The Homophobia of Muslims

Merriam-Webster defines homophobia as an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals. Though I agree, a much accurate version is given by Urban-Dictionary which states it as a severe condition..leading one to inaccurately use bible quoting for the justification of killing homosexuals. The injustice being served to homosexuals in our time is immense. One can not start to fathom the daily struggles a homosexual has to face. The constant fear of being hated, the need to hide oneself under a garb as the revelation of one’s sexual inclination may be misused to paint his entire identity adversely. I can dedicate an entire blog just talking about the issues faced by homosexuals on a daily basis and it will shock people to their core. These are elementary ethical problems. One would expect that with the progress of our society no community will have to face such problems, but it appears, it’s not the case.

Even though many people come up with various reasons to participate in Homophobia, ranging from “If I don’t hate them people may think I’m Gay” to “They are so weird” majority of them use religion. They hate because God said so. Abrahamic religion is the front runner in this case. Jews, Christians, and Muslims, though may always be ready to get into a theological and political debate and cut open each other throats, when it comes to this subject show a surprise unity in their hatred of homosexuals.

Before going further, let me make very clear my religious view of Homosexuality. I am of the opinion that God has kept it very vague making it very hard to come up with a conclusive understanding whether homosexuality is okay or not, and there is a huge wisdom behind this. This gives everyone an opportunity to create their own view based on their temperament and more importantly, it lets them be tolerant enough of other views. My reason for coming up with such an understanding can be divided into three parts

1- It’s generally understood that people of Lot were faced by the wrath of God because they were homosexuals. This is simply incorrect. They faced punishment because of the same reason which people of Noah, Moses, Shuaib, Thamud and Prophet Muhammad faced punishment. For rejecting their Prophet. To think that they were punished because of being Gay would be an incoherent observation.

2- In Chapter 29, verse 29, Qur’an narrates three sins of the people of the Lot. Remember, based on above it’s not for these sins that they faced punishment.

“Do you approach men and obstruct the road and commit evil in your gatherings. And the answer of his people was not but they said, “Bring us the punishment of God , if you should be of the truthful.” (29:29)

It’s not elaborated as to what God means by approaching men, blocking roads and committing evils in the gathering. One understanding would be that they would block roads, kidnap traveling men, take them to their gatherings and rape them. I don’t think anyone will have a problem calling such an act wrong.

In Chapter 7, verse 40 another generic term is used, stating that they were committing immorality. As to what this immorality is and how it was being done, it’s not elaborated.

“And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds?” (7:40)

3- Now imagine this for a second, we have a community–the people of Lot–who were sinful. They are about to face God’s wrath. Now, in this scenario look at the approach of Prophet Abraham, the founding father of all the three religions. He boldly comes to their defense and starts arguing/pleading with the angels–sent by God to destroy–for the safety of the people of Lot. We see this in chapter 11, verse 74

Then when the fear had gone away from (the mind of) Abraham, and the glad tidings had reached him, he began to plead with Us (Our Messengers) for the people of Lot.

What is more interesting, is the next verse, God comments on this behavior. A man speaking for the protection of “homosexual people”, guess what God says, he doesn’t rebuke him nor admonish him nor calls him immoral for trying to speak for immoral people, but God praises Abraham for his conduct

Abraham was certainly a forbearing, compassionate, and tender-hearted person

It’s because of the above three points that I feel that far from speaking against homosexuality one should support them right now because of the persecution they are facing, one can have a theological disagreement at the same time speak for their rights. This is a quality of someone who has a clear and clean morality.

But, unfortunately, if we see the behavior of religious people, all around the world, and especially in the West, it’s not the case. Forget about coming forward and supporting them, they have been the front runner in persecuting and subjugating them, and unfortunately, all this is done in the name of God.

For example, Muslims in Indonesia recently asked people to boycott Starbucks for its stand on Gay rights. Just before that, we had a group of Muslims parents from Berlin campaigning that a gay teacher is removed from Nursery. Muslims have called people to protest against the gay marriage bill passed in France early this year, and their call was answered in thousands. A similar thing was done a couple of years back when David Cameron planned for passing gay marriage bill which saw 500 Imaams coming together to protest against it. In 2012, a Muslim group in Malaysia protested Elton John concert over the same gay marriage issue calling it an anti-Islamic thing and something which will corrupt the minds of young people in Malaysia.

