Rant Back

Monday, 18 January 2010

Izzie, Izzie

Izzie: I don't see anything wrong with being a moderate Muslim. For starters, there's enough evidence from Quran and Sunnah that teach us to be moderate plus balanced. As for an Islamic state, there are no defined, clear injunctions towards Darul Islam... Scholars have differed greatly on that issue.. As for apostates, there's also enough evidence that harmless apostates should not be killed. One day when I'm not busy I'll make a video or a blog entry about it insha Allah. I'm a moderate Muslim, and I'm fine with it. I believe in the mercy of God while at the same time I strive to be better morally and spiritually. No one's perfect right? if anyone goes too extreme in religion, he/she can be destroyed. As for Hell and Heaven, yes I do believe in them. There's a minority opinion that says punishment of hell is not eternal, and I will someday research more about that. I'm no scholar anyway. Islamically, it is wrong to attack places of worship if you refer to Muhammad pbuh's covenant with the christians. it is haram to attack any place of worship but whatever. people are assholes, deal with it. But your argument against Allah's name is sooooo typical, I've heard it so many times before by Christian apologists and it's been refuted.*rolls eyes*

I'm afraid Izzie's reply is a bit... Vague. There's claim of there being evidence, but no evidence is presented. There's claim of refutation, but no refutation is presented.

If you think my argument is typical, then really, does it have anything to do with the validity of the argument? Common use of the argument, or the typical nature of the argument does not make it less valid. The theory of gravity is pretty much the common explanation people use to explain things from falling apples to ocean tides, but the fact that it's now a typical explanation does not make it less valid.

Of course, let's try and use your logic here:

A: "You know, after centuries of advancements in Chemistry and Physics, it has been theorised that water has the formula H2O."
Izzie: *Yawn*. That's such a typical explanation. And it's been refuted. *rolls eyes*

And what of this refutation about the word "Allah" not being exclusive to Islam? Please, give me details. I'd like to hear it. And no, I'm not being sarcastic.

Izzie is being a tease here. "People's not sure about that one... There's a group that says the opposite... I don't see anything wrong..." It sounds like an apologist with no self-esteem even. There's also quite a few statements of belief, with no attempt to justify said beliefs.

And please, if it's going to be a long reply, reply to the comment section.

The Word of God

If you haven't heard, there is a controversy in Malaysia about the use of the word "Allah" by a Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia in their publication called the Herald. You can read it here (one link was provided on the cBox by Reader):

(The Mainichi Daily News) Malaysian church fire-bombed amidst "Allah dispute
(AFP) Malaysia church attacks 'minor aberration': PM
(The Economist) Malaysia's Burning Churches: In God's Name?
(Mysinchew.com) Govt. Wrong On All Counts
(The Times) Attacks after Malaysian court rules Christians can worship Allah
(Reuters) Malaysia church torched amid Allah row
(BBC) Malaysia church attacks continue in use of 'Allah' row

Now I would think there are no justifications for these acts of violence. None. Violence towards a party that has not acted violent against you is simply not justifiable.

There's also the matter of why some Muslims are acting out so violently. Put simply, the violence is a part of the ongoing protests against the overturning of the ban of the word "Allah" in a Roman Catholic publication. Now this is where things get stupid.

What a lot of people are claiming is that "Allah" is exclusive for Islam. But it's actually quite conclusive that it's not.

If you know your Islamic history, then you'd know that the word "Allah" was used to refer to God even before the time of Islam. Remember Muhammad's father? His name was Abdullah, i.e. Slave of Allah. His name referred to Allah even before Muhammad was even born.

Allah in pre-Islamic times referred to the supreme deity, but wasn't the 'wahid', or the one. He had sons and daughters. Again, open that Sejarah textbook. Uzza, Manat and Lat? Those 'idols' were Allah's daughters in pre-Islamic times. Heck, the word Allah comes from Al-Ilah, meaning the god. There's even corresponding equals in Aramaic (Elaha) and Syriac (Alaha).

