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Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by Shahriar Rahman (United States), Oct 1, 2007 at 15:59

(note: Wherever I can, I will attempt to keep from using the word "Islam," as clearly the word has emotional baggage for many people. Also, I am neither an academic nor a scholar in any religion. Just a disclaimer! ;)

I believe that engaging in these type of posts dealing with faith is political in nature. Pride, personal biases, and arrogance gets in the way (on both sides)... this is the nature of Man, and the Quran in one verse forbids us to convince people against their will for this reason. Rather, in many instances throughout the text, it exhorts us to use our sense of reason (not only in evaluating its authenticity as divine revelation, but also in day-to-day affairs). It is in that spirit I will attempt to express a few thoughts. I have read many of these highly inflammatory posts and have refutations for most of them.

I became a follower to this faith after researching every negative point that has been said about it, and have found answers to all of these charges that are satisfying for me (here is the short list of these charges: polygamy, wife-beatings, sanctioned violence, intolerance to minorities, anti-Semitism, backwardness and at odds with modernity because of its refusal to change....etc.). I have responses to all of these charges which a few of you may benefit to know. But I will not engage with you, because debating with you will only fan the flame of bitterness and enmity and push you away rather than welcome you to constructive dialogue. As citizens of the world, there are two facts about the faith that I feel we should be aware of: 1) It has replaced Judaism as second largest practicing faith in the U.S. : http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/16032/edition_id/313/format/html/displaystory.html

2) If the current growth rate continues, it will replace Christianity as the largest religion in the world between the years 2023 to 2200. http://www.revertmuslims.com/islamcompared.htm

Here are my thoughts on this subject.

First, I must say, I agree with Mr. Pipes's article, written 5 years ago. Muslims have certainly fallen behind in the world order. If you look at much of the progress in humanity in the last seven centuries, undoubtedly, much of it has come from Judeo-Christian societies. I am very thankful to God for the many things that I enjoy and take for granted as a Westerner (democracy, free markets, Capitalism, technological advancement, freedom of thought, religion, and speech, my cell phone and GAP jeans).

But why did such great progress happen to the societies of Jews and Christians and not the Muslims? One theory is that several difficult reformations (enlightenment, separation of church-and-state) and upheavals and soul-searching had to be endured in Christian and Jewish history. The result of these events was a creation of a society of free-thinkers that was conducive to progress. Even though The Faith (as evidenced in the Quran, which exhorts us repeatedly to "learn") is progressive, its followers are not, as proven by the fact that little progress appears to have happened in the Muslim intellectual world in the last few centuries.

It is easy to forget that before the Crusades, while monks in Europe were locking away ancient texts, Muslims -inspired by the Quran which had united them and exhorted them as servants of God (Arabic meaning of "Muslim") to "seek knowledge" -- have made the most astonishing advances in varied fields.

The Europeans built upon the knowledge that they had gained from the Muslim empire. But when the first Crusade became eminent, one scholar believes, Al-Ghazzali -the great Muslim philosopher during the time- "closed" any open interpretations dealing with religion and rational/scientific inquiry in the Muslim world... ..."Islamic attitude ca. 1100 became conservative, mistrustful of effects of science on faith." http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/WestTech/medieval.htm

Thus begun the decline of the Golden Era of The Faith. Just as The Faith, as evidenced by its Golden Age, is not anti-progress, it is also not intrinsically Anti-West (or "evil", or "engendering hatred/violence" as many adamantly claim, finding what our limited interpretations perceive as support for such views in the Quran). Of course, like all religions, it condemns materialism and warns us against valuing this life (on Earth) more than the life Hereafter. If these are Anti-West sentiments, then the charge should be shared by Judiasm and Christianity. In fact, deeper study will reveal that the "spirit" of American culture go hand in hand with The Faith, as attested to by many American converts, which number 20k a year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNnM5cxR7NE

Both American culture and this faith stress social justice, gender equality, racial equality and property rights. In fact, as far as doctrines go, many argue that this faith -and this will be unbelievable to many- is the most "modern" of the three Abrahamic faiths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_feminism#Muslim_feminism