So, the question is even though the position of Abraham is so clear and the actual verdict on homosexuality is so unclear why do we have Muslims and other religious groups getting so charged up about this. Why do we not see a similar outburst against other things, especially where the ruling of Qur’an is clearer?

In my opinion, this has nothing to do with religion. This is simply an outburst of emotions because of insecurity. The insecurity that their religion needs a defense and if they fail to protect it, the religion will be wiped out from the face of this earth. The other will take over. As I have demonstrated above, Qur’an itself doesn’t promote such thinking so one can’t and shouldn’t put it on religion. The other thing, which I came across just recently, and I thought was very interesting is that this homophobic nature,

The other thing, which I came across just recently, and I thought was very interesting is that this homophobic nature, especially among Muslims, is a recent development. When we look at the Muslim History–as explained by Mufti Abu Layth–we see that not only they were very accepting of homosexuals and bisexuals but also gave them important status in their world. A Judge (Qazi) can be a homosexual but no one will question his judgment. Let me narrate few examples here.

1- Al Walid Ibn Abd Al Malik or Al Walid I who was amongst the first Caliphs of the Ummayad Caliphate was a known homosexual. The key word here is known. Al Dhahabi writes it clearly in his popular work of Tarikh Al Islam Al Kabir ( Major History of Islam ) where he says Al Walid was a known homosexual. To such an extent that when he was succeeded by his brother Sulayman Ibn Abd Al Malik he says that Al Walid “tried it” on him. Try to imagine this, will Muslims be ready to accept a Caliph who will rule the so called “Global Caliphate” to be homosexual? I bet they won’t, but the Muslim ancestors–who many Muslims look up to, didn’t really have major problems

2- Going forward we move to the Abbasid Caliphate. And it’s known that homosexuality and pederasty was a wide spread phenomenon. Al Amin the son of the popular Caliph Harun Ar Rashid, and later a Caliph himself, was a known homosexual. So much that he didn’t show much interest in his slave girls either. His brother Al Mamun, the other son of Harun was a known bisexual.

3- That were the Caliphs. But it was not just limited there. We have one of the teachers of Bukhari, a famous scholar himself Qadi Yahya bin Aksam who justified homosexuality stating that Qur’an supported it. He quoted Chapter 3 Verse 14 as his justification.

Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons (boys)..

Obviously not many agree with this view, but you get an idea. He was an appointed Judge and was known for his homosexuality. One interesting thing to note here was that Al Mamun (Homosexual himself) sacked Qazi Yahya and that was not because of his homosexuality. It was because they had a theological difference between whether Qur’an was created or it was eternal. Al Mamun belief it was former and Qazi Yahya believed it was latter.

4- When Qazi Yahya got sacked he was replaced by Muhammad bin Dawud, who was not just homosexual but also wrote a book called Kitab Al-Zahra where he states in the foreword that it is dedicated to his male lover. Kitab Al Zahra is still rated as one of the best books written on love in Arab.

Yes, of course, these people were criticized for their views and their conduct, but there was no homophobia around them. They were duly appreciated for their work which had nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

5- One of the classical Arabic poet, Abu Nuwas, a contemporary of Qazi Yahya was a known homosexual. Most of his poetry is about homosexuality. He was not just a poet but also an Islamic Scholar. There is a popular story about him which goes that when he was praised and someone said that may he be rewarded with the Hours in Jannah, he countered saying, “No, I would rather have the boys like pearls, mentioned in Qur’an”. This guy is rated as one of the best Islamic Poets.

The above is just a small example of the presence of homosexuals in our history. The question we need to ask ourselves is how did we come from there to a position where we have developed such phobia where we are keen to call homosexuals as Kafirs, as someone who is out of Islam. This is wrong on so many different levels, firstly, we can’t just call anyone kafir just like that, secondly, how about some empathy? If you don’t like homosexuality, then don’t be homosexual, why is it worrying you what someone else is doing.

What is interesting is that this attitude is only in the western countries. If you look at the Muslim Countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, acts of homosexuality are rampant.

