Friday, August 19, 2016

Sharia Booze Collection


"Why do you have to bring religion into everything, Eiynah?" is something I often hear in reference to my blog.

The answer is simple. I started writing about *sexuality* in Pakistan and soon discovered that it was impossible to speak about the limitations and sex-related oppression without pointing to the ways in which religion is used to stifle sexuality and oppress women. Yes, this is a blog about sexuality - but it has to encompass so much more to speak of a bigger picture.

So....this post will be about booze and religion. Our lovely booze-less, humourless religion to be specific.

****

I've been working on this for a long time now, since around christmas. I started it before the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, but I must admit... I slowed down right around then...contemplating whether I should go forward with it or not. I decided to go ahead, because I thought it was time to start injecting more humour into our culture. I thought I should do my part at least.

What inspired me to do this post was the number of religious-themed craft beers I've been seeing around. Usually christian, but I long for references to my culture...to laugh at the familiarity and the cheekiness of it. It doesn't exist, because people are afraid to joke about one faith in particular. I mean no offence by this post to anyone, so unbunch your undies or stop reading...I long for the day where we too can demonstrate that we can take a joke.

Here are some examples of other religiously themed beer (there's an entire article about it here), and while it may cause offence to some, they can simply choose not to support the product. No need for fatwas, for beheadings, lashings or shootings:





In these divided times, what could bring people together better than booze, eh? 

I present to you my Shariah Booze collection..complete with complete with accessories, beer flights and our very own pub. Enjoy!

(please note: I am not a beer writer by profession, so please forgive any technical inaccuracies in the beer styles/descriptions)


Blank beer bottle image from 10and5.com
Beer labels designed by Eiynah
Haraam Lite

A light premium lager - This IPA has lower calories AND lower sin-levels too! For those who aren’t a fan of strong flavours or aromas...as well as those who are too timid to sin boldly... this is your stepping stone. 

Start slow with Haraam Lite and work your way up to beverages that’ll make your face feel warm, as if you are experiencing the fires of jahannum (hell) firsthand!


Blasphemer’s Brew

This French Saison, is spicy, bold and strong. Bound to light a fire inside your heart and make you want to push boundaries. Not for the faint of heart of course. It is not the nectar of gods, but the nectar of those who mock gods!  Some advice for those who find the strong taste ‘offensive’ - just don’t drink it! Yes, it IS that easy. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. 

For others who wish to honour our fallen soldiers, questioners and thinkers - this is for you...raise a glass of Blasphemer’s Brew today!




Blonde in a Burqa

Inside the dark veil of this bottle, is a rich crisp Belgian blonde ale. The brewing process has in no way oppressed the character of this beer, It has chosen this vessel for itself. It was a miracle, the beer flowed towards the darker tinted bottles for modesty reasons. Brewed in a strictly halal (permissible) way, it is ok to put your lips to this blonde. Characterized by its restrained fruity flavour and upfront sweetness like any good Belgian ale, Blonde in a Burqa has a creamy overall mouthfeel and will finish dry. Halal on the outside, fun on the inside.






Midnight Minaret

This luxurious, velvety dark chocolate porter is the stuff of dreams. Its elegance is entwined with a strong chocolatey aroma - it will take you back to the feeling of sinking your teeth into a chocolate bar ...or gazing upon a the tall silhouette of a beautiful minaret against a midnight sky. You will be unable to resist the temptation, we guarantee total submission to its silkiness at first sip. 





Ramadan HOP-ocrisy

A mixture of both hoppy and malty or sinful and pious, this bittersweet brew is a seasonal blend. Brewed during that special time of year where hypocrisy comes out to play! This Ramadan special has a subtle date flavour as a nod to the holy month. Lets not forget, this is the time where people pull out the big guns, everyone is religious all of a sudden...*Magic*

It’s a beautiful sight, false piety. If you’re dusting off your headscarf for that special time of year, this beverage is for you! Are you a booze-guzzler all year round, but act like alcohol is a big sin during the holy month?  What better way to make an honest statement while breaking your fast, than with a bottle of Ramadan HOP-ocrisy … 





My Four Wives

Variety is the spice of life. Sometimes a beer needs more than one flavour like a man needs more than one wife - to keep things fresh. We were granted divine permission to infuse four different flavours into this special brew. Our combination creates plural marriage perfection. In one taste you will experience hints of peach, apple, melon and lime. Why would you want taste-bud monogamy when you can experience so much more simultaneously?

