Say what you want about religion, it gives people peace of mind. The mystery of death is solved and you always have the backing of the most powerful being in the universe; your blesses are gifts and your miseries are tests to pave the way for future blisses. But what happens when religion stops providing that sense of comfort and replaces it with fear and anxiety?
A few days ago, a woman extremely dear to me, who has spent eighty years devoutly worshiping God and inflicting no intentional harm on anyone, cried when she felt her sickness becoming terminal and realized her health is steadily declining. She was scared of meeting her marker; this is the opposite of a deathbed conversion.
People can tell when their demise is looming over their heads, it is why older folks adhere more strictly to religious codes, a thirty-year-old playboy is usually a pious mosque frequenter by the age of fifty, sometimes even annoyingly preachy. Atheists and their questions discomfort believers because they sow doubt into a soil that gives life to a needed sense of certainty and moral power, and Islamists and men of God getting paid to appear on T.V. and write books are doing something similar.
Breaking Bad attracted millions of viewers worldwide because of how grey it was, its drama was masterfully nuanced, people like a good drama. The God in the rhetoric of Muslim preachers is a grey God, he demands abiding by very strict and well-defined rules that must regulate your daily life. These rules are, of course, stipulated by the men of God themselves based on their interpretations of others’ ancient interpretations of the Quran and hadith. And to keep suspense alive, they tell you winning heaven is never guaranteed, God’s evaluation methods are mysterious. For example, one grain of vanity in your heart denies you heaven, so you are always worried contemplating what differentiates vanity from pride, what constitutes one grain of vanity, and what did prophet Muhammad mean by vanity 1400 years ago. You are always asking them seeking answers for ridiculous problems they have created or at least have taken no action to dismiss, deeper and deeper into their culture and discourse rabbit holes.
My favorite fatwa, by far, is that you must never enter the bathroom with your left leg because some devils live there and entering with your left leg excites or provokes them.
Modern preachers of Islam – and their Christian counterparts- need you to want to buy their books and see their shows so they can get paid through ads. They hook you by eliminating the certainty and simplicity of religion possible through some interpretations of the Quran and blocking other discourses to impose theirs. Ironically, people have forgotten that the essence of religion is purveying a mental state of comfort achieved by certainty and simplicity, not constant worrying about minutia and fearing a possible unexpected hell.
When Islamists are not complicating simple matters and setting guidelines for the simplest of routines, they are raising generations of bigots and extremists.
A God willing to eternally burn good people in hell merely for not believing in him is dark and mercurial at best and a psychopathic narcissist at worst; he cannot be trusted; he is only feared.
What God seeks the fright of mortal men?