About Me

I was reluctant to include an “About Me” page, but then remembered that I can’t read a book without first reading about the author. It puts his, or her, ideas in context, and gives me the feeling that I’m conversing with someone I know something about. And although it can help clarify some ambiguity in the writing, it may also introduce some misunderstandings, or help the reader build false assumptions based on the writer’s experiences. For example, the fact that I lived in the West may lead people to jump to the conclusion that my opinions have been “Westernized” without considering the reasons why I have adopted my beliefs.

Early Childhood:

My name is Haider, and I’m a Muslim from Kuwait.

I spent my childhood in Kuwait, and was brought up by religious parents in a fairly conservative environment. My father’s focus was on Islamic law, and my mother’s focus was on Islamic spirituality. And while I now have disagreements with the opinions of both, they have given me an appreciation for both aspects of Islam.

Teenage Years:

All my teenage years were spent in London (UK), and, thanks to my religious upbringing, I didn’t stray towards any major sins. Having said that, I wasn’t exactly a saint. I was adamant not to commit certain sins, yet was relaxed when it came to some other sins. But regardless of what sins I committed, I always had the reputation of being religious (I suppose it was relative to the lifestyle of those around me).

University Life:

When I went to university, I began to question myself, and felt that I was being a hypocrite for being selective in what sins I prevent myself from committing, and caution others against, and those I allow myself to commit, and encourage others to do. I also had expectations of others more than I was fulfilling. This feeling of hypocrisy was so overwhelming that I could not tolerate being called “religious” without being one in all matters of life. I thought that a hypocrite is a loser in either direction: he doesn’t gain much from his reputation, and neither will he be rewarded by God.

Experiencing Self-Awareness:

While Islam encourages introspection and self-knowledge, I had never taken it seriously, and my religiousness up to university was primarily a collection of habits and opinions I adopted from my parents, without really asking why I had accepted them.

I decided that in order for me to avoid being a hypocrite, I should go in one of two directions: either be open to commit any sin I wanted to, or avoid committing any sin I can. To be selective meant that I can’t advise others against some sins, while giving myself the excuse for committing other sins. If “sin” itself should be avoided, then the type of sin is irrelevant.

There was a string of reasons that led me to take the second option (which I will cover in future posts, God-willing). But that decision was the basis for many other decisions that led me to start this blog.

(To avoid being misunderstood, I should point out that a person who commits some sins is not necessarily a hypocrite, nor should he commit all sins under the sun simply because he is not a saint. However, I saw the options as being “either-or” (total sinner or complete saint) because my reputation was of being religious, and in order to break the feeling of hypocrisy that I had, I wanted to break the contradiction that existed in my character, and so I had to opt for one way.)

Along with my campaign against my hypocrisy, I realised that I did not know why I believed in Islam, even though I expected others to embrace it. I, therefore, vowed that I will not accept anything on blind faith, and will pursue the truth for the rest of my life. And while I put in a lot of effort to understand Islam, and to compare it with other religions, my opinions changed in many ways over time.

I prefer not to get into the details of what opinions I adopted, and why I changed them at each stage, as this will raise more questions than I can answer on a single page. Therefore, I’ll cover these details in the blog, where the readers will also have the opportunity to discuss individual topics with me.

My Mission Statement:

So what would I like to achieve from this blog?

I believe that ideas are extremely important, and they can determine a person’s happiness or sadness, his success or failure. The greatest contribution I can make to another person is by sharing with him an idea that can improve the quality of his life. I would like to encourage others to be open to accepting new ideas, and to have the ability to evaluate ideas through an objective standard, as opposed to accepting or rejecting beliefs based on whim, ignorance, custom or fear.

I also believe that Islam is full of teachings that can enrich our lives, but they have been buried under false interpretations and hideous misconceptions. I have researched this issue in depth, and experienced the consequences of different interpretations of Islam. The sad part is that this issue is usually discussed in an atmosphere fuelled with sectarian tensions, personal prejudices and whim worship. Rarely has there been an objective criterion presented for the understanding of Islam. I would like to open this subject up for academic debate, and the outcome will, God-willing, allow us to reach an understanding of Islam that is closer to the message that God wished to communicate with mankind, than with the interpretations that we currently hold.

I pray that you find this blog rewarding, and look forward to your contributions!


