Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The curse of Arranged Marriages

The curse of Arranged Marriages
Arranged marriage: a marriage partner selection process in which the future bride and groom usually do not participate actively in the decision. Marriages are commonly arranged by parents or their agents when the marriages are seen as principally uniting two families rather than just husband and wife. There is also often the rationalization that teenagers and young adults are too inexperienced to make a wise mate selection. The tradition of arranged marriages has been dramatically undermined whenever romantic love becomes a popular notion in a society.
The most primal needs of any being on this earth, may it be Human or an animal are the hunt for food then comes the need for shelter and once these two basic needs have been met, both human and animals look for a mate to propagate their species.
Humans, being intelligent and with the ability to rationalize the need to reproduce carries an even greater significance.
Through out human history, the female has been given the responsibility of choosing the best mate for herself in what scientists call natural selection.
Once this system of Natural Selection is eliminated or restricted in any society, that society will stagnate and eliminate the chance of the society to progress in any direction.
An arranged marriage can be wrapped in any shape or form but one fact is for sure, it is a Forced arrangement, which effects the deep down fabric of society.
The Animal Kingdom
Opposition to this section
I am fully aware that the biggest objection supporters of Forced Marriage would mention at this point would be that “HUMANS ARE NOT ANIMALS” and they will shun the rest of the article. This would only be due to the myopic views and the brainwashing of society as well a strong ego where there is a need to consider oneself superior to everything else and any similarities are to be strongly opposed.

Examples from the Animal Kingdom
A good example of this would be from the animal kingdom where the Male works to gain he attention of the female and the best male available to the female has the best chance to reproduce with that female.
The male which is either week or sick, hence the male who has some physical or genetic problem does not get a chance to mate and is eliminated from the gene pool.
Nature has instilled a very intricate and a well balanced system to provide for natural selection. Both male and female excrete a number of chemicals, most of them tuned to attract the opposite sex.
These chemicals produced are as unique to each individual as finger prints; these chemicals affect each and every living thing on the planet in a different way.
We have all experienced an immediate like or dislike of another individual on the first meeting. The released chemicals along with the visual stimulation (this can be positive or negative) are responsible for this immediate like or dislike.

