Why I am a Feminist – Aron Ra

Warning: I’m about to voice my opinion on feminism and misogyny in the freethought community. Get out while you can. I know I should keep my mouth shut like I have done for the whole last year, but I’ve I decided not to take my own advice anymore.

When I was a little boy, (we’re talking 1971 here) my deeply religious babysitters told me that women could never fly fighter jets because of alleged differences in their depth perception, or their physical center of gravity altering their sense of balance, or the ways in which female brains reportedly processed information differently than the brain of a male.

This is just one example of sexual inequality being alleged as a biological fact. While I concede there are a few things most women can’t do as well as some men -owing to a proportion of upper body strength, that just might be the limit of justifiable reasons for gender restrictions. That is as much credence as I can give to that. So women shouldn’t be expected have fair odds against men of equal weight in a boxing ring. What about beyond that?

I knew a woman who was six feet tall and could bench 270lbs. She could be an ambulance paramedic because she could meet the criteria -where a lot of men could not. That’s what matters. Maybe that’s how my metric differs from the norm of earlier generations. Now what if the job is not physically demanding in that specific area? How could there be any difference then? I don’t think there is.

I know of one case where a female pilot killed 20 people in a helicopter crash. I doubt her gender could have played any role in that at all. If it was her fault, I would sooner blame the fact that the military put a difficult and dangerous multi-million-dollar aircraft in the hands of a teenager. Perhaps any pilot who was old enough to qualify for commercial insurance should have done better?

My wife often laughs at me for being “roaringly heterosexual”, but I am also one of those atypical freaks who finds intelligence sexy. Cute cannot compensate for dumb, and one certainly is not the other. If a woman shows that she is actually smarter than I am, oh honey! I know; there are not many other men like that.

It’s not about sex either. There are many women in the secular movement with commercial-grade comeliness, and I am proud that they count me among their peers, but that’s not the criteria by which we are associated, obviously. Some of my favorite heroes are women; Boadicca, Hypatia, Ruslana. When I say that I respect a woman for her mind, I actually mean it, and not in the same tongue-in-cheek fashion as saying that I read Playboy for the articles.

At the same time, I can’t simply turn off hard-wired hormonal responses to sexual stimuli. For example, it has often happened that I may be amongst a number of sharp-witted women intellectually analyzing subjects of scientific substance with profound perspective, and there I am, suddenly –helplessly- focused on some elegant lass who casually passed with a fabulous ass, and befuddled my brilliance, rebooting my brain in mid-debate. I don’t always possess the necessary class to conceal such embarrassing distractions discretely.

Still I won’t support or defend a policy prohibiting or inhibiting women from wearing ‘sexualized’ clothing at skeptics conferences; vendors or not, doesn’t matter. I know it’s mostly nerds at these sorts of things, but it still doesn’t take that much research for anyone to figure out how to blend in or stand out appropriately. I wouldn’t dictate how someone else dresses. Speaking personally, even having such a rule seems unnecessarily prudish.

I have even heard a suggestion that speakers in skeptical events should be prohibited from engaging in carnal liaisons with any attendees who were not also on stage. This is just absurd. The excuse is that there is supposedly some unequal power issue which leaves those in the audience being treated like doe-eyed sycophants –not by the expectedly exploitive speakers, but by the policy itself. I know from experience that occurrences of adulation are relatively rare, and typically concern only legally responsible adults. So why should there even be a rule like that one?

Mind you, while I have been on stage a few times myself, I have no bias on this point to influence my objectivity. I am married, and my wife and I prefer not to ‘swing’. Another reason I might avoid such judgments is that I have the advantage of sufficient social skills that I know there are behavioral boundaries. Even if I’ve had a few drinks, I still know there’s a line there, and I don’t always need to venture toward it. A lot of other people aren’t aware there should even be a line, and that’s only part of the problem.

Even though I’m neither popular nor important enough to be invited to TAM or Skepticon, it sometimes happens that I am asked to participate at atheist events. Once I even shared the stage with Richard Dawkins and Rebecca Watson at the same time. That was a stunning revelation. Watson was supposed to talk about ‘communicating atheism’, but instead she used her time to explain how uncomfortable feminism is in the secular movement. What was shocking about that were the comments on the video once it was uploaded to my channel. Anyone who thinks she exaggerated, or who doesn’t believe there is a problem with sexism in secularism need only read a few of those posts, especially the early ones; they vindicated all the horrible things she listed about the vile sexist threats she spoke of.

