Tag Archive: Islam


Raif Badawi

Some of you will know who Raif Badawi is, some won’t, so for those who don’t I will explain.

Raif is a 31 year old Saudi Arabian man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2012, and 1,000 lashes, planned to be given in 50s every Friday after prayers.  There is also a 10 year travel ban and a 10 year ban on using the internet, both to start when he leaves prison.  In the meantime they are seeking to have him accused of apostasy, which carries a death sentence.

His crime is that he started a blog expressing his liberal views, advocating free speech and criticising clerics in his country.

He had the first 50 lashes in January, but the rest were put off because of his health.  the second 50 were due today but they have been postponed again, also because of his health.  He suffers from high blood pressure and diabetes.

He has a wife and 3 children who at the moment are resident in Canada.  His wife is appealing his sentence.

I am posting a link to an Amnesty International petition asking the Saudi authorities to stop the punishment and to free him.  If you haven’t already signed it please do.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/saudi-arabia-free-raif-badawi-flogged-blogger?gclid=CJex2qOXisYCFU3HtAodQRwAXg

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Read it here in Scottish or English.

I was watching yesterday’s news coverage of Osama Bin Laden’s death, and found myself thinking, ‘A man’s a man, for all that’, and I knew it was a quotation, but I wasn’t sure where from, so I looked it up.  I was thinking it not to belittle a man and say he is dispensable, but to exalt him as a creature of intrinsic worth and nobility.  I was thinking it for Osama Bin Laden.  I was disagreeing with David Cameron and other world leaders who have expressed satisfaction over his death.  By extension I was also thinking it for the rest of us, including those of us who have found justification in holding the bitterness and unforgiveness that can allow us to say of a fellow human being, ‘good, he is dead’, rather than expressing regret that his killing was a necessary part, so we are being told, of bringing justice.

I believe that kind of expression of that kind of feeling brutalises and degrades us and makes us less than the ‘man’ that our own nature demands we should be.  The Bible says, in one of the Psalms, that we are gods, and that the big God gave His Son to die for our sins, while we were still sinners.  Jesus quoted that Psalm and said the scripture cannot be broken.

I have heard it taught that Islam was formed as a religion in direct opposition to Christianity and Judaism.  I think I heard that from Colin Dye’s platform.  I think we have to ask why.  Christians used to hold killing crusades.  Christians sided with Hitler in the killing of Jews.  Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ was one of my set texts at school.  It was about a Jewish money lender who lent money to a Christian on the terms that he forfeit a pound of his own flesh if he defaulted.  All the Christian’s ships were lost at sea.  A woman called Portia argued the Christian’s case in court, and he was reprieved because the forfeit did not mention the shedding of blood, and Shylock, the money lender, was mockingly and derisively invited to take the pound of flesh, but if in so doing he shed one drop of blood he would have a forfeit of his own.  I think it was his life, but I can’t remember.

The first line of Portia’s famous speech, ‘the quality of mercy is not strained’, is often quoted and held to be a thing of great beauty.  But earlier the Jewish money lender had a great and truly painful speech of his own, basically saying ‘I am a man like you’, and the one part I can definitely remember and that registers with me deeply on an emotional level is where he talks about being in the street and having people ‘spit upon my Jewish gabardine’.  And although the quality of mercy is not strained, it seems that, from his humiliation at the end, it was meant to achieve mercy for Antonio, the Christian, but to be a lesson, yet another painful life lesson, to Shylock, the despised Jewish money lender.  I would like to draw more points from this play but I am not familiar with it any more and would need to read it again.  Points about if Shylock had gained his money legally and honourably, why was he so despised by the people who borrowed from him?  Did they need to borrow, would they have needed to borrow if they had not been so greedy themselves?  So why despise their provider?  Shylock’s requirement of Antonio was probably meant only to express his own distaste at lending to a man who spat upon his Jewish gabardine, or represented people who did.  He never expected, in all probability, that he would be in a position to call for the forfeit.  It was probably meant as a verbal expression of hate for hate.  The fact he called for it is obviously inexcusable, but would have been an expression of his own sick feelings of hate and revenge brought on by the abuse and constant humiliation.  Antonio was a rich merchant.  Shylock was a rich money lender.  What was Shylock’s sin?  Without reading again, it must have been that he was Jewish.  Shylock the Jew did not kill Jesus any more than Antonio the Christian (by affiliation and Christian country ‘birthright’ or by life changing choice and conviction?) did.  But Shylock was hated.

