If you're short on funds and think you know more about religion than a former Utah jihadi turned self-professed man of peace -- have we got a deal for you!
Iranian-born Nader Pourhassan
will pay $1,000 to anyone who can find mentions in the Koran of 26 verses many assume just must
be in there, somewhere. Among the verses you'll be a grand richer if you can locate:
- Any rule mandating women cover their hair or heads in public;
- Dictums that Muslims must pray in Arabic;
- Rules prohibiting dancing
- Rules mandating Muslims fast for the entire month of Ramadan
The first item on that list is of particular concern to Pourhassan; his sister was recently beaten in Tehran when too much of her hair was showing.
Rules like this, he says, are not to be actually found in the Koran but were imposed by "men to oppress women," says Purhassan, in San Francisco this week to promote his latest book, God's Scripture
. "I challenge the religious leaders to [show me] why this shouldn't be a woman's choice."
Regarding fasting on Ramadan, he claims the notion Muslims are supposed to fast every day is brought about by a mistranslation; the actual words, he says, only imply "a few days" fasting. "Most muslims get sick very badly in that month," he says. "The number of traffic accidents is very high."
Pourhassan left Iran in 1978 when he wsa 14; he says he was "a fanatical Muslim" up until his 20s. After settling in Utah, he returned to his homeland in the 1980s and volunteered to fight in the Iran-Iraq war -- but, he says, was told it would benefit the revolution more if he finished his engineering education in the United States and then used what he learned "against the United States." Instead, he met and married a Catholic woman -- they were both fish out of water at Brigham Young University. That marriage didn't last, but it did lead Pourhassan to examine the basis of his "fanatical" beliefs and become a religious autodidact.
Today he calls himself a "Christian-Muslim," believing equally in both religions. This designation, incidentally, puts him in a precarious position. His mother, still in Iran, showed Pourhassan's writings to her religious leader. His response: Pourhassan is going to hell, and and this trip should be expedited as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, Christians who revel in his love of Jesus turn against him when he disagrees that Islam is evil.
"If you say the Koran is an evil book, the Old Testament can be compared the same way," he says.