Dr. Jonathan Brown explains in his article explains that it was never homosexuality in itself but particular acts which were deemed as sinful in Shari’a.


In the end, I’ll like to reiterate the point which I’m trying to make with all these examples and explanations. Just because you think that your religion speaks against homosexuality doesn’t mean that you get to suppress them, in fact, I’ve quoted enough examples on why one should, in fact, support them as they are a community getting suppressed right now. This is the way of Islam shown by many scholars from our past and also shown by our founding father, Abraham.


The purpose of Religion


Medicine, Engineering, Law, Dental, Art, and much more. When we think of these fields, we quickly are able to relate to the purpose they are serving. Medicine serve the purpose of human health, Engineering makes human’s life easier, Law provides a sense of order to our chaotic society, Dental helps us smile and keep smiling and Art helps us satisfy our aesthetic urges. Then apart from all these fields, we have the field of Religion. What purpose comes to mind when we think of Religion.

If you ask people randomly on the street, they may give you various answers. For some, it can be

To achieve the goals of salvation, or Moksha, to reconnect with God

For others, it can be

to make humans suffer and live a miserable life and have an overall bad impact on the society

as Steven Weinberg, popularly quoted

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

To understand why we have such a spectrum of opinions we can divide the understanding of religion into three main categories.

  1. Dharmic Understanding

    If we go by the written records, this is by far the oldest religion which we can prove historically. The oldest–Rig–Veda is from 1200BC, compared that to oldest known Hebrew Bible which is 600BC. Plus you have Sumerian text which dates back to 2600BC. Though the Dharmic religion is way more diverse compared to Abrahamic religion–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–but if you want to summarize the main understanding of the purpose it will be as follows

    The purpose of Religion as per Dharmic Understanding would be to enable a human being to dive within and dig out one’s soul, to go through various phases of reincarnation, self-realization, enlightenment and in the end, Moksha, where the soul unites with its Origin, God, a timeless, spaceless, entity. This is achieved by freeing oneself from the worldly animal desires, by living an ascetic life, free from the disease of passion and urges. The first stage of this process is called Dharma, where one learns to be at his ethical best, by fulfilling all his obligations as a human living in a society. One may argue, that being good with one’s ethics is the pre-requisite to reach moksha

  2. Scientific Understanding

    As per this understanding, one would insist on accepting things based on empirical evidence only. At the lack of empirical evidence, one should stay away from making any drastic conclusions, as the possibility of error is very large.

    A person with such an understanding will view religion as worthless and something which should be eradicated completely. The reason being the empirical evidence of all the violence which has been caused for years in the name of religion. For such a person, the purpose of religion is simply to cause pain and suffering to human life. The reason why people still stick with religion is simply that they are not thinking properly and nothing more. We have to understand that the main cause of the critique is caused by the lack of ethics found in humans claiming to be religious or claiming that their bad acts were carried out because God said so. Hence, the main purpose they are trying to achieve by eradicating religion is to improve human ethics and improve humans intellect, his reasoning, his ability to question.

  3. Abrahamic Understanding

    There is one God who has created human beings, which is just one single species out of the almost infinite species which He has created. They are gifted with an opportunity to be God-like–that is, to become eternal beings, have free will, be able to do whatever they want etc etc. To bring this into action humans are put in a small test and this gift can be achieved if they manage to remain good in this test.

    The purpose of Abrahamic religion then is to enable Humans in winning this gift. By putting certain rituals, certain laws, certain guidance which will help them reach there.

If you notice, in all the above understanding, one thing is common. The human ethics. You can’t reach moksha if you don’t fulfill the phase one of the journey, which is Dharma, that is to be a good human being. The entire argument of the scientific community is that religion is not enabling ethics, hence stressing on the same point, the importance of human ethics. The Abrahamic religion is saying the same thing, in lay man’s terms.

