More on Islam and JWs: parallels in the perpetuation of stiffled thinking

by valkyrie 5 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • valkyrie

    Excerpt (with personal notes) from Ayaan Hirsi Ali's (a.k.a. Ayaan Hirsi Magan) [a Somali-Dutch activist-cum-politician] new book, "The Caged Virgin: an emancipation proclamation for women and Islam":

    My parents brought me up to be a Muslim[/JW] -- a good Muslim[/JW]. Islam[/The Watchtower] dominated the lives of our family and relations down to the smallest detail. It was our ideology, our political conviction, our moral standard, our law, and our identity. We were first and foremost Muslim[/JW] and only then Somali[/YOUR NATIONALITY]. Muslims[/JWs], as we were taught the meaning of the name, are people who submit themselves to Allah's[/Jehovah's] will, which is found in the Koran[/Bible] and the Hadith[/WTS Publications], a collection of sayings ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad[/Faithful-and-Discreet-Slave]. I was taught that Islam[/JW] sets us apart from the rest of the world, the world of non-Muslims[/JWs]. We Muslims[/JWs] are chosen by God. They, the others, the kaffirs[/worldly people], the unbelievers, are antisocial, impure, barbaric, not circumcised, immoral, unscrupulous, and above all, obscene; they have no respect for women; their girls and women are whores; many of the men are homosexual; men and women have sex without being married. The unfaithful are cursed, and God will punish them most atrociously in the hereafter[/at Armageddon].

    When my sister and I were small, we would occasionally make remarks about nice people who were not Muslim[/JW], but my mother and grandmother would always say, "No, they are not good people. They know about the Koran[/Bible] and the Prophet[/WTS] and Allah[/Jehovah], and yet they haven't come to see that the only thing a person can be is Muslim[/JW]. They are blind. If they were such nice and good people, they would have become [/JWs]Muslims and then Allah[/Jehovah] would protect them against evil. But it is up to them. If they become Muslims[/JWs], they will go to paradise[/Paradise]."

    There are also Christians and Jews who raise their children in the belief that they are God's chosen people, but among Muslims[/JWs] the feeling that God has granted them special salvation goes further.

    About twelve years ago, at age twenty-two, I arrived in Western Europe, on the run from an arranged marriage. I soon learned that God and His truth had been humanized here. For Muslims[/JWs] life on earth[/in this system-of-things] is merely a transitory stage before the hereafter[/earthly Paradise]; but here people are also allowed to invest in their lives as mortals. What is more, hell seems no longer to exist, and God is a god of love rather than a cruel ruler who metes out punishments. I began to take a more critical look at my faith and discovered three important elements of Islam[/JW] that had not particularly struck me before.

    The first of these is that a Muslim's[/JW's] relationship with his God is one of fear. A Muslim's[/JW's] conception of God is absolute. Our God demands total submission. He rewards you if you follow His rules meticulously. He punishes you cruelly if you break His rules, both on earth, with illness and natural disasters[/...and disfellowshipping], and in the hereafter, with hellfire[/eternal condemnation and death].

    The second element is that Islam[/JW] knows only one moral source: the Prophet Muhammad[/WTS-as-FDS]. Muhammad[/WTS-as-FDS] is infallible. You would almost believe he is himself a god, but the Koran says explicitly that Muhammad is a human being; he is a supreme human being, though, the most perfect human being. We must live our lives according to his example. What is written in the Koran[/Watchtower's exegesis of the Bible] is what God said as it was heard by Muhammad[/the FDS]. The thousands of hadiths[/articles, books, talks, conventions, tracts and brochures] -- accounts of what Muhammad[/1st-century Christians and 19th- and early 20th-century JWs] said and did, and the advice he[/they] gave, which survives in weighty books -- tell us exactly how a Muslim[/JW] was supposed to live in the seventh century[/pre-modern times]. Devout Muslims[/JWs] consult these works daily to answer questions about life in the twenty-first century.

    The third element is that Islam is strongly dominated by a sexual morality derived from tribal Arab values dating from the time the Prophet received his instructions from Allah, a culture in which women were the property of their fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, or guardians. The essence of a woman is reduced to her hymen. Her veil functions as a constant reminder to the outside world of this stifling morality that makes Muslim men the owners of women and obliges them to prevent their mothers, sisters, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces, and wives from having sexual contact. And we are not just talking about cohabitation. It is an offense if a woman glances in the direction of a man, brushes past his arm, or shakes his hand. A man's reputation and honor depend entirely on the respectable, obedient behavior of the female members of his family.

    These three elements explain largely why Muslim nations are lagging behind the West and, more recently, also lagging behind Asia. In order to break through the mental bars of this trinity, behind which the majority of Muslims are restrained, we must begin with a critical self-examination. But any Muslim[/JW] who asks critical questions about Islam[/The WTS] is immediately branded a "deserter."[/an "apostate"] A Muslim who advocates the exploration of sources for morality, in addition to those of the Prophet Muhammad, will be threatened with death, and a woman who withdraws from the virgins' cage is branded a whore.

