No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms – BBC News

Muslims everywhere are saying “I told you so” this morning. Continue reading “No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms – BBC News”

Muslims can drink alcohol, but they should not

I think I might have found a loophole

Everyone it seems, whether Muslim or not, has their own ideas about the laws of Islam. But one of the things that everyone knows is that Muslims can’t drink alcohol, right?

Well, technically that’s not true.

A Muslim can drink if they want to.

In fact, Muslims always have a choice in everything that they do whether praying, fasting, or eating pork.

Muslims can even murder if they like.

Say that again?

Following Islam does not stop a person doing anything, in exactly the same way that British law does not physically prevent crime. Rape, robbery and fraud happens every day in this country even though they are all illegal.

The point of Islam, like any legal system, is to modify human behavior in order to prevent harm, whether to the individual or others.

One beer won’t hurt?

It’s true that alcohol in small quantities causes minimal harm to the human body. But it is also true that alcohol causes enormous harm in our society.

Think about the street fights, car accidents, and vandalism that happen as a direct result of alcohol. Think about the homelessness, the marriage breakdowns, the domestic violence, and the depression caused by alcohol. Think about all the people, as you read this, who are dying, yellow and bloated, because of alcohol-induced liver failure.

Alcohol costs Britain billions of pounds each year, and infinitely more in human suffering.

So whilst Muslims can drink alcohol if they wish, they should understand why Islam teaches them that they should not.

Who’s watching Muslim porn?

For the past few years Pornhub, the world’s biggest porn website, has been publishing an annual review of its statistics. Some of these are truly staggering. In 2017 the site had 28.5 BILLION visits, and received 800 search queries A SECOND. To watch all of the videos uploaded last year would take 68 years of non-stop viewing. Ouch!

There are two things you can say about this:

  1. Lots of people are watching a lot of porn;
  2. Good on Pornhub for bothering to look at the statistics.

Of course, the reason they have invested so much in analysing their vast amounts of data is so they can work out how to keep their users logged on for as long as possible: the longer someone is on the site, the more adverts they will see and the more money Pornhub will make. It also helps that statistics they produce are really interesting and often get picked up by the media which can’t be bad for publicity.

I visited Pornhub to do some research. Honest.

Do you think my wife will believe me when I tell her that?

When I typed “Muslim” into the search box there were 1,861 results. I didn’t watch any of the videos (honest) but looking at the first page of thumbnails they seemed to be a mix of professional movies made by big American producers (in which the actors and actresses were pretending to be Muslim) and home-made amateur videos of, I assume, real Muslims.

So, who is watching Muslim porn?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer. Pornhub have yet to publish a detailed report on the subject so there is no way to know for certain.

But the majority of people searching for Muslim porn will be white men. I feel confident to say that because the majority of people watching porn of any sort are white men. It might be the exotic nature of it that appeals to them, or it could be the thrill of something that they feel is forbidden.

However, I think it is also safe to assume that many of the searches will be done by Muslims themselves. Yes, I know pornography is considered haram, but you would be naive to think that means that Muslims don’t watch it.

Part of being a Muslim is about learning to suppress our basic desires in the pursuit something greater. That doesn’t mean we don’t have those desires.

Just look at Ramadan, the month where we try not to eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset. Denying our thirst and hunger is not done as a punishment, or because we don’t feel hunger like other people, but to teach us what our bodies are capable of and remind us to appreciate what we have.

More Sudanese people would be terrorists if it wasn’t so damn hot all the time

The Metropolitan Police revealed details of the suspect they have detained in relation to the Westminster attack in London yesterday.

When I read that he was originally from Sudan I was surprised: most Sudanese people I know couldn’t be bothered to carry out a terror attack – not that any of them have the inclination.

You see, the pace of life in Sudan is slow – people don’t tend to rush around when daytime temperatures routinely exceed 40°C.

But Sudan is a Muslim country, so they must be terrorists right?

Except, if you were to compare Sudan to somewhere like Saudi Arabia you might not realise they were Muslims at all. For example, there are no laws against women driving, going out without a male chaperone or wearing their hair out.

Most women do wear the hijab by choice, but many – especially younger women – do not. And nobody bats an eye. The people enjoy music and dancing and singing as much as anyone in Britain, if not more.

Sudan is a pretty relaxing place

A view across the Nile in Khartoum, Sudan

I once played cards and drank cardamom-spiced coffee late into the night, at one of the many busting cafes on banks of the River Nile in Khartoum, and honestly I cannot think of anywhere I have felt more at peace.

It seems to me that whatever caused this man to attack Parliament yesterday, it probably has more to do with his experiences since coming to Britain, than anything at all to do with Sudan.

Islamophobes know the Qu’ran better than anyone – but that doesn’t mean they know Islam

I was debating with someone who clearly has a low opinion of Islam (“a pile of stinking shit”, I think he called it) on Facebook in response to one of my blog posts. Like all good debates on social media it involved references to Wikipedia, because Wikipedia is the last word on everything. When I pointed out that he had deliberately omitted a qualifying clause to make his point he accused me of taqiya.

