Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Donuts = Religion?!

The other night P and I stopped in for coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts in Salmiya. At the back they have a big bulletin board where people can "express themselves" - draw, say how much they love DD, sign their names, etc. Basically, it's a space for people to just have fun and mess about, and it's obvious most of the people who were signing it were kids and teenagers. P and I had fun looking at it from our table and giggling at some of the endearing attempts to write in English. ("I like DD restrunt. It's the best dounts factory at all." Bless your heart.) It was all innocent fun, and it's a cute idea on DD's part.

And then suddenly, my eyes fell on this:

Why? Why right there in the middle of a "Hamad-loves-Dunkin- Donuts" collage? What does religion have to do with donuts? Out of all the things you could have said, that's what you decided to write? Sorry, I mean to preach? It's just donuts for crying out loud! What, did you think the little kids were having too much fun stuffing their faces with glazed munchkins and scribbling their names on a wall that you thought it would lead them straight to hell if they didn't remember to stop and thank God for these donuts that He has so graciously bestowed upon us? Go preach in your own space, not in this corner of the world that is dedicated to donuts and chocolate sprinkles. God must have been looking down on her at that moment saying: "My word, lady, would you give it a rest?!"

This was originally a much longer post, in which I was critically assessing several other similar overly-religious-ziyada-3alluzoom trends I've seen in Kuwait lately, but my friends told me if I post it I could get into trouble so I won't. I hate the fact that I feel compelled to self-censor. I know I can post whatever I want, and many other bloggers do post their views on Kuwaiti politics and religion, but I'm still chicken to do it in this kind of a venue. I guess I feel much bolder and braver when I write and publish academically.


  • All I would like to say is..

    People are free to write whatever they want, I can't see any problem with that.

    By Anonymous moayad, at 12/24/2006 7:02 pm  

  • Sure people can write whatever they want. I was just wondering what religion had to do with donuts. It seems a bit excessive to me. But then again I'm someone who believes that religion is an extremely individual and private matter, between a person and their God (not something to throw about in a place like Dunkin Donuts). But I know I am part of an increasing minority in Kuwait who still believes that.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 12/25/2006 3:34 am  

  • I know exactly what you mean- it's just out of context. what people who insist upon including religion where it doesn't belong actually end up indirectly doing is desensitizing, for lack of better choice of words, people to religious messages in the correct context. People are free to write what they want but they should use their intelligence when writing too.

    By Anonymous harmonie22, at 12/25/2006 3:11 pm  

  • Amen. You're so right about the lack of intelligence. While this might seem like a trivial matter, it speaks volumes on the state of our country and region as a whole. There is a time and a place for everything, and that includes religion. And if that weren't true then there wouldn't be any mosques or specific prayer times. I'm not trying to hinder freedom of speech, but I really do not think it is appropriate, on any level, to plaster religion all over billboards and giant heart-shaped posters. Not only do I find preaching of any religion in any capacity irritating and offensive (again, because I think religion is a very personal matter), but I also think such things commodify Islam into something that needs to be advertised and marketed (which seems to counter the point of religion to begin with).

    By Blogger Kleio, at 12/26/2006 2:57 am  

  • For those of us who don't read Arabic - what does it say?

    By Blogger Stinni, at 12/26/2006 8:34 am  

  • I respect you opinion.. but it's still your own personal opinion and not based on any agreed-on facts or methods :)

    If you understand Islam -as a religion- correctly then you would know that it is not "just" about a personal relation between the person and God.. it is a way of life! It's a one big package and not something you can divide and select whatever you want from it any time you like. So when you say religion -or Islam- should be locked inside mosques then you are overlooking a great portion of its social, psychological or even economical and political aspects which aims to bring good to mankind.

    Historically, western secularism appeared during the Age of Enlightenment as a reaction to the problems the religious state caused during the Dark Ages. So secularism was a solution to a certain problem and –in my opinion- can not used as a general solution to all the political and social systems, at least not in the same way. I mean if it aint broke why fix it? And even if it is broken, you must call the right person to fix it, right?

    The secret to the success of the social and political system in Kuwait (compared to other neighboring countries) is that it does have just the right amount of secularism. Kuwait never was a 100% open-minded (if that’s the term you prefer to use) secular country where religion is cast away and kept inside the mosque, nor it ever was a strict religious country where everyone must obey what one single man or method says. Kuwait always kept that balance, and any disturbance to that balance must be corrected one way or another.. life must go on.

