The following exchange of views took place between Farzana Khan and me on Facebook. In an exchange of our views she raised some important points and objections to the role of Islam in Pakistan. Now I am posting my last comment with slight changes only in the first line along with her comment.
Nasir Khan, July 16, 2013
I quite understand the reason for Farzana Khan’s strong emotional reaction and response to the role of Islam within Pakistan or of other religions in other countries. When some socially-conscious Pakistanis see the negative role Islam and Islamists play in Pakistan then all the anger and frustration in her comments makes sense. This much I readily admit. However, my critique of religion as such is more than an emotional outburst.
Equally, it is important to be aware of the conditions under which different people reject Islam, Christianity or any other religion. They have different reasons for doing so. Those who have become atheists and humanists haven’t done so only out of hatred towards their respective religions. To assert so is to ignore some important facts.
The rejection by a thinking and inquisitive person of a religion’s teachings, dogmas and customs has more to do with the realisation that all such things are man-made and illusory. They are often ascribed to a heavenly authority in the form of a holy scripture through a human mediator. When we grasp this and explain it to others by logical reasoning then we are opening a channel for ideas and exploration where all truth claims of religions and theologies seem to be misrepresentations of reality. Thus the reasons for such a rejection come as a consequence of rational thinking, not hatred. Hatred in psychological, sociological and philosophical evaluation is merely an emotional reaction under certain stimuli; it has no epistemological significance. There is no place for it in any serious discourse relating to religion and its harmful impact.
When people come to the conclusion by their inquiries into the nature of religion that all religions are created by none but human beings then they know what religions are. This shakes the foundations of religion. Then it becomes obvious to many that the so-called holy books have not been delivered from any heavenly being simply because there is no heavenly being up there or anywhere, who is busy planning, managing, arranging and ‘revealing’ for humankind. When seen in this way, the whole question of accusing a god or what is written in a ‘holy book’ becomes meaningless except that if any charges we make in this connection are towards human beings who created gods, supernatural beings and the so-called holy books.
I think to combat religions and religious consciousness (in Marx’s words ‘obverse consciousness’) atheists in Pakistan should expose what the idea of god in reality is and how it is nothing but the creation of human mind. To attribute action or utterance to him is only a game with words. Moreover, it has to be explained in scientific terms and not as an angry response. When it comes to the social practice and dogmas of a religion, the same scientific spirit should lead the struggle against ignorance and manipulation in a world-religion like Islam.
Farzana Khan, July 15, 2013
You mentioned, one should criticize all religions, not just Islam. OK, if a Christian from America becomes an atheist, he does not become atheist because of Islam. He becomes atheist because he dislikes Christianity. He dislikes God’s commandments. He dislikes what delusional god wants him to do and subsequently ultimately he becomes an atheist. He started speaking ill of Christianity that are causing hatred, discrimination and racism in his society. He becomes Atheist, because he has read the Bible and understood that it is not God’s words, but it is kinda myth.
Similarly, if a Muslim becomes an atheist, so it is not because of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or any other religion. He/she becomes an atheist, because he/she reads the Qur’an with translation and hadiths and he/she realizes, these cannot be the words of Allah or that Allah cannot be so cruel enough to let the Muslims keep fast in quite hot weather (who at the same time claims to love Muslims x 70 as compare to mother) or that he (Allah) wants Muslim girls to be in hijab all the time even in front of their relatives too while staying at home. So, if any of ex-Muslim speaks against Islam, he is kinda oppressed, suppressed and repressed by the Muslims. He/she faces the hatred, injustices and discrimination of Muslims, but not Christians or any other religion that you are talking about.
In a nutshell, one should have complete right to speak ill of religions, as religions keep abusing disbelievers also. The Qur’an abuses, hates, threatens disbelievers and tells their pious Muslims to kill disbelievers. You think, as an ex-Muslim we should be silent? We (Pakistani atheists) have got ample of knowledge about Islam and we are living in Muslim dominated society, so we should target Islam prior, as people are being victimized by this so-called peaceful religion in all the Muslims-dominated countries. If we do not attack on Islam, then what is the use of quitting religion? We are warriors, but peaceful warriors.