72 Brew

A taste of heaven on earth. Believe it or not, we hire 72 virgins for the brewing process of this beer. Their dainty fair-skinned hands are responsible for the entirety of this creation. The result is a full-bodied, voluptuous honey beer with ethereal, unearthly qualities. A drink of this is oft described as ’sitting on a cloud'. Close your eyes and listen, some say you can even hear our virgins giggle as they bathe naked in tubs of honey beer. 


Arabian Flight

Can’t make up your mind about which of our lovely craft beers you’d like to try? We don’t blame you. Luckily we offer a special 'Arabian Flight’ - so your tastebuds can traverse our entire selection. Who doesn’t love a good beer flight? 




Beer Beheader

For those pesky moments when your beer pour is less than perfect. No one likes too much head on their pint. We now offer a simple, shariah-compliant solution to your problems. Why... chop the head off of course!…The Beer Beheader makes this tedious task simpler, with one swift strike, you can have the perfect headless beer. Slice that foam off!  Order today at 1-800-BHEADBEER



Blank Tequila bottle image from www.esquire.com
Label designed by Eiynah
Shakila’s Takila

Shakila got bored of the poor selection of local Pakistani spirits and decided to get creative. She got down to business with some green chills for extra spice. BAM - Shakila’s Takila was born... in the basement of her father’s achaar (pickle) shop. This aged, desi take on Takila (Tequila) is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. This stuff is the SHIT....the S-H-I-T ... a bit rough around the edges, but sit back and relax…let Shakila seduce you. 



Djinn & Tonic

The perfect spirit, or ‘Djinn' as we like to call it in the Muslim world, to go with your lime and tonic. Flavourful, light-bodied and clean. Certified halal, any intoxication might be a result of the supernatural - definitely not the result of alcohol. 



background picture taken from Pig & Whistle pub

Kafir’s Keg

Imagine if there was a (real) "safe space", a sacred spot where blasphemers could convene, without being threatened for their life. Where jokes and cartoons wouldn’t result in death, where words, whether spoken or written, wouldn’t result in lashings. A place where it was ok to have a sense of humour, where Muslims treated others with compassion and tolerance…a place where archaic law based on unprovable ancient texts was not considered valid….a place where rationality and reason prevailed, where debate was encouraged…Just one spot... in one corner of the earth, where the non-religious received the same respect as the religious…. this place would serve all my Shariah booze of course, without fear - this place would be known as the Kafir’s Keg. There would be no bans on pig imagery, there would be no taboos associated with ex-muslims. We could exist freely and in the open... imagine that. 

The Kafir’s Keg is a dream of mine, a place where every infidel knows your name.


If you like what you see, please support the Nice Mangos Patreon campaign here





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reclaiming the Left : The Space Between Terror & Trump

Dear Readers, 

some of you have asked for a transcript to my speech at the Non Conference this past weekend. So here it is. Thank you to those who came out (even though I was only there via skype) , and thank you to those who listened via Soundcloud. It is your support that motivates me to keep speaking up, in the face of so much hatred from all sides. 


Much Love,
Eiynah


(here is a link to the audio. The sound is a bit rough during the first minute, my apologies...but then the event 'noise' is no more after that) 

****

Hello doubters, skeptics, heathens, reformers and apostates. Thank you for coming out today, its an honour to be speaking to you.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an ex-Muslim…a Pakistani-Canadian blogger illustrator and children’s book author…

My name is Eiynah, well its not my real name…and there’s a reason for that

…and also a reason for why you don’t see me standing up there in front of you today. I would’ve loved to have been there, lots of people I wanted to meet. And this is one of the *many* opportunities I’ve had to miss out on, because of safety concerns….