We have to understand, whether we are a religious conservative, a liberal, a progressive, modernist, a mystic, agnostic or an atheist. If our religion or lack of it, is not improving our ethics, if it’s not making us good humans, if it’s not enhancing our concept of empathy and humility every day, if we are getting stagnant to such an extent that our character is getting decayed and our reasoning, our ability to comprehend, deduce and our intellect is getting corroded. Then, it’s time for a change, it’s time to start questioning and to get our questions answered, it’s time to wake up. If we ponder, and after deep intellectual speculation and survey realize that it’s not the case, that all the beliefs we have are based on genuine beliefs backed with rationality and not emotions and fancies, then it doesn’t matter on which path we are, it doesn’t matter which religion we practice, till our heart is convinced, till our intellect is quenched, we are good.

In an interview with Bernard Russell, he was asked, what if He is wrong in his belief of atheism, what if there is a God, what will the answer to that God be, on the Day of Judgment. To this, he answered.

I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!’

and that my friend is how it will be. If there is God and you are convinced–after intellectual investigation within your capacity–that he isn’t, and you kept your ethics intact, then a Just God has to let you be and if there isn’t a God, and you are convinced that there isn’t, then congratulations 2 on 2. Thirdly, if there isn’t a God and you believe that there is, then you lived a peaceful life free from the fear of existentialism, so congratulation anyway.

Either way, it helps us if we meditate on this more and remember not to get insecure about our beliefs. Human Ethics and our intellect. Keep that pure, and we are on the path of salvation, irrespective of the final reality. That is the purpose of religion or lack of it, alike.

Islam · Religion

The Five Pillars of Islam V2.0


The five pillars of Islam are not specifically mentioned in Qur’an. They were derived by the scholars of Islam after studying Qur’an, Sunnah and the Hadith. The three original sources of Islam. The five pillars are

  1. Declaration of Faith
  2. Prayer
  3. Charity
  4. Fasting
  5. Pilgrimage

With time, Muslims have evolved, their thinking has changed, and the way they practice Islam has changed drastically. If a Non-Muslim who is analyzing Muslims, without being in touch with the original sources, will he be able to come up with the same five pillars? or will they differ?

The hypothesis I’m presenting is that the principles will differ. That too drastically. I am very well aware that there is a debate among the academic circle about the need to reconstruct the religion, there are many scholars who are for it, and they are many who speak against it. My thesis is that the religion has been reconstructed already.

So, without further adieu, let me present to you, the New five pillars of Islam, as understood by our current Muslim community. The five pillars of Islam, version 2.0

1- Halaal Food


Muslims–especially from Indo-Pak subcontinent–are out and out obsessed with this. Is it Halaal, is it Zabiha Halaal, and a new one going around, is it Javed Zabiha halal. Is it a Muslim guy reciting takbeer Halaal or is it a takbeer on Radio Halal. The obsession is to such an extent that it won’t be wrong that Muslims consider that the following teaching of Qur’an Chapter 49 Verse 12 has been abrogated.

Believers, avoid being excessively suspicious, for some suspicion is a sin. Do not spy, nor backbite one another.

Muslim probably now think that as per the teaching of Qur’an one shouldn’t speculate about someone but there is a condition applied to this ruling and that is until and unless that person starts a slaughter house or a restaurant. To put it in simple words, every Muslims is considered truthful by default, till he opens a restaurant, from that point, he is a liar by default, till proven otherwise.

2- Hijaab


This is the other obsession with Muslim women. Be it Hijaab or Burqa or Niqab. It doesn’t matter that there is hardly any reputed who scholar agrees that Naqab is a part of Islam, nor does it matter that Naqaab defeats the entire purpose of Naqaab if worn in the West, as it attracts more attention than deviates, but still, The delusion of grandeur continues.

Muslims Demonstrate Against Ministers Comments On Veiling

One very interesting thing is that the verse usually quoted as mandating Hijaab–chapter 24 verse 31–doesn’t mandate Hijaab in clear terms. It’s derived from it.

..and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls…

I’ve consciously taken the translation of shawl for the word Khimaar instead of the now popularized veil, to point out that there is no such universal agreement that Khimaar means Viel. Secondly, even if it did, for a book, which makes it very clear, repeatedly, that it lays out everything in clear terms, it’s a bit of a stretch to start inferring such heavy rulings from Qur’an verses, assuming words to mean certain things without the presence of strong proof that it means that particular thing. Furthermore, what I find very interesting is that the same very verse lists down all the relatives in front of who there won’t be need for such a covering

..and must not expose their adornment, except to their husbands or their fathers or the fathers of their husbands, or to their sons or the sons of their husbands, or to their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters, or to their women, or to those owned by their right hands, or male attendants having no (sexual) urge, or to the children who are not yet conscious of the shames of women.

