1. Beyond Belief:
Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples
[ http://www.indiastar.com/wallia15.htm ]
by V.S. Naipaul
N.Y.:Random House, 1998
408 pages $27.95
Reviewed by C.J.S.Wallia
Naipaul's new book, the ironically titledBeyond Belief, is dedicated to his Muslim wife, the well-known Pakistani journalist Nadira Alvi.
Subtitled "Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples," Beyond Belieffollows up on his acclaimed 1981 publication, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey. Both books feature extensive interviews in Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia. Many of the interviewees in the two books are the same, contributing continuity and deeper insights into Islamic fundamentalism.
In the prologue, Naipaul notes that as a "manager of narratives," he has written "a book about people... not a book of opinion." Indeed, in this engrossing book, memorable people there are aplenty and Naipaul successfully deploys his formidable narrative skills in delineating the principal interviewees and their family backgrounds. However, his claim that it's "not a book of opinion" is not accurate.
Naipaul's thesis in Beyond Belief is: "There probably has been no imperialism like that of Islam and the Arabs....Islam seeks as an article of the faith to erase the past; the believers in the end honor Arabia alone, they have nothing to return to." In the Indian context, Naipaul views Islam as far more disruptive than the British rule.
The section on Pakistan subtitled "Dropping Off the Map" begins with a vignette in Iran: A busload of Parsi pilgrims from India, descendants of Iranians who had fled Iran to escape forcible Islamic conversion a millennia ago, travel to the ruins of Cyrus's palace, a seat of world power a millennia before Islam. They stand before a pillar with a cuneiform inscription at the top -- "I am Cyrus, son of Cambyses, and this is my palace." The Parsi pilgrims read the words and wail for some time before returning to their bus.
Unlike Iran, in India there never was a complete Islamic conquest. Although the Muslims ruled much of North India from 1200 A.D. to 1700 A.D, in the eighteenth century, the Mahrattas and the Sikhs destroyed Muslim power, and created their own empires -- before the advent of the British. The British rule in Bengal lasted almost two centuries and in the Punjab a little less than a century. The British introduced the "New Learning of Europe," to which the Hindus were much more receptive than the Muslims, resulting in the "intellectual distance between the two communities. This distance has grown with independence... Muslim insecurity led to the call for the creation of Pakistan. It went at the same time with an idea of old glory, of the invaders sweeping down the northwest and looting the temples of Hindustan and imposing faith in the infidel. The fantasy still lives: and for the Muslim converts of the subcontinent it is the start of their neurosis, because in this fantasy the convert forgets who or what he is and becomes the violator."
Similar analyses have recently been published by several writers, most notably Anwar Shaikh, Ibn Warraq, S.R. Goel, and Koenraad Elst. However, Naipaul makes no reference to these or other scholars. Instead, his approach is to encourage his interviewees to express themselves at length. For example, Naipaul quotes Salman, a Pakistani journalist:
"We have nearly all, subcontinental Muslims, invented Arab ancestors for ourselves. Most of us are sayeds, descendants of Mohammed through his daughter Fatima and cousin and son-in-law Ali. There are others--like my family--who have invented a man called Salim al-Rai. And yet others who have invented a man called Qutub Shah. Everybody has got an ancestor who came from Arabia or Central Asia. I am convinced my ancestors would have been medium to low-caste Hindus, and despite their conversion they would not have been in the mainstream of Muslims.
If you read Ibn Battuta and earlier travelers you can sense the condescending attitude of the Arab travelers to the converts. They would give the Arab name of someone, and then say, 'But he's an Indian.' This invention of Arab ancestry soon became complete. It had been adopted by all families. If you hear people talking you would believe that this great and wonderful land was nothing but wild jungle, that no human beings lived here. All of this was magnified at the time of partition, this sense of not belonging to the land, but belonging to the religion. Only one people in Pakistan have reverence for their land, and that's the Sindhis."
