What use to be a religion lived by its values of humbleness, openness and sincerity is now rife with egotism, dishonesty and hypocrisy that is much like that black oil.
Many interpretations of Islam are flagrant lies, embellishments by men pretending to be inside God’s head. Islam has been corrupted because so much of its interpretation is unnatural. It is unnatural to force people into submission, to not think for themselves, to not speak their minds, to not be celebratory, to give up artistic expressions of our various cultures and to segregate the sexes.
Because Muslims are made to conform to these unnatural man-made rules, we now experience an Islam that is drenched with false religiosity and hypocrisy.
Let’s start with the most basic: ikhlas, or sincerity. When a Muslim utters “Inshallah” (Arabic for God willing), in my experience, 99.9% of the time, it is a good indicator that he or she will flake out on his or her promises. How many of you have experienced this?
Non-Arabic speaking Muslims will intersperse every other English word with Arabic, as if that proves you’re a better Muslim.
The Muslims who scream Islamophobia loudest are often the biggest homophobes. For these Muslims, the discrimination against them is unacceptable. But somehow discrimination against others, in the case of gays is just fine. How is that not utter hypocrisy? There are Muslims who make grandiose statement that “women are equals in our society,” but more often than not they are the ones who suppress a woman’s voice, and force them to stand in the back of mosques where they pray behind the men. And, they will likely force their young daughters into marriage with older men — just show them the money. They build an interfaith center in Vienna but will never allow for a non-Islamic place of worship on their own land. They demand respect, but they propagate Muslims like me (and of course non-Muslims) who preach values that they view as controversial, as infidels.
Then there’s the outward forms of religiosity like long beards, supposedly matching the length worn by Prophet Muhammad, and eating with the right hand the way the Prophet did, or entering the room with the right foot. The list goes on. For women, it’s the fixation on outer clothing garments. Some women wear the hijab to identify themselves as Muslim, some for modesty reasons and some are forced into it. I have total respect for women who choose to wear it as their expression of modesty, if it is equally matched by their character. But some wear it out of fear that upon death “snakes will crawl out of your eye socket when you die.” At least, that is what I was taught. Some use it as an opportunity for a loud fashion statement as if they had a big “look at me” sign on their heads. But the biggest “look at me” sign goes to the “hijab babes,” the ones who wear a hijab over the skinniest jeans and the tightest T-shirts, with enough makeup to accommodate 10 run-way fashion models!
Can we get back to modesty of the heart please?
Our spiritual corruption is the root of our religious arrogance. Our arrogance is a compensation for our religious insecurities. How else is it possible to justify the superiority of Islam over others? How do Sunnis justify the burning down of non-Sunni homes, sending them to “re-orientation” camps, threatening them to accept the “right path” and even kill them if they don’t? For the killing of Shias in Pakistan, watch this. How can you justify shooting a girl in the face for defending her right to education? What part of this oppression and violence is Islam? And when we don’t speak up against this, it makes us complicit in these offenses.
Yes, I am being negative about Muslims (note I didn’t say Islam) but the sad truth is I am not making these examples up. I am 50 years-old and the Islam I use to know 30 years ago was one where diversity was accepted, because God is rich that way!
Hypocrisy is the antithesis of Islam. So we need to re-learn Islam. We need to wash out that black oil of hypocrisy, soar again with our faith strengthening with each flap of our wings. Because it is only when we live up to the truest form we were created in, that we can live truthfully and in dignity.
Many Muslims would prefer to follow the status quo even when they know it is suffocating them. Isn’t life important? Or is death easier because there’s a reward at the end of it? But the reward is only if we live a full life and contribute to society and by leaving behind a positive legacy.
In building the contrast between the teachings of the Quran and our Islam lived out today, please watch the 5-minute trailer video here. It is a project that will draw the line between the practiced Islam vis-a-vis the teachings of the Quran. I promise it will challenge you to think. And yes, Islam is for thinkers … and the pure of heart.
By Ani Zonneveld, Aslan Media Columnist
Photo: Marine Photo Bank