Arguments for Forced Marriages
You fall in love “after” you get married
One of the biggest arguments or reasoning given for Arranged / Forced Marriages is that it is not a whole lot different then a marriage by natural selection.
The only difference which is mentioned is that the couple falls in love after you have taken the vows.
People are quick to give examples of certain exceptions where statistical coincidences have occurred and the couple was compatible to begin with. These people do not look at the bigger picture and are happy to point out these rare cases and willingly jump into a forced marriage.
This is kind of behavior is more akin to playing “Russian roulette” in the most important decision in a humans life. The person gets married and then finds out if the person they have married is compatible with them or not.
These same people will spend hours if not months to decide which car they would by but they will readily get married to someone without every having contact with this person before they make the decision.
These days, some more progressive parents have starting allowing a bit of contact which might include a few telephone conversations but not much more.
Union of Two Families
One of the biggest reasons which is given in favor of arranged marriages is that it is a Union of two families. One of the misconceptions is that in case someone has a love marriage the two families can not unite. This can ONLY happen if the Parents force their children to marry.
This reasoning holds true for any kind of marriage, especially love where the union is forged in love, understanding and friendship rather than a few minutes discussion between the parents or their agents.
In any good marriage, both families are brought together and a marriage is always a union of two families.
The people who use this argument fail to see that by highlighting this point they are showing their shallowness and myopic view that only a union of two families can occur if an arranged marriage is performed.
Getting married without the permission of parents
The closed societies where Arranged / Forced marriages are practiced the mindset has been developed that Natural Selection would be synonymous to eloping.
That is and should not be the case,
The society has evolved with such huge egoistic ideas that each and every person considers himself / herself extremely superior to anyone younger.
The society works at reducing the self-esteem of the young to the extent that they are forced to shut the creative part of their minds and just accept the role of followers.
Instead of nurturing the young mind to get ready for the life ahead by grooming the young to make good decisions the young are told just to follow like zombies and not to question anything an adult says.
Low Divorce rate
This is the most prevalent argument given for getting into a arranged marriage.
The low divorce rate in a Closed culture are NOT due to the ability of the couple to get a divorce but is more closely related to
Ø The lack of the ability to make your own choice
Ø The prevalent Stockholm syndrome[i]
Ø The stigma of getting a divorce.
Ø The negative image Divorce has in these cultures
Ø The inability of the parents to re-provide a large dowry
Ø The ever present financial burden on both the groom and the bride
In a majority of marriages, in these marriages it would be better to get a divorce than to live in a unhappy relationship where one of both partners have nothing in common with each other.
The Catch 22
In the society prevalent in most of the Islamic countries these days the people have perfected the Catch 22 to the Divorce rate. The Religion does permit Divorce but there is such a big stigma attached to getting a divorce that no one can think of getting a divorce.
The reason for a low divorce rate not due to the fact that the people are not allowed to get / give a divorce but if someone gets a divorce he / she is considered a lower class of citizen and is shunned by society.
If nothing else it is considered that there must be something very wrong with that person (especially if it is the female) and it is very difficult for that person to get married again.
Black list
Very often the stigma of a Divorcee at home will “black list “the whole family and the chances of the younger siblings getting married will be hampered if not completely eliminated. So the elder sister will sacrifice her happiness to make sure that her younger sisters do get married and will endure extreme abuse and unhappiness and put on a happy face in public while going through her private hell.
Economic Factors
Dowry: Marrying off a girl in most of these societies is a very expensive proposition. The Mother will start collecting the girls dowry for a very young age and will make sure that the future In laws are happy, more than that the matter of Ego comes in here to a very big extent, a big dowry will increase the families standing in the eyes of the relatives so, from birth the struggle to collect a dowry is on the top of a mothers mind. Jewelry, household items, clothing everything is collected and the whole family lives in deprivation because the needed items of daily use are set aside and not used.
Mehr: On the flip side, the Groom is forced to agree to a huge amount of “Mehr” or money to be paid to the bride after the marriage and becomes mandatory if the groom decides to divorce the bride. This amount large, usually to the tune of five to ten years of the grooms income. If the divorce does happen any court in the country will summarily accept Mehr as a Pre Nuptial and will order the groom to pay that off and in case the money is not available it will have to be borrowed or personally property sold to fulfill this obligation.
The family members on both sides will have lengthy and sometimes heated arguments over this issue. The brides family will make sure that this amount is as large as possible so that the groom feels hostage to the amount and is forced to treat the bride right, in other worlds the groom is forced to accept a financial burden.
Wedding celebrations: except for the Dowry and Mehr, the wedding is a lengthy and expensive proposition. The brides family is forced to endure most of the expense and in most cases the brides family does borrow a lot of money to full fill the ever present Ego of the in laws as well as to show off to the society. In case a divorce does happen, the family will have to endure this burden again.
Second marriage
The Ego issues with the men in the culture which require that the woman be a Virgin on the wedding night, the egoistic need of the man to be the ONLY ONE in the BRIDES life reduces the choices a divorced woman has to remarry.
Usually, if the second marriage does happen, it happens in the following ways
Love Marriage
Now that the woman is no longer a Virgin and has been stuck with the sigma of a Divorcee, the woman shrugs the restrains of society, the blackmail of the relatives and becomes a bit more open and finds someone who has broken the shackles of Ego and the shackles of a closed society. These marriages are usually successful
Marriage of convenience
The divorcées scum to the taunts and looks of the relatives and acquaintances and accepts the first proposal which comes along, usually this proposal is from a widower who is in need of a Nanny and sexual release.
These proposals are rarely refused and the woman goes along with this marriage to eliminate the ever present taunts and sideways glances and behind that back talk of all the relatives especially the parents.
Reasons for divorce when forced marriages happen
Lack of a dowry
In a number of cases, the brides family has promised more dowry then they can deliver and the grooms family decides that they have been financially cheated and their ego has been bruised. This is a big enough crime that the marriage is called off and the wedding contract is considered null and void, this is a very good reason for not paying the Mehr as well.
No bleeding on the wedding night
More than anything else the girl is required to have an intact hymn on her wedding night[1], in the South Asian society the brides wedding dress is red for this particular reason, she is supposed to bleed and the blood can be absorbed very well on her red dress.
In case this hymn is not present, this would be a completely acceptable reason for the groom to claim that the woman is not a virgin and a perfect reason to divorce the woman.
It does not matter that this hymn can be broken all throughout childhood due to a number of reasons which could be as subtle as ridding the bike, horse back ridding or even an accident.
One of the major issues with bleeding is also that the Groom has to have his Ego stroked that the woman has to be a virgin to be acceptable to him.
Honor / Ego Killings
It is very common that if a bride is suspected of loosing her hymn before her wedding night the father or brother of the bride will get into an Egoistic rage and kill the bride for her infringement of the honor of the family.
Thousands of cases of such honor killings are prevalent in any closed society which show the shallow thing and mistrust of the females in any such society.
Suicide by the bride / girl
In a recent conversation with an extremely intelligent and educated college graduate she mentioned in an off hand remark that she would have no problem with committing suicide in case she was to loose her hymn before her wedding night.
Even after we discussed this comment with her and talking to her that any kind of suicidal tendencies are a clear indication of major ingrained psychological issues she was happy with her decision and would not even think of changing her mind on the issue
Methods of forcing a marriage
The main issue which comes into play in forcing a marriage is the lack of the parent’s ability and training in teaching their children right from wrong.
It is an easy way to go about life. This eliminates the need to treat each and every child as an individual and groom each and every child as such.
The rules are applied as a blanked on everyone and the parents accept this as normal.
Each individual childs uniqueness is squashed and any deviation from the normal is considered rebellion and is treated extremely harshly[2]
Ego of the Parents
Most societies where Forced marriages are practices, we notice that the society is driven more by an EGO then by rational thinking. The Ego of the parents comes into play on every single turn of the Childs life. This ego is so huge that the parents will become blind and will refuse to let the children make any decisions of their own. All their lives the children are put down, degrades and told that they are children and have no clue as to what right from wrong is and thy are supposed to follow every word the elders say without question.
This becomes extremely obvious when the matter of marriage is concerned, more often than not, the parents will not even ask the young person of their decision.
In case the future bride or groom, object to this union, the are told that they are DIS OBEYING their elders and this is taken as rebellion and emotional black mail starts
Emotional Black Mail
This is the most common part of an arranged marriage where the parents, especially the mothers use all avenues of Emotional Blackmail on the children to feed their Egos. In most cases, no attention is paid to the girls feelings or desires, and any opinion voiced by the girl is sunned as the words of a child who does not know anything about life.
The Bride and the Groom have been raised to completely suppress their wishes and desires and accept the word of their parents even though that person has to live with the spouse for the next 40 to 50 years.
Economic Facts
The decision and the arguments which are given a bride to be to get married to a certain guy has nothing to do with natural selection but the following reasons are usually used
Ø He has money and he will make a good provider
Ø He has a good job and will make a good husband
Ø He has a home
Ø He is from a “good” family or the term “biradri” which loosely equates to the same class