Naipaul's choice to exclude references to publications that focus on similar topics weakens his book. He could have cited, for example, the widely discussed books of Anwar Shaikh, which brought a fatwa on the author's head. Anwar Shaikh, a U.K.-based philosopher of Pakistani origin, wrote in Islam: The Arab National Movement (U.K., The Principality Publishers, 1995. ISBN: 0- 9513349-4-8): "Islam has caused more damage to the national dignity and honour of non-Arab Moslems than any other calamity that may have affected them, yet they believe that this faith is the ambassador of equality and human love. This is a fiction which has been presented as a fact with an unparalleled skill. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad divided humanity into two sections, the Arabs and the non-Arabs. According to this categorisation, the Arabs are the rulers and the non-Arabs are to be ruled through the yoke of Arab cultural imperialism: Islam is the means to realise this dream because its fundamentals raise superiority of Arabia sky-high, inflicting a corresponding inferiority on the national dignity of its non-Arab followers. From the Arabian point of view, this scheme looks marvellous, magnificent and mystifying . . . yet under its psychological impact the non-Arab Muslims rejoice in self-debasement, hoping to be rewarded by the Prophet with the luxuries of paradise. The Islamic love of mankind is a myth of even greater proportions. Hatred of non-Moslems is the pivot of Islamic existence. It not only declares all dissidents as the denizens of hell but also seeks to ignite a permanent fire of tension between Moslems and non-Moslems; it is far more lethal than Karl Marx's idea of social conflict which he hatched to keep his theory alive."
Or take Salman's statement to Naipaul (quoted above) about inventing Arab ancestory--"most of us are 'sayeds,' [also written as Said] descendants of Mohammed through his daughter Fatima and cousin and son-in-law Ali." Naipaul could have cited the well-known disavowal of the great Punjabi Sufi poet Bullhe Shah (1680 - 1758):
"Jehra sannu Sayed akhay dozakh milan sajaiyan/
Jehra sannu Arai akhay bahishta pinga payaia."
[Those who call me "Sayed" will be punished in hell/Those who call me "Arai" will enjoy heaven. ("Arai" refers to the low-caste of Bullhe Shah's Sufi mentor, Shah Inayat Qadiri. Bullhe Shah preferred this low caste- affiliation to the "Sayed" pretensions of his family and of many other converts.)]. A number of books on Bullhe Shah's writings are available in Pakistani and Indian libraries.
On the other hand, it's evident that Naipaul's focus on people does make his book more engaging. Here's another segment from Salman's narrative:
" Two or three years later -- Salman's father's business going down all the time -- there was another incident, this time at the end of Ramadan. Id is the great festival at the end of Ramadan, and the Id prayers are always in a congregation. Salman's father had taken the car to go to the mosque he always went to, and Salman and his brother were going on foot to look for a mosque in the neighborhood. Salman said to his brother, 'What a waste of time.'
The brother said, 'Especially when you don't even believe in it.'
Salman said, 'What? You too?'
The brother said, 'Our elder sister doesn't believe either. Don't you know?'
Salman had a high regard for his brother's intellect. The worry he had felt about losing his faith dropped away. He didn't feel he was letting down the people who had died in the riots in Jalandhar in 1947.
All three of the children of the family had lost religion. But, as his business had gone down, Salman's father had grown more devout and more intolerant. One of the festivals the family had celebrated when Salman was a child was the Basant, or Spring Festival. Now Salman's father banned it as un-Islamic, something from the Hindu pagan past. There were great quarrels with his daughter when she came from Karachi, where she lived. She was not as quiet as Salman and his brother. She spoke her mind, and the arguments could become quite heated."
Among the people whose stories are told in similar novelistic detail are Rana, a lawyer whose family's background is feudal; Shahbaz, a U.K.-raised Marxist, who spent ten years as a guerrilla in Baluchistan; Mushtaq, a teacher of English literature in Karachi, a city torn by factions fighting murderous gun-battles daily.
Commenting on the origin of the idea of Pakistan by the poet Mohammed Iqbal in a speech to the Muslim League in 1930, Naipaul writes:
"Iqbal came from a recently converted Hindu family; and perhaps only someone who felt himself a new convert could have spoken as he did...Iqbal said in an involved way that Muslims can live only with other Muslims."
Iqbal's background is detailed in Ram Nath Kak's Autumn Leaves (New Delhi: Vitasta, 1995, ISBN: 81-86588-01-9): "His grandfather, Sahaj Ram Sapru, a revenue collector, [allegedly] embezzled funds and when discovered, the Afghan governor, Azim Khan, gave him the choice of death or conversion to Islam. Sahaj Ram chose life, and assuming new names, he and his family moved to Sialkot in the Punjab. Later, Iqbal never acknowledged his native Kashmiri and Indian tradition that his grandfather had been forced to renounce. Perhaps this reveals that terror wins.