  1. DrShredd said,

    May 20, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I have gone through pretty much the same thing, I have also been afraid of bieng a hypocrite and i actually tried to earn the reputation of bieng a sinning devil despite being religious within myself, just to prevent myself from becoming a hypocrite. This approach did not work for i am religious in my own way, though i am also selective about it.

    I put my faith into question. Not taking anything for granted and questioning every aspect of my faith. I will try to make things short and give you the main ideas of what i have come to find out from my own personal journey of religious phelosophy.

    I have found out that the quran is the absolute truth. If you are a perfectionist you will find it perfect in a miraculious way. If your a scientist you will find miracles of science within the text. If your a phelosopher you will find faith in its perfect metaphysics etc. If your a musician you will find it to be lyrical and musical like no other rythm or song. Whatever your direction is you will find truth in the quran if you read it with an open mind.

    I also discovered that the quran did not cause me to feel misrable or bad towards myself or even guilty from any of the things that i do. I discarded the interpretations i previosly knew and made my own judgements when reading it. And i discovered that the teaching contained within are something trully “bil fi6ra”. It is easy and natural to follow it, bassically to just be your “good” self.

    However i could not say the same for Hadith or Shari3a. Now some may think this blasphemous. But in the end those hadith/sunna books are not quran. they are not absolute truth. They are simply man written books that have been changed and modified as time goes by. They went through wars and “fitna”, and therefore most likely have been altered and tampered with. so is it even reasonalble to govern our lives by thier teachings?

    I discovered that all my internal conflicts were caused not by anything said in the quran, rather it was caused by iether some 7adith or odd interpretation of part of the quran. When i disregarded those, and went back to look at the whole of the segment of the quran and looked at the context an aya was written in. It made a whole new meaning that has nothing to do with what i have been taugh by religious figures.

    I have therefore abandoned my faith as a “Sunni” and now i proudly say I am just Muslim.

    In summary, the quran is the truth. The a7adith and sunna are likely to have been altered and changed because of wars and corruption etc. Im not saying to abandon them but keep in mind that they may not neccesarily be accurate or true like the quran, if something feels wrong in islam or does not make sence to you, it very likely has nothing to do with islam but is simply a misinterpretation of quran or a false/altered/misinterpreted 7adith or sunna. Also notice that muslims are torn apart by non other than this aspect of faith. if we rely on the quran and appreciate that it is deep and complex, and that one part of it may mean something to a person and a compeletely diffirent thing to someone else (both bieng correct), rather than ask religious figures to think for us and tell us what the quran means we would be more harmonious and happy.

  2. Haider said,

    May 20, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    DrShredd, I am sure your experience has made you appreciate the importance of how Islam is open to a wide range of interpretations.

    The problem is, even with the Holy Koran itself, there are many verses that are vague in meaning, that can either be difficult to understand or have several potential interpretations.

    Many Muslims are bound by what’s written in the Holy Koran, and so they would question why you chose to quote one verse and not another, why you chose one meaning and not the other, etc.

    I wouldn’t completely dismiss the hadiths, but it’s important to know how they should be used. Some hadiths address this very issue.

    I am currently working on what now appears to be a lengthy book on Understanding Islam, which will hopefully deal with the subject of interpretation, in the hope of presenting a more objective criteria for the interpretation of Islam.

  3. Seth said,

    May 22, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Haider, do you think if you were born somewhere different geographically, and that this place’s pre-dominant religion was not Islam, but Christianity, Hinduism, or Buddhism, do you believe your efforts would still be directed at Islam?

    What I suppose I am asking is- Is your quest for true understanding based in your idea that the Koran is the Truth? Or is this a pure adventure of self-discovery, by understanding the religion that has so shaped your society?

    I have recently shrugged off my native religion, difficult as it was to do. I just wonder if your mental journey is similar to mine.

  4. Haider said,

    May 22, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Seth, I have written about the start of my “journey of self-discovery” in a series of blog posts entitled Path to Extremism (series still in progress, currently posted 4 parts). In it I explain how the start of my journey began with a vow to pursue the truth wherever it may take me.

    But, if I had started off as a non-Muslim, I *may* not have ended up becoming a Muslim. In fact, if I had not been exposed to the Islamic books I’ve been exposed to, I may not have continued being a Muslim.

    The predominant attitude towards Islam is faith-based, and seeks to invalidate reason to a very large degree. It would have been almost impossible for me to discover a rational attitude towards Islam, if I had not read the teachings that I had.

Leave a Comment