Nevertheless, and in contrast to the spirit of the Quran, many Muslims ARE undoubtedly Anti-West and filled with hatred! A few are even willing to fight violently in retaliation to what they believe are aggressions against Muslims all over the world (Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir, etc.) -- and they too find "support" for their action in the openly interpretive Quran. It is unfortunate for all of us, according to one Muslims writer, that in This Faith, we "find the best religion but the worst followers." As a Muslim I will be dishonest if I don't admit it. We do truly need a kind of Islamic Reformation so that we can revert to the original text of peace and equality of the faith…values that, according to such famed converts as Malcolm X, Michael Wolfe, and Yvonne Ridley, are much needed in the West today.

HERE IS WHERE I WANT YOUR FEEDBACK: 1) Much of the Anti-Islamic sentiment that I have seen in these posts seem to say "Islam is evil because this is what Muslims have done….look at history!" Or, "Look at the violence being done today in the name of Allah!" Some say, "I went to the Middle East where religious minorities are not tolerated, backwardness prevails, and women are oppressed…LOOK AT THE FACTS!" Others even say, "look at how Islam started – even the Prophet (pbuh) killed and spread Islam by the sword!" All these criticisms are not addressing what the faith is about; rather they are assessments about what Muslims have done, whether as individuals, groups, or societies. And the fact is, many "Muslims" can be the worst Muslims.

People are fallible, but the faith is not. When Islam was practiced correctly in the first few centuries after it was revealed, the world flourished under its empire. Had that trend continued today, the Islamic culture could have conceivably still been the world leader. That the Islamic culture fell after the 13th century was the fault of none other than the Muslims themselves. However, at the very least, Muslims around the world -when reacting to perceived aggressions against them- condemn Americans for them, not "Christians." 2) Those who quote verses from the Quran as evidence that "deep down," Islam is actually evil are mislead.

If we apply those unscrupulous methods, "deep down" the man-made Bible that is read today is very pornographic (Muslims do however respect the Gospels and the Torah as revealed to their Prophets as words of God). Fact is, like all religious scriptures, the Quran is intended to be understood as a whole, and individual verses and even whole passages will not show its real meanings. "Some of its versus are definite in meaning – these are the cornerstone of the Scripture – and others are ambiguous.

The perverse at heart eagerly pursue the ambiguities in their attempt to make trouble and to pin down a specific meaning of their own: only God knows the true meaning." Quran 3:7 Grasping true philosophy of the Quran will require meditation and effort that, simply put, non-muslims are not willing to invest. For this reason, I am wary about hearing such criticisms from non-muslims. "Some of them are uneducated, and know the Scripture only through wishful thinking." Quran 2:78 About the Moderate Islam and True Islam argument, there is no such distinction in my experience. Either you are a "Muslim" (ie: servant to God, irrespective of whether you were born as a Christian, Jew, or Hindu) or you aren't.

To the commentator who said that Moderate Muslims will eventually become True Muslims (of the likes of Al-Qeada,etc) if they study their scripture carefully is forgetting that passages and verses from the book inspire a small few, but the vast majority of Muslims are inspired by the Quran as a whole. Passages and verses from any scripture can never be the "essence" of a faith. How can it be that the growing number of converts to Islam missed the "essence" of it being "violent/filled with hatred/evil/totalitarian" after studying the exact same verses and the same history and the same political trends that Islamophobes cite in their posts?

Growing up in a Muslim environment -although not being religious- I can honestly assure you that the thought of overthrowing the American way of life is the last thing on the minds of 95% of God-fearing, pious Muslims. Let alone engaging in Holy War. But to those "Muslims" who appear to Westerners as pious, representative Muslims with their long beards and who quote the Quran to kill unjustly in the name of Allah, may hell-fire be their home. "Fight in God's cause against those who fight you, but do not overstep the limits. God does not love those who overstep limits." Quran 2:190.

Looking forward to your comments!


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