A 14 year old girl, Malala was shot in Pakistan last year. A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan proudly took the responsibility for this heinous crime. “If Malala lives, we will do it again”, said the spokesman. The reason Taliban gave for shooting the girl was that she was trying to spread secular ideas in the valley. We can think about other reasons too. When Taliban insurgents took over SWAT valley and closed down girl’s schools, Malala communicated with the world through her eloquent and heart-touching blog and expressed her desire to study. She wanted to become a Doctor. Of course, in the land of darkness, it is a crime to light a candle.
The day I read this news, I felt angry and broken at the same time. I looked at the face of that innocent girl in the newspaper. She had dreams and it was not to rule the world, just freedom and dignity was enough for her. Now, she was fighting for her life in the hospital.
Why? Why did Taliban shoot her? I tried to search for logical explanations. Was it because of the Pakistani army operations in Swat and Fata? Was it because of the American army operations in Afghanistan? No – These are the reasons for why there is something like Taliban in those Areas.
Why? Why did they shoot a girl? Could it be in anyway related to the religion of those people? I have a few Pakistani friends on Facebook. Most of them are religious. I tried to ask nicely, but only after a day of conversation, they unfriended me. We had been friends from some years back but now we were not friends anymore. My only fault was that in the pursuance of truth, I dared to tread on holy grounds.
Today, I know that it is the influence of Deobandi Islam and the Pashtunwali traditions of Khyber that is the reason for such fanatic and misogynistic nature of Taliban. There are some other reasons too but that is not the point of discussion here.
My point here is that if you want to know the truth, you will have to walk over some regions and analyze some ideas that other people, even your friends and family consider sacred. It takes courage to do that. You might lose your friends, but then, what is the use of such friends. I would rather live alone then to stay in the company of ignorant, hypocrites and bigots. In my journey, from a believer to a non-believer now, I have met numerous atheists and agnostics that have shared their experience with me. Some of them have lost friends and family, some have lost their jobs and almost everyone has felt bias in one or the other form in the society.
We know that most of the religious people are overly sensitive towards any criticism directed towards their faith. Infact, religion thrives by suppressing any criticism against their tenets. It has been done in the past. It is being done now too. Yes, something has changed in all these years. There was a time when the Pope could ordain death sentences, inquisitions and crusades over the people who went against Christianity. There was even a term called ‘’Christendom’’ – meaning, the regions on earth where the good news about Jesus had reached. The world was divided in two, those who had been saved and those hadn’t been yet. Today, Christianity has become almost a moderate religion. Most of the Christians do not take Bible literally, nor do they value every word that their pastor or the pope says.
The reason this has happened is because there were people in the past, scientists and philosophers, writers and activists that have sacrificed their lives to achieve this change. We have moved a very long way now. The burden of proof has been put on the weak shoulders of religion. It is already shaking under its weight.
We cannot say that every religion has reached this stage of maturity. Islam is one of the most aggressive religions today. There are many Islamic countries where atheists can be prosecuted to death. Islamic fundamentalists openly call for the blood of kuffars (Non-Muslims). There are religious leaders like Dr. Zakir Naik (India) and Anjem Chawdhary (U.K) who call Osama Bin Laden a martyr and support the death punishment for apostates. One reason behind this is that Islam is still a very young religion. You can say that it is still in its teenage, doesn’t know what to do, coming out of age, pretty confident of itself and thinks that it knows everything.
But, does it means that we should stay quiet and wait for Islam to grow up? No!
No, let us discuss and debate against Islam with the same fervour that our predecessors used to do. Atheism is not a religion and we do not preach anything. We just promote human rights, rationality and science. But there are good reasons why we need to come out of our closets and oppose extreme religious ideas.
If religion wants to influence government policies, we have to oppose that. If religion wants to brainwash our children in believing in heaven & hell, we will have to oppose that. If religion wants to impede scientific progress (stem cell research is just one case), we will have to oppose that. If religion wants to keep women jailed in their houses, we will have to oppose that. If religion wants to treat homosexuals as diseased and second class people, we will have to oppose that. Lastly, if religion wants to dominate the world, we will have to oppose that with everything we have got.
I would never intentionally hurt anyone. But then, what does this word even mean? In a rational discourse, there is no place for such a thing. One can always suppress a discussion by saying that he is hurt by this or that. How can we ever know if he is really hurt or he is just bluffing? Truth hurts and it hurts the most to the one who has lived his whole life believing in falsehood. This is the case with most of the religious people.
Some Muslims say that the theory of evolution is false because it contradicts Koran. So, are we going to bend over backwards and ban science in order to make them happy? Some Muslims were so hurt by some cartoons published in a Danish newspaper that they killed many innocent people and burned properties worth millions. Think for a moment, are these the kind of people that you want to leave the path of truth for? These people are not emotional or sensitive; they are just a bunch of ignorant, egomaniacs. They would love to see the world bowing towards their whims and demands.
I for myself raise my middle finger towards these people. Fuck off and leave us alone.