Subservience & the Khaleejis.
The Arabian Peninsula has been nomadic/Bedouin for most of its history. Resources were scarce, and tribes who accumulated fertile lands had overwhelming power over other families.
The harsh reality of the region meant that other tribes didn’t have negotiation powers, but only the option of complete submission (to more powerful families) in order to secure their survival. For the next hundreds of years, this leads to a culture of dominance by man over man, which continues to be apparent both in action and rhetoric. Such as “Hand-kissing” in action, and “سمعا و طاعه” (“I will listen & obey”) in rhetoric, both which still live on today.
Scarcity also meant that tribal leaders felt compelled to defend their resources with strict authoritarianism. Seemingly innocent aspects of our culture, such as واسطه (direct connections to powerful figures) are in fact a byproduct of both of these components. It’s a system of family-owned hierarchies, with generous advantages for the most obedient underdogs.
Due to the combination of scarcity and obedience in such cultures, other features would be the lack of “objective, research-based” criticism as a concept. All criticism is perceived as a direct attack (By someone loyal and obedient to another tribe), to which khaleejis typically responded to with “Which tribe (present-day: country, sect) are you from?”
The outcome of this authoritarianism/obedience culture didn’t only create one of the most authoritarian and repressive regimes on earth, but one of the most obedient masses as well.
That said, there are aspects that are unique to Arab Gulf states (Particularly KSA) and other authoritarian regimes, one which its own citizens overlook.
It has been best described in “Cults inside out” by Rick Alan Ross.
That is an apolitical book. It makes no mention of “Gulf States”. What exists in authoritarian regimes today is comparable to cults in other parts of the world.
“1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability”
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry”
“3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.”
“4. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.”
That is a cold reminder of Saudi reaction towards Rahaf and other women’s escape from KSA.
“5. The group/leader is always right. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible”
A cold reminder of the reaction of loyalists when approached with information backed by credible sources.
For these reasons, it’s nearly impossible to get many loyalists to think critically. It’s a journey they must undertake on their own. “الله، الملك، الوطن” (“God. King. Nation”) is the slogan of the Arab world, and the question is not whether to reject authoritarianism, but in whom to obey instead.
Statism & Capitalism in the Gulf States.
Capitalism is a non-laboring method to extract value from those who put in the labor. It is conducted in the form of tax, rent, and interest. In short; It is a Triangle Model that is set to accumulate wealth to the top (The central planners) by the labor and time of the workers at the bottom (The workers).
Land ownership is the most blatant case of Capitalism’s functions. A landlord has ownership over land and its natural resources by limiting those who surround it from access to its resources. This is an ordeal that is mandated by state-backed laws (Therefore, armed forces — Public or private). Due to this arrangement, a landowner is capable of demanding a cut of the profit produced by workers and residents who add value to the land, with their labor.
To that effect; Land ownership is a non-laboring method to tax workers off the profit produced by their labor, which is then used to expand on the privatization of land and taxation of more workers.
All forms of Capitalism are ultimately linked back to Land ownership. Just as rent is charged in currency notes, it is charged in time and labor as well.
In the Gulf States, the race and competition over land ownership are often dominated by wealthy business families. Competition is conducted by forces that seek to benefit their self-interest as families (Like any family would) and as private businesses (Like any business does). The union of the two forces creates stronger conditions for the centralization of power.
Under certain conditions, a landlord would allow other forces to run their businesses within their own property (land mass) — given it would ultimately serve their own self-interest (rent).
This is the most typical method for a landlord to accumulate profit off within the hierarchical Triangle Model that exists today. Those on top of the hierarchy are the families that own the most land and the highest accumulation of profit, with the grace of the state’s security forces.
In the case of the Gulf states, the families with the biggest ownership over land and natural resources happen to possess their own security forces (Which is referred to as “the national police” in this context), which guarantees their position on the top of the hierarchy as they are the only force permitted to own an armed security force, while other families are obliged to rely on theirs. This ultimately defines the functions of a Sheikhdom.
By design, those who compete within this model seek to profit off workers’ time/labor as much as legally and physically possible, while leaving the worker with as little of their own labor/time’s value in return (Salaries). That is how a business owner generates profit within the Capitalist model and is how they compete with other Capitalists. The employers who push this line the most, compete the best (At the expense of the workers.).
In practice, it is actually the largest form of taxation — one that is off most of the workers’ time and labor. This is further represented in the following:
The 2016 ITUC Global Rights Index
– The conditions of migrant workers (Along their wealth per capita) in proportion to a region with the most concentration of wealth worldwide (Per Capita) are among the worst in the world.
– The high prevalence of Slave Labor and Human Trafficking:
– The Gulf States ranking in education (In proportion to their natural wealth) is comparable to countries that do not have the biggest concentrations of natural wealth in the world, which suggests major negligence in this sector.
Globally, the outcome of this trend is that the world’s 8 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest 50%. The gap keeps widening, as wealth is not meant to Trickle-down. This goes precisely against the agenda of the Capitalist business owners, which is the accumulation of wealth. By the book — wealth is meant to pump upwards, and as little as possible going downwards.
