“There is no historical evidence outside of the Bible, no mention of Moses outside the Bible, and no independent confirmation that Moses ever existed.”
—Dr. Michael D. Coogan, lecturer on the Old Testament at Harvard Divinity School
The biblical figure of Moses has been the center of fascination for over 2,000 years, but what do we really know about him? Was he a real person? Did the Exodus truly happen? Or is the story in the Pentateuch a mythical tale written centuries after the alleged events? Why does Moses’s story resemble that of many other lawgivers and legendary individuals? Why are there so many elements of sun and wine god myths in the story of Moses? What does the focus on the serpent in his story signify? Who was Yahweh? The Elohim?
“The existence of Moses as well as the veracity of the Exodus story is disputed amongst archaeologists and Egyptologists, with experts in the field of biblical criticism citing logical inconsistencies, new archaeological evidence, historical evidence and related origin myths in Canaanite culture.” —”Moses,” Wikipedia
Muslims claim that the Quran is the literal word of God. It uses the most precise, accurate language possible. Yet it inaccurately describes the Jews as calling Uzair the son of Allah. Is this a mistake? Is this the best possible way that Allah could have conveyed this? Did the author of the Quran not know that future generations would be confused by this verse?
1 Year after Leaving Islam here are my reflections….
I propose that the most likely explanation is not that all other religions except Islam are false, but rather all religions including Islam are false.
Mythical stories like the heavens and earth being split, Adam and Eve, Allah raising the heaven from the Earth , the idea of Shaytans are fair attempts at the ancients trying to understand the universe and answer the question of how we got here.
The reality is that these stories do not seem to be true or based on any real events or facts but rather just invented out of thin air.
How do we explain in Surah Qamar the stars falling to Earth, or in the hadith that discusses the sun coming near and the sweat increasing per person. Doesn’t actually match our understanding of reality and requires a lot more assumptions to make sense. In order to maintain this understanding of reality you have to hold a dual understanding of reality where you separate your reasoning into two parts. One for everything else and a special reasoning just for religion
When I got to the point where I realized this, I left Islam
My friend Sohail is someone who grew up in a strict Salafi Muslim family. Growing up he struggled to understand why he was attracted to men and felt a lot of self-hate for this. He thought maybe God is punishing him for committing some sins and desperately wanted to change his sexuality. This is his story. If you want to understand a certain group of people, the best way is to talk to them. Don’t go by hearsay or by what you might think.
Now onto Sohail’s story, here is the original post he made when he came out to family and friends back in September 2014:
OK guys excuse me for the previous post. But I do have something to tell all of you. I’m gay.
No, this isn’t a joke, and yes, I’m serious. I’m gay.
I’ve already come out to around seven of my friends, and they’ve all been really supportive. Thank you all of you. You know who you are.
I’ve known that I was attracted to other guys since about the age of 8. I have never been attracted to girls.
I was brought up in an Islamically conservative salafi background so I always believed gay people were an abomination against God, were destined to hell, were evil people, were the worst people on Earth, were unnatural… etc. I was brought up in a very homophobic environment and I internalised that hate. I hated myself. I became clinically depressed and many times I considered taking my own life, because the pain of living was too hard to bear.
I tried everything to turn straight. I cried and prayed. I begged God everyday to turn me straight. I read the Qur’an, did good deeds, prayed five times a day, stayed up at night in prayer and went to the mosque everyday. I tried talking to girls in the hopes that I would one day become attracted to one.
But obviously, none of it worked. I read the Islamic legal verdicts of scholars on the topic. They told me that there was no such thing as being gay, that it was all from the devil, and that if I married a girl I would turn straight. I believed it all. I didn’t believe I was gay at all. I thought my feelings could one day be overcome. I was even about to marry a girl at one point. Thankfully I didn’t, because otherwise I would have messed up my own life and the life of some poor girl.
It all got so bad that I started self harming. I would burn my my arm with matches. The physical pain would blunt out the emotional pain, and would make everything easier to deal with.
I only came out to myself earlier this year, when I decided to look up on all the research that had been done on the topic of human sexuality. I looked into biology, genetics, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, sociology and embryology. I came to two immediate conclusions after looking at all the science. 1) That being gay was completely normal and 2) you cannot change your sexuality no matter how hard you try.