    Now, what’s wrong with that sign? It is –as I see it- a polite phrase asking whoever reads this part to remember Allah because ‘for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction’. What is so extreme with that? What if instead someone quoted Confucius or even Anthony Robins in a phrase which they think can help bring calmness and satisfaction to whoever reads it? Would it be alright then as long as it is not “religious”?

    Finally, it all depends on the way you look at it.. but at the end it was written in a space titled ‘Express Your Self’ and not ‘Express Your Self as Long as it is About Donuts’. :)

    By Anonymous moayad, at 12/26/2006 9:00 am  

  • Stinni: Moayad translated it below - "only in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction."

    Moayad: First of all, I already said this was all my personal opinion. Second of all, I also said that I believe that religion is a personal matter between a person and God. But actually, I don't agree with you that Islam was never meant to be about a personal relationship between an individual and God. That is why our religion does not have the equivalent of priests or rabbis or ministers. It's between you and God. Of course today it's interpreted completely differently, and we are all forced to follow the interpretation of a handful of men who are running things in a very rigid and inflexible manner.

    And I wasn't saying that Islam should be locked away in mosques. But I do believe that there is a time and a place for everything. Besides, everyone knows that in Islam you are not supposed to just throw Allah's name around in any environment. If we want to break it down to the simple basics of the religion (to show that this woman actually does not know her religion but is just preaching), just the simple fact that you're not supposed to throw His name in the garbage but that anything on which it is written should be disposed of properly proves that. You think the staff at Dunkin Donuts know that? You see what I mean? I just think there is no need to throw religion about in this kind of an environment. Not only do I feel that preaching of any kind is intrusive into people's own personal space, but also it's just inappropriate.

    As for the Protestant Reformation (which is what took place as a direct reaction to the problems of the Catholic state), I think Islam is currently going through what Catholicism went through in the Dark Ages. I wouldn't be surprised if we reached an Inquisition soon. We all had better brace ourselves. But maybe there is a reformative light at the end of the tunnel.

    "If it ain't broke don't fix it"? Oh, it is definitely broke! No offense, but if you can't see that then we obviously come from two extreme ends of the spectrum and we should just agree to disagree right here.

    "The secret to the success of the social and political system in Kuwait (compared to other neighboring countries)..." The success of our social and political systems?!?! I see a tremendous breakdown in our social and political systems over the past two decades! They are anything but a success!!! There is not much more I can comment on that, because again we seem to totally disagree.

    "Kuwait always kept that balance..." Well see that's the whole point. Yes, historically Kuwait always kept a good balance between religion and secularism. But that is my whole argument - that that balance has disappeared. Now religion is permeating into every aspect of our lives. We have Islamist blockheads in Parliament trying to control our way of life and stifle our freedom and hinder our own human interactions. We have endless numbers of mitnaqbas and milti7een around when we never had that before. I'm sorry, but the balance is long gone. Kuwait is slowly turning into another Saudi, and it's the complacency of our people who are letting it go.

    Kuwait used to be the leader of all the other Gulf countries, socially and politically and economically, but now we are completely lagging behind, specifically because of these extremists. Now places like Bahrain, Qatar, and of course Dubai are thriving, and we're sitting here segregating our universities and grilling ministers.

    Sure the sign said "Express Yourself". But again, it's a donut shop for crying out loud! Whether or not it brings "calmness and satisfaction" to anyone, I just think it's strange that while a bunch of kids were scribbling on a board with magic markers, some woman felt the need to bring God into it. Not everything in our lives has to be about religion. Like harmonie22 said above, it's out of context.

    I'll end by reiterating what harmonie wrote: "People are free to write what they want but they should use their intelligence when writing too."

    By Blogger Kleio, at 12/26/2006 11:53 am  

  • Moayad: Just to add, I respect your opinion as well, and this is just something on which we can agree to disagree without offense. I just wish people could have a discussion like this in a more public environment in Kuwait.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 12/26/2006 12:03 pm  

  • "If you understand Islam -as a religion- correctly then you would know that it is not "just" about a personal relation between the person and God."

    Correctly? How do you know you are correct? You believe you are - that is your opinion, the same way you think what Kleio believes is her opinion.