I’m not sure what the point of that is in this post.  Maybe it is just a way for me to say ‘this is hurting me’, because I identify emotionally with Shylock in his feelings over the abuse he received, regardless of any consideration of business ethics and morality.  I started crying when I found and read the Robert Burns poem and found it so perfect and beautiful, and that feeling hasn’t left me while considering Shylock.

My church used to say ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’.  We are justifying hating both the sin and the sinner, and that degrades both us and the sinner.  We are justifying such hatred towards a man that we rejoice in his death.  He couldn’t have achieved anything without his followers, and even though their figurehead has died, passed through death, if they choose revenge rather than deciding to change track and work themselves for brotherhood and world peace, I cannot see how the death of Osama Bin Laden can be seen as an ‘important step forward’, or the similar words used by my own beloved and respected prime minister, David Cameron.  So I would want to appeal to both sides, in the name of God and in the name of love and humanity, to please cool it and stop the revenge and attacks and the seeking of ‘justice’.  I would want to ask that, as Christians, we love our radical Islamic enemies, enough to uncover enough humility of our own to consider what it is that has so filled them with hatred and be willing to apologise and actively pursue reparation and healing of relationships with them, to stop the self-righteous demands and invective, and to approach them with the love and honour and humility we should employ, according to the Bible, towards all men.  I’m not saying that I myself am good at that, but I hope the character of our leaders is made of such stuff that they might be different, and be so openly, and not try to ‘confound the enemy’ by presenting a different face publicly than the one they present privately.   Our enemies need to know and see that we are honest and open not only about our rights, but about theirs, and about our own failings, even historical, and willingness to make reparation.  I don’t believe it is true, for any human being, that violence is all they understand.  The Bible says that the desire of a man is constant love, and I think that goes for everyone, and we need to be braver in showing that.  Vulnerable love, not tough love.  Active and proactive vulnerable love and openness to others.  ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I understand’ and ‘yes, you’re right’ and ‘thank you, I hadn’t thought of that’, and even ‘I love you, are you OK, can I help you?’ love and pursuit of justice.

Love and concern for each other should flow from the top down and the bottom up and spread out and come in, and maybe then the right policies will be obvious and not take up so much time in our relationships, governmental and otherwise.  I want to see the leaders of my world loving one another.  Having therapy sessions and love-ins, most of the time, instead of arguments and policy formation.  If they can pass on the benefits of that to us and across international boundaries, it might change everything about our living and thinking and being in the world and with each other.

I believe all of this is part of our intrinsic worth and nobility which we abandon at our peril and that we need to rediscover, and part of what it means to be ‘A Man, for A’ That’.

In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

God Hates Fags

So do I, ask my sister.

Dr Gallo, my Spanish psychiatrist, who called me obese in one of his reports, came towards me in the corridor once, and he absolutely stank of them.  I suppose I must have given him a questioning, intelligent, ‘oh really’ kind of look, because he looked a bit sheepish and uncomfortable.

I was thinking something along the lines of, ‘smoking kills, I don’t smoke, and I’m a nut, he smokes, and he is my psychiatrist.  He knows smoking kills, so he is addicted or in denial, or at least dishonest, because he goes out for a crafty one and looks sheepish when caught by one of his patients, or inmates’.  My actual thoughts were, ‘oh, he smokes’.  It was a bit of an enlightenment, an ‘aha’ moment.  I suppose I might have gone into my Christian prayer ministry and revelation mode.  But for me the logic behind my thoughts and feelings, as a psychiatric patient, is as previously stated.

It is my opinion that someone that insensitive, to write in a woman’s psychiatric tribunal report that she is obese, almost as though he were a vet rather than a doctor, and who smokes himself, ought not to be dealing with people on the mind level.

