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My Take: Top 5 myths about American Muslims’ love lives
February 14th, 2012
01:25 PM ET

My Take: Top 5 myths about American Muslims’ love lives

Editor's note:  Ayesha Mattu, an international development consultant, and Nura Maznavi, an attorney, are the co-editors of "Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women."

By Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, Special to CNN

A lot has been written about Muslim women, but very little of it has been written by Muslim women ourselves.

The sensational stories — child brides, forced marriages, honor killings — always get the headlines, but nowhere do we see the stories of the independent, opinionated and hilarious Muslim women we know.

We decided to change that.

Starting five years ago, we asked fellow American Muslim women to share their stories of searching for love. We chose the topic because love is a deeply intimate yet universal emotion — and one not usually associated with Muslims.

We received 200 submissions in response to our call for stories, which we broadcast via social media and email.

Twenty five of the best submissions form our new book, “Love InshAllah,” which means “God willing” in Arabic and expresses the idea that it’s only through the will of God that we attain what we seek in life.

Taken together, the stories offer a portrait of the millions of Muslims in America, which represents the most diverse Muslim community on the planet. It includes families whose roots go back to the founding of our nation and immigrants from every country imaginable.

While compiling the book, we ran head-on into lots of myths about the love lives of American Muslim women. Here are the top 5:

1. Muslim women marry men their parents choose for them.

While some women do meet their husbands through their parents, Islam gives women the final say over whether or not to marry that person. Family plays a strong role in the lives of many American Muslim women, but the majority who submitted contributions to our book did not meet their partners through family recommendations.

The women of “Love InshAllah” fall in love at college and work, online and through mutual friends. One writer, Angela Collins Telles, met a handsome and mysterious stranger while traveling in Argentina, had a whirlwind romance, got married and now lives in Brazil with her husband their two sons. Not exactly an arranged marriage.

2. All arranged marriages are loveless.

For many of us, the idea of marrying someone you are not in love with is shocking. It brings to mind images of a couple bound together for life by duty, not love. Aisha Saeed writes about meeting a young man on the recommendation of her mother and, within six weeks, deciding to marry him.

If that seems foreign, consider that she bases her decision on their mutual chemistry after discussing shared values, passions and goals. They’re the same factors most of us consider when choosing a lifelong partner, albeit usually over longer periods of dating.

Though Saeed may not have been “in love” with him in the conventional sense on their wedding day, a decade of married life later they are madly in love with each other, with a love that continues to grow deeper over time.

Saeed chose her partner on the lasting qualities of mutual respect and kindness and they have built a beautiful life together.

3. Muslim women who wear the hijab are repressed or asexual.

Throughout history, the lives and bodies of Muslim women have been politicized.

We are either hypersexualized — think belly dancers and harems — or thought to be desexualized, as though wearing a scarf on our heads extinguishes all feelings of love or desire, and our very agency over our lives.

In “Love, InshAllah,” writers who wear hijab challenge that notion. Whether they are recently divorced and miss the sexual intimacy of a relationship, single and tempted by their hot personal trainers, or discovering the joys of a new relationship through the sweetness of holding hands for the very first time, Muslim women who cover share the love and longing of all women.

4. There is no such thing as a gay Muslim.

Actually, there is. Not only are there gay Muslims, some of them are deeply orthodox, with faith playing a central role in their lives. Two of our writers relate very different experiences of being gay Muslims — one from a secular background, the other from an orthodox perspective.

The surprises don’t end there. The more secular writer comes out to her strict Muslim parents and is accepted, while the more orthodox woman has not yet come out to her non-Muslim family. In the end, a parent’s reaction has less to do with his or her family’s religious affiliation and more to do with individual family cultures, communication and dynamics.

5. Muslim women are unable to escape unhappy marriages.

Muslim women have had the right to divorce for the past 1,400 years. That is not to say it has always been easy, or that cultural or legal impediments have not existed. The same barriers that prevent many of us from moving on from a bad relationship – fear of being alone, children, or economic issues – come into play for Muslim women, too.

But many of the writers in “Love InshAllah” write openly about unhappy marriages and eventually leave them behind. They find love on the second — or even third — time around.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Opinion

soundoff (478 Responses)
  1. Megan

    As a muslim woman (and a convert at that), I think this acticle is great. Too many people think the exact opposite of what Islam is really about. For all of you naysayers, spend some time reading into islamic theology and philiosophy, you'd be shocked to find the contrary of little quotes you dig out of the Quran and ignore the context in which they were written.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Megan

      Oh and the lack of humanity I see here is appaling....I can see that very clearly and I'm supposedly some "terrorist" or whatever label you'd like to stick to me. Looks like not one of you critics have taken a college level course on Islam or even religion at that to atleast know truth from propaganda.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • BG

      Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

      Wafa Sultan

      Robert Spencer

      Now = there's = an education. Too bad you cut class.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Choose the Real World, Not Another Oppressive Abstract Ideology!

