June 02, 2006

This is the dogmatic fallacy of being a self-acclaimed “open minded” liberal/secular; my friend.

I did not choose to adhere to Islam because of anything you might think I’m susceptible of! I’m not unique but I also don’t merely fit to neither of the typical profiles you can easily label me with to satisfy the flawed sense of apprehension & security being an inclusive liberal who’s so sure he (& a couple of she’s) got it right with such a mindset!

It wasn’t because I was partially raised in Saudi & taught in its schools (I think their school curriculums leads to utter agnosticism), it wasn’t because I had a traumatic accident & God divinely intervened to protect me & so I led a pious life thereafter with utter graciousness (though I try), it’s not because I fill for the emotionally charged rhetoric of some groups who capitalize on the miserable state of our nation.

I’m not suppressing any feelings or running from a sinful past, I did not “do the seven & it’s bearing” (السبعة و زمتها) & then had enough from it while being spiritually drained, I have no unconscious motivations for practicing Islam other than the practical, tangible & sound judgment I made about it consciously, I’m open for debate, I’ll put my beheading sword aside and spare your blood for a nice discussion in a neutral venue that doesn’t sell alcohol, I hope you don’t get a fit from my preference.

I was not overwhelmed with Sufi mysticism nor did I have a cultural retreat to the comfortable havens of one’s origin after having a distressful cultural shock when I was exposed to the west… I’m non of that, I’m your average individual, with no fancy story to tell about why I chose to be what I’m, just a normal progression of affairs like any other, you’ll probably find it interesting if you’re able hear it without prejudging over a cup of coffee.

I’m not a reoccurrence of a known cultural phenomenon (excluding the current widespread of thoughtful committed observance of Islamic doctrine), it’s probable, but until you verify such assumption neutrally, you have little credibility labeling me as such! The fact of the matter is you can’t presume and sum up what’s in my head have you seen me sporting a fist-long beard!

I like to believe I practice falsification like any seeker of crude truth, I choose not to accept the obvious, I like to hear counter arguments more than the supportive ones, I’m also allergic to the tabooing of major issues the same way you claim you are, I only fear that my “faith” will be shaken when I start fearing the probability of such proposition, which is not probable, so paradoxically I fear not!

And beside the nuisance of trying to stare else where, I wouldn’t assume anything if you were a lady who’s wearing provocatively or a guy who’s fond of piercing! It may take me another 20 minutes (or less frequently: much longer depending on depth of interaction) to judge as to what I make of you!

So my dear self-acclaimed liberal, could you give me a break & let live, accept that other mentalities can exist, that the eventuality of a third way (fourth if you like, the Brits coined the third a while back) beyond what you thought applicable is possible, that a non-liberal or non-secular (at least, not claiming to be one) can coexist among the herds of like-minded or post-modernly accepted variations of ideologies…

Can you appreciate that there are those who may (at face value) look like your average religiously-stricken individual overwhelmed with the acclaimed conservative uprising that’s sweeping the region due to many socio-economical-political reasons (though others can factually call it a renaissance or an awakening, I like to think so), but in reality, there might be a sense of individuality, a different story to be told, beyond your inevitably simple-minded comprehension.

Acknowledge the fact that many of the liberal & secular stances that are taken for granted now a days are already outdated & they need revision, otherwise you’ll be as inferior as the ones you claim to be against, think of hard core communists still praising mother Russia, I can think of examples closer to home but I don’t want to get into trouble.

Can you be capacitating the same way you would expect me to be, or the least to live up to the secular utopian claims of tolerance & coexistence, don't ridicule my position or predefine me into the infamous (yet decietful) 1400 years old outdated category?

Can you accept the fact that 1400 years worth of heritage is so valuable that it really doesn’t matter if you believe in the authenticity of its origin or agree with it’s (divinely, in this case) inspiring directives, probably if you come down from the ivory tower of yours, you’ll see that much of the Oh’my atheist discussions, philosophical endeavors, creative thinking & so forth was not only greatly covered, but also, discussed, elaborated, refuted or embraced.

And since you choose to be an erudite liberal who sounds well-educated & have an opinion about almost everything that’s featured on TV, could you please be a bit more than the average life pundit & not fall to what the mainstream dictates blatantly.

My stances can range from rejection, empathy to total support for contemporary (and historical for that matters) Islamic or any other generic issues, don’t assume anything, insult my intelligence not & you’ll find me equally understanding.

I’m not a dysfunctional member of the society, I did not withdraw into comfortable religious numbness, I’m like any other here (few actually, many are mere mimics), an individual with mind of my own, striving to adhere to the righteous path of Allah & the teachings of the prophet Moh’d –pbuh-. Needles for me to be apologetic or lead a perfectly saint life for you to barely swallow my existence, we all do mistakes you know!

I don’t need your sympathy nor your endorsing acceptance of my faith, I’m not a mystical monk believing in nonsense, I’m not sensitive about the fragile axiom I believe in, I need no pats on the shoulder as to say “It’s OK to believe in a God or Gods, we all need something to believe in after all, but stay of our backs you crazy backward subhuman!” BS… if you have nothing intelligent to say, by all means wiz off & try something new, perhaps a paradigm that wasn’t bashed long back.