Over here, as you can see, instead of just saying close relatives, Qur’an goes in details–some may argue, even more than necessary–and that’s how the book claims it is. Mentioning this clearly, with no confusion.

I understand why women like wearing Hijab, it’s considered modest, and I see their point, it’s a good modest thing, no doubt. But, that is not enough to start passing it out as religiously mandatory, that will be playing God, and Qur’an strictly–without inference–forbids us from doing that.


One Idea which I simply loathe is this comparison of Hijab with a lollipop cover. Implying that woman is some sort of lollipop. Just as in uncovered lollipop thrown in the dust, covered with flies and insects is a disgusting sight and no one would want to do anything with it, similarly a woman who is not covered will be inflicted with flies and insects–which I guess are men. Such teachings are extremely misogynist, coming from men who are very insecure and should be unacceptable when done in the name of Islam.

3- Iftaar

Fast is obligated on Muslims as per Qur’an chapter 2 verse 183

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become pious

Whether a Muslim at an Individual level becomes pious or not is impossible to comment. But we can look at the state of Muslims as a community and derive that the reason why their fast is only so that they have a Grand Iftaari, where there is a big get together, friends and family unite, chit chat, talk and have a gala time.

Various dishes are introduced, no more fasting with just dates, there is samosa, there is haleem, there is dahi vada, there is fruit salad, there is chaat, and there are various drinks ranging from Mango Lassi to Soft drinks to Chai and Coffee. It will be very surprising if Muslims community ends up becoming pious because of fasting.

4- Signs of Judgement Day

Another great grand obsession among Muslims is to figure out the date of coming of Qiyamah, the Judgement Day. When I was growing up it was said Y2k will be the end of the world, many even claimed that there is a Hadith pointing out, very clearly, that too. I’m still to come across such a Hadith.

Almost, every Muslim WhatsApp group will have one member who has forwarded something related to coming of Qiyamah. You have major signs, minor signs, mahdi signs, 77 minor signs, 48 signs, signs on one page.

The most popular Hadith regarding this is the hadith of Gabriel, which lists only two signs that are awfully clear, first, the slavery will end, and second, the Bedouins of the Arab land will start building tall buildings. Source.

But, Muslims love Drama and they don’t mind spicing things up with extra signs borrowed from other religions to nanny bedtime stories.

5- Global Caliphate


Global Caliphate has been a Muslim rage for some time now. This was discussed by Ibn Tahmiyya, Mawdudi, Qutub and many other great scholars of Islam. Calling a Classical Scholar wrong, and accepting that even he is capable of a mistake is something which Muslims never do, no matter the cost. And this did cost the Muslim society dearly.

The very basic message of religion which was of humility and empathy, in no time changed to establishing the rule of God across the Globe. The religion of no compulsion became the religion of giving takfir ( declaring people as Apostates ) to anyone who disagrees with the majority.

Jihad, a war against self, and a war against opression to save the oppressed became the holy war to establish a caliphate on each and every non-muslim country.

Will these concepts every be corrected in the Muslim community? I honestly doubt that. Rather, what will happen, is what has happened before, a new community will be raised, who will carry out the ACTUAL message of Islam. This happened when Turks accepted Islam and the message spread through them, this happened when Romans accepted Christianity and the message spread through them.

But, if someone is interested in understanding the error in this concept and correcting his perspective then he can do this here, the article by Javed Ahmed Ghamidi on Counter Narrative for Global Caliphate does a good Job in pointing out the mistakes and the correct teachings of Islam.


Ticket to Heaven – Masjid Fundraising


With the surge of Muslim Population in the US, the need to create Masjid(Mosque) is increasing as well. It’s understood by the wide variety of Muslims that being part of the Masjid construction is a good deed and increases their chances of entering Paradise. This understanding is based on the hadith narrated in Jami at-Tirmidhi by Uthman b Affan, source

Whoever builds a Masjid for (the sake of) Allah, then Allah will build a similar house for him in Paradise.