The girl might be given a chance to look at her future groom once if the parents are “Progressive” but usually the decision is made on those factors and the life and fate of the girl and in most cases the boy are sealed.
Natural Selection
Anywhere on earth, when we look at any species of animals, we see that the nature has created a system where the Female of the species makes a definite choice between whom she wants to mate. The strongest Male, the male which shows off the most, the Male which shows the promise in providing the best seed to produce the best offspring are the most sought after Males.
In some species if a new male takes over the group he even goes as far as illuminating any off springs from previous males who have lost the leadership of the group.
Human Natural Selection
Exactly in the same way as the animal kingdom, the Human race has also relied on exactly the same method. The female are the ones who have chosen their mates since the time of the Cavemen and even before to receive the seed and produce offspring
In every successful society in the world we see this same practice has been followed.
The methods of courting might be different but the purpose has remained the same.
Miss conceptions
In my conversations with people who live in a society where arranged / forced marriages are acceptable. The arguments range from the ones listed above where facts and figures are observed but not analyzed to the extreme situation such as listed below
Open Sex
The first thing which comes to the mind of a proponent and supporter of arranged marriage is that love marriage means OPEN SEX with anyone and everyone.
They will bring in exceptions and rare issues where boys and girls have acted inappropriately when left and or were alone.
None of these people will take accept the middle ground where there can be a mythology of courting without OPEN SEX.
Non Arranged marriages is considered synonymous to Eloping. Where the couple has to go and get married in secret and then face the parents.
The option that the boy meets the girl, they like each other, they talk and are sure that they will make a good couple then they introduce each other to the respective parents and get married with the blessing of both parents is completely forgotten and / or eliminated.
Devastating effects on Society
Psychological Effects
In a recent televised interview with the head of The National Psychological Association on a government sponsored and supported channel the person was stating that over 97% of people in this closed society have major psychological issues.
I was not shocked to hear these figures, this is bound to happen in any society where the normal mental growth of any human is curbed to the extent it is done in a closed society, where even talking to someone of the opposite sex is considered a SEXUAL ACT, where the most primal instincts of a human are curbed psychological issues will be rampant and will surface in every aspect of society.

I have discussed suicidal tendencies that are acceptable, condoned and even encouraged in any society.
These feelings are projected by the mother onto their children who grow up with the feelings that killing themselves is acceptable and if it could be acceptable for one reason it would be completely acceptable for a number of other reasons.
With the ground work already done by the family unit and the society as a whole all the extremists have to do is ingrain into the youth that there are a number of other reasons where this kind of behavior would be acceptable.
The society has created those same people who the society shuns in the six o’clock news as mass murderers, suicide bombers etc.
Blame others for everything
Lack of a need to inovate

Economic Impact of the Natural Process

Stagnation of Society

In both these societies we witness that within a couple of generations the desire, the need to excel, improve, to innovate has returned and in so doing the social and economic conditions of one of the poorest and improvised areas of the world has changed and now they are considered the most modern, upcoming and innovate areas of the world.

What does Islam say about Arranged marriages
Examples of Change
There are hundreds of examples of a society, moving from a Arranged Society to a society of natural selection and we see that within a couple of generations that society has done great things.
Chinese Society
In recent history we can take the example of the Chinese society as a very good example, this society had eliminated this Natural Requirement from its society for a few centuries where the women were either sold, bartered or given into “marriage” without their consent. The result was a stagnant society where Opium ruled and the Chinese nation was non existent. Right after the Chinese revolution the society
India Society
A very similar phenomena has occurred in India, especially the southern part of India where the culture has allowed and accepted the need for young men and women to meet and eventually get married.

Japanese Society
The sudden change in Pre and Post second world war Japan
Korean Society
Singaporean Society

[1] In Indonesia, the girls were going to the gynecologists to get their hymn reattached before their wedding to fulfill this requirement by the groom.
[2] Physical abuse, emotional abuse are very common. It is not far fetched to hear stories where the girl was locked in her room for months or years like an animal.
[i] Stockholm syndrome
The four hostages in the Kreditbanken robbery sympathized with their captor (right)The Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in a hostage, in which the hostage exhibits seeming loyalty to the hostage-taker, in spite of the danger (or at least risk) the hostage has been put in. Stockholm syndrome is also sometimes discussed in reference to other situations with similar tensions,
such as battered woman syndrome, child abuse cases, and bride kidnapping.

Origin of the name
The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28, 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term was coined by the criminologist and psychologist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.

Capture bonding
An offshoot of the Stockholm syndrome is the aptly-used term capture-bonding defined as a bond that in some instances develops between captor
and captive. The term is modeled on the Swedish woman who became so attached to one of the bank robbers who held her hostage that she broke her
engagement to her former lover and remained bonded, or in bondage, to her former captor while he served time in prison.

Other uses
Outside of the criminal context, a form of the syndrome may take place in military basic training, in which "training is a mildly traumatic experience intended to produce a bond", with the goal of forming military units which will remain loyal to each other even in life-threatening situations.

Similarly, the effects of the "hazing" system of induction into groups such as fraternities and sororities have been compared to the syndrome. In cultural anthropology a similar symptom is common to bride capture situations.

Loyalty to a more powerful abuser — in spite of the danger that this loyalty puts the victim in — is common among victims of domestic abuse, battered partners and child abuse (dependent children). In many instances the victims choose to remain loyal to their abuser, and choose not to leave him or her, even when they are offered a safe placement in foster homes or safe houses. This syndrome was described by psychoanalysts of the object relations theory school (see Fairbairn) as the phenomenon of psychological identification with the more powerful abuser.

Evolutionary and psychoanalytic explanations
For an interpretation of the syndrome from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, see capture-bonding.

According to the psychoanalytic view of the syndrome, the tendency might well be the result of employing the strategy evolved by newborn babies to form an emotional attachment to the nearest powerful adult in order to maximize the probability that this adult will enable - at the very least - the survival of the child, if not also prove to be a good parental figure.