Competition between Capitalists is largely determined by how well they can push that line, either to thrive or to merely stay afloat. It is precisely why without resistance, Workers had 12-hour work shifts (“Voluntarily”) and kept less than 1% of what their labor was initially worth (“Voluntarily”). They continue to do so in many parts of the world today.
In addition to this. The end products are sold for far more than their value back to the workers, while they simultaneously receive far less than their initial labor’s value, Doubly benefiting the Capitalists. Further disadvantaging those who put in the labor, making it relatively impossible for the working-class to work out of poverty.
As long as Capitalism is the dominant business model, workers will always be on the bottom end of the negotiating table. Agreements overwhelmingly benefit the Capitalists over the vast majority of the human population. One side has an advantage (and a monopoly) over power and choice, while another must inevitably sign a paper in order to meet their basic needs of survival.
The more desperate the workers are, the more capable the Capitalist is at exploiting their desperation, and they often choose to. This is precisely why Capitalists often off-shore their production to poorer South East Asian countries. In the case of the Gulf States, build their economies on “Cheap Labor” locally.
Meanwhile, the workers (Vast majority of the human population) indulge themselves in the scraps left off by the Capitalists. All of which is initially off their time and labor to start with.
Consent & Exploitation under Capitalism –
“But it’s consent. They signed a contract. A Mutual agreement”
Many advocates of Free-Market Capitalism take serious issue with Government taxation on the basis that it is a police-backed theft off the value produced by the work of others. Simultaneously, they make an exception for landlords, shareholders and bankers in their Police-backed (Private-Militia backed) extraction of wealth produced by laborers, and accumulated by non-laborers.
Had the government responded to citizens labor with the following:
“Farming? Trade? Where you are is due to my grace, so I’m entitled to a cut”.
Free-Market Capitalists would typically oppose such an arrangement (Rightfully so) while making an exception for the landlords and bankers who comes forth with the same exact demand.
They may respond with the following:
The difference are:
1. One is called “tax”, and the other is called “rent”. One allegedly exists for egalitarian purposes, while the other is transparent about its sole profiteering purposes.
2. One justifies its accumulation due to “democratic centralism and the people’s party”, while the other justifies its accumulation due to “voluntary agreements” between a handful of people (landowners), with no say from the vast majority of those affected by their decisions.
The power over land and natural resources are often concentrated through nepotism and inheritance rather than competition, let alone merit.
This is a fundamental trait in a Sheikhdom, which is among the ultimate extensions of both Capitalism and Centralized statehood.
Capitalism is out of touch with consent –
First off. What is Consent?
Consent is when one party gives another party permission to engage in specific activities together.
Consent is to agree to something. The conditions of giving consent could derive from a place of passion and desire to necessity and desperation. The outcomes could range to satisfaction fulfillment, substance abuse and the desire to kill oneself. There are different conditions that determine these outcomes.
Second point. What is Abuse?
Abuse is when a person is treated in a way they do not wish to be treated. Abuse often benefits the abuser at the expense of the abused. Therefore, abuse is inherently unjust.
Right-Wing Libertarians often assume that “Consent” cancels out “Abuse”. When in fact,
Consent + Abuse = Exploitation.
In other words, workers may have consented to how they respond to exploitation, but they have not consented to the decisions imposed upon them without their say.
That distinction is very important. Here is a scenario that differentiates Consent from Exploitation:
Consent: Two individuals agree to provide protection for another on mutual benefit.
Exploitation: During desperate times, one individual seeks another individual for protection. The second individual sees the desperation in the individual who’s pleading for help. Thus, offers to only provide support in the exchange for certain “services” that are deeply difficult and painful for the desperate individual.
The dominant individual, aware he has the negotiating powers over the weaker individual in this situation, deliberately decides to squeeze the situation to his advantage as much as he possibly could. At the expense of the desire and feelings of the weakerdominant party is acting on Exploitation.
The latter being a scenario with the undertone of prison rape.
Patriotism within a Sheikhdom –
The functions of Sheikhdoms are better understood by looking at the growth of corporations.
As one example: Apple was founded by a handful of men 40 years ago. It is a centrally-controlled business that primarily exists to accumulate profit.
It has more than 7000 acres of land and 123,000 employees, many who also eat and sleep within Apple’s property.
Employees are generally expected to understand Apple’s vision and to commit to their work, but their primary task is to pump profit upwards.
Eventually, some employees may also happen to raise their children within Apple’s property (labor camps) and in no more than a decade and a half, they could also have a role in Apple’s production.
They could be the first generation of Employees born within Apple’s premises. Loyal, proud, and committed Apple employees.
A few decades later, there could be a whole generation of employees “born and raised” in “Apple”, one can imagine they would start saying the following:
“I am proud to be born in Apple”
“To me, Apple represents family and love”
“Apple is your home. You must learn to love it”
“I think people who insult Apple are tasteless”
“My family grew up here, so when you insult Apple. You insult my loved ones and childhood memories”
“Apple gave me a lot of opportunities, where my family used to work sucked”
“I would DIE for Apple”
“Blood. Soil. Apple”
“تفاح تاج راسك”
“هاا لا تغلط على تفاح”
Nation-states are run by landlords who make private decisions among themselves, over the land other people inhabit. They have no say in their private transactions, while they are also affected by their final decisions.
