This blog was started to discuss issues of religion, faith and reason.
My focus is on critiquing the ideas and evidence put forth in favor of Islam. I also touch upon the secondary effects of scripture and philosophy as it impacts culture, especially for Muslims living in the West. I discuss how organized religious communities derive and enforce their social rules.
I myself am an ex-Muslim, originally from the Ahmadi Muslim Community. I grew up in Canada and English is my native tongue.
As a teenager, I was extremely religious and active at the mosque: volunteering with youth events, giving speeches, editing religious publications, debating non-Muslims in the library, discussing the finer points of difference between Ahmadis and other Muslims, citing evidence from the Qur’an by discussing roots of Arabic words, and so on.
When I myself began questioning Islam and Ahmadiyyat, the answers I received from the religious hierarchy were weak and unconvincing. By religious hierarchy, I’m referring to formal missionaries (imams) and national executives of the Community.
Decades on, it is still important to me that I follow my conscience, no matter the personal inconvenience. You see, all of my immediate and extended family belong to the Ahmadi Muslim Community. Most are quite serious about it.
In this blog, I critique Islamic theology generally, as well as the unique aspects of Ahmadiyyat.
Please know that I strongly detest anti-Muslim bigotry.
We can be critical of ideas and still love the people that hold them. That love for humanity shouldn’t stop us from challenging poor ideas. Rather, our love for humanity makes these critiques all the more pressing.
No idea is above scrutiny. No people are beneath dignity.
Often, those of us critiquing religion (Islam in particular) are slammed as bigots or racists. It’s an all too convenient way to shut down a real dialog about ideas.
As the ex-Muslim blogger Eiynah often conveys, we can be critics of Islam who at the same time, loathe anti-Muslim bigotry.
There are many of us ex-Muslims in the West1 who are brown, be it immigrants or the children of immigrants. We’ve studied the religion. Many of us were once devoutly religious.
We have read numerous religious texts, commentaries and books published by our faith communities. We asked questions in the hope of retaining our inherited faith. We didn’t want to be at odds with our families, for whom religion is everything. Most importantly, we have always wanted to follow that which is true.
I am one of the fortunate ones. I was born into a peaceful denomination of Islam: Ahmadiyyat.
Ahmadi Muslims have a beautiful slogan, Love for All, Hatred for None. Muslims of this denomination are persecuted across the Muslim world for their beliefs. Being raised an Ahmadi Muslim means that there is no risk of being radicalized by going to the Ahmadi Muslim mosque. It’s an organized community with structure and clear teachings which categorically reject terrorism.
It is my opinion however, that Ahmadiyya Islam still carries with it questionable theology and practices. This is because it is built upon the problematic foundations of Islam itself. Ahmadiyyat attempts to create a renaissance within Islam. However, being inextricably linked to Islamic sources—notably the Qur’an—one must adopt revisionist interpretations of Islamic history and perform scriptural gymnastics. All of this, in order to arrive at something approaching modern notions of morality.
While I criticize the theology, institutional practices and norms of this Community, know that these people are my family, extended family and many are my dear friends.
I stand in solidarity with Ahmadi Muslims in denouncing terrorism, in promoting secular governance, in the rejection of blasphemy laws and in their struggle to be free of religious persecution.
My pen name is Rayoz O. Faaiz, created to match the cadence of this blog, Reason on Faith.
I use a pen name to focus on ideas and to avoid ad hominem distractions. With sensitive topics like religion being discussed, use of a pen name also helps compartmentalize one’s professional presence from the highly charged topics of religion and politics.
That being said, family, friends and even those with whom I disagree and spar with, but whom I deem to be wonderfully decent human beings nonetheless, will know who I am. I may eventually drop the pen name, once the majority of the key themes I wish to address, have been conveyed.
I hope you evaluate my ideas for their merits. I don’t claim to be perfect, and I’ll assume you don’t either. But the lives of religious figures with extraordinary claims do require our collective scrutiny. I will be engaging in that scrutiny here.
The inaugural Welcome post captures more of what this blog is all about.