Thursday, March 6, 2014

Muslims, Mata Amrithanandamayi & Gail Tredwell's Holy Hell


             Those acquainted with the small piece of land called Kerala in South India are witnessing an uproar regarding a “character” popularly known as Mata Amrithanandamayi aka “The Hugging Saint” aka Amma (meaning: Mom); an individual considered to be a God incarnate. She has followers numbering in the millions across the world from various ethnicities, cultures, financial and educational backgrounds.

"Amma" courtesy of Futurama

            As of recently, the devotees of the “hugging saint” are enraged over a recently published book called Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness by Gail “Gayathri” Tredwell; she is an Australian white woman who converted and became a a very close devotee of Amma for 20 years before abandoning her in 1999. Gail’s book has accused Mata Amrithanandamayi of fraud, sexual exploitation and corruption. Gail has also reported that she had been raped by male priests very prominent in Amma’s ashramam (meaning: monastery).

The real face of Amma?

            For western readers, it is not much of a surprise that those in the divinity-business have two-faces. However, such skepticism has still not taken root in the public conscience of Indian believers and as expected the faithful devotees of Amma have denounced Gail Tredwell and have suggested various conspiracies from Hinduphobia to Hidden Christian agenda to Unrequited Love to Insanity.

            Now, where do Muslims come into this picture? Muslims are a minority population in Kerala and since their religion demands it, they are opposed to these cults developed around “holy-men”; the reason being of course, that for Muslims, Prophet Muhammad has eternally copyrighted God’s access to mankind. So for orthodox Muslims, all present personality-cults across the world are to be dismissed because only Muhammad’s personality-cult from 1400 years ago is valid. Therefore, Muslims are quite overjoyed over Gail Tredwell’s revelations with most of them going “I told you so!!!”.

            I come from Kerala’s minority Muslim population and this affair has been a topic of conversation among many of my family members and their friends. The purpose of this post is to highlight my thoughts on how the very people who remain skeptical and rational about other religious cults are unable to reflect the same questions onto their own beliefs. Here are some of the most ironic points (rephrased) made by Muslims regarding this matter;

1) “Amma’s followers are brainless-brainwashed sheep. If they could think rationally for a moment they would abandon her cult”. – The person who said this is the kind of guy who says “Qur'an is from God because it says so in the Qur’an”

2) “These followers will rationalize anything away in order to protect their belief in Amma” – Yet this person rationalizes away many of Muhammad’s actions (marriage to Aisha, Zaynab, warfare etc) in order to protect his belief in Islam.

3) “Amma and her cult are very influential, both politically and financially, and thus will try to silence those who try to tell the truth and only popularize whatever they want others to hear.” – The same person thinks early Islamic history is credible and that it wasn't a case of the winners writing their own history the way they wanted it to be heard.

4) “Gail Tredwell must have been a very naïve white woman to have fallen for such a cult. There are many such whites who are clueless and turn to India desperate for a religion.” – The same person does not think this is the case with the many clueless western converts to Islam.

5) “More people would leave Amma if they didn’t have to fear persecution” – The same person thinks killing apostates from Islam is justified (but only under nations implementing Sharia – what a relief!)

6) “Why don’t these people at least use their brain and question their beliefs about Amma’s divinity” – The same person has not questioned why he believes the words coming out of Muhammad’s mouth are the words of God. 

7) “Amma’s followers believe she has never had a period because she is a God incarnate in a state of perpetual purity. How stupid are they?” – The same person does not question the miracle stories around Muhammad and Qur’an and also does not reflect on the fact that Muslim women are prohibited from praying, reciting the Qur’an loudly,  fasting, circling Kaaba, staying in the mosque etc, during her menses because Islam considers it an unclean state.

8) "The Amma cult is prosecuting the journalists reporting on the controversy. Shouldn't there be freedom of press and expression" - The most speechless I have felt. The same person wouldn't think twice about putting anyone who criticizes or satirizes Muhammad behind bars.

9) "The Amma followers believe that Amma became a God-incarnate in her teenage. How could anyone believe such absurdities " - The same person believes Jesus talked as an infant and other such miraculous stories

10) "The followers of Amma are trying to silence/murder those who leave their faith. They must be very insecure." - The same person believes apostates from Islam should be killed because they are committing treason. 

