The image of Islam was greatly besmirched after Sept. 11, a time when there was much literature in circulation in which the religion was denounced by scared Americans and safeguarded by devout Muslims.
But the effort to safeguard Islam developed a more propagandist approach, with some devout Muslims close-mindedly defending the religion’s tenets and developing a large and highly fortified army.
A more viable solution would’ve been implementing a system of long-term education, which wouldn’t necessarily mean only teaching madrasa students aboout the religion’s history.
As a non-Muslim who was born and reared in the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than 27 years, the country is familar territory. This is a region where people who are barely able to read believe that, because Muhammad is the latest proclaimer of the will of God, Islam and its followers must be better than all of the rest.
Inability to read doesn’t make anyone a bad person. Muhammed himself was illiterate and enriched the world with Islam, after all. But people who can’t read the teachings in which they strongly believe most likely are being told what’s in the Quran by someone who may have their own agenda.
These people look for opportunities to advertise and then forcefully convert people to their version of Islam because they assume that their actions are noble and might result in some kind of reward from the Almighty. A captive audience, they learned this distorted approach to showing the courage of their convictions from religious scholars who had political and economic ambitions of their own.
Muslims who follow the real Islam are aware that the prophet Muhammad didn’t forcefully impose his religious teachings and didn’t bring a new fashion trend to the world. He was on Earth to save his nation from ignorance and myths that were associated with patriarchy.
His teachings weren’t meant to be something religious scholars could use in making impressionable people commit acts that were against the will of the people and in adherence to unnecessary, man-made boundaries. But this is exactly what the fanatic religious scholars did throughout the centuries for their Islamic society, which may explain why there are so many close-minded terrorists today.
Boundaries created by these scholars are similar to cages that keep humans in captivity.
One such boundary is women’s clothing, which has become tighter, thicker and darker, completely covering women’s bodies. They call it Islamic clothing, which is more like a prison with fabric walls. And the prison guards are men.
These prison guards enforce the boundaries, as a substantial amount of time, energy and money is spent by the Iranian government to mobilize agents to persecute men and women for their hairstyles, make-up and clothing choices.
If freedom actually exists in a society, anyone should be free to decide what to wear. It’s how people choose to present themseleves to the world, which is a form of expression, if not speech.
And if Islamic clothing was supposed to stop men from being enticed by women’s bodies and prevent rape, it should’ve worked after 1,400 years of practice.
Isn’t 1,400 years of practice in all these Islamic countries proof that it isn’t working? A millenium is more than enough time to try alternative solutions.
Besides, if men are tempted to take advantage of women whenever they see any part of their bodies exposed, the problem clearly isn’t with women.
It should be suggested to the followers of the Islamic style of clothing, in a friendly manner, to make sure they aren’t becoming a tool of fanatic religious scholars to advertise their version of the religion.
Viable alternative solutions would be to teach such men to respect women as equals, not merely as sexual objects, and to punish them whenever they can’t control their baser needs.
All it takes is a little respect and accountability, which is something religious scholars didn’t have when they direspected Muhammed by distorting his teachings to quench their insatiable thirst for power and money.
Every individual is a small piece of what comprises a bigger picture of society. And usually there are a few bad pieces that don’t fit into place and ruin what could’ve been beautiful.
If it was up to these religious scholars and fanatic followers of contemporary Islam, they’d cover the flowerlike beauty of all women’s bodies and ban them from singing and dancing. They’d also cover flowers with black plastic to hide their colors, put padlocks on birds’ beaks to keep them from singing and ban people from watching sunrises and sunsets.
But to me, as a man, life without the beauty of a woman at my side, without the beautiful colors of sunset or sunrise, without birds singing freely on a flower-covered mountain isn’t a life worth having.
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