Understand that I do not say any of this to fit in or be popular. I don’t think it is possible to comment on this topic at all and still be popular in this movement anymore. But I sincerely do not understand hate, nor why other people fixate on negativity. It’s just not the way I think. There is a positive aspect to nearly all our experiences. If you can’t find something good, at least allow yourself to be impressed, because sharing the things you love is what will endear you to others. Seriously, nobody cares about what you hate, and you shouldn’t either.

So I don’t get the sort of mindset which sets any demographic as being superior or inferior to another in vague general terms. Specific arguments of that sort are at least possible, though I can’t remember ever seeing one. Being a white male from a fairly insular upbringing, I may not be very observant of that sort of thing. There were a lot of bigots in my own family once upon a time, but now my more-ethnic friends have to tell me about the prejudice they’ve encountered, or else I wouldn’t know that still goes on.

I was equally unaware of misogyny, and by that I mean REAL misogyny, not just guys being heterosexual. There has to be socially acceptable means of having a healthy sex-life, of seeking and inviting partners to pursue such basic biological drives with mutual benefits. No, a misogynist is not simply responding to his hormones; he is making a hate claim, portraying women as subordinate, subservient, insufficient, and somehow deserving of disrespect or even abuse. I honestly do not understand how even the most hateful bigots can take that stance.

The shocking part of all these recent controversies to me is not that misogyny exists outside the world and works of Martin Luther, but that it somehow thrives today, and that it still exists in the freethought community of all places. How could it? Who else has a more progressive perspective, with the most tolerant attitudes, and the most advanced ideas? How could such a despicable disposition, so repugnant, so medieval, remain at all in any group that includes so many Star Trek fans? Have we learned nothing from the next gen?

Why I am a Feminist – Marcella

For me, the roots of my feminism are intimately bound up with the roots of my atheism.
I was one of those kids who believed in ghosts, but only at night. During the day, they were an absurd idea. Invisible people? Yeah right. At night, though, I would cower under my duvet imagining I could see them. At the age of four, at Christian daycare, I was sitting on a swing next to a classmate who said, “Do you believe in god?”
He asked it in the same tone older children used when they said, “Do you believe in Santa?”
Suddenly, the correct answer occurred to me.
“No,” I said. “Do you?”
“Sometimes,” he said.
I knew exactly what he meant. During the day, god was an absurd concept, but at night, he cowered under his sheets not daring to move lest god should see him.
When I was eight, my teachers decided that I had committed too many crimes against handwriting and asked my parents to intervene. They bought rubber grips for my pencils that would force my fingers into the correct position. Then they brought out a Bible and some lined paper. Every night, I sat at the kitchen table and copied the words. The house we lived in at the time had dry-stone walls. They weren’t even plastered on the inside. There was a single window with a wooden frame and shutters on the wall over the table. A cast iron stove stood out from the far wall, a fire whistling from its belly.

I couldn’t help but read the stories as I copied them. They were terrifying. An invisible angel stopped a man in the dark, midway across a river. And the things that happened to women were even worse. A man raped his daughters and got them pregnant. God ordered a father to kill his daughter in the name of sacrifice. Another man offered to throw his daughter to an angry mob so that they would appease themselves by raping her. After a night of handwriting practice, I lay awake and listened for the sound of snoring from my parents’ room. When it came, I climbed out of bed and switched on the light. Then I read books about unicorns and fairies, anything to take my mind off the thought of invisible hands reaching for me in the dark.

For my birthday, I was given a sheet of glow-in-the-dark star stickers. I used a star chart to carefully recreate the constellations on my ceiling. For a while, I forgot about the invisible hands and the voice from the sky asking my dad to sacrifice me. I fell off to sleep thinking about what the stars would look like from the surface of the moon or from Mars. For a science project, I drew my own maps, each night walking up the hill with a flask of hot chocolate to draw constellations and note the phase of the moon. My dad found some books on mythology and explained the stories behind the constellations. For some reason, the myths were less terrifying, perhaps because nobody believed them anymore and they could be read for what they really were: stories.