            These Muslims, are astonished by those sincere individuals who are part of personality-cults. Muslims wonder why these individuals don’t see they are in a cult and why they don’t question what they are told in the cult.

            Dear Muslims, they do not see they are in a cult for the same reason you do not see you are in a cult. They do not question what they are told in the cult for the same reason you do not question what you are told in your cult. Therefore, as a remedy to this quandary, Start Questioning...


  1. You are not a Muslim because it is pretty obvious you do not know Islam and have not read the Qur'an with broad and critical mind.

    1. When the Qur'an says it is from Allah, it also provides evidence to ponder upon. Like how can prophet Muhammad be the author of the Qur'an when he was not even learned? How can a person who cannot read nor write produce a book that is way beyond in literary excellence of his time? Perhaps you need to read the Qur'an and actually study it not just listen to random maulana who spew hatred and ignorance...

    2. Muslims do not rationalize ANYTHING to protect Islam...Islam needs no protection because it is so rational. There is no mystery in Islamic teachings. What you call rationalizing is actually LOGICAL EXPLANATION to elucidate some points to islamophobes and ignorant people like you. If you just care to read more about the writings of Muslim scholars in the past centuries, you will find them not RATIONALIZING but rather LOGICALLY explaining things and events to make them accessible to close-minded people.

    3. History is written by the winners not by the losers. If you believe history as the one and only truth then it is you who is misguided not the historians. Duh?

    4. There are no clueless white converts to Islam. Most converts are educated and studied islam for years before making decision to convert. You might not know this because you are living in Kerala...duh?

    5. In Islam there is not killing of apostates. If some Muslims do, then do not blame the religion. Common sense.

    6. Muslims are urged by Allah to use their brain. In fact IJTIHAD is a science of using logic and common sense to understand Islamic principles. You dont know this???? Duh? So basic!

    7. Having menstruation does not make a woman unclean but in unclean state as you say. Even a man who has a gushing blood coming out of his body cannot perform the things you just mentioned. Duh?

    I just find your argument so hilarious. And yet you claim to be a Muslim??? Duh? Have you even read the Qur'an???

    Study Islam first and then criticize it. How can you criticize something you do not have any iota of idea???

    Common sense anyone????

    1. Hello Khalid,

      I am not a Muslim. I am an ex-Muslim. I have read the Qur'an multiple times and I can bet I know it better than you.

      1. Illiteracy does not mean he was retarded. Much of works of the ancient world were the works of illiterate which survived through oral communication. Claims of "supernatural literary genre" and such are only part of Islamic dogma and have no basis in reality.

      2. That is the very definition of "ad-hoc" rationalization.

      3. ? What?

      4. I actually live in America and from my own experience, many of the western converts are clueless and amny even end up leaving after learning some more. Not saying everyone is...

      5. Apostacy law has consensus in Sunni fiqh. Go read about it;

      6. Now use it see how circular your reasoning is.

      7, "...but in unclean state". That was the point I was making.

      Again, didn't claim to be a muslim, Have read the Qur'an multiple times. I left Islam after studying it.

    2. Thanks for posting my reply...

      Did I ever say illiteracy means being retarded? The fact that the man cannot read and write and yet he was able to produce a book, is already something to reflect upon.

      If you have read the Qur'an many times as you say, and is claiming to know better than me, the surely you just read but did not understand. There is a big difference between reading and comprehending what you read.

      And now you are saying you are an ex Muslim yet you wrote you COME from Kerala's minority Muslim about that?

      Anyway I replied to your ranting about Muslims' inability to "think" believing you were sincere, but reading your reply made me realize that you are not interested in any dialogue at all but rather you are so engross in bashing Islam and Muslims and proving them wrong.

      Good luck to that. Thousands have done that and yet Islam is still spreading, growing and being embraced by millions of people in the West and in the East. You are just wasting your time. Instead of attacking Islam and Muslims, would it be better when you help the poor in your neighborhood instead?

      Not because attacking Islam is the fad this days, you would do the same. And honestly it does not make you in anyway more intelligent or rational. Pretty obvious...

