Quran, ass, duct tape and I

I’m in the 4th grade of primary school. 8 in the morning, in the schoolyard. We are all in lines waiting for a student to start his tilawat of Quran. You see, in Iran, at schools, it is mandatory to start the day with tilawat of a surah of Quran. Usually done by a student or a teacher who’s a qari. They recite a short surah in a microphone to annoy the neighbours while students stay in lines silently, and pretend they listen to the words of Allah.

Well…I couldn’t! As a kid I always found it difficult to stay at one place or concentrate on one thing, particularly when that thing was Quran, which I did not understand, neither did give a shit about. My whole life was focused on how many Panini cards I had or what my best score in Sonic the hedgehog was! Mostly earthly matters just like other nine year olds I assume.

So, the student is reciting the Quran into a microphone and I am talking and laughing with my friends. Then, the qaari says “kun” which is both an Arabic and a Persian word with very different meanings! In Persian it means a butt. As a kid, it was hilarious to hear “kun” in that serious tone of the qari reciting the word of Allah. I start giggling and am trying not to laugh too loudly when something hits the back of my head hard and my eyes go black! After a few seconds, I realize that it’s the principal’s hand. A chubby hairy hand as big as a shovel. Then, he kicks me in the leg as I try to dodge, but I fail and his black boot hit my hip bone like a ramming train. It was so painful that made his other hits quite insignificant . The whole school’s watching as I am getting absolutely destroyed by the principal’s rage. Apparently, he has some sort of an MMA fighter inside him that he decided to unleash upon me. Throwing his hands and feet at me with utter disgust and hatred, he forces me out of the line into his office.

-“You little clown! What is it that you think is funny? Do you know it’s a sin to laugh while Quran is being recited? What’s your name you ass?” I will never forget his disgust towards me. My whole body is pain from the kicks, my ears are ringing from the smacks, and I am already planning my revenge on him, which would never happen of course! I mumble “Bozorgi” while I try to focus on any sudden movement so I can evade.

“Well… Mr. Bozorgi, you won’t be able to talk today!” He says with a grim which is hardly noticeable under that bush of a beard on his dirty ugly face, takes a roll of black duct tape out of his desk drawer, cuts a big piece, and duct tapes my mouth! Like a hostage! Then, he presses his big fat smelly fingers, which looked like Frankfurters that have gone off, on the edges to make sure it won’t come off “If you remove it, I will call your parents, now you can go to class.”

I am petrified, don’t know what to do, if I leave his office with that duct tape on my mouth, everyone will laugh at me forever! And if I remove it, they will call my parents which is even worse! (It wasn’t) So I cry ,a lot of course. Principal is quite content with his disciplinary action and he escorts me back to class triumphantly. I enter the class and am greeted the way I expect, with a wave of laughter. However, my classmates are more empathetic than my teacher. My teacher and the principal exchange a smile and a proud look as they have arrested the most notorious criminal of Iran.

Fun times! Having told you the story, I want to pinpoint how sacred Quran is Iran. Quran is the most important artifact of Islam. It is considered as divine and sacred. Not only the meaning and what it says, but the book itself. The book as a physical object and the words that have been printed by a photocopy machine. Everything is sacred about Quran in Islam. To the extent that you have to be “clean” while you handle the Quran. So, since I’m an atheist and considered as “unclean” in Islam, I cannot touch the Quran. A woman going through her period is not allowed to touch the Quran as she is “unclean” and the list goes on. Recently, I have seen a challenge started by some Iranians. It’s called burning the Quran challenge. Although, I don’t agree with burning a book, I totally understand the symbolic value of this movement which is to break the bubble of sacredness around this book. This book is an idol. We take it with us to our new house and car to bring us good fortune. We kiss it and touch it, when we are going on a journey to keep us safe. We all have one in our home. However, we have never questioned it!

Atheism is not a crime!

There are 13 countries in the world that punish atheism, blasphemy and apostasy with death penalty. There are also other countries that atheists, blasphemer and apostates are prosecuted and severely discriminated against. Please share and raise awareness. This needs to stop.

From Ex-muslim Council:

Egyptian Atheist and Youtube Vlogger Sherif Gaber has disappeared and is most likely arrested when trying to leave the country on Wednesday 2nd May. He sent a message to friends telling them he was stopped and taken to an interrogation room at Cairo airport and his passport confiscated. No one has heard from him since. The last message from Sherif on Wednesday 2nd May at 11:08 am Cairo time:

“I am suppose to be traveling to Malaysia at 12:05 Cairo Time, an hour from now. The police took me and made me wait in this room for 2 hours and I’m still waiting> they took my belongings and my passport. If I don’t update you in one hour know that I was arrested.”

We demand Gaber’s release. Atheism, Blasphemy, Apostasy are not crimes. #FreeSherifGaber

#AtheismNotACrime

#BlasphemyNotACrime

#ApostasyNotACrime

#بى_خدايى_جرم_نيست

#توهين_به_مقدسات_جرم_نيست

#ارتداد_جرم_نيست

#الإلحاد_لیس_بجریمة

#إزدراء_الأدیان_لیس_بجریمة

#الردة_لیست_بجریمة

#الحاد_جرم_نہیں

#توہین_رسالت_جرم_نہیں

#کفر_جرم_نہیں

#নাস্তিকতা_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়

#ধর্মেরসমালোচনা_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়

#ধর্মত্যাগ_কোন_অপরাধ_নয়

I am the atheist Seyyed

Since I remember I have always had problems with my name! Particularly since I have become an atheist! Not my first name though, but the religious title of “Seyed” which follows me everywhere I go in all official documents!

My first name is Maziar. I kinda like it! I prefer Maz though! Maziar originally belongs to a rebellion Persian freedom fighter in the 9th century AD who fought the spread of Islam (the spears wasn’t a peaceful one as you know) and the Islamic regime and eventually was killed by Abbasid soldiers. However, in my birth certificate “Maziar” is always preceded by “Seyed”. Seyed ( Sayyid, سید) is an honorific title given to people who are accepted as descendants of the prophet, Muhammad, through his grandsons Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, who were the sons of Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law/cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. So, the title is common in Shia but not in Sunni, hence its popularity in Iran. So, as I have been told, my family tree shows that my ancestor was Hasan ibn Ali, although I have never seen this family tree. And Come on!… the sons of Fatima (12 Imams as they call them in Shia) fucked and created offsprings until they died and had trillions wives, they were worst than hamsters! Wherever they went, took a wife for a week, made a baby and left! How can you actually make a family tree? You will run out of paper and ink!

Now let’s see why I have had problems! Well…The problems began when my parents named me! As I was born in Islamic Republic of Iran, and my father had this title in his documents, it was mandatory to write it in my birth certificate! Then I became Seyed Maziar. Do you see the paradox too? Seyed a religious title, Maziar a man who died fighting the religion. After naming me, my grandfather went batshit crazy and had a quarrel with my father that “Maziar was a muslim killer, why have you named him Maziar?” And apparently he didn’t talk to my parents for a while. He was strictly Muslim you see! And I remember him calling me MuhammadAli or sth similar, instead of my own freaking name!

The problems didn’t end in the family though! When I was in school, I was bullied by teachers and students. My religion studies teacher always tried to avoid my first name, they either called me Seyed or by my family name! It wasn’t all bad! Once, a history teacher gave me extra mark because I was a Seyed! (Stupidity has no limit!)

When I was 19, I decided to remove the title, but I couldn’t as that would have been considered as apostasy! (WTF indeed!). Later, I moved to Australia, and guess what!?…the problem persisted in a different way! Now as the damn title is in my passport, everyone thinks that my first name is Seyed and Maziar is my middle name!! I was in VicRoads the other day, and the poor receptionist was looking for Seyed for 5 minutes, walking around yelling “SEYED” until I realised I was Seyed! She was a bit suspicious then, asked me a few tricky questions to see if I am actually the person in that passport! Seyed is everywhere, in my driver’s license, my insurance card, my bank card :(. Yep… I am the atheist Seyed! (Actually the atheist Seyed was my 2nd choice for the blog’s name). 😀

P.S. I couldn’t find a funny image for this post, if you have any idea please shoot!

International Women’s day: the Heroines of Iran

Today’s the international women’s day. Though some are celebrating or ignoring the real issues, a woman in Iran, who removed her hijab to protest the mandatory veiling during the recent protests, has been sentenced to two years in jail. Most of the feminists groups including the Women’s March have been hypocritcally silent about the women’s protests in Iran. Today’s about awareness, appreciation and support, but how much do you we know about the women who are fighting all around the world?
Women in Iran have been oppressed for the past four decades and now they are leading the protests. They risk their lives protesting for basic human rights that have been taken away from them by Islam and Islamic regime.
From 1905 to 1975, Iranian women played a prominent role in political and societal events achieving outstanding success. To mention a few, removal of mandatory hijab, ratification of family law, ban of polygamy, raise of legal age of marriage from 15 to 18, right to vote and more! However, after the Islamic revolution, things changed drastically! Women were robbed of their freedom.
After the 1979 revolution, Islamic laws took over. Family protection law was revoked, minimum age of marriage was reduced to 9(later raised to 13)! Women were forced to wear mandatory hijab and government workers were forced to follow an obnoxious dress code. Massive segregations happened. Schools were all seperated. Women were banned from going to beaches and sport events, becoming a judge and even singing! Yes! Women were and still are banned from singing in Iran.
Now in 2018, hijab is still mandatory in Iran and “bad hijab” is punishable by 70 lashes, fine or imprisonment. Women cannot marry without their father’s written permission or leave the country without their husband’s or father’s written permission. Niether, can they go to stadiums. Men has the first right of divorce, meaning that a man can divorce his wife anytime he wishes to. Siqa (temporary marriage) is still legal and being practiced in Iran, which is a very fucked-up thing in Islam. The value of a woman in Islam is seen as half as a man’s. The Diyah (blood money) of a woman is half of a man, the value of their statements in a court is half as that of a man too. So if they need one male witness to make a statement. They need two female witnesses!! Also, in degree of heirship, wife inherits 1/8, if there are any children.
I can go on and on about the injustice towards women in Iran and the rest of the Islamic world. However, one thing is unavoidable, and it’s women’s urge and power to overrule the injustice. As I said, they did it before the Islamic revolution, they can do it again! Those women who remove their hijab in the streets of Tehran are my heroines. My mom is my heroine who against all odds in that country raised us to be free thinkers, to revolt, to stand against the inequality. I am humbled by your strengths and power.

“Like pearls in shells”

On my last post, The Common Atheist left a comment about pedophilia in Islam and the book and movie Kite runner. It reminded me of two words in Quran. (Thank you Jim!). The two words are Qelmaan (غلمان، plural of Qolaam which means male servant) and Veldaan (ولدن، boys). Both words are synonymous in Quran and refer to teenage boys who have not gone through puberty yet. These boys are offered to special believers in heaven and they are described as beautiful like pearls in shells, well protected!!! WHAT THE FUCK! What kind of sick god would offer such a thing!? Abrahamic god.

Qelman is used only once:

Veldaan is used more than once as follows. The followings reminded me of a scene from Kite runner.

As you can see, the boys are compared to pearls in shells. The other instance of such comparison is with Huris (beautiful young virgin girls). The young virgins are also compared to “pearls in shells”.

As you can see, boys and girls sex slaves are promised to believers in heaven! They are numerous, young and virgin. They obey and don’t say anything against the believers’ will.

I feel sick and angry after writing this post. I am sorry if it makes you feel the same. I just have one question from believers. How can you read the “holy books” and still believe???

Morality of religion… NO! Thank you!

It is believed that religion is the ultimate model of morality, and whoever follows a religion is considered as a moral person within that specific religion.
Religion texts are ancient, and they reflect the values of the times when they were written”. Humans live and thrive on a corrective feedback system. We improve ourselves everyday. Thirty years ago, we used to smoke every where, now we can’t smoke even outside a restaurant in Melbourne. This is corrective feedback system. Now, do you think the values and morality of the past three milleniums have stayed exactly like how they used to be? The answer is an obvious no! You may argue that the Bible or Quran is God’s words and it is never-ending and it’s always true. In this case, I would offer you my counter-arguments with examples of both texts. As follows, the examples given are instances of social issues or behaviours which were believed to be moral or ethical, but in the modern world we consider them irrational and preposterous.
1- Slavery: Bible has numerous references to slavery. Not condemning it but basically giving instructions and guidlines as how to own slaves. For more info you can read Leviticus 25:44-46 where the guidlines of ownership are explained and Exodus 21:20-21 where how to behave with slaves is explained. Quran has the same situation. If you look at Quran 8:69, 24:32, 2:178, 16:75 and 30:50, you can see that Quran doesn’t condemn slavery, but appraise it. According to Quran, muslims are more than welcome to take war booty (women as sex slaves and men as slaves). Also, muslims can have sex with their slaves. They can also have unlimited supply of sex if they temprorarily marry them. Temporary marriages (Nikah mut’ah) are a dark side of Islam which I will discuss in another post. Also, there are numerous hadiths about slavery. Here I quote one of them: Sahih Bukhari (80:753) – “The Prophet said, ‘The freed slave belongs to the people who have freed him.'”
2- Homosexuality: According to the Bible, homosexuality is punishable by death (Leviticus 20:13). Quran 7:80-84 explains how God rained stone on ‘the people of Lut’ who were the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, because of their sexual practices. As they died by rain of brimstones, islamic clerics have interpreted that as a punishment for homosexuality. Thus, the punishment is stoning!
3- Adultery: According to the Bible, adultery must be punished by death (Leviticus 20:10). In Islam too, according to Sahih al-Bukhari, v.9,book 83, Hadith 17 the blood of a Muslim can be shed if a married person commits illegal sexual intercourse. In Quran, there’s no reference to capital punishment for adultrey, however, there are lots of hadiths that affirm such punishment.
4-Deconversion: In Islam, deconversion from Islam is punishable by death. According to Sahih al-Bukhari, v.9,book 83, Hadith 17, the blood of a Muslim can be shed if one leaves Islam.
5- Wife-beating: It is clearly stated in Quran that a Muslim man must beat his wife if she is disobidient. Quran 4:34 advises that if a wife is arrogant and disobedient you must first advise her, then forsake her in bed and then strike her.
Out-of-context argument: Many believers would argue that the mentioned texts above have been misinterpreted out of context. As a linguist, who has worked decoding and understanding layers of language in morphology, semantics and pragmatics, I have to say that the texts whether in context or out of context have the same meaning. They are stand alone sentences, following the grammar rules of their written language. The texts above are not phrases or clauses, they are complete sentences. Also, by pragmatics of language, they are prefectly meaningful. So the agument of out-of-context is a total fallacy.
Morality can perfectly exist outside of religion. As it does in animals. Moral standards are social constructs that change overtime. Morality by religion is argument ad populum. Since, many people believe in it and practise it, does not make it true! People believed that the Earth was flat. Did it make it flat? No!

