They say curiosity killed the cat. Now while I don’t know if that’s true, I do know one thing for sure. It did kill a good deal of ignorance in my head and gave me seriously torturous headaches along the way, but all of this has been a blessing in disguise.
Truth be told, now, after the dust has settled, I’ve never felt happier or more liberated mentally. There’s a lot I want to say now that this reboot is officially done and complete.
And what better way is there to start the new direction of this blog than to explain the following taken from my, ehm, Bio of Awesomeness.
Traditionalist Muslim, Turned Rationalist Agnostic Free Thinking Sufi. Social Media Consultant to NY Times Best-Selling Authors. Author of Upcoming “Heretical” Book on Islam and New Media. Belief Systems Junkie. Afro-Arab Libertarian Music Freak. Vehemently Anti-Islamist. Loud and Drop Dead Gorgeous. The High Priest of Mischievous “Blasphemy.” Read on and Have Your Brain Spun. You’ve Been Warned!
I believe for old time readers who’ve known me and witnessed my evolution from the start, the above might be puzzling or even outright shocking.
Believe me, I would have never – ever – imagined ending up with my current frame of mind when I wrote my first blog post in April 2006. But the pursuit of one’s passion and ideas for their own sake, it seems, can lead one down unexpected rabbit holes.
It’s hard for me to remember precisely when and which triggers caused what. However, there are three distinct phases I went through that brought me to where I am today. Below, I share them briefly.
Phase 1 – Blogging Darfur (and the Rude Awakening)
As some of you know, what mainly pushed me to start blogging was my disappointment at the absence of any Sudanese bloggers when I stumbled upon this gold mine called blogosphere. Pretty much, all countries in the region around Sudan had their political blog communities, but not Sudan itself. I elaborate a little on that in this interview which I did very recently:
… there were no Sudanese bloggers to be found anywhere at the time, at least not any that I’ve heard of even after so much searching. I thought it was a shame because people needed to hear about Darfur first and foremost, from Sudanese themselves.
I was ticked off by this, but then realized I was being a hypocritical idiot for bitching and whining about this whole ordeal. “Screw it,” I thought to myself. “Just go ahead and be the ‘first’ Sudanese blogger. At least you’ll have first mover advantage, and you can try what’s possible to correct all the misconceptions surrounding the Darfur conflict,” the voice in my head continued.
And so it all began.
From 20 daily visitors, to 35, 100, 400 and eventually a few thousand. I blogged mainly about Sudan and the readership grew, but something else also happened.
I was confronted by some difficult truths I had not known. Many were related to political matters and things like secularism, democracy, US foreign policy and the Jewish people, which I also began blogging more about.
It was a rude awakening.
Phase 2 – The Political Confrontation (and the Convergence)
I began confronting the glaring political flashes that shook my worldview, unaware at the time that I was avoiding much of the religious ones.
Again, slowly but surely, the liberating evolution continued.
At the time, I was also approaching my final year in university, and I had to choose a major, so I picked one related to social media, a choice that was most certainly influenced by my addiction to blogging and the internet.
Moreover, when the time came, I also chose the subject of blogging as a means of knowledge sharing within organizational contexts for my final year project.
Needless to say, both internal and external examiners were so impressed with what I came up with and the empirical evidence which backed it up, that my project was selected as the best in my entire group, and I was handpicked to present my findings at an international conference.
It was a fun good time, because an exciting convergence began happening in my head.
You see, an obstacle I faced during my research was answering the question of how one can manage knowledge in an organization if one can’t even define what knowledge is in the first place.
Moreover, like Peter Drucker said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
So, I looked around and found case studies to resolve my challenge along with other stuff, but one thing in particular stood out – epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge. It fell from my the sky right smack on my head at a super relevant time in which I was struggling with finding that ever elusive “Truth.”
Finally, I had a way of assessing the crazy, diverse opinions in the blogosphere in a way that was more objective than anything I’ve ever known. Finally, I had a way of making sense of tiring and circular religious discussions, which was based on a rational intellectually honest framework. Finally, it “all” began converging together.