This is the case in both Sheikhdoms and Free-market democracies, with the one major difference, is in how many Capitalists are calling the shots.
Patriotism represents a sense of identification with lands and associations that have been designed and outlined by someone else, in their own best self-interest.
This isn’t a hypothetical scenario, as the line between corporation and statehood has been blatantly thin when the colonial, British East Indian Company gradually seized over parts of the Indian subcontinent, backed by a private army of 260,000.
Those were the same colonial forces that established the borders and designed the flags of most states within the Arab Peninsula (British colonel, Mark Sykes) for the same purpose.
Bahrain: A Summary –
Appeal to Human Nature –
Appeal to nature is an old trope that has been present to justify Capitalism, Feudalism, and Slavery for as long as they existed. Aristotle and Plato believed that the division of slaves and Masters were characteristics inherent within “human nature”, which not only meant the slavery was permissible but compulsory to maintain order in the world, anything out of line would be complete chaos.
Today, this is laughable. Ultimately, with all the negative traits that may be present in humanity, we wouldn’t use these traits as justification to go back to those economic systems, having already witnessed that negative traits in humanity do not inevitably lead to equally negative human errors and turmoil in other socio-economic systems.
Rejecting change on the premise that “it will inevitably be destroyed by human nature” is fallacious even if we were to assume that humanity is downright sociopathic, since working to advance socioeconomics (By abandoning Feudalism) already proved to be worthy regardless of all human flaws.
Even if we were to assume hierarchies are naturally inevitable, it would precisely bring upon a need to remove injustice from hierarchy as much as possible. As we once have, anything less would only serve as a case to go back to Fascism, Feudalism or the Slave System on the premise that hierarchy is inevitable.
Assuming Capitalism is best rooted in the characteristics of human beings (Whether good or bad) based on observation of human behavior under Capitalism, is fallacious in and of itself. It’s as to draw conclusions on human nature from their behavior under Feudalism, and assume their behaviors are responses to “Human Nature” (In regards of both their happiness and miseries), rather than to Feudalism itself. Or to “human nature” rather than the Slave System that preceded it. All which were also arguments made to justify the presence of the dominant structures of their time.
This is why Appeal to Nature is generally regarded as a logical fallacy in our day and age. Capitalism is not a byproduct of philosophers and biologists who met in a boardroom to discuss the most favorable system for humanity, like feudalism it is the byproduct of an oligarchy that persists to maintain their position. This is no basis as to why that makes it the most ideal system for humanity.
If we were to insist on discussing Socioeconomics from a naturalist perspective. The odds are not in favor of Capitalism. Likewise, alternatives are also justified with naturalist arguments.
The economic model of Free-Market Capitalism that exists today only flourished since the 17th century (300 years ago, with some roots going as far back as the 14th century in Europe), which is a far stretch from being “the foundations of human society and civilization”. Using naturalist arguments to debate in favor of Capitalism would not suffice since the dominant economic models have been non-capitalist for most of human history. All the way from feudalism, colonialism, serfdom, slavery, centralized mercantilism and anarchism.
An overwhelming majority of biologists perceive cooperation and Mutualism to be the essence of growth and survivability and argue that is far more vital for our survival than the hoarding of resources and competition. Starting with Charles Darwin, who first noted that cooperation was a potential error in his observation of Natural Selection, then concluded that natural selection favor species which display cooperative behaviors (dogs, elephants, baboons, pelicans, etc) over non-cooperating species in the “Descent of Man (1871)”.
“it hardly seems probable that the number of men gifted with such virtues [as bravery and sympathy] … could be increased through natural selection, that is, by the survival of the fittest.”. “Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring.”
This position was later supported by other scientists, such as Peter Kropotkin, who rejected Capitalism and argued for cooperative functions among humans on the basis that “it was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition in the Darwinian sense that made for the success of species, including the human” in “Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution (1902)”.
These observations came from the study of ants, birds, mammals, and humans alike. More recent studies concluded that cooperation is both more likely and favorable to humans than competition. These observations still live on today. Such as a 2016 empirical experiment that confirms “that cooperation, not struggle for survival (Free market Capitalism) is the driving force to evolution”, and a 2017 BMC Neurosci paper (Source: ncbi.nlm) on “cooperation, competition, and brain development”.
Similar results were shown in a joint study by Harvard and Yale in 2012, on whether humans instinctively act selfishly or cooperatively concluded that cooperative behavior is more in line with our “natural instinct” than competitiveness (Source: Scientific American). These could all be proposed as arguments to why Workers’ Cooperatives are in fact “more natural” than Capitalist enterprises.
Alternatives (Workers’ ownership over production) –
“Ownership over the means of production” is the preferable motto for many of those who suggest alternatives. A simpler expression would be Workplace Democracy. In other words, Self-ownership and possession over one’s own time and labor. Either individually, as a voluntary cooperative or a community. Just as Democracy can accurately refer to conditions where the people have ownership over the workplace, the community or the state — and not vice versa.
Workplace Democracy can also be referred to as the Cooperative-business model. Cooperatives refers to a worker-owned business model. They already exist. Some since last decade such as “Green Worker Cooperatives” in the US. Others from over a century, such as Wooldale Co-operative Society in the UK (since 1886).