No, I didn’t mean homosexuals.  Not honest homosexuals.  I did that myself for two years.  I’m not sure how honest I was, maybe I rationalised my activity with the rationalisations I had been given by society and psychology until in the end it felt irrevocable and unchangeable.  Along the way of coming to terms with it I answered my own questions and my partner’s questions and probings with my own rationalisations drawn from society’s logic and permissiveness.  Of course, homosexuality used to be a reason to be detained under the mental health act, I think, or it was at least viewed as a mental illness.  But now it is a crime to show yourself ‘homophobic’.  I said that to the psychiatric staff on my ward.  I was sort of stonewalled.  Or patronised.  No one was interested in changing anything they were doing to me after I said it, anyway.

I was thinking about homophobia the other day, and wondering if there is such a word or crime as ‘Christianophobia’.  In the interests of balance I think possibly there should be.  Maybe ‘Religiophobia’ as well.  I have indulged, in myself, a homosexual relationship, though not a complete lifestyle, and I believed it was wrong beforehand and believe it was wrong now, afterwards.  And I am a Christian who believes the Bible says it is wrong and that therefore it is.  Unfortunately you can’t catch me with the shellfish argument, because I am also a vegan for moral and spiritual reasons.  Therefore I would not wear animal fibres either, mixed or otherwise.  So OK, I used to have a lesbian relationship, and now I am saying it is wrong, and that Biblical Christianity says it is wrong, which I believe.  Where does that put me as an individual on the crime scale, in relation to this issue? (By the way, I think Islam and the Quran also say it is wrong).  Not only the crime scale, but what are my own human rights on this, in terms of owning my own experience and my beliefs about it, including moral, spiritual and religious?  Can I be penalised for religiously aggravated homophobia against myself?  Do I have to limit myself in how I talk about my own life and beliefs about it?

The politicisation of ideas of right and wrong, illness and wellness.  Mental illness really is a political concept, isn’t it? Part of the irony, for me, is that an awful lot of force and assault, not to say violence, is used against some very non-violent people to make sure they take their ‘medication’.  By these people who say we are a danger to ourselves or others otherwise.  I do feel sick thinking about it.  Sick with violence and rage, the retaliatory kind.  That is a normal feeling.  I’m not acting it out.  There would be no point.  Their force and violence would be greater.

So the force and violence of a recognised professional body against an individual is OK and justified, but if that person, before not violent or physically forceful, wants to retaliate, even says they feel they want to, it isn’t?  It’s a threat to society?  But these professionals are not?

God hates fags – an interesting forage and forray.

Behind the Veil

Are women wanting peace, privacy and protection.

Gosh, this is hurtful!

When I was in London and on the bus, I would sometimes look at Muslim women and think they were so lucky, being able to cover themselves like that.  I thought that, with some of the men they had to encounter on an every day basis, being able to cover themselves must be a blessing and feel like a protection.

I feel like that today after having been out on Bulgarian streets.  I was at the bus station in Sunny Beach yesterday afternoon, and this group of young lads appeared at the stop opposite mine and one of them said, or rather, put out into the atmosphere, ‘Christian!’, then the whole group started playing around with it.   Mimicking and stuff.  Maybe I need to start confronting this instead of sitting there in silence or just staring at them and hoping they will have enough shame and decency to stop or apologise or something.

I don’t know what they were saying, it felt awkward.  I don’t know what they were saying, but there was a lady near them about 4 people away, and she was almost in tears.

And I think the bus drivers are as bad.  That is my interpretation of the scene without the language.  On the bus to Plovdiv yesterday I lost it with a couple of women next to me who, every time they ran out of steam for whatever it was they wanted in their conversatiom, would laugh and say ‘Jesus’, and it always coincided with when I was beginning to be alone with my own thoughts.  In the end I vented, after which I felt stupid and embarrassed and wanted to apologise but didn’t.

I said something like ‘will you stop saying ‘Jesus’ every time your conversation begins to run dry?  He happens to matter to some of us.  You need him for a pretty conversation, and I need him to make sure someone doesn’t kill me’.  A few seconds later I  really let rip with scathing, painful, sardonic, mocking anger and mimicked their attitude saying, ‘let’s all play with the man we killed’.  Self-righteous bitch, I know.  Everyone reacted, sounding uncomfortable and upset as if they had understood.  A man near the front adopted a bitching tone, and I let fly back with it, sounding deeply emotionally disturbed, and said, ‘You know nothing.  You know nothing about me.  You don’t even know me, so shut up’.  At that point things settled and some of the people around me seemed to become more relaxed.  So did I.  I even fell asleep briefly a couple of times.

