Posts Tagged ‘islam’

Nobody can agree when Eid is and it’s hilarious

Monday, June 10th, 2019 | Religion & Politics

Earlier this month, Ramadan ended and was celebrated by Eid al-Fitr. The problem is that a lot of the Islamic community couldn’t agree when exactly that happened. It is a common problem and illustrates some of the interesting quirks of religion.

We’re used to religions splitting apart over hairs, of course. Is transubstantiation literal or metaphorical? Can King Henry have a divorce? Did Jesus visit America and tell men to take multiple wives?

But this article by BBC News illustrates the issues with Eid, where different parts of the Scottish Muslim community celebrated on different days.

Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, with a month of fasting that ends when the new moon arrives. You may think that science could easily answer this question. We know when the new moon appears because the movement of celestial bodies can be accurately predicted. In this case, in the UK, the new moon arrived on Tuesday, 4 June.

But no.

Some argue that they have to see it themselves. Presumably, in case it disappears or something.

Others argue that because other people have seen the moon, that should be acceptable “because that’s the same moon”.

Still others have argued that seeing in the UK does not matter because the UK is not an Islamic country. Therefore, it only counts when someone in Morocco sees the new moon because that is the nearest Islamic country.

Finally, others have said the whole thing is too complex and that it should be celebrated according to what can be seen from Mecca.

Political Islam

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 | Humanism


At West Yorkshire Humanists this month, Dr Afshin Shahi delivered us a talk on Political Islam. He discussed the origins of international jihadism, the structural and identity problems facing countries in the Middle East and the potential problems we will face in the future – especially as climate change increasingly causes draught in the region.

One of the key messages in the talk is that trying to combat radicalisation is only really treating the symptoms and not the cause. If we want to solve the problem in the long term we need to look at the problems of inequality and unfairness that allow these ideologies to take hold.

More on everyone loving pornography

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 | Religion & Politics

In April, I mentioned a Huffington Post article discussing how everyone loves pornography, even in Islamic countries where it is banned.

I thought I would share some stats from some of Worfolk Online’s sites. Here are the most popular countries for our Finnish language site:

  • 1. Finland
  • 2. Iran
  • 3. United States
  • 4. Sweden
  • 5. Estonia
  • 6. Germany
  • 7. Pakistan
  • 8. United Arab Emirates
  • 9. Turkey

Iran appears in the top nine of our English and Swedish language site too, and Saudi Arabia features in the top nine of our English site as well.

Origins of Islam

Thursday, May 16th, 2013 | Humanism

At the April meeting of the Humanist Society of West Yorkshire, Guy Otten presented a talk on the origins of Islam. The thesis of the talk was that the origins were mythological, and were created in a similar way to the Christian religion, being affected by politics and evolving over time.

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Sharia courts

Saturday, April 27th, 2013 | Religion & Politics

Recently, Panorama aired a documentary looking at Sharia Courts. You can watch it online if you missed it.

It was certainly an eye opener, though the sad reality is that many of us might not be surprised. The programme contained Islamic scholars recommending to women who said they had suffered domestic abuse should go back to their partners and perhaps try improving their cooking or making more of an effort to look nice, surpassing even the most distasteful sarcastic jokes you could dream up.

Of course, the programme couldn’t point out the end conclusion – that Islam is a bad women. They extensively pushed the idea that these courts were bad for women, or at least some of them where, but never really dared to suggest that the doctrines they are interpreting might partly be at fault too.

Being a libertarian, I’m not sure exactly how we could tackle this situation even if we wanted to though. A mediation service is perfectly acceptable, and indeed encouraged by our own legal system in order to free up more court time. So given Sharia courts are not legally binding and therefore the women there voluntarily submit to them, we have no right to interfere.

In fact, it’s unclear why the women actually wanted a Sharia divorce, when they had already received a civil divorce – given you’re not actually married if you get an Islamic marriage, why would you need a divorce? Just walk away.

There are some issues that can be and do need tackling though.

Firstly and foremost, any compulsion to use the mediation system. Obviously, this needs to be stamped out. This is a difficult one though because if your entire extended family considers the courts to be the law it must be very difficult to ignore. Sure you can just walk away, but that must be like trying to leave a cult. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how we could tackle that given it is actually the doctrine, not necessarily the system, that is the problem.

Secondly, we can stop so called Sharia marriages. If they want to have a Sharia ceremony, that is fine, we Humanists do the same thing. But marriage is an actual legal term, and if you’re not actually providing a proper legal civil marriage, then calling it a marriage is deceitful and false and ultimately leads to the kind of situations where people getting divorced have no legal protection because they weren’t actually married.

Can you vote to end democracy?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

Being the Imperial Western states that we are, we have a habit of going into countries, taking out the dictators (mostly the ones that we originally installed and have been propping up for the past few decades) and forcing democracy on the people.

It has been suggested that this has unfortunately come back to bite us on the ass a few times. Particularly when it comes to Islamic states. After all, what happens if you give democracy to a people and they democratically decide that they want to be enslaved and live under a dictatorship? This might sound like a philosophical thought experiment, but is actually the reality we face – with huge amounts of people brainwashed by the evils of religion, mainly Islam in this case, there is a every chance people might opt for this.

Should we allow it? If we’re ever going to remove democracy from the world and appoint me as the benevolent dictator, we’re going to have to eventually. But on a more serious note, it doesn’t seem right to allow such a thing to happen. Yet, it would seem undemocratic to stop it, if that is what the electorate have chosen.

However, there are possibly some arguments to support an intervention against it.

Firstly, you might be able to argue that it doesn’t make sense logically. It’s the same basic defence to “can god make a rock so big he can’t pick it up” argument – you can’t vote to end democracy because then you wouldn’t have a democracy. Of course you could say well you had one at the time but now it’s gone, but then you could also argue that you never really lived in a democracy if it was contingent on you acting a certain way.