      Have you ever taken a college-level course on atheism?

      Why should people waste a part of their precious lives studying something of no interest or value to them. Do you do that? That's pretty perverse.

      What you are really doing is demanding that people go to some effort to understand you, when you obviously do not do that for anyone else. That is very one-sided.

      But thank you for the condescension, Perfect One.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Sarah

      Not one-sided at all actually. We don't say that we take courses on Atheism but then again we don't claim to be experts on it like you seem to think you're an expert on Islam. We don't go ahead and write negative comments about something you don't understand.

      P.S. A course on Atheism? Really? Are there even things like that? What is there to talk about at these courses? How all religions are bogus? What a waste of time and money, man!

      February 15, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • nimesh

      Totally ridiculous idea.
      Show me a bad scripture belonging to any religion in the world. Such a thing does not exist!
      All religion promote peace, compassion blah blah blah. But it is the actions that speak much louder than words.
      To be a good muslim, you must first reject and abhor all the maniacal muslim authorities/imams in Iran, Arabia and Egypt.
      Take over to transform the muslim faith and then it will become palatable to us.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  2. idontbelieveit

    I stopped reading at hilarious.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      You had me at "I"

      February 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  3. andrew.peter

    CNN be careful on who you go to bed with. Lie down with down, and you'd rise up with fleas... or in this case, no head!

    February 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • andrew.peter

      edit: lie down with DOGS and you'll rise up with fleas.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Sarah

      Yes, CNN. andrew.carter is right. After all he is asking you politely not to go to bed with him. He has fleas...

      February 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Sarah

      or andrew.peter...whatever the heck your fake name is..

      February 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  4. Halo of Flies

    @t3chsupport

    1. In what way have atheists turned non-belief into religious dogma. That does not make any sense at all.

    2. On the contrary, I do know better. I don’t have to disprove God. The burden of proof falls to the one making the argument that God exists. I don’t hear a god, I don’t see a god, and there is no evidence of a god. So if you are going to make an extraordinary statement like “There is a God” then please present the evidence to support it. Then I will be happy to listen.

    3. What shadows are you referring to?

    4. What level are you referring to?

    5. Are accusing an Atheist of being a fundamentalist? That does not make any sense.

    6. In what way am I shoving my own views down anyone’s throat? I am reporting factual information that can be supported by data. Where there is not data to support my personal feelings I have clearly stated “I don’t know”.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  5. enricorosan

    Both of these 2 ladies are presenting false views of love in Islam. Islam oppresses women even in the after life. Men get 72 virgins while women get a kick in the butt while cleaning the bed sheets when the man is finished doing the virgins.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Sarah

      And this is the definition of ignorant America.

      Where the heck did you get the 72 virgin story? Not even in one place in the Qura'an is there anything about the virgins, really...

      Stop fantasizing so much and go actually read it.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  6. robert rudges

    I don't care about your love life. I do care that Muslim religious leaders threaten death to anyone who writes an article, book, or movie that mentions Islam in anything but the terms they define. That is abomination. As long as you associate yourself with a belief system that kills people who speak out in ways it doesn't like, I oppose you and your whole community.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • idiotslayer

      Oh noes your opposition will bring the fall of the empire.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Sarah

      You're absolutely right, Sir. People should be allowed to say what they feel. Just to be clear, I hope you know that even the Vatican bans books/movies, publications that are even remotely against Christianity – see Dan Brown books/movies Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, the Harry Potter series, (which are not at all offensive to the religion, according to me anyway).

      Anyway, the problem is not Islam. Don't blame Islam. Blame people who understand it wrongly, in the incorrect context, take things out of proportions, on both sides I must say – some believers (e.g. the people who end up blowing up things) and even people who are not Muslims (who end up quoting those verse out of context).

      The belief system does NOT encourage killing at all – of any kind, unless it a declared war. It's some people in the religion who take the justice in their own hands. Please blame them and not the religion.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  7. Joe Peterson

    A devote Gay Muslim stays in the closet in Islamic countries. He or she will not live very long otherwise. Though I believe Muslims by and large to be nice people, somethings in the text above are a bit disingenuous.
    Best
    Joe

    February 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  8. augustghost

    Love? I thought they just killed people

    February 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      You are thinking of Muneef.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hmmm.
      Think just now we know who is acting stupid...! You must have Flown over some Coco's Nest...!?

      February 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Muneef, don't be so sensitve!

      February 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Muneef

      Hollow stuffed with flies...

