By Sami Shah
Oh Muslims, you so crazy. But just how crazy? That's the question everyone has these days.
As ISIS/ISIL/IS/FuckNutBuggerFucks continue their march across Iraq/Levant/Babylonia/Assyria, and enthusiastic nut-jobs around the world get inspired by YouTube calls-to-arms and begin cutting heads off on a freelance basis, things are going to get bad for the average Muslim.
But Sami, I hear you ask, what is an “average Muslim”? Is the guy in a balaclava carrying a Kalashnikov and a bag full of heads an “average Muslim”? Or is it the sweet man who lives next door to me, with three kids and a friendly wife? How do we identify them? Classify them? Defeat them in battle? Prevent them from forming into a single, mega Kaiju-Muslim?
I can't provide all the answers, but I can help with some of your queries. So, without further ado (and with much blatant and shameless self-promotion), let me present an excerpt from my book I, MIGRANT, which answers all your questions.
The Types of Muslims
(works best if read in British Broadcaster David Attenborough voice)
My parents are the perfect living example of this type of believer. They believe fervently in Allah, the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. Both pray five times a day, give to the poor, have performed Hajj and end all praise with the grateful invocations of Allah’s grace. Both my mother and father know certain passages of the Quran by heart, especially those that aid in searching for lost everyday items, and generally find pride in being a Muslim. Mommy doesn't wear a hijab and Daddy doesn’t have a beard. Nor do they think that the West was created by Satan and should be defeated in battle by inflicting maximum civilian casualties through random and creative acts of murderous suicide.
They do, however, think that America hates Muslims, that its support of Israel is evidence of this, further proven by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. These are their opinions and, by and large, are no more toxic or damaging to the environment than my mother’s belief that all men are inherently lazy and my father’s belief that all women give terrible advice.
Chances are, if you were to randomly pick one hundred Muslims from around the world, they would all be like my parents. Islam is a part of their life, but it doesn't get in the way.
Judged unfavourably by all other forms of Muslims, these are the second most common kind. They are Muslims by birth and by name. They may even go so far as to appreciate the sanctity of the Quran, Allah and his Prophet, but it ends there. They have no patience for actually practising rituals and in general will be reluctant even to publicly identify themselves as Muslim.
Some of them drink, despite the prohibitions. But none of them will ever eat pork. Pork is the final frontier for the Muslim. Sure, they may lustily eye a strip of bacon if they ever encounter one, maybe even pause to consider a side of ribs after seeing it on a television show, but on average the safest place for a pig is in a Muslim country. For alcohol though, there are all kinds of ready justifications provided. “The Quran only outlaws a specific type of booze,” they may say, pointing to the literal prohibition against wine made from fermented dates. Or “Islam is all about moderation,” they may argue, just before passing out in a puddle of vodka and vomit.
In a Venn diagram of the beliefs shared between Good and Bad Muslims, the only overlap would be that they too think that America hates Muslims, that its support of Israel is evidence of this, further proven by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Currently occupying every possible government job in any Muslim country you survey, another name for this breed of Muslim is “Hypocritical Bastards”.
They are different from the Bad Muslims in that, while they may commit every sin and indulge every prohibition, they present themselves as symbols of Islamic virtue. You can usually recognize them by the aggressively overt way they express their love for Islam. The men will have long, pious beards, with which they demonstrate both their commitment and masculinity; they have permanently bruised foreheads, to provide evidence of a lifetime spent prostrating on a prayer mat. Their women will wear the hijab—not wrapped tight, as is custom, but instead floating several inches above an immense hairstyle that defies both the laws of physics and style.
They will always have in their hands a string of prayer beads on an endless rotation through ceaseless fingers. Every prayer is read by both genders and every Hajj attended. Their commitment to the charade may even go so far as to shun alcohol and be completely loving and devoted husbands/wives. But put a rupee in front of them and they will serve up a round of bacon and ham while marrying a Kafir and swearing an oath to Satan.
They can also be counted in the club of people who believe that America hates Muslims, that its support of Israel is evidence of this, further proven by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The only difference here is that most of them tend to be quite willing to cozy up to their enemy if the price is right. Actually, that's not true. It's not if the price is right—it's if there is any price at all.
Tends to talk about “Jihad” a lot. Your average mosque imam is a good example. In appearances not that different from the “Terrible Muslim”, only with a greater commitment to the lifestyle. The men will not just sport beards, but have shaved upper lips as well. This stylish look is rooted in the belief that the Prophet wore his beard in the same way, although there is no actual evidence to prove this. Nor is there any to prove that his pyjamas ended several inches above his ankles, but that is also a popular sartorial choice amongst this lot.
Now I should also provide some clarification about my introduction to this class of Muslim. The Frightening Muslim may say “jihad” a lot and talk about fighting the West and how the Muslim Ummah needs to rise up in revolt, but chances are you will never find one anywhere near a front line.
They are classified as Frightening, by the way, only by westerners who see the stuff of terroristic nightmares in their appearance. For their fellow Muslims, this kind tends to be annoying at most and ridiculous at best. We tolerate them because on average they are useful in teaching your children the Quran (as long as you strictly supervise that the education is limited to Arabic rote memorization and does not include any kind of opinion-forming rhetoric or casual molestation). Their opinions range from far-fetched conspiracies—in which Islamic sects other than the one they belong to are plotting their downfall—to the belief that America hates Muslims, that its support of Israel is evidence of this, further proven by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. An example of the Frightening Muslim is the entire country of Saudi Arabia.
Downright Crazy Muslim:
They believe that America hates Muslims, that its support of Israel is evidence of this, further proven by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The only difference is, they want to do something about it. And that something includes killing Westerners, killing active supporters of the West, killing passive supporters of the West, killing anyone who is in the way of getting to the actives, passives and westerners and finally just killing everyone. Examples of the Downright Crazy Muslim are Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al Zwahiri, all of Al Qaeda, the Taliban.
Sami Shah is a stand up comedian, illustrator, graphic designer and columnist living in Western Australia. His work has been profiled in the New York Times, Comedy Central, NPR’s The World and Laughspin Magazine, and he has performed on the BBC Asian Network and for TEDx Melbourne. Sami is the author of I, MIGRANT: A Comedian's Journey From Karachi to the Outback.