These women were also going on about diabolos and anglichanka.  so was the bus driver, but not in a tone which carried any significance.  I didn’t hear the bus driver say anything about diabolos.

But near the end of the journey it seemed as if people started to loosen up within themselves.  Looking back it was probably because it was the end of the journey.  People started to chat, there was emotion in their voices, they didn’t sound dead.  To me it sounded good and nice.

But at that point it sounded as if the bus driver and his mate got uncomfortable and started objecting.  They had said something at one point about anglichanka in loaded tones and put the radio on.  I’m not sure if they are trying to cater for me or what.  I try to interpret it kindly.  But they got uncomfortable and started booming.  And then they started yattering and I felt as if it was some sort of communist/socialist ‘this is how it is, we all know that, ignore anyone who says different, they are stupid – like her, no names no pack drill but she knows who she is.  We are the drivers and we are in control and this is what we say’.

The relaxation seemed to disappear and it went silent, and when someone did speak it was in the same dead voice as before.

OK, no further with this recollection.  But this is why I wish I could wear a veil.  I think a few decades ago it was acceptable in England for women to wear veils. Sometimes in some places when women are out on their own, they need the protection of anonymity and if wearing a veil was widely acceptable as an option they could hide from predators of every description easily.

I think in Islam it is not only a religious symbol but also a protection for women.  In that respect I think it is good and necessary.  The fact that some people abuse it should not lead to it being forbidden for those who do not.

Full face covering.  Yes.  Sometimes a woman feels it is a must.  Any woman.  Not just Muslim women.  Can we have it back please?

I’m a Christian, and I’d like to wear a veil.  At least sometimes.  To cover my own shame.  My own shame, brought on by my own actions and words and kept alive by lack of reconciliation and resolution, at the very least on a legal level.  And I personally say this to the shame of the people who are in hot pursuit of me and are, for some reason, afraid, ashamed and embarrassed to use the powers of the law at their disposal and have blocked me when I’ve tried to, not against them, but against myself.  As taught and instructed by the church.  And even by politicians and the media.  They sometimes talk about amnesties and turning yourself in.  Is that and the process that follows only available to people without a mental health diagnosis?  Or are the authorities in my borough, the borough of Lewisham, corrupt?

I have few clear ideas about anything at the moment.  I was going to say ‘anymore’, but decided against it.

I don’t know how I feel about the death penalty on principle.  I know how I have felt about individual cases.  I was so upset about one a few years ago that I kicked in the glass in my kitchen door.  I was upset because the news agencies were there just reporting it and not doing anything they were talking about.  It was a Christian woman in the US.  I can’t remember more than that now.

I just read that Julian Assange could face the death penalty or Guantanamo if extradited to Sweden.  The term that was used was ‘ilegal rendition’.  I assume that is something they can do to a non-US citizen.  One writer said how can this happen if he is not a US citizen.  Can it, I don’t know.  I don’t know what ‘illegal rendition’ means.

At a significant point for me Wikileaks released something which led me to do a search as to who had died in Afghanistan/Iraq, and I discovered many namesakes from my own sphere of awareness.  Some of them I felt to be close namesakes, but now I can’t remember and that might just have been my imagination, living too much in the world of the media.  I don’t think so though.

I absolutely loathed Hillary Clinton at one point. I don’t feel so strongly now, possibly because things might be smoothing out as I never said anything about it.

It seemed obvious to me a while ago that she has had something to do with my old Bible College lecturer and longtime heroine, Jean Darnall, unless there are a lot of American ladies who act like that.  But the likeness came to light for me at what seemed like a really significant point in what I was communicating. 

I feel ludicrous.  I feel as if I am meddling in things which are really way beyond me and none of my business.  I certainly feel that, every time i post something like this, I start to dig myself up all over again when perhaps I should rest and let myself heal.

I heard Hillary Clinton roundly condemn Julian Assange and Wikileaks.  I also believe I know she has been involved and informed about me, from things she has said and at times that she has said them.

As a Christian I have to say, God knows there is something really wrong here.  I’m frightened.

I’ve heard both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama using psychic find and extinguish buzz words on me.  I am absolutely sure I can say that with confidence.  But I’m a nobody.  I don’t know what they are doing or why, I know they are doing it, I want to believe well of them, they are world leaders, after all.  I want to believe they are well-intentioned towards me, but they haven’t made proper contact with me.