    That is the whole problem. People have taken it upon thmselves to interpret religion and then try to pass it off as the ONLY way. You do not have the authority to tell someone they are not pracising the "true" Islam - as far as I see it, only God can decide that!

    As for Kuwait - or rather, the whole region - there is no balanced secularism! Everything has been made about Islam - or rather, the new militarized version of Islam.

    I find people who have to constantly remind others to remember God usually need reminding themselves. I often find the most outwardly spoken religious folks are the ones who have no religion in their hearts. They flaunt it for appearances.

    A fun board in a donut shop - to express oneself - and that is all she could come up with?? I find it offensive because she is assuming people believe what she believes and she is also assuming that people need her to remind them how to believe. She is not just making a statement about what SHE believes - she is preaching. That is what makes it offensive.

    Lighten up people. Life is a gift - live it. Enjoy it. And let others live and enjoy theirs!

    By Blogger Raine, at 12/27/2006 2:59 pm  

  • raine and kleio :) bless you! I agree with every single word u two wrote. Very true and very sad at the same time!!!
    "The secret to the success of the social and political system in Kuwait"

    !! moayad!! u must be kidding!!are we talking about the same kuwait? kuwait as in Kuwait?

    By Anonymous nonblogger, at 12/27/2006 6:57 pm  

  • Raine: You're so right. Everything in life, including religion, is subject to multiple interpretations, and it's no one's right to say or judge whether or not what one person believes or does is "correct" or based on "fact". If only the handful of men in control would understand that and stop playing God.

    "Life is a gift - live it. Enjoy it. And let others live and enjoy theirs!" Absolutely! So many people spend their whole lives trying to dictate how others should be living theirs, that they end up wasting the one gift that God gave them. Wasting the gift of life by being rigid and judging people and preaching to others on how they should live is the biggest "sin" of all.

    Nonblogger: I'm glad you agree with us. :) It makes me that much more optimistic!

    By Blogger Kleio, at 12/28/2006 2:25 am  

  • I would like to respond to Moayad:

    I don't think from what I've read any one is objecting to what the content of the sign read. Maybe you are correct; that the person who wrote and hung it up had a pure moment and wanted to share what they felt with the world (although I don't think this is the case), and yes and everyone should be able to freely express themselves.

    No commentary on religion or God is being made here but on how we people choose to translate religion and express it. When we mindlessly express, the power, and momentum of what we are trying to express, no matter how beautiful or truthful, is lost.

    To me, the sign was probably written and posted by an older person, someone at least in their late teens but am strongly guessing by someone older than that. I can tell by the handwriting- it's too perfect! That person probably scanned the comments, didn't like the fun and easy-spirited nature of the bulletin board and wanted to 'put an end to all the nonsense by reminding people what's what.'

    To stifle expression is to ultimately stifle creativity and perpetuates a cycle of stagnation of the mind and spirit and in my opinion this is a malaise that many Muslim Arabs suffer from.

    Also, there is a find line between religious expression and regurgitation of religious expressions because it is simply a habit. Or because it is used as a means of social control. The down side of using religion, or God, as a means of control is that it stifles other facets of expression that are beautifully harmlessly human, and more importantly, it can cause a schism in perception of God as an omnipotent loving source and God as the omnipotent fearful force. God shouldn't be used as a control factor, people shouldn't remember God because they are afraid but because they want to.

    The remembrance of God, typically phrased in Islam as Thikr (or Zikr), is a state one achieves by being able to simultaneously exist and interact and think and be while feeling the inspiration and memory of God alive within you so that your words, thoughts, and actions are fixed in God. Thus, hearts are content because they are fixed in right action. It doesn't mean that God needs to be an overt presence translating into every single thing we do, but to diffuse and glow through the things we do. Including using our intelligence.

    I mean, can't we discuss and exchange ideas without it being perceived as an attack on Islam? Commenting on an aspect of social behavior of Muslims is not the same as commenting on the nature of Islam...

    By Anonymous harmonie22, at 12/29/2006 7:26 pm  

  • I have to agree with you on a good point you mentioned, and that is the fact that this sign/plate will end up in the trash.. and that’s inappropriate. But our argument is not really about the plate, is it?

