How do tight-knit religious communities manage dissent? How do they employ social and emotional leverage to control the flock? This article explores the role of religious communities and the drive to live authentically. It draws upon the author's experiences with Ahmadiyya Islam, as recounted in The Things We Think—a prequel to this piece. I have made peace with the impending fallout in my personal life and with the social blowback my loved ones will incur within the Community. To normalize dissent, we have to start somewhere. Those who seek to shame the family members of we who are speaking out; these are the people onto whom our collective scorn should be directed. If anyone, these are the people who deserve to be the targets of a counter-campaign of naming and shaming. Not the families of those of us who are expressing dissenting beliefs. None of us should be discouraged from expressing open and honest disagreement with the ideological beliefs into which we were indoctrinated.
During much of the 1990s, I found myself writing religious questions with preemptive rebuttals to weak and recycled apologetics. I was searching for substantive explanations to disturbing questions. The obvious inequality of women as articulated in the Qur’an, troubled me. My written questions became a book, shared privately with the Jama'at. I wasn't speaking out publicly back then. My approach consisted of gathering the strongest counter-arguments to Islam. In most cases, the strongest counter-arguments came from mere contemplation. From honest reflection. I questioned some of the Qur’an’s most problematic verses on women. My analysis turned into a book. The written form lends itself to the communication of nuanced ideas too difficult to catalog in conversation.
The critique and defense of religion often occurs downstream from where two well intentioned interlocutors ought to focus. In my original study and questioning of Islam, I found that apologists were applying an inconsistent set of criteria when justifying or praising various injunctions and teachings of the faith. This article is a modern take on those foundational rules assembled during my early years of questioning Islam. When we agree on basic axioms, any teachings or apologia which defy them, must logically fall. I call these foundational rules The Postulates.
An exploration of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s death-prophecy concerning claimant to divinity, John Hugh Smyth-Pigott. Twitter conversations with Ahmadi Muslims on this topic are cited and expanded upon to illustrate that we who maintain this prophecy was a failure, have solid reasons for arriving at this conclusion.
Although I was once a devoutly religious Ahmadi Muslim, I did not leave Ahmadiyyat to embrace mainstream Islam. Nor have I embraced any other religion. This treatise explores my positions on religion and philosophy. I will present a limited critique of Qur’anic scripture and Islamic philosophy. This is to help convey the basis for my rejection of Islam. For me, it distills down to scriptural verses which are illogical, and teachings that lack moral grace. To be clear, I’m not referring to the revisionist understanding and expression of these ideas in western, progressive Muslim communities. I’m going to the source.
This is an open letter to Colleen Leary, editor in chief of The Vanguard—Portland State University’s student-run newspaper. It was prompted by the firing of the paper’s multimedia editor Andy Ngo, who shared clips via Twitter of a Muslim speaker at an interfaith panel indicating that according to Islamic law, apostates from Islam are to be killed or “asked” to leave the country.
The ex-Muslim label is gaining prominence in the religious zeitgeist of the 21st century. There are however, many more ex-Muslims than just those who have consciously or publicly adopted the label. For every person who identifies with the ex-Muslim label, I have met 100-plus born Muslims who have mentally and informally, checked out of Islam. This article enumerates some of the reasons why many born Muslims haven’t formally left Islam yet. The focus is on Muslims in the West, although this piece does touch upon challenges unique to those living in Muslim majority countries.
Whether you believe in a particular religion or not, discussion about beliefs often starts with labels about beliefs. The purpose of this post is to serve as a common reference point for both the religious and the non-religious. We define terms such as theism, atheism, deism, agnosticism. Agnostic deism as a combination of on both belief and knowledge, is described. We wrap up with a brief introduction into formal arguments for a God.
In July 2016, Tarek Fatah spoke to the Pakistani-Canadian blogger and podcaster Eiynah. They touched on many things ex-Muslim, where, to the bafflement of many, Tarek Fatah was quite dismissive. So much so, that it warranted unpacking some of his unsubstantiated claims and provocations from that interview.
Who are the Ahmadiyya, and why are these Muslims persecuted the world over by other Muslims? How does their interpretation of Islam differ from mainstream Sunni Islam? We’ll take a brief tour through several topics covering differences of interpretation, progressive Islamic beliefs as well as contemporary issues. Positions on slave wives, evolution, hadith, loyalty to one’s country, gender segregation, and a host of other issues—it's all covered here.
Welcome to Reason on Faith. This is a site where I will express my thoughts on religion using reason, evidence and the occasional reference to Ockham's razor as guiding principles. Subsequent posts will touch upon Islam broadly and often, Ahmadiyyat specifically. In this short post, I discuss confirmation bias in religious discourse; contrasting the reasoned approach with the religious approach. I also present a hypothetical letter from an adult child to their parents. It embodies what we rarely ever see regarding religious acceptance in families. Finally, I discuss the scrutiny of ideas and the merit of both dialogue and debate.
In addition to the more formal articles on this website, I also maintain a "site within a site" for more informal posts and responses. I call it the microblog.
The microblog has it's own homepage at ReasonOnfaith.org/microblog. There, you'll find extended responses to Twitter conversations, and more abbreviated topical musings and analysis.