      Guess you got to be more sensible ...rather than throwing accusations blindly...

      February 16, 2012 at 6:04 am |
  9. BG

    " love is a deeply intimate yet universal emotion — and one not usually associated with Muslims."

    Why don't these muslim women delve a little deeper into the reason for this? There is a reason, right? Or is it just all simply... prejudice? Uh-oh.... we're all having another attack of the dreaded Islamophobia again. I even had my flu shot this year – no help.

    Come here, CNN... I have some 'love' for you. Sadly, it doesn't involve any honor killing, just berating. I know – how disappointing.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Would it happen to include any teenage girl acid in the face disfigurment? That is Muneef's favorite.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Muneef

      Head of fly.
      You know me not to judge me...and claim that a crime is my favorite..!? Am just a ordinary moderate Muslim who calls for no violent acts against others what ever their beliefs are... But that does not mean I will not try to protect my self and family against any violent acts against us...it is called self defense... And self defense starts with words before any thing else...!

      February 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Muneef, this is head of fly. I just like breaking your balls you silly goof ya.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Sarah

      Honor-killings are usually rooted from the culture not religion. Unfortunately, many of these countries where honour killings happen all the time, say Afghanistan, is a "Muslim country". But don't mix the two. Islamic religious leaders have been condemning them for a long time, even in the Canadian honour killing case of the Shafia family.

      Here's the truth, plain and simple: there is no honour in killing. The end. I am a Muslim and that's what I have been taught my whole life.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Muneef

      Flies Halo.

      Haha.seems you enjoy playing with those.... 🙂

      February 16, 2012 at 6:00 am |
  10. Halo of Flies

    There is no scientific evidence indicating that God exists. We all know that. For example:

    • God has never left any physical evidence of his existence on earth.
    • None of Jesus' "miracles" left any physical evidence either.
    • God has never spoken to modern man, for example by taking over all the television stations and broadcasting a rational message to everyone.
    • The resurrected Jesus has never appeared to anyone.
    • The Bible we have is provably incorrect and is obviously the work of primitive men rather than God.
    • When we analyze prayer with statistics, we find no evidence that God is "answering prayers."
    • Huge, amazing atrocities like the Holocaust and AIDS occur without any response from God.
    • And so on…

    So there is no empirical evidence showing that God exists.

    If you think about it as a rational person, this lack of evidence is startling. There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today's "God", nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past, exists. In addition we know that:

    1. If we had scientific proof of God's existence, we would talk about the "science of God" rather than "faith in God".

    2. If we had scientific proof of God's existence, the study of God would be a scientific endeavor rather than a theological one.

    3. If we had scientific proof of God's existence, all religious people would be aligning on the God that had been scientifically proven to exist. Instead there are thousands of gods and religions.

    The reason for this lack of evidence is easy for any unbiased observer to see. The reason why there is no empirical evidence for God is because God is imaginary.

    February 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • BG

      So, you're predicating the validity of 'belief' upon empirical evidence? Boy, you're sure howling at the moon.

      Bring some hot chocolate. It's cold out there, kiddo.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Yes of course. Nothing is supernatural. If it exists, it can be proven.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      kiddo.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • BG

      The shoe fits you. Only children speak in absolutes.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Earthling

      Religion and God is a belief. If you don't believe God, then it is your business and I don't care. But one thing for sure no matter what the scientists say, I do believe in God!

      February 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Dado

      Ok, so if it can not be explained scientifically, it does not exists. Can anyone tell me who or what caused the Big Bang? Before the Big Bang, what? I once asked an astronomer's forum whether it is an absolute truth that the earth is not still and the universe never revolves around it, and what is the basis. Jurassic question, isn't it? Galilieo 'proved' that long time ago. But I was given a reply in "most probable" term. Meaning, unsure. And here you are questioning the validity of God just because He can not be explained.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Bill

      There is probably no God but there is something strange about life itself. Inanimate objects and atoms born from the explosions of stars, after a few billion years gain this thing we call life? It's very strange. My intuition tells me that if you were born from stardust that there is some other kind of force or something that gives life to these objects. The dryer lint from my dryer, if left alone for a few billion years might rise up as some kind of life? Billions of years ago we were basically dryer lint.

