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Tue, 05 Jun 2001
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From: "Usman Malik" <islami@consultant.com> [Save Address] [Block Sender]
To: afreethinker@hotmail.com
Cc:
Subject: I came up with some questions:)
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001 13:11:27 +0500
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Hi Ali
I took so long reading your article, as you know leaving a religion is not an easy thing. It is matter of life and death. I must be completely satisfied from each and every angle before I take a step like this.
Ali I have some confusions and disagreements with your last e-mail, I hope that you will try to remove my confusions from them by explaining them.
In first Para, you mentioned that we should not follow any human being, and we must choose our own way. Don’t you think that these humans who claims to be prophets and so on, have spent their whole life in search of the truth. Don’t you think it is good if we choose one among them and follow his words and then build our life on this foundation! For example determining and studying religion is a full time job, people spend their whole life solely in this. Now if Humans have to study it only, then who will advance in other fields; like of science and so on.
In next Para you talked about Jews’ children becoming Jew and so on for the Muslims. I don’t think that without this the religions would have ever continued. And their would have been more Atheists then of any religion. Its objection is same as of the previous one.
In third you said that your mission is to cause doubt, don’t you think that this isn’t polite? It means that you only cause confusion. I strongly believed that you talk about and believe in unity and peace while confusion is what is against it. I hope that you will be able to explain your theory of doubt. Also if your mission is to pull people out of the religion then you must not leave then in some pathless way, you must guide them to some place, some religion, some destiny and some understand able God, to some laws to be followed and to some code of conducts to be followed for life. And your laws must also explain ones destiny not until death but onwards.
Then you believe that these God, Allah and Yahweh are out dated, what about the researches that goes on (scientific), which proves the religious transcripts to be true. As I was a Muslim and so is my family I studied number of books that proved each and every Ayah of Quran to be scientifically right. For an example see below:

Prove of Gravitation:
O company of jinn and men, if ye have power to penetrate (all) regions of the heavens and the earth; then penetrate (them)! Ye will never penetrate them save with (Our) sanction. (Q. 53: 33)

In above it is clear that one need power to penetrate through the earths’ field…

Now about the place where you said that you do not deny the divine reality. I just would like to know how do you explain “Rational thinking”? As for me this is how it is to me.

Rational Thinking:
I will take one definition from a respected academic in this field. Jonathan Baron in his book "Thinking and Deciding" [Jonathan Baron, Thinking and Deciding, Cambridge University Press 1994] chooses to define being rational as
"the kind of thinking we would all want to do, if we were aware of our own best interests, in order to achieve our goals."
[Ibid. p3]
He then goes on to categories thinking as being about decisions, beliefs or about the goals themselves.
Language and choices of definitions of its words can of course be highly subjective matter but I find this definition particularly inadequate because the choice of goals is entirely left to irrational and subjective choice and can easily be wrong. For example my goal could be to justify the equation 1=0 for which I would have to use very irrational arguments. If we build in the requirement that the goals are being, or have been, rationally set then we have a circular definition where any irrational goal would lead to completely irrational thinking which might, for example, be quite illogical. Then, this type of thinking would reinforce the irrational goal!
We cannot use this as a definition- at least until we have some clear refinement of it. Baron acknowledges this further on
"When I argue that certain kinds of thinking are "most rational" I mean that these help people fulfill their goals. Such arguments could be wrong. If so, some other kind of thinking is most rational."
[Ibid. p17]
If we are to understand from this that `people' means any person and therefore any goal then we still have the same problem. However, his arguments make sense because they appeal to the fulfillment of goals that people generally have. In other words if he uses the word people here to mean `people in general' then rational thinking is defined (at least in so far as goals are set) as being what people generally do.
This is a fairly major weakness in this attempt to define rationality in purely objective terms. You cannot describe rational thinking and forget that the criteria are themselves a matter of value judgment, such as the judgments made when setting goals. If one leaves the subjectivity of such value judgments in place then the objective approach fails.
Taking Baron's definition of rational from a different angle we could well ask what does it mean to be "aware of our own best interests"? This, in contrast to the above description, presupposes that there is such a thing as `best interests', which for all intents and purposes we can take to include the goals we set. This is closer to the position I shall take. There are such things as our own best interests, which include what our goals should be. We may not know perfectly what they are but we must assume that they are there, for without them any attempt to define rationality is self-defeating.
The goals we set, and therefore the very definition of rationality is governed by moral choices - by what our goals should be.
"Unlike many other fields of psychology, such as the study of perception where the emphasis is on "how it works", much of the study of thinking is concerned with how we ought to think, or with comparing the way we usually think with some ideal."
[Ibid. p16]
The study of thinking is the area in which the `Is-Ought' problem is closest to being resolved. For to study thinking we must study what is `good thinking'. The Is-Ought problem can be stated as "It is impossible to infer, by any logical means, a normative statement from a descriptive statement." i.e. you cannot infer from any statement of the form "A is the case" the conclusion that "John ought to do X.” i.e. "Is" and "Ought to”. If we want to break out of this we must make value judgments. Using statements of value we can infer normative statements. For example, if I said "It is raining outside. Therefore you ought to take an umbrella." it would be an illogical inference. However, if I say "It is raining outside. It is good for you to avoid getting wet by taking an umbrella. Therefore you ought to take an umbrella." it is clear that the 3rd statement follows from the first two. The Is-Ought problem can therefore be seen as a matter of value judgments; how do we judge that something is good for someone - or for ourselves?