Most ordinary Muslims don’t care that much about the fine details of the faith

I didn’t have a clue what he meant. I don’t know Arabic or Islam well enough yet to have even guessed. None of my Muslim friends or my Muslim wife have ever mentioned the word to me.

I had to go back to Wikipedia to find out that, literally, it means “prudence or fear”. The best way to explain it is with some examples: if a Muslim were adrift at sea, with nothing to drink but beer, he would not commit a sin by drinking it; or if he was lost and starving in the jungle and the only food was a suckling pig, he would be permitted to kill it and eat it, rather than starve to death.

Muslims are allowed to lie about their faith sometimes

The example that most closely resembles the way in which my Facebook foe was using the word is that Muslims are permitted to lie, even about their faith, if telling the truth might harm them.

This mainly applied back in the middle-ages when tribes and warlords were fighting constant battles for territory and power across the huge swathes of Middle East. Many had a habit of capturing towns and cities and systematically killing all those of a certain faith. In that situation you would be an idiot to tell the truth about your religious views.

None of these situations applies to a debate on Facebook with a person who is, with the greatest respect, my intellectual inferior. There was no need for me to lie to win that particular argument.

All Muslims in the West are undercover sleeper agents

When I was Googling taqiya, I came across some dark corners of the internet, but the most amusing are the right-wing conspiracy theories which suggest that Muslims in the West are being encouraged to use taqiya in order to infiltrate society so that they are well placed to attack when the order is given.

So there I was, a Muslim, pointing out that he, an Islamophobe, had deliberately misrepresented evidence but it was him who accused me of religiously-sanctioned lying. How can a Muslim ever hope to change the minds of people like?

Knowing the Qu’ran and knowing Islam are two very different things.

It is accepted by all Muslims that a degree of interpretation is needed. Some things are quite clearly written but others are more specific to their time and place, or not written at all. There is no mention, for example, of whether women should be allowed to drive for (hopefully) obvious reasons. Therefore, the teachings of Islam must be adapted and interpreted with respect to current knowledge.

My message to any Islamophobes reading is this: don’t read the Qu’ran to learn about Islam. Speak to a Muslim, or go to a mosque, because there is so much more to it than what is written.

My Muslim name is Adam – it was the first name that came to mind

When people convert (or revert) to Islam they will often choose a new name to signify that something fundamental about themselves has changed. It symbolises a fresh start and a commitment to a new way of life.

My birth name is Paul.

Continue reading “My Muslim name is Adam – it was the first name that came to mind”

I am one of few white men to have seen beneath the burka – what I saw made me sad.

As a doctor I am in an extremely privileged position: I get to see people at their most vulnerable. And sometimes my patients see my vulnerabilities too.

I worked for a while at a practice in the area of Manchester that has the highest number recent immigrants of all nationalities. The people may be ethnically diverse, but they are universally poor. The area is one of the most deprived in the country and is home to a large Muslim population. It was rare for me to see a white British patient when I was there, but those I did see were almost all struggling with one sort of addiction or another. It was clear that Muslim patients were struggling too, but at least you could see that they were trying to make a better life for themselves. Children wearing grammar school blazers would come in to translate for their Urdu-speaking parents.

I remember clearly one time when a woman wearing a burka came in to see me because it was rare, even for an area with such a large proportion of Muslims. I immediately began to feel uncomfortable but it wasn’t through fear or embarrassment.

When I see a patient for the first time my eyes start searching for diagnostic clues as soon as they step foot in the door. Even before that I can tell a lot: if it takes a while before I hear a knock, I know that their mobility is poor; if they need me to shout “come in” twice, they might have some hearing difficulty.

My eyes search my patients’ faces and bodies for anything that might help me piece together the diagnostic jigsaw: a clenched fist can indicate pain; a twitch of the mouth can convey unspoken doubt. I watch how they move, how they breath and how they react to my smile. You would be amazed just how much a doctor can learn about you before you even speak. Most of the time they will have formulated a fairly accurate diagnosis within the first 30-seconds of meeting you.

The burka took away all of my usual visual clues. I felt lost and out of control. Was she pleased or worried to see me? Was she in pain? Was she depressed? All I had were her eyes. They were piercing (maybe because they were the only things I could see) but I could not read them.

I took a breath to steady myself and asked her what I could do for her. She told me that she had been having problems with a rash on her face. It might have been obvious that I started thinking about how I was going to go about asking to see it. However, without a pause she unclipped one side of the veil. It was like she had switched on a light and my puzzle fell into place. I could see that she looked sad, and I could also see that she had acne.

It was bad. Large spots on her on her jaw, chin and cheeks – and in places it had left scars. She told me that acne was one of the main reasons that she had started to wear the veil in the first place. Whenever she went out without it people would stare – judging her for something she could do nothing about. At least when she wore the veil she felt some control over what other people saw. It gave her the confidence to go out and interact with others that she otherwise didn’t have.

acne-free-1.1-1
An example of severe facial acne

Before you have an opinion of the burka you need to understand that there are many different reasons why a woman might choose to wear one. And as one of very few white men to have seen beneath it, I can assure you that the only thing under there is a woman, just like any other.