Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marriage is Sexist, Outdated, and Unconstitutional

by Nico Raj Rahm

You should see the look on the faces of people who had just been told that my girlfriend and I, who are both young working professionals, have been together for more than a decade. Of course, you can guess the next string of questions;

"You guys are not married yet?"
"Why not?"
"Don't you want any kids?"

Here we are in the 21st century and marriage is still a multi-billion dollar industry. Why? Because society says that a man and a woman wanting to live together and have children, and save on taxes, must enter into a marriage contract.

Am I the only one here that thinks living with a person based on a contract constitutes slavery, for both parties?

Why do women continue to long for the perfect marriage as they fight for their equal rights? Don't women know that marriage was born as a way of protecting them in ancient times, so that a man may not impregnate a poor girl and leave her to tend to her child? This suggests that women do not want children, and thus, if they do bare any it must have been the sole decision of the man.

If my girlfriend and I never marry are we immoral and unethical people? If we have children out of wedlock will they be genetically different, subpar even?

Isn't it unconstitutional to give married couple a tax break, but not other members of society? At a time when overpopulation is rampant, and quality of life is declining throughout the world, do we really need to further motivate people to procreate by essentially paying them to marry and bare children?

If I have children out of wedlock shouldn't I receive the same tax benefits as those that are marriied in order to ensure my kids reach their full potential in life, to better contribute to society?

Why does the gay community long for marriage rights? They are supposed to be at the forefront of social evolution. They need to make the case against marriage, live together and demand equal rights bestowed upon those that are married.

Am I the only one with these questions?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Should I Hide My Atheist Books?

by Nico Raj Rahm

I know! I know! I must stand for what I believe. But, some situations are more complicated than others. Sometimes, it is not your honor, or safety that is at stake, but your family's.

I love collecting antique books, love reading, and have established a great little library at my home. While my collecting focus is not books on atheism, I do have a formidable collection.

Here is my confession; I hide my atheist books whenever a family member, or distant relative visits my home. Why? It is not that I am scared of the Repercussions but rather do not care for the inconvenience of a long and tiring conversational debate about why I am an atheist, and do not believe in Allah any longer.

I can see it now; my uber religious aunt shocked as she describes her disappointment in me, or the look of concern on my mother's face saying nothing. But the worst of them all are the repercussions brought upon my family by the closely knit network of friends and acquaintances in the community. The repercussions do not bother me, nor my wife, but for my parents it would be an embarrassment.

While I am aware that millions of people, especially teens and young adults are going through similar dilemmas all around the world, my situation is rather trivial. Or at least I believe it is. All I need to do is remove a few books off the shelves of my study and the potential problem is averted.

Am I a coward? Maybe. But at least my family is spared the hassle and trouble brought upon by a characteristicly vindictive religious society. My turn will come one day. For now, let my family live in peace.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Most Offensive Racial Jokes of All Time Deconstructed

by Nico Raj Rahm

The following is a list of, what I belive are, the most offensive politically incorrect racial jokes of all time. These jokes should be repeated with great reservation.

So why am I repeating these jokes here? Simple, I personally believe that no speech is too offensive for censorship. Our society will grow in mateurity and tolerance when such jokes are discussed in a public forum.

It would be interesting to hear what readers, who belong to a particular race that are made fun of, think of these jokes, and whether they are truly offensive.

Here is the list in descending order with the most offensive at the bottom.

What do you call a Mexican in a Church?
Holly Shit!

This joke plays on two features of Mexicans in the U.S.; religious zeal and hard labour (hence the word "shit" as it pertains to janitors). The religious aspect is particularly interesting, since there are many non-Mexicans that are just as religious. I believe the symbolism here is that Mexicans pray because they are poor and needy.

What did the little black girl get for her birthday?
My bike!

This joke segregates African Americans as being at the lowest income bracket of society. This is shown by the "My" as a substitute for any race other than black. It also reflects the societal belief that poor blacks have a tendency towards crime in order to live through the daily course of life, such as a young child's birthday.

