Islam – Some Basics

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// November 17th, 2006 // Blog

Apologies to my regular readers – all [insert pitiful number here] of them – for the lack of entries this week. I have been kept busy in the comments section of my last entry titled “A Letter to a Christian”.

I doubt many of you have been following the rather lengthy discussion between Concerned Engineer and myself. However some important issues have been raised which i think might be useful for others to consider. The following paragraphs in italics are excerpts from CE's latest comments:

According to Muslims, are they saved by the mercy of Allāh or by being righteous? How does Allāh fulfill His justice while extending mercy?

Islam presents a story that says, “You might be saved. Just work real hard and pray real hard and do what is right.” The problem is we have failed. So, then, logically, God is just to punish us – to send us to hell.

The horrible thing about Islam is that in rejecting the doctrine of atonement, it opens up wide door to pride and arrogance. A Muslim will either recognize that he does not measure up, and therefore, will live under the tyranny of the law and will die without any confidence. (Unless of course he dies a martyr's death – in which case his confidence is severely misplaced). Or a Muslim will think that he is a pretty righteous dude and will become smug and arrogant.

These comments suggest to me that i have completely failed to communicate the basic concepts of Islam, astagfirullah. I shall now try to rectify this in this entry and pray i get it right, inshā’Allāh. I am going to be quite simplistic, not because i am trying to patronize anyone, but the use of eloquent language will most likely detract from the message i am trying to convey.

Before i start, I'd like to reassure my readers that i do know how unnerving it can be to read about God, belief, disbelief, punishment, reward etc etc – but this is something we all need to seriously think about – not for one day or one week, but as often as possible. “What does this all mean?” is not a question just for the philosophers, but for every single human being: man, woman and child. It is too easy to scoff when matters of the unseen are discussed. Although i was never strictly a “non-believer”, i have had my fair share of “Yeah, whatever mate, keep taking the meds” thoughts when those practising whichever faith dared to approach me to remind me of my duties to God. Been there, done that, but failed to find a T-shirt in my size. Thank God, i have changed – I really mean that – THANK GOD – because my life has never been better, my mind never sharper and my eyes never more open.

Through my studies and lab-based research, i have realised that although science has answered some important questions, it has also shown us how much we do not know about the universe and the origins of life – so let us not be so blind and arrogant as to think that just because we can't see something, it does not exist. The evidence for God is there, staring us in the face, so the issue isn't how do we find it, but rather: are we prepared to live with the knowledge that we uncover?

I also understand that upon mention of Paradise and Hell, some people almost instinctively become defensive with the assumption that they are being judged. Don't deny it, i know you do – i've been there, remember? I must emphasise that i cannot judge anyone nor do i know anyone's fate – including my own – i can only pray that we are all guided to the truth and are allowed to die upon it. āmīn.

In fact, any discomfort you may feel is most likely due to you judging yourself and perhaps not being happy with the verdict you have delivered. Something else for us all to think about.

So now I begin with Bismillah:

God – Belief vs Disbelief & the Consequences thereof

– God is One. He has no partners. He is Eternal and Absolute. He neither begets nor was begotten. He created all things, seen and unseen, known and unknown – and there is nothing in existance like Him.

– God created man with a body and a soul. [By “man” i obviously mean humankind – no sexism intended, naturally!]

– Man's stay on Earth is temporary – when we die, our bodies turn to dust, but the soul lives on, i.e., there is an afterlife.

– God commands that man believe in Him & worship Him alone, with no partners.

– God gave man free choice. He can believe and worship God, or disbelieve.

– God states that the reward for dying on correct belief is an eternal afterlife in Paradise and the punishment for dying on disbelief is an eternal afterlife in Hell.

– I emphasize the word “dying” to highlight how a disbeliever always has the chance to turn back to God up until death seizes him. God is ever-ready to accept his Islam, for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

– It also highlights how a believer cannot be so arrogant as to think he is guaranteed Paradise. He may, God-forbid, choose to leave Islam and may die as a disbeliever in which case all his good deeds will be nullified and he will also reside in Hell for eternity.

– Thus this temporary life on Earth is a trial for all humans and our decision to believe or disbelieve is what determines our eternal fate in the afterlife.

Deeds – Good vs Bad & the Consequences thereof

– God gave man the ability to differentiate between right and wrong – i.e., we all have reason and a conscience no matter what our beliefs.

– God commanded man to do good and stay away from evil so that he may attain piety, and not harm himself. However in practice, this command only applies to the believers as the disbelievers do not acknowledge that God exists to command them in the first place.

– Once again, as God created man with free choice, he can choose to do good or do evil.

– Also, God created man with varying strengths and weaknesses. Even though man has the ability to do great good, he has desires and can be selfish.

– A believer only benefits himself with his good deeds, and only harms himself with his evil deeds (sin). God is above the deeds of men.

Sins – Punishment & Forgiveness

– God is the Just. He warns the believing man that if he sins against himself or others, he will be punished.

– However punishment for sin is not the same as that of disbelief. Punishment for sin can take place in this life and/or the next life. A believer can be punished in this life (the lesser form of punishment) through hardships or via the prescribed legal forms of punishment, or the punishment can be delayed till the afterlife (the greater form of punishment) either in the grave and/or Hell depending on the amount of sin, which God alone knows.