With the rise of Muslims Economic condition, with many Muslims taking lucrative Jobs of Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers there is an outburst of Masjid construction in many parts of the country.

Building a place of worship is a good thing, no doubt about that. But, if not done properly, then this can become disastrous. I’m afraid this is what is happening currently. I’m going to point out five things which need to be changed ASAP. They are going to hurt us more in the long run, then they profit us in the short run.

The first thing is the way the fundraising is marketed. There are three parts

to this

1- Hiring a speaker with a celebrity status in the Muslim Community. Some examples are below

This has resulted in a field where you have professionals who are using this as a source of income. They charge you either a fixed amount or a percentage of entire fund generation.

The problem with this is such professionals will twist and turn the original sources until and unless they are able to meet the funding requirement. There will be a sort of competition where they will be divided into tiers based on the amount of funding that can be done. The Masjid becomes a marketplace of competition instead of a place of worship.

PS: I’m not implying that the individuals mentioned in the above example charge any money. I’ve no such information.

2- Choosing a good time for the fundraising. This has resulted in choosing that month where people do most of their charity. The month of Ramadan. Since fundraising is a one-night event the night which is generally chosen is Lailat ul Qadr.

The way the fundraising program is usually set up is that it’s inserted between the Maghrib prayer and the Isha Prayer. In some cases it’s divided into two parts, the first part is before Isha prayer and the second part is in between the Taraweeh prayer. People who come specifically for praying Taraweeh–especially on Lailatul-Qadr get very disturbed because of this.


3- A very strong, mind washing, misleading punchline is used in the marketing emails and the pamphlets to attract people to fundraising.

4- The way fundraising is done is akin to how an auction is done. Since the goal of the Masjid is to maximize the funds in one night, people are pressurized into donation. Slogans like “how many brothers for 1k”, “how many sisters for 5k” are very common. An emotional and social pressure is put on people to donate money.

5- Lastly, and probably the most important point. Currently, the number of Masjids in a city or county are not regularized in any way. If you have enough money or can generate enough money, and if you have enough space to construct a building you are good to go. The problem with this is, a decent masjid takes about 500k USD for construction. During Fundraising events, people from all over the country are invited. It’s not a huge struggle to construct a Masjid. The problem emerges while maintaining it. Paying bills, paying for the Imaam, paying for repairs isn’t easy and the community may not be rich enough to support this cost. This amount is not always calculated. This leads to a very badly maintained masjid, run by an underpaid Imaam, monitored by a usually frustrated committee.

Giving charity for the construction of Masjid is very good. But, what is more important, is to give charity for people who are in need, firstly from within one’s family. As said in Qur’an Chapter 2 Verse 215

They ask you about what they should spend(in Charity). Tell them: ‘Whatever you spend is for your parents and kinsfolk and for the orphan and the destitute and the wayfarer [of your society]. And [rest assured] whatever good you do [will never go waste] because God is fully aware of it’.

This is a very hard task. You have to first be in touch with your family members, many may not tell you that they are in need and you will be faced with the hard task of deciphering it. A trait of such people is also mentioned in Qur’an in Chapter 2 Verse 273 while describing the state of people who had done Hijrah(Migration). Such trait is very common in people from our family as well.

…The ignorant take them for men of wealth on account of their modest behavior. You can recognize them by their faces – they are NOT annoyingly insistent in begging. [Help them] and [be aware that] whatever you spend [for this objective will necessarily earn a reward for you] because it is known to God.

You will have to ignore many things which you may not like about them, come up with a way to give the money without they feeling humiliated, and in the end swallow up any taunts which come from them, if any. This very point is stressed in Qur’an Chapter 3 Verse 134

Those who give charity in all circumstances whether they are in ease or in hardship and [even if they encounter any wrongdoing from those upon whom they spend] they curb their anger and forgive them [These are righteous] and God loves such righteous people.

When Masjid provides an alternate option for this hard task in the form of a ticket to heaven, people generally will go for it. In my opinion, this is against the teaching of Qur’an and a Masjid should be a place which should get people close to the teachings of Qur’an and not away from it. As of now, we don’t see this.

I really hope that such type of fundraising decreases and scholars teach people how truly to get into Jannah.