    Let’s get back to the “need” for secularism and if our system is broken or not. I’m saying that we don’t “need” more secularism because our current system is –to a certain degree- already balanced and doesn’t need the kind of fixing which was needed at the end of the Dark Ages. On the other hand, as I understand from what you said, you are feeling that the system “is” broken and needs to be fixed. You are also saying that we may had the balance in the past but we’ve lost it and we are becoming another Saudi Arabia.. and that’s a bad thing. If it’s broken then it needs fixing, if it’s not that broken then let it go, it’s that simple as I see it.

    The Islamist blockheads in the Parliament? I agree with you, we have all kinds of blockheads in the parliament and that’s a major problem because people unfortunately still don’t know how to chose, me included :). We have some Islamists, in and outside of the parliament, who are preoccupied with superficial stuff like university segregation and Hala February and ignoring real issues like economy and environment for example. This is a serious problem, I have to agree with that, but again, is the solution is to have “more secularism”?

    Every action has an equal reaction in the opposite direction. We do have a problem with Islamic extremists, but is the solution is to hit them with more secularism? Will being more secular and “open” be the cure of extremism? Logic and experience says a big NO! Look at Turkey for example, a secular state with Islamic majority. Western Secularism was forced on its people, now look at what happened! It became a country which has lost its wonderful history and is still unable to find its place in the future.

    What is the solution then? How secular do we want to be? Do you want beards and niqabs to be forbidden by law? Do you want alcohol to be legalized? What about prostitution? Do you want all the Islamic organizations in Kuwait to be shut down? Coeducation in all school levels? How about opening nightclubs? Anyone up to legal homosexual marriages? Yes, lets do that.. let it be one big party :).. And no, I’m not exaggerating! I know that is not what secularism is all about, but with the way our minds are working, these are inevitable consequences to it whether we like it or not! Just look at Europe and think of it ruled with our mentality! Now think about what people on the other extreme will will do as a reaction to that!!!

    If what I said is too extreme in itself then I would love to hear “your” vision. You are asking for more secularity, just how much more do we need to achieve the balance? And please don’t tell me like the sixties and seventies Kuwait because, well, that’s the past :), it will not work today because so many things have changed. How should the Ideal Golden Kuwait look like? Now that would make an excellent topic for a new post :).

    By Anonymous moayad, at 12/30/2006 12:47 pm  

  • harmonie: Very well put. Especially the last part. Most people would take a discussion like this and interpret it as an immediate attack on Islam. That's one of the biggest problems our society is facing - nobody is allowed to really speak and discuss things freely anymore without the fear of being labeled an infidel and having a fatwa thrown at them. Like you said, religion is being used as an instrument of fear and control, and not as something personal and peaceful anymore.

    Moayad: I'm not going to get into "levels" of secularism vs. religion. All I'm going to say is, what I believe our society needs is the freedom and right to CHOOSE. People need to stop preaching and dictating our lives around the false guise of religion - all it's doing is leading us on a downward spiral and our country is really stagnating because of it.

    And by the way, being secular and open-minded does not equal prostitution, alcoholism, and nightclubs. That's a pretty juvenile way of interpreting things. I'm talking about encouraging people to think critically and invidually, to be creative and innovative, to have the right to choose how they want to live and what they want to believe in. I'm talking about a society in which religion is something that is personal and not political.

    As for making all schools co-educational, absolutely!! I vehemently disagree with segregation at any level. It is a ridiculous law, and all it does is prevent girls and boys from understanding how to normally interact with members of the opposite sex. Segregation is one of the most detrimental, and dangerous, things that has been imposed upon our society.

    One last thing before I end. I must say I was extremely put off by your flippant remark about homosexuality. I believe that homosexuality is something that is 100% acceptable and normal. Any medical professional worth his/her salt will tell you that homosexuality is biological. You are born the way you are, be it straight or gay. I have many gay friends and I am as strong a supporter of gay rights as I am of women's rights, and the rights of all other minorities.