– Punishment of the believer in this life is actually a Mercy from God as it is an expiation for his sin and also reminds him to turn to God and stay away from evil [1].

– Punishment in the afterlife is severe for the believer but it is not permanent. A believer will eventually enter into Paradise once he has “done his time”. However, when you consider that one dip into Hell is horrific enough to instantly wipe away all memories of any good experienced in life, and the minimum “term” is several thousands years… well, i personally wouldn't want to risk going crazy with the sinning, a'authobillah.

– However, the important thing to realize is God is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful. He is more merciful to us than a mother is to her child. The believer can escape the Wrath of God through sincere repentance. God does not enjoy punishing His believing slaves, it is simply a matter of justice. When you do wrong there must be consequences for your actions. However, if a believer recognizes that he has sinned against himself by disobeying God, and sincerely turns to his Creator asking for forgiveness, God has promised that His Mercy will overcome His Anger. Thus the proverbial slate is wiped clean and he may be spared punishment [2].

– However one never knows for certain if one has been forgiven by God – no note falls from the sky saying “Congratulations, your repentance has been accepted!”. A small act in our eyes may be a huge deal to God and vica versa. Thus we are encouraged to ask forgiveness from God for every bad deed, past, present and future, known and unknown, as often as we remember to. This ensures humility in front of both God and our fellow man as we are all capable of sinning and thus we all are in need of His forgiveness.

53 Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allāh for Allāh forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
54 “Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped.
55 “And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you – of a sudden while ye perceive not!-
56 “Lest the soul should (then) say: 'Ah! Woe is me!- In that I neglected (my duty) towards Allāh, and was but among those who mocked!'-
57 “Or (lest) it should say: 'If only Allāh had guided me, I should certainly have been among the righteous!'-
58 “Or (lest) it should say when it (actually) sees the penalty: 'If only I had another chance, I should certainly be among those who do good!'
59 “(The reply will be:) 'Nay, but there came to thee my Signs, and thou didst reject them: thou wast haughty, and became one of those who reject faith!'”
60 On the Day of Judgment wilt thou see those who told lies against Allāh – their faces will be turned black; Is there not in Hell an abode for the haughty?
61 But Allāh will deliver the righteous to their place of salvation: no evil shall touch them, nor shall they grieve.

[Qur'an 39:53-61]

The reward for good deeds

– God has promised that the believers will be rewarded for their good deeds.

– It is very interesting to note that God loves good deeds so much, and is so Just that even disbelievers are rewarded for any good they do – yes, you read me correctly! However, the key difference is when they are rewarded.

– Reward can be bestowed in this life via various blessings and/or in the afterlife whilst in the grave and/or Paradise. God is Generous and His treasures can never be exhausted. Thus He benefits His dutiful slaves in both lives, but the reward of the Hereafter is more lasting.

– However, the one who dies a disbeliever will only receive his reward in this life. His good deeds will be of no avail to him in the afterlife and Hell will be his eternal abode [1].

– Good deeds are of numerous kinds. Shahada is the best of all good deeds. Then come the obligatory acts of worship: the salat, fasting during the month of Ramadaan, the Hajj, and Zakat [the terms in italics are collectively known as the five pillars of worship; please refer to the glossary for further explanation of these individual terms]. Then come the highly recommended acts of worship, which include voluntarily versions of the above and good deeds such as kindness, justice, good character, etc. Even staying away from the impermissible is considered a good deed. A believer is also rewarded for his patience when facing hardships [1].

– Note: A believer cannot earn entry in Paradise through his good deeds, as Paradise is so wonderful and blissful it can never be earned in the strictest sense. It is simply a reward promised by God to the believers.

– Even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said he would not be able to enter Paradise except by the Mercy and Benevolence of His Lord.

– However Paradise consists of many, many levels. The higher you go, the closer you are to God and thus the more delightful the abode, even though those in the lowest level of Paradise will have all they could ask for and more.

– The number of good deeds one accumulates will determine which level you will reside in. Thus those who work and strive for the sake of God in this life will be rewarded with proximity to God, with the Prophets, the shaheed, and the most righteous residing in the highest levels of Paradise.

– On top of this, God in His immense Benevolence multiplies the good deeds of every believer – so for one good deed one may earn many hundreds of hasanat [rewards].

– Compare this to what is earned for sin – a believer only earns one sin for every bad deed he does.

– Thus overall God makes it so easy for His believing slaves to do good and gain proximity to Him, as long as we try our hardest to stick to what is permissible and stay away from what is impermissible, and repent when we do succumb to our own desires.

Conclusion

Those who die on belief, submitting themselves to God, the One, the All-Mighty, without associating partners with Him [Islam], can hope for the reward of Paradise. Those who reject God will only be harming themselves, and should fear dying on disbelief which can only result in an eternity in Hell – a most terrifying abode.

God commands the believers to do good and resist evil. Those believers who sin should repent to God asap with all sincerity for He is the only One capable of forgiving sins and He is ever-ready to accept repentance. They should also strive to do good deeds to please God and to obtain hasanat so they may be as close to their Lord as possible in this life and during their eternal