Taken from WIKIPEDIA

Silverlining to 9/11 - an opportunity

The Silver Lining
Almost a decade has passed since the horrible attack on United States soil is fast approaching. As this anniversary approaches, we have to look at a few other unexplored effects this attack has had.
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There is no doubt that this was a horrible event that directly took the lives of thousands of innocent people, and in the aftermath, has affected the lives of millions more. Just look at the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lives of communities all over the world have been affected in one way or another. Most of these affects have been negative, if not devastating, to thousands of families.
Just as there is a silver lining in any cloud, there is a sliver lining to this cloud as well and that is what I would like to address today: The actual effect of September 11 on the religion, and possible ways to turn this tragedy into a positive public relations campaign for Islam. This could result in the possible conversion of millions in the USA and the western world to Islam.

First, we must consider the view from the point of the United States to see the opinion of Islam here in the western world. Unfortunately, this is for the most part, an uninformed western world, especially the people in the United States
Whenever you mention that you are from South Asia, the stereotypical opinion of people from that part of the world comes to mind. At first glance, I have always been viewed as someone who walks a few feet ahead of my wife and has very narrow views of women and basically sees them as property. I am considered someone who will make my wife (and in most cases harems) to wear veils.
The opinion of most Americans is that Islam is a pagan religion lumped together with the 100s of pagan religions within the inner most African jungles.
Christian beliefs in the USAThere are thousands of churches in the USA. Each one with their own twist on who Jesus is and what the bible says. Each group will concentrate on as little as a single verse of the bible to base their whole spiritual beliefs. These Christian groups range from the supremely symbolic and ritualistic Roman Catholic Church, who will go thru their weekly rituals of symbolic eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood to achieve salvation, to the Baptists who believe that Jesus died for their sins and that they can do anything they want on earth as long as they turn up at church every Sunday they will end up in heaven. To the Jehovah’s Witnesses who have to knock on your doors trying to convert you or they will end up in hell themselves. To the Mormons, who claim that after Jesus was crucified in the Middle East, he was reincarnated in the USA and gave his blessings to certain men in the USA who were then given an addendum to the bible. All of these and every possible variation in between.
There are as many opinions about what Jesus actually said as there are churches. In my search for an answer, I have not been able to get the same answer from two people. Even in the same church, I have not met two people who can tell me exactly what they believe. I recently met a married couple who go to the same church together and listen to the same preacher. Talking to them independently about their theological views, I noticed that each of them believed in completely different things. Actually most join a church for social reasons more than theological reasons. This particular couple is using this to keep the husband from using drugs and alcohol.
Here I am not talking about the level of enforcement of laws laid down by the bible, but, as an example we Muslims enforce the laws to different degrees. For example, in some cultures the modesty prescribed by the Quran requires that nothing but eyes be visible on a woman in public, while in others a bit more can be visible. Both of these are correct, it is a case of what the particular culture accepts as modesty.
The only constant I could find within Christian faiths is that Jesus was the son of god. But then again, not all Christian groups believe that, such as the Christian Scientists.
In short, the Christian faith in America is so confusing with so many versions, that no one actually knows what to believe. Each group will poke fun at the other groups and call themselves the real Christians.
This can not be in any way compared to the different sects which exist in Islam at this time. Each and every Islamic sect, even though there are slight differences, do believe and interpret the Holy Quran in the same way. Most of these differences stem from the level of enforcement of the laws set by the Holy Quran, rather than interpretation of the same verses which could be as different as day a night as in Christianity. The major reason for this, is that the language of the holy Quran has remained exactly the same, while the bible is rewritten every few years to make it easier for its followers to read. Hence the bible has changed over time and lost its true meaning.
Now, into this mix Islam is thrown and considered another version of the same with a few different beliefs. Therefore it is never really given a second thought.
Religion of most AmericansFirst of all, it is necessary to see what the American people believe. Here I will give a short synopsis of the different categories people fall into.
The people in powerMost Americans are Judeo-Christian in their beliefs. They have never been exposed to other religions and fall into a few different categories. Please understand that I am not talking about self proclaimed conduits of Jesus on earth such as preachers Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and Jimmy Swaggart, not to forget the current president of the USA, George W. Bush. These people have quite a bit of knowledge about other religions or at least access to it, but knowingly hide the facts in order to propagate their versions of Christianity and gain financial or political benefit there from.
These people have one main goal…to keep people ignorant, making sure they twist the truth as much as possible to extract every last penny from the uninformed average person.
These people have made an art of media manipulation. Hundreds of times they will say contradictory statements, knowing they can manipulate the media to their advantage at every turn. Each one of these people have been caught numerous times doing and or saying the exact opposite of what their image represents but, have the media in their pockets and count on the short memories of people. This works especially well since the ordinary person is bombarded with this supposed pristine image by their well financed media personal.
American laws, although based loosely on the Puritan regulation of early American settlers, have incorporated these into the culture and religious beliefs calling them Christianity.
Who do not believe in god?Without going into great detail, these are the people who call themselves non believers / agnostics or atheists.
These people have only been exposed to the superficial concepts of Judeo-Christian faiths and have questioned but not found a logical and convincing answer. They have questioned the bible or the Torah and have been punished, reprimanded or threatened with eternal consequences for asking questions.
These people have been told that it is not for you to question and by doing so you will incur the wrath of Jesus. Just believe!. When these people refused to just believe, they drift away from religion into a religious no mans land where they would rather spend time in worldly entertainment than waste time with another preacher (without really having an option of a real different point of view available). They basically give up on the concept of god to some extent and live their lives for the day, not worried about the soul.
