My Normal and Paranormal Adventures in Kazakhstan:
Bukhari’s Ghost Dancing with a Hungry Holy Sunni Goat,
Misogynistic Dogs Barking at Pigs,
Russian Pyrokinesis Burning Holes in Brains and Pockets,
Two Extra Letters Correcting Quranic Bismillah,
Kazaks Eating Almaty’s Apple and Horse Meat…
This is my third country report since 2008. In my first report, From Tucson to Changsha, my mission was to discover China educationally, culturally, socially, politically and of course, culinarily. Other than a short visit to an Uygur Mosque, I had no encounters with religious people. In my second report, I shared my experience at Oxford University, Muslim Institute in London, Book Fair and one night in a Turkish jail in Istanbul. During that trip, using my arguments from Manifesto for Islamic Reform, I created a multiple choice test, which I called Theometer or Sectometer, and applied it on my distinguished audience in two countries with remarkable success. Now you are reading this report which you might find as delicious as Almaty’s apple!
Hoping that your mind is not already polluted by that obnoxious Cohen the Borat, let me first give you a paragraph of dull and boring background information about Kazakhstan, which declared its independence from Russia in 1991 becoming a presidential republic. Though its democracy is confused between bureaucracy and autocracy (as the USA’s between corpocracy and oligarchy), we hope that one day it will become a model country for peace, justice and progress. In Kazakhstan, I was told, “men are manly, sheep are nervous and flies are everywhere.” It is the worlds 9th largest country, landlocked, and rich with numerous natural resources. Its population of 17 million comprises of about 70% Kazaks and 20% Russians, and its GDP per capita is about 11,000 dollars.
In March of 2007, an elite group of well-educated and well-connected Kazaks discovered my work, especially the Manifesto for Islamic Reform, which they immediately translated into Russian and distributed it in tens of thousands. Before discovering my work, they had adopted the Salafi version of Sunni religion as the product of intense propaganda by regressive forces from Saudi Arabia, the scourge. For instance, they had destroyed their songs and music paraphernalia and had given up many blessings. This unfortunate experience, however, proves their sincerity and commitment. They were lucky, since Kazakhstan did not block the progressive Internet sites and they had not yet traded their brains for good with the volumes of authentic nonsense called hadith and Sunna. Trashing human brains and deactivating their rational faculties is the ultimate goal of the religious viruses, especially of the Salafi mutation.
The group was the cream of the crop. I had met the leading two members, Aslbek and Aidar, at the home of my Turkish colleague Dr. Caner Taslaman in Istanbul. They were young and restless, curious and humorous, intelligent and knowledgeable, rationalist and monotheist, brave peacemakers and fighters for justice. They were also macho man, according to my standards. They were excited and appreciative of discovering the Message of the Quran, unaltered by fabricated hearsay stories and sectarian jurisprudence. In a short time we became friends, which led me to challenge them to get 1 out of 5 scores in a physical game of power, balance and concentration, which I had mastered while I was in Turkish prisons. They repeated the fate of many young and strong men whom I had challenged: they lost the game, 5 to 0.
The trip lasted about 24 hours from Tucson to Almaty, which has been declared sister cities for a few decades. I was welcomed by Dinmukhamed and Talgat, two young men sent by Aslbek, and taken to an A-Club Hotel, located on a hill in a beautiful section of the city. All streets were lined with rows of trees as well as the median. I have never seen a city as tree-friendly as Almaty. Modern accommodations were combined with fresh air… Everything in the hotel met the Western standards of luxury, except for the bathroom tissues which were coarse and difficult to tear. I could not learn much from their media, since the twenty plus TV channels were broadcast in either Russian or Kazak.
The Intellectual Ambush at Almaty
Aslbek Mussin (30) decided to organize a live debate between me and a Sunni scholar/preacher. He contacted a list of Sunni preachers, including one of the best contemporary Sunni apologists, Zakir Naik. I was told that he was not receiving positive responses to his invitation, which was fully paid by the hosts. However, a popular Sunni imam from the United Kingdom accepted the invitation. He thought that he was going to preach to a Sunni herd, as usual. He was not aware of the exact nature of the event, yet he was treated in the best possible manner. It took him a few days to notice that he did not have a crowd; but a group of critical thinkers, rational monotheists. The exact moment where he realized the real nature of his mission has been recorded on video. My friend Raymond Catton from Canada, whom I first met through Rashad Khalifa in 1988, was our moderator for the first two sessions. Raymond was using the Manifesto for Islamic Reform for his questions. At one point, the Sunni preacher loudly complained about the questions, which were designed as curveballs to expose the manifold contradictions in his Sunni religion.
