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Comments on some of the responses (final)

Reader comment on item: Christianity Dying in Its Birthplace
in response to reader comment: True Nature of Islam

Submitted by Shazia Khanum (Canada), Sep 16, 2005 at 08:36

Under the overwhelming onslaught ...by the commentators on this website and their stereotyping and over-generalizations and not recognizing that Islam and Sufism as well as Muslims and Sufis are not monolithic, it is impossible to respond to each and every point.

So I will settle with the following comments:

My statement: "We must work together against those who wreak havoc on this planet and cause misery and suffering to others, regardless of the outer labels we have given to our paths."

is addressed to anyone, regardless of the outer label they have given to their individual paths, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sufism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or whatever. It's the inner reality that matters.

The inner self has the capacity to either succumb to its lower patterns -- anger, revenge, arrogance, selfishness, pride, self-praise, etc. -- or rise to its higher patterns -- compassion, mercy, love, selflessness, forgiveness, modesty, humbleness, etc. It is up to each individual to be watchful of these patterns and strive (lit. jihad) against the lower tendencies and for the higher within him/her.

There is goodness and evil in every community, group, nation, or any other form of human group. It is those who succumb to their lower self and act out its tendencies who cause havoc on earth of varying degrees. Since the self plays tricks, it almost always finds something to justify the evil acts -- be it a scripture or something else -- so that the evil acts seem noble and good to them.

If the Muslims have terrorized every land, as someone puts it, I apologize for it. However, what's this apology going to do in reality? What effect will it have on those who are bent on spreading evil? Aren't innocent people dying in Iraq at the hands of those who have succumbed to the lower patterns of their selves? How many innocent civilians – men, women and children – have been brutally murdered by them? Should I apologize on their behalf too?

My heart goes out to those innocent people who have been harmed by the evil tendencies within man, regardless of their religion, race or culture.

Someone pointed out the issue of someone leaving Islam. They need to thoroughly review the following book at the Center for Islamic Pluralism:

"Penalty of Apostasy: A Historical and Fundamental Study" by Dr. Ahmad Subhy Mansour, at http://www.islamicpluralism.org/texts/apostasy.htm

You may also wish to review the following web log:

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/434

Someone stated: "I would just like to remind people that Sufi Muslims, though claiming to be peaceful, perpetrate the same violent acts on non-Muslims as Wahabbis, Sunnis, Shias and the rest of the Muslims do."

I have already pointed out that even the Sufis are not monolithic. Anyone has the potential to succumb to the lower tendencies of their selves, including those who claim to be Sufis. Which is why, it is very important that each one of us recognizes these tendencies within oneself and be watchful over them and make an effort to grow upward by training the self so that it reflects the higher within us.

Today, the so-called Islamic world is collectively in the dark. Our brethren in scripture (Jews, Christians, Hindus and others) are not allowed to practice their paths openly and build places of worship in Saudi Arabia. This is uncalled for and is a great injustice to fellow human beings. It is very disappointing and disheartening that those who call themselves Muslims do not rise up and demand that members of other faiths be allowed to erect places of worship in Saudi Arabia, while demanding their mosques be built in the Western countries. This is hypocrisy!

Someone stated: "Ons should know there are no peaceful Muslims - be they Sufis, Sunnis, Shias, Wahabis and followers of any other sects of Islam."

What is one supposed to say in response to this stereotyping, generalization and a negative sentiment? It goes against what Dr. Pipes has been doing – he makes a distinction between moderate Muslims and Islamists and radical Muslims. He even has a litmus test to determine if a Muslim is a moderate Muslim.

Another person stated: "Shazya, you speak from both sides of your mouth. ... The ...Quran prevented Jews and Christians from building new synagoues and churches or rebuilding them (after the muslim themselves ruined them). They would not allow a synagogue or a church to be bigger or fancier then the mosque in the muslim neighborhood, if they allowed it at all." He starts by stating "Shazya, you speak from both sides of your mouth. …" and then switches to "The …Quran prevented Jews …"

It seems to me that this person needed to say: "The Quran speaks from both sides of its mouth"; I believe I have been very consistent.

If this person feels that the "Quran prevents Jews and Christians from building new synagogues and churches …" then he needs to present the relevant verses from the Qur`an and his analysis and the methodology he used to do his analysis and come to his conclusion.

As far as killing of the unbelievers, the verses that talk about them also provide the context and rationale and the circumstances. As stated before, the Qur`an forms an integral whole and parts of it explain, elaborate and expound on others. I am fully aware of how verses about warfare are mistranslated, misinterpreted and misapplied.

These verses talk about when the Muslims were allowed to fight back in defense in order to ensure their very survival.

Abdel Haleem in his rendition of the Qur`an states:

"An important feature of the Qur`anic style is that it alludes to events without giving their historical background."