The victims wish to be like their tormentors."
Naipaul concludes his opinion of Iqbal: "Poets should not lead their people to hell.... in its short life, Iqbal's religious state, still half serf, still profoundly uneducated, mangling history in its schoolbooks as well, undoing the polity it was meant to serve."
Naipaul's chapters on Iran and Indonesia are as detailed as the chapters on Pakistan. The Malaysian section is briefer but just as revealing.
In spite of Naipaul's odd choice to exclude all citations from other publications, Beyond Belief emerges as a first-rate humanistic study of the contemporary world of Islamic converts.
2. UNDERSTANDING MUHAMMAD, by Ali Sina
[ http://www.faithfreedom.org/book.htm ]
Since September 11, 2001, there have been over 11,000 terrorist attacks, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and a lot more injuries, throughout the world. The perpetrators of these attacks were not monsters; they were Muslims. They were pious people who believed and acted in accordance with their faith. There are millions more who think like them and are ready to do the same.
If you think Islamic terrorism is a new phenomenon, think again. Islam owes its success to terrorism. The prophet of Islam boasted, “I have been made victorious with terror". [Bukhari: 4.52. 220] Since the day Muhammad set foot in Medina, he started his campaign of terror. His followers have been doing the same ever since.
Muslims are intolerant, supremacist, bullies, and violent. They are highly inflammable and can explode if they are not treated preferentially and with respect. At the same time, they abuse others and violate the rights of people of other faiths. This is psychopathology.
To understand Muslims, one must understand their prophet. Muslims worship and emulate Muhammad. Islam is Muhammadanism. Only by understanding him can one know what makes them tick.
Understanding Muhammad is a psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet. It seeks to unveil the mystery of that man. Historians tell us Muhammad used to withdraw to a cave, spending days wrapped in his thoughts. He heard bells ringing and had ghostly visions. He thought he was demon possessed, until his wife reassured him he had become a prophet. Convinced of his status, he was intolerant of those who rejected him, assassinated those who criticized him, raided, looted, and massacred entire populations. He reduced thousands to slavery, raped, and allowed his men to rape female captives. All of this, he did with a clear conscience and a sense of entitlement.
He was magnanimous toward those who admired him, but vengeful toward those who did not. He believed he was the most perfect human creation and the universe's raison d'être. Muhammad was no ordinary man. He was a narcissist.
Understanding Muhammad, ventures beyond the stories. Focusing on the "why" rather than the "what," it unravels the mystique of one of the most enigmatic and influential men in history.
Muhammad believed in his own cause. He was so certain of the reality of his hallucinations that he expected everyone to believe too. He would make his Allah indignantly ask “What! Do you then dispute with him [Muhammad] as to what he saw?” (Q.53:12) This is psychopathology. Why should others believe in what he saw? Wasn't it up to him to prove what he saw was real? Only a narcissist expects others to believe in his claims without asking for evidence.
Muhammad was an orphan. Spurned by his mother in his infancy and left in the care of a Bedouin couple, he had a loveless childhood. He then passed to the care of his grandfather and uncle who took pity on him and spoiled him. Not receiving love at a time he needed unconditional love and not receiving discipline when he needed to learn about boundaries, he developed narcissistic personality disorder, a trait that made him a megalomaniac bereft of conscience. He fantasized about unlimited power, expected praise and admiration, believed he was special, and expected others to believe him and go along with his ideas and plans. He took advantage of others, was jealous, yet believed others were jealous of him, and was extremely hurt when rejected, even killing those who deserted him. He lied and deceived, feeling entitled and justified in doing so. All these are traits of narcissistic personality disorder.
Thanks to another mental illness, temporal lobe epilepsy, the prophet of Islam had vivid hallucinations he interpreted as mystical and divine intimations. When he claimed he heard voices, saw angels and other ghostly entities, he was not lying. His problem was that he could not distinguish reality from fantasy.
He also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, causing his fixations on numbers, rituals and stringent rules. This explains why he lived such an austere life and why his religion is filled with so many absurd rules.