The people who believe but do not practiceThese people have accepted the word of the neighborhood preacher, believing that god sent his son to die on the cross and all they have to do is believe in that one fact and they will have a wonderful life.
As with most Americans, they are more concerned with the weekly sports scores than the salvation of their soul.
The people who practice ChristianityIn my conversations with quite a number of Preachers from different flavors of Christianity, one thing is very clear, the religious culture is strictly that of, “JUST BELIEVE AND DO NOT QUESTION”.
Recently, in a discussion with a “Born Again Christian” (a term used by Christians, meaning they have had a change of heart and started following the teachings of the Christian Bible), the woman told me, “Ours is a faith and we do not try to prove it with facts and / or logic. We really do not question what the preachers tell us. We just follow what he tells us to.”
I was surprised to find that these people did not even know that John, Jacob and Jesus are anglicized versions of the real names of those people. When I tell them there was no such person with the name of Jesus, and his mother did not write JESUS when sending him a letter, they are shocked.
The majority of Christians do not even know that the only language Jesus spoke was Aramaic. He was not familiar with Latin or Greek as he was a common carpenter in a small village and did not have the need to learn the language of the conquerors.
When they can not make sense of this they have decided that there is no god or they do not know. There is a very big vacuum of information. Once you do not believe what the bible preaches you can identify yourself in this group.
To tell you the truth, most of these Christians do not care that the bible they read was coined by Emperor Constantine in a fifty day period in the fourth century of the Christian era and, as the norm with the roman system of beliefs, that they would incorporate the traits of the gods and deities of the conquered people into their own gods and deities. The Romanized version of Jesus had all the traits of the previous roman gods rolled into one.
“In my heart I believe”On a number of occasions in my conversations with the Christian community, I have shown them the hundreds of issues with the bible.
At that point most of them of them say that it does not matter what is written in the bible or what is not. it does not matter if the timelines match, who actually wrote the bible, none of these facts matter.
The answer they give, the standard answer from most of the Christians I have talked to is “In my heart I believe that Jesus was the son of god and that’s what is important”.
Errors in the bible the problems with the time line are not of on concern to most of these born again Christians, once you point out these errors they will freely tell you that ours is a “faith” and we live by our “faith” in Jesus Christ being the son of God and our savior.
Right wing terrorismEnd of the worldIs Bible the world of god?I have read a number of documents written by scholars of different religions, which have tried to prove that the bible is actually the world of god, the esteemed Ahmed Deedat, and a number of Christian scholar shave spend a lot of time proving this point.
I have asked a number of christens what and where does it say right in the bible that the Bible is the world of god? And quite a few can not even tell me where, if anywhere it does say that.
They will send you on a wild goose chase from one verse to the next where it mentions god and Jesus, and tell you that this verse proves that the bible is the world of god.
In fact there is only one place in the bible where it refers to “the Scripture” as being the word of God.
Who wrote the bibleWhen was the bible actually writtenThe opinion of the average American about IslamIn the past two decades in America I have had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of average Americans. From people who have not finished high school, to students who have competed their post graduate work, to professionals, businessmen and of course preachers.
Islam is considered just another one of a thousand religions out there. Most Americans have put it in the same category with the pagan Hindu religions from Asia and their strange beliefs and rituals.
This is not even taking into account the negative image that the Jewish controlled media has portrayed of Islam as pagans who treat their women badly and marry more than one wife. The religion forbids eating pork and of course includes killing and murdering innocent Jews in the Middle East who are just trying to live there in peace.
Once an average American gets past these stereotypes usually after they meet a Muslim they feel comfortable with and are sure they will not get offended by their questions considering them a raciest, they do not have a problem asking questions.
Consumption of porkOnce someone learns that I am a Muslim, the first question they ask is, “why do you keep your women in veils?” and the next, which seems to have mesmerized quite a few Americans, is “why don’t you eat pork?” They are shocked by that one fact, and that I would not consume something that Americans consider a very tasty treat.
In 100s of conversations, the first thing they will talk about is the consumption of the Pig. This should tell you the level of understanding the Average American has of Islam.
The easiest way for me to tackle this has been not to indulge in a deep theological discussion but rather compare the subject of pork with something of similar status in American culture. This would be a Dog. Most Americans would not consider eating dog. Some will ask if I was starving would I have a problem eating dog? This is the same case with pork. In case of starvation, Islam does allow eating pig for sustenance.
The impression of the religionThe limited knowledge of most Americans on the theological aspects of Islam leads them to believe that we consider Mohammad our god, (na auzobillah) and put him at the same status as the Christian Jesus.
This has been the second largest issue I have had to tackle. Explaining to them that Mohammad was not a god, he was a human selected by the SAME GOD as the Christians and Jews to be a Prophet and messiah, conveying the word of Allah to us.
The Name of GodTo most Americans, the name of god is pretty important. They have the impression that Our god is named Allah, like the Buddhists god is named Buddha and the Hindu god is named Ram. At best, the image of Islam in the mind of the American is a very violent version of hare Chrishna cult members who pass out flowers at airports around the country. A group which is to be laughed at and made fun of and then forgotten.
Some Christians identify god as Jehovah, and say that the name of god is Jehovah and then easily explain this away saying that the Arabic word for the same god is Allah. I usually do not get into a confrontation on this subject as that only leads to the end of the conversation.
Women’s RightsThis is one point which has been hammered home by the American media more than any other. Unfortunately, the Saudi Wahabi influence has not helped in this matter either.
The Saudis, with their money, have done everything in their power to solidify the opinion that the status of women in an Islamic household is equal to that of a chair or table.
The Saudis have spent million if not billions of dollars propagating their version of Islam as the real Islam and have 1000s of preachers around the country working endlessly declaring anyone not following their version, non-Muslims.
In my experience and opinion, within the USA the propagation of Wahabism has done more harm to Islam than a thousand planes slamming into a thousand buildings on a single day would do.
Americans have been given a fixation that there is a religion out there which will allow you to marry more than one wife and are unable to see past the cultural aspects of that law in the USA. There are the Mormons who are allowed to marry a number of wives and read this from the same bible as the rest of the Christians.