"... the verse 'Slay them wherever you find them' (2:191), thus translated by Dawood and taken out of context, has been interpreted to mean that Muslims may kill non-Muslims wherever they find them. In fact the only situations where the Qur`an allows Muslims to fight are in self-defence and to defend the oppressed who call for help (4:75), but even in the latter case this is restricted to those with whom the Muslims do not have treaty obligations (8:72). The pronoun 'them' here refers to the words 'those who attack you' at the beginning of the previous verse. Thus the Prophet and his followers are here being allowed to fight the Meccans who attack them."
" 'Wherever you find them' or 'come up against them' is similarly misunderstood. ..., the Muslims were anxious that if their enemies attacked them in Mecca, which was and is a sanctuary (in which no Muslim is allowed to fight, or kill even an animal or plant), and they retaliated and killed, they would be breaking the law. The Qur`an simply reassured the Muslims that they could defend themselves when attacked, even if they killed their attackers, whether within the sanctuary or outside it. However, the six verses that concern war (2:190-195) contain many restrictions and are couched in restraining language that appeals strongly to the Muslims' conscience."

For more details, please refer to "Understanding the Qur'an: Themes and Styles" by Abdel Haleem. None of the verses in the Qur`an regarding warfare are applicable today, as the circumstances are not the same. Anyone who utters them and then acts upon them, like the two evildoer imams in the U.K., one of them deported from the U.K., and the other one denied returning, who have uttered them, and those evil terrorists who use them to justify their evil acts, these people are simply exploiting these verses to satisfy their own lower self and agenda. If someone is using these verses to justify the killings of innocent civilians, then they are committing evil acts. They need to be fought and brought to justice.

IT IS THESE EVILDOERS WHO ARE YOUR -- AND MY -- ENEMIES!!!

But there is nothing we can do about those who are bent on painting all of us the same and even calling for our extermination.

To them, I only say the same as what a son of Adam said to his brother when he was about to kill him (according to the Qur`an), and state that, sure, if you try to harm us even though we have nothing against you and have nothing to do with the terrorists and the evildoers, we will be patient and will not do to you what we don't want done to us.

Many of us have a hard time fighting our own inner battles (the greater jihad – striving) trying to tame the lower tendencies of the self – anger, pride, ego, arrogance, selfishness, etc. It's a most difficult striving especially when we are painted with the same color as the evil doers are and are defamed and looked upon with suspicion. It's not easy to love and respect those who are bent on defaming us even though we have nothing to do with those so-called Muslims who are your real enemy, like Osama bin Laden and his cronies, and the Islamists and radical Muslims.

But we try.

We try to find goodness in these people who are stereotyping us and calling for our heads, and don't wish to say something to them that we don't want said to us. We try because we know the pitfalls of the journey to self purification. We know what anger and hatred does to the self. We don't want anything to do with hatred and anger. This does not mean that we do not recognize the difference between good and evil. So some of us on a spiritual path do not believe that the verses of the Qur`an that talk about warfare are applicable today. We recognize that the conditions are not the same as they were at the time of the Prophet. We know that we do not have a "House of War" and a "House of Islam". It's a global village we live in. The situation in the world today is different.

This may answer the question on abrogation that another commentator has raised.

Another thing: Those Muslims who immigrate to the West are bound by the laws of the land. They must live within the boundaries of the laws and not make any demands. And if someone feels that he/she is not able to practice their religion then they should simply leave and go somewhere else. The same goes for those who are born in the West.

I state this to answer some of the other comments I have seen on this website.

Not sure what else I can say. This is my third post to this article (I inadvertently typed my name as "Shazia Khan" in one of the posts. There is one post on the "Islamists, get out" article. Examine them all to develop a larger picture of what I believe and practice.

Someone suggested that Islam treats women badly. It's the people who treat other people.

Islam is a set of teachings and a path, as understood and practiced by humans. Moreover, as stated before, there is no single "Islam". There are many "islams", that is, people's interpretations and practices.

Some Muslims do treat women badly. Many do not. So please don't stereotype us.

Someone stated: " think there's something inherently wrong with the Qur'an itself. Notably its lack of divine love."

Perhaps, he is not familiar with the fact that every chapter of the Qur`an, with the exception of one, begins with the proclamation: "In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Mercigiving", not to mention a whole surah, Al-Rahmaan, as well as the name "wudud" of God.

Having said this, the point is granted, for an overwhelming majority of the Muslims do not see the love of God in the Qur`an and teachings of Islam as they have understood. This is largely thanks to the dominance of the Islamists, the Wahhabis/Salafis, and many others, who present Islam quite different from the way I see it.

As I have repeatedly stated: there is no single "Islam". It's not monolithic. That's the reality.

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