When I realised this, I thought, “Oh shit. I think I’m gay.” I had just come out to myself. It was one of the most liberating and pleasant experiences in my life. After that I began researching religion and initially I became a progressive liberal sufi Muslim, then a deist, then an agnostic and then finally an agnostic-atheist.
When my parents found out I was gay and that I didn’t believe in Islam anymore they kicked me out of the house. A few days later they called me back home again and made me go to an exorcist. Yes, really, they sent me to an exorcist to get the ‘gay atheist demons’ exorcised out of me. They also exorcised me a few times themselves at home too. Being exorcised was one of the most demeaning, embarrassing and depressing moments in my life.
After a while my parents realised that I wasn’t possessed and that I wasn’t going to change. They told me that I couldn’t stay at home. Now I’m living by myself in Stepney Green, and I’ve made quite good few friends who are very understanding and supportive of me.
It’s been a really long journery for me. But I’m glad I survived it all to live another day. I’ve accepted myself for who I am. If you’re gay and you’re reading this know that it will get better. There is nothing wrong with who you are. You’re an exceptional individual and you deserve love and respect from everyone. Don’t hurt yourself no matter how hard it gets. Trust me, it’s not worth it. If you ever need someone to talk to I’m always here.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
I have asked Sohail and he personally does not know anyone who choses to be gay. The problem is, if sexuality is not a choice, why would God punish them for being that way? Well, Muslims have come up with different ways to understand this. For more about this, see my other post on Homosexuality and Islam
It is an often heard refrain among less well informed Christians that Hitler and Stalin (those slightly more knowledgeable sometimes add Pol Pot and Mao Zedong) were atheists and that their atheism led them to commit atrocities resulting in the deaths of millions of people. These claims are demonstrably false.
- Hitler was never an atheist. The available evidence points to the fact that he remained a theist throughout his whole life.
- It is true that Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot, were all atheists. But the primary influences that led to their atrocities were not atheism per se but their dogmatic Marxism and communist ideas.
We see that in none of these cases could atheism be made to “take the blame” for the atrocities committed by these men.
Read more at Hitler, Stalin and Atheism
I created a playlist about Who was the Historical Jesus. Clips from Bart Ehrman. Really interesting points!
For example, did you know Satan is never mentioned in the Old Testament? Neither is the idea of Heaven and Hell. These all came about during Jewish Apocalyptic Thinking (New Testament).
Video 1: Did Jesus Call himself God
Video 4: Did Jesus think He is the Messiah?
Video 5: Problems with Transmission in Oral Cultures – this one is particular relevant to hadith as well.
I remember attending an event for Rachel Corrie the girl who died trying to prevent Palestinian homes from being bulldozed and I had Salafi friends who were disgusted saying that “She’s a kafir (disbeliever), why are we honoring her? She’s just going to go to the hellfire”.
This, in a nutshell, is the problem with Salafism.
The problem is that although Muslims differ in their values and interpretations of the Quran and Sunnah, Salafis (Wahhabis) are the most antagonistic against Non Muslims, frequently calling them “kaafir” (a slur that means disbeliever) and emphasizing strongly that we should not associate with them, befriend them, greet them on their religious days, assist them in any way building a church or holy site, etc..
The belief in al-wala’ wa’l-bara’ (loyalty and friendship vs. disavowal and enmity) is one of the most important basic principles of Islam.
There are many such reports, which indicates that it is haraam to take the kaafirs as close friends and to love them. This friendship may take many forms, such as approving of their kufr, mixing with them and being friendly towards them, living with them, taking them as close friends, loving them, preferring them to the believers, referring to their laws for judgement and so on. See question no. 2179.
From the above, you will see that loving a kaafir is a serious matter, because it goes against one of the most important principles of Tawheed, which is loving and being loyal towards the believers, and disavowing and rejecting the disbelievers.