The Christian reality of women’s rightsPresent day myth
It does not seem like someone in the west is commenting on the freedom of women which the women in the west have achieved, these perceived freedoms is a relatively new concept in the west and even today there is all sorts of persecution in most of the Christian world.
The American family laws
Reasoning given by the Christian right.
Persecution of women through out historyPre Middle ages
The middle ages
Present day
The perceived women’s freedoms which the American Christian right will tout on every occasion possible was possible over the objection of exactly this group.
Susan B. Anthony the leader in the womens right movement in the USA did finally succeed in attaining some rights for the women, but this was over the ardent objections of the Christian right, who, as usual, used this same bible to prove that women were lesser humans and did not have any rights under in the Bible and the world of god.
The Muslim reality of women’s rightsHistorical
Present day
Talking to Christians about the truthIn my experience while talking to Christians, naturally, I have come across a number of categories of people
One of the major difficulties I have run across is the unwillingness of these religions to listen to reason, reasoning, logic, facts are not factors which are taken into consideration, they have decided in their minds that they will believe and that is the way they are going to stay.
Mythology or factsOne of the facts every one who believes in Jesus as the son of god is the “fact” that Jesus was able to walk on water, he could feed a whole group of followers with a little fish and bread, and of course the fact that he “resurrected”
This one “fact” is enough for them to believe that in the bible it states that he came back from the dead.
Roman mythological InfluenceDuring the expansion of the Roman Empire it was an accepted custom for the roman conquers to incorporate the traits of the deities of the conquered people into those of their own gods and goddesses.
The Romans were great conquerors and administrators but they did not show too much imagination when it came to their gods and goddesses.
For example, they adopted geek mythology almost in its entirety; most of the Greek gods can be found in one shape or another in the roman mythology.
In a number of cases this was done by merging the Greek god with a preexisting Roman god that had a similar sphere of influence. Usually this was no more then a name change. The relative importance of a God might shift considerably but the traits remained the same.
If the Romans liked some trait or power which they had not thought of in their gods, it was quite easily incorporated into their present gods.
This was done both to prove their superiority over the conquered people as well as to prove to them that they were in fact not trying to destroy the way the conquered live or their beliefs.
Incorporating the traits of the gods of different cultures did not change when Christianity was introduced to these same Roman people.
Traits of the Roman gods were incorporated into the now, all powerful, single God “Jesus”.
The originally Persian god Mithras, whose was later added into the roman mythology via the Greeks, Mithras reincarnation was what this Jesus’; incarnation was fashioned after.
In the same way the Egyptian goddess, Isis had preformed this feet a long time before even Mithras came back to life.
Remember at the time the Romans invaded Egypt, Egyptian culture was at its height and very impressive, Romans had to try to win the hearts and souls of the Egyptian people and what better way to this than to say “hey we are the same, even our gods are the same as your gods”
Three centuries in the catacombs of RomePeter, brought the word of Jesus into Europe, and we are all aware and have read the persecution of the Christians at the hands of the Romans, these facts are well known, we can not watch a single show on Rome without being reminded about the thousands of Christians fed to the lions for the enjoyment of the Romans in the first three centuries.
During this persecution, it stands to reason that the followers of this new faith, were trying to gain acceptance and following, and to prove the greatness of their god, the same “incorporation of traits” was done to Jesus. Hence the myth of his resurrection was floated in the followers of Jesus.
Constine the GreatTime of his ascension to the throne
Effects of 9/11After discussing these few concepts of the religion, with most Americans the conversation comes to an end as their knowledge about the religion has come to an end. The media has done everything in its power to fortify these beliefs. Quite a bit of it has to do with intentional defamation of the religion but mostly, the media is looking for a human interest angle to keep the attention of the public, Describing the religion in detail on a channel will not keep an uninterested person watching that channel but if they show a burka clad woman hunting for food the person will stop his channel surfing to view this curiosity.
Changes since September 11th 2001.The short term changesSeptember 11th 2001 was a turning point for Islam in the USA in more than one way. It is common knowledge and played up by media worldwide, with some truth, that Christian America has declared war on Islam. The war in Iraq, the unlimited internment of thousands of people without trial or due process around the world, the no fly list, the implementation of the Patriot act, the internment of hundreds at American bases around the world, all bare stricking similarities to the treatment of Japanese Americans during the second world war, to the Jewish treatment by the German Christians and scores of other examples from history.
This time it is just more severe and has hit home because, this is the first time American mainland has been attacked by a band of non military combatants. Ordinary people who hid in civilian clothing, moved freely around the country, even got their training in the USA to attack. At this point, anyone who looks similar to those nineteen is seen as a terrorist, and therefore guilty until proven innocent.
From an ordinary Americans point of view, it is completely understandable. Everyone fears the unknown and the religion of Islam is a very big unknown. This, coupled with the political designs of the leader of the conservative right, has been drastically exaggerated. The country has been placed on a war footing at a level not seen since world war two.
The Preachers and the Conservative Right wing extremists, the same people who worked tirelessly to win Bush his second term, are in heaven. They have not seen this much support ever and they are doing every thing in their power to exploit the situation. Unlimited money is pouring into the coffers of these right wing groups, especially the tele-evangelists who thrive on “Scare and grab” money tactics from the masses. These people are easy pray.
Anyone who saw the horror of the 9/11 attacks live on TV has personally been affected by this tragedy and is willing and ready to sacrifice a bit to feel secure. And yes, the preachers do promise security both in this world and through their direct communication with Jesus. Of course only if the person will send in a small amount of money to cover expenses. All forms of payment are accepted, just need to call the number at the bottom of the screen
The present administration, at all levels, has done everything in their power to fuel this fear for their own political gain. A good example would be, that before the election in 2004, the American public was put on terror alert at least once every 3 weeks. Now suddenly those terror alerts have stopped because Bush does not need to keep the public scared. He has achieved his goal and won re-election.
