After serving in the United States Marine Corps for five years, going to college now for three years, watching the news, politicians, religious leaders, and so on, I ask myself, do people truly understand what Islam is all about, and beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, the different nuances and such that make up Islam as a whole.
I am not going to answer questions or try to explain anything in this post, I am saving that for later, but here are some questions that arise in my head:
Do people realize that Islam simply means “Submission?”
Do people realize that Muslims believe that thge Qur’an is THE WORD of God (Allah), not the inspired word. Arabic is considered the language of the angels, the words recited (Qur’an means “Recitation”) to Muhammad, by the angel Gabriel, are the EXACT words of Allah, word for word, in Arabic. Because of this, any “translation” of the Qur’an in any language other then Arabic is not considered a translation, but a “definition” of the meaning of the Qur’an.
Do people understand the difference, and the conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims? To compound this even more, the conflict between the Wahhabi and the Shia, as well as the Wahhabi and the Sufi?
Do people even understand what a Sufi is? Or a Wahhabi?
Do people realize that there is more then one “version” of Islamic Law? That the Qur’an is not the only authoritative text from the period, but you also have numerous Hadithe? Therefore it is never enough to say to a Muslim that “this or that” is not in the Qur’an so how can you justify it?
Do people realize that once Muhammad had “cleaned” up Yathrib (Medina) from the “traitorous” Jews, that Muslims, Jews, and even Christians lived in relative peace – North Africa can be seen as an exception, however, many conversions were not forced, and those not converting at first were allowed to follow their own religious practices, and yes I also acknowledge the conquest of the Holy Land – until the Crusades – and that the Crusades truly had nothing ot do with liberating the Holy Land, but that the Eastern Emperor wanted his power back, and the Pope wanted a foothold in the East again since the Church has split (officially) forty years prior.
Do we understand that Islam is a religion of “peace,” at least as much as Judaism and Christianity are. Do we understand that the “average” Muslim is probably less “extreme” then the average Christian – i.e. “fundamentalist?”
Do we understand that Muhammad’s intentions were a) to bring the Arabian Peninsula together b) to get rid of paganism and c)to promote the worship of the “One God,” which in Arabic is Allah (in Hebrew El)? He understood that paganism was being used to exploit the people of Mecca and the surrounding area, i.e. the rich get richer, the poor get poorer – ironic since his wife was one of the richest people, due to her inheriting her former husband’s caravan company, which Muhammad ran even more effectively… then left at the age of 40 to go “into the mountains”
Anyways, I think I could go on and on. Am I saying that I “believe” in Islam, no, because I do not. However, I believe that many people do not have a correct understanding of what Islam is truly about. It would be like someone not knowing what Christianity was all about and then trying to understand Catholics based on Southern Baptists, and Presbyterians based on Ethiopian Orthodox. Then, on top of that, trying to make them conform to ideals which run contrary to their entire belief system, and trying to force Catholics to live with Baptists and Baptists with Episcopalians and Episcopalians with Evangelican Charismatics.
Islam is complex, and yet at times more simpler then Christianity to understand. One must just be willing to do the research, the reading, and ask the questions that are necessary. One must be willing to look beyond their preconceptions and their own prejudice, their own pre conceived notions and “understandings.” One must be willing to take blame and responsibility and place it on more then one group.