The following interview with a liberal-minded Pole who converted to Islam some years ago was published recently at EuroIslam.pl. Some excerpts:
We Are Afraid Modernity Might Kill Allah: Interview With Polish Muslim Liberal
An interview with Ibrahim Kalwas, Polish Muslim liberal living in Egypt, writer and journalist.
Let’s start by asking how a guy like you — quite a partygoer — becomes a Polish Muslim?
Not so long ago, on the gate of a Swiss embassy I saw posters done by some Swiss artist. One of them showed an image of a rebellious youngster from the 70s — a punk; but a rebellious youngster in the 2000s is a bearded European guy with a gun who converted to Islam, became a Jihadi. Nowadays many people really do convert to Islam to overcome their frustrations. But why others, not just crazies and frustrated people, decide to become Muslim? It’s hard to say, it’s very personal, every religion is. I converted about 16 years ago, for spiritual reasons. My Islam is totally different now than it was at the beginning. I came a long way from a neophyte to a Muslim liberal.
Why don’t you try and convert our readers, tell us what is so cool about Islam, what was it that attracted you? And why Islam and not Buddhism or Catholic Youth movement or yoga?
I never try to convert anyone, proselytism is completely alien to me. Why did I choose Islam? I don’t know. Christianity has always been very strong in my family; it was something that I was forced into and I haven’t got any nice memories from that period — going to church, or being morally oppressed by the religion. I have been keen on various religions since I was a child. I was reading scripture and books and it just clicked. Perhaps it was also because of my frustrations, I needed a religion that would bring order into my life. I was of course drinking and behaving badly, I wasn’t using many drugs, marijuana more so. I felt lost.
If I was to advertise Islam…It’s an all-day, holistic system that totally regulates the life of a person who is serious about it. And converts do treat their new religion really seriously; I was the same. The converts start living in accordance to a certain religious schedule, in accordance to prayers for example. They come in, very strongly into haram and halal zone, that is, into what’s forbidden and what’s not. Many people stop drinking or eating one thing but start eating something else. Touch this, don’t touch that and this puts a person into a rhythm; rhythm of dogmas which in my opinion, calms the new convert a lot. And I think most of them are quite happy with that.
You start with an extreme mess and enter an extreme order?
Yes, it’s putting the feeling of being lost, the chaos, or anarchy in their minds, heart or life, back in order. No other religion, I believe, regulates so much the way people dress, what they eat and how they should have sex. This is something that attracts many people. There’s also the question of power. In this religion, the element of power, certain kind of violence — not only in the negative way but also in a way of reacting to itself, to the believer and to others — is very important. This power, its dynamics is transmitted to the convert. He feels very powerful, feels the backup of the community, which, right now, amounts to about a million and a half; the community where the word of god is preached where it is considered as the only one, the dominant one; the word of god that has been chosen and prophesied to be the future of the world. One feels that one enters a very strong community. Although there is a division in Islam, it is a different kind of community than a Christian one. Christianity, with few exceptions is very smooth, sluggish, liberal and democratic. Islam is like an army, because it’s a religion that is based on battle. This battle, this jihad — in a broad sense — is yet another element which by some people going to Syria is understood only in one way — as killing infidels. However, the battle with oneself, the soft version of jihad, is very important for the converts, and that element isn’t present in Christianity.
Next thing — sex. Many people think that extramarital sex is forbidden in Islam but sex itself is very much present in Islam. It’s hard to grasp it but this domination of man over woman, this patriarchal system which has been present in Islam from its very beginning, it’s very attractive for young, frustrated, often not too handsome guys. I remember that — these were experiences of my fellow converts. There were a lot of guys who struggled with these things. If a guy is unattractive, small and has no girlfriend then if he grows a beard, if he surrounds himself with bunch of other guys who constantly say that a woman is inferior, that she’s weaker and needs to be dominated, this builds him up. Some neophytes who wish to go to Syria are lured by the vision of getting sex slaves and concubines, and all those women they will rule over, as it says in the Quran. Also, it’s hard not to underestimate the vision of constant afterlife of sexual pleasures with beautiful virgins, after all it’s something that God has promised.
What in this case attracts women?
We must remember the spiritual side and the faith the converts put in God — there are those who choose the Sufi Islam — these are gentle people, and I know them, too. It’s mystical Islam, it’s not dangerous, it’s non-invasive. Apart from this spiritual aspect, women often convert to Islam because of their Muslim husbands or his family, especially if they are going to live there. They want to feel good, dress up as Muslim women do, not to be the object of interest of other men because a woman believes that if she covers herself up in jellabiya or hijab she usually is safe, no more subject to attacks, unwanted touching etc. although some women do have a certain inclination towards submission.
