Book Excerpt:What about your family, Abu Huwa? Are you an orphan?” the little girl very innocently asked the Sphinx.“My father and your father are one and the same. However, I do have a brother who has stood as my mirror throughout time on the opposite horizon. It is I who faces east, but it is he who faces west. I am the recorder of yesterday and he holds the records of tomorrow. I am the positive, and he is my negative. I carry the right eye of the sun and he carries the left eye of the moon. He keeps his eye on the underworld and I keep an eye on the world over. Together we have joined the sky and earth, and split fire and water.”Seham stood on all toes to peek over the Sphinx's shoulder for a sign of his brother. “Where is he?” she asked, her eyes still searching the open horizon.“He has yet to be uncovered, but as I stand above the sands of time, he still sleeps below. Before the descent of Adam, we have both stood as loyal Protectors of the Two Halls of Truth.”The girl asked in astonishment, “I've never heard of these halls, Abu Huwa. Where are they?”“At the end of each of our tails is a passage that will reveal to you the secrets of Time. One hall reflects a thousand truths, and the other hall reflects all that is untrue. One will speak to your heart, and the other will speak to your mind. This is why you need to use both your heart and mind to understand which one is real, and which is a distorted illusion created to misguide those that have neglected their conscience. Both passageways connect you to the Great Hall of Records.”“What is the Hall of Records?”“The Great Pyramid, my child. It is as multidimensional in its shape as it is in its purpose. Every layer and every brick marks the coming of a prophet, the ascension of evil, or another cycle of man. It contains the entire history and future of mankind. And, as is above, so is below. Above ground, it serves as the most powerful energy source to harmonize and power the world! The shape of the pyramid above ground is also the same image mirrored beneath it. Underground, it serves as a powerful well and drain. This is really why Egypt is called the Land of Two Lands. There exists a huge world of its own underneath the plateau, a world within worlds. Large amounts of gold, copper and mercury were once housed here, including the secrets of Time, the 100th name of He Who Is All, and a gift from Truth that still awaits to be discovered. It sleeps with Time in the Great Pyramid, hidden away in a lower shaft that leads to the stars.”Dialogue from 'The Little Girl and the Sphinx' by Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun (Dar-El Shams, 2010)

~ Suzy Kassem

If the Pentateuch be true, religious persecution is a duty. The dungeons of the Inquisition were temples, and the clank of every chain upon the limbs of heresy was music in the ear of God. If the Pentateuch was inspired, every heretic should be destroyed; and every man who advocates a fact inconsistent with the sacred book, should be consumed by sword and flame.In the Old Testament no one is told to reason with a heretic, and not one word is said about relying upon argument, upon education, nor upon intellectual development—nothing except simple brute force. Is there to-day a christian who will say that four thousand years ago, it was the duty of a husband to kill his wife if she differed with him upon the subject of religion? Is there one who will now say that, under such circumstances, the wife ought to have been killed? Why should God be so jealous of the wooden idols of the heathen? Could he not compete with Baal? Was he envious of the success of the Egyptian magicians? Was it not possible for him to make such a convincing display of his power as to silence forever the voice of unbelief? Did this God have to resort to force to make converts? Was he so ignorant of the structure of the human mind as to believe all honest doubt a crime? If he wished to do away with the idolatry of the Canaanites, why did he not appear to them? Why did he not give them the tables of the law? Why did he only make known his will to a few wandering savages in the desert of Sinai? Will some theologian have the kindness to answer these questions? Will some minister, who now believes in religious liberty, and eloquently denounces the intolerance of Catholicism, explain these things; will he tell us why he worships an intolerant God? Is a god who will burn a soul forever in another world, better than a christian who burns the body for a few hours in this? Is there no intellectual liberty in heaven? Do the angels all discuss questions on the same side? Are all the investigators in perdition? Will the penitent thief, winged and crowned, laugh at the honest folks in hell? Will the agony of the damned increase or decrease the happiness of God? Will there be, in the universe, an eternal auto da fe?

~ Robert G. Ingersoll

Some Christian lawyers—some eminent and stupid judges—have said and still say, that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all law.Nothing could be more absurd. Long before these commandments were given there were codes of laws in India and Egypt—laws against murder, perjury, larceny, adultery and fraud. Such laws are as old as human society; as old as the love of life; as old as industry; as the idea of prosperity; as old as human love.All of the Ten Commandments that are good were old; all that were new are foolish. If Jehovah had been civilized he would have left out the commandment about keeping the Sabbath, and in its place would have said: 'Thou shalt not enslave thy fellow-men.' He would have omitted the one about swearing, and said: 'The man shall have but one wife, and the woman but one husband.' He would have left out the one about graven images, and in its stead would have said: 'Thou shalt not wage wars of extermination, and thou shalt not unsheathe the sword except in self-defence.'If Jehovah had been civilized, how much grander the Ten Commandments would have been.All that we call progress—the enfranchisement of man, of labor, the substitution of imprisonment for death, of fine for imprisonment, the destruction of polygamy, the establishing of free speech, of the rights of conscience; in short, all that has tended to the development and civilization of man; all the results of investigation, observation, experience and free thought; all that man has accomplished for the benefit of man since the close of the Dark Ages—has been done in spite of the Old Testament.

~ Robert G. Ingersoll

Not one word was said by Moses or Aaron as to the wickedness of depriving a human being of his liberty. Not a word was said in favor of liberty. Not the slightest intimation that a human being was justly entitled to the product of his own labor. Not a word about the cruelty of masters who would destroy even the babes of slave mothers. It seems to me wonderful that this God did not tell the king of Egypt that no nation could enslave another, without also enslaving itself; that it was impossible to put a chain around the limbs of a slave, without putting manacles upon the brain of the master. Why did he not tell him that a nation founded upon slavery could not stand? Instead of declaring these things, instead of appealing to justice, to mercy and to liberty, he resorted to feats of jugglery. Suppose we wished to make a treaty with a barbarous nation, and the president should employ a sleight-of-hand performer as envoy extraordinary, and instruct him, that when he came into the presence of the savage monarch, he should cast down an umbrella or a walking stick, which would change into a lizard or a turtle; what would we think? Would we not regard such a performance as beneath the dignity even of a president? And what would be our feelings if the savage king sent for his sorcerers and had them perform the same feat? If such things would appear puerile and foolish in the president of a great republic, what shall be said when they were resorted to by the creator of all worlds? How small, how contemptible such a God appears!

~ Robert G. Ingersoll

As to the 'Left' I'll say briefly why this was the finish for me. Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than it has yet been able to treat us. The vaunted CIA and FBI are asleep, at best. The working-class heroes move, without orders and at risk to their lives, to fill the moral and political vacuum. The moral idiots, meanwhile, like Falwell and Robertson and Rabbi Lapin, announce that this clerical aggression is a punishment for our secularism. And the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, hitherto considered allies on our 'national security' calculus, prove to be the most friendly to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead, the near-majority of 'Left' intellectuals started sounding like Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush's legitimacy. So I don't even muster a hollow laugh when this pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the forces of reaction.

~ Christopher Hitchens