      I don't think we are only made up of atoms and electo-chemical signals. I think science can figure it out, but we don't have the proper measurement and detecting devices yet.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • rm

      The real question is why do people imagine a god to begin with?

      rm

      February 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Joe Peterson

      Science really makes little comment on God's existence or not. Its precepts are based on the experimental method. Where it parts from there we go into theory and theories even in the scientific community can relate or prove difficult to such beliefs. It is a matter or choice and view point in how one wishes to interpret them The book of science is not finished yet so for an atheist or a theist to stake ultimate proof claims on Science that is still developing is a bit fool hardy. Who knows in a 100 years one might find themselves on the other side.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      BG
      I don't know any children who believe in absolutes personally, but there are plenty if ignorant Christians out there that I have met. kiddo.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • BobbyBarker

      Evidence of God or not, many people believe in God and have some form of religion in their lives. I would argue that its in our DNA to believe in a higher power. How ironic. We were designed and built (by evolutionary means or otherwise) to believe in something bigger than us that may not exist.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Leo

      Science is incomplete and it always will be. It can only see so far.. if something cannot be proved thru science does not means it does not exists. Electrons, molecules and DNA existed before the invention of electron microscope.
      God is realization that science is incomplete believe that there exist something beyond us.. to guide us.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • BG

      Sure, I'm good with all that, Bill. But people (read, those of a contemporary atheistic bent) get all caught up in invalidating the concept of "God/god." What a waste of time. Proving God/god exists? Why bother? God/god isn't the issue.

      A person's -belief- is the issue. Their belief is real, even if the object of their belief is subjective. You can't rationalize the irrational. Empiricism and belief are mutually exclusive.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • R Bradley

      You are WRONG! God & Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1830 when he prayed to see what church to join & he told him none of them are true & that he was suppose to restore the TRUE church from Jesus's day & so he did, thus The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You don't know anything. God has answered my prayers – many times, I don't have to see HIM to know that.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @Dado
      No. Because he can not be seen, heard, smelled, touched or otherwise in anyway accounted for. God is fiction. You are comparing apples and oranges.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      R Bradley
      Thanks for the chuckle.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • BG

      @ Halo of Flies

      Surely you can pick a better name. It's just that when I read your posts I smell this odor... It's either the power of suggestion from your name, or you give me gas. Either way.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • drh1214

      The Platypus is God slapping science in the head.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      "If it exists it can be proven"... wow you would make a horrible scientist. You also forgot the first rule of empirical inquiry: You need to disprove your null hypothesis before anything else. Now cough up some empirically backed support that a higher power does not exist =) There is no solid empirical evidence either way supporting or denying the existence of a higher power. Thus we call it belief... sheesh

      February 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @BobbyBarker
      Nice use of indiscovered evidence to make your case. Wow.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Leo, please present your evidence for this.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      BG
      You don't seem to grasp the point here. I could care less what people believe, however in the case of theism, the entire planet is affected by the irrational belief systems of the various mainstream religions. It affects the global economy, it affects world peace, it affects our secular life style in the United States. These ancient belief systems are based on superst.ition and mythology. One would think humans would have moved forward by now but instead we as a species behave in the same self-destructive manner now as we did thousands of years ago with more at stake then at any other time in history. It matters.

      Religious nuts are dangerous fools.

      Apparently you don't understand my name either. lol

      February 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @AdmrlAckbar

      You are incorrect and are employing Pascal's Wager as an argument.

      The Wager

      The philosophy uses the following :
      1. "God is, or He is not"
      2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
      3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
      4. You must wager. It is not optional.
      5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
      6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

      Reversing the wager

      One way to counter the wager is to replace Pascal's Judeo-Christian God with a hypothetical god that eternally punishes those whose lives are governed by irrational beliefs. This action effectively flips the four paradigms of the wager on their heads. To avoid confusion, the hypothetical deity will be referred to here as Ral:
      1. If you believe in God and Ral does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever; thus an infinite loss.
      2. If you do not believe in God and Ral does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven; thus an infinite gain.
      3. If you believe in God and Ral does not exist, you will not be rewarded; thus a finite loss.
      4. If you do not believe in God and Ral does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life; thus a finite gain.
      This theoretical belief system, which is just as empirically provable as the belief system underlying Pascal's wager, presents a win/win scenario for atheists and a lose/lose scenario for those who believe in God. Since the two contrasting ideas of a specific god are logically equivalent in likelihood, atheism is shown to have the greatest potential for gain, completely negating and effectively reversing Pascal's argument.
      Further reversal
      This reversal works best for those who want to confuse more than disprove, but it's fairly valid.
      1. If god exists and god is benevolent and you are a good person who disbelieves, you will be fine
      2. If god exists and god is benevolent and you are a hypocrite who claims to believe but does not you may not be fine
      3. If god exists and god is malevolent and you are a good person who disbelieves, you may not be fine
      4. If god exists and god is malevolent and you are a hypocrite who claims to believe but does not you will likely be greatly punished
      5. If god does not exist and you are a good person who disbelieves then you have a net gain (You help yourself instead of waiting for god to help you)
      6. If god does not exist and you are a hypocrite who claims to believe but does not you have a net loss (Untruthfulness to self)
      True believer is left out, because you're arguing from the viewpoint that belief is something that takes place deep down inside, and is not a facade, and that you simply lack it.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Additionally AdmrlAckbar, if I came to you and said I have a Leaprechaun and he has a pot of Gold. It's true!