Several Kazak monotheists acted like Salafi Sunnis and they served him around the clock. Since they were Salafis before, they knew all the relevant jargons and mannerisms. He was allowed to lead the prayers, which he appeared to think was his God-given right because of his black robe and long beard. Anytime the call for prayer was made, he would leap forward and choose himself to lead the prayers. (Those of us who do not mention Muhammad’s name besides God in our Sala prayers did not join him). The audience was instructed by Aslbek to cheer for both sides. It was a bizarre scene: while we were in a hot debate, our audience was like in the refrigerator clapping for both sides in an orchestrated and reserved fashion. Our moderators did even better. For instance, Arnold Mol, our moderator for the last session, roared like a lion when I interrupted our Sunni imam; for a moment, Arnold’s face turned red and declared his authority to cut me off. I was glad that he did, since Abu Eesa would not have any excuse to complain about the Kazak-style intellectual setup: he had the chance to share the teachings and dogmas of his Sunni religion with Muslims in a very friendly and free environment.
Ironically, Sunnis has so far never allowed us to debate with them in their conferences. I wish we were invited by Sunnis to debate with their imams and sheiks. I wish we were set up by them! I do not expect them to pay for my trip, to assign two friendly young men to serve me, or cheer for me so that I would not feel lonely. None of that! A simple invitation, equal opportunity to debate and a promise of not beating us or killing us during the event would be sufficient. My past experience with the Sunnis and Shiite people is just the opposite. For instance, on October 7 of 1989 they kicked me out by force from their conferences in Chicago, when I directed a few questions from my first English book, 19 Questions for Muslim Scholars, to the mullahs they ignorantly call Mawlana (Our Lord). They had sent an invitation to Dr. Rashad Khalifa to attend their conference; not as a speaker, but as an audience. Rashad knew that their intention was to humiliate him. Upon Rashad’s request, I accepted to substitute him at the conference. I flew from Tucson to Chicago to confront the mullahs and their followers. Rashad had printed two hundred copies of a special issue of the Muslim Perspective, addressing the participants of the conference. I had also a draft copy of my upcoming book, 19 Questions for Muslim Scholars. Asking the speaker a loaded question was sufficient for my excommunication. They banned me from entering their conference rooms, and then they tried to get rid of me from the lobby, where I was surrounded by curious youths, mostly ethnic Pakistanis. Later, they sent two big guys to my hotel room to physically hurt me; but God sent an African American Muslim who sneaked me out of the hotel just seconds before they reached me. Since then, I have had numerous similar experiences. One of them is memorable. In November 23 of 2002, I had a live debate on a popular Turkish TV program with Dr. Süleyman Ateş, the former head of Religious Affairs. Towards the end of the debate, which was full of surprises, I made a surprise announcement. I declared that for the first time I would be participating in a public event since my emigration to the USA. I was going to show up at a book fair to meet my readers. It was a decision I made at that moment. The host of the show advised me not to do such a crazy thing, but I did not listen. Upon my arrival at the huge external yard of the Kocatepe Mosque, I was welcomed by dozens of monotheists. Several of them, especially Hamza Gürer, begged me not to enter the inside the courtyard. They had noticed a Sunni gang gathered in front of an Islamist publishing house’s exhibition tables talking about me. They were getting prepared to hurt me. I barely averted their mischief.
When Sunni or Shiite clergymen gain power, they rarely, if ever, allow their sectarian teachings to be challenged by monotheists like me. Though we always open our doors, windows and occasionally our chimneys for them, they rarely allow us in their Internet forums or Paltalk rooms. The moment they realize that we are monotheists, that we do not associate fabricated hadith to the Quran, that we do not praise Muhammad more than God, that we do not accept verses abrogated by hungry holy goats, that we do not believe that music is prohibited and women should be avoided like a dog, and hundreds of other non-Quranic teachings and practices, they insult us, falsely accuse and sensor us. Their leaders have called me Zionist, Bahai, or the member of the Moon Cult who received a million dollars… They are very good in producing many rabbits from their hadith-trained imaginations, and ironically they tend to believe the objective reality of their imaginary rabbits. I hope that Abu Eesa appreciates this great difference between monotheists and polytheists. Rational monotheists have nothing to fear, since they have nothing to hide.
Abu Eesa Niamatullah was a smart, articulate and cordial tall man with very long arms that could hug a camel vertically. He was born in the United Kingdom, of Pakistani heritage. With his Arabized title and first name, black robe, kosher beard and short hair contrary to what his hadith literature describes his fashion idol, he was wearing a strait jacket around his outgoing personality, screaming the troops of contradictions: a former disk-jockey who considered music a sin, a science-educated man who was promoting nonsense, a humorous man who somehow ended up playing the role of a Sunni scholar. Abu Eesa (The Father of Eesa), was a British-educated Pakistani man impersonating the composite Sunni character created by medieval Arab, Persian, and Turkish pagans, Jewish Rabbis and Christian Monks through mishmash stories and norms! Holy concoction! Under the same garb, he was both a mullah and a normal human being. Perhaps we could become close friends if he did not have his second personality, which promoted a cruel, oppressive and repressive religion. But he has hope. As long as he has some sense of humor left in him, as long as he can listen to the opposing voice, he may be able to free himself from the dogma of the master hypnotist. Time will tell.