One day I climbed the hill with my construction paper. The frosted branches of trees looked suspicious. There were new shadows thrown up by the moon that made it easy to imagine invisible people standing in the wood, watching me. I turned around and went home. In bed, my cowardice turned to regret. I looked up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and knew that invisible people couldn’t be real. Looking back on this moment from adulthood, I realise that I had to make a choice: Either the world was governed by invisible, unknowable forces or it was possible to systematically study the world. But even though I couldn’t have articulated that at the time, that was exactly the contradiction I had to resolve in my head.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I wasn’t afraid of god at all, but of the fact that other people believed in the idea. Outside, through the woods, the neighbours would all be in bed. Mankind landed on the moon twenty years ago. Yet these people went to church. They each kept a copy of the black book with its stories of human sacrifice. What would happen when one of these neighbours became convinced that a voice in the sky wanted him to kill his daughter? No child was safe. How did these people sleep at night if they believed invisible angles could wake them at any moment for a wrestling match?

Then the revelation came. I remembered the conversation on the swings as a four year- old. The fact that the boy felt the need to ask if I believed in god said it all. If gods and ghosts and Santa were real, nobody would ask me if I believed. Nobody had ever asked me if I believed in trees or rocks or even stars. Even the man in black in the church didn’t believe. I stood in front of him and he asked me if I accepted god and Jesus. My parents waited until I was older to have me Christened because they had the idea that I should remember the event. I was too afraid of the man in black to tell the truth, because even at four, I sensed that I was required to lie.

I imagined the neighbours all snug in their beds, sleeping soundly.
“They don’t really believe,” I thought. “None of them believe.”
The weight of fear was lifted from me and I dropped off to sleep. I didn’t have the vocabulary to know that I was a feminist or an atheist until much later. Ironically, I eventually learned about the term “atheist” from church. The reverend was raging against atheists and I thought, “Hey. He’s describing me. I must be an atheist.” Even though I didn’t have the terminology and hadn’t read any feminist or atheist academics yet, I look back on that night in my childhood as the point in which I became a feminist atheist.

Islam needs to be offended by millions. How many people will they arrest?

Egyptian teacher is arrested for offending Islam on Facebook.

Bishoy Kamel, a Coptic-Christian teacher from the Upper Egyptian Governorate of Sohag, was arrested on Monday for sharing cartoons on a Facebook page that allegedly defamed the Islamic faith and the Prophet Muhammad.

Mohamed Safwat, an Egyptian citizen who has pressed charges against Kamel, also claimed that the latter had insulted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and members of his own family.

Kamel, who has been detained for four days pending investigation, has admitted to managing the Facebook page in question. He claims, however, that he was not responsible for the content of the page, which, he said, had been hacked on Saturday.

In June of last year, Naguib Sawiris, Coptic billionaire and founder of the liberal Free Egyptians party, was severely criticized after posting a cartoon of Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed in Islamic garb.

Several Islamist lawyers subsequently lodged a complaint with Egypt’s attorney-general against Sawiris, whom they accused of offending Islam.

Thousands of men and women all over the world have been arrested, imprisoned, exiled, killed for criticizing Islam. Most people shut their mouth out of fear. Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia who posted blasphemous messages on Twitter was arrested and deported. Indonesian atheist Alex Aan has been sentenced to two and a half years for saying ‘There is no god’ on Facebook. Muslim Brotherhood already started working for ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims and talibanization of Egypt.

No progress in society is possible if there is no freedom of expression. Islam, like all other religions, is not compatible with democracy, human rights and women’s rights. Millions of people should commit blasphemy against Islam for the sake of humanity. How many blasphemers will corrupt and repressive regimes arrest?

I laughed at them. It worked.

It is difficult to help deconvert a religious adult to atheism; however, many people have become atheists after reading my books. In some of my books, I simply quoted the anti-science, anti-women, anti-humanity, anti-compassion, anti-equality and anti-freedom verses and sayings of the Quran and the Hadith. Most people have no idea what the holy books really say. They just believe that whatever is written therein is all good. Since I started pointing out the ‘holy’ words that clearly advocate for cruelty, barbarity, inequality and injustice, many believers were shocked and started thinking – which is certainly not a norm that ordinary people follow; ultimately, they became atheists. One can never be sure how many days or months or years an adult person may need to become an atheist. Some take a few days, some need decades. It depends on their level of intelligence and understanding. I believe that many adults may remain religious even after reading piles of books on secular philosophy.