In Arabic countries, the Christians and the Jews use the word "Allah" to refer to their God, because in Arabic, it simply means God. It's not exclusive to Islam. Even in Indonesia, Christians use the word Allah without any repercussions. In Malta, where the population is almost entirely Roman Catholic, the word for God is "Allah."

Let's say, just for argument's sake, that Allah is indeed exclusive to Islam (which it isn't). Bear with me here.

Is that still reason enough to attack places of worship?

It almost makes me want to scream out, "THEN COPYRIGHT IT, YOU WHINING FUCKERS." Of course with a word in such common use and used for thousands of thousands of years can't really be copyrighted anymore. So, my response would simply be, "tough luck."

Tough luck that a Christian publication wants to use a word that wasn't exlusive to Islam in the first place. Sure, now it's very much tied to Islam, and that is the first religion people think about when the Allah is mentioned, but what about Malta, or Indonesia or in Arab countries where such exclusivity does not exist?

Of course it doesn't really help with the message "Islam is a religion of peace," does it? Oh, but there'll be people who'll say, "but hey, it's only the minority being violent."

Yes, true. But the more disturbing fact is that even the supposedly moderate Muslims talk about being persecuted, or that Muslims have to unite to fight against the common enemy i.e. non-Muslims. You see supposedly moderate Muslims nodding when religious speakers speak of a holy war against Jews and non-Muslims. It's quite worrying, to be honest. Some of my friends have supported the ban of the word "Allah," which is quite bad in itself. What is worse is that they also feel the violent attacks are justified, i.e. the Christians had it coming.

What the fuck?

The logic is that the Christians should not have provoked the Muslims. What, are Christians expected to expect that Muslims will be protesting so viciously and so horrifically? Here it is. Muslims aren't violent, but don't be surprised if we burn your churches when you insult our religion. How is that not a paradoxical claim?

This is also the justification used to explain the axe attack on one of the Danish cartoonists who drew Muhammad a few years back. Muslims are a peaceful bunch, but don't expect us not to come at you with an axe and send death threats when you draw a cartoon about our prophet?

It's not just the people who commit the attacks, it's the people who says either that the attacks were justifiable, or that the victims had it coming to them. Despicable acts should be condemned by anyone, and not be seen as "the proper response" or "predictable, it's the victim's fault."

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Religious Freedom

I'm not one for censorship, except for some very special cases. For instance, children should not be viewing pornographic images because their cognitive ability has not developed to the point where they can process sexual ideas and images properly.

Or ideas that incites racial hatred. Even then, one could argue that by letting racists sound off, we'll be exposing how absurd racist ideas are. By suppressing them, we are almost giving a legitimacy or handing them the 'persecution' card. We are giving them the opportunity for the racists to say "well, they're scared of the truth, that's why they try to oppress us, but we will not be oppressed." And people usually sympathise with persecuted people.

There's also religious freedom. I'm all up for it. I am. I may not be a fan of religion, but I believe that people are free to believe whatever it is they want to, just as long as they don't try to make their religious beliefs as part of the law. In fact, I'm all up for people to advertise their beliefs, if other people are allowed to dissect and criticise said beliefs rationally and methodically.

Which brings me to this.

See the USA's report on religious freedom in Brunei:

This report caused a minor stir in Brunei. Even Pehin Kapitan Lela Diraja Dato Paduka Goh King Chin defended Brunei's religious policy:

What I can't understand is, why is the criticism harsh? Pretty much most of the report is accurate. The 'freedoms' the Pehin mentioned is not criticised in the report. So it's not providing an unfair review by stating untruths. The Pehin did not, however, address the issues mentioned in the report, mainly:

(1) Non-muslim religious education is not allowed/heavily restricted in schools
(2) Muslims trying to convert to another religion face huge official and societal pressure not to.
(3) Proselytism of other religions (or even other sects of Islam other than Mazhab Shafi'e) is heavily restricted
(4) Interfaith dialogue is realistically non-existent due to regulation

When the Pehin (hereafter named as GKC) mentioned mutual respect, I think personally, that the 'respect' that the government gives to other religions is pretty low. There are still a lot of hurdles to be passed through before we could say there is any sense of actual religious freedom in Brunei. It's defined pretty loosely in Brunei as simply being free to believe in what you believe in. That's what religious freedom is. While on the surface it might seem pretty good and dandy, it's really just an incomplete, minimal understanding of what the term actually means.

