Why I Am Not a Muslim
One is not born religious; rather you become one through environmental factors that play a big role in your life. I, like other people, not only did not choose my father, mother, language, place of birth, and skin color; but, also had no role in choosing a God , religion, or superstitions. It was all forced upon me by my family and my milieu. Unfortunately it took me 23 years to set myself free of this bondage.
I grew up in a very religious family. As of age 5, I was forced to wake up very early in the mornings in the dead of the winter and, since there was no running water in our neighborhood, go to the spring source to perform my ablutions and then pray alongside my father and mother. As of age 7 I was forced to fast.
They sent me to study Koran even before they send me to primary school and I read most of the Koran before age 7. However, since I had not finished reading the whole of Koran, I had to study it during the first two summers of my primary school until I finished the book from cover to cover. This was considered a good deed and a source of religious pride. Naturally I was convinced to go to mulla (the Islamic priest) by being bastinadoed using willow sticks as well!! Otherwise, I would have preferred to go and play with the other kids.
As of age 12, I started to doubt. I asked myself: “why does this supposedly just God need my prayers and fasting? Why do I have to go to the spring source to do my ablutions in the freezing temperature of the winter?”
In school all books started with “in the name of God” and pictures of the King and the Queen. We couldn’t start doing anything without invoking the name of the God. Supposedly, there were two angles sitting on my shoulders monitoring all my good and bad deeds to report back to God. One of the nagging questions I always asked myself was “how does God find time to read the reports from these two angles given the fact that there are millions of peoples on the earth. Besides where were the file cabinets? What language these angles use to write these reports? Does God speak only Arabic? Besides if God is omnipotent and omniscient, why does he need millions of angles, reports and filing systems?”
I remember once asking the village mulla if God and the two angles monitor me even when I go to the wash room. The mullah, being totally stunned, shouted “child why do you ask these inappropriate and blasphemous questions?”
My childish happiness was immense to show off that I had read Koran cover to cover in such an early age before anybody else, even before the entire children in my neighborhood.
My mother was beaming with joy because her son had finished Koran at age 7.
As I grew older, they took me to a religious society called Hojjatia which spear headed the attacks against Baha’is and Sunnis with vehement diatribes. At that time this society was also very active against the Muslim ideologue, Ali Shariati. They called him Baha’i, Sunni and Communist. I was curios to know about this Sunni, Baha’i, communist Shariati. I found several of his books secretly, because both the government of the Shah and clerics had banned him, and I read them. This caused me to doubt the ideas of this society and its propagators. At this stage I could tell the difference between Baha’is, Sunnis and communist and had read several books by Shariati. So one day when a heated argument was raging in the society, I asked the speaker: “how could this guy be a Baha’i and a Sunni and a communist all at the same time?” to which he promptly replied:” he is worse than all of them!” I took out Shariati books, which I was carrying in my handbag, to prove to them who Shariati was. I was kicked out of this society for reading Shariati and for being in possession of his books.
I was always unhappy with the social injustice around me, so in my youth I used to partner up with Hassan, the village head’s son, and we would steal grape and cherry from his father’s garden. We used to put them in small packages and leave them by the door of the poor people’s houses at nights. It was funny to go to the mosque and hear the poor people praising St. Khezr (a saint in Shi'a religion) was bringing them fruit!!
My mother was always trusted by people as a person of good deeds. One day I told her: “mother, do you know that St. Khezr does not exist?”, to which she replied: “stopped with the blasphemy”. I confessed to our acts of charity and fruit distribution. “We steal from the village head’s garden and distribute it!!”. At this age I was still a god-fearing person and asked my mother if I would end up in hell for stealing. My mother replied: “No son, god made these fruits for people’s mouth and not for rich persons. Why should only the village head benefit from these gifts? However, keep it a secret since people will loose their faith!!”
Reading Shariati’s books gradually led me to Mujahedeen (PMOI: People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran) organization, and at the onset of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, I became an activist of this organization. In the years leading to the Revolution and during the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, I always thought that I was struggling for the establishment of a monotheistic, classless society. POMI used books such as “Cognition”, “Evolution, Prophets’ path, Human’s Path”, and “Monotheistic Economic” which were a series of books used by POMI to indoctrinate its followers about philosophies, Economics and nature. At that time we were mostly involved in the struggle against the dictatorship of the Shah and philosophy was not high on the agenda.