In the later years of his life Muhammad was affected by acromegaly, a disease caused by excessive production of a growth hormone, resulting in large bones, cold and fleshy hands and feet and coarse facial features such as enlarged lips, nose and tongue. Acromegaly occurs after the age of 40 and usually kills the patient in his early 60s. It causes impotence, while it increases libido. This explains Muhammad's sexual vagaries in his old age and why in the later years of his life he had such an insatiable craving for sex. He would visit all his 9 wives in one night to touch and fondle them, without being satisfied. His impotence explains his insecurity, paranoia, and intense jealousy of his young wives. He ordered them to cover themselves, lest other men would cast a lusting eye on them. Today, half a billion Muslim women veil themselves, because Muhammad was impotent. Muhammad's illnesses explain a lot of mysteries of Islam.
The combination of all these psychological disorders and his unusual physiognomy made Muhammad a phenomenon that set him apart from ordinary people. His uneducated followers interpreted his differences as signs of his prophethood. Like devotees of all cults, they rose to champion his cause with dedication. By defying death and butchering others they made Islam the world's second largest religion, now the biggest threat to world peace and the survival of human civilization.
Why is it important to know Muhammad? Because over a billion people try to be like him and do as he did. Consequently, the insanity of one man is bequeathed to all his followers. It is by understanding him that we can see through them, and be able to predict these unpredictable people.
We live in a dangerous time. When a fifth of humanity worships a psychopath, eulogizes suicide bombing and thinks killing and martyrdom are ultimate acts of piety, the world becomes a dangerous place. When these people acquire the atomic bomb, the earth becomes a powder keg.
Islam is a cult. It is time for mankind to wake up and realize that this cult is a threat to mankind and there can be no co-existence with Muslims. As long as Muslims believe in Muhammad, they are a threat to others and to themselves. Muslims must either leave Islam, leave their culture of hate and join the rest of mankind as fellow humans, or non-Muslims must separate themselves from them, ban Islam, end the immigration of Muslims and send home those who plot against democracy and refuse to integrate.
Islam is incompatible with democracy. It is a warring creed that uses democracy to destroy it and to establish itself as a world wide dictatorship. The only way to avert the clash between this barbarity and civilization, a world disaster, is to expose the fallacy of Islam and demystify it. Muslims must be weaned from Islam for humanity to live in peace.
Understanding Muhammad is imperative for both Muslims and non-Muslims. This book makes that task easy.
Ali Sina is the author of Understanding Muhammad: A psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet [ISBN: 978-0980994803]. He is the founder of faithfreedom.org, the organ of the movement of ex-Muslims that tries to unveil the truth about Islam to the world and help Muslims leave it, abandon their culture of hate and join mankind in amity.
I penned a book review of Wafa Sultan's A God who Hates for Frontpage magazine. The book is an earthshaker and should be required reading for every freedom loving man. It's the best thing I have read in years. It is a watershed moment for the Muslim world.
Here's an excerpt:
A God Who Hates is a devastating book, coming from a most reliable witness. “My book,” Wafa told me, “is about my personal life. In my book I lead my readers step by step throughout my life, from A to Z, so they can figure out what has changed me, what has helped me to break free from Islam. It didn’t happen overnight. It took many years and a great deal of pain to reach where I am today. Through my book I am trying to send a message to the West, that Islam is a hateful ideology and it’s very dangerous for Islam to be established in this free country. This is my message to the West.”
Wafa Sultan is trying to get her message to the Muslim world, not just to the West. Hers is a very powerful voice, and one that Islamic supremacists would very much like to silence. As she told me in our interview: “It’s very dangerous to go against Islam. Prior to my book release I was forced to go into hiding, fearing for my safety and for my family’s safety. I received death threats on a daily basis, and I know what they mean by telling me that, I know how bitter they are, I was one of them. I can very much understand the mindset of Muslims.”
Nevertheless, despite the immense risks, A God Who Hates will be translated into Arabic and made available in the Arab-Muslim world. And it is a must read for all free people. This is a book that you not only have to read, but to give to the people in your office. Give it to your daughters, give it to your children. Show them why they should love America, and fight to defend her from the Islamic oppression that Wafa Sultan escaped.