Religious freedom means that there should be no restrictions that state Islam should be the only religion taught in schools. Even in Christian schools Christianity is no longer taught anymore (anecdotal. If I'm wrong, correct me). Religious freedom means that other Mazhabs should be free to be practiced and preached in public without fear of being arrested. Religious freedom means that religious conversion should not be such that converting away from Islam should not be a million times harder than to Islam.

GKC says that "there is no problem unless 'you create one'." Well, this is really just saying don't mess with the status quo. The laws are unfair on other religions. There are many problems, but as GKC says (unintentionally), people dismiss it in fear of 'creating one.' That's how the Bruneian mentality works. Don't mess with the status quo. It's worked till now, didn't it?

It has worked because we have blinded ourselves to the regulatory, bureaucratic religious persecution that other religions face because we assure ourselves that a country that has Islam as its official religion should only have to provide minimal freedom to other religions. But oh the hypocrisy. When countries such as Sweden ban the building of new minarets, we cry loudly and say 'where is the religious freedom? They are persecuting Muslims!.'

Imagine this. Imagine if Brunei was a Christian country. Only Christianity is taught in schools, and every Christian child is required to attend six-years of 'Sekolah Ugama Kristian.' Melayu Kristian Beraja. Churches instead of mosques. Christians pressured with regulations and social obligations not to convert to Islam. Everyone must respect the saying of grace in meals, even non-Christians. The sound of church bells every Sunday in every part of the country (not even five times a day!).

I bet most of you are fuming. I bet you're thinking, 'they're persecuting the Muslims!'. But hey, there's only a problem if you 'create one.' Note the sarcasm.

I think religion is a bit rubbish anyway.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Hello fellow Bruneians, not forgetting the non-Bruneians too. Some people might wonder why I have very long breaks inbetween posts. Well, this is a blog about my beliefs as an atheist (and other things) in a Muslim country. And being an atheist does not define all of me. By all means, no. Sure, being an atheist also leads to or overlaps with some of the other things that I do believe/support, like secularism, humanism, tolerance, equality in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. So I don't feel the need to talk about it all the time.

Okay, now I'm going to present you with a theory of mine. I'm sure some people will completely disagree with me, like they always do. I must emphasise though, this is a theory that is completely dependent on my own experience and speculation. Therefore I will be honest with you, I have no evidence for this and will not pretend to have any. But I think I'm justified to deduce, from whatever I've gathered, the points that I will make here in this post.

The idea of a 'moderate' Muslim has always puzzled me. I mean, the concept of it is great, it's progressive. Some moderates even advocate secularism. So to be clear, I'm not against the idea of moderation in terms of religion. I believe it's a healthy step towards secularism. You're free to believe in anything you want just as long as you don't impose it on others and do not expect others to follow the same rules your religion impose on you. That's totally fine with me. (Not completely, but that's a whole other topic).

I'm just perplexed by it.

Let me tell you why. If you do believe in Allah, then you definitely believe in Heaven and Hell, unless you're the extreme Muslim minority who believe in God but not Heaven & Hell (who can be argued to be distorting the Quran). The people who believe in Heaven & Hell would then in turn believe in the Quran. I'm leaving out the hadith because I know a considerable minority can find fault in the nature of them.

So why are you moderate? For many moderates, many of the little, everyday things they do would surely make them 'hell-bound'. Things like women not wearing headscarves, guys wearing shorts that go above their knees, getting and paying interests in banking, superstitions, etc.

Surely then you've realised many of the restrictions imposed by religion are simply impractical, nonsensical and backwards? At least subconsciously you're being skeptical of some of the major and minor rules in Islam. Do we demand that a full Shari'a court be installed so that adulterers would be stoned, thieves would have their hands cut off and ex-Muslims be beheaded?

No. Deep inside we know they are wrong. Deep inside these moderate Muslims who might be good friends with gay people, sexually active people and hedonistic people know that these people don't deserve what the Quran says they deserve. In fact these moderate Muslims might even be gay, sexually active or hedonistic themselves.

The thing is, I think a lot of Muslims are more skeptical/agnostic than they would like to believe they are. But culture and tradition does not allow for even the mere thought of doubt to form inside the head. It is considered a virtue to never question the core belief that there is a god, that Allah is the one true god and Muhammad is the last true prophet.

So 'moderate' believers are left with just ignoring and choosing to leave out the parts they know to be wrong and still stick with the core beliefs, unable to go further with their own skepticisms.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The cBox Is Not The Best Place

Okay, first I apologise for having been absent for what has been quite a 'productive' exchange in the cBox. I've been really busy for the past couple of weeks.

The problem is, the cBox does not notify me nor is it convenient for me to check [older messages]. Please, if you can, if what if you're trying to say requires more than one line on the cBox, please, please use the comment box on the blog entries. It's easier for me and everyone else to keep track what comment refers to what post, and so it's easier for me to reply. And comments stay on the comment box. Comments on the cBox disappear after a while, so people might not know if they're repeating the same point a person made a few weeks before.

After going through the cBox, I still find many comments not worth replying to.

I don't really mind people coming to this blog challenging what I say. I'm not one for censorship here. It's just that there's always the temptation to really filter out stuff that their best are irrelevant, and at their worst just too plain stupid. But hey, I've not acted on that temptation so far.

I guess for people it's an easy idea to just banish people out of the country who simply doesn't agree with you. People don't really get the idea that you can still criticise something while appreciating it, or even loving it. There's so many things wrong in Brunei, but then there's always something wrong with any country. Running away from the problem does not fix it. Nor does exiling people who voice out the problems.

One of Izzati's points. About the scientific nature of the Quran. The idea of modern scientific theory can be derived from the Quran, is quite frankly, in my opinion, just bullshit. I don't assume people who say the Quran is scientific to be idiots. I'm saying the arguments I've read so far are ignorant, manipulated propaganda. It does not help that one of the proponents of Quranic science is shown to be a criminal, manipulative bastard. But I know it doesn't invalidate the arguments either. The thing is, the arguments themselves usually don't validate themselves. Trust me (or not), I've read and seen people argue for Quranic science (and other forms of 'science,' mostly creationist 'science). Many make me cringe. I don't assume. I actually research a lot of this stuff.

I can't challenge the Quran? What is that supposed to mean? And saying something is a linguistic miracle is a bit meaningless. Shakespeare managed to write whole plays using iambic pentameters and still manages to write dialogue that is both insightful and entertaining. Milton wrote ten books of Paradise Lost while being blind. C.S. Lewis wrote poems with nonsense words that are revered as a magnificient use of linguistic rules that seem to mean something and nothing at the same time. The term linguistic miracle is a subjective term. Miracle is a subjective term. Some palindromes here and there do not constitute as a miracle. Seeing patterns here and there does not constitute a miracle.

And I still find it hilarious how Bibit does not remember how he said these things:

: the more I read your blog, the more i find it absurd. you're talking as if you studied Sociology and religion for two years and bammmmmmmmm you are an Atheist. Cali.

bibit: how old are u again Jason? 19, 20, 21? you still need to learn more..iatah ni baru jua abis belajar.

For some reason people cannot imagine a 7-year-old being inquisitive and curious. Is it too hard to believe a child may just question what people are saying because it doesn't make sense to him? Of course I was playing guli, gatah and skopong with my friends, but I bet your 7th year alive did not consist solely of those things. If it's really that hard for you to imagine an inquisitive 7-year-old, then I cannot hope to convince you.

And again, why does my age matter? I could be 20, I could be 15, I could be 35, heck I could be fucking 5 or 95 for all you care. Does that make my points less valid? Heck, a 5-year-old making a good point is still a 5-year-old making a good point. An 80-year-old making a terrible point is still an 80-year-old making a terrible point. And it could be vice versa. Why has my age become a topic? It's weird.

And it's kind of stupid telling people they're being blasphemous when they don't actually believe what they're blaspheming against.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

I'm Old-Skool

Bibit: ya ryt... ko ingat pecaya ku tu ko doubt religion since u were 7? pls ok... kesian eh, semua points mu atu mcm belajar sociology all over gain and ko masukkan verses atu ani as if ko paham apa yang ko buat ah. Jgn ckp ambung. Anytime God can cabut nyawa mu ah... dibagi chance to live, tapi menghina ur own creator... inda tau beterima kasih... all these atheist any bnrnya sick of living rules them of doing whatever they want, don't read too much nonsense, gila ko krg. Ani pun udah ko ranting pasal org bekonvoi smbyng jumat, sakit plang atimu. Haha. Ari jumat, I bet ko tdur masih, sal bejaga meliat dvd, nada jua org sibuk and marah2. Lau ko nda suka mndgr what came out of your ugama teacher's mouths, napa ko inda beranti? To be honest, aku pun beranti ugama awal sal ku sanak mendagar ceramah tapi udah basar ani tah bru ku nyasal and balik semula belajar ugama bh bye.

SOA: seriously, you're being such a baby. Complain pasal ugama nganya. Live ur life and shut your mouth. No one cares what u think. But hey, its not like kami totally ignore u. we've warned u n everything. If u think u dont have a purpose in life, do this. Grab a gun, put it in ur mouth and pull the trigger. Here's what I think. I think you have a serious childhood problem. Full stop.

Bibit: SOA I second you. Ranting about religion ani old skool berabis. Bangga ia bah tu, kiranya ia think outside the box. Modern, know it all, iatah ia rasa he's superior than God.

Hahaha. These messages on the cBox actually made me laugh so hard. I'm not even offended or anything. I just shook my head and and smiled. These words have come so many times before from various people in various forms. And I've replied to them several times. I remember when I first started this blog, these kinds of comments made me really angry, but answering them, I had to make myself calm first. Here I'm trying to keep calm, but not from anger. Instead I'm trying to keep myself from laughing.

None of the 'criticisms' here are original. Some of the questions that asks bits about my personality, I feel do not warrant an answer, since, well, they bear no relevance, really.


Bibit first says “ko ingat pecaya ku tu ko doubt religion since u were 7?” and then later says “ To be honest, aku pun beranti ugama awal sal ku sanak mendagar ceramah.” So you don't believe me, but you've been in my 'unbelievable' situation? It's okay. I don't need you to believe me. You can go on believing I'm a 20 year old sociology graduate, if you must. I prefer to think of myself as the guy from American Pie. But hey only I and some people close to me know who I am offline, and they'd be laughing their ass off at some of the assumptions people make about me.

And your assumption of me as a sociologist is somewhat peculiar. I'm very surprised that you only see the sociological side of everything I say. What about the scientific, the philosophical, even with just plain, old common sense? Are you a sociologist by any chance?

“Ani pun udah ko ranting pasal org bekonvoi smbyng jumat, sakit plang atimu.”

Proof you did not read the entry. Nothing other than that captioned photo of kittens was about sembahyang jumat. Hell, if you've read me before, I've used kitten photos before (once, I think), usually as an introduction to what I feel will be quite a heated rant.

“Lau ko nda suka mndgr what came out of your ugama teacher's mouths, napa ko inda beranti?”

