Thursday, 16 February 2017

Learning about Islam.

Some of us think we can learn about Islam by listening to what is said about it - like that 'Islam is a religion of peace'  or  that the idea of terrorism is not Islam, but a perversion of the teachings.

Some of us look to the sources, the 'Holy' books, the Koran, the Hadith and the Sira.  If that is not alarming enough, we can read books by those who have lived it.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an exceptional woman. I cannot recommend her books highly enough.

And there are idealists who travel to Islamic countries, partly for adventure, and partly to learn.  Maya Maquis is one.  I very much recommend her book, because this is from experience.

Here is what she says about it.

I’ve Learnt My Lesson is about events and my experiences of working as a teacher in the United Arab Emirates, and how my perception of life and my politically correct attitude towards Islam changed. It’s a book that deals mostly with small events; the things that make up our daily lives. But, it is in our daily lives that we exist and through which we experience happiness, pain and make decisions. It is a book about how, when every aspect of our daily lives is scrutinized, we start to live under a dark shadow that, at best, prevents us from participating fully in life. It is a book that zooms in on everyday life in the UAE, and implicitly reminds us how precious freedom is and that we must never take it for granted.

To buy this book, check online booksellers such as Amazon.

And it is vitally important to learn about Islam

Some Muslim leaders are saying that they are already 'taking over' in the West.  In some areas, usually referred to as 'No Go' zones, they are.
So yes, LEARN ABOUT ISLAM.  Instead of decrying those who raise concerns as 'racist' or 'bigots' or whatever,  make the effort to learn what you are talking about.

First, of course, the Koran, but note that some experts say that the English translations have been 'softened' for Western readers. for example, two versions of one particular verse. 
Koran,  22:19  'Garments of fire have been prepared for the unbelievers. Scalding water shall be poured upon their heads, melting their skins and that which is in their belly. They shall be lashed with rods of iron.'  Compared to  Qu'ran 22:19.  'Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water; melt their skin and bellies.' 

The first is the translation that I have.  And that 'softened' version was still quite enough for me to be totally disgusted, especially with the tedious and repeated threats of dreadful punishments in hell for the unbelievers.  

But those different translations - No 'unbeliever' is going to be worried about a threat of punishment in a hell they don't believe in, but we all should be worried if Muslims are being directly told to punish the unbelievers. ISIS, for instance, seem to delight in devising wicked tortures for unbelievers, and those tortures have included being burned or boiled alive, just as the second translation of that particular verse commands.

There is a book I have only recently read, which I very much recommend. It is based on the account of Muhammad's life as told in the Hadith. (one of the three accepted 'holy' books of Islam.)

In the scorching sands of Arabia, Mohammed ibn Abdullah (The Prophet Mohammed) had a problem. After preaching for 13 years he had attracted on average just 12 followers a year to his new religion of Islam. Worse still, half the people in his home town of Mecca wanted to kill him. After fleeing to Medina however, things would change dramatically. 
Over the course of the next 9 years, this orphaned shepherd boy would develop the most devastating system of conquest ever devised; Jihad. He would become King of all Arabia and convert the entire Peninsula to Islam. Even his enemies would be forced to worship at his feet. 

After his death the uneducated desert Arabs would burst out on an unsuspecting world. Using this same system of Jihad, they would conquer both of the world’s greatest empires in just a few short years. Within 3 decades they would control the majority of the Middle East, North Africa and Northern India. Today the empire of Islam comprises 1.3 billion people and it is the fastest growing religion on the planet. Is it a religion of peace or of endless violence? Does it advocate suffocating sexual morality or sex slavery and harems? How can both the moderates and extremists be true Muslims? The surprising answers to these questions and more reveal themselves as this incredible story unfolds. 
The material in this book is drawn directly from the foundational texts of Islam. Instead of merely quoting the texts however, it explains how they came into being and how they relate to each other. It then provides the key which unlocks their true meanings.Armed with this knowledge, readers are then able to make their own interpretations and draw their own conclusions. References are provided throughout and every effort is made to assist the reader to do their own research should they wish. 
Despite the serious nature, the story itself is gripping and fast paced. Mohammed’s exploits constitute one of the greatest adventure stories of all time. Importantly, his life is the basis for the religion of Islam. By knowing his story, we can understand the forces which drive both militant and peaceful Muslims. It explains the mindset of the modern Jihadists and predicts the inevitable rise of ultra militant groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda. 


