By Joshua (a former Muslim)
Click here to read part one as posted at Malaysia Today.
The same religious education begun in Saudi Arabia continued in Pakistan – the same training, with Friday prayers, but another thing was added – the Ramadan, a one month period of daytime fasting that is required for all Moslems. Now I was old enough to stay hungry the whole day and eat like crazy in the evening. I was only 10 years old – usually Ramadan process for a Moslem starts at age 12, but my parents judged me ready a full two years early. I wasn't told why people stayed hungry all day at the time, but when I turned 12 my parents sat me down and explained the 'value' of Ramadan. They said that it trains Moslems to be more patient and it is a good deed which helps a Moslem get to paradise. Of course, hearing this made me happy – because I had this urge in me to be a perfect Moslem. I took every word about Ramadan my parents told me to heart.
I was a believer and of course one who walks blindly in his faith – wasn't my fault – I was trained to be so. No questions could be asked that I or others felt were in any way offensive to or doubtful of Islam. I couldn't ask if what was written in the Koran was right or wrong – I had no right to ask and in the same way I couldn't ask why a young kid had to stay hungry the whole day if he didn't want to. Maybe I didn't want to either because I had never done so before and neither my parents had trained me so; my teachers being all Moslems were no different either. I had no freedom at all and no say in the matter – not just me but all Moslems. I knew I had to do it because Allah had ordered it.
After this time, all my excuses of being young were ignored. I was a 'man' now – one who could get married and have children (Islam thinks a 10-12 year old boy is a man and an 8-10 year old girl is a woman). But thank God my parents were smart enough to not get me a girl at that time (I am still unmarried and very happy with that status). Although I was taught to say 'Bismallah-ar-rahman-ar-raheem' (it means 'in the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful) before everything that I started since I was 4 years old but now I was told to say it out loud too so that other people could hear it and be impressed of the beauty of Islam. I didn't know the phrase's meaning at the time but I said it happily. Before every meal – whenever my siblings didn't appear to be repeating the phrase – I said it out loud, 'Bismallah…' was my cry and everyone after me repeated it. Each time I did it, I got a pat on my back from my parents for being a 'true Moslem'. I was being a pious 'man' by considering myself a real slave to Allah. If I wanted to be a true Moslem – I had to think of myself as a slave of Allah and whatever he said – I had to bow my head and follow it. I wasn't sad at doing all this – I was happy.
My upbringing in a very devout Moslem family trained me so well, that when I was some 13 years old, I came to my father and said, 'Dad, one day I want to fight for Palestinians against the Israelis and kill all the Jews.' My father smiled and said, 'Great son, those Jews should all be killed – I will not object if you chose the path of Jihad because it is the best thing to do.' After some days, in our neighborhood, a young man, some 23 years old, had died in Kashmir, he was there to fight the Indians. They called it Jihad (they still do) and when he died they titled him a 'martyr'. I went to the house of that person with my father and his parents were celebrating. They were distributing sweets and saying, 'our son is in paradise!' My dad and I congratulated the parents of that young man too. The scene was like someone was getting married there. I came back – and this day I was more willing to go to Israel to fight (we didn't call it Israel; we called it 'occupied Palestine').
Everyday, I would dream of killing some Jews and going to paradise. It was not about the virgins at the time, I must admit, I learned about the virgin stuff later. Rather, it was all about being close to Mohammed, who is praised more in Islam than Allah.
Now all I had to do was wait till I was 15 because, for some reason, the Jihadi groups in Pakistan that sent jihadi recruits to Palestine and Kashmir didn't take kids younger than 15. Even my mother didn't object to me going to Palestine, even though she loved me (and still does) a lot. I was certain I would go there eventually. I knew I would kill someone and then get killed, I wanted to get killed, I wanted to follow Mohammed in everything he taught and did. One of the prayers Mohammed is said to have taught is, 'Allah, give me the status of a martyr' and a martyr was a one who fought other people for Allah's sake and died.
Days passed by and during this time my father went to Dubai to establish his business there. I discussed almost everything with my dad and now he was gone. I was left alone and it made me very sad. But I tried to handle it as best I could.
Click here to read the next installment
Monday, September 03, 2007
By Joshua (a former Muslim)