      You would insist that I prove it or you would not believe me. When you make a fantasitic argument, it is on you to provide the proof. Very simple.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • comm0nsense

      Why waste your time friend. Religious people by definition are unable to see reason (unless of course they are on the operating table ... then all faith goes out the window and will seek the best scientific treatment available). These are hypocritic bunch whose days are numbered. Knowledge will triumph over ignorance. How one calls indoctrination of young children faith is beyond me. I can make a child believe in anything, i mean ANYTHING. And the child will grow really, REALLY believing whatever it's that he/she were thought. Just because someone really believes in something, it doesn't mean that thing is really. It just means that someone has their head screwed with.

      February 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Fn0rdz

      BG: "The shoe fits you. Only children speak in absolutes." You DO realize that you just spoke in absolutes, don't you?

      February 14, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  11. Halo of Flies

    I am saddened by all those who cling to religion. One can lay out all the evidence and build (and have built) an airtight case against every single religion on Earth past and present, but still they will not budge from their point of view.

    Understand, I am not talking about a belief in God. I do understand that. I am talking about religion. Every one of which has been empirically proven false but yet clings like moss to ancient rocks.

    I believe the single most important factor in this inability to see through the foolishness of religion is fear. Children’s stories of heaven and hell. The initial indoctrination for many, simply cannot be undone.

    Secondly, there is a feeling of community that comes with any “club” Naturally this is not relegated to religion so it does not qualify as an excuse.

    Finally some minds are unable to think creatively enough to imagine the more plausible alternatives. What are those alternatives? Well we have to turn to science, but also we have to accept what we don’t know. And in truth, we don’t really know anything about how the universe came to be, what came before and where it is going. If there are multiple universes and time lines through which we move, these would be marvelous discoveries. We don’t know if there is a god or gods because they are beyond our imagination.

    If we wish to believe in such things, we have to make them up. Hence religion. It doesn’t mean there is no god, or gods, or aliens, but it does mean that we don’t have the answers and most likely never will.

    Now we arrive back at fear. What will happen to me when I die? For me, I look forward to an eternity of nothing. Others fear this prospect and prefer to believe in fairies and fantasies and are not even ashamed that their mental description of an after life is akin to that of a 5-year-old.

    I believe the Universe and the “everything” are FAR more bizarre than we could ever imagine with the faculties we have thus far obtained via evolution on this planet. And I wonder how many millions of civilizations across the vastness of space and time have pondered likewise. I wonder if any beings know (or knew) the truth.

    February 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • t3chsupport

      The religious aren't the only ones who cling to religious. Atheists like yourself have turned atheism itself into a religion, a dogma, just as ridiculous as any other dogma. You are no better, and you know no better. You can't disprove god, and they can't prove it. You're both arguing about shadows you can't prove, so you're really just on the same level.

      You are not much better than any other fundamentalist, still trying to shove your own views down the throats of others and condemning their beliefs.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @t3chsupport
      You are incorrect.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @t3chsupport:

      1. In what way have atheists turned non-belief into religious dogma. That does not make any sense at all.

      2. On the contrary, I do know better. I don’t have to disprove God. The burden of proof falls to the one making the argument that God exists. I don’t hear a god, I don’t see a god, and there is no evidence of a god. So if you are going to make an extraordinary statement like “There is a God” then please present the evidence to support it. Then I will be happy to listen.

      3. What shadows are you referring to?

      4. What level are you referring to?

      5. Are accusing an Atheist of being a fundamentalist? That does not make any sense.

      6. In what way am I shoving my own views down anyone’s throat? I am reporting factual information that can be supported by data. Where there is not data to support my personal feelings I have clearly stated “I don’t know”.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • justice4sarah

      Good grief people, there is no need to write half a book here. Believe what you may, give others that same right. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Why slander either, live and let live, be happy.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Juan Carlos de Burbon

      Which part of Buddhism is empirically false?

      February 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Juan Carlos de Burbon

      @Halo of Flies – Have you every seen a baby or newborn pigeon? Does that mean they don't exist?

      #5, yes, you are a fundamental Atheist, by virtue of capitalizing the word.

      #6, yes you are imposing views. You aren't presenting them you are pontificating and being condescending as if your belief (or lack of one) is superior to others. That's no better than any other religious fundamentalist pontificating their own religion's superiority.