Anything by Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be valuable.  She grew up in the faith, at one time, became more and more devout, and then started thinking until she finally saw what it was all about. 

Biography as shown on Amazon - 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, was raised Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlands as a refugee. She earned her college degree in political science and worked for the Dutch Labor party. She denounced Islam after the September 11 terrorist attacks and now serves as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and security in the West.

Muslims who grow up in the faith seldom know much about it. The favoured method of teaching is to memorise as much as possible without any attempt at understanding. Brain-washing, in other words. To some extent, it is similar to Christians, who might have gone to church every Sunday of their life, but all the same, know little of their faith. They have never done any thinking for themselves. 

 And it is why Muslims can earnestly and honestly declare that theirs is a beautiful faith, and do not quite understand  how those who are more devout can take the faith as justification for horrific crimes.  The Koran says that it is fine to do whatever they like to the unbelievers, and the Hadith tells them stories of Muhammad's deeds - the lies and the murders and the betrayals of innocent people.  Muhammad is the perfect example of a man, so Muslims believe, and so what he does has to be right.  It means Muslims can find easy justification for whatever crimes they commit as long as it against an 'infidel.'  

There is the added problem that the Koran is not in chronological order.  Instead it is arranged according to length of chapter, presumably to make it easier to memorise.  Contradictions become obvious, sometimes explained away as the 'duality'  of Islam, often with the addition that no unbeliever can hope to understand it without years of study.  

But all it needs is to be put in order, and then read with the knowledge that later verses 'abrogate'  or supersede earlier ones.  Many of the verses that are used to pretend that Islam is peaceful are from the early period of Muhammad's life when he lived in Mecca. But then he moved to Medina and discovered that war gained him far more followers than persuasion. 

From then on, he advocates violence. Islam is not a religion of peace. In one sense, it is not a religion at all, as there is no moral teaching at its core. At its core, Islam is an ideology of war.

I set my first book in a Muslim country.  ' Not a Man'  -  'from child of the slums to Oxford Graduate, this is the story of Shuki Bolkiah, modern day eunuch.' 

' Not a Man'  was followed by a sequel and then three more. It is only in the fourth that I directly speak of the religion.

Meriam is Shuki's niece. She is a bright and beautiful girl who loathes wearing the cover-all 'makrebi.'   As is the norm, she knows nothing of sex, and therefore does not realise when she is running into danger. She is raped and becomes pregnant, a disaster in the culture. Her mother does not want her to be killed 'for honour'  and appeals to Shuki, her brother.  Shuki gives Meriam a home in a civilised Western country.

It is not a smooth ride for Meriam. The beating that she suffered from her father has left her with the conviction that she is a terrible, terrible sinner. She tries to be the very best Muslim that she can possibly be. Only when she manages to throw off the conditioning can she make a good life for herself. 

Check online booksellers to buy any of my books.  Paperbacks also available.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Death Mother

It is such a sad thing to see when people are old, in pain, and only want an end to it.  My mother told me once how she envied one of the other old ones in the Nursing Home - that she went to bed one night and just didn't wake up. She said that she wasn't the only one who envied her.

One of her poems.  It was written when my father was in a Nursing Home, some years before she was forced to enter one herself.

