Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Islam: My Humble Opinion

Islam needs to be safeguarded from Muslims themselves before anyone else.

In our part of the world, it’s easy to fall prey for intellectual and ideological monopolists who literally monopolize certain subjects namely, religion, and end up making it their own intellectual property. They’re the only ones who are allowed to explain it, to defend it, to preach about it, to beautify it, to disfigure it, and to mold it between their hands into what pleases them. While the rest of the world encourages individualism, they encourage you to follow them blindly. It is considered a sign of devotion and unshaken faith to do so because you are putting your trust on people of knowledge and intellect. And many people do. They follow the conscious of others rather than their own. Some end up in safe hands but others end up between the clutches of those who encourage Sept.11, Al-Khobar attacks, and the bombings of innocent civilians, or I beg your pardon “corrupt infidels.”

In a time when religion is being ripped apart by both its opponents and defendants, normal adherents, like you and I, end up being lost in the middle, confused on the reality of our own faith, we become cursed if we do what they say and even more cursed when we don’t. No wonder why people are turning away from religion whether consciously or unconsciously. Religion has become such an unattractive alternative.

My point here is that learning by example is an important form of learning. It is reinforcement for the knowledge we obtain. Unfortunately, this good example is absent from our Islamic world. One does not have to look hard to realize that the reality of Islam on the ground is very different from the ideals of love, peace, tolerance, unity, modesty, etc that not only Islam but all religions teach.

Extremism, intolerance, spendthrift, slander, backbiting, imbalance, disunity, vulgarity, you name it, are all behaviors that have been repeatedly condemned and prohibited in the Holy Quran. Unfortunately, however, these activities are not rare in the Islamic world; in fact they are very common, to the point of becoming habits and norms, both on an individual and society level. That’s very saddening. It’s a shame when the Quran says “be not divided among yourselves” and we see Shiites and Sunnis disqualifying each other and disintegrating. It’s a shame when the Quran says “fight against those who fight against you, but do not transgress limits” and we see Islamic militias exceeding all plausible limits in their acts of violence. It’s a shame, when the Quran says, “squander not your wealth in the manner of spendthrift” and we see Muslims doing just the opposite. It’s a shame when the Quran says “do not commit excess in your religion” and we see Muslims in ALL sects exaggerating in the manifestation of their belief. I can go on and on and the point remains that we make no effort whatsoever in obeying the word of God whom we worship, yet we keep emphasizing our Muslim identity and many people take it even a step further by doing what they do in the Name of Islam and for the Love of God. It’s ironic.

I have to mention here that certain verses in the Quran, when read literally, ahistorically, and out of context can end up justifying certain acts of violence that Muslim fundamentalists commit. Those verses are offered as textual references to the violence carried out against innocent civilians. This is not Islam. One has to realize that when ignorance, arrogance, and belligerency come together, you have the perfect recipe for violence. That is true not only in religion, but in any doctrine or ideology that is approached in a similar manner, and Islam, evidently, is no exception.

Anyway, below is a subtitled list of my favorite Quranic verses that illustrate this discrepancy between Islam and Muslims, all Muslims, from the average person in the streets of Riyadh, Manama, and Amman to the terrorist in the caves of Tora Bora.

Note: The following verses are by no means the only ones related to the following topics. These are only some of the verses I came across through my reading of the Quran (English/Arabic)

Balance and Moderation

“O people of the book commit no excess in your religion” (4:171) another translation of the same verse reads: “O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion”

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight against you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors." (2:190)

The servants of God are those “who when they spend, are neither extravagant nor parsimonious, and (keep) between these the just mean.” (25:67)

“Squander not your wealth in the manner of a spendthrift” (17:26)

"Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance but commit no excess therein" (20:81)

Religions, Tolerance and Freedom of Belief

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error” (2:256)

“Say: O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship…To you be your Way, and to me mine” (109: 1,2,6)

“If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!” (10:99)

“Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and doeth right, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62)

“Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And unto Him we have surrendered.” (2:136)

“Say: O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with him” (3: 64)

“And dispute ye not with the People of the Book except by what is best, but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our God and your God is one; and to Him we submit” (29:46)


“O ye who believe! (…) hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren (…) Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong (…) Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty” (3: 102-105)

"As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did." (6:159)

Speech and Manners

“And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner.” (17:53)

“Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious” (16:125)

“And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace!" (25:63)

"O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.” (49: 11)

Understanding the Quran

“He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.” (2:7)

Those Who Reject Faith

“They deny what their knowledge does not encompass” (10:39)

“As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.” (2:6)

“Those who reject faith... the loss is their own.” (2:121)


“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (49:13)

“He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He ordained between you love and mercy.” (30:21)

Beauty and Enjoyment

“Say: Who is there to forbid the beauty which God has brought forth for His creatures, and the good things from among the means of sustenance? Say: They are (lawful) in the life of this world unto all who have attained to faith -- to be theirs alone on the Day of Judgment.” (7:32)

“O children of Adam! Beautify yourselves for every act of worship, and eat and drink freely, but do not waste: verily He does not love the wasteful.” (7:31)


And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: "They are dead." Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. (2:154)

Doubt? Reassurance?

When Abraham said: "Show me, Lord, how You will raise the dead, " He replied: "Have you no faith?" He said "Yes, but just to reassure my heart."

Status of Parents

"Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or more attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, "my Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood." (7:23-24)

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." (46:15)

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; but if they strive (to force) thee to join with Me anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not." (29:8)

“And we have enjoined upon man to be careful of his parents, His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years, so give thanks to Me and to your parents, for unto Me is the journeying. But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey them not, but deal with them nicely in the world and follow the path of him who repents to Me." (31:14-15)

The Soul

"Nor do I (joseph) absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil (…) but surely my Lord is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." (12:53)

“And fear the Day when ye shall be brought back to Allah. Then shall every soul be paid what it earned, and none shall be dealt with unjustly.” (2:281)

“On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns” (2:286)

“By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it…and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right” (91:7-8)


“O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another.” (49:12)

"O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done." (6:49)

“If you give alms openly, it is well, and if you hide it and give it to the poor, it is better for you” (2:271)

They say: "Trade is like usury," but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. (2:275)

“If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew.” (2:280)

“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (2:155)

“When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” (2:186)

“It is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you.” (2:216)

“They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." (2:219)

“For Allah is full of bounty to mankind, but Most of them are ungrateful.” (2:243)

Worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practice regular charity (2:83)

Whoever submits His whole self to Allah and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:112)


At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happened to see this article in the Gulf News about Canada considering bringing in Sharia Law.


Is this just a scare tactic by the Conservatives?

At 6:50 PM, Blogger global soul said...

I think this issue has been exaggerated. Orthodox Jews and other religious minorities have been using their own arbitration systems based on their laws for many years; I don’t see why the case would be any different with Muslims. As I understand, the rulings will be limited to civil matters such as inheritance, divorce, etc., no criminal verdicts would be implemented and therefore, as long as the parties involved agree on the arbitration, I don’t see any serious problem. I think with good intentions and serious efforts from both religious groups who are demanding certain liberties and the Canadian government, there could be plenty of room for certain religious practices to be carried out without threatening the Canadian legal system. This is freedom of religion in its truest sense. My only concern would be the sanity of those Muslims who want to introduce the Sharia. Other than that, once the freedom of choice for an arbitration system is granted, the rest should fall in place. I am not really aware of the position of the different political parties in Canada regarding this issue; I personally doubt that this issue will play a significant role in the upcoming elections. There are far more important topics that need to be addressed at the moment.


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