Other examples of Cooperatives include the following; Mondragon Co-operative Corporation, since 1956. International Co-operative Alliance, since 1895. Highburton Co-operative Society, since 1857. Shepley Co-operative Society, since 1852.
In Emilia Romagna, around 40% of the GDP is produced by Cooperatives. It’s also the region with the fourth strongest economy in Italy.
“Active people of working age are more than 70%, and the women’s activity rate is the highest in Italy. The unemployment rate is under 8% in 2015 with respect to the national average (12.8%).”
In a co-operative run economy, the minimal differences in equality are due to the differences in the amount of time and labor each worker puts in. Under Capitalism, inequality is not a byproduct of labor, but the outcome of a non-laboring class with State-backed monopolies over land and resources, along with the legal power to extract (landlordship, tool-use rent, shareholders) of up to 60–90% of the wealth produced by those who put in the labor.
A Capitalist Business is run like a Workplace Oligarchy where Workers cannot make decisions in a democratic process, nor decide on how to spend and divide the value of their surplus based on their time/labor, and finally — must hand an overwhelming majority of their surplus to a Hierarchy. This is where Capitalism has the undertones of Taxation (And Feudalism).
There are more than 20 Co-ops in Bahrain, and they were active since the 1970s, but only 0.07% of Bahrainis today know what a “Cooperative” is. More than ever, we need Cooperatives to replace the status quo in Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf.
My personal thoughts on Democratic Centralism –
I am skeptical of the implication that people 80+ km apart can (or should) make decisions for people with whom they have no contact with, let alone any direct involvement in their work, lifestyles, and the specific needs and concerns only they can understand (or vice versa).
If that is “democracy”, then it would likely be watered-down into a tug-of-war that only fulfills the “most common of needs”, at least the ones which would manage to stand out between the distances and the masses, and not “Most needs” of most people in total (Which tend to be far more specific and complex, and are bound to be overwhelmingly clouded).
Given this context, I’m even more skeptical when someone suggests that those participating within mass scale “Democracies” should choose and entrust a centralized authority with the full liberty to make decisions in a top-down structure (On behalf of everyone else, across the distances and the masses).
At that point, such a system would be far beyond “Watered-down democracy” and it would be entirely reduced into some form of awkward authoritarianism in the guise of Democratic Centralism.
It’s bound to be out of touch of what’s taking place on the ground (and it has been) at best, and despotic at worst. It can work, effectively. It can also fail, terribly. As any Corporate structure does. Benevolent or not.
That is the dilemma with State Socialism, and someone like Murray Bookchin acknowledged this by proposing the concept of “democratic municipalism”, which is a bottom-up structure that puts a high emphasis on starting with the community instead.
It seeks to correct the dilution of decision-making that would take place under Democratic Centralism, and it would.
However, such a system would still be built on the premise that “Democracy and autonomy are grounded in regionalism”. This is also bound to repeat many of the same short-comings of Statism, but only at a much lower scale.
Murray Bookchin was never reluctant about embracing the “Majority Vote (Rule)” as the final say of a community, which would mean minorities would be at the mercy of the majority. Given that all individuals tend to be multifaceted (Whether a majority or a minority), many or most needs may also be left behind.
Workers’ alienated from their workplaces and communities won’t be isolated nor exceptional cases. It would be significantly more than common.
That’s why I am personally interested in exploring ways in which Anarchism / Libertarian Socialism can explore voluntary associations that look beyond regionalism in most shapes or forms, and I’d like to invite others to do the same.
Most anarchist publications existed far before the Internet has, and naturally, the concept of “international associations” without a form of centralism that connects the nodes was entirely unheard of.
People shouldn’t be mostly bound to the decisions of their direct surroundings, nor should they be at their mercy. Communalism (Or Anarcho-collectivism, for the record) is not the most effective process for effective decision making in and of itself. It’s just among the least desensitized in comparison to other models.
That’s why I ponder on things along the lines of autonomous workers’ cooperatives, within multiple workers’ federations (That associate over different needs and shared interests), and multiple credit unions serving the same purpose, on an internationalist and borderless scale.
That would exist through a higher emphasis on personal autonomy, one that can only exist through international cooperation.
The Silver Lining –
Workers produce 100% of the value behind the system, which is then appropriated by non-productive, under-laboring hierarchies.
Starting with the owners of the business (Shareholders, bankers, etc), then by those who have a contract over the land workers live in (Private landlords and the state), followed by the added value over the necessities workers purchase, added to cover the interest of more non-laboring shareholders, bankers, landlords with ownership over those necessities.
Finally, there are inevitable costs necessary for survival. The value workers are left with could go down to as little as 5% – which is what the working-class majority is allowed to indulge in, after 95% of their time and labor (Life) were extorted by a non-laboring hierarchy.
On the other hand, the glimmer of hope is this.
To acknowledge that the working-class only experiences a fraction of our life’s total value is to also acknowledge that there an abundance of creative potential still left untapped.
Things can be tremendously different in ways humankind can’t yet fathom.
Women in the Gulf States.
The feminist response to the gulf can be summarized in two positions:
– Equality of Opportunity can only be achieved by actively reversing the effects of previous and on-going policies (and societal structures) which continue putting women at a disadvantage.