      Antiests like you are just as disgusting as any other radical fundamentalist. Your data is always more right and better than anyone else's. Your word is infallible. And you will use any reason at your disposal to oppress and degrade someone else's belief because it's not the same as yours.

      Pot calling the kettle black.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      Juan Carlos de Burbon.. well said mate =) Polarized zealots on both sides of the belief spectrum have much more in common then they do different.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @Juan Carlos de Burbon
      You are really reaching lol

      1. Pigeon? Stupid argument. If there is an adult pigeon then it came frame a baby. You are really reaching.
      2. I still don’t understand the definition of “fundamental Atheist” sorry.
      3. Incorrect. Atheism in not a religion and I am discussing it on the blog. If you feel I am being condescending, perhaps you have your own doubts and are uncomfortable thinking about reality.
      4. I fell religion is a dangerous tool used by politicians and business men to heard the sheep and reap the benefits. While for many this goes unnoticed. It does not go unnoticed by me.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Juan Carlos de Burbon said "Which part of Buddhism is empirically false?"

      I never said it was so I don't know. You tell me.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Juan Carlos de Burbon

      @Halo of Flies

      Using your own argument against you, show me some empirical evidence that you have seen a baby pigeon. It's really funny that you used the argument "If there is an adult pigeon then it came frame a baby." Really? This is your version of empirical evidence? Are you sure you know what empirical evidence is?

      "2. I still don’t understand the definition of “fundamental Atheist” sorry." No surprise here. You don't know what empirical evidence is either.

      "3. Incorrect. Atheism in not a religion and I am discussing it on the blog. If you feel I am being condescending, perhaps you have your own doubts and are uncomfortable thinking about reality." You just don't get it, do you? I too am an atheist. I do not believe there is a god at all. You, however, wear atheism like a badge and pontificate that everyone else is wrong and you are right. This is radical thinking and very prejudice. Although I don't believe in god I don't condemn other people's beliefs. You're not discussing it. You are a troll and very angry at people who believe in something other than what you believe in. You are Atheist Al-Queda. You would prefer that everything pertaining to god be removed and abolished. You don't agree with it and therefore it should be condemned. You are the one who is uncomfortable. God, religion, and beliefs contrary to yours frighten you.

      "4. I fell religion is a dangerous tool used by politicians and business men to heard the sheep and reap the benefits. While for many this goes unnoticed. It does not go unnoticed by me."

      FEAR!!! You are a frightened little child, uncomfortable with the way the world is who feels the need to lash out at other people on the Internet because you are too frightened to do it without anonymity.

      February 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • comm0nsense

      @Juan Carlos de Burbon

      You are a joke friend. I've never seen an atheist organization molesting boys and getting away with it free - something the catholic church has managed to do without any meaningful accountability. So yes, religion is a position, a drag on our society. What @Halo of Flies is doing isn't trying to convience you of anything ... he is simply frustrated by the fact that a utterly baseless claim (that there is a God) is causing so much harm to the society he lives in.

      February 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      @Juan Carlos de Burbon

      1. I never said I was endeavoring to provide Empirical evidence. I was simply pointing out common sense cause and effect. Got a big bird? Had to be a little bird.
      2. And you still have not defined it for me. Apparently you don’t know either.
      3. You are incorrect. I am not a troll, nor am I angry at anyone. You are making assumptions.
      4. You are incorrect. I am simply pointing out the way the government and big business leverages religion to press their agendas.

      Actually, it seems like you are angry at me. What do I do to upset you so? Chill!

      February 14, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Juan Carlos de Burbon

      @comm0nsense

      God isn't the enemy, man is. There are more atheists in prison who have committed more crimes than any religions. Does making gross generalizations physically hurt?

      February 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Fn0rdz

      Juan Carlos de Burbon: You are absolutely incorrect, and here's proof:

      The Federal Bureau of Prisons does have statistics on religious
      affiliations of inmates. The following are total number of
      inmates per religion category:

      Response Number %
      ---------- --–
      Catholic 29267 39.164%
      Protestant 26162 35.008%
      Muslim 5435 7.273%
      American Indian 2408 3.222%
      Nation 1734 2.320%
      Rasta 1485 1.987%
      Jewish 1325 1.773%
      Church of Christ 1303 1.744%
      Pentecostal 1093 1.463%
      Moorish 1066 1.426%
      Buddhist 882 1.180%
      Jehovah Witness 665 0.890%
      Adventist 621 0.831%
      Orthodox 375 0.502%
      Mormon 298 0.399%
      Scientology 190 0.254%
      Atheist 156 0.209%
      Hindu 119 0.159%
      Santeria 117 0.157%
      Sikh 14 0.019%
      Bahai 9 0.012%
      Krishna 7 0.009%
      ---------- --–
      Total Known Responses 74731 100.001% (rounding to 3 digits does this)

      Unknown/No Answer 18381
      ----------
      Total Convicted 93112 80.259% (74731) prisoners' religion is known.