Can you put your labeling gun aside & listen to what is being said before you bang my forehead with a label & unwillingly pop two buds onto your ear in order not to hear!


Pheras said...

You don't have to prove yourself to anybody. You're yourself, and you have your life. They have yours.

Sorry, but from what I picked up, is that you feel that being religious is a weaker position, and you feel slightly bothered by that. Even your blog title indicates that.

If I were you, I'd do my own thing, hold on to my beliefs and just not give a damn about anybody. It pisses them off that way ;-).

Ou malhoum el Agnostics? Just joking man ;-).

Anonymous said...

Who is trying to prove himself here!! You or the guy who is talking about a very important issue with lots of valuable insights that the article is illustrating brightly! Its a serious subject that I personally was enlightened with


قويدر said...

First of all, LOL at 7&barers.. now the serious stuff
Basem, I'm not sure I get the point of this post, did someone accuse you of being anything you're not?
Another thing I would like to point to and personally think is that liberalism, secularism and religion are not excusive. You can be one AND the other. Religious and secular, Religious and liberal. I believe they work on two parrallel planes, some things do conflict but they're not opposits

Natalia said...

I really don't mind religious people. They seem to mind me, however. Until they get to know me, that is, and realize I'm just like them.

People need to be able to look beyond the labels at the real human beings inside.

Good post.

Revivalist said...

As-Salamu Alaykum,

First let me thank you for such a great and insightful post. MashAllah you seem to posses a wonderful mode of thinking and an extremely eloquent way of expressing yourself.

Second, if you may allow me, I would like to add a comment with regards to this post. I think you raise a very important topic, and I do agree with much of what you say. Personally, I believe that there is a deep-rooted clash between ‘liberalism’ (as mode de vie and not a political ideology, for I do not even believe that it can be held as a political ideology) and ‘fundamentalism’.

Although fundamentalism, as Choueiri notes in his book Islamic Fundamentalism, ‘has an obvious protestant origin, denoting the literal yet creative interpretation of the Bible’, contemporary ‘liberal’ society now terms any movement, ideology or code of practice holding to a system of beliefs or set of principles that oppose ‘liberal’ values as ‘fundamentalist’.

In other words, the ‘liberals’ are guilty of committing the exact negation of their own ideology, ‘illiberlalism’. The secret ambition of ‘liberalism’ is to set man free, not from oppression or tyranny, but from his humanity and consequently his ethics. Indeed, we see the success of the Kantian-cum-Descartesian mission of separating morality from any relative judgement, where ‘I think therefore I am’ instead of ‘I believe therefore I adhere’.

Sorry for making this long, I believe the topic is worthy of a lengthier analysis and discussion, but I shall end it here. Keep up the good work, and Jazak Allah Khair.

Ahmad Humeid said...

It seems I've not been following a certain discussion here. Are you talking to a particular liberal, or to liberals in general?

Reading your post gives me the impression that the legions of "open minded liberals" are overunning the region and suppressing religious people.

You know basem, I like the way you always stress your religious identity in an indivdualist manner. I respect your choices and understand your point that being religious doesn't necessarily have to mean you are part of a 'dumb herd'.

But there is something that you seem to be missing. Have you ever truly understood how difficult liberals have it in our society? Now, please do not mix up 'cool' with liberal.

Being religious in this society (regardless wether your independently minded, or just a herd follower) automatically bestows respectability on a person. Society respects those who 'fear god'. Society is willing to politely listen as long as one speaks from a religious platform.

But at the slightest show of difference in thinking, dress, attitude or behaviour by a person, all kinds of accusations are thrown at him/her.

True liberals fight for the right of people to be 'different'. They see strength in difference and pluralism. Thit runs contrary to those who want all members of society to uniformly fit into some ideological project based on class, religion or ethnic identity (and boy do we have many of those poeple).

So, persoanlly I think our society (across the spectrum) needs a huge dose of liberalism, so that we start accepting our differences.

Basem said...

Pheras, add me up to the list of people who doesn’t seem to like you!!

Qwaider, I big to differ, yes I can wear a neat Pashtun turban & call my self a secular Moslem, but it doesn’t cut it! It’s an either/or logic, and no, no one accused me of anything, but you can sense the bad karma vividly surrounding!

Revivalist, thank you for your kindness, I guess being a little bit more educated could’ve helped me explain myself the way you did, instead of hovering around the thought…

Humied, I had a couple of people in mind when I wrote the piece :-), but to come & think about it, I ended up picking on a whole (specific) genera! Which in case put the way you did, I’d find myself unwillingly inclined to be on the same side of the spectrum with “liberals” facing the oblivious society we’re living among (did I just say what I just said?), but I reserve the right to differ on a couple of points which I may discuss later, But thanks for the insightful perspective you offered, I expect no less from the likes of your good self (أتشغلني عندك؟),

Tamara said...


I just saw this post (thanks for the heads up) you have one great style in writing….me so jealous : )

It is almost the same thing I was talking about but just so much better written.

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