– The primary reasons to inequality of opportunity is not due to “biological determiners”, but due to the fact that the workplace system is still largely stuck in the “Patriarchal Family” model (Ideally suited for men with housewives) in a world that is increasingly changing. It still does not cater to the choices, lifestyle and aspirations of the other half of the human population, at a massive financial cost.
One example that conservatives may relate to: Motherhood is something many women aspire for, while it is also something that is traditionally regarded as a major set back within the workplace today, which is why women find no choice but to resort to (lower-paying) part-time work.
What the alternatives might look like would are apparent in women-run workers’ cooperatives, by many who are also mothers. The dilemma is that motherhood requires both more time and finances, which traditional employment typically neglects (in its space, hours, income, etc). In women-run cooperatives, the workers would control and adapt the workplace to better suit their needs, which removes the clash between raising kids, financial and personal autonomy.
Sexuality & control –
The relationship between Arab communities and sexuality, as discreet and quiet as it is, largely dictates the entire life of the average Arab citizen. While Westerners worry about one kind of Sexual obsession; where many women feel that their sexuality is commodified into a score-board game that fills another man’s ego — sometimes, over their personal feelings or consent. While young western men experience intense peer pressure to participate in sexual conduct in order to prove their masculinity to themselves and to other men, while corporate media targets the young with the message that women should be swooning over them just like they do in certain body spray ads, movies, and music videos. In either case; women get the bottom end of the stick. Same case in the Arab World. Though the obsession is a tad bit different. It’s just as Stephen Fry says about the Catholic Church:
“It’s the strangest thing about this church — it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. Now, they will say we, with our permissive society and rude jokes, are obsessed. No. We have a healthy attitude. We like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly; because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult.
It’s a bit like food in that respect, only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese, and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell.” (Credit goes to former Youtuber, Klingschor for seeing this pattern with Islamism).
The same applies to the average, traditional Arab Male. In this case, “Anorexia” is an obsession with female virginity, chastity, and purity. These obsessions become the building blocks to the male’s relationship with his sisters, his choice of a wife and his relationship with his daughters. A woman’s identity, worth, and dignity are now a couple of inches deep, which in return reflect his own identity, dignity, and worth. Therefore, the outcome is that women in his intimate circle may be subjected to obsessive suspicion and control — over their dress, life-decisions, attitude and freedom, all in order to retain his pride.
The other side of the coin is “Obesity”. In this case, it is the obsession with, desperation for, and manipulation of a woman’s sexuality. The Arab male may manipulate a female into having sexual conduct with the promise of marriage, only to forsake her on the premise that she evidently lacks self-respect and shame. Thus, she is no longer trust-worthy. No fear is bigger to this man than other men like himself treating the women in his circle as he did to other women. Therefore, the most manipulative often become the strictest and most obsessive of men.
In most cases, the average Arab male would not be manipulative at all. At best; he would be patient for a marriage that is mostly sex-driven. At worst, he may be hypocritical of his own conduct of control right across the border. In Bahrain, Lebanon, Morocco, and South East Asia in search of paid sex services. An extremely common practice among Arab men, while it’s an unimaginable sin if it were to be any of his women. Meanwhile at home, the man’s conduct for female chastity and control quietly awaits him.
Many Arab women — mothers, sisters, and grandmothers are the ground troops that directly empower this system. Through relentless behavior control and stigmatization of the females they have power over. Revolt is difficult when it’s what a person was brought up with their entire lives, and it is where change is needed most.
The religion of Islam.
A lot of western leftists get particularly uncomfortable when Islam is criticized, but not without good reasoning. They are concerned that Anti-Islam rhetoric would alienate religious allies, while it may also reinforce the talking-points of the Far-Right and their anti-Immigration agenda.
Meanwhile, other Ex-Muslims continue to find themselves voiceless within Leftist circles. In the Middle East, Ex-Muslims are typically silenced through intimidation, heavy fines, jail sentences.
In the West, where ex-Muslims expect to have the freedom to speak on the issues they were never able to bring forth back home. There is a major taboo within Leftist circles when disdain is expressed towards the religion of Islam.
The plight of Ex-Muslims is generally unknown, and Leftists are often wary of the intentions behind open criticism of Islam in today’s political climate.
For these reasons, Ex-Muslims find themselves in constant need to deliver their speech with a tremendous set of nuance in hopes to avoid having their rhetoric associated with (or exploited by) The Far-Right.
Moreover, In the Middle East, Muslims aren’t a minority. Non-Muslims are. Just as the US suffers from a Far-Right White Supremacist phenomenon, the Middle East the Islamist version of the same phenomenon. In Western-centric lingo: Muslims are the “White People” of the Middle East (The majority) and Islamists are the “Far-Right”, with popular support.
According to the Early Warning Project, Non-Muslim (And other Muslim minorities) minorities in Muslim-Majority countries are prone to some of the highest risks of genocidal policies worldwide.
After Capitalism and nationalism, Islamism is the remaining stronghold to authoritarian policies and social norms within the Muslim world.
One of the many outcomes of social conservatism (In the Islamic sense) is that it manifests into red tapes over basic expressions that are otherwise abundant and flexible (elsewhere).