After the revolution, the whole country was engaged in serious discussion about social and philosophical issues, which caused me to think deeper. On top of the books mentioned above, POMI was using a series of lectures by their leader, Masoud Rajavi, tilted, “Interpretation of the Universe”, to teach philosophy to his followers. Since I was interested in Philosophy, I read them several times. That’s why I was delegated the task of teaching these lectures where I lived. For a while these lessons went on with no problem.
I knew that a large number of Mojahedeen had converted to Marxism in the prison. At that time it bothered me that altruistic and noble human beings who were ready to give their lives for a cause had turned to Materialism and Marxism. POMI at that time was not anti Marxist and only called the new splinter group,” Paikar Organization”, pseudo leftist opportunists.
Mujahedeen claimed that they accepted the socialist economics but not its philosophy. At that time studying of Marxist works was not forbidden in their organization, although anybody who was studying such works was regarded with suspicion.
Gradually all the pictures and traces of the original and famous Mujahedeen, such as Sedigheh Rezaee, Saeed Aladpoosh and Mahboobeh Motahedeen, about whom Ali Shariati had also written, were removed from the organization without much fanfare. Later on we found out that they were amongst organization members who had turned Marxist. I did a bit of research and found out that about eighty percent of the Mujahedeen members in prison had turned to Marxism.
Gradually I started to question the validity of the conclusions that Rajavi was arriving at in his “Interpretation of the Universe”. I found out that he had used many scientific and evolutionary topics but had put an Idealistic shell around it, and had placed a God on top of this system. Mujahedeen were correctly labeled as eclectic. Their God was of their own creation, and although it was different than other Gods such as the mullah’s Allah, still it was an imaginary creation with no real and empirical existence. I was struggling for three months to swallow the idea of a Mujahedeen made God; however, although it was a God different than the God of mullahs, I still could not accept it. I couldn’t lie to myself anymore.
So I told my contact at the organization of my position, and that I could not continue teaching since I did not believe in their truth any more. They sent some one to convince me and our discussions lasted more than three months, sometimes continuing in to the late hours of the morning.
This friend was a Mujahed, but his wife was a Marxist, and as a result was more open-minded compare to the other Mujahedeen. Not only he was not able to convince me and bring me back to the fold of the believers; but, interestingly, he himself started to have doubts about the existing of the God. Due to enforcement of the police state, and because of the security issues, our meetings were suspended. Later on this lovely couple lost their lives in an armed confrontation with the security agents of the Iranian Islamic regime.
Afterward I get interested in getting to know the Iranian Marxists more. Again I was bothered by the fact that these groups, that they called themselves Marxist, were either cooperating with the Islamic regime, or were closing their eyes on the atrocities of the theocracy in Iran. For example misogyny, child abuse, sexual abuse, execution and death by stoning were issues that some of the Marxists were ignoring. Also by this time my understanding of Marxism was that there must be a struggle which would be class based and international in nature, trying to abolish wage labor. The main Iranian Marxist groups were waging guerrilla warfare and were more populist in ideology than Marxist. Some of them were watching every move by the clerics trying to identify and praise progressive elements within the religious caste.
I found what I was looking for after reading the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s literature, and knowing Mansoor Hekmat and his Works. Worker-communist party of Iran is an organization that has left its mark on the lives of thousands of people without even being in the position power. It is a movement that has disclosed the reactionary thesis of cultural relativism worldwide; has helped thousands of refugees from all over the world; has organized the “Children First” campaign; has united the youth communist movement; has organized a massive campaign against death by stoning. Worker-communist party is to the left of the political spectrum, even to the left of the freedom lovers and communists of some of the most progressive elements of countries such as Sweden and Denmark. It has left its mark on these movements as well. Worker-communist party has forced issues on the government of even the most progressive countries. A movement that claims that there are no taboos or limit to the freedom of expression. A movement that claims God and religion must be critiqued, and that you are free to insult God too.
This is a movement that is concerned with the abolition of wage labor, execution, torture and imprisonment; a movement that has no respect for any reactionary ideology concerning women and children, even if millions of people support such ideas!! In other words, this is a movement based on humans and humanity; and not on nationality, race, religion, tribal affiliation or country of origin.
This is a movement not only capable of freeing Iran from abject poverty, obscurantism, superstitions, religion and capitalism; but, I dare to say a movement that could presage the same message for the Middle East and the rest of the world, a world waiting to be freed from wage labor and exploitation.
I am certain that if I had been born in a country where religion plays a lesser role than where I was born my road to freedom from religion and superstition would not have been as long and arduous as it has been. And for this I am thankful to the Worker-communist party.