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.”
“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.
“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.”
“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