Now in next Para, you do not agree with me that God was introduced by religion. Ok forget it for now, but I have a question. Do you believe in a God or multiple gods?

Now towards proving my point. If you don’t believe on a religion, then you should not even believe on the existence of God. Because I don’t think that going through the intellectual maturity man came to know God, once in for while. According to me, he must have questioned someone, and someone might have said, God. Now who that person was, God himself or another man. If another man then of course he is meant to be not another usual man as he solved a great mystery. And lets take an example; if you live in Iran you cannot meet president, as you have to follow some rules and protocols. Now as you believe in divine reality then how can u see or talk to that divine reality without following a perfect protocol? Moses was asked by is people to show God to them, he first tried to scare them off, but on continuous insisting he took them to a mountaintop. God’s one glimpse caused them all to faint and a whole mountain converted into scrap. Muhammad met Allah and talked to Him through a curtain, on Miraj.
In next Para you talk about the Baal and Yahweh. Now you are aware that Elijah was a man (human), on proving himself right he ordered the execution of Baal’s followers. It was normal for a Human being of that time, and even for now. As for Yahweh, the Lord, He is believed to be very loving to His creatures, how could He kill them all, when He loves them?
You think that people use religion. Of course they do, but not everyone. There is always good with bad. Nothing is perfect and if something is, then we don’t know it yet. Therefore in such case, isn’t this good if we limit our criticizing to them, about which we know well. It’s just like that there are sites like yours, working on revolutionary cause and some sites like Warez, killing developers.
Then you talk about the boundaries of religions. God is not believed by one nation but now it is globally. For example, concept of Allah started from Arab, and now we see Muslims in India, Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia and so on. Well we don’t see any one saying that do not pray to Allah, He is of Arabs only. Samuel said to his people to return to his Lord, as according to his ideology he wanted his people to only pray in from that Lord who created the Heaven and the Earth. It in no way explains that he said that they are also right too and my lord is afraid of them so pray my Lord only.
And I have another question. As you talk about maturity, do you think that man has reached a mature enough state to understand the origin, existence and everything about Allah/God/Lord/etc?

Why don’t you study Allah, according to Quran and tell me about that in more detail.
Can you give me more information on the books “Katib al Waqidi” and “Tabari”? Well if this is true about Muhammad, then why don’t you see this conversation in this way that one day the dispute of LAT, OZZA, and MANAT will be over, and it is clear now? We see no follower of LAT, OZZA or MANAT today.
The translation you gave to me was little confusing so I found its translation from three different books; kindly see them too.

Yusuf Ali’s translation:

“Have ye seen Lat an Uzza
And another the third (goddess) Manat?
What! for you the male sex and for Him the female?
Behold such would be indeed a division most unfair!
These are nothing but names which ye have devised ye and your fathers for which Allah has sent down no authority (whatever). They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own souls desire! Even though there has already come to them Guidance from their Lord!”

Pickethall’s translation:

“Have ye thought upon Al Lat and Al Uzza
And Manat, the third, the other?
Are yours the males and His the females?
That indeed were an unfair division!
They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allah hath revealed no warrant. They follow but a guess and that which (they) themselves desire. And now the guidance from their Lord hath come unto them.”

Moulana Drayabandi’s translation:

“Have ye then considered Al-Lat and AL-'uzza:
And Manat the other third?
What!-Unto YOu the males and Unto Him the females?
That indeed is a division unfair!
They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allah hath sent down no authority. They follow but their fancy, and that which pleaseth their souls; whereas assuredly there hath come Unto them from their Lord the guidance.”