How many Palestinians does it take to change a light bulb?
None! They sit in the dark forever and blame the Jews for it!

This one will surely anger many muslims for many reasons, but principly for the contraversial issue of who exactly belongs in the Holy Land. The joke especially achieves this by the word "forever". This is because the Arab world believes that the Jews took over the land unfairly in the mid-20th century, while the Jews believe that this land is rightfully theirs since they occupied it thousands of years ago.

The joke also criticizes the Palestinian people for not taking an active role in joining the modern world by advancing its civilization. Of course, Palestinians believe they cannot while their land is occupied.

This joke may be so contraversial that even my attempt at explaining why it is contraversial will in itself cause many to be offended by me.

What is the difference between a pizza and a Jew?
A pizza does not scream in the oven.

I believe this joke has to be the most offensive, and insensitive of all that I have ever heard. Yet, it continues to be one of the most popular in social circle, between non-jewish people of course!

I fail to believe that any one, no matter the race or religious belief, save for extremist muslims of course, that does not think this joke is highly offensive. There is no need to delve into details of the horrific acts practiced upon the helpless jewish people by Hitler and the Germans, but only to say that when thoughts of burning innocent human beings alive enters the mind no one can hold back feelings of anger and shock, no matter their differing views.

I say all this, and I myself grew up in the Middle East, and was once a Muslim.

I Have No Father! Revisited...

by Nico Raj Rahm

I never thought that the opening post of this blog would be this popular! My short story, "I Have No Father! How a Muslim Became an Atheist" was instantly picked up by many major social networking sites.

The story recieved many reviews, some positive, others critical, but that is what one would expect from such a contraversial subject.

For those that were wondering, the story is somewhat of an autobiography. The "father" in this story is God. The idea is; what if God was your father, would you comply with his expectations no matter how ridiculous they are?

Some criticized the rules that the father demanded of his son to follow as not representative of Islam, or what Allah asks of muslims to carry out. I beg to differ. I do not believe that any of these demands imposed by the boy's father were inaccurate in describing the true responsibility of a muslim on a daily basis.

Of course, many reviewers picked up on the general idea of this story, which is that any God of any religion could be represented by the "father". I used Islam as an example because that is what I know; it was what I was brought up to believe.

I welcome all reviews, both positive and negative, because you need both for a fair and balanced discussion.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Have No Father! How a Muslim Became an Atheist

I Have No Father!
How a Muslim Became an Atheist

by Nico Raj Rahm

The typical array of trees and light posts lined the road. Houses were outlined by green lawns symbolic of a community of young families. The fathers in these households took great pride in teaching their sons lessons in morality and ethics. The young boy’s father was no exception.

One day the boy of seven years of age was reading a book of fairy tales while resting on the family room couch. In came his father who sat opposite him and stared at his young son. The boy looked up from the book and smiled at his father.

“My son, please, put down that useless book and come sit beside me”.

The son does as he is told, and took a seat right next to his father on the couch.

“My dear son, do you love your father?”

“Yes, of course.” The boy replied.

“Then, you would do as your father wishes?”

“Of course father, anything.”

“You are now a man my son, and as a man you must abide by the following rules to ensure that you reach your potential in life.” The father paused, awaiting confirmation from his son.

“Yes, father.” The boy was growing anxious.

“First, you must respect your parents, and do as you are told”

“Yes, father, as you wish.”

“Second, you must respect your elders for they are wise and have plenty to teach you.”

The boy nodded his head in acceptance.

“Third, you must not steal, for it is wrong.”

“Fourth, you must not engage in any physical acts with the opposite sex, until marriage.”

The boy giggled, but quickly hid his naivety as his father gave him a stern look of displeasure.

“Fifth, you must not drink wine nor consume mind altering chemicals, for they confuse your mind, and distract you from your love and respect for your father”

The boy nodded his head.

“Sixth, you must not consume the meat of pigs for they are dirty animals.”