The word “Islam” means to surrender. It’s a mystical, spiritual surrendering to God. It also depends on how we understand God, it can be a very beautiful thing. However, a large group of converts treat this act of surrender as an act of giving up thinking, critical thinking, and relying on a deity, dogmas and a huge army of believers who act according to those dogmas. It’s an act of joining the brotherhood. And women who feel that “they don’t belong” in a modern world, they have this element present — the element of surrendering to a man, a man who is supposed to provide for everything, whose duty is to provide food for the family, give shelter, take care of the financial side of life. It attracts many women. Apart from of course, I must stress this, natural religious and spiritual needs.
Your Islam is different now — as you said, it’s liberal. Can you say something about this initial period and how come you didn’t go to Syria?
What was my path? I’m quite an open person, always have been. I have been reading books ever since I was a child and the more I grow the more difficult topics I try to tackle. I have studied philosophy, only for my own pleasure, not as a potential profession. I think visiting Egypt played quite a large part in this evolution. Back then my views were not orthodox, but they were conservative and I thought I would find a world of my own there, a world for me and my family. What I saw was something that I could describe as a realistic socialism — a realistic Islam.
Egypt’s community live Islam but in a way different to what I have imagined. Besides, I experienced two revolutions and what was happening after the first one, what was happening during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, it all had its effect on me. I was experiencing this bare, everyday reality of the Muslim community.
Even before the first revolution I saw something that was not my Islam, something that didn’t belong to my spirituality, my mentality, or to what I was accustomed to, something that didn’t relate in any way to how I perceived the world. It’s because I’m a man who has a European mentality, mentality of the West, which of course does not prevent me from accepting any sort of spirituality or religion of the East or Islam. However, the Western way of perceiving world — democratic, open, based on ideas of the age of enlightenment — it clashes with Islam, with the mainstream Islam. There is no connection. It’s like vinegar and alcohol, they may seem similar but they won’t ever meet. Besides, me, a fan of Gombrowicz’s work [a Polish satirist] — I can’t read Gombrowicz and at the same time be a Polish Muslim conservative, can I? (laughing).
Mainstream Islam’s ideas do not at all correlate — in any way, or at least in almost any way — to the Western way of thinking. They do not fit the Western intellectual who I consider myself to be. Although it’s not always like that: Heidegger was a fascist, and so were many other intellectuals and in our country, many great intellectuals were communists.
But eventually they have woken up.
They have woken up but maybe they were just lying to themselves. I was also doing that — in many things that concerned Islam I was lying to myself, I had this wishful thinking I just wanted it to be like this. Many converts are like that too. Somewhere deep inside I felt it’s not like that but all the doubts were being swept away under the carpet because a Muslim should behave like this or like that and should live according to Islam. However, I had this feeling inside me that it clashes with my liberal, democratic way of perceiving the world.
Read the rest at EuroIslam.pl.
His honesty concerning Islam is about as rare as Hen’s teeth. He needs to be very careful to who he says these things.
I think he has diarrhea of the keyboard disease. – Christianity is as simple
as “do unto others as you wish them to do unto you”.
He wants to be a sheep. No more thinking, making decisions; just do as you are told. The most dangerous mindset possible.
He’s also been a druggie- which can addle the brain & appears to have done just that with his ‘brain’.
He just said all those things to the *entire world*. Some of it very helpful to understanding why people convert and go islam-mad, eg “rhythm of dogmas which in my opinion, calms the new convert a lot” and “If a guy is unattractive, small and has no girlfriend then if he grows a beard, if he surrounds himself with bunch of other guys who constantly say that a woman is inferior, that she’s weaker and needs to be dominated, this builds him up.”
Sums it up nicely: ugly confused guys looking for a ‘gang’.
Real Christianity comes from the ‘Word’ not from any man made organised religion that has been deceiving those who wish to believe for over two thousand years.
If he had truly been concerned with finding peace within himself then he could not have picked a worse place to look and take succour than what Islam represents.
so just how many polish muslims does it take to blow up a city bus…
or a market…
or a cinema…
or a train station…
I have no way of knowing if this simply is not a great translation of the original interview, but the way this reads– this guy sounds seriosly confused. If this is how Islam brings order and regulation over the years to the brain of a “Polish intellectual”–one would do better to remain a joint -smoking pot head.
“Perhaps it was also because of my frustrations, I needed a religion that would bring order into my life. I was of course drinking and behaving badly, I wasn’t using many drugs, marijuana more so. I felt lost.”