Nursing Home:

Imprisoned within helpless bodies,  
crying voicelessly to unheeding gods to set them free.
Tired nurses patiently coax unwanted nourishment between reluctant lips.
Loud cheerful voices strive valiantly to penetrate the pall of apathy.
Sad wives and dutiful children come and go,  hopefully bearing gifts
that cannot heal the grieving spirit,  mourning lost independence,
pride and dignity,  believing itself unloved,  unlovable.
Bewildered wanderers pace endlessly,  seeking in vain their own lost selves,
forever haunted by vague memories of a distant yesterday,
of tasks unfinished,  promises unfulfilled.
A desolate figure waits forlornly by locked doors,  
imploring embarrassed passers-by to take him home.
In my dreams their yearning eyes still follow me,  
pleading hands reach out to me,
And a lonesome voice keeps calling,  calling
“Is anybody there?”


My mother only wanted to be free.  She wanted to die.  And one night, I dreamed it, though the dream was not really of my mother, but another old, old lady who needed to die. Someone I didn't know, or my dream did not tell me.  

This is how my story began.  These are the first paragraphs.

It was a dream that began it, not just the dream, but the feeling that went with it - the feeling of an enormous love and compassion. I held the poor, poor, skinny old lady in my arms. I held her with love, and she felt no pain from all of the sore spots and all of the aches that go with an old, old body. She weighed nothing at all, and I held her so gently. She needed to die. She needed to leave the body that was only a burden for her. It had been so long since she'd been young and free. For years she had yearned for an end to the suffering. She wanted to endure no longer.

And I gave her that. That body in my arms, weightless, feeling no pain for the first time in years. And she died. I gave her that. She died, and I carefully put her back in her bed and covered her. She was finally gone, finally free, finally without pain. Love. Compassion. And I freed her.
I didn't lose that dream when I woke, though if there were details, they were lost. What led up to it, what happened afterwards - if those things had been part of that dream, they were not retained. Just the feeling of an overwhelming love and compassion. And then the poor old, old lady was finally free.

The setting for my story is a Nursing Home. It is based on one that I knew, one that my mother lived in for some years. I called the fictional town Conjellaback, and that is based on the town that I knew.  The illustration I used for the cover is from a park in that town.  There was a cold, foggy morning, and it seemed so apt for the sadness that was with me at the time, sadness for my mother's pain, for her sadness. 

There were birds, some of them in flight, or just beginning to take off.

It was like when a spirit might be finally released from a world of pain, or so it seemed to me.

The character in her own words - 'just a very ordinary, middle-aged lady. Grey-haired, a worn face, and my own beginning aches and pains, the sign of what was to come, the trials that old people endure every day.' 

It began as a dream, but it turned out to be so. Shirley finds she can make people die, just by dreaming it, and then merely by thinking it.

         It makes for an interesting thought - what would you do if you found you had this ability?

          Old people who need to die?  Many disagree with euthanasia.
What about wicked people, people whose deaths would benefit the world?
What would you do?

What Shirley does is in my book - 'The Death Mother,' just released. 

Tea Tree Lake, Mortlake

My mother was a very clever lady.  Another of her poems is about the sadness of Dementia patients - the 'lost souls.'  

                             Alison McRae                               

Why do you pace so restlessly?
What drives those weary feet?
Do you seek in vain the home you knew?
Is there someone you’re longing to meet?

Are you far away in your boyhood,
Dawdling up to the school on the hill?
Hearing the bell,  knowing you’re late.
Can it be you are hearing it still?
Do you search for the girl you loved long ago?
Is she standing there by the gate?
You hasten your step as the sun goes down,
Fearing she might not wait.
Do you call to the wife and children
Who shared your yesterday?
You must be with them before night falls,
But somehow you can’t find the way.
Oh,  troubled mind and grieving heart,
Uncomforted,  lonely,  distressed.
May you find again the self that is lost,
When you go at last to your rest.


This book is available as an ebook from Smashwords, and as an ebook and paperback from Amazon and other online booksellers. 

On Smashwords

On Amazon -