“Yes, father.”

“Seventh, you must not touch dogs for there are dirty and unholy animals. If you do accidentally touch a dog, then you must wash your hands and ask me for forgiveness.”

“As you wish, father”

“Eighth, prior to consuming the meat of holy animals you must wash your hands, recite how great I am, and slit the throat of the animal until the last drop of blood had spilled.”

The boy grimaced at the thought. “But father, does not the animal feel pain?”

“This is not the time for questioning my demands my son. Your task is only to listen.” Replied the father quickly.

“Yes, father.”

“Ninth, you must read this book,” The father handed his son a large book and placed it in his lap.

The little boy opened the book and began to read the first page, which described how his father is a great father, the only truly loving father, and he must obey him or else be punished.

“Yes father, I will read this book every day.”

“Tenth, you must not eat any food nor drink any liquid while the sun is up in the sky for a total of thirty days, once a year.”

“Yes father”

“Lastly, you must kneel, place your forehead on the ground, and recite passages from the book I handed you, and swear that I am the only truly loving father, the greatest father. Do this five times a day, every day, and for the rest of your life.”

“Yes father, I will do as you wish. I love you.”

“I love you too my son”.

The father exited the room. The young boy picked up his father’s great book and headed for his bedroom to read. The book of fairytales was left behind on the couch.


The boy was now twelve years of age. Through school and the natural curiosity of a young mind he had made new friends through social activities and sporting events. Most of his friends were similar to him; they all had fathers who loved them very much, and imposed demands upon them to ensure that they mature into better men and women. But the boy was surprised to learn that not all of his friends had fathers who imposed the same demands. Some had fathers that enforced different rules.

How could that be? The boy asked himself, how could my father be the only true loving father if my friends all have loving fathers?

As the boy continued to visit the homes of his new friends, and is invited to join their families for dinner, he observed that not all of his friends have to abide by the same rules he did. Some do not have to kneel on the floor five times a day, and declare that their fathers are the only truly loving fathers. They do not have to go without food nor water while the sun is up in the sky for thirty days, every year. Some fathers allow their sons to consume the meat of pigs, and other unholy animals. They do not cut the throat of animals to make them holy. Their fathers do not force their wives to cover their faces and their skin in the presence of other men.

But the boy also observed some similarities. His friends must read books about how their fathers are the greatest, and how their fathers will strike down and hurt them if they do not follow the rules. Their fathers tell of stories of war and terror. Their fathers also declare how other families who do not conform to the same moral beliefs must be forced into accepting their values and traditions.

While the boy began to learn more about his friends’ families and households, he still loved his father, and believed that his father will not deliberately steer him wrong.

He continued to follow the rules; reading the book, kneeling on the floor five times a day, and fasting once a year. He continued to control his gaze so as to not be staring at young females, lest they distract him from his love for his father.


The boy was now fifteen years of age. His observations of his friends have left him with many questions. Yet, whenever he happened to ask his father one of those questions, his father answered with the usual, “do you love your father? Then you must trust me, and believe in me. I know that there are many distractions in life my son, but your love for me must be stronger. You must have blind faith. I created you my son. I provided you with food and shelter. Believe in me, and keep your questions at bay, so as not to stir curiosities within your mind and steer your love away from me. Otherwise, I will have no choice but to hurt you, and banish you from this house.” The boy did not enjoy his father’s companionship when he was threatening, he scared him.

The boy was introduced to the disciplines of science, math, history, philosophy, and other mind opening studies. But the boy was now confused. How could his father have built their home on his own?

Others have had fathers who acted much like his father thousands of years ago, only to learn they were no different than others to come after them.

How could his father be watching over the boy’s entire family all at once, even if his father was not near? One can only see what the eyes see.

How could his father command thunder and rain? The science book explained those are natural forces created by the rotation of the earth.

If throughout history fathers created their children and the world around them, then who created animals of ancient times?