Islamic organizations have been closed down by the dozens. The police, FBI, and hundreds of other police agencies have been given free reign. I do not have to repeat what all of us are reading in the news papers on a daily basis. It is open season on the Islamic religion within all levels of government. I have never seen the Right wing this vocal against Islam as since 9/11.
Long term ChangesYou must keep in mind that these are short term measures, taken by a nation that has been attacked and is scared. I will not discuss the reasoning for these attacks, as that is a whole different subject, but the measures taken currently are that of a scared people and will end, most likely after the current president’s term in office has ended. Sane minds will prevail, as this country has proven over and over again throughout its history. A sense of normalcy and common sense will return. The discriminatory laws on the books at this time will be repealed, or put aside. Apologies will be made, and life will be a little better for the Muslim and non white population in the USA. This war footing can not, and will not, last indefinitely.
I have heard it said a hundred times that the American people are unaware of the rest of the world. It is true to some extent, as the average American does not really need to know where a small third world country is located. It just will not make much difference in their lives. The information is available to them, in case they need to know. All they have to do is look it up. They have their lives, very active and full lives and are happy with that. They would rather watch TV and concentrate on their sports than worry about some country half a world away, and the physical relationship of Pakistan to Indonesia.
Like most people around the world, the American public has a mob mentality. They will follow along with the majority, as the ordinary person always wants to be on the winning side. Most American elections are won or lost based on weekly sampling polls published by the major news organizations. The people would rather cast their vote for someone they do not like but has a better chance of winning then vote for the best choice in their own opinion. The average American would rather concentrate on college football scores than spend hours determining who the best candidate is. Minds are usually made up based on political commercials, debates and more often from the synopsis of the debates afterwards. The news media has a lot of power and can turn the opinion of the people in any given direction.
Weekly polls are one thing that the American voting public will read, even before the sports scores (when near the elections) and then vote according to who is ahead in those polls.
I have no doubt that the 2% difference in the last election was decided because Bush had a slight lead in the polls going into election day.
This is exactly what the preachers and evangelists in the USA look at as well, the polls, and how to market their brand of religion. And yes, I do mean market. Religion is marketed and advertised the same as any other product. The public is manipulated very easily by mass media advertising and pomp and show. American preachers work day in and day out on new marketing techniques. With a hollow religion like Christianity, in present day America, this is the only way they can fill their churches and subsequently, their coffers… by employing a very tactful marketing technique.
As I have stated previously, the American population has only been exposed to Judeo – Christian beliefs and that is the way the right wing and the preachers want to keep it.
They do not care what “flavor” of Christianity you believe in so long as it is Christianity. Naturally this means a lot less work on their part to get your donation dollars, and yes, it is ALL a matter of donations, money and things for these preachers.
The parishioners all have the same basic beliefs and that Jesus is the son of god, a conclusion arrived at one way or another. The Christian population believes that Jesus died for the sins of humanity, which started with… the first sin committed by Adam and Eve and that for which women suffer during childbirth.
It is quite easy to convince someone that a certain verse of the bible actually means something other then they thought, and in the process convert him and bring him into their flock of followers. This is exactly what the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and the Baptists thrive on. They practice arguments, focusing on obscure verses of the bible that can be interpreted ten different ways. They then modify those verses and provide arguments in their favor.
A number of times these groups have come knocking on my door and been left speechless when I told them I am a Muslim. They do not have a single argument available for me, especially when I tell them not to quote the bible, as I do not consider that an authentic work and question anything quoted from that book.
Once you tell them you do not believe in the bible, their years of training are useless. Next, they try to give you some literature, explaining their interpretation of the bible and leave.
Even if there are non believers, most of the work has already been done by society and exposure to the Christian way of life. Someone who claims they are not Christian will still go to church to get married. The couple I mentioned previously, claim that he was not a Christian until “Jesus came into his heart”, but if you look at his wedding pictures from fifteen years ago, it was in a church, in front of a preacher with a bible in his hands.
America is, after all, a Christian based society. Americans celebrate Christmas and Easter and everyone is exposed to it.
On the other hand, Islam is given as much attention as someone from South Asia would give the Religion of the Hutu Tribe of Rawanda as an example.
Then 9/11 happened, and the world looked on in horror as the pride and joy, the symbol of American financial might, the icons of American ingenuity in New York City, were attacked. Not only attacked, but attacked on live TV at the start of an ordinary day.
To get a feel for what New York City represents to Americans, it is commonly referred to as the “Big Apple” and a common saying is “if you can make it in New York City you can make it anywhere”.
Within days, the news was everywhere. 19 Muslims had hijacked those four planes and they were Islamic terrorists.
The words Muslim, Islamic, Jihadists, Osama bin Laden and of course Qu’ran were placed into the American Lexicon. In the short term we have seen the reaction of the people. These words have become synonymous with Murder, terror and killing, especially by the right wing media. They have even quoted verse after verse of the Qu’ran, out of context fo course, exactly as they do with the bible, to prove their points.
What we do not see is that away from the mob, the American people are very educated. No one in the world reads more than the average American. No other country has more schools, colleges, universities and libraries than the United States. In fact, there are more institutions of learning in the United States per person than the rest of the world combined.
Even towns with a population of a thousand will boast a decent sized library, with access to knowledge contained in any book anywhere in the country, if not the world. These books are available within a week of a request being made. Recently I requested a book with a total publication of 500, published in India in 1928. It took the local public library just 8 days to locate a copy and then call me notifying me of its arrival.
At home, the average American will even have a membership to the book of the month club. More fiction and non-fiction books are sold in the United States than anywhere else in the world.
Away from the mob, the preachers, televangelists, militant right wingers and biased press, Americans are a curious nation. They love to find out “stuff” and when in doubt, head to the book store, library or these days the internet. With all sorts of information available on the internet, they have been exposed to the holy book of those terrorists, those Jihadists, and people have started reading the Holy Qur’an.
