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Op-Ed: The mind game and irony of religion

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Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2011 12:00 am

It is one of the holiest nights of the year, and Muslims around the world are up till dawn praying and reciting holy scripture. It’s a night when all the gates of heaven are wide open, all the angels are listening and God is in his most merciful, best mood.

This night is the one of two nights called “Laylat Al-Qadr” or “Night of Destiny.” It is believed that during these two nights, the first verses of the Qur'an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.

As an Atheist, I still have the opportunity to experience the activities of Muslims during these holy nights every year, as my family is Muslim. And during these two nights, I observe the most interesting and ironic thing I have ever come across.

During one of the nights, I sat down with my family to read a “Du'a” or Supplication to ask for things like forgiveness and mercy (from hell).

And the interesting thing was that the most religious, meaning least sinning, were the ones the most deeply invested in the Du'as and concerned (sometimes crying) with their eternal damnation. And of course, the least religious, meaning the most sinful, were the least concerned with asking for salvation (and some were even getting bored).

I had to ask myself: why? The most religious have nothing or at least less to worry about, since they follow the word of God and barely sin. Shouldn't the more sinful people be praying, begging on their knees crying to be saved? And then it hit me: God is an abusive husband.

God (or whatever they imagine to be as God) is playing mind-games. He threatens them if they leave him, but then promises them a heaven; He tells them that without him, they are nothing; and they depend on God for emotional extremes such as love, hate, anger and comfort.

They have themselves believing that they can't do anything without God, and that beats down their self-confidence, and weakens their will and mental strength to leave him and go on with their lives. The Secular and Atheist folks, however, live their lives happily and free of a god, responsible for their own actions and achievements, and are not constantly paranoid of a scary prison guard in the sky.

But wait, I've been speaking this whole time as if there really is a god. Aren't I an Atheist? Now it gets even more interesting. Perhaps humans are masochistic by nature, and they are their own sadists. For some reason they feel the need to invent such being. They love to torture themselves and each others to feel complete, to feel empowered, and important. God really is bored up there, and it really is one hell of a mind-game.

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