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”

A Little Internet Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

internet

“Whenever I listen to her, underneath that softness, I get the feeling the emotional topography of her life is all jagged, do you know what I mean?”

This sentence, believe it or not, got me laid. I was online dating, the keyboard banter was smooth but by no means sure, when she mentioned she liked Shawn Colvin and that was my fairly instant response. From thereon, a date was inevitable. She’d just found someone who not only knew Shawn Colvin, I actually felt her.

Except up until that minute, I’d never heard of Shawn Colvin. A quick scan on the Internet had given me all I needed to show I was in the know, baby.

It makes a mockery of genuine passion. Worse, it makes us suspect everyone’s on the blag. Continue reading “A Little Internet Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing”