Mom would insist that I go with my uncle to the Friday prayers. This was in Karachi, Pakistan. The atmosphere was hot and dusty but I didn't mind all that. What I dreaded was the soul crushing sermon before the main prayer. The words of the imam were full of righteous fury and rattling passion. The problem was that I had heard the same message a million times before. But even after the mind-numbing repetition, most of it didn't make any sense to me.
He talked of the hopelessness and powerlessness of the Muslims all across the globe. The imam's voice rose with each word. "Look at our own society, we've forgotten our values, we've strayed from the right path. The TV is to blame for our youth's drift."
That last bit got my attention. I quickly looked around and saw the men nodding in agreement. But how? How could the TV be even partly responsible for the position of Muslims in the world? The Pakistani shows on TV are made by Muslim themselves and it wouldn't make sense for them to be, somehow, regressing the ummah. Anyway, only housewives and old ladies watch those shows.
All the foreign shows on TV are censored of any infidelicious material before they're aired. I just couldn't see Bob Newhart leading the young ummah to hell. Or MacGyver using his infinite skill to make the Muslims less pious. Although, it's possible that this flying death machine caused a few Muslims a little heatburn. Perhaps, it's me, I thought. I'm just too young to understand the adult Muslim logic. I'll have a better grasp of the Zionist TV channels when I grow up. I never did.
I had more questions as the years went by. Ramadan comes along 10 days earlier every year since Muslims follow the lunar calendar and in Saudi Arabia, it was amazing to behold the transformation in my class. Almost all the troublemakers were polite and quiet. The few who caused a stir were not ruthlessly beaten by the teachers as was the case in the other 11 months. It was odd to see friends and classmates suppress the usual swear words and be oh-so-angelic. "It's Ramadan!" they all exclaimed. "We have to behave like good Muslims. We don't fight. We don't talk dirty. And we pray five times a day."
Was that hypocrisy or the lack of food that brought the best behavior? Why, oh why, did they all revert to being jerks when Ramadan was over? And non-praying jerks at that. Of course, I kept these questions to myself since I wished for my jaw to remain intact.
Mom had always lamented that I'm not religious enough. I don't pray. I don't fast. I don't read the Quran...I'm a baaad Muslim. So, after hearing these complaints for the umpteenth time, I asked her a few questions that just happened to be on my mind.
Why is it that whenever there is a conflict between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, other Muslims take the side of the Muslim regardless of the facts?
"Aaah," was her reply.
Why do Muslims hate modern day Jews and Christians? Let's assume that Jews and Christians were enemies of Muhammad in the 7th century. How does that criminality transfer to their innocent descendants 1400 years later?
It says that the Haj washes away all the sins of a man. Don't you think that's a bad idea? Consider a Muslim who is foul-mouthed, drinks alcohol, steals for his drug addiction, and sleeps around in his 20s and 30s. At age 40, he makes the noble pilgrimage to Mecca. Presto, his slate is wiped clean. Don't you think the Haj acts as an incentive for reckless behavior?
Take the 5 prayers during the day. The first prayer is before sunrise and the last two are after sunset. How could one perform them at the North Pole? It's daytime for 6 months followed by night for the next 6. Imagine the first day of Ramadan during daytime. The sun never sets! Your religious fasting would kill you.
Mom was pissed. "You know, you talk like a Jew. They always bothered the prophets with too many questions."
Cute. My questions still remain unanswered and I continued to be a baaad Muslim.