    My vision for an ideal Kuwait? One in which people start using their brains again, plain and simple.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 1/01/2007 11:41 pm  

  • Also, I find it interesting that the one "good" point you found in my argument was about the plate ending up in the trash, which was perhaps my most insignificant point. I wasn't even using it as part of my argument, but to highlight the irony inherent in the fact that this woman saw it as her duty to preach to us about religion while simultaneously breaking one of the basest "rules" of that religion that we learned about in 2nd grade religion class. Anyway, I just find it a bit humorous that it was that point that you found worthy of commenting on first.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 1/01/2007 11:52 pm  

  • Since the importance of my thoughts are being rated by the order they appear on screen I will start from the bottom this time :)

    First, agreeing with you on one point doesn't make it any better than the other points you mentioned. I know it is an insignificant point, that's why I said that it is not what we really are discussing here.

    Second, (I hate numbering my thoughts like this, but since there have been some misunderstandings before I don't want to take any chances.. anyway..) .. Second, you are pro-homosexuality.. good for you :). I didn't say there is anything wrong with it :), I was just asking if our society would accept these "liberal" thoughts, or if it should accept them. Co-education? I have always supported that when I was in Kuwait University, but I would love to see that in Sabaheyah Seconady School where I used to teach, now that would be an interesting sight :) . Alcohol, prostitution.. blah blah blah.. sure it is a superficial interpretation to secularism, but it is a natural result and you know that, I mean if is "politically" correct and legal, why not? it's a good business! Look at Dubai and Bahrain for some good examples. At the end, my point is that laws must be made to suit the society and not vise-versa. Sure laws can help to shape societies and guide them to the "right" direction, but it's very hard to change the very basics they are made off. Your ideas about critical thinking and freedom of thought are great, nor I or anyone can disagree with that, but how can we achieve that? Is religion itself is to be blamed and hence taking it out of the political system is a must? or are we talking about the wrong -whatever "wrong" means- application of religion by some people which must be "corrected"? and how can it be "corrected"?

    Third, sorry, but I feel like you are contradicting yourself when you say that people should have the right to CHOOSE and to think and express their selves freely and at the same time they should stop "preaching"! Isn't all what you and I are doing is some kind of "preaching"? If preaching is some kind of dictating then who can judge what is preaching and what is self expressing? I really would like to know :). Again, I'm not talking about the plate now, I'm talking about all forms of public expression means. Even in the most secular systems around the world there are still religious establishments and religious political parties and they all express their thoughts publicly in all forms of communications, so why should we be any different? Ok, so some "religious" people think that what they know is the only thing that is correct -even I was accused with that for some reason :)- but by denying them their right to speak and express -plus calling them names like extremists or whatever you call them- you are not solving the problem, you are making it worse! You need to express your "own" thoughts, not confiscate the others, and people will know who to follow, they are not dump, eventually they will learn from their mistakes and get back to the balance. I'm not saying you should not criticize, no, be critical, in Kuwait we are number 1 in criticizing :) but be fair and offer alternatives to what you think is wrong, stand strong and fight till the end if you have to, don't stop in the middle and start shouting "extremest!" or even "your thoughts are silly!", I don't need to tell you that because you know that already, I'm talking in general.


    You said something so beautiful that I will simply quote it :) "Commenting on an aspect of social behavior of Muslims is not the same as commenting on the nature of Islam".. couldn't agree more :) Just because some muslims doesn't believe in the thoughts of the "other" or do whatever "bad" thing under its name it doesn't make Islam or religion bad and should be kept away from our social or political systems, and it doesn't mean we should not think and live religiously if we want to.

    I also loved your comment about 'feeling the inspiration and memory of God alive within you' by Thikr. If a Muslim was a Kenafah, Islam (or religion in general) would be his/her Sheera (or Qatr).. you don't just spread the Sheera on top of the Kenafa, you must let it soak in the stuff and become part of it to get the full flavor ;). But keep in mind that once the Kenafa is soaked in the Sheera you can not separate them again! They become one thing.. and that is the perfect Kenafa :)

    I have to disagree with you on something,which is your analysis of the person who did the plate. You can't tell who did the plate and how old is she and what she meant by it simply by the look of the handwriting, I'm an Art Historian and I know what I'm talking about :). The scenario you wrote about scanning the board and not liking what is written is all based on assumptions, 'probably' you said. I can write you dozen other 'assumptions', one of them is that the plate was written by an 11 years old girl who sincerely wanted to say "Only in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.", and no, the handwriting is not that perfect, I know 11 year olds who can write more beautifully than this :).