Why is God so angry?

Growing up in Iran, I had been exposed to constant Islamic indoctrination, and I had questions, lots of them. Mostly simple ones. What has always fascinated me was the questions of Why god is so angry at us? If he loves us (which I found that he doesn’t love anyone but himself in the most egocentric way possible), why he threatens us? What kind of sick game was this? Why would my uncle go to hell for drinking wine if wine is offered in heaven in abundant (actually in rivers!!)? Why shouldn’t I read the translation of Quran in Farsi so I can understand? If this god is so omnipotent, eternal and ever-present and immaterial, why does he bother himself with a man biting an apple, or drinking wine or? Half of my childhood was filled with fear and questions. But, I finally have the answer! and no fear of course!!

First of all, let’s see who created our God. The answer is a man. I particularly discuss about the Abrahamic god who is a man himself. He is anthropomorphized as a man or a father figure, and is referred to by masculine pronouns in the “holy books”. In my mind, when I was a child he was a man too, someone like Zeus, powerful and dominant, sitting on a bed of clouds. Abrahamic god is indeed a dominant despotic male god, and it roots from our nature.

Humans just like some other animals, particularly primates, live in groups, and instinctively a group requires an alpha to lead the group, to help them survive. Following the alpha and submitting to him has been in our nature, as it was a way of survival. Humans wouldn’t have survived without this way of life. Submission is in our nature! I know it sounds harsh because we want to be unique, rogue and free, but well… we are not! Throughout the history of man, the alpha have always had the power of food, sex and territory. As our cognitive abilities evolved, men in power such as kings secured more power for themselves by calling themselves gods. Then, they had the ability to authorize violence and oppression. Take ancient Egypt for example. These man-based gods, as they were the dominant male of their tribes, concerned themselves only with food, sex and territory. The three main requirements of survival. To ensure security of them, aggression, intimidation, territorial acquisition, sexual control and violence have been practised by all gods since then incontrovertibly!

When societies developed and moved forward, from nomadic to agrarian and to more complex societies, the role of the gods changed to reflect new life styles and concerns. The power of the gods grew to control greater masses of people (I highly recommend you to study the history of Israel, from polytheism to the Crusades.You will find rich examples on this matter). Just like Greek or Nordic gods, the Abrahamic god started with scaring people of natural forces, punishment and offering some sort of vague prize and then it evolved to a pervert but smart businessman in Islam. The god of Islam, Allah, monopolized sex, food, territory, commerce and money flow for one dominant male in the Arabia, Mohammed! I think we all know how he became dominant by presenting one dominant god! After Mohammed, the story continued, Muslims captured territories, women, food and wealth.

Religions have been created and empowered by monarchs throughout the history to ensure survival, from Stone Age untill now, particularly by likes of David, Constantine, Mohammad, Suleiman, Ismael I, etc.

So, next time you wanted to say prayer, go to church or keep the sabbath, just think who’s controlling you, who’s the alpha? Is it really about morality and salvation or is it about power and survival? Are you a pure soul in the eye of God or are you just a pawn in a game of power?