Its impact on day-to-day life feels like a bureaucracy over personal autonomy, in addition to the limitations imposed by Capitalism.
Radically non-conservative people are not only at the mercy of a socially conservative majority but on their own scarcity within Muslim-majority cultures as well.
Those within the middle-upper class and above could have the advantage to maneuver over the paywalls and loopholes around this, while those who aren’t are condemned to the conservatism of their communities and families.
Most are in hiding and many are often left with no choice but to give in or conform to a large extent.
Islam and the Arab World –
In 80s America, the second most popular book after the Bible was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Reference: Library of Congress, 1991).
Capitalism comes second place right after “God”. In a sense, Capitalism in the US is still sacralized to point that is it often discussed interchangeably from faith, such as an “Invisible hand” that will regulate the market. American Capitalism is not solely rooted in the admiration of Free Markets, but largely in the “Protestant work ethic”. Capitalism is sacred.
In the Arab World, the slogan often goes as following “الله، الوطن، الملك”. (God. The Nation. The king). This is apparent in the influence of both, Islamism (Culturally, socially and politically) and nationalism (Monarchism, Nasserism, Baa’thism, etc) in both their long-lived conflicts and cooperation.
They continue to be the most dominant influences in the region as a whole. In the Arab World, authoritarianism is sacred. It is just a matter of whether submission should be reserved to men, or to men who claim to represent (Or represented, 1400 years ago) the words of a higher being.
As long as their influences exist as widely as they do today, the scripture that represents it must still be challenged.
The Islamist mindset:
“Surah A-tawbah” is the second final surah revealed to Muhammad (129 verses. The final Surah is Al-Nasr, which is just 3 verses).
It’s the only Surah that doesn’t start with “Bismillah al-rahman al-raheem”, and it straight-up calls for war against the non-believers.
Most Islamic scholars agree on the concept of “Naskh (نسخ)”, where newer revelations supersede earlier revelations. It derives from the Quran, and it is usually used to handle contradictions. Example: Verse 240 in Surah al-Baqara states that women who have been widowed should wait one year before remarrying, while verse 234 states that they should wait for 4 months and 10 days. According to Naskh, the newer verse would supersede the earlier verse.
It is also why radical Islamists put a higher emphasis on violence, as post-Madina revelations put a higher emphasis on violence in comparison to pre-Madina revelations, which primarily called for “da’wah”. In this case, the violent revelations supersede the da’wah revelations.
This transformation is most apparent in Surah A-tawbah, which starts with the following:
“[This is a declaration of] disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists.” 9:1
Then proceeds with the following:
Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him]. 9:4
“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” 9:5
“And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease.” 9:12
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” 9:29
Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him]. 9:36
“O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” 9:73
This is also where fundamentalist Islamists have an upper hand over Islamic “reformist / progressive” arguments, as their citations come from the latest revelations within the Quran (which makes it the most credible source on Islamic jurisdiction of all).
Challenging the Quran’s legitimacy –
According to the Quran — Allah is all the following:
He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise
And fear Allah and know that Allah is Knowing of all things.
and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.
The words of Allah as written in the Quran are meant to be the absolute truth. Absolute, flawless and final. According to the Quran; Allah is All-knowing, All-mighty, all-wise and perfect in wisdom and knowledge of all things. Such a position relies on the Quran being precisely flawless, and errors to any degree can bring this entire notion down.
Like 4200 other religious scriptures, the Quran is also claimed to have detailed answers on the creation of the universe, as the book was authored by the creator of the universe himself.
In addition to the absence of flaws, the more tremendous a claim is, the stronger the evidence required to back it up. The following conditions need to be met:
– “Scientific prophecies” in the Quran need to stand out from common knowledge or common phenomenons within the period it was written. (E.g. Earthquakes, then predicting that there will be more earthquakes.)
– They must stand out from other “predictions” and assumptions made during or before its era.
After they pass these two conditions, other aspects that would strengthen these claims are the following:
– The terminologies provided in the prophecies are less vague, broad or metaphorical.
– The prophecies are highly complex, detailed, direct and concise. (Time and/or place, and/or direct and vivid descriptions)
How well do Islamic prophecies stand out in comparison to the prophecies of other, contradicting beliefs? Are there flaws in the Quran (and Ahadith) at all? The answers to these questions will determine whether the Quran is linked to an All-Knowing God.
Scientific Errors in the Quran:
“ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا ٱلنُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا ٱلْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا ٱلْمُضْغَةَ عِظَٰمًا فَكَسَوْنَا ٱلْعِظَٰمَ لَحْمًا”
This is one of the most debated verses. However; the most likely pattern to this Ayah is the following. If خَلَقْنَا means “Made/ transformed” in reference to the Nuthfah-to-Alakah process, and it meant “Made/transformed” in reference to the A’lakah-to-Mudghah process, then linguistically there is no reason it would mean anything other than “Made/transformed” in reference to Mudghah-to-bone as well, which marks the first error in the Quran. The Quran directly states that Mudghah transforms into bare-bones before it is “clothed in flesh” (There is no reason or indication as to why it would mean “From the lump” as stated by many interpreters). Furthermore;
“فَكَسَوْنَا ٱلْعِظَٰمَ لَحْمًا”
translates to “then We clothed the bones with flesh.” This was also the perception of Embryology among Christians:
“Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.” ([iii] Book of Job, Chapter 10, Verse 11.)