Unfortunately, in a world where leaving Islam is met with almost no allyship , where instead it goes without saying, that it will be met with death threats…and rape threats too... if you’re a woman...

In a world where being tainted with the word "islamophobe" can have serious effects on your career, social life… unfortunately....a world like that just doesn’t make me feel safe enough to publicly come out of the ‘apostate closet’ as it were. 

Perhaps someday my circumstances will be different, but for now…you’ll have to hear me from behind a screen….it was either that, or I show up in a burqa… I opted for the non burqa option. 

So screen it is... 

----

Something that really colours my views on religion is having grown up in an Islamic theocracy… Saudi Arabia. 

I grew up there as a Pakistani expat, and lived in a compound for foreigners, a reverse amish compound if u will…where within the safety of the compound walls, there was some sense of normalcy… no morality police, no need to dress modestly...

Life was great as a kid in the artificial bubble of a western compound …till you had to leave for some reason, to get groceries, or go to the mall, etc. That was when we’d encounter the "muttawas", who were tasked with enforcing shariah and policing morality…literally - all part of our friendly neighbourhood Committee for The Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice

Orwellian... 

...I know

They walked around hitting women’s ankles with a cane if their headscarves slipped….there was always a lingering fear when you entered the public sphere as a woman….anything could happen. It did to my mom when I was little - I witnessed a muttawa whip his cane at her ankle as she passed by. I was terrified. We scurried past him as quickly as we could, and my mom fixed her headscarf… but the fear and disgust at enforced religious modesty never quite left me. 

Imagine my surprise as an immigrant, moving to a secular country from an Islamic theocracy, relieved to be leaving extreme religiosity behind… Imagine my surprise in Canada...when face veils are trotted out as some sort of symbol of liberal tolerance - the women who choose to veil, and who fight for the right to veil are our trump equivalents ... they are our extreme bigots (I’m not referring to the women who have no choice of course)….

***

In a bizarre twist of fate -here in the west- conservative muslims are tight with the liberals. The term 'strange bedfellows' doesn’t even begin to cover it. 

When western liberals betray liberals from muslim backgrounds...those of us who fight to break free from the orthodox interpretations of our birth religion are left abandoned. 

Our every effort is thwarted by those in the west who share our values but fail to be allies… who fail to stand with us, support us in our extremely difficult task of walking against the tide of our strict community. There are those who will cheer and laugh when Christianity is being mocked on late night TV, but will try to silence those of us with muslim background who only want the same privilege…of poking fun at the absurdities, intolerance and inconsistencies we have grown up with. 

In this time of trump and terrorism, I ...as a liberal ex-muslim find myself walking a narrow tightrope... every day… because the conversation is constantly being volleyed between two shrieky extremes… the 'ban all muslims' crew, and the 'everything is Islamophobia' crew. Both of which are problematic, feed off one another, and not at all accurate in their assessments of the issues we face today, nor in how they think we should deal with such issues. 

One of the biggest problems, nowadays,  is Islamic extremism and radicalization. 
A close second is the reactionary anti-muslim sentiment which solves nothing…
Another is the denial of any problems within Islam…

It is the spaces *between* these concerns, these inaccuracies we must occupy and grow… we need to foster and cultivate a liberal critique of Islam which deals with the problems we’re facing as a global community, in unison...not in divided tribalism or bigotry. 

Being an *ex* muslim in this time is interesting, It’s a time where people are scrambling to defend Islamists or Trumpists, where people are looking for an easy solution.

It puts us apostates in a unique position, where the mainstream left don’t want to have anything to do with us, lest they be labeled Islamophobes…and parts of the right are constantly trying to co opt our words, our struggle to make xenophobic, anti-muslim points.

Its a hard position to be in…because either you go it basically alone, or you accept unwanted support. 

***

I have a problem with the word Islamophobia, because it conflates people and ideology, which is something i spend majority of my time highlighting the difference between. Terms like Islamophobia make it easy for muslim conservatives to accuse critics of bigotry. 