Well – I, for one, have never used drugs, drunk or behaved “badly”. I adore Greek democracy and philosophy and our Constitution. I have never been lost – just the opposite: I am a tiny but stable particle of the West – its Renaissance, Enlightenment, Christianity.
Nothing to convert to for me. Why people convert in the first place? Is their level of personal insecurity and inner chaos so deep that they need a (arguable) order, system, panacea to their frustration?
Wait … I have actually converted long time ago.
I agree with you! When I read this I thought, how come I never felt this way in all my life? I grew up in a Communist country (which now become the guardian of Christian faith and lead by a conservative government). I was raised atheist (as the state forced it) but great admiration to Christian and Greek/Roman values. I came from a family of great principles which always gave the discipline, honour and sense of duty needed to overcome the challenges I faced. I guess I just not having sympathy for someone who got so many things handed to them and as a result they felt lost… I never had time such nonse, I had to work and support my family!
Haha … I grew up in the same part of the world. My atheism is still quite live, Christianity is for me a highly valuable civilizational asset – rather than a religious conviction … No wonder we think in the same vein.
By all indications, these times are crucial for our beloved West. We must stand behind our President; there is a great article by Robert Spencer (jihadwatch.org) “explaining” why Trump is who he is and why he does what he does. The Constitution is for me on par with a sacred text – actually, it IS sacrosanct for maintaining the miracle of our free society amidst growing totalitarianisms of all stripes.
Countries of V4 show remarkable soberness and audacity when it comes to the guardianship of Western values – Poland and Hungary being the front-runners and showing the rest of (dhimmized) Europe what it means having testicles 🙂 …
Problem is, when Christianity becomes a mere civilizational asset, you are on the way to lose it. It’s either alive, or it’s dead… and it seems it’s dying pretty much everywhere. Now that it’s needed as a bullwark.
I agree about our western writs, but it’s just not enough. Reading Jefferson, I mean. People want stuff that is less intellectual and more of a way of life. Maybe Christianity can become a way of life again, dunno. Would be nice. But I kinda doubt it.
Yes, yes, yes … agree with the losing thing. The worst thing is not the losing itself – the replacement of it with unspeakable savagery masquerading as religion is the result. The global attack on our art, culture, customs, science- name it. That’s what is becoming lost, and that’s what I think you mean by “losing”.
Yeah. I think people need something stronger than just “modernity” peppered with a few old patriotic documents. We should talk more about what it is that needs preserving — what it means to be a Westerner.
Also, with the earlier scoffing at this man for needing order into his life… I once read the biography of a famous American Quaker, and his youth too was misspent with carousing, drinking and the like, hanging with the guys… and what drew him? He was still in London then. Well one day his old buddies run into him on the street, recoil in surprise, and say, oh so you became a Quaker?! In the old days, becoming Quaker meant overhauling your whole life, including the way you dressed, so they knew. And this is precisely what initially appealed to him. The sort of Christianity where just about anything goes… is that really of real use to anyone?
Sorry, nobody can force themselves to believe something. However, as a liberal atheist I accept that Christianity has made huge contributions to our civilisation (including architectural, musical, artistic).
Spot on Vera, this is exactly what is going on. But it is going to take a lot more everyday pain to get the Western Europeans on their knees again. But what to do after that when you realize the pope, bishops and priests behind the monastery fortresses don’t think Islam is the enemy of Christianity any more.
On this point that the interview raised:
“However, the battle with oneself, the soft version of jihad, is very important for the converts, and that element isn’t present in Christianity.”
I must point out that this assertion about Christianity is quite untrue, and if this is part of what moved this gentleman to take up Islam, he was horribly deceived. In Orthodox Christianity, the ascetic side of the tradition is alive and well, and I’m dismayed that he missed this fact in all of the research that he apparently did. It’s not exactly a secret, either. We are observing Great Lent right now, and that contains the ‘battle with oneself’ every day, even more so than normally.
I grant, knowing from my own observation, that this aspect is represented more weakly in the Protestant and Catholic strains of the faith, and since, as he says, he came from the Catholic side of it, maybe this was the background to his assertion. But it offends me a little that such a careless and inaccurate statement could be made by someone who clearly has intelligence enough to learn otherwise. On the other hand, I find no malice in the error – such mistakes are common enough in this world.
That’s what hit me also. Apparently their Catholic Priest was all too happy with his congregation drinking and on drugs, and this is the result. The result of “not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings”. Which I find commonplace in Roman Catholic Churches.