      Held in Custody 3856 (not surveyed due to temporary custody)
      ----------
      Total In Prisons 96968

      February 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • nimesh

      @Fn0rdz
      your stats though admirable are spurious. As muslims, hindus, sikhs form a small percentage (as of now) of the american population, they won't make a big show in the prison population.
      This is like going to the saudi arabian prison and finding only 10 christian prisoners.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  12. Phyllis G Williams

    I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord Jesus, Creator of all things visible and invisible ((Colossians 1: 16)
    is the answer to Life itself "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is NONE other name under heaven given among Men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4: 12). He is GOD/Eternal Life (1st John 5: 20).

    February 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Monti

      Interesting you use quotes from men to justify or reassure your thoughts. lol

      February 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbolism are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for our modern images of the Virgin Mary nursing Baby Jesus. And virtually all the elements of the Catholic ritual – the miter, the altar, the doxology, and communion, the act of "God-eating" – were taken directly from earlier pagan mystery religions.

      Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian God Mithras – called the Son of God and the Light of the World – was born on December 25, died, was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday or Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity's weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Save them, Phyllis!

      Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Phyllis? Okay, then you have personally encountered God in a way that absolutely cannot be anything else? Please share it with us. If you have the long-awaited evidence, you will convert thousands, no, millions. You owe it to the world to share it.

      You see, most people who believe have never encountered anything supernatural that ever remotely might be considered God. They almost all start off in a religious household and conform to the indoctrination. Then they interpret things like coincidence and natural phenomenon to be signs of God when they are actually only coincidences and natural phenomenon.

      But you must have the real evidence, because someone who believes beyond the shadow of a doubt in something that is totally unproven is clinically insane.

      Please share – you will save millions of atheists. They think that religion, like fascism and communism, is just a form of collective insanity based on ideologically-based self-delusion.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  13. Muneef

    http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IC1102-4508

    February 14, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Muneef

      The New York Times Exclusive
      How to integrate Europe's Muslims
      Jonathan Laurence
      http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=220491

      February 14, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Muneef

      SECRETARY-GENERAL, ADDRESSING HEADQUARTERS SEMINAR ON CONFRONTING ISLAMOPHOBIA,

      STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF LEADERSHIP, TWO-WAY INTEGRATION, DIALOGUE

      He Also Underscores Need to Unlearn
      Entrenched Stereotypes, Widespread Habit of Xenophobia

      http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sgsm9637.doc.htm

      February 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Observer

      I accept you as fully human, Muneef.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      I accept you as fully human and stupid Muneef.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well thank you for that although I thought only humans can think,write and talk ...! After all it is true it is a stupid world we are into this era..

      February 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • talullah13

      @Muneef, Thanks for the links.We should continue spreading our belief to the west.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Halo of Flies

      Thank you for making my point Muneef.

      "After all it is true it is a stupid world we are into this era"

      What??

      February 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Muneef

      They say" Wars means Business" if that is so then the " Peace initiative" is just a Hoax..a dream that will never come true...

      February 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 14, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Just ask Whitney Houston!

      February 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Monti

      Prove it..if not then you are an example of expression of wishful thinking

      February 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Russ

      Do you really believe that repeatedly kicking a hornet's nest is the best method?
      It makes me strongly suspect that you are actually against your stated cause.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • being delusional is totally healthy!

      yup yup

      February 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      monti
      Proofs were extended for days , look around you should find them.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • just sayin

      Russ. When the whole world is on the same page prayer wise it will be time to move onward and upward. Until then the call to prayer is a beacon of hope to a lost and dying world. Christ gave His life that we might have access to God. What do you suggest?

      February 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Re: "Christ gave His life that we might have access to God." This is a more outrageous claim than "prayer works" so it seems reasonable to ask that you prove it.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Monti

      just sayin

      monti
      Proofs were extended for days , look around you should find them.

      --------–

      Yes, and the Muslims hav etheir own prayers and miracles. The 2 gods cannot exist per both belief systems. One god cannot serve one and serve lies to another. Perceptions of fools or delusional people do not make things real.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ just sayin:
      enti'tling your handle "atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" on a blog where many atheists come & then simply, repeatedly saying "prayer changes things" is not the same thing as calling people to prayer. i think the author of these entries knows that. this is simply kicking a hornet's nest for the fun of it.

      the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over again while expecting a different result.
      even Jesus – who taught "the Lord's Prayer" (which is so often mindlessly repeated) – does not pray rote repet'ition, nor does he just keep saying the same thing over & over to everyone he meets.

      at best, this author is tragically oversimplifying in some misguided notion of altruism (or for lack of better ideas). but after seeing this entry repeated for so long, i suspect either he/she enjoys taunting others or is purposefully parodying theism.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  15. Reality

    Dear Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi,

    More on Islamic myths:

    –(from the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi)

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
    alone."
    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    February 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      They don't care.

