The Day of the Rationalists

 Abul Kasem  

e-mail: [email protected]

 

The Hindus have thirteen days of celebrations in twelve months, the Muslims have Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Muharram, Ramadan; the Christians have the Christmas, the Easter; the Jews have Yom Kippur, the Passover, the Buddhist have Songkran. Loy Kratong, Baishakhi Purnima and other days of remembrances and celebration…and so on. Isn’t it time that the Rationalists have Day a to call their own? That is why it is appropriate to set aside a day in the year when the Rationalists will remember, eulogize, appreciate and learn from the many Rationalists who have devoted their entire life to nurture, educate and influence the thoughts of people to turn to rational thinking and to discard their faith based, prejudiced, bigoted, hateful and utterly  discriminatory doctrines that have poisoned, for centuries the very essence of humanity. The human race is now at the precipice of complete annihilation because of incessant hatred and intolerance preached and practiced by the religionists. Some religion even call openly, to murder people of other faith (read Kafir) if they refuse to accept  the only religion acceptable to God or decline to pay protection money for not doing so. The Rationalists fight strenuously to remove such barbarism from the civilized society of to-day.

 

 

Unfortunately, it had not been that easy and smooth for the Rationalist Free-thinkers to advance their message of logical/critical thinking, humanism and love for humanity. In every step they took, in every attempt they made to expose the utter non-sense, skepticism, bigotry, hatred, savagery and barbarism in ‘faith’ based religions, they faced persecution, torment, incarceration, even death in the hands of the keepers of faith.

 

Here are some samples of the victims of ‘faith’ based religion such as Islam:

 

Many seem to believe that The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/burning/sr-death.html

is the only intellectual who has ever been persecuted for “insulting Islam.” But the story does not begin – nor does it end – with Rushdie. Writers, poets, intellectuals and free-thinkers have been suffering – and dying -- for “insulting Islam” for more than 1400 years.

 

One of the more famous victims was Mansur Al-Hallaj http://www.xs4all.nl/~jeroen93/pdf/mansur.pdf . Al-Hallaj was a 10th-Century Sufi (Islamic mystic) master, famous today for being a mentor of popular Sufi poet Rumi. The specific charge was uttering “I am the Eternal Truth.” (Only Allah can be “The Eternal Truth” in Islam.) This was simply the logical outcome of Al-Hallaj’s Sufi beliefs, which held that “God” is found in all of us. It was, however, blasphemy according to Imam Hanbal (founder of Sunni Islam’s most reactionary school of Islamic law), who engineered Al-Hallaj’s persecution and eventual execution by crucifixion.

 

Today the weapon is more likely to be a gun or a knife than a cross,  but Imams and mullahs and their collaborators are still killing or persecuting Al-Hallaj’s modern-day heirs and getting away with it. Here are just a few of the prominent victims from the last 20 years:

 

Ali Dashti http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/bookreview.htm

Iranian statesman and Islamic historian. Dashti was imprisoned and tortured to death in Iran in the early 1980s for writing “23 Years,” a “warts-and-all” biography of the Prophet of Islam.

Hitoshi Igarashi http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/rushdie-translator.html,

Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses, was stabbed to death in July 1991.

 

Ettore Caprioli, Italian translator of The Satanic Verses, was attacked with a knife in the same year, but survived http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/04/18/specials/rushdie-translator.html.

 

Aziz Nesin, Turkisk publisher and writer, who had printed extracts of The Satanic Verses in a Turkish newspaper, was attacked by a crazed religious mob in 1993 http://www.cjr.org/year/94/6/burned.asp

They cornered him in a hotel and set it on fire, killing 37 people, but Nesin, an elderly man in his late 70s, escaped.

 

William Nygaard, Norwegian translator and publisher of Rushdie’s book. Nygaard was shot four times in the back in 1993 by an Islamic extremist. http://www.europarl.eu.int/hearings/speech/thef_en.htm?redirected=1

 

Naguib Mafouz http://www.derechos.org/wi/2/egypt.html.

world-famous Egyptian author and Nobel Laureate. An elderly man in his 80s, Mafouz narrowly escaped a knife attack in 1994, after Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahmame, spiritual leader of the armed fundamentalist group al-Gama'a al Islamiyya, issued a death fatwa on his head. His “crime”: writing a book decades before that “insulted Islam.” Mafouz, physically and mentally traumatized by the attack, no longer writes.

 

Taslima Nasrin http://humanists.net/nasrin/profile.htm,

a Bangladeshi-born physician, poet and author. In 1993 Nasrin, a self-declared apostate, was sentenced to death by Muslim clerics for “insulting Islam.” That year 300,000 people demonstrated in her native land, calling for the poet to be burned alive. She escaped to the West, but still hides, her life blighted by a price on her head and not one but two death fatwas issued by pious Muslim clerics.


Farag Foda http://www.derechos.org/wi/2/egypt.html

An Egyptian writer and human rights defender. Foda was shot dead by militants from an Islamic  fundamentalist group after being branded as an apostate by officials at Al-Azhar, the leading Islamic educational institute in the world.

 

Anwar Sheikh http://www.hvk.org/articles/0996/0132.html

a Kashmir-born man of letters, was targeted with a death fatwa for writing  books that explored the imperialist nature of Islam. As a young man, Sheikh admitted to have been a fundamentalist who murdered innocent non-Muslims in cold blood during the partition of India in 1947. He now lives discreetly in a Western nation.

