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Debating Islam ( 18 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Islam- Peaceful or Problematic?



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

19 June, 2014

There are basically four major reasons why many Muslims (many in numbers, but little in percentage) are turning towards terrorism: firstly, wrong interpretation of the selected verses taken out of historical and even textual context. Secondly, a belief that Islam’s destiny is to master every other religion and that it is superior to every other way of life. Thirdly, media’s exaggeration of the negatives of the Muslims, showing, in many instances half truths. Finally, those who have been oppressed- they think that they have no choice but to take up arms.

The question ‘Is every “Muslim” action the same as Islam, can be answered by posing another question as ‘Is every “Christian/Hindu” action the same as Christianity/Hinduism”. What defines an Islamic act is its conformity to the two primary sources of Islam: the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth. And even when interpretations are made there are certain rules that need to be observed. So anything short of these two primary sources is a mere religious opinion or fatwa. And ‘Fatwas’ (opinions) of even scholars are not infallible.

The root word of Islam comes from SLM, which means Peace, Submission and even Purity. Take for example the words derived from the above mentioned root: Muslim (SLM)- One who submits; Yuslim (SLM)- to submit; Aslama (SLM)- submitted. Based on the linguistic origin, then the religious definition of Islam means to attain peace with: God, oneself, and other creations of God (other humans, animals, vegetation and biodiversity).

There are basically five objectives of Islamic way of living or law: first, safeguarding of faith, not just of oneself but of others and giving them full freedom and never to use compulsion (2:256); second, safeguarding life (5:32); third, safeguarding the mind (5:90); fourth, safeguarding honour (17:70) and finally safeguarding property.

Regarding the relation with other communities, the Quran clearly says that there is one generic religion- Peace or submission or purity (3:19). This generic religion was preached by all the prophets (never mind the name got changed and some of the peripheral messages got changed, but the basic essence of Peace is still there). No wonder the Quran calls Abraham, Moses, Jesus- Muslims. In fact the Quran depicts various prophets in history not as competing and fighting, unlike some their followers of today, but as one brotherhood of prophets. There are links that connect all the prophets and respecting them and trying to emulate them is not a statement of political and media correctness, but as obligation upon us.

Here is one of the key references in the Quran that needs to be noticed. It is in Ch 49 verse 13. In the translation of meaning God speaks to mankind (often times we find God speaking directly to humans, not just Muslims- in many other verses the Quran restricts His message to ‘O you who believe’, but in this case and nearly 200 other verses, God’s message is for the whole of the people):

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

The other thing important to note is that this verse says that we have been created from one pair of genes that obviously implies that we are all one big family. Then it says that there are differences between people and nations; it is so because we may recognise on another and not despise one another. This is a deliberate message of unity in diversity. Similar to this is the message in ch 30 verse 22:

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours; verily in that are Signs for those who know.”

Then coming to forced conversion and ill treatment of non-Muslims. There are so many verses which contradict what the radicals do. Oft quoted is 2:256- There should be no compulsion in religion. But there are other verses- in another verse it says “You (Muhammad) are only a reminder”; in ch Yunus, the Quran says “If they turn away (from listening to the message of Islam) then you are not a guardian over them”; in many places the Quran says “your job is only to deliver the Message”.

Our task is to nip in the bud the wannabe terrorists. We can do this by, first of all speaking up. Whenever we notice, especially in the Friday congregational prayer that the Imam is speaking radically an orthodox version of Islam, we must try to counter it, if not then and there then at least after the prayer. Secondly we should educate people that Islam is not here to subjugate other religions, because every religion has come from God and is a way towards salvation. The other point under this is that Islam’s meaning is so encompassing and all embracing that it includes every other way of life under its fold. Thirdly, we should try to have an unbiased media-I don’t know how this can be achieved. And finally it is also to be noted that oppression does not lead to the legitimating of terrorism.