You could argue in a democracy everyone eligible has to be able to have their say. You can argue that if everyone voted for it, then it is the wish of everyone, so it’s fine, but of course not everyone would, but more importantly, the younger generations that were ineligible to vote but would be eligible in the future, should not have that choice taken away from them.

You could also argue that anyone who would vote such a way would be either under duress of mental incapacitation, and therefore ineligible to vote – a state religion that is enforced as strictly as it is in Islamic states would seem to fit both those boxes.

There are some badly put forward points – now I’m hoping my philosopher friends will put forward some coherent and well thought out arguments, as I would be interested to read them.

Everyone loves porn

Sunday, April 14th, 2013 | Religion & Politics

Everyone loves porn. That’s a well known fact. Indeed, even in countries were porn is banned (Islamic countries, obviously), porn sites are still some of the most popular sites on the internet according to the Huffington Post, reporting on findings by Alexa.

No wonder sites have been launched to cater for such a niche.

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised religious states are trying to act against it.

This is all part of religion’s attempt to control the basic desires of human beings, and therefore keep them down. It’s the most sick and twisted part of religion, worse than the killing, the wars, the torture of non-believers and abuse of children that all in themselves are at least on the level of the kind of thing you would call a war crime.

Luckily, as these results show, it doesn’t work. Because as good as god might be, porn is better.

Myth of Islam

Saturday, March 30th, 2013 | Religion & Politics

One of my friends recently started a new blog on the origins of Islam. It challenges the claim that is sometimes made by Islam itself that its origins are factual – as the blog goes on to explain, this simply isn’t the case. Read all about it.

Segregation at universities

Saturday, March 16th, 2013 | Religion & Politics


When we ran events at the University of Leeds, everyone was welcome. But, as they were our events, we insisted on white people sitting at the front, and black people sitting at the back.

That isn’t true.

But imagine if it was – how shocking! How outrageous! To be clear, given I’m known for my sarcastic nature, I am being entirely serious here – obviously it would be completely unacceptable. I genuinely do mean unacceptable – people would not accept it. The good people of Leeds would rise up against me and say “No! We’re not going to tolerate your bigoted views!”

As I said, we hold no such views. But imagine if you replaced the term “we” with “Islamic Society” and the racial segregation with a segregation based on how many X chromosomes you have – another property that, like skin colour, you have absolutely no control of. That is exactly what you get happening up and down the country.

I haven’t been to an Islamic Society run event at Leeds, so I can’t comment on their events, but I have been to Nottingham Trent where they had separate entrances for men and women, Richard Dawkins regularly tweets about segregation at UCL and last time Bob went to Bradford University he ended up making a protest about the whole thing when he refused to move after inadvertently sitting down in a row designated for women – these aren’t one-off incidents, they are happening all over the country.

Firstly, just segregation is just as bad as racial segregation – those who implement such systems are bigots. Yet the irony is that when we call these bigots on their bigoted views, they then try and say we’re racist for not respecting their bigoted religion.

Secondly though, were are the masses standing up against this kind of behaviour?

I’m proud that we have freedom of expression in this country. This means that Nick Griffin can stand up and say he doesn’t like gays – which is undesirable – but at least when he does, a million people stand up and tell him how wrong he is! That is why freedom of expression works, because everyone gets a voice and when bigots stand up and shout, we shout louder than they do.

But when one of the bigoted leaders of Islam stands up and demands segregation, where are the voices that cry out in defiance? They seem to fall silent.

Is it that all Islamists are bigots? I doubt it. None of my Islamist friends are bad people – otherwise I wouldn’t be friends with them. I think it says more about the evils of religion, than it does about the people following it.

Religion brainwashes people. There is no other word for it. It gets them to do things that typical human beings would not agree to, whether it is murdering abortion doctors, blowing yourself up, or supporting segregation whether it be racial, gender or down any other lines.

If Islamists want to convince people that their religion is one of peace and harmony, perhaps they should start by calling out their leaders on the hurtful, bigoted views they spread in university lecture halls up and down the country.

Religions and cults

Friday, June 8th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

Recently, The Big Questions aired an hour long one topic episode asking “is there a difference between a cult and a religion?”

Of course, there is a difference – size. If you’re a large organisation you are described as a religion, if you’re a small one, you’re described as a cult. That is the sarcastic way of saying there is no difference. Which was the general consensus on the show (both the “cult member” guests they had on, and the impartial guests) with the exception of a few religious figureheads.

The general agreement was that cult isn’t a black or white test, it’s a scale, with lots of different characteristics, of each different groups conform to different characteristics, some to many more than others.

Two of the biggest defining characteristics of a cult that kept coming up in the discussion were child abuse and penalty clauses for leaving. I find these two very interesting as the sticking points for whether an organisation is classed as a cult or not due to how closely the major religions match up to such characteristics.

I’m sure no one needs reminding that child abuse is simply endemic in the Catholic Church. Right up to their leader, God’s representative on Earth, Pope Benedict has been involved in trying to cover up child abuse. But they are far from the only example – both the Muslim and Jewish faiths continue to cut out and mutiliate small children’s genitals[1]. Worst of all – they’re proud of it! They define it as their culture to cut apart a defenceless child’s private parts in the name of religion. It’s physically sickening, and it happens on a worldwide scale.

Shunning those who leave is also equally endemic in the major religions. Just try marrying someone who isn’t Jewish[2] in an Orthodox Jewish environment. It won’t end well for you. Oh, and did anyone forget that the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death[3] [4]?

It would seem that one of the main differences between a religion and a cult is whether a group gets away with it’s child abuse and psychological abuse of its members, past and present.