Like all religious people who follow dogma blindly, he too was convinced that his cloth and grooming was an integral part of his faith. Knowing that faith is a euphemism for wishful thinking or joining a particular bandwagon for petty tribal, social, political and/or economic interests, it was not a surprise to see many of the followers of dogma showing off with their cloth and grooming; a juvenile way of making a point: I am different and holier than you, and I am the center of the universe! I am the missing link between you and heaven! In this regard, Abu Eesa was better than the Catholic priests; at least he did not generate dust and smoke like the Pope with a funny hat who breaks multiple records in Yuksel’s Record of Religious Oddities. (I am working on a new book now. I will rank the top 100 religious oddities according to the amount of logical, natural and internal contradictions they cause.)
Sunni Polytheism Exposed
Noticing his talent of smooth-talking and pleasing the crowds, I knew that if I acted softly, brother Abu Eesa would beat around every bush and tree, every pebble and rock, trying his best to window-dress and cover up the devils in the details of Sunni teaching. I applied pressure on him, I provoked him. I had no personal vendetta against him; in fact, I was in admiration of his passion, dedication and zeal. I was tormented by watching him being tormented between his God-given reason and the nonsense he was indoctrinated to follow as a religion. Until the age of 29, I was not much different than him. In other words, I was encountering myself, my ghost from my days of ignorance. I had empathy for him. I knew exactly what my brother Abu Eesa was feeling/thinking, and why he was feeling/thinking that way, and I tried my best to help him to see himself in the mirror. My primary target was not to debase his person but the diabolic teachings he was promoting. I was praying for his freedom. He had chance to accept the truth, so that it could set him free!
At one point, I used the Quranic trap to expose the Sunni polytheism. I read verses 6:145 to 6:150 from the Reformist Translation. I gave a few-seconds pause and looked at him after the challenge: “Bring forth your witnesses who bear witness that God has forbidden this.” Like many whom I had tested before him, he too fell into the Quranic trap. He responded with one of his idols’ names with the usual fabricated phrase: “Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam.” Then, I continued finishing the verse 6:150 and reminded him of the beginning of the section by reading verses 6:112-6:117. This debate was being recorded live in front of the select Kazak audience. Suddenly, he realized that his polytheism was exposed naked. He appeared to have woken up from a nightmare and complained for not hearing anything I had read to him. Ironically, his answer to the question testified to the opposite. Perhaps, his reception of verses was interrupted with troops of hadiths bouncing in his head. He was walking with the help of lightning; he would see the truth surrounding him for a few seconds; but would immediately revert back to the darkness of ignorance. I then reminded him and the audience the verses explaining the phenomenon: when you recite God’s aya to them, they do not hear and do not understand, since there is a wall (Hijab) and curtain between them and God’s message (17:45).
Abu Eesa was trying to prove his monotheistic zeal by criticizing those who visit graves of saints and ask for their help. At one point he reminded us that ONLY God could be Omnipresent and Omniscient, and condemned the practice as idol-worship. Of course, we were all in agreement with him on this. But, I knew for sure, he had no clue what he was talking about. I knew the nature of hadith and sunna, a forest of vertical, horizontal and diagonal contradictions (68:35-38). I knew that he would contradict his own criticism against calling on dead saints and prophets. So, I asked him whether he was commemorating God alone in his Sala prayers in accordance with the Quran (20:14; 72:18; 39:45; 3:18). I asked him whether he was addressing Muhammad in the Tahiyyah just after addressing God when he was reciting al-Fatiha in the standing position. Those who betrayed God and His messenger by associating various sources to the Quran, call on Muhammad while they are in sitting position: “Assalamu alaika ayyuha annabiyyu…” (Peace be upon YOU, O the Prophet…) as if Prophet Muhammad was Omnipresent and Omniscient second person while they pray. At that point, Abu Eesa forgot about his criticism against the worshippers of dead saints and prophets, and declared his polytheistic practice by emphasizing the word AYYUHA, which is a strong indication of the presence of the person. What was his justification for this contradiction? No surprise: HADITH, a word that has been prophetically condemned by the Quran. He used the same justification to continue asking for help from the most popular idol in the world, al-Hajar al-Aswad, the black rock in Mecca. (For details of our arguments against Hadith and Sunna, please see the Manifesto for Islamic Reform. It is published by BrainbowPress and also available online in several languages at www.islamicreform.org).
Abu Eesa could not respond to many fatal criticisms to his Sunni position. For instance, his interpretation of the hadith in which Omar stops a sahaba from bringing pen and paper so that Prophet Muhammad in his death bed could write something to help them not deviate from right path. According to that “authentic hadith,” Omar declared “The prophet is sick and has fever. He does not know what he is saying. Hasbuna Kitab-ulllah (God’s book is sufficient for us)”. According to the same hadith, Omar’s reasoning for stopping Muhammad from writing anything in his death bed was accepted by all the prominent sahaba present there. Abu Eesa’s attempted defense of this hadith missed the entire point. He had also hard time to explain the three different versions of the most important statement in the most witnessed hadith, The Last Sermon, in his “holy hadith books.” According to numerous hadith books, Prophet Muhammad left people (a) The Quran and Sunna; (b) The Quran and his family; or (c) The Quran. Even a rudimentary knowledge of history would be sufficient to know the reason for these discrepancies and the reasons behind the fabrication of the two versions that contradict the Quran.