    Through my personal experiences, through reading a great deal and speaking to others, I have come to realize that the existence of Allah, of angels, demons, and a life after death, is at the very least disputable. If Allah exists at all, we must not regard His word as absolute, but challenge it. I once wrote about my doubts regarding my faith in the hope of starting a discussion. I was immediately confronted by zealous Muslims[/JWs], men and women who wanted to have me excommunicated[/disfellowshipped]. They even went so far as to say that I deserved to die because I had dared to call into question the absolute truth of Allah's[/the WTS-as-FDS'] word. They took me to court to prevent me from criticizing the faith I had been born into, from asking questions about the regulations and gods that Allah's messenger[/the WTS-as-FDS] has imposed upon us. An Islamic fundamentalist murdered Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who helped me make Submission: Part I, a film about the relationship between the individual and God, in particular about the individual woman and God. And he threatened to kill me, too, a threat that others have also pledged to fulfill.

    Like other thinking people, I like to tap into sources of wisdom, morality, and imagination other than religious texts -- other books besides the Koran and accounts of the Prophet -- and I would like other Muslims to tap into them, too. Just because Spinoza, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill, Kant, or Bertrand Russell are not Islamic and have no Islamic counterparts does not mean that Muslims should steer clear of these and other Western philosophers. Yet, at present, reading works by Western thinkers is regarded as disrespectful to the Prophet and Allah's[/the WTS-as-FDS] message. This is a serious misconception. Why should it not be permitted to abide by all the good things Muhammad has urged us to do (such as his advice to be charitable toward the poor and orphans), while at the same time adding to our lives and outlook the ideas of other moral philosophers? After all, the fact that the Wright brothers were not Islamic has not stopped Muslims from traveling by air. By adopting the technical inventions of the West without its courage to think independently, we perpetuate the mental stagnation in Islamic culture, passing it on from one generation to the next.

    Eerily familiar, isn't it?


  • Gregor

    It's almost as if the JW hierarchy used Islam as a template for the development of the orgs. teachings. Great post!

  • valkyrie

    It does make me wonder whether someone actually researches the social engineering techniques of other successful 'closed societies' to produce the membership management techniques that are taught to COs and elders.


    BY THE WAY: the topic's title should have read "... stifled thinking," not "stiffled"!

  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    Inspiring post. One has to admire the courage of these muslim women who speak out against the oppressive/repressive religion. Witnesses who speak out against the organization risk disfellowshipping, admittedly a psychologically cruel practice. Yet these muslim women (and some men) who are in the forefront of the movement for change in their culture, risk imprisonment and death.

    Their courage must grow in proportion to what they risk losing.


  • disowned&alone

    Hey Everyone.

    Hello Everyone.

    Finally had time to head back over to this board.

    I have to make a couple comments on this one.

    I was raised a JW and left when I was many others. I converted to Islam 4 years later and have lived my life quite happily as a Muslim woman living in America.

    I was your average 22 year old, searching for the truth that I thought I had known my entire life. I learned about Islam and was intrigued, but I figured they couldn't be right because...well, they blow people up. (That's about all I had learned about the 2nd largest religion in the world throughout my lifetime to that point.) As I took a closer look, I found true peace in this religion. I am an American gal who wears a hijab (scarf) and dresses modestly, not because I have to, but because it liberates me. I am not judged by my body or my hair or my fashion sense, but instead I am judged by who I am. A few years after converting to Islan, I began to contemplate marriage, secure that my future mate would choose me based on the "secret person of the heart," not based on my outward appearances.

    I am now married to a wonderful man who respects me, supports me and treats me like a queen..not neccesarily because I am but because he understands what God requires of a husband. I never have to worry about my husband enjoying a night in a bar with friends, and perhaps making a terrible mistake. And it is not because I am so secure in the fact that he loves me...he answers to a higher source. [No, not like the hot dogs..(Hebrew National.)] He fears his creator, not me. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.

    BTW, women are seen as anything other than property in Islam. As a matter of fact, Islam does not support a woman changing her name when she is married. The significance of a woman changing her name was meant to show that she was being passed, as property, from her father to her husband. Islam does not support this because a woman is not property.

    Finally, I would encourage everyone one learn about this religion as opposed to accepting the stereotypical generalizations passed along to us by the media. There is much more to Islam that what meets the eye.

  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    Dear disowned:

    The reason you are free to wear the scarf and dress modestly by choice is because you live in America which gives you the freedom to make that choice. If you lived in a country ruled by Islamic law, the choice wouldn't be yours to make. It would be a matter of law, either the law of the spiritual leaders or your husband's. In America, you are free to enjoy the perceived benefits of Islam while being shielded by democratic law from its harsher applications.


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