Thank you for stating this so clearly and honestly.
Perhaps there is a tiny spark of Light in this man’s soul that has not been put out, which seems to show some inner conflict stated in the interview.
Holy New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke pray for us!
Yes, it struck me as odd that he accepted as genuine the “greater jihad” idea which is in reality fake while not noticing the real counterpart of self examination and improvement in Christianity. Explained to some extent I suppose by his adolescent rebellion against the particular experience of Christianity he grew up with.
He sounds like he’s still lost. Not just spiritually, but intellectually. He was quite incoherent on a number of points. I still don’t know why he joined Islam other than for the forced disciplines that supposedly helped him regulate himself.
It sounds to me like he joined up because forced marriage (which is part of Islam) was the only way he could get a wife.Clearly therefore those of us who are actually quite attractive to the opposite sex have no need to convert to Islam.
We can find girlfriends /wives without having to buy them at the marketplace or from their fathers or imams.
Exactly–Christianity was ‘morally oppressive’, so he took up Islam. I think it’s called thinking with Brain B.
But this intellectual Muslim will always obey the wishes of Allah.
Which were present when he first took the Shadaha ..
And what are the wishes of Allah ??
That everyone should submit to the wishes of Allah.
Good to bump into you again bob e. I see you still haven’t upgraded your musket. Hope all’s well with you.
The poles should keep a close eye on this fool and his associates.
What a mess. Is this a Polish joke or what?
I bet the guy missed this part of the Bible, and not only this one:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
The only minor “aha” moment I got out of this “revert” is that guys who join this cult are puny and ugly and cannot get laid. This actually confirms my impression that most of “them” seem all so butt-ugly ! Centuries of inbreeding will do this.
He said: “….I needed a religion that would bring order into my life….”
I’d like to ask him, how many segments of toilet paper he is allowed, if any at all. And if not, how does his allah suggest/order he wipe his derrière – which hand ?
Dear Baron, feel free to not publish my little outbreak, I’m just so islamed out and these people really really really irritate me – converts even more so. Hmmmmppppfffff
Left hand is the toilet paper hand; at least it was fifty years ago when my
husband was stationed over there in the Air Force – back when SAC had
a base on the Russian border. – You did not wave with the left hand; it
was considered an insult by the Turks.
Thanks Twinkie King. I shall remember, as soon as I come some of Adolf Erdogan’s fans, to wave to them with my left hand.
I heard (but lost the source) that “they” are allowed to use 13 sheets of toilet paper, elsewhere I heard they are not allowed any toilet paper at all …… I dont know how this kind of preoccupation reflects on me….but I used to eat take away Kebabs… I dont any longer.
This guy is out of his mind! If he wanted order in his life he could’ve simply started taking Christianity seriously. Every religion is supposed to bring order into a person’s life, that’s one of the major points. Yet out of all the avaiable choices he picks the one that slaughters thousands upon thousands, if not millions of people every year worldwide – perhaps he’s just lying to himself because he’s too scared to leave after realizing this
Or he could have just decided which values to live by and which daily rhythms felt healthy. Like most people do. I don’t need religion for that, though I do try to live by the golden rule.
Obviously, but never in my post was I talking about disciplined people, the man in the article is clearly one of those that need someone else to establish order in his life and unfortunately he went for one of the worst choices avaiable.
” the convert. He feels very powerful, feels the backup of the community, which, right now, amounts to about a million and a half”
Huh? Not a billion and a half? Did Mr. Kawlas misspeak? Is “million” a mistranslation of the number in Polish?
And when Mr. Kawlas signed up with Islam, did he know about the death penalty for leaving the 1.5-billion-member worldwide ummah? Does he know about it now? A quick scan of http://english.euroislam.pl/ibrahim-kalwas-polish-muslim-liberal/ shows no indication that either he or his interviewer brought up this fascinating subject.
The article made a mistake. I saw that too. But in another place got it right.
It sound to me that it is the lost inadequate people who are drawn to the totalitarian belief. They actually want and desire something to take responsibility for them, regulate their thoughts and dictate their life. Because they are not strong enough emotionally, and intellectually, to do it for themselves. A crutch indeed, which is also a straightjacket.
Why would anyone believe the words of a 7th century Arab tribal supremacist? Insane!
This is merely proof that it is impossible to have 39 million Poles without a single nutjob among them.
The interview with Ibrahim Kalwas shows that Islam can appeal to people who are too disorganized and chaotic to voluntarily structure their lives in the ways they wish. They cannot on their own stop drinking, using drugs, or learn the social graces to interact meaningfully with a person of the opposite sex.
