Why Everyone Should Read the Qur’an in Plain English

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

I blame the moment I turned from an Allah-fearing little boy to an incurable heathen on a cockroach.

Like every kid in the Muslim world, I was raised to believe the Qur’an was uber-sacred. You did not so much as touch it without permission or performing the necessary ablutions. Mess with it in any shape or form and you are so going to hell.  Continue reading “Why Everyone Should Read the Qur’an in Plain English”

Passing the Al-Shabaab Test Brings Me No Peace

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

‘La Ilaha IllAllah Muhammadur Rasulullah.’

These words form the basis of Islam, and any Muslim, good or bad, will treat it with the utmost of respect (even if the bad ones might fail to give you the exact literal translation): There is absolutely no deity worthy of worship other than Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

I’m not here to argue the validity of this statement. Maybe it’s because I was raised and indoctrinated in Bangladesh, a Muslim country that’s pretty tame on the fundamentalist scale but still devout all over, that I give this kalimat its devotional dues. Or it could be that the time I’ve spent behind the peace pipe has left me thinking anyone can believe whatever the hell they want, as long as they don’t hurt me or bore me. Hell, maybe I’m just shit-scared some dickhead might take offence and put a fatwa on me. Whatever my motivation, these words are sacred to me. So much so, in fact, I pray these will be the last words I breathe in this life.

As recent events show, you don’t have to be a bit of an idiot child to completely misunderstand the Qur’an. Like millions of other Muslim children for whom Arabic isn’t their mother tongue, I learned to read and recite the Qur’an in Arabic. Translations are something you read when you’re older, if you want to, that is (and we wonder why there are so many cretins out there laying down lives in the name of a book they don’t have a clue about). Continue reading “Passing the Al-Shabaab Test Brings Me No Peace”

My Girl Doesn’t Stash Cutlery in Her Pants

(This article was originally published in the Huffington Post)

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Heard the one about the Asian girl with the spoon in her pants?

I wish this was a joke, but it’s all too horribly true. Young girls walking the Green Mile to marriage are being advised to carry concealed cutlery to set off the alarm in the hope airport staff will save them from a forced union.

Whenever I read a story like this, I’m tempted to say to The Girl, ‘see how nice I am to you?’, semi-expecting to receive all sorts of medals. But that would be ridiculous. I wouldn’t appreciate someone telling me that even though he has the power to smash my face in and ram a brick up my arse, look, he didn’t, see how nice he is? No, deciding not to mess up another person’s life doesn’t make you nice – it makes you civilised. So you’re not a vicious, sadistic prick to your children? Well done. Have a samosa. Continue reading “My Girl Doesn’t Stash Cutlery in Her Pants”