To most of us the World of Islam seems incomprehensible.
You could say it is bigoted and uncompromising with is actions harsh and arbitrary.
There are billions of words spoken and written on the subject most of which are never heard or read by any of us.
Now I could be wrong in some of the observations I make in the post, so I am open to correction.
What I want to do if possible is to try to look at Islam as it see itself and not through our Western eyes.
The current political mess in Middle East and the rise of ISIS must both have their origins within its interpretation, both by us and its faithful.
So are we all mistaking when view Islam as uncompromising and uncivilized, when in fact to most of us who are not Islamic, so we see it at worst as Mysterious and inexplicable at best and at the moment Barbaric with good reason.
Like all subjects it is impossible to understand the simple things about Islamic life without knowing something about its religion.
Islam like all religions is a way of life, based on the will of God, and like most religions the will of god is known through its holy book or books, in Islam case the Koran.
The Koran contains the sayings and actions of its prophet Mohammed.
My first observation is that Mohammed must have been influenced by the times he was born into. Since then the Koran like the Catholic Bible or any bible for that matter has been subject to interpretations put upon its teachings in different places and at different times till it arrived to the present day.
The real question is what is the difference between the Interpretation of Mohammed and to days interpretations.
Every aspect of Islamic life is seen as part of the indivisible whole, literally inseparable from all the other aspects. So a Muslim like us believes life was created by God. The task of Muslims is not to rearrange or order it, or even to understand it but to obey the laws laid down by him.
How does man know the laws? For a Muslim the answer is simple. They are in the Koran that has no beginning and no end. It can be read from the beginning to the end or from any point with no difference to the message contained within.
My second observation. If this is so and believed by Muslims there is underlining all Islamic culture an element that the Koran itself makes logic, and therefore undermines communication with any outsiders.
If you were to ask a conservative Muslim does the Koran control all aspects of his life you might get a confused answer due to tribal or social customs allowed by Islam but not actually required by its laws contained in the Koran leading to where theory and practice are confused. Although it is commonly agreed that the Koran is the supreme authority in directing the life of a believer there is another reference called the Sunna ( the sayings and actions of Mohammed). In the Sunna you find human interpretations in the numerous schools of law as they adopt their positions. As a result the clear-cut authority of the Koran is not uniformly accepted throughout Islam. (I am sure this will be disputed.)
Ok course none of this does anything for the image we have of Muslims.
Take for example the Koran is uncompromising in its declaration that the penalty for theft is amputation, and it also states a man has an absolute right to have four wives if he treats them equally.
Killing their sisters,wives, and daughters for their family honor, murdering non believers,stoning to death, mutilating genitals, all in the name of Allah because of Qur’an and Sharia Law tells to do so.
But where in the Koran does Allah, (Arabic for God. There is no God save Allah.) condone such actions.
Observation three. We are used to reviewing religion as a private matter of conscience unlike Islam in which religion dominates the life of a Muslim and in this comprehensive sense , is his life. Literally everything in life is the predetermined will of God from always to eternity. Not a leaf falls from a tree unless it is the will of God which beg the question how do you predetermine life.
Islam( which means submitter and the Koran means recitation) has what are called Five Pillars of Faith, which form the core of the faith to which all other aspects of life are ultimately related. Prophets means Messengers or Apostles and Mohammed is the messenger of God.
Pillar one: Shahada. Recitation of the Shahada or short creed ” There is no God but Allah”
Pillar two: Salat. Devotional worship, acknowledgement of God a physical act repeated at least twice with the worshipper touching the ground with his forehead. Worship takes place five time a day, preferably performed in congregation of at least forty in a mosque led by an imam( president)
Pillar three: Zakat. Obligatory tax to the needy. There is no formal arrangements for the collection of Zakat.
Pillar four: Sawn. Fast during the months of Ramadam.
Pillar five: Hajj: To set out for a definite purpose – Pilgrimage to Mecca. Mohammad forbade access to Mecca for unbelievers, and this applies to Medina also.
These are the basic foundations of Islam.
Now lets address a few questions.
Why do Muslims get their nickers in a twist when the Koran is burnt?Here is something you might not know that the Koran which is in Arabic is considered by many Muslims as a miracle since Mohammad could not read or write. ( This could be debatable as he must have learned both to be a merchant in Mecca)
As the word of God it cannot and should not be translated into other languages.
Although some of its text was written down under Mohammad supervision it has no chronological order but on close examination it does have a structure in as much that aspects of life can not be seen separately but accepted as a whole based on the divine will of God. However the parts of same revelation it spread throughout it text. Reason plays an important part in the Koran. God is always arguing, discussing and appealing to reason, never giving up. Infidels were considered as people of no intelligence indeed Mohammad comes close to labeling them as infirmity of the human mind.
Observation four: If I was God I would have had the Koran or the Bible written in all languages. It might have avoided all the misinterpretations. Not just Arabic and Hebrew.
The Koran is about the size of the New Testament, 144 chapters set in verses. It is never put on the ground or allowed to contact with anything dirty. Like the Bible it has being subject to study and analysis till black and blue.
What is Jihad?
Jihad literally means an effort or striving. Mohammad himself fought nine battles. It is still the duty of imam to order war against infidels on every suitable occasion.
According to Mohammad there are seven deadly sins. Associating anything with god, magic, killing without reason, taking interest on money, taking property of an orphan,running away from a battle when Jihad has been declared, accusing an innocent woman of adultery.
What is Sunnis or Sunnites, or Shiites?
Muslin sects to-day out number those of Christians.
They majority are Sunnis, followers of the Sunna.
Shiite is derived from Shiat Ali (the party of Ali). They believe that on Mohammad’s death succession should remain with his closest relative his son-in-law Ali.
They also believe to be a true Muslim its teachings and practices must be taught by an Imam. To the Sunnis this confers a degree of divinity upon the Imam and this is blasphemous.
Observation Five. The notion of love one’s neighbor in a Christian sense is not enshrined in the Koran. There is a false concept of Muslim brotherhood. You either conform to the rules or suffer the consequences. A rigid simplicity is it underlining structure, whether its hidden or out in the open.
No matter what your beliefs the right to life states that you own your own body. It is your property to do with as you please. No one may force you to do anything, no one may injure you in any way, and above all, no one may take your life (without consent.)a right to life. This means that nobody – including the government – can try to end your life. It also means that you have the right to be protected if your life is at risk. It does not create an entitlement to choose death rather than life.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
- Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
Observation Six. Islam needs to teach every Muslim that life means that each individual should be treated with respect, dignity and equality.