The discussions I regularly have with my dad, a Professor who teaches sociology. The books I consumed about philosophy, the social construction of knowledge, marketing, social psychology, the democratization of knowledge and publishing powered by the revolution of online new media, democracy, human rights, faith Vs reason, moral relativism.
You name it.
It all started converging together, and it was absolutely orgasmic, but there was still one problem.
Phase 3 – The Religious Confrontation (and the Divergence)
By early 2008, I was quite satisfied with the conclusions I’ve reached in regards to political matters. What remained were the religious questions I had been dismissing for too long but which were now staring me in the face.
I feared them, because facing them with intellectual honesty meant entertaining the possibility that what I was taught growing up could be wrong. Being wrong or right about things like US foreign policy or constitutionalism is not the kind of thing that can have a huge impact on one’s life. But entertaining the idea that one’s religious beliefs could be wrong has huge consequences in virtually all aspects of one’s life, if one does indeed discover one is wrong.
There was no running away.
I had to confront the religious questions, and trust me. It was not easy. In fact, psychologically speaking, it was one of the most difficult periods I’ve ever had to endure in my entire life. Long story short, I now have happily diverged away from the broken, dry, and archaic traditionalist approach to Islam. (I like liberal Muslim theologians better, because they value reason more).
Also by early 2008, I had already decided that I had so much bottled up inside of me, I simply needed to get it out, and so the idea for my book was born.
Time passed by, I got busier and as a result this blog suffered, but I gained a lot in the process. I managed to spend ample time away from excessively and aimlessly swimming throughout the blogosphere and read lots of diversely opinionated books on Islam, philosophy, mysticism and atheism instead. From Al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd and Reza Aslan to Ibn Warraq, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.
It’s been good torturous fun for my head.
And it’s going to be even way more fun once I start revealing to you what I’ve digested and synthesized. Lots of things on the way people, and I look forward to tearing down into pieces certain religious ideas and mounting a serious “heretical” rational challenge to them.
On a related note, I’ve also become deeply fascinated – not to mention extremely disturbed – by what goes on in jihadist forums on the internet. I began visiting them out of a desire to have some relevant research material for my book.
Seriously, some of these forums are disturbing, the kind of disturbing that won’t make you sleep so peacefully at night.
Lastly, in 2008, I also graduated university and ditched lucrative job offers from Fortune 500 companies, to join instead an awesome company that works with some of the biggest best-selling authors in the entire world.
After undergoing the relevant company-sponsored training, I found myself doing social media consulting directly with some of these best-selling authors or their employees and building good relationships with them. Thanks to my experience observing the psychological dynamics in the blogosphere, I picked up the necessary knowledge fast and intuitively, and rose to become a specialist at the field.
And as all of that happened, this blog continued suffering, and didn’t receive the attention it deserved. Heck, I never even bothered implementing for this very online initiative of mine all the knowledge I taught to my clients, which bugged the crap out of me. This will no longer be the case, and that’s why this reboot was necessary.
Drima has a lot on his mind that he wants to speak and expertise he needs to implement here, and he shall begin doing so more frequently.
So, what now?
Well, there it is all above in a nutshell. Blogging literally redefined me and the path I’ve chosen to take in life. From the major I chose in university, to my selected career path, and my evolved worldview, blogging here in this very space has been hugely responsible for that….
… and I have you the readers and fellow bloggers to thank. I would also like to give a special thank you to Esra’a from MideastYouth and Tim from Freedoms Zone for all the technical behind the scenes help.
Server side hosting and programming issues aren’t really my strong points, but I learned a lot of cool techie things during the transition period.
Anyways, stick around to learn more about my upcoming book, and stay tuned for what’s to come: Heresy in all its beautiful progressive glory.
And please, do always know that whenever you read something which may offend you, that I’m not being offensive on purpose. That is not my intention. Mine is to simply provoke interesting discussions and speak my own “heretical” thoughts. And as I do that, I’m open to learning from yours.
Less fear. Less unexamined faith. More reason.
Have a good day everyone!
Drima Abu Hamdan Ibn Zandaqa – liberated blogger and agnostic Sufi mystic