In contrast, as I have noticed, it is much easier to introduce innocent children to atheism, before – or even after – they get brainwashed with religion. I have no child. I have met cows, goats, ducks, dogs, cats, rats, birds, bees, and so forth; none of them believe in god. It is us humans that suffer from a god delusion.

I experienced how quickly my nephews and nieces got enlightened. I spent only a few days to encourage them to be atheists. When they were around 5, and started believing in someone sitting in the sky and watching everyone, I asked them, “Do you really believe fairy tales or fictions are facts? Do you really believe that a thing called god is sitting there, who is called most kind and most merciful but he will burn you in hell for eternity only if you do not pray to him or say that he is great? If he is all-knowing, then why did not he know simple Bengali? Why do you need to pray in Arabic? You know about angel Israfil? Why has Israfil been sitting for millions of years, holding a trumpet to his mouth? Why does Allah make him do that? I mean, He knows when the day of judgment is going to arrive, doesn’t He? Surely He could ask Israfil to pick up his trumpet and blow it when the time comes? Poor Israfil is having to stay put, not moving an inch. Did anyone see god? Why doesn’t god show up? Why should you believe something without any proof? Ask something now from god. Will he give you what you asked for? No. People created different gods in different countries in different times. People were definitely ignorant. You know what? No clever people believe in god. Most scientists, writers, artists, intellectuals, philosophers are atheists. You may say that some people you know are clever but believe in god. But you should not forget that they may be clever for somethings but not for everything. People who believe in god say that only humans will go to heaven. Okay, tell me why horses and dogs, or butterflies and birds would not go to heaven? The truth is, there is no heaven anywhere. Don’t get afraid of hell, there is no hell either.” They listened to me carefully. I was very patient. They asked me many questions. I answered all of their questions, even many of their not-so-bright ones.

Next day I bought them some children’s books about evolution and the universe. And read them out to them, aloud. We spent a whole weekend reading and discussing.

After a week, I took them to a natural history museum and spent all day there.

After a few weeks I caught them praying. A bearded man had been appointed to teach the kids how to read the Quran and how to pray to god. They were asked to wear skullcaps and veils. Observing them I started laughing. I laughed all evening. Then I said, “How could you do that? You look so stupid.” They looked ashamed of themselves. It worked. They rebelled against the bearded teacher. They already learned how the universe evolved and where they came from. They became atheists before they were 12-year-olds.

They all are now adults, leading wonderful lives without god.


Lunatics will soon start fasting

Scientists discovered a 5th moon of Pluto. They have named it P5.

What are the religious bigots doing? They are not interested in exploring things. They are waiting for the- age-old-moon-visited-and-flagged-by-the-Americans to rise, so they can begin their Ramadan-fasting.

Throughout the world, superstitions revolve around the Moon. If you want to know about them, they are here.

What would the lunatics living in northern Finland, Norway and Sweden do? They have to refrain or abstain from eating, drinking, copulating, smoking, vomiting, etc. from sunrise to sunset. But in those regions, sun almost does not set in the summertime and almost does not rise in the wintertime.

The illiterate camel driver in Arabia obviously did not have any knowledge about the climates of the Nordic countries.

My Childhood Days

‘…One of aunt Fajli ’s sons was also called Muhammad. He was her first son—before him had come his three older sisters—Humaira, Sufaira, Mubashwera. After having produced three girls in a row, aunt Fajli became prone to frequent possession by jinns, but after Muhammad was born the jinns began to leave her alone. However, Muhammad was then followed by three more girls. The jinns renewed their attack with greater force. Even Humaira, I heard, had been possessed a few days ago. In fact, this was quite a common occurrence in this house. Some young girl or another would be possessed almost every day. Amirullah had to be called in to get rid of the evil spirit, in a dark room, with all the doors and windows closed if there any.

I had once witnessed the whole procedure. The girl was called Juthi, in the same school as me, but one year my senior. She was a very pretty girl. One afternoon, she happened to be sitting under a banyan tree, singing quietly to herself. When the bell rang, all the other girls left but Juthi continued to sit there, singing. The bell rang again for the next class, but Juthi just went on singing, her hair blowing in the wind.