What do I sound like, I sound really crazy.  I’m a bit ungrounded at the moment, I’m not getting any TV and my internet connection won’t support video.  I just felt I had to say something, for what it might be worth.  No one seems to think it is worth anything (pity, pity, moan, moan) and I really dread that one day I’m going to write something like this and find myself back in hospital.  I dread it now.  No one is coming forward to stop it, and I feel the wheels are in motion to dispossess me of my home and maybe put me back in hospital.  That is another reason I feel ungrounded.

I can’t see how anything I say can help Julian Assange.  I felt as if I had to say something, but I don’t know why or who I’m doing it for or what I’m trying to achieve.

When the 9/11 bombings took place I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I wasn’t in New York, I was in an internet cafe, gambling on horse races online.  I was so watchful over myself at the time that I didn’t process or respond very well to what was unfolding.  I commented to someone in a chatroom or on a game site that I thought it could be a wake up call to the West and to America over our godlessness and materialism and building temples to mammon.  That was what I felt at the time.  I felt there was something of the fightback of emasculated power in the decision to rebuild the World Trade Center as big as, if not bigger than, before.  I did feel there was a lesson that needed to be learned and accepted by the west about cathedrals to money.  But what do I know, I’m quite ignorant about many things, including Islam’s own temples to money, if they have them.  I assumed the motive behind the attacks was to strike at materialism and, if it was, I thought i could see how, given their philosophy, that kind of attack would be justified in their eyes.  Without justifying the attack, I thought it would be better to learn a lesson from the reason for it than to go in seeking revenge.  Does that make me sick?  I thought relations might improve if the lesson were accepted, but maybe that is crazy thinking, I think now it might have been.  I think now that Islam hates us, regardless of what we do.  I thought it might be open to reason and to resolving international relationships and some sort of coming together.  Maybe I have become as reactionary as the warmongers if I decide I was wrong about that and that they hate us because they want to hate us, full stop.  And that there is no question of something needing to be learned and any ground given in how we live.  Terrorists, after all, are not to be negotiated with or recognised in any way, and certainly not in any changes to our own lifestyles.  That is what we are taught.  My heart says that can’t be right.  People are people and if we respond to a good point in the right way, even if the way it is made is wrong, that should create hope, shouldn’t it?  But I don’t know the Koran.  Kensington Temple presents it one way, liberal Muslim’s present it another, apparently these books are always open to interpretation, they tell us.  Who do we decide we are going to believe and why?  Is true Islam committed to hating us and destroying us?  If so, why don’t the liberal Muslims say so?  Maybe it’s an argument about what is true Islam.  I feel I should know, it must surely be accessible.

My fear is that while we try to go with liberal Islam and give people claiming to be liberal Muslims power in government and in churches, even, as it now is, I fear we might not detect people coming under a cloak of friendship but who might actually be using their positions for subversive and dangerous purposes.  If the worst of Islam is to be safeguarded against, how wise is it to open key positions to possible covert infiltration of extremism where privileged information with regard to the bodies traditionally hated by Islam might be passed to people who can do real harm?  Personally I am absolutely convinced it is a risk we shouldn’t be taking.  I’m sorry.  I know that won’t go down well with some people.  But when I hear that churches are taking Muslims onto their staff, my alarm bells start ringing.  Islam is anti any other God or prophet.  So is Christianity.  By definition, true Islam and true Christianity can’t work together.  And neither of them can honestly work with humanism, as humanism can’t honestly work with religion.  So what are we playing at?  Is anyone actually thinking about it? We claim to be trying to do the impossible.  When it comes right down to the practicalities, will it turn out to be just lip service?  And if it does, then what?  When we all realise that and see it, if we haven’t already, how will our attempts at multiculturalism fare?  I don’t know the answer to that.  I feel I’m wrong even to question it, that I’m just stupid and ignorant and people are basically too good not to make it work, even in the face of disillusionment.  But if things are not only different but also opposing and evangelically militant in opposition . . . Do we have to spend our whole lives living in a dialectic?  Is that really what life is supposed to be about?  I’ve wasted my life, I’m too old for dialectic, but I wish I wasn’t, because I think it sounds exciting.

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