The boy grows more confused every day, but he continued to abide by his father’s rules. He had no choice. His father would always demand that he continue to read the great book, and put to memory all of its passages. The boy had once declared to his father that putting the pages to memory had taken away valuable time needed to truly study the book’s message and formulate questions.

“My son,” replied his father, “studying my message and formulating questions are honorable feats, but putting my book to memory in full will always be the greatest achievement in order to prove your true love for me. “

“But father, I find memorizing the book to be a much simpler task than learning its true meaning and debating its message.”

“Well then, if it is so simple complete the memorization and then take the time necessary to learn its full meaning.”

“But father, memorizing is simpler, but too much time is consumed in the process. I find that my ability to utilize my curious mind falls short as my time is consumed by tasks which do not pose intellectual challenges.”

“My son, by memorizing my book first your mind will harbor its very own library to reference whenever in need.” The father continued, “go now my son, and wash to purify your body in order to pray and prove your true love for me.”

The boy did as he was told.


The boy was now a man of twenty-one years of age. His studies continued to expand his mind with lectures in advanced science and philosophy. His passion for helping others had led him down a path of medical training.

In college, he met a beautiful woman. They would meet on many occasions at the library. He would learn that she had no father, she had never met him. Her mother worked to support her. Her mother did not feel constrained by an oppressive relationship, and hence, had the pleasure of achieving success and pursue her own life experiences. This woman was very bright, cheerful, passionate about helping the unfortunate, and very respectful of her elders.

The man asked his father one night as they sat to eat along with his mother, “Father, I met a woman recently through my class, and she has no father, yet she has all the qualities that you seek to instill in me! How could this be?”

The father’s eyes grew large, and a frown suddenly materialized upon his face.

”Son, listen to me closely, you are not to speak to this woman at all. Not only might she steer your mind toward the impure and dirty thoughts of physical acts, but she also does not have a father. This makes her an even bigger immoral person than those with fathers of different beliefs.”

”But father, she is very smart, friendly, and we converse as if we both were men. Also, father, I have friends who enter into relationships outside of marriage, some for love and some just for the physical acts of pleasure, yet they all have morals and are of great character!”

The father grew angrier.

”Son, you are betraying your father’s wishes. Go now, leave your dinner, and read my book, and kneel on the floor in your room, and declare that I am the greatest father. I provide for you.”

”No, you do not provide fore me!” The man shouts back, surprised at his confrontational stance against his father’s wishes, “I provide for myself, I live on my own, and do not have to abide by your rules. I will help the poor because it is an honorable gesture. I will respect not only my elders, but all people, for we are all the same yet all different. I will love whomever I want, whenever I want, and will not be forced into marriage for the sake of satisfying my natural sexual hunger, as long as I do not hurt anyone, whether physically or mentally.”

”If you do not do as I say, then you are banished from this house!”

”I banish myself, for now I know, that if my father is a cruel, ruthless, self-indulging, racist, intolerant ego-maniac then,” The man paused,

”I have no father!”

With that said, the man ran out of the house, into his car, and drove away to live his own life, free of prejudice, racism, and intolerance of others, and free to satisfy his ever growing curiosity about the world around him.

I Have No Father!... Revisited

About Nico Rahm...

I was born and raised as a Muslim. This blog is my way of venting about issues, news, opinions, and stories I had, and will, run across. Some of my views will surely be controversial to some readers, but at no instance will I be offensive, or at least I will try!

One day during Ramadan, my wife and I were invited by a close friend of mine to break fast. I was not fasting of course, mainly because I had not practiced my religion since my teenage years, but also because I must conform to a strict dietary lifestyle dictated by diabetes.

That night, I was introduced to others who were close friends of the host. They were all Muslims. After dinner, as we all gathered in the family room for tea and dessert, the conversation turned to religious fundamentalism and the Middle East. My friend, who was fully aware of my weakening faith, was in the mood for debate. As the conversation heated up as to why I do not practice my faith to its fullest, he pointed out to all who were present that I do not pray five times a day, read the Quran, nor steer clear of alcohol. Of course, he had drank wine many times in my presence, while away from his wife and family. I did not wish to ignite a heated argument between him and his wife, so I decided not to enlighten the rest as to his hypocrisy.