Our Urdu teacher—we called him Urdu Sir—was a priest. Informed about Juthi, he dragged her away from under the tree and told the other teachers that she had been possessed by a jinn . Juthi, by this time, was already shouting, “Let me go, let me go!” But, keeping a firm hold on her, Urdu sir began preparing for an exorcism. The first thing he did was take some holy water, mutter a few lines of prayer specific to the task, after which the water was sprinkled on Juthi’s face. But this was not all. Urdu Sir then set fire to one end of a branch from a neem tree, held it before Juthi, and beat her with a thicker branch. It didn’t stop until she fell over. I stood with all the other girls in the school and watched this spectacle, my eyes filled with boundless wonder. I felt very sorry for Juthi. Sitting in this room in Amirullah’s house now, I felt extremely uneasy. What if I was also possessed by a jinn ? What if Amirullah had to take me to a dark room, stick in hand, as he had done with all the others?

I shrivelled up with fear, so much so that I didn’t even notice the other girls moving away from the window. Ma came in briefly to tell me that she would return home as soon as the meeting was over. This brought me no comfort, for I had already had some experience about the length of Amirullah’s meetings. I knew the get-together would take place in a large hall. The girls would go straight from the inner part of the house, the portion of the hall that was curtained off. Everyone would have to sit on a mattress on the floor. Only Amirullah would sit on a divan, on a thick mattress. When he entered the hall filled with the scent of incense, his right hand would be raised, his face would be grave, and everyone would rise to their feet and say, “Salaam aleikum ya Rahamtullah.” The hall would echo with the sound of so many voices. Amirullah would reply in his deep voice, “Waleikum assalaam!” and make a gesture inviting his audience to sit down. The women—some smelling of talcum powder, some wearing kohl—would peer through a chink in the curtain to look at Amirullah and to cast sidelong glances at the other men.
The routine was the same today. Amirullah ran his fingers through his beard and began speaking: “Look, Abu Bakar, this world that we live in is an unreal world, so what’s the point of making a lot of money here? Will anyone ever be able to take it with him in the end? Tell me, will you take your possessions with you to your grave?”
Abu Bakar—short, with a dark beard, seated in the front row—replied, “No, Huzur.”
“So what will you give your heart to, eh? To Allah, or to the pursuit of wealth?” Amirullah addressed the question to Abu Bakar, but his glance swept over all the heads in the room, each covered with a white cap.
“To Allah, Huzur,” said Abu Bakar, sounding as if he had been hypnotized.
The women stared hard at Abu Bakar through the curtain. Today, his name would be on every one’s lips. Amirullah had spoken to him voluntarily. This was a rare honor for Abu Bakar. Some were of the view that Amirullah would now make a special recommendation to Allah to send Abu Bakar straight to heaven.
Each time the meeting lasted exactly an hour. This evening, Amirullah spent the time describing the poverty the Prophet had to suffer. His only possession was a torn blanket. The congregation wept noisily upon hearing how he had suffered. The more you cried in this house, the more you earned a good name. There was something else that earned one a good name too: having a dream. Aunt Fajli had dreamed she was sitting by the side of a fountain of Heaven with the Prophet Muhammad. Flocks of white birds were flying around, and a soft breeze was blowing. Although she couldn’t recall what they talked about, Amirullah had told her that a place in Heaven for her was now assured. After that, aunt Fajli had risen in everyone’s estimation. Some had asked her individually what the Prophet looked like, her face lit up as she described her dream: “His face is so bright, he is so handsome, how wonderfully soft his hands felt!” Her eyes closed slowly as she spoke, as if she could still feel the softness of his touch. They had moved to the fountain to take shower together and had only just started, when she woke up.
After hearing of her dream, various other members of the congregation began dreaming of the Prophet and were similarly hailed with words of praise. Ma felt profoundly unhappy that the Prophet had never appeared in her dreams. Before going to sleep she thought very hard about him, so that she might see him, but that didn’t happen. Ma considered herself a sinner.

As soon as the meeting was over, the men formed a queue to touch Amirullah’s feet and thrust money into his hands. The amount was unspecified. One was supposed to pay for Allah whatever one could. Those were Amirullah’s instruction.
Abu Bakar bent with deep reverence over Amirullah’s feet and said, “Huzur, I am very worried. The world is soon going to come to an end and we’ll all have to face the day of judgment. I no longer pay any attention to running my business. After all, when I go, I’ll go empty-handed, won’t I? Who knows what’s in store? All my life, I never really thought about this. Please pray for me, Huzur. Without your prayers and your blessings, I will be lost.”
Amirullah promised to pray and to bless.