      Peace be unto you!

    3. 1) I ask again how illiteracy is relevant? (Assuming Islamic narrative is accurate) Muhammad spoke, was memorized or written down by scribes, and later compiled into a mushaf. Illiteracy has no relevance here. Again, the vast majority of people of antiquity were illiterate and their works were recorded through oral transmission. (See vid -

      2) Anyone could say that one read but didn't comprehend. I prefer to soar over such childish and fallacious escapist copouts

      3) Yes, as in I ethnically/culturally come from the Muslim community of Kerala. But I have left the religion of Islam. Get the difference?

      4) That is your opinion. In fact, it seems to me that you are the insincere one who refuse to engage rationally and coherently (that was pretty evident from your juvenile tone in the first comment)

      5) Again, just your opinion and has no basis in reality.

      6) I am criticizing Islam because that is my religious background and what I know most about; much the same way how apostates from other religions criticize the faiths they left. I never said this makes anyone more "intelligent or rational"; intelligence and rationality is wholly independent of whatever task you do. It is acquired on its own.

      Ma' Salama

    4. *that WAS my religious background

    5. Funny really...

      1. The fact that prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) was
      illiterate is vital to our discussion. Yes the sahabahs wrote down what the prophet dictated but what is vital here is the message/the book itself not how it was transmitted. Duh? The fact that the Qur'an is the basis of the complex Arabic grammar is just mind blowing! How can an illiterate person produce a book that is highly sophisticated in literary sense?

      2. Being a Muslim is not having an ETHNIC AND CULTURE affiliation. Islam is a religion and not a geographical location which you can associate ethnicity and culture. Duh? Are you for real?

      3. You can criticize Islam but do it honestly and with proof and evidence.

      4. You say many converts are clueless? How did you know? Did you test their knowledge? When and how and what method did you use? And you said many of them leave Islam...10? 100? 1000? How many? Where is your proof? Duh? Speaking and claiming out of thin air without solid proof?

      5. The word is ma'a assalaamah...what is ma'salama? LOL ...MA' in Arabic is water and MA'A is with...salama? You mean salami the food? Its salamah, the feminine word for salam...and it is salaamah because the letter or hurof is alif not ayn so its long...the mere fact that you cannot even write the proper phrase that is so basic in Islam makes me wonder if what knowledge of Islam and Qur'an you are trying ti insist you know better than me? My Arabic Qur'an, you know bettser than me? Are you serious?

      I am in doubt if you will post this reply...why not make the comment open and no need for your approval...are you scared or something?

      Ma'a assalaamah...

    6. Assuming you are the same person as Khalid

      1.) You said, "The fact that the Qur'an is the basis of the complex Arabic grammar is just mind blowing!. How can an illiterate person produce a book that is highly sophisticated in literary sense?". That just means you are gullible if such historically contingent factors "blow" your mind. Arabic was not standardized at the time of Muhammad so various dialects existed and none could be said to be the "correct" one since there was no standardization. Due to the importance of the Qur'an for Muslims, later Arabic Grammarians based the standardization of grammar based on mostly the Qur'an or whatever was in the Qur'an. This is an entirely circular process and rational minds can see it. But i guess such innocuous stuff are enough to "blow" your credulous mind.

      2.) That is a great ideal. Now if you could come back to reality, it is a very common thing to describe what geographical location one's Muslim community is from. (Are you for real with such a question?)

      3.) I believe I have provided evidences where necessary in my writings. You can check my references on my other posts.

      4.) Like I said, I am speaking from my own experience and when you talk to someone and they appear ignorant of any deeper knowledge and only know the surface dawahganda spouted by the likes of Naik, it is a fair conclusion that they are clueless.

      5.) Clearly that is what I was saying. Transliterating, as far as I know, does not have any particular standard. (Jeez just how petty are you).

      I regulate comments because I started to get spam or Muslim apologists started to copy/paste entire webpages or others started to troll.

      Your comment was petty, rude and lacks substance and if this is just gonna go in circles, I don't have any interest in continuing. Grow up a bit first and learn how to discuss like adults rather than children on the playground ...

    7. *Go here and you will find plenty of ex-converts and their posts