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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

It may come as a surprise to the reader, and certainly was a surprise to me, to learn that religious fervour as we know it today was far less prominent in the Islamic societies of the past. Islam’s role was mainly highlighted and utilised during conflicts. Pure and true Islam, as it is applied today by the the Wahhabis and Talibans, was seldom put to full practice after the death of Mohammed and his companions. Although the Islamic dynasties were generally oppressive, but there have been periods of relative secularism especially during the Abbasids’ rule. These periods were windows of opportunities that allowed writers, poets and scientists, from all ethnic backgrounds, to excel. We also should keep in mind that some poets and writers were considered like valuable assets to their societies and people were happy to turn a blind eye towards some of their excesses.

During the Abbasid’s rule many great writers and poets started to appear in Syria and Iraq. I am only going to briefly mention some of the best known names to see what they thought of the Quran.
Abu Nawas (750-810) was close to the famous Caliph Harun Alrashid, and is well known by his poetry that celebrated wine and male homosexuality. Obviously the Quran didn’t mean much to this great poet.

Al Mutanabbi (915-965) is largely considered to be the most famous Arab poet of all time. How are we supposed to believe that this man had admired the Quran, especially that we know he authored his own Quran and claimed to be a prophet (hence his name). Almutanabbi apologized later to save his life. As would be expected, none of his ‘Quran’ reached us.
Abu Al Alaa Al Maarri (973-1057) was a blind Syrian philosopher and poet who is considered by many as the best Arabs poet. Abu Al Alaa was even more outspoken in his criticism to Islam and the Quran, his writings leave no doubt that he was too intelligent to subscribe to an ideology like Islam. Consider. He also authored some verses similar to the Quran to a group of Arabs. When one of the men commented that the verses didn’t have that familiar resonance of the Quran’ Abu Al Alaa responded:“when you read it days and nights for years, it will”.

Ibn Rushd (1126-1198) philosopher and writer.
Ibn Al Rawandi (An Author and outspoken critic of Islam, rejected Mohammed’s claims of being a prophet)
Ibn Al Mukafaa ( writer and translator, murdered by the Islamists in 755 AD).
Al Razi (865-925 Physician and writer)
All the above great writers, philosophers and scientists were accused of apostasy by the Islamists of their time. They are the ones meant by Jim Knight, the British minister, who said: ‘teach children what the Muslims did for us’. The British minister was both idiot and ignorant to understand that those great men did what they did in spite of Islam and not because of it.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The extracts below are taken from Humanistic Texts

- The Two Universal Sects -
They all err—Moslems, Jews,
Christians, and Zoroastrians:
Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
One, man intelligent without religion,
The second, religious without intellect
(Al-Ma'arri)

- The Cheat of Sacred Rites -
O fools, awake! The rites you sacred hold
Are but a cheat contrived by men of old,
Who lusted after wealth and gained their lust
And died in baseness—and their law is dust.
(Al-Ma'arri)

- Creation Reveals A Lack of Sense -
You said, "A wise one created us ";
That may be true, we would agree.
"Outside of time and space," you postulated.
Then why not say at once that you
Propound a mystery immense
Which tells us of our lack of sense?
(Al-Ma'arri)

- A Little Doubt is Better -
Traditions come from the past, of high import if they be True;
Ay, but weak is the chain of those who warrant their truth.
Consult thy reason and let perdition take others all:
Of all the conference Reason best will counsel and guide.
A little doubt is better than total credulity:
(Al-Ma'arri)

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Comment by Pessoptimist on May 9, 2012 at 1:23pm

What is called the Golden age of Islam 800 CE to 1100 CE, during which philosophers, scientists, doctors, artists, writers, poets ...etc  flourished all through the Islamic world, started with the reign of the caliph "Al-Maymun" who stood up to religious fanatics and paved the way for science and reason thinking which made it possible for science to advance, and end it up with the reign of the caliph "Al-Mutawakkil" who gave back authority to religious leaders and religious institutions of the society, and we all know how that ended up ...