And as you claimed that Muhammad was misogynist, then please I admire him on this thing that he provided more freedom to women then any other religion. In above the third and fourth lines are about the Arabs who wanted to have only boys and used to burry their girls alive. Allah asked them that this is most unfair division that you say that girls are for Him.

In the Q.53: 27:
“Those who believe not in the Hereafter name the angels with female names.”

Which is even obvious from the LAT, OZZA and MANAT.

I hope that Ali you will clear my points soon.
Best wishes
Malik Usman

-----Original Message-----
From: "Ali Sina" <afreethinker@hotmail.com>
Date: Sun, 03 Jun 2001 01:12:08
To: islami@consultant.com
Subject: Re: Thanks for the link but.....


>
>
>
> From: "Usman Malik" <islami@consultant.com>
> To: afreethinker@hotmail.com
> Subject: Thanks for the link but.....
> Date: Sat, 02 Jun 2001 11:47:28 +0500
> Dear Usman.
>
> Thank you for reading that article. What Religion to Chose? Now I can write
> a letter answering your questions without referring you to another article
> because your questions are new. :-)
>
> You wrote, “First I took you as my solution, but now I am so confused that I
> don't know what to even say....”
>
> The whole purpose of my writing is to make people think on their own and do
> not follow another person as their solutions, guru, imam, prophets or
> marja’e taqleed. If someone after going through all my writings decides that
> I am intelligent and sharp to the extent that he can trust whatever I write,
> follow me or look unto me as his solution, then I have failed.
>
> The whole idea behind this exercise is to stimulate people to become
> freethinkers. Freethinkers are independent thinkers. Freethinkers listen to
> the words said but not to the person who says it. If a person according to
> you is right in almost everything; that does not mean that he is right in
> ALL things. My message is: Do not follow another person, become a skeptic
> and accept only what makes sense to YOU. Re-analyze everything that you were
> taught as a child and believed to be true. You believed those things because
> you trusted the medium. That medium that could have been your own loving
> parent could have been honestly wrong. People do not teach their kids,
> falsehood deliberately. They educate them to the best of their ability, yet
> since they themselves are misinformed, they pass that misinformation to
> their children and perpetuate the cycle of ignorance. Thus we have the
> children of the Jews becoming Jews, the children of the Christians becoming
> Christians and the children of the Muslims turning Muslims, and so on so
> forth.
>
> My hope is that after reading my writings people start to doubt everything
> and find their own lights. Please read the words of Krishnaurti 'Truth is a
> pathless land' once more.
>
>
> Now as for your question about God:
> Actually I did not say I do not believe in any God. In the same article that
> you read (What Religion to Follow) I wrote:
>
> “I do not discard the Divine reality. Just like Galileo who did not reject
> the Earth but people’s understanding of it, I do not reject God but people’s
> understanding of it”.
>
> In other words, I do believe in the spiritual reality underlying this
> universe. I call that the Single Principle. But I cannot believe in the
> absurd notion of the deity invented by the primitive man and now passed to
> us by their primitive religions. Those religions do not answer the
> intellectual quest of the modern wo/man and their god is outdated and
> rationally untenable. So when I talk about feeling God, I am not talking
> about Allah or Yahweh. These are figments of human imagination in the early
> stages of its maturity. They have no place in our modern world. They are
> stupid gods that cannot stand the test of reason. The Single Principle
> underlying the creation, that eternal spiritual reality permeating every
> atom of this universe is not what our prehistoric ancestors invented and a
> bunch of charlatans calling themselves prophets have echoed and perpetuated.
>
> It is not true that religions were the first to introduce the concept of God
> to humankind. The notion of God is evolved with the intellectual capacity of
> human brain. People believed in spirits and assumed that behind every
> natural phenomenon there is a deity that makes it happen. There was a god
> for thunders, a god for winds, a god for fertility and a god for creation, a
> god for death and a god for birth. Gods were abounding and they were all the
> products of human’s imagination.
>
> People prayed to these gods and offered sacrifices in their altars. They
> sought their protection and invoked them in their wars. Shamans and medicine
> men came along and took advantage of the credulity of people. They posed as
> the mediums between men and gods and robbed them with their lies.
>
> To enforce their hegemony over the people they claimed to be the prophets
> and messengers of these gods and demanded absolute obedience and payment of
> money in exchange for salvation. No one could see these gods but them and
> they were the vicegerents of these deities. Of course rivalry arouse between
> the prophets, each claiming that their gods is superior and more powerful. A
> contest of power is reported between Elijah the self acclaimed prophet of
