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Bad Dream

Reader comment on item: [Pew Poll on] How Muslims Think

Submitted by Living in my Cocoon (Saudi Arabia), Jul 5, 2006 at 08:23

Bad Dreams

How has Islam been so successfully enforced in the Muslim world?

My earliest memories of the religion go back to when I was about 8 years old, standing outside my house with a neighborhood boy in what was then a suburb of Karachi and questioning something that my friend had just revealed to me about Islam. I don't remember what the revelation was but I do remember questioning it. My friend immediately replied that it was sacrilege to question anything that Islam professes. I was unconvinced and somewhat confused. Since then I've heard this argument countless number of times from people of all ages.

I remember going to the Eid prayers and sitting there among the mass of other men listening to loud words coming from the loudspeaker. Not understanding any of it. At 45 I can say that 9 out of 10 did not understand it then and do not understand them today. It amazes me to see how well my son can memories the sounds of the Arabic words, passages from the Quran, without having a clue as to what they imply. I have seen him go through endless hours of this simply to escape the wrath of his Islamic teacher. I have seen other non-Arabs recite long passages simply as Arabic words.

At 45 I do understand that the popularizing of the sacrilege rule has been a simple and effective tactic. This, and the addition of slogans / subtitles to the names of religious personalities. Mohammad, peace be upon him. The Saudi's have always known this and still use it today. In the 70's we saw the addition of a subtitle to the name of the King of Saudi Arabia (-The Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques), and recently we have seen the addition of just such a subtitle to the name of Saudi Arabia (-Kingdom of Humanity).

Has the time come that such simplistic methods need to be reexamined? Throughout my life I have seen the chasm increase between fact and function due to the application of the methods of the Camel Age in the age of the Jet. So much so that my son's Islamic teacher announced the other day that it was the Muslims who first went to the Moon and the Americans however have taken over the claim.

In Saudia there are 2 sets of laws. One that applies to the expat worker and another that applies to the Saudi, or should I say does not apply. In practice there are no laws governing Saudi behaviour. They do as they please, they know it and take full advantage of the expatriate slaves. This although generally applicable, is particularly applicable to the rich. Although Islam benefits the poor, it is in fact an ideal religion for the rich.

I have read that 60% of the Saudi Junior School curriculum is devoted to the study of the Quran. Only some 5% to Science subjects. I have also heard that all Saudi schoolchildren up to class 6 are passed on to the next class whether they pass their exams or not.

A colleague of mine was once arrested by the Religious Police, his crime, he was doing window shopping at the time of the afternoon prayers. He says he was detained in a room with standing room only. They had to push the door open against the mass of bodies inside and made just enough space to shove him in. There was only one exhaust fan at ceiling level. There were no Saudis in the room and some were not even Muslims. Non-Muslims have a different color ID in Saudi. He was kept without food and water till the last prayer of the day, around 9 pm. He says the detention center are allocated SR 30/- per person for their requirements. None of them saw any of that amount.

They do not allow Taxis driven by expatriate drivers to pick passengers from the airport. Neither can they take passengers on inter-city routes. These better paid areas are reserved for the Saudi drivers. Who make up perhaps only 10% of the taxi drivers force. Most people prefer sitting with expatriate drivers, they say the Saudi drivers misbehave.

I have a colleague who has been in Saudi for 35 years and has performed the Hajj 21 times. The other day I asked him if he had made any Saudi friends in all these years. He thought for sometime and said there is a Saudi family living along the corridor from my flat and they invite me to all their formal occasions. This man although anti-West has 2 sons living and working in USA. He was unable to answer me why his children prefer to live away from this Holy Land.

No foreign army is going to save me. The best I can hope for is to immigrate if some thinking society will accept me.


‘Living in my Cocoon'


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