Women are in the Company of Dogs, not Pigs!
Abu Eesa was a talented demagogue. He was not a “straw man” that I could punch to death and declare a cheap victory. He was one of the best apologists Sunnis could get. During our discussion on women issues, he took the lead in defense of women. He went even further than me and most of the feminists. He declared women to be superior to men. Yes, this Sunni imam was declaring superiority of women over men! One of the signs for the end of the world! Our Sunni imam’s superwoman, however, would not last more than a few seconds. I was not moved by such a hyperbole, since I knew the double talk… If later he were to be interrogated by his misogynist followers, he would defend himself by saying: “I meant mothers; not wives and sisters!” If Abu Eesa were honest about his promotion of hadith and Sunna, than he should have said exactly the opposite about woman. I did not list dozens of hadith from his so-called “authentic hadith books” that discriminate against women, demean, insult, decry, disparage, deprecate, reprehend, reproach, condemn, and accuse women for being the cause of the biggest troubles of ignorant men. I just reminded him of one of his hadiths from his favorite book, Bukhari (I am not misrepresenting his position regarding Bukhari, since he publicly declared that he believed that some hadiths abrogated verses of the Quran):
“What do you think Abu Eesa about this hadith: ‘If a donkey, a pig and a woman passes in front of a praying person, the prayer is nullified.”? After a short pause, our Sunni imam got animated and pointed at my ignorance of his hadith! He proudly corrected my error. I had misquoted his hadith; it was a dog not a pig! If you are a pet-loving American, you may find little problem with such a company. But, his hadith collections condemned dogs, required those touched by a dog to wash themselves seven times in a special way, and instructed the killing of all black dogs… So, there was not much relief for women to be promoted to the level of female dogs, even the white ones. To show off his knowledge of hadith, our imam inadvertently abrogated his own imaginary hadith with a dog. The dog in his hadith books came to life and ate my erroneous pig together with his imaginary Sunni superwoman!
The Extraordinary Powers of Psychokinetic, Telekinetic or Pyrokinetic Energy!
Besides Hadith and Sunna, there was another hoax I had to deal with. I was hearing from my hosts about a Russian guy with paranormal powers. According to many eye-witness testimonies, he was burning holes in things with sheer mental concentration. As a rational monotheist, as a critical thinker, I did not hesitate to reject the claims to be 99.9 percent a hoax. They laughed at me. They had in the past taken extreme skeptics who did not give even a 0.1 percent chance. One of their recent guests was a philosophy professor from Moscow University, who had become a total believer in pyrokinesis. They wanted to take me to a session so that I could witness the paranormal event. I could not pass up the offer.
During the nine days in Almaty, I met three Kazaks who shared the name Serik (from Arabic Sherik, that is Partner or Friend). This Serik was educated in the United States and was a successful businessman and financial advisor. He was in his early thirties. Cool as cucumber. He had two Mercedes cars, one driven by his private driver. He enjoyed trying to scare me by accelerating his new Mercedes G Wagon in Almaty’s narrow streets. The Russian guy lived on the fifth floor of a dilapidated apartment building. The door had multiple locks on it. Upon our entry, he gave an envelope to the Russian who called himself Alexander. Later, I learned that he had popped-up 2,000 dollars for the half-an-hour session. Alexander was a skinny man in his forties. He had a very serious demeanor and all-business attitude. I noticed that before leading me to a chair across from him, he rushed to sit at a chair in front of a little desk with a circular top. He started talking in Russian about his talents of collecting energy from nature and focusing on things he wanted to burn. Serik was a fluent translator and experienced disciple. Alexander was claiming connections with Russian military.
Alexander then produced an inflated little balloon and put it between my right hand and his left hand. I was expecting some kind of laser guns hidden somewhere, but nothing appeared suspicious; he wore a simple shirt with short sleeves. He was talking about the special energy he had that would not pop the balloon. The balloon stayed suspended between his palm and mine for about thirty seconds. He was making low humming noises. I started feeling warmth in the middle of my palm. Then the heat increased and I felt as if there was a ball of fire in my palm. I had to let the balloon fall. It was a very unusual experience. I had in the past studied hypnosis and participated in hypnotic sessions, but this had nothing to do with it. I was not even informed beforehand that I would feel heat inside my palm. But, I was open to every scientific and “normal” explanation before believing that all my lost socks were indeed stolen by Martian visitors. Unfortunately, I knew that for many people Martian thieves were the first explanation for the disappearing socks phenomenon!