    Thanks for your time, and sorry if I offended anybody somehow :)

    By Anonymous moayad, at 1/02/2007 9:52 am  

  • Regarding your "second" paragraph, you seem to think that society is something that needs to be controlled in order to keep them in check. But the problem is, the longer you control them, especially using something like religion as your tool to instill fear and discipline, the harder it will be to change that society for the better. That is specifically why co-education might not work at a place like Sabahiya Secondary School. Because they are so engrained in a certain mind-set now, that our government has put them in, that it would be very difficult at this stage to teach them how to behave in a more civilised manner in a co-educational environment. But, that is not an excuse to keep things restricted. If we don't take steps to change it now, then we are succombing to the fact that our society is inherently unchangeable, and if that is the case then we are screwed - because those students you mention at Sabahiya school who would never be able to exist in a co-ed school, they will one day be running our country. And just imagine how things will be then! It is frightening.

    You asked how we can achieve critical thinking and freedom of thought? You can be sure of one thing - it's not going to be achieved by the way the system is currently operating. Our education system is in shambles, and it is precisely because they have turned everything into memorization and regurgitation - including the way religion is taught. People are told not to think about the religion or ask questions, but just memorize and do what they are told to do. And no, I am not blaming the religion itself, as you suggested I am. I am blaming the politicization of religion. Using it for personal gain, and as a means of controlling a population to prevent it from gaining any civil strength.

    As for my saying that "people should have the right to CHOOSE and to think and express themselves freely and at the same time they should stop 'preaching'" is not a contradiction. Preaching and expressing yourself are not the same thing. Having the freedom to express yourself involves something personal - whereas preaching is trying to impose your own beliefs on someone else in a place that is completely out of context. I can say whatever I want here on this blog and it is not preaching, because this is my personal space. People like you and harmonie and Raine, you choose to visit this site and engage in this conversation. So that is different.

    And also, the whole point of this post was not to say that I don't think that woman had a right to write what she did. I said that I found it strange that she chose that moment to bring religion into a completely innocent, categorically non-religious setting. I brought it up because I thought this kind of random event speaks volumes on the direction in which our society is headed, in which religion is used out of context, and as a means of bringing fear into people, rather than peace.

    And yes, you know what? I think that preaching about religion is more offensive than preaching about anything else. Because religion is personal. A person's belief system is perhaps the most personal thing about them. And yet it is the one thing that is most used to judge them by. Religious intolerance is perhaps the most widespread means by which hatred is spread throughout the world, and it is for that reason that I believe that religion should be kept private and not thrown about in people's faces in inappropriate places and moments.

    And you know what? In my own life, I have found that the people who are the strongest believers, and the cleanest, purest people, are the ones who practice their religion with confidence and internal pride, without feeling the need to flaunt it or impose it on others. When it is time to pray, they quietly go somewhere private to do it. When it's Ramadan and they are fasting, they don't care if people around them are eating. If they don't drink, it makes no difference to them if people around them are drinking. They don't tell others what to do or how to do it. Because their religion is their own, and they are confident in their own belief system. They feel that what they are doing is right, but that is not their job to judge others - that is God's job only. It is the people whose own religion is weak, and who feel insecure in their own belief system, who feel the need to constantly impose it on others. For those people, their religion is on the defensive. They think, "well if I'm going to practice it this way, then everyone else should too." They go down the "check-list" of things they have to do while simultaneously living in contradiction to their own faith. They make a big song and dance everytime they go to pray, they refuse to let people live their own lives, they constantly preach and tell people what they are doing is wrong. That is not religion. That is fear. And that is what this lady at Dunkin Donuts was doing.

    I completely agree with harmonie's assessment of who wrote the plate and why. Being an art historian doesn't really have much to do with it. Anyone with a realistic and critical insight into what is going on in our country would come up with a similar assessment.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 1/02/2007 12:33 pm  

  • "At the end, my point is that laws must be made to suit the society and not vise-versa."

    So basically, if our society is spolied, like to litter, and have zero ambition, we should make it law to give them more money, legalize littering, and encourage sloth. NO. Society needs to shape up, and whipping them into shape by making no one above the law is the way. They can't CHOOSE the laws they want to follow or implement!!! What a bizarre idea!

    As for where laws should come from, do you think laws have to be attached to religion? When you go to the roots of any religion, what you basically find is a common sense approach to appropriate social behavior (no stealing; respect; etc.) Laws are also common sense (to most people). That is why, wherever you go, laws tend to be similar. We do not need to make the laws about religion. Look at atheists - are they lawless, immoral people? They choose not to believe - their choice. But the fact that they still live within the law shows that it is not about religion.