Little did he and the others know that I had completely let go of my Muslim faith. I had discovered, following years of inner conflict, that religion did not conform to my growing hunger for rational reasoning, and was not useful in my life. I find the solitary enjoyment of reading and writing is all the spiritual cleansing I need.

Following that night, I was obsessed at finding a way of making my friend understand my point of view. How do I open the mind of a religious conservative in order to understand what an atheist believed? I did not wish to drag him away from his faith, rather I longed for him to see the world through my eyes if not but for a moment.

A short story of a relationship between a young Muslim boy and his father was what my imagination produced. I built a new blog for which the sole purpose was to present the story. Within a few hours readers had shared the link to my website with their peers on numerous social networking websites. By the following day the story had attracted almost twenty thousand readers, and by the fourth week more than seventy thousand visitors had read the story. I was immediately inundated with emails and commentary by the readers. The feedback was mostly positive save for some harsh criticisms.

The negative reviews were made by readers who found the story to unfairly target the Muslim faith. This was not my intention. Rather, the message of the story was to present my personal view of all religions. The main character in this story was Muslim only because I was Muslim.

I am of Lebanese descent but was raised in Saudi Arabia during the earliest years. My father decided to move the family to Canada shortly following the end of my first decade of life. His reasoning was he could not fathom to have his children grow up in such a conservative nation. My father has liberal views, and is not religious to say the least. He never was truly religious for as long as I can remember. I was never sure however, if my father’s weak faith was indicative of sincere disbelief in a higher power, or rather a manifestation of his lazy persona. As a child, I believed my father’s faith was in his couch and television set. My mother on the other hand is truly religious. Unlike my father, she continues to pray everyday, and fast for the full thirty days once a year.

It is in Canada that I shed the bulk of the fundamentalist religious teachings that filled my innocent mind throughout my early educational years in Saudi Arabia. Canada was a beacon of intellectual and cultural freedom. It is there that my mind was allowed to pursue a journey of self-discovery. Canada is a beautiful country that presented me with a venue for expressing my thoughts in the open, with no fear of punishment. I do not suggest that I had let go of my Muslim faith as soon as my feet touched Canadian soil. Rather, I lost my faith following years of inner-conflict and self-contradiction.

My faith began to wane during my early teen years. I had always loved to read. Through books, I discovered the histories of ancient civilizations, the teachings of philosophical minds, and the inquisitiveness of scientific geniuses. As my mind acquired further knowledge, my curiosity had blossomed. I was constantly asking myself questions about my faith. To most of those questions, satisfactory answers never existed.

It was not until my college years that I knew I would not be a Muslim. I can recall the very moment that my journey of self-discovery had come to an end. My wife had asked me if I would expect my children to adhere to the Muslim faith. I said, “No, I would not.” Through that answer I knew I had solidified my departure from Islam. Yet, socially, I would continue to introduce myself as a Muslim to my parents and extended family members. I hid my true self mainly to protect my parents from social retaliation, and embarrassment. Even to this day, as my life reaches the end of its third decade and enter its fourth, I continue to mask my non-belief. I do this out of fear. I fear the consequences for both, myself and those dear to me.

It is sad to realize that in today’s society, with its intellectual advances, there continues to be a stigma attached to those that have an alternative view from the masses. It is more difficult for a fundamentalist Christian to understand the arguments of atheism than those of conservative Islam. This is the reason I decided to expand the short story into a full book in order to share my view with the rest of the world. This is assuming that those that oppose free speech do not ban the reading of it. Those that wish to expand their knowledge and open their eyes to new worlds must not adhere to a strict and biased education.

Unguided reading had always guided my intellectual freedom.

Yours truly,

Nico Rahm

You can contact me at:
a d m i n @ n i c o r a j . c o m
(without the spaces)