      February 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Muneef

      Parrot's repeat what they understand not... They are the favorite for Pirates...
      Any way hi there am not yet back home but couldn't resist to reach the blog and say hi... 😉

      February 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Joe Peterson

      Funny guy I guess you believe that just because you state something is a myth or ancient it must be? Then just like that all should follow you? lol Please if you are going to debate do so on someone else's authority (a weak platform to begin with) or give clear reasons..

      February 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Reality

      Joe,

      Read again carefully starting with "from the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi."

      The add the following:

      They are called the Infamous Angelic Cons:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      February 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  16. hippypoet

    i like this article – its much better then those articles about the christian people who are leaders of anti gay movements and are found in bathrooms knee deep in co.ck!

    February 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Knee deep seems implausible.

      How about colon deep?

      February 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  17. William Demuth

    I submitt the girls killed in Canada as formerly living and now dead proof of the price we pay for permitting alien cultures a foothold in the west.

    Whats next? Woman in ball gags being beaten for some infraction against the will of some imaginary God?

    February 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Quibbling a small point

      The human race is not native to the West. We are all alien cultures, especially in the Americas.

      February 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Shaggy

      Are they smoking-hot oiled-up nude women in ball gags? I might convert for that.

      February 14, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • boocat

      The Roman Catholic Church allowed pedophilia for decades. If that isn't "alien" and deviant, I don't know what is.

      February 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • t3chsupport

      Erm... you know who else is an alien culture in the west?

      February 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  18. The Top 348 Myths About The Love Lives Of Buddhist Squirrels!

    The whole concept of "Myths of Muslim Americans' Love Lives" is based on the absurd notion that non-Muslims would care enough to even develop a myth in the first place. I've got news for for the authors . . .

    CNN actually pays people to write this stuff?!?!

    February 14, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • BG

      Late last week CNN laid-off all the Jewish staff, including long-term managers and cameramen, in it's CNN-Mideastern Bureau. It retained only Arabic staff.

      You gotta' have the right authors to report all this sensitive 'news' stuff, you know.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Having a nice laugh at BG

      Nice one!

      Google "Jewish staff CNN laid off" and . . . OOOOOPS! Not true.

      Sucker

      February 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • BG

      Read Simon Plosker at HonestReporting.

      February 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  19. J.W

    These two should get married. They would be a lovely couple.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  20. William Demuth

    Ban this nonesense outright.

    Its like trying to tell me slaves wear their chains willingly. Some might, but MANY are forced.

    Just because these yahoos got indoctrinated into some cult, does NOT make their deviant behavior normal.

    Be it Jew Christian or Muslim, we have had ENOUGH of this puke already

    February 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Some of us grew up and stopped believing in fairy tales, while others still hold on to them.

      February 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • t3chsupport

      Yes, those people don't have freedom because of what they wear. So we should ban it, so no one can wear it, then they'll have their freedom!

      Is it hard remembering to breathe enough to stay alive, or did they put you on a machine for that?

      February 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Sarah

      William Demuth:

      You're absolutely right! Some wear it willingly, but MANY are forced. But you know what? Step outside the box someday and ask a woman you see wearing why she's wearing it. I'm sure she'll probably be very glad to answer, as most of us are. As to going back to the forcing part: it has never been in the religion anywhere, that women should be forced to wear it. NOWHERE. It always has to be the choice of the woman. Some people forget that and force it upon their wives, sisters, daughters, whatever. Don't blame the religion. Blame those people. And to be honest, most of us are not forced. See, my mom wears it but my older sister doesn't. This is a real life example, even though I'm sure you see many examples of women in muslim countries forced to wear them on tv, everyday. But there are those of us who are content wearing it but are not there to televise this on TV.

      Second of all, Islam is not a cult. Please don't pretend to be an expert on things you probably have never read. I challenge you to read the quraan in its entirety, talk to your muslim neighbours, coworkers and then I bet you'll change your mind.

      t3chsupport:

      Ban the headscarf? Isn't that just as bad as forcing it on women?

      'Cause ultimately you're leaving women with no choice as many women choose to wear it.

      Here's my suggesting to people on both sides: don't force women to wear it. don't force women to not wear it. Leave it up to the women. Thanks.

      February 14, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.