Instead, the Muslim convert plugs into a system providing a sense of self, of male superiority for no reason other than being a male, a method of eating, sleeping, and thinking. Also, their new religion organizes their day for them, requiring the discipline of prayer five times.
Now, here’s a question. The Muslim convert voluntarily gives up his freedom of will and freedom to choose. So, what keeps the convert from being a violent jihadi, rather than the “soft” jihadi Ibrahim Kalwas describes himself as? Only pure, blind luck. Since he has by his own admission, given up his own will and his critical thinking, he only has to run into a jihadi imam and voila, a violent jihadi is born. By his own admission, any relation to critical thinking from his past study of philosophy is only for his own amusement, like working a crossword puzzle. Logic and ethics no longer play any part in his life decisions, as he is swept along with the mass-think of the Islamic umah.
Parenthetically, he sounds like an aficionado of the world of Gor, a fantasy world I occasionally imbibe, which considers all women as secret slaves, and all actions to be guided by external codes rather than by any internal conscience.
But, Gor is fantasy and Islam is real.
I remember my catechism for Confirmation in the Roman Catholic Church taught by my grade school principal, Sister Margaret Mary. I remember the discussion about living among the temptations of a secular society and Sister pointing out how American Catholics choose to live according to their faith in spite of all the temptations readily and legally available to them in the United States. She was trying to point out how meaningful it was to live in a free society and still use your free will to walk the better path in life. It always seemed to me that was more meaningful and spiritual than a situation where every decision and choice was pre-structured and made for you.
What a fantastic educational experience. Your teacher actually discussed free will and choice. It sounds like one in a million. Thanks for sharing that.
If he wanted an ascetic life, he could have chosen Jainism. Contrast the lives of Mahavira and Mohammed to understand the motivations of the latter’s followers.
I had a college roommate that was Jain. Nice young woman, nice family, kind to animals. I’d be happy to be neighbors.
You ain’t gonna have no westernity with out those few old patriotic documents ,you will have no freedom , as this documents gets torn away piece by piece that’s how our freedoms will go.then this guy may really know what he …got himself into/gave up.
People who say this guy’s thinking is muddled are missing the point. Yes, it may well be muddled… as is the thinking of many people. But surely the fact that he is willing to become circumspect and think realistically about the religion he joined is something to be celebrated?
I have a Polish friend from school, who converted to Islam… and would be quite pleased if he was as willing to look at his religion from a different angle, as the convert here.
I was thinking about Islam just today. I work in suburban twin cities Mn. I come across muslims and when I do, invariably I think – when are they going to give up this charade? They are not assimilating. Do they want to walk around in our weather extremes dressed like extras in ” Lawrence of Arabia ” forever?
The women don’t get enough vitamin D. They’re dark and only their faces are uncovered.
No one is impressed. We whites are impressed by Mexicans. They work hard. Roofing, sheet rocking, hard labor- they’ll do it. I don’t worry about them – they’ll get by. They’re tough. In the last analysis a little Aztec / Mayan grit might be beneficial for the USA. Somalis? No. They are wacky cult types. Sooner or later they will have to give up the [pretense]. The men don’t have any macho and the women have no style. They are drab, dull people.
He’s not telling me anything I didn’t know already. I skipped to the last paragraph of the article.
“Islam as a religion needs to be completely reformed from top to bottom. If this doesn’t happen it will continue to be a system enclosed in its shell. It will continue to threaten the world and it will be in an even greater conflict with the modern world, the world that changes so fast that this archaic, non-reformed world of Islam will need to go into even greater conflict with. I don’t know if this means war conflict but we are talking about 1,5 billion people, . . . ”
Well yes, it will mean war. He’s still lying to himself.
Many thanks to GoV for publishing this. It provides insights into so many things about Islam and Muslims from conversion to Arab supremacism. I kept waiting for the explanation of why he is still a Muslim, having seen through so much of it, but it never came.
In summary, the Religion of Peace appeals to ignorant, weak-minded people incapable of running their own lives. Their power and influence derives from the world’s largest street gang’s constant threat of violence over the smallest slight to their ideology.
How did I do? What do I win?
This is a bit late for this party, but I suggest this person never knew Christ, or Christianity. Witness Matthew 7:13
Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
(14) Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
(15) Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. – This is the direct warning – from Christ himself about Muhammed 600 years before he created his false religion.
(16) Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? – the definition of “islam”.
(17) Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. – more about “islam”.
(20) Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
It’s unfortunate this guy is taking the wide path to destruction, along with so many others, but it is a path he and all the others on the wide path chose.