As an apostate, my death is commanded in many interpretations of the religion, simply for turning my back on the faith….why would I not be terrified of such an ideology? 

At the same time, some of the people I love most in the world are muslims, my parents who raised me, who were great secular role models….who didn’t force religion on us….*this* is the difference between Islam and Muslims. 

I love and treasure many muslims…it is islam i don’t love. 

I am a critic of the religion, but also of anti muslim bigotry… this is a statement that many people find confusing,  contradictory even… because the separation of ideas and people is not as clear yet, as it needs to be. 



Apologists cannot make this distinction…for them any criticism of the faith is a direct attack on them… and also anti muslim bigots are unable to separate people from ideas….for them each and every muslim embodies, lives by and endorses every single verse in scripture. For them, much like apologists... Muslims *are* Islam…

This is simply untrue... easily disproved by the many different ways and degrees to which people practice. 

..And this...is the difference I work so hard to make clearer. 

We won’t get anywhere in this discussion if we can’t unwed people from ideas. It is of utmost importance to demonstrate that our critique comes from a genuine place…and not one of malice...

It is the left I and others like me hope to reclaim, we must once again stand up for liberal ideas and humanity in this battle of extremes…we must be careful not to glorify purity culture, slut shaming, religious orthodoxy, when it comes to minorities….we’re in this together…pushing back against Trump by denying problems in Islam just isn’t helping, we need to face the problems head on. 

I once wrote an anti homophobia children’s book set in Pakistan, the first of its kind... My Chacha is Gay, (which means my uncle is gay) - and for this innocent book about love, I was deemed "worthy of death", an "enemy of god"…people even wished death and venereal diseases on my fictional character Chacha…



But despite that...

It was wonderfully embraced by schools in the Toronto area - at first… till religious (mostly muslim) parents complained, and even threatened to sue the school board. Islamic websites wrote panicked articles about it. They claimed the book was a misrepresentation of their culture… that it was insensitive…  instead of continuing to use this resource to reach a demographic that clearly, evidently needed it, schools quickly backed off from using it in any official capacity again. 

And even though the updated Ontario Sex Ed curriculum includes teaching children about LGBT families, and homophobic bullying….this was not a resource they could touch. Perhaps because its author is a known Islamophobe…*gasp*  

...and in that struggle it is the LGBT muslim and Pakistani children that suffer the most, that are abandoned, that are pushed back into the closet because their parents deem it unnatural and unholy… these kids should not see normalization or support in school because that, is insensitive apparently. Insensitive to the archaic, misogynistic, homophobic over-a-thousand year old value system we seem inclined to want to defend over minorities within minorities….

Girls forced into hijabs by their families, will not see support from liberal western society, from liberal western feminists…. they will not see the dismantling of such backwards ideas… because people use their tolerance of intolerance as a yardstick for how progressive and 'anti Trump' they are. 

We must fight this silence, we must pry open that space between the two ends…we must reclaim the left or leave it open for the bigots & denialists to hijack the conversation. 

Don’t be silent on this, don’t make trump a hero…don’t make conservative islam, illiberal at its core, a symbol for liberalism in the west. 

And when you speak up, remember just who you're standing in solidarity with:

  • The girl who wrote to me, terrified during the month of Ramadan, that someone would find out about her disbelief, because she secretly ate a snack in the bathroom…exhausted from pretending to fast…from starving herself against her will….exhausted from keeping up a religious facade.. because the alternative was too risky. 
  • The woman who never refused her husband sex, because she believed it was her religious duty to satisfy him any time he asked…even if it was right after childbirth and she was held together with stitches…
  • The man who emailed me terrified of coming out as a non believer to his devout wife
  • The many young impressionable LGBT kids who are turned away by their communities, shunned by their religion, because only hetero married relationships are halal..
  • The countless others trapped in their faith-shaped cages


Each time you refuse to be silent, its all these shackles you help take apart…

****


Thank you to my wonderful Patrons, it is because of your support I am able to grow and keep myself motivated to speak out in the face of so much hate, from all sides.  Much love xx

****

If you'd like to support my work you can do so via Patreon, here