Allaah has forbidden the believers to take the kaafireen (disbelievers) as friends, and He has issued a stern warning against doing that.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Awliyaa’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’), then surely, he is one of them. Verily, Allaah guides not those people who are the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust)” [al-Maa’idah 5:51]Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:In this verse Allaah tells us that whoever takes the Jews and Christians as friends is one of them because of his taking them as friends. Elsewhere Allaah states that taking them as friends incurs the wrath of Allaah and His eternal punishment, and that if the one who takes them as friends was a true believer he would not have taken them as friends. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):(Source: IslamQA)
Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The reason why a person may be taken as a slave is his being a kaafir and waging war against Allaah and His Messenger. If Allaah enables the Muslims who are striving and sacrificing their lives and their wealth and all that Allaah has given them to make the word of Allaah supreme over the kaafirs, then He allows them to enslave the kuffaar when they capture them, unless the ruler chooses to free them or to ransom them, if that serves the interests of the Muslims.
If a mujaahid takes possession of a female slave or male slave, it is permissible for him to sell them. In either case – whether one acquires a slave through battle or through purchase – it is not permissible for a man to have intercourse with a female slave until she has had a period from which it may be ascertained that she is not pregnant. If she is pregnant then he must wait until she gives birth.(Source: IslamQA)
I remember and you can ask any Salafi, IslamQA is a trusted Islamic site. I used to recommend this site to all my friends when I practised Islam.
They are hard-line not just against non-Muslims, but even Muslims such as sufi. They consider everyone misguided except them
The Saudi Salafis also have destroyed most of the sacred sites in Saudi.
They consider any sort of structure to be blasphemous.
Their teachings have been spread all over the world due to the money that Saudi has.
Now tell me, when you tell people you cant be friends with kuffar, you must have “bara” (disallegiance) to them, what type of effect would this have on the hearts and minds of Muslims?? Do you think this will result in building MORE BONDS and LOVE and RELATIONSHIPS between Muslims and non Muslims? Or will it bring hatred to this world.
My own family member wrote online that apostates should be killed in an islamic state.
His reasoning is that we should trust God and his Messenger, even if we don’t really understand the reasoning.
I asked him to remove it and he ignored my request. Who knows who will read this and agree and one day decide to take it on themselves to join the Islamic state and start executing apostates. The worry is that one day if the Salafis manage to run an Islamic state, i will be executed for speaking out against these things.
I am speaking from the perspective of someone who followed the Salafi way for around 10 years, and I was Muslim around 15 years. Salafism is BAD for humanity! It represents the teachings of Prophet Muhammad in a black and white manner, and with no room for improvement or adaptation, which sucks!
What about terrorism?
I firmly believe as a former Salafi that Salafism is one of the worst and most dangerous forms of Islam in the world today. It is NOT violent extremism, infact Salafis are very strongly against terrorism, but it is really just a stone’s throw away based on the texts and the attitudes. There are so many harmful things in the Islamic corpus that if one decided to follow them directly, you could end up as a terrorist. At the very least the texts lead you to have enmity towards non-Muslims. I also think, but am not 100% sure, that a large number of the jihadi terrorists today came from the salafi mindset.
Shaikh Hamza Yusuf acknowledged this here too:
“The terroristic Islamists are a hybrid of an exclusivist takfiri version of the above and the political Islamist ideology that has permeated much of the Arab and South Asian world for the last several decades”
The Plague Within
So Muslim scholars are also worried about this. Hamza Yusuf has himself worked towards removing the apostasy law in the past. So when he talks, he is speaking from experience. His form of Islam I would be much happier with, because it means I DON’T HAVE TO DIE. Freedom of conscience and religion is one of the most basic human rights in the world today.
Do you agree that Salafism is worse for the world?
Brother Ismail, who has been posting videos on his journey from Islam and doing nothing but quote Islamic sources for the reasons why, has been receiving a lot of hate mail. Not just hate mail, but death threats. Speaking out against Islam is not easy, because you not only have to face rotten tomatoes from the crowd, but death threats as well. Most of the time these are empty threats but sometimes your life can actually be in danger. So let me ask you, why would we want to do such a thing? Well, because some of us want to live according to the truth, and share what we think is correct, despite the consequences. You can read more about Why I do this. Religion has some good and bad ideas. We need to move away from these bad ideas and only stick to the good ones. One alternative philosophy to religion is ‘Secular Humanism’.
I will also be making videos soonish, and I will also have to face the same death threats that he is facing.
I hope for a world where we can be free to criticize or discuss ideas without threat of violence and terror. Be safe, my brother and friend.