Getting a Prophet?
It can be a bit embarrassing, can’t it, when after a night of seriously heavy drinking and getting completely out of your skull, you climb onto the bar and, with your trousers round your ankles, belt out all the Dolly Parton songs you can remember. Or, nearly as bad, informing that stranger in the white robes and dodgy beard that you meet on the way home that he is definitely your best mate, and deciding, on the spot, to convert to Islam.
Well, depending on what you’ve done, help may now be at hand (as long as it wasn’t the Dolly Parton thing. If that’s what you’ve done the humiliation will probably remain for the rest of your life). But if it was a simple mistake like signing up to become a Muslim you can be helped.
As the fog of alcohol slowly clears and you lay in the gutter drifting in and out of consciousness you begin to realise, with horror, that you don’t even know the basic rules of the religion. Your brain wrestles with the questions that start flooding in: am I still allowed to eat pork scratchings in the pub on Friday nights? How long will it take to grow a full, heavy-duty, Islamic approved beard? Which of my female relatives must now dress from head to foot in black bin liners? Will they now have to walk ten paces behind me, or is that the other lot? But try to stay calm. If it is, indeed, Islam that you’ve joined you are in luck. They have produced a handy little book that explains it all.
The New Muslim Guide it’s called, and packed into its 250-odd pages are everything you need to know. (Well, not quite everything, there doesn’t seem to be anything about chopping off the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers to death, or when it’s ok to beat your wife). But just about everything else is there. Although, occasionally, it’s not completely clear what the prophet was on about.
‘Sometimes I fast and sometimes I don’t,’ he apparently once said. ‘I engage in night prayer and I also sleep, and I marry women. Therefore, whoever does not follow my practice is not one of my true followers’. What he was getting at there is anyone’s guess. No wonder there’s a bit of confusion between the Shias and the Sunnis. But there you go. English probably wasn’t his first language.
But stick with it, there’s a hell of a lot to learn. We don’t have room to cover it in detail so here are a few of the highlights. It must be understood though, that to ensure your place in paradise you will probably need to read the whole book. Admitting when you get there that you’ve only read a review of it in the Socialist Standard is not going to impress the prophet.
We must, however, include a few snippets that we feel should not be missed. Careful note of these will certainly earn you a few extra brownie points:
‘The very moment a person embraces Islam is doubtless the greatest moment in his life’ we are told. ‘Now that he has entered the fold of Islam, he is recommended to take a bath’. The removal of pubic and underarm hair is also required by ‘plucking it or by using any other means to serve the purpose’.
Unless the meaning of your pre-Islamic name contradicts Islamic beliefs it need not be changed. Otherwise it must be. Recommended new ones include ‘Abdullah’ (Slave of Allah) and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan’ (Slave of the Most Gracious). Well, a new name will help you remember your place, won’t it?
‘Firm belief that Almighty Allah will raise people to life from their graves’ is also required. ‘Those who deserve to go to Paradise will be sent to it, while those who deserve to go to Hellfire will be sent to it’. So anyone thinking about converting from Christianity should consider carefully whether the amenities of the Islamic heaven and hell are up to the standard of the Christian ones. You may, after all, be there for some time.
And before you finally convert to Islam consider how would their ideas stand up in a debate against, say, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for example? He has far fewer rules, and his followers realise that he doesn’t actually exist. Remember too, you are allowed to draw cartoons of the Spaghetti Monster. (Peace be upon him).