> Yahweh and the followers of Baal in a very naïf tale in the Bible. In this
> story Elijah challenges the power of Baal by asking his followers to bring a
> bull, place it on the altar and ask the Baal to set it to fire. The
> followers of Baal pray all day and nothing happens. But when Elijah prays to
> Yahweh (Lord), the bull is immediately consumed in fire. Then Elijah having
> proved the superiority of Yahweh over Baal, orders the execution of Baal’s
> followers. (Which makes one wonder why Yahweh himself who was so powerful
> did not kill them?) This story is narrated in 1Kings 18: 21-40.
>
> Naturally, no rational person can believe in the accuracy of such an absurd
> tale. If it was so easy to prove the existence of God, then I challenge, the
> Jews, the Christians and the Muslims to invoke their god and ask him to
> perform the same miracle in front of TV cameras, (without any tricks) to
> settle this controversy about his existence once and for all. With the
> promise that if they end up making fools of themselves at the end of the
> day, like the followers of the Baal in the above narrative and their god
> does not respond, their lives will be spared, thanks to our Universal
> Declaration of Human Rights that allows people the freedom to believe even
> in false and impotent gods like Yahweh and Allah.
>
> In the old days there were many gods. All these gods had prophets,
> intermediaries and messengers. This was then, as is now, a very lucrative
> and enticing business. It gave the prophets immense prestige and a lot of
> power. In the above story it is said that Baal had 450 prophets.
>
> Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only prophet of the LORD [Yahweh] who is
> left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 1Ki 18:22
>
> In those days people prayed to several gods. At first there was little
> religious hostility between them. They simply prayed to each other’s gods,
> just in case, and if their prayers were answered, they attributed it to the
> power of that god and promoted him amongst their own people. However, the
> prophets and the priests of these gods were not happy of such an
> arrangement. They wanted control over people. If they believed in other gods
> then they would also take their offerings and sacrifices to those gods. This
> would have damaged their [the prophet’s and priests] business and meant lost
> of income. So it was imperative to dissuade people of praying to other gods.
> Thus we hear such harsh condemnations like the following.
>
> Again the Israelites did evil in the LORD's sight. They worshiped images of
> Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.
> Not only this, but they abandoned the LORD [Yahweh] and no longer served him
> at all. Jud 10:6
>
> Actually even the famous biblical figure Solomon, (whom Muhammad called his
> “brother” in the episode when he said that he had caught the Satan wanting
> to tie him down to a post and Solomon prevented him), “worshiped Ashtoreth,
> the goddess of the Sidonians; Chemosh, the god of Moab; and Molech, the god
> of the Ammonites” 1Ki 11:33 and 1Ki 11:5 Solomon even built shrines for
> these gods. 2Ki 23:13
>
> In fact it was not just Solomon, but most of the Israeli’s believed in a
> pantheon of Gods as is clear from this King Samuel rebuking of the Jews. .
>
> Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, "If you are really serious
> about wanting to return to the LORD [Yahweh] , get rid of your foreign gods
> and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the LORD; then he will
> rescue you from the Philistines." 1Sa 7:3
>
> More confirmation that the Israelites were worshipping other gods can be
> found in the following verses.
>
> They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. Jud 2:13
>
> Before long Israel was joining in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the
> LORD's anger to blaze against his people. Nu 25:3 -
>
> See also. Nu 25:5 , 1Sa 7:4 and ' 1Sa 12:10
>
> One wonders if these gods really did not exist, what is the big fuss. Why
> should Yahweh and his priests and functionaries be so jealous of gods that
> really do not have any existence? The answer is that the authors of the
> Bible really believed that other gods do exists, but they did not want the
> Israelis to worship them for several reasons.
>
> If Israelis believed in other gods than Yahweh, (the gods of other nations)
> they would feel friendly with their neighboring nations, associate with them
> in amity, marry amongst each other and the rulers will not be able to secure
> the integrity of the Israeli nation. To have a sense of nationality, you
> have to have something that binds you with other members of your nation,
> something unique that is not shared by other neighboring tribes. Israelites
> were a small nation among many other nations clustered in a small area.
> Intermixing and intermingling was inevitable. A common religion, unique to
> the Israelis would have given them a common cause and a sense of belonging.
> The kings needed an excuse to secure the allegiance of the nation and
> instill in them the hatred of the enemy. The religion with a different god
> would have provided such an excuse. A god that was superior to the gods of
> their neighbors; a god that was mightier than all other gods and above all a
> god that was jealous and vengeful that would not tolerate betrayal.
>