Having collected the money from the men, Amirullah entered that section of the room where the women were sitting. Every woman not from his own family would now touch his feet and offer him money. After this was done Amirullah would retire, recline on his bed, and various young women would throw themselves at him to massage his body.
I pulled at Ma’s veil and said plaintively, “Come on, Ma, we must go home. If Baba gets back and finds me gone, he’s going to beat me!”

Ma snatched her veil my grasp. “Stop pestering me!” was all she said.
I stood alone in the dark courtyard, under the hibiscus bush. Somewhere, I had heard that a jinn was more likely to attack if you left your hair open, so I quickly covered my hair with my urna. I was not used to wearing long salwars and a urna, the garments older girls wore. At home, I still wore frocks, but here, in Amirullah’s house, your age didn’t matter. Unless your dress was approved by him, you were not allowed to pass through his front gate. It was an extraordinary new world, functioning within the familiar old one.

On our way back, as we began our ride in another rickshaw I asked Ma, “Why has Israfil been sitting for millions of years, holding a horn to his mouth? Why does Allah make him do that? I mean, He jolly well knows when the day of judgment is going to arrive, doesn’t He? Surely He could ask Israfil to pick up his horn and sound it when the time comes? Poor Israfil having to stay put, not moving an inch.”
Ma replied from under her burkha: “Allah is the Creator. Israfil is only an angel, so he has to obey the Creator’s command. Every angel must do that. Never question Allah’s will. Learn to be afraid of Him.”
“Your Huzur said we must give our hearts to Allah, learn to fall in love with Him. How can we love someone if we are afraid of him?”
I had always found it difficult to utter the words ‘fall in love’. There was an unwritten law that that particular phrase must never be used. But then, that law applied only to love between a man and a woman, because it was somehow wrong. People who fell in love were bad people. Aunt Jhunu , I knew, secretly loved someone. Dada wrote poetry with a girl called Anita in mind but that, too, was done secretly. “There was something between aunt Jhunu and uncle Rashu ,” Dada had once said. Even in my school, girls did not use the word “love.” They said “That girl over there has ‘something’ going on with a boy!” At first, I found it quite difficult to understand what “something” meant, but eventually I got into the habit of using it myself.
I did find that the word “love,” or even the phrase “falling in love,” could be used freely when referring to Allah. I had never heard anyone say, “Huzur has ‘something’ going on with Allah!” Humaira, it was rumored, had a love affair going on with her cousin, Atiq, but, it was always referred to as “something,” and the word was whispered. Yet, no one had any hesitation in saying that Humaira was deeply in love with Allah. In fact, it was always said very loudly so that every one could hear.
In answer to my question, Ma said briefly, “You can love Allah and be afraid of Him.”
“But you always say Allah keeps a record of every human being, when he’s to be born, when he’s to die, even who he’ll marry. Allah also knows who’ll go to Heaven and who’ll be sent to Hell. It’s all written down, all decided. Well then, this man Abu Bakar . . . if Allah has decided already to send him to Heaven, surely he’s not going to go to Hell even if he’s a sinner? And if you take me , , , if going to Hell is what’s already written for me, what’s the point of my praying to Allah? Is He going to change what He wrote down Himself?” I said all this in one breath.
“How come you behave as if you haven’t got a tongue in front of others? When you’re with me, you can’t stop chattering.” Ma said in a very cross tone.
“But, tell me, Allah is capable of doing anything, isn’t He?” I insisted, my voice trembling with curiosity.
“Yes. Allah can make anything happen. But if He does not want something to take place, then no power can work against His will. Not a single leaf on a tree would move unless Allah willed it.”
Ma’s body was covered from head to toe with a black burkha. Her face was hidden behind a thin, transparent veil that hung down from her forehead, so that her eyes were free to spot potholes before she stepped into them. Right now, the fury of her glance pierced the veil. I looked at her fiery eyes and said, “Suppose Allah was sitting with empty hands. Could he create a flower out of nothing?”
“Suppose He had a hankie in His hand could He turn it into a pigeon?” I asked again.
“Certainly,” Ma said firmly.
“That man who came to do tricks in our school—that magician—he can do all those things too. He can even vanish into thin air and remain invisible, just like Allah!” I declared, triumphantly.
“What did you say? You’ve lost all your belief, all your virtue. You dare to compare a magician with Allah? You stupid girl! Is this why I take you with me to hear huzur’s speech? You’re much worse than you used to be! You are becoming a big Satan. I bet you’ve learned to talk like that from your father. I will sew up your lips, I swear, if you say such things just once more. In the face of such rage, I felt like a pricked ball. Ma had once told me that the saint Abdul Kader Jeelani, after being ordered by Allah, had emerged from his grave. I felt quite sure that if that magician was buried in a grave, he could come out, too. But I did not mention this to Ma, for I had no wish to hear more abuse. However,another question that was struggling to escape from my mind slipped out before I could stop it. “Why do people in your Huzur’s house keep getting possessed? Jinns don’t attack us, do they? You keep telling us Allah Himself comes down to visit that house. If that’s true, how come jinns dare to appear in Allah’s space?”
Ma dug her elbow into my stomach and gave me a sharp, painful nudge. “Shut up! Not another word, do you hear? When we get home, you must pray to Allah and beg His forgiveness. You’re not afraid of Allah, are you? No, of course not. How else would such Satanic thoughts get into your head?

I received no answer to my questions.

One day, I showed Ma my science book and asked, “Allah created Adam, didn’t He?”
“But look at this!” I pointed at a early homosapian in my science book. “Here’s the first sign of life on earth.one cell grew to multiple. Ancient man evolved from a species of apes. Those men lived in caves, fought among themselves, ate raw meat etc. Then, much later, they learnt to light a fire. Then they made more progress, and gradually became civilised. The first man that Allah made – the prophet Hazrat Adam ,did he look like this hairy, naked ape , who walked in the garden of heaven?”
Ma wrinkled her nose, as if a bad stench was coming from the book, and said, “Get out of here, go! Every word written in that book is a lie. What Allah has said is the only truth. Nothing else matters.”
I had to come away. It was impossible to raise the matter with Baba, for invariably I lost my voice if I went anywhere near him. Who was right? Which was true — Allah or science? Who was going to tell me? There did not seem to be a great deal of reason in what Allah had said. ‘Reason’ was a word I had recently learnt. Baba had lately started saying, “Never act without reason. Ask your conscience before doing anything whether you should — or should not — do it. If the answer is yes, only then must you perform that task. Every human being has a conscience.
This particular speech was delivered — and repeated subsequently — when, during a game, I lit a match and accidentally dropped it in a heap of firewood. Luckily, there was no major disaster. Had the wood caught fire, and had it spread, Baba believed that the whole house would have been gutted.

There didn’t seem to be a great deal of reason in what Allah had said. What science said appeared far more reasonable. The first man was supposed to have been created by Allah and then simply dropped from heaven to land on earth with a loud thud. That sounded like a fairy-tale. If I mentioned this to Ma, she came back with, “If you say such bad things about Allah, your tongue will drop off.” To test this out, I sat in my room one day, with the door closed, and said Allah you are bad, you are ugly, you are rotten, you are a crook, you son of a bitch, you son of a pig . My tongue remained in place, it did not drop off. Now there was no doubt in my mind. Nothing happened if you abused Allah. Ma was quite wrong. I had learned something else. It was just not true that Allah would give you whatever you wanted. So many times after prayers, I had asked for chum chums, or snacks that I had seen uncle Sharaf and the others eat. I was never given anything. In my old school, Rajbari—the one that used to be a palace—I had seen a lovely, painted wooden horse and felt tempted enough to ask for one like it. No one gave me a wooden horse. There were various other things I had wanted. After what uncle Sharaf and uncle Aman did to me, I wanted them to get leprosy and die quickly. They neither got leprosy nor died. I had heard Ma say a similar prayer with regard to Baba. But he remained in perfect health and in fact seemed to be getting even fitter. He never had fever, not even for a single day. I, on the other hand, got frequent attacks of fever. It made me very happy, because I could stay away from school and studies. When I was ill, Baba spoke to me gently and stroked my head. It was only during these rare moments that it became easy to receive his affection. He bought bunches of grapes and oranges and placed them on my bed. I ate them all by myself, while my sister and brothers looked on. If they insisted that I share my fruit with them, I gave them just a little. Ma brought me pieces of salted ginger. But when it was time to take my medicines, the joy of being ill vanished quickly. Baba wanted me to swallow various pills and tablets every hour. Usually, I said, “Yes, I’ll take them,” and then threw each one out of the window when no one was looking.
Once, when my temperature did not come down even after a week, Baba got suspicious. He began bringing me my medicines himself. “Open your mouth,” he would say, pouring water into it and thrusting a capsule or tablet in. It invariably got stuck in my throat, which made me retch and throw up. Undaunted, Baba said “Open your mouth” as soon as I stopped vomiting. He didn’t give up until the capsule or tablet made a successful entry into my stomach.When Baba was not in the room, Ma came in, muttered suras, and blew on my chest. That felt quite nice. After all, someone’s soft breath on my chest had to be very different from a foul-tasting medicine. Then she brought me several glasses of pretty dirty water that was blessed by Amirullah, and she made me drink it. When I recovered, Ma claimed that it was her prayers and the holy water that had done it. Baba maintained it was his capsules…’