This was also the perception of embryology among the Greek 350 years before Christ. In regards to claims that the Quranic verse is correct, miraculous, therefore divine; The status of Divinity should respectably be attributed to Aristotle. However, both claims on Embryology are strongly flawed.
The verse suggests that there were bare bones that were then clothed with flesh. Modern-day Embryology shows that bones are under the flesh at all times while it’s still undergoing its developmental stages. It is the bones that are formed under the flesh and not the flesh that is clothed over the bones. This statement is only as accurate as to state “Then we filled the air with balloon” when it is, in fact, the air that is filled within the balloon.
Flaws of Embryology in Islam are further pushed forward in the following Sahih Bukhari Hadith:
“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) the true and truly inspired, narrated to us, “The creation of every one of you starts with the process of collecting the material for his body within forty days and forty nights in the womb of his mother. Then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period (40 days) and then he becomes like a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then an angel is sent to him (by Allah) and the angel is allowed (ordered) to write four things; his livelihood, his (date of) death, his deeds, and whether he will be a wretched one or a blessed one (in the Hereafter) and then the soul is breathed into him. So one of you may do (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise so much that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Paradise but then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) and (ultimately) enters Hell (Fire); and one of you may do (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) so much so that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Hell (Fire), then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and ultimately) enters Paradise.” (See Hadith №430, Vol. 4)”
The 40 Days analogy exactly as written in this Hadith is strongly flawed as well, according to both modern-day science and the interpretations for all different stages.
Bottom line: The Quran and Ahadith are incorrect about the timeline and descriptions of embryology on all levels.
“And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them”
This verse often stirs argument of whether mountains prevent earthquakes, though there are numerous different interpretations of what “Shake” (Or move) means in that context. Starting off with the claim that it prevents earthquakes, this is widely refuted by modern-day knowledge on Geology:
“Andes Mountains are the world’s longest chain of mountains above sea level. They stretch along the entire west coast of South America from Cape Horn to Panama for a distance of 7,200 kilometers. Earthquakes are common in the Andes. Many towns have been wiped out by them. Cities that have been greatly damaged by earthquakes include Valparaiso, Lima, Callao, and Quito. (Source: World Book)”
Another interpretation is that shake (Or Move) does not refer to earthquakes but to widespread imbalance on earth’s surface that is prevented by firmly standing mountains. In other words, according to the Quran’ mountains do not prevent earthquakes but they do ultimately stabilize the earth we stand on and they fulfill this purpose because they “stand firm”. On the other hand; the mantle continues to be actively unstable, plate tectonics are actively taking place and earthquakes continue to occur, the outcome is that entire mountainous regions — as well as the mountains themselves, are also moving and shaking as a result of earth’s active instability.
Moreover, even without the presence of an earthquake — at no point is a mountain “standing firm” or “Preventing the earth from moving/shaking”
“Many of the major mountain ranges are created when the Earth’s tectonic plates crash together. Because of the tremendous energies involved, the sides of the plates crumple like cars in a head-on collision. The mountain ranges are created because of those crumpling plates. The Indian subcontinent “crashed” into Asia 25 million years ago and created the Himalayan mountain range. In fact, the Himalayans are still growing!”
Not only are mountains ineffective against tectonic movements, they are also affected by it — which suggests that the claim the mountain is “standing firm”, let alone a firm mean that prevents earth’s movement/shaking, are flaws within the Quran.
– Orbit System
31:29 Surat Luqman –
“Do you not see that Allah causes the night to enter the day and causes the day to enter the night and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term and that Allah , with whatever you do, is Acquainted?”
This Surah puts the Sun and the Moon in the same category in their causation of Night and Day, both in which “Run” (yajree) in order for them to take place. With modern knowledge, we know for a fact that the moon does rotate around Earth, but the sun does not. The Earth rotates around the sun. This claim strongly suggests that the Quran is Geocentric.
36:38 Surat Yasin –
“and the sun runneth on unto a resting-place for him. That is the measuring of the Mighty, the Wise.”
“The sun runs to its fixed resting-place; that is the decree of the Almighty, the Knower.”
“And the sun runs [on course] toward its stopping point. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.”
Narrated Abu Dharr:
I asked the Prophet (ﷺ) regarding the Verse: — ‘And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term decreed for it.’ (36.28) He said, “Its fixed course is underneath Allah’s Throne.”
These Surahs and Ahadith further stress of the Quran’s Geo-centrism. Moreover, it makes the claim that the Sun has a fixed course/Stopping point/resting-point after it’s done moving, which is false by all means. At no point does the Sun stands still.
“Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation) before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? “
Further Geo-centrism. The Heavens and Earth were not joined together. The universe was formed 13 billion years ago when the earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago. The universe did not expand from the Earth.
“See they not what is before them and behind them, of the sky and the earth? If We wished, We could cause the earth to swallow them up, or cause a piece of the sky to fall upon them. Verily in this is a Sign for every devotee that turns to Allah (in repentance).”
