This blog has been a long time coming, and I do hope I will be able to dedicate enough time and attention to it to make it useful and worth reading. The main purpose of this blog is to share my perspective on the defects and shortcomings of religion, mainly my own former faith, Islam. But religion in general will be the subject of some posts.
I left the faith of my childhood, Islam, nearly 20 years ago. A great deal of my subsequent life has been influenced by following that path, and while it hasn’t all been flowers and roses, because I was not vocal about it, my experience as an apostate (first in my home country and then in the US) has not been a dangerous one as it has been for many others. I did receive a ‘reminder’ that I should in fact be killed from someone I had thought was a friend after telling him, but that’s the worst I had to go through (so far!). Coming out, while liberating in many ways, will bring with it scary implications, which is why I prefer for now to write anonymously as Kafir Zindeeq.
In Arabic the word kafir is a generic term that refers to non-Muslims, roughly meaning infidel in its common usage, but zindeeq has a somewhat different history, as it originally referred to people holding certain other beliefs, mainly coming from Zoroastrianism, in addition to some tenets of Islam (a kind of a heretic). Currently, the term zindeeq (someone who practice zandaqa or zandaqah) is often viewed as nearly synonymous with atheism. The actual modern usage is rather derisive and the word is often used as an insult.
So, why do I refer to myself as zindeeq? From the point of view of the Muslim community I would count as murtad (apostate), while the zindeeq is a heretic, and even though I do not believe in any of the tenets of Islam (or any other religion for that matter), I still see my activity as being within an Islamic context. Simply being pronounced outside the community does not mean that I automatically and magically stripped away my identity as a cultural Muslim. Also, the term murtad has connotation of reversion; of going back to beliefs preceding Islam, and it was coined to refer to the apostasy movement that followed Muhammad’s death. At one point the term zindeeq started to overlap with another form of enemy of the faith called munafiq (someone who verbally professes Islam but not with his heart often with the aim to deceive the faithful), but unlike the munafiqin, which is a central group in the Quran, the zanadiqah (pl. of zindeeq) are not inherently deceptive. The reason for the overlap is obvious; if you want to hold views opposing orthodoxy in Islam and survive, you have to put up a facade and live in the closet. Clearly, the mixed theology of the historical zanadiqah could not be publicly practiced. The fear for their lives that prevented them from doing so is the same that which prevents most apostates today from speaking out against Islam.
Who do I hope would read my stuff? I am hoping to be able to reach and engage people who share my worldview to further understand it and refine it, but also believers (particularly Muslims) who are willing to listen, not necessarily with the aim of convincing them to leave their faith (although that would be a wonderful outcome), but simply to establish dialog. I have nothing against Muslims as people, I have issue with their beliefs, and therefore, I view my activity to be within the Muslim community, it is therefore a zandaqah, but the heresy it brings into the religion does not come from an ancient Persian religion, but from reason. Therefore, and as an Arab, I will try to provide content both in English and in Arabic. I might try to provide translations of posts, but will sometimes write in only one of the two languages.
There are several reasons why I feel motivated to write at this point. I feel the views I hold can be developed into something tenable that some Muslims (but others too) can identify with in whole or in part. Given that apostates in Islam often have to live in some degree of intellectual isolation (or suffer the consequences), maybe a virtual contact such as the one I am trying to initiate will offer some sense of community. The unfortunate current events where Muslims are coming across often as violent and threatening do bring with them the benefit of bringing issues of identity and theology to the fore. Islamic extremism is a real threat to all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Of course it does not happen in isolation, but very often it is not very well understood. Perhaps thoughts expressed (and discussed) here will make some contributions to a better understanding. Naturally, I have personal reasons to write as well, but I’d rather keep those to myself.