If there is a lesson to learn from history then it is this, it could take many generations to build up a civilization but it may take only one “hallucinating” generation to bring it all down. 

youtube "Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Islamic Golden Age: Naming Rights"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDAT98eEN5Q

Comment by Michel on March 24, 2012 at 10:48am

@Hiram - Interestingly, Sufis claim to be much more ancient than Islam, they also say they are the actual source of the Prophet's mystical experience. They have an interesting take on how the purity of that personal revelation gets muddled as soon as it tuns into organised religion, at the death of the Pir, for instance.

Comment by Neal on March 24, 2012 at 9:59am

Excellent and informative post, thanks.

Comment by Hiram C on March 20, 2012 at 2:16pm

Rumi the Sufi, the greatest Muslim mystic and poet to ever have lived, was not only extremely tolerant of other religions and even declared himself ecumenical saying that he practised 'the religion of love' ... he was also gay.

His lover was Shams e-Tabriz, whose name means SUN of Tabriz.  Legend says that Rumi loved Shams so much that his followers were jealous and killed Shams, after which Rumi lost his mind and spent the rest of his life a wandering mystic, never fully recovering from this.  If we re-read many of Rumi's poems where he mentions the Sun (Shams), which are frequently interpreted as refering to Allah, in light of his lover Shams' name, we'll understand the undertones and the hidden meaning of his poems.

And so - I'm not saying that Rumi wasn't a muslim culturally, but for all the intolerance that we see towards gays in islamic orthodoxy, islam in its sufi forms has always had a homoerotic and tolerant element.  Many people understand what really matters and just don't take themselves too seriously when it comes to organized religion.

Comment by Adriana on March 20, 2012 at 1:17pm

Isn't it amazing that a 10th century man came up with these pearls of wisdom about religion being a fable made up by the ancients to exploit credulous masses, yet about 50% of 21st Century American voters have not figured this out??

Comment by Hope on March 20, 2012 at 1:05pm

 O fools, awake! The rites you sacred hold Are but a cheat contrived by men of old, Who lusted after wealth and gained their lust And died in baseness—and their law is dust. (Al-Ma'arri)

Abu Al Alaa Al Maarri " I really love his poems" Thanks for sharing Muhammed =)

 

 

Comment by Michel on March 20, 2012 at 1:04pm

Al-Maʿarri  - Philosophy

He was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker,[6] some argue that he might have been a deist. One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.

Al-Maʿarri taught that religion was a "fable invented by the ancients,"[7] worthless except for those who exploit the credulous masses.[7]

Do not suppose the statements of the prophets to be true; they are all fabrications. Men lived comfortably till they came and spoiled life. The sacred books are only such a set of idle tales as any age could have and indeed did actually produce.[8]

Al-Maʿarri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen’s journey."[9]

He rejected claims of any divine revelation.[10] His creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward.[11]

Al-Maarri's fundamental pessimism is expressed in his recommendation that no children should be begotten, so as to spare them the pains of life. In an elegy composed by him over the loss of a relative, he combines his grief with observations on the ephemerality of this life:

Soften your tread. Methinks the earth’s surface is but bodies of the dead,
Walk slowly in the air, so you do not trample on the remains of God’s servants.[12]

His religious skepticism and positively antireligious views are expressed in a poem which states "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."

-------------------------------

This thinking is the fruit of 10th century culture.
Amazing isn't it?

(Below, 12th century)

Comment by Adriana on March 20, 2012 at 12:40pm

Comment by Adriana on March 20, 2012 at 12:40pm

It does not come as a surprise to me, I've read up a little bit on this subject. It is really unfortunate that the most rabid among the religious sometimes end up winning over the enlightened, because religion is the perfect tool to get people to blindly go to war. 

The Islamic Golden Age was a really interesting period, and it sure was NOT anti-science.

Comment by Adriana on March 20, 2012 at 12:37pm

Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
One, man intelligent without religion,
The second, religious without intellect
(Al-Ma'arri)


My favorite. This guy Al-Ma-arri was a genius

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