More Geo-centrism. The earth may somehow “fall within the sky”, but the sky cannot fall on a earth. A piece of sky? Surat Luqman also states “He has created the heavens without any pillars” when it’s a given that non-solid objects (Gases) do not need pillars.
More on the topic of Errors/Miracles in the Quran, in a video addressing the claims of Zakir Nayik:
Errors from Hadith:
“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. 28”Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Matthew 16:28
The previous verse was from the Bible, of a prophecy and a promise then never actually took place at the time it initially should have. This is very similar to the following Hadith:
“Anas b. Malik reported that a person asked Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ):
When would the Last Hour come? Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) kept quiet for a while. Then looked at a young boy in his presence belonging to the tribe of Azd Shanu’a and he said: If this boy lives he would not grow very old till the Last Hour would come to you. Anas said that this young boy was of our age during those days.”
“Narrated Mu’adh ibn Jabal:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The greatest war, the conquest of Constantinople and the coming forth of the Dajjal (Antichrist) will take place within a period of seven months. “
Sunan abi Dawud
PART II —
There are no unique “Prophecies” in the Quran or Hadith.
“Apophenia: The spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena”
The more open-ended and the less detailed my information is, the more opportunities to see different patterns. To a believer, a simple adjective such as “Sheet” may refer to sheets of paper, sheets of steel, sheets of bedrock, while it could also be perceived as a metaphor for energy or a matrix. In the addition to this, the absence of a timeline (Set time, date, and place) in any given claim provides more room for Apophenia to take its course.
Whereas if I blatantly state my prophecy as the following: “By the beginning of February on the year of 2021, a manuscript of sheets upon sheets of pure steel will be sent from the heavens down to New Jersey by 8:00 AM” I’d limiting the opportunities for Apophenia off others and I’d also be placing the burden of proof on myself.
My Divinity would be subject to whether the event does take place on the specific date and description I provided, which would be a large gamble that is less likely to take place and more likely to backfire against me. For my prophecies to be justifiable among its believers, It’s in my advantage to avoid specifications in order to reinforce room for Apophenia and personal interpretations as much as possible.
A prophetic claim that would work better to my Advantage would be “Sheets will land from the sky in distant lands”. This gives the believer less capability to disprove my claim and more ways which it can be interpreted as truthful to some degree.
In addition to this, another method is to take a natural phenomenon and claiming there would either be an increased or decreased occurrence, without specification. Such as; When? Where? How often?
An example of this would be the following:
“There will be more rain.”
This gives more room for Apophenia than to specify details in the time of occurrence or location. Moreover, it addresses a general phenomenon. Something the either already took place, or would normally occur.
In other words, it’s the use of general phenomenons — while adding that there will either be increased or decreases occurrences of these phenomenons, while passing them off as prophecies.
Examples of such content within the Quran and Ahadith:
“The loss of honesty and authority put in the hands of those who do not deserve it”
“The loss of knowledge and the prevalence of religious ignorance.”
“Frequent, sudden, and unexpected deaths.”
“Increase in pointless killings.”
“Rejection of Hadith”
“The spread of usury, interest, zina and the drinking of alcohol”
“Widespread acceptance of music”
How will does Islam stand out from prophecies of other sources?
Comparison to other prophecies:
This section consists of many so-called Prophecies from religions that particularly contradict Islam, many of which are open-ended claims that are similar to the alleged prophecies within Islam. Some with even more complexity, outdoing the prophetic claims in Islam.
1. Alleged Norse Prophecies
‘ The age of evil has come to the world . Everyone steals and hoards great wealth, and sensual sin rules the day. The end of the world is at hand — yet men are hard and cruel, and listen not to the doom that is coming. No one heeds the cries of his neighbor or lifts a hand to save. ‘ — The Ragnarok ( Ancient Norse prophecy, C 1000 CE )
‘The warlike fall upon the peaceful, brothers kill brothers, and even children soil one another’s blood.’ — The Ragnarok
2. Alleged Mayan Prophecies
“The End of the World will come, so it is said, so it was told. Our end will come when there are no more trees. Then, when all are cut down, when people are everywhere, when there is no more forest. So it is said, so it was told by the ancient habo-people. They said this:
“Kaxon bake xen, well, if it is true, if the forest is overcrowded by people, if there are settlements all over, built up by the kah-people, which are settling close together, when all the trees are cut down, when there are no more mahogany trees, when all trees are destroyed, when only the hills remain, then the end of the world will come. Not now, but very soon. The end will reach us. This is said. Our end will come. Nothing will be left of us. “
3. Alleged Prophecies in Buddhism
(“Drought, famine, disease and war will sweep the world.. Nation will fight nations, and the larger will devour the smaller. ‘ — The prophecy of Shambala ( Buddhist, BEF 700 CE )
‘People will no longer have any religion to which they can turn for solace or liberation: the doctrines of materialism will overwhelm their minds and drive them to struggle for their own selfish ends. The lust for power and wealth will prevail over teachings of compassion and truth” — The prophecy of Shambala ( Buddhist, BEF 700 CE
‘Earthquakes bring sudden floods, while fire storms and tornadoes destroy temples, stupas and cities in an instant.’ — Padmasambhava )