 

Nasr Abu Zaid http://carryon.oneworld.org/index_oc/issue496/abu_zaid.html

Egyptian Quranic scholar. Abu Zaid was convicted in Egypt of being an apostate from Islam in 1995. He was involuntarily divorced from his wife of many years for advancing the cause of textual criticism of the Quran. He escaped to the West in fear of his life as a convicted apostate, where he reunited with his wife, but remains a target for assassination from Islamic fanatics.

 

Rashad Khalifa http://www.yuksel.org/e/law/terror.htm

Islamic reformer, an Egyptian immigrant to the USA. Khalifa was founder of a controversial movement in Islam called the “Submitters”, who deny the authenticity of many Islamic traditions. Declared an apostate in a fatwa issued by 38 Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia, Khalifa was murdered in 1990 in Tuscon, Arizona. Although the crime was never solved, the prime suspects have been linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization led by Osama Bin Laden.

 

Matoub Lounes, http://aatman.free.fr/matoub.htm

Popular Algerian song-writer, political activist for Algeria’s Berber people, and singer, Lounes was murdered in 1998. The murder remains unsolved, but the radical Islamic gang, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), is the main suspect. The GIA had kidnapped Lounes in 1994 and held him hostage for two weeks.

 

Dr. Younis Shaikh http://iheu.org/Shaikh a Pakistani physician and lecturer. Convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan in 2001 for the “crime” of stating the Prophet of Islam’s parents were not Muslim and the prophet was not circumsized. Sentenced to death in August 2001, Shaikh at this writing (January 2002) languishes in jail while his sentence is appealed.

 

Robert Hussein (Born Hussein Q’amber Ali) http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/MDE170051996?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIES%5CKUWAIT

a Kuwaiti-born businessman. A former Shiite Muslim, Hussein was convicted of apostasy by an Islamic court in his native land in 1996 for the “crime” of converting to Christianity. He escaped to the West under threat of death with assistance from Christian missionary groups and published a book called “Apostate Son.”

 

Nawal El-Saddaawi http://www.amnesty-usa.org/bannedbooks/saadawi.html

Egyptian feminist and author of many books. In 2001, El-Saddaawi narrowly escaped conviction in her native land as an apostate. A conviction would have forced El-Saddaawi to divorce her husband in recognition of Islamic law that Muslims cannot remain married to apostates. Her “crime” was stating that the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage had Pagan historical origins. Once imprisoned for her outspoken feminist views, El-Saddawi courageously remains in Egypt although clearly a target for assassination from a radical Islamist.

 

Tahmineh Milni http://www.newenglandfilm.com/news/archives/01december/milani.htm , an acclaimed Iranian filmmaker. Arrested in August 2001 and charged by Iran’s Islamic religious establishment with “waging war against God”, Milni could be executed if found guilty of the charge. Her “crime” was making a film that contained references to the miserable conditions of women under the Islamic regime of Iran.

 

Khalid Duran, Moroccan/German academic and critic of Islamic extremism. In 2001, Duran, while teaching at the university level in the U.S., evoked death threats from the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan for writing a book called “Children Of Abraham: Explaining Islam to Jews.” The death threat was the direct result of an anti-Duran public realtions crusade engineered by the Washington, DC-based Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR)

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff071001.asp. Duran went into hiding as a result of the Jordanian edict. Curiously, Islamic apologist Dr. John Esposito of Georgetown University’s “Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” gave the keynote speech at CAIR’s annual fund-raising dinner only a few months after this incident occurred, seemingly untroubled by CAIR’s role in soliciting the murder of a fellow academic.

 

Mahmoud Muhammed Talal, Islamic reformer, Sudan http://alfikra.org/biography/english.htm

Talal wrote many books criticizing Sharia (Islamic law). He was convicted of apostasy and creating “fitnah” (religious tourmoil) by an Islamic court in Sudan and hanged for this “crime” in 1985.

 

The above is only a small representation the number of intellectuals, writers, artists and reformers who have been systemically terrorized, imprisoned and even assassinated by Islamic thought police on all continents, even in the so-called “free” West. (As the Norwegian national William Nygaard and the U.S.-resident Khalid Duran can undoubtedly confirm). This “censorship by terrorism” not only shows the widespread lack of intellectual maturity that is prevalent in the Islamic world today, but also begs a more disturbing question: how accurate are of many of the books and articles currently being published about Islam?

 

 

So, on this auspicious day (Rationalist Day) let us make the following solemn pledges:

 

  • We will not send our children and their progeny to faith based schools, like Madrassas, Tolls (Hindu religious school), Christian seminaries…etc.

 

  • We will not let our children learn and propagate hate-filled verses from the Holy scriptures.

 

  • We will not let our lives be run and controlled by the so-called God’s laws like Sharia

 

  • We will make every effort to separate religion from state matters

 

  • We will respect peoples’ thoughts and belief so long as they do not impinge on the rights of freedom of expression of others

 

  • There should be no barrier in the marriage between persons of opposite sex because of religion, cast, creed or color and nationality

 

  • We shall resist steadfastly any attempt by the religionists to silence the rationalist free-thinkers for criticizing and exposing the ‘dark’ side of a religion

 

  • We will not use any form of violence whatsoever to practice and propagate Rational Thinking

 

Those are some of the cardinal principles by which all Rationalist will preach and practice.  

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Credit: “Intellectual Censorship in Islam: A Matter of Life and Death” for supplying the partial list of the victims of Mullah.

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