    As for freedom of expression - why is it always outwardly religious folks who tend to stomp on other people's freedom and then curse anyone who trods on theirs??? The problem with extremists is that they are not content to have the freedom to believe what they choose - they think everyone HAS to believe the same way and they make it their job to go about preaching and telling people how to live their lives. Unacceptable.

    The woman did not write, "Remembering God enriches MY life." She told others what to do. And she did it because she saw too much fun going on! Is her faith so weak that it feels threatened by other people's thoughts and expressions??

    L.I.G.H.T.E.N. U.P.

    If life is a gift from God, why are these people wasting it by being so miserable??! And before you ask how I know they are miserable, take a walk through any mall or street in Kuwait. Look at the bearded men and severely covered up women... Their faces say it all. No smiles. Hard features. Glares at strangers. Frustration.

    Just look at the way they drive - arrogant and angry and rude.

    Aaaaaah, and that leads me to the next problem - the hypocrisy. They think following the letter of Islam is enough. They do not need to understand God's intention in the law. So as long as I cover my hair with a hijab, I can attract as much attention to my butt as possible with tight jeans - after all, tight jeans were not specifically named in the Quran. I can wear neon, diamante hijabs - because these do not attract attention. And a girl without a hijab who is dressed modestly, who is not giggling at the men around her, who is not painted with 6 inches of make up - why, she is going straight to HELL.

    If I do not put my money in a bank with interest, then I can take advantage of people in the need in other ways.

    Do people really think God can be duped that easily?? If so, how can they then claim to believe in His greatness???

    And then people say - but that is not true Islam.

    The hypocrisy (which is a huge part of our society) is not "true" Islam. The terrosists are not "true" Islam. But they are using Islam. And they think they are Muslims. They call themselves Muslims.

    All these people call themselves Muslims. Others, who may be more moral, and who think about things critically and use logic and common sense, also call themselves Muslims.

    That is the thing about religion. It is SUBJECTIVE.

    Laws cannot be subjective.

    And there are no "degrees" of secularism. It is a separation of church and state. Either they are separate or they are not.

    I know this comment is all over the place and covers many topics, but I got extremely irritated by the woman's condescending message and by some of the comments to your post, which also seemed somewhat condescending.

    The reason I got so frustrated by something that seems trivial, is that it is symptomatic of the deep problems in our society.

    Freedom of speech does not give a person the right to tell another how to live. It gives a person the right to express their beliefs. Period.

    I feel lucky that for me, religion is an extremely personal aspect of my life. My relationship with God is mine alone. I do not need other people telling me what to do. I remember the good old days, when people believed Islam to be a religion with no middle man between a person and God (no priests, rabbis, etc.) And yet now there all these men who seem to believe they are the mouthpiece of God and Islam. Tragic.

    I also feel lucky that part of my belief system includes a tolerance for others and their beliefs. Until they start telling me how wrong I am and trying to impose their beliefs into my life...

    By Blogger Raine, at 1/02/2007 6:08 pm  

  • Raine: I agree with every word you said. And I'm too tired to comment about this topic again so I'm gonna leave it at that. :) A big, strong "here, here!" Tolerance. It's all about tolerance. Which by and large doesn't exist in our part of the world at the moment.

    Let them eat donuts.

    By Blogger Kleio, at 1/03/2007 12:08 am  

  • Oh, and you are SOOOO right about the hijab hyprocrisy. I have never seen such attention-seeking hypocrites in my life! So many of them are down-right skanky, and yet they feel the need to stare me up and down just because I have boy-short hair and don't dress the way they all do (my goodness, all those layers!).


    By Blogger Kleio, at 1/03/2007 12:13 am  

  • I also said all I had to say and I have nothing to add..

    Good luck.. and no hard feelings :)

    By Anonymous moayad, at 1/04/2007 12:56 am  

  • Of course no hard feelings! Bil 3aks, it's great that we can debate and discuss this stuff without anyone taking things personally. It's a difficult issue to tackle and everyone has a different way of looking at it. I think it was a great discussion!

    By Blogger Kleio, at 1/04/2007 1:10 am  

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