searching. And now I
realized that I didn’t have to find my own way, that I had something
to which I could bring my doubts, and that I had been right, in some
way, all along. The Straight Path stretched before me. I took my
first step one night by declaring that there was no deity but Allah
and that Muhammad was his Messenger.

So what happened, right? Did my parents kick me out of the house?

Well, I wasn’t living at home at the time, for one. And knowing my
wiles and caprice, no one probably took it seriously at first. But
from surrendering to Allah, I started to affirm his truth, with the
hopes of one day perfecting my self and practice. I think that has
kept me, elevating my struggles to strivings and tempering my
successes with humility. I’m a better grandson, son, nephew, brother
and cousin than I was before, and I think my ties with my family are
stronger because of Islam, even though we differ about it. To be
sure, I lost a few friendships, but some of them were very surface and
false anyway, so I don’t miss what I never had. Anyway, who’s to say
we wouldn’t have fallen out of touch anyway, as much as I move around.
Due in large part to Facebook, I have to admit, many, many of my
friendships are graciously intact.

I still travel, still love nature. I spent a year teaching in the
lost valley that borders Mexico. There was a beautiful bird sanctuary
with a crocodile there, close to the Gulf of Mexico. I traveled to
Pakistan and got married, and saw the beautiful hills of Murree at the
foothills of the Himalayas with my wife. My Spanish came in handy in
Mexico City and Monterrey, where I met the bravest and most innocent
people I can remember. After a year in Oman, where my daughter was
born, I was relieved to see the rain and lush green of northern
Thailand last summer. And I’ve still got miles to go before I sleep.

I’m as aware of wrongdoing Muslims as anybody, but Islam is not
constituted by the Muslims. It’s a framework. One looks through it,
and acts within it. I do not feel that it limits my vision or walk.
Rather it frees from the debilitating, inhibiting effects of the
faults that we all have, the false lures of life, the limitations of
ignorance, and the misguidance of satan. It is a window without
walls, through which I invite you all to look and transcend.

And peace be upon whoever follows guidance…
-Qur-an 20.47