From ‘my girlhood’.

Beauté Animale

I saw an exhibition on animal’s beauty at Grand Palais in Paris today. I like the exhibition. I really do.
The people behind the exhibition say, ‘there is still a close link between art and science, between our desire to know about animals and our fascination for their beauty’. It is true that paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, famous or not-famous.. the exhibition brings together about 130 masterpieces of Western art from the Renaissance to the Modern day, and takes a radical new approach by choosing works in which the animal is shown on its own and for itself, without any human presence.

I liked the monkey room. There I saw 100 school children, five or six years old, brought by their teachers, were learning about evolution. Children were listening attentively. I was so happy! That was one of the effective ways to learn about the truth.

They say about monkeys and men:

The publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859 was a shock for Judeo-Christian civilization. The naturalist developed his theory of natural selection, based on the struggle for life, and suggested that men and monkeys were cousins. Artists were keenly interested in these theories. The image of the monkey, previously ridiculed and conventional, changed radically and gave rise to disquieting portraits, like Pompon’s extraordinary Orang-utan.

There were some arts on Noah’s ark. The story about Noah’s ark was called a ‘myth’ in the exhibition. Children were laughing at the handful of animals that were waiting for the ark in the paintings. They were saying, ‘even though we are small children we know that there are much more animals in the world, where is dinosaur by the way, not a single polar bear is here. We know better than the myth-creators and the painters. Don’t we?’

I left the exhibition with a good feeling. The future might not be so bleak.

Irresponsible Irrational Indonesia! Islamic Idiotic Insane Indonesia!

Alexander Aan is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison in Indonesia for saying ‘God doesn’t exist.’

We live in an insane world where we get exiled, we get banned, we get burned, we get sentenced to death,sentenced to life in prison,sentenced to years in prison if we tell the simple truth, ‘God doesn’t exist.’

The truth is imprisoned. The lie is free.

Indonesia is not Saudi Arabia or Sudan. It is not Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Indonesians are a mix of almost everything. The diversity of Indonesia’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is a treasure to be appreciated. Indonesia has world’s largest Muslim population but it has always been a tolerant country.

Indonesian national airlines Garuda was named after the Hindu mythical bird Garuda.

Hindus believe that Garuda is the carrier of the God Vishnu.

Good old Indonesia has now started having Sharia Laws that discriminate against women and non-Muslims and it has started harassing and arresting atheists, secularists, humanists and thinking minds.

Religion makes people insane. In today’s world, Islamic faith makes people more insane than any other faiths.

Many atheist organizations including Atheist Ireland started a campaign for the release of Alexander Aan and for the repeal of blasphemy laws.

Let’s join the campaign to fight not only Islamists but also Islam to save humanity.

Therefore, God exists.


I asked my mother, ‘How do you know God exists?’

My mother could not answer immediately. After thinking about it for a while, she told me, ‘Look at the butterflies, how did they get  so many beautiful colors? Look at the flowers, how do they get their fragrances? What about jackfruits? Who put all the small pieces so nicely inside the fruits? How did they become sweet? Who put water inside coconut?  These prove that God exists.’

I was twelve years old.  I was laughing at my mother.  Yes, I  know well that  there are  hundreds of proofs of God’s existence.


A group of  believers  showed  me a tomato and a carrot as proof of God.


Another group of believers showed  the pair of  radish as a proof of God.


People find Jesus in everything.  Virgin Mary cries.   They see the name of Allah everywhere.  Hindu God drinks milk. So, God has to exist.


There are evidences for evolution. And those evidences are the proofs of God’s non-existence. We really do not need any watermelon miracle to prove that there is no God. Believers need miracles to defend their stupidity.