That's the point. I wasn't allowed to 'stop' listening to them. Ugama school is a dogmatic institution. They force-feed you religious tripe till you either quit or graduate. Being a kid with religious parents, quitting wasn't an option. So I had to swallow all that bullshit for a few years then vomit it out.

“seriously, you're being such a baby.”

Hahaha. This comment is so funny it made my day. No further comment needed.

“Live ur life and shut your mouth.”

Offline, I do have a life, just like everybody else. And I'm not what you would say a content apathetic person. If I see something wrong, the least I can do is write about it. And hey, at least I'm not invading your personal space while I do it. I don't write pamphlets and shove them at people's faces. Hell, I'm still here in my own personal blogsite (well, Blogger's, really) writing for those people who by their own choice come to my blog. I've only ever promoted my blog once, and that was way back when I first got started. Now I guess it's just through word of mouth, which brings me to my next point.

“No one cares what u think”

You'd be surprised how many do care. You don't realise there's Bruneian atheists out there who feel unsafe about telling people what they think (and from the replies I get on this blog, it's easy to see why). You don't realise there's Bruneian muslims who are eager to seek out active discussion and opinions from an opposing/differing side. If nobody cared about this blog, I would've deleted
the blog a long time ago.

“If u think u dont have a purpose in life, do this. Grab a gun, put it in ur mouth and pull the trigger.”

Wow. So you think your life's purpose is defined by God. In my honest opinion, that's pretty damn sad. By the way, read this. I've addressed your suggestion before.

[link to Optimistic Nihilist]

“Ranting about religion ani old skool berabis.”

I did not realise I was catering to the 'cool' people here. The hip hipsters, the nu-skoolers. And there I was thinking that I should just start a blog because I had something to say.

“Bangga ia bah tu, kiranya ia think outside the box. Modern, know it all, iatah ia rasa he's superior than God.”

Hahaha. I cannot feel superior to a being whose existence I don't believe in, much like I don't feel superior to a unicorn, or even Ultraman. I don't think I'm even thinking that far outside the box. This is not some meta-physical existentialist debate. Most of it really is just common sense.

The saddest thing about it all is both these people didn't actually make it their point to argue against anything I've said. Most of it were just personal attacks. “you're this, kau atu.”

There were more messages on the cBox after, but they were just petty insults (or sad attempts at insults), I felt no need to reply to those.

Monday, 6 July 2009


3 Jul 09, 06:34
Izzati: Islam actually gives me a sense of liberation and a feeling of inner peace. Deal with it.
27 Jun 09, 09:22
bibit: religion for two years and bammmmmmmmm you are an Atheist. Cali.
27 Jun 09, 09:21
bibit: the more I read your blog, the more i find it absurd. you're talking as if you studied Sociology and

Bibit, I think you simplified things just a tad too much.

If you did read my blog, you'd know I've been doubting religion and God ever since I was about seven years old, and especially in my days in the Agama school where I could not take in what I thought and still think is bullshit coming out of my teachers' mouths.

And Izzati, asking me to 'deal with it' is kind of hypocritical of you. I think you're the one having a problem with dealing with the fact that I'm criticising your religion and that I cannot find the same feeling of 'inner peace' you tried to convince me you felt. Ever since I found my mind free of religious constraints, I feel more spiritual than I had ever been. And yes, spirituality is a separate thing from religion.

"What is your purpose in life? Why do you think you are here?"

This is why I feel liberated. I don't feel burdened by the thought of my life devoted to a 'Supreme Being' that I've never seen or felt. I didn't choose to not believe. It was not a rebellion borne out of a desire to be different. It was just a state of mind shaped by years and years of personal thoughts and moments.

I've addressed this point in detail by the way, in a previous post. I can't be bothered to to look up the title, but it might be something about being an optimistic nihilist.

And yes, this is a busy time for me, and I have a lot of things to do. You're right. Haha.

So replies and posts might be few and far between.