Now the American public has turned their attention to finding out what this religion, Islam, is all about. For the first time, there was that spark of curiosity. Quite a few even went out of there way, postponing their golf game, to read up on this religion putting to use that ever present library card in their wallet.
Books about Islam have been flying off the shelves of libraries and book stores. I have tried to purchase copies of the most commonly available translations in everyday book stores, like the translation by Mohammad Marmaduk Pikhtall, which I had noticed in all the chain book stores around the country. I did not notice that translation on the shelf upon my next visit to the store, so I asked the clerk. His answer surprised me, “oh, we can not keep that book in stock, as soon as we order them they are sold out!”
There are usually some books available, but in a corner on a small shelf which is completely understandable. The book store owner is going to put the books that sell more in a more visible place. Usually you find a few copies of the Qu’ran along with a few other books on Islam, next to books about other lesser known religions.
The reason book stores have been running out of books on Islam is simple. The American people have bought the Qur’an to read for themselves what Islam is all about in hopes of understanding why there is so much hate for them. Most Americans simply do not trust the government nor the media. They would rather read for themselves and try to figure out why someone would kill themselves and thousands of others. In this quest for understanding they stumbled upon something they had not been looking for. Answers to the questions their preachers had told them not to ask. I have met a number of people and have spent hours on the phone with them calling me, from across the country, to discuss different aspects of the Qur’an after they have read the Qur’an. They have been shocked at how clearly, how precisely the Qur’an explains things. This is the first time they have read anything religious other than different versions of the bible.
Public libraries across the country have reported exponential increase in loans of books related with Islam.
People are buying the Holy Qur’an and reading the Qur’an, the alternative to “do not question, just believe”. The Qur’an is a truly satisfying answer to Christianity and a book that does give answers to all their questions. They are shocked to read in the Qur’an, challenges to humans… to seek, to question, to find out for ones self. This is in stark contrast to what they have been exposed to all their lives.
For the first time in the history of America, the president of the United States, even though elected by the extreme right wing, has come out and told the American Public in nationally televised speeches that Islam is a religion of peace. He has stood in front of the entire nation, over and over again telling his Christian country the major highlights of Islam.
George W. Bush, who claims to be a pious person, reading his bible every night convincing the American religious right that he is a truthful person, has come out over and over again in public acceptance of Islam. Even if it was for political purposes, for his political gain, he has had to come out openly supporting the religion.
For the first time, Ramadan was publicly celebrated at the white house. With the national media giving attention to the event, showing clips from the event on primetime national TV news. This event was a small affair, to keep the small Muslim voter population, which has never been a force in the USA
For the fist time, my American friends know what Ramadan means. Quite a few of them found Happy Ramadan cards at their local store and sent them to me. For the first time in decades, the largest greeting card manufacturer in the United States published an Eid Card.
The post office has started commemorating the Eid by printing a postage stamp. My American friends were surprised to find them and sent me mail with that particular stamp, for all to see.
To a myopic eye, the events of 9/11 appear only harmful to the image of Islam and that they are smearing the image of the greatest religion in the world. But, if you look at the long term effects after the dust of this horror settles, you will see that awareness of Islam is becoming greater and more people around the Christian world are seeing Islam as not the religion of violence, terror and hate but for what it truly is, the religion of peace and harmony. The religion that shows us the true path to happiness and salvation.
The American public is very capable of distinguishing between the radical right minority in any religion and the main stream majority of peace loving Muslims.
Strike while the iron is hotWe can take advantage of this exposure, as at this time, Islam is a household name. We need to make the word of Allah, the book which shows the true path, easily and readily available to the people.
Some people have taken advantage of the libraries but quite a few have not. It is up to Muslims around the world to avail this opportunity and to take advantage of the exposure that is being given to the religion. Good or bad exposure, we can make this bad situation into a positive one and make it as easy as possible for the rest of the American public to access the Qur’an
At this point the only ones really speaking out and being heard are the anti Muslim extreme right wing Christian preachers. It’s time to counter that, not with harsh words or insults but with the truth and by making the Qur’an easily accessible to the masses. Once we have placed the Qur’an in front of them and they read for themselves, any logical and intelligent person will close their ears to these preachers and hate mongers.
There are a few organizations out there that provide literature on Islam but even fewer who make it easily accessible. A seeker has to hunt them down. Remember, the average American is not familiar with the common terms used in Islam, the terms we take for granted and that are part of our daily lexicon. They are scared to ask and they are unsure of what they will find in the book.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA. It has spread via word of mouth by people who have had contact with other Muslims. An even smaller number of people have had the courage to walk into a Masjid, if they can find one in their city, to learn more about the religion.
People want to learn, but are scared to walk into a Masjid. They do not know the customs. They do not know what to expect when they walk into the Masjid. They do not know how to act and they are scared to offend someone. They have heard a thousand different stories but don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.
It is time to change the attitude that, “we have a good religion, if people want to learn about it they will seek it out” We need to take the example of the televangelists. I am not saying that we need to change the religion and make it sound like Christianity, but we need to accept the fact that Mass Media can be utilized to change this inaccurate image of the religion and to paint a true picture of Islam for the world to see.
We need to realize that Mass Media advertising does work and we need to accept the fact that we can utilize this to show the world the true Islam. A few articles here and there will not do the trick any more. There has to be a specialized marketing strategy and a dedicated effort to reach as many people as possible. This needs to include properly designed newspaper advertising, a website designed specifically for the American consumer, TV advertising especially designed for the target audience and bill board advertising nationwide.
This should not be done to improve the image of any certain country or region of the world, but just be an easy way for the public to order and quickly receive the Qur’an, the true word of God.