> The priests also liked the idea of a single god. So when the nation of
> Israel was released from the bondage of Nabuchadnezar and by the leave of
> Cyrus returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple and worship their own
> god, (Ezra 1) the priests of that time; Jeremiah, Ezra and two unknown
> priests named by biblical scholars as J and E, (not necessarily contemporary
> to each other) regrouped the Israelis that were split in two separate
> nations, Judah and Israel, each having a different country, a different king
> and a different deity, into one nation. They blended their bibles (religious
> lore) and amalgamated their gods, El and Yahweh [Lord], into one single god.
> They instigated in the people the hatred of other gods and claimed their
> sufferings; exiles and captivities were caused because Jews had forsaken the
> Jewish god El/Yahweh, (now posing as a single god). And as Samuel promised
> them, if they returned to Yahweh they would be victorious over the
> Philistienes. 1Sa 7:3
>
> This story obviously makes little sense. Why should god be the god of the
> Jews and not of the Philisteienes? But it made perfect sense to those living
> in 700 BC. For them, there were many gods and each nation had its own
> patron. Yahweh was the god of the Jews and other nations had their own gods.
> This is clear from the Psalms 82 where Yahweh has a conversation with other
> gods rebuking them for their ineptitude and lack of concern for their
> subjects. In this assembly of gods Yahweh admonished his colleagues and
> reprimands them for not being good gods. In fact he reminds them to he the
> sons of the Almighty, which makes us believe that Yahweh himself is not the
> supergod but still there is one superior to him and other gods.
>
> Naturally Jews wanted to think that their god is the best. He had to be the
> most powerful of all gods. But not that they denied the existence of other
> gods! That is the whole reason for which Yahweh is so jealous. You cannot be
> jealous of something that does not exist.
>
> Amazingly even Jesus believed that other nations have their own separate
> gods. The concept of monotheism was evolved gradually and perhaps the over
> zealot Christian missioner Paul the apostle is to be credited for it, though
> he must have done it unwittingly. It was he who compromised his faith to
> sell his religion to the West. I have explained this subject in my article
> The Evolution of Monotheism.
>
> Interestingly Even Muhammad had the slip of the tongue when one day next to
> Ka’ba while discussing religious matters with some prominent men of Quraish
> reveled this verse:
>
> And see ye not LAT and OZZA,
> And MANAT the third besides?
> These are the exalted Females,
> And verily their Intercession is to be hoped for.
>
> This story is reported by both Katib al Waqidi p. 89; and Tabari, p. 140.
>
> This open concession and the acceptance of Lat Ozza and Mnat, surprised and
> pleased the Quraish who unanimously bowed in prostration when Muhammad ended
> his speech with these words: “Wherefore bow down before God, and serve Him.”
>
> Quraish were happy for this concession and wowed to end hostility.
>
> Some narrators say that on the very night of that day, Gabriel had appeared
> to Muhammad and said: “What is this that thou hast done? thou hast repeated
> before the people words that I never gave unto thee.” (Muir p. 151) And
> Muhammad realizing that these verses were put into his mouth by Satan, he
> retracted from what he said, disowned the whole proceeding, and called those
> verses “Satanic Verses”.
>
> However, the fact that the tidings of the reconciliation between the Muslims
> and the Quraish reached Abyssinia and many of the immigrants returned to
> Mecca makes us deduce that Gabriel did not appear to Muhammad on the same
> night and this state of peace between the Quraish and the followers of
> Muhammad went on for a while. Until Muhammad realized that by accepting the
> three goddesses, the daughters of Allah, he is shooting in his own foot and
> making superfluous his own raison de etre. So he claimed that Satan put
> those words into his mouth and the real verse as revealed by Allah should
> have been:
>
> “And see ye not LAT and OZZA,
> And MANAT the third beside?
> What! Shall there be male progeny unto you, and female unto him?
> That were indeed an unjust partition!
> They are naught but names, which ye and your, Fathers have invented, &c.”
> (Q.53: 20-22)
>
> These verses were not only more in line with the misogynist nature of the
> prophet, but also reaffirmed himself as the sole intermediary between Allah
> and man.
>
> In conclusion the concept of God did not descend from religions. Both
> religion and god are the inventions of man. They both evolved as human
> intellect kept growing. But today we have advanced to a stage that we no
> more can accept those antiquated and unverifiable dogmas of our forefathers.
> We can easily and logically disprove the existence of the god given to us by
> our ancestors and then enforced by the religions but there is not a shred of
> evidence that can prove the existence of such deity. (For further
> explanation on this subject please refer to several articles in the chapter
> dedicated to God. This is a subject that I have talked about extensively and
> I am not going to repeat. I invite you to read them and then express your
> disagreements if any. Thank you).