I was not paying much attention to what was he telling me through Serik. I was carefully watching like James Randi who had exposed Uri Geller, the notorious Israeli fraudster. Alexander moved to his second show. He opened his hand and let me feel it. It was colder than usual. He then pressed against my right hand palm and started doing the same thing: concentrating and humming. I heard a puff sound and felt a burning pain in the back of my hand between my thumb and index finger. I tried not to overreact. I wanted to take the picture of him, but I respected his wish not to be photographed.
Then, Alexander showed me several plastic cups and placed them on the floor next to my feet. He went all the way into another room which was connected to his office. He sat on a chair about 20 feet away. He started humming and I noticed the plastic cup starting to melt from the side facing him. Within a few seconds he carved a hole in the plastic cup. He did a few similar burnings and poking holes in plastic. Noticing that he was burning and poking holes on the same straight line, I grabbed a cup and put it on the floor at another location and asked him to burn it there. He grabbed it and located it somewhere else in an animated fashion and rapid talking. He made me sit on another chair and from behind started concentrating on the cup. He excitedly claimed that he burned it by sending his energy through my eyeglasses or eyes. I then took a dollar bill from my wallet and put it on his desk and asked him to burn a hole in it. He put it inside his palm and pointed his right hand’s index finger accompanied with exaggerated concentration and bragging words about his powers. He did poke a little whole in the American dollar that had already been turned to a doughnut by the “robber banks”, Wall Street and corporate thieves who stole billions of taxpayers dollars during their recent major heist in American history.
I asked Alexander a few questions about the source of his powers. He talked about his veins, about a special diet of 400 gram of vegetables and 40 gram of nuts, about earth, water, fire, air and ether. Long live Empedocles! I had already witnessed so many red flags that when he started to diagnose my potential health problems and missing the ones I already had, I tried my best to endure his insults to my intelligence. I also wondered about his knowledge about the Randy Foundation, which has been offering 1 million dollars for anyone that could prove paranormal powers. I asked him to go there and claim the money. He made up an excuse: he had a contract with the military for four more months and he would not be able to go out during this period. When I left his office, I was impressed by his talents and showmanship, yet I was sure that he was using some devices to create the burning effect. I suspected two things: laser engravers and chemicals that could have a delayed burning reaction.
The following day, I asked Serik to take me there so that I expose the hoax. I also decided to record my encounter with the fraudster. To make my job easy, Serik arranged this session with Alexander for Aidar, the journalist. At the door, I entered his office with a camcorder. I demanded him to apologize for three things: for insulting my intelligence, for burning my hand and for defrauding thousands of dollars from my friends. I added that he had to give back all the money he received from them. He appeared to be composed and cool. Serik was doing very well in translating our conversation. At a point, I grabbed a plastic cup and put it by the entrance door and challenged him to perform his powers there. He accepted with a condition: he would do it only with the presence of Aidar, the new “recruit.” I had no choice but to accept since I had no clear idea what his trick was about and the two of my friends were not sure about my allegations. Serik and I got out and he locked the door behind us. Taking advantage of this period, I decided to climb to the attic from the opening. I climbed the metal stairs on the wall and pushed the square door all the way pulling myself to the attic. It was dark and dirty. I looked for wires and vertically installed laser engravers in the ceiling of his office room. I was disappointed, nothing was there. I came down and asked Serik to call Aidar and learn what was going on. We had to wait a few more minutes. When the door opened I entered, Aidar put his arms on my shoulder with his head down, “Let’s get out of here; he is real. I am hundred percent sure, he is genuine.” I could not believe my eyes and ears. Aidar appeared pale and shaken. He was very scared. There was big hole on his nylon windbreaker on the right side of his chest. He had not responded to my challenge by poking hole in the cup by the door. Instead, he had chosen to have a new recruit. He had chosen offence. I asked Aidar whether he was injected with some kind of medication. I could not explain his betrayal of me through normal circumstances.
Alexander was now working on Serik, perhaps his best disciple. I had to interrupt. I searched under the desk. I saw sticky stuff under it. I thought they were the secret chemicals he was using; but they were most likely gum pieces as he claimed. Then, I opened the little door under the desk. There I noticed a pedal, exactly as I had predicted. When Serik and Aidar saw it, they were shocked. But, this would not last long. Alexander pointed at a little camera on the corner of the wall and claimed that the pedal is for the camera; he was recording the sessions secretly. I did not buy his explanation. I immediately jumped over the seat by the wall and pulled off the device that looked like a small camera. I suspected it to be a laser, disguised inside a camera cover. But, after a brief inspection I was disappointed in myself. I was wrong in my accusation; indeed it was a camera. But, I was still not convinced that the pedal was for the camera. I suspected a clever cover up. If someone discovered the pedal, then Alexander has a convincing explanation for it. I had promised Aslbek and others that I would surely expose the hoax and now I was nowhere near close to it. The attic had not produced any clue, nor the pedal hidden under his desk. Meanwhile, I noticed that I was losing Serik too. He did not have much faith in my claims to start with. And now, after two failures, he had perhaps no faith at all. I felt the urge to discover the devises the scam artist was surreptitiously utilizing.
I sat down on the chair and held the balloon in my hand and challenged him to do his trick right there. He appeared to accept my challenge. But after a brief moment of concentration, he started telling Serik that he had accumulated too much energy and could blow my hand off. I did not swallow his bluff. I challenged him to blow my hand off and while at it he should also blow my head off. I started timing him, using my watch. I told him that he had only five minutes to unveil his tricks and apologize for his three crimes; otherwise I would call the American embassy and ask them to send police here to ransack his office. He was not giving up. He was trying to influence Serik to ask me to give up. I would not. I informed him about the few minutes left for him to avoid the police.
When the five minutes finished I asked Serik to call the US embassy. I was going to tell them that a Russian scam artist had attempted to defraud me, an American citizen, and I needed police to come to the address. Serik did not respond to me. Losing both of my comrades and my patience, I decided to use some force. I charged the desk which was attached to the floor. I kicked it hard, breaking the jar and spreading some knickknacks to the floor. From the bottom of the table, a bundle of white cables were exposed. They were curving back to the bedroom. Following the lead of the wires, I went to the bedroom across. At that point I heard Serik telling me that he confessed his trick. He was using chemicals. I knew that he was still trying to hide his real trick. So, I continued my search. Behind the bed there was a section covered with blankets. When I removed the blankets, an electronic devise enclosed in two big boxes was exposed. My friends were in shock. They never expected such a professional set up. The devices, according to Alexander, were generating microwaves. He also mentioned using chemicals in combination. I did not pay much attention to his explanations, since I never trusted him. I am not yet sure exactly how it worked, perhaps he was filling the room with microwaves which would activate the chemical that he would secretly attach to things. Perhaps he was sticking the chemical to the back of our hands with his thump when he was shaking our hands. In fact, the location where he burned our hands was exactly corresponding to where the tip of his thump would land. But how could he manage to delay the burning of the back of my hand when he directed heat to my palm? Why he was not able to produce the same effect when I challenged him in different locations? Perhaps, he would not have chance to obtain extra chemicals and attach it under scrutiny. I am not sure. Considering all the locations that he performed his tricks, they were on a straight line across his bed room. Regardless of the details, it was now clear that he was using a high tech device to create the burning effect on his subjects.
I recorded his apology. He apologized for insulting the intelligence of a philosopher, for burning my hand and for defrauding my friends. Later I felt compassion for him and gave him a heart-to-heart advice. I kept my word and did not call police on him. Serik took the envelope containing several thousand dollars. Then, he asked for all the money previously paid by him and his friends. The scam artist told us that he was stashing his money somewhere else. Serik’s chauffeur took them; he retrieved about ten thousands dollars.
Two days later, Aslbek wanted Abu Eesa to experience the same show. He was curious about his reaction. I went with Abu Eesa pretending being there for the first time. We recorded his experience and reaction. He was acting like a scientist, but a gullible and confused one. He appeared to trust every word of explanation given by Alexander. Alexander was using natural terminology to explain his powers, but he was also mixing the word spirit with them. Abu Eesa was eager to explain his powers with jinns or ghosts. So, he was trying to hear more about the spirit part. I asked Abu Eesa a few short questions so that he could elaborate on his jinni theory. I reminded him about the paintings containing Christian figures and symbols. He was convinced that it was jinni power. Before leaving, Abu Eesa advised Alexander to read the Quran. It was refreshing to hear Abu Eesa promoting the Quran. I could not stop myself interjecting: “Brother Abu Eesa, you are peddling Bukhari to us, but I see that you are advising the Quran to outsiders. Why don’t you ask him to read Bukhari?” I am sure, Abu Eesa knew that no sound person would accept Islam by starting from Bukhari. None would have any respect or sympathy for the fictional Muhammad depicted by Bukhari. For converts, Bukhari would be inserted into the scene afterwards; to gradually distort the message of the Quran! In other words, hadith would be introduced in a fashion to induce the effect known “the boiled frog syndrome”. (I have been receiving numerous letters from converts complaining about this “bait and switch” method. Dr. Maurice Bucaille was one of the vocal modern tactic of this sophisticated scam of Sunni apologists.)
In Order to Blind Himself to Code 19, the Sunni Imam adds Two More Letters to Bismillah!
The following day, I was asked to give a lecture on Code 19 to a small group of mathematicians and philosophers. I had little time and on top of that the translation slowed me down. I made a philosophical introduction and presented the tip of the iceberg. One of the philosophers, Beket Nurzhanov, invoked Pythagoras’s name and dismissed my presentation as numerology. I knew Pythagoras very well and I very much liked him. But, I knew that code 19 was based on a verifiable and falsifiable physical facts and had little to do with Pythagorean esoteric number mysticism.
Hearing that he had company among our distinguished guests, our imam, Ebu Eesa got a second wind. He declared that the frequency of the word Month in the Quran was not 12, and the frequency of the word Day was not 365 as I presented. He obviously had no clue about what he was talking. I wished that we had more time to discuss this issue face to face; but we did not have time. The imam added one more refutation: the number of the letters in the Bismillah (Basmala) was not 19 either; it had 21 letters. He also claimed that he could come up with similar numerical patterns by using the Kazakhstan constitution. I was glad to hear such a concrete statement and I challenged him to do so in three or four months. Later I changed my mind regarding the Kazakh constitution since it is not in the Latin alphabet and he could easily tamper with its letters as he did with the most popular verse of the Quran. So, I challenged him to produce similar patterns from the Constitution of the United States.
Abu Eesa demanded more time and the stage to spew his aversion against the number 19, prophesized in chapter 74 of the Quran as one of the greatest divine signs. I gave him the marker, the board and asked him to show the extra two letters in Bismillah that I had missed! I was glad that the session was recorded by a professional so that the world would witness the kind of ignorance and arrogance the enemies of the prophetic sign have. Interestingly, the former head of the religious affairs in Turkey too had made exactly the same absurd claim in front of millions in a live debate with me, which is now available on the internet. It is such an absurd claim since the number of letters in Bismillah is no secret and it does not require the knowledge of hadith and so-called (pseudo)science of hadith to know it. Any student in an elementary school in Arabic speaking countries could easily count its 19 letters. In fact, not a single Sunni or Shiite scholar who happened to mention the number of letters in Bismillah contradicted that simple fact. For instance, famous Molla Jami starts his divan by referring to the 19 letters of Bismillah. Abu Layth Samarqandi in his Quran interpretation refers to a hadith about the three (not four!) letters of its first word, Bism. Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in his impressive interpretation of the Quran, Tafsir al-Kabir, refers to an interesting connection made between the 19 letters of Bismillah and the guardians of hell, claiming that each letter protects from their harms. Al-Qurtubi in his Al-Jami’ li Ahkam il-Quran, reports hadith about 19 letters of Bismillah. Similarly, the Kurdish Sunni scholar Said Nursi too refers to that simple fact numerous times. Furthermore, millions of Pakistani and Hindu Muslims have the tradition of using 786, the numerical value of the 19 letters, for Bismillah. In sum, our imam neither could verify the simple facts nor was he aware of his own sources.
After the discovery of the code 19 and the fulfillment of its prophecies mentioned in chapter 74, Muslim scholars started adding letters to the most repeated verse of the Quran, BiSMi ALLaH AL-RaHMaN AL-RaHYM. As usual, they could not agree about the number of letters they were hallucinating. Some claimed that it had 21 letters and some claimed 22. Our Pakistani-British imam was hallucinating 21 letters. However, during the few seconds it took him to reach the white board with the marker in his hand, he changed his mind. Instead of adding two alifs as he claimed while sitting in his chair, somehow he did just the opposite. He deleted three alifs from Bismillah and uttered a few nonsensical claims regarding the ease of coming up with a numerical structure based on its 16 letters! Of course, he did not come up with a single example, except his utter confusion by first claiming two extra alifs in Basmala and then when challenged, this time deleting three alifs from it! He managed to do both in less than a minute! I should not have expected a better criticism from someone who considered Bukhari a holy book, believed the authority of holy hungry goats in shaping his sharia law, and believed that some hadith reports abrogated the verses of the Quran.
At one point during one of the debates, Imam Abu Eesa made a negative remark regarding the www.19.org logo followed by a question mark on my T-shirt. He called it a “cult.” I asked him to define “cult” and then check whether I were a cult member. Upon my rebuke and invitation to substantiate his accusation, he gave up. Later, Hasan Mahmud came up with a great line of defense: “No cult would put a question mark under their logo”
The Derrida-loving Philosopher Joins the Sunni Imam in an Imaginary Universe!
While talking against code 19, our imam cleverly reminded the audience his agreement with the great doctor in the room who dismissed the code 19 as a modern version of Pythagorean numerology. He was in complete agreement with Professor Beket Nurzhanov, Head of the Department of History of Philosophy of the Kazakhstan National University named after Al Farabi. Beket was well-groomed and knew how to speak English. His appearance, age and title demanded respect. A few minutes later when the session ended with a tea break, I joined him.
While sipping from my cup of tea, I wondered about Beket’s mind and I asked him about his philosophy. He listed the names of his favorite philosophers. Derrida was among them and it was enough for me to get some idea about his modus operandi. I did not find any common philosopher, except for Nietzsche, among our favorites list. I liked Socrates, Leibniz, Wittgenstein, Hume, among many others. I questioned this Derrida-loving professor about the reason of his dismissal of my presentation, without even bothering to study it. He told me this, “According to a mathematician, there could be another universe where 2+2 could be making 3 or 5.” Yes, read it again if you wish, without spilling your cup of tea.
I did not ask him the identity of that mathematician. Honestly, I did not care about such a nerd. Our doctor, who dismissed the code 19, was the worst of all relativists. He doubted the reliability of universal mathematical statements. As a constant seeker of truth and servant of the Truth, I could not try to appease his ego or feelings. I had to tell him what he needed to hear: “According to your mathematician, dear professor, these words coming from your mouth too could be nonsense in another universe.” I noticed surprise in his face. I corrected myself. “In fact, I do not need to trust your extraterrestrial mathematician. Forget about another universe, your words are nonsense in many languages and countries of this very little planet!” I meant both meanings of the “nonsense”! He was relying on arbitrary human language to deny universal language of the universe.
When the issue became the divine sign in mathematics, our professor was leaving the mathematics of his universe which he relied on without doubt when he counted his money, his children, his socks and fingers. In order to blind himself to one of the greatest signs and reject the most profound facts of this universe, he was seeking refuge in a mathematician from another universe. He was switching universes. At that moment, I felt pity for his students and remembered the Quranic verse 7:146.
By now, you might think that my adventure with Abu Eesa and Beket was the normal one. Honestly, I think my adventure with them was the real paranormal one. The scam that the Russian guy was performing had nothing to do with paranormal; it was based on perfect science and technology. The real paranormal, the real odd events were performed by these two gifted and highly educated individuals. The first had no problem in believing a hungry holy goat abrogating verses from his holy book, thinking that he could value women by equating them to dogs and donkeys, could add letters to Bismillah, and many more religious nonsense, while the second one, seeking refuge in an imaginary universe to blind himself to one of the greatest divine signs. These were the real paranormal beings and events, and you can see their clones everywhere on this planet.
Back to Normal
Aside from confronting theological and scientific hoaxes, among the many memories that I will remember for a long time is my experience in a Russian sauna which, reportedly, had the temperature up to 80 degrees Celsius. For the first time I ate horse meat and drank horse milk (kımız), which was the most disgusting thing after the Durian fruit I had tasted in China a year before. Again, for the first time, I saw young Kazaks juggling not one but two dual cell phones, each phone having two phone numbers. By the way, 2×2=4 phone numbers in our universe!
There I had a great time with Ray Catton, his wife Sophia, and Hasan Mahmud who all joined us from Canada. Tufan Karadere and Gökhan Aycan from Turkey, and Arnold Mol from Holland contributed to the conference with fresh voices and pleasant conversations. I was impressed by Hasan Mahmud who is an activist serving in Muslim Canadian Congress as its Director of Sharia Law since last six years. He was well prepared to expose the so-called Sharia Law. A half-an-hour interview with him by Raymond was recorded, and inshallah it will soon be available on the Internet together with other video recordings.
Unfortunately, several other invitees could not make it there. For instance, Mohammed Jaseer of India had to return from Dubai airport because of miscommunication regarding visa. My colleague Layth al Shaiban planned to join us, but could not make it.
During my brief visit to Almaty, I met many bright Kazaks and enjoyed their company. Aslbek Musin (maverick), Serik Kushenov (entrepreneur) , Yerlan Salmenov (entrepreneur), Aidar Kaipov (journalist), Serik Ryszhanov (thinker/researcher), Serik Kupeishin (lawyer), Damir Almarekov, Berik, DinMukhamed (dusinessman), Abu Walid Khamdi (dentist), Murtaza İzcilik (accountant), Timur, Talgat (lawyer), Ismail, and many others will inshallah be the pioneers in promoting Islamic Reform in Kazakhstan, the surrounding countries and the world. We ended the conference with an evaluation and some decisions, which included the following:
- Redesign the 19.org and turn it to a multilingual hub of communication and cooperation for monotheists around the world.
- Start weekly Quranic studies at homes.
- Include women in philosophical, educational, cultural and social activities. Without women’s participation an Islamic reform is not possible.
- Translate some books into Russian, including the introduction and endnotes of the Reformist Translation of the Quran and the upcoming book, Nineteen: God’s Signature in Nature and Scripture.
- Promote critical and creative thinking among secondary school students, and campaign to include critical thinking courses in public school curriculum.
- Establish a club or foundation to promote culture of innovation through competition among young inventors.
- Considering the importance of comparative advantage in global economy, focus on a few technologies with great potentials and attract the best minds from around the world to do research on them.
- Avoid the extravagant life-style and addiction with consumption; focus on charity.
- Fight corruption and lead Kazakhstan to be a role model for the so-called Muslim world.
- Without compromising individual freedoms and idiosyncrasies, establish a strong network and cooperation among monotheists.
- To promote rational monotheism, peace, justice and progress, facilitate global projects and organize the next conference either in London or Istanbul.
Let me finish this report with a remark made by Serik Kushenov in a fancy restaurant in Almaty. When I complained about a fly hovering over our table and bragged about American restaurants having no flies, Serik swatted with a big smile: “We have flies here because our food is natural and organic” Well, I found people of the Kazakhstan as natural and organic! J
To see the pictures of our conference in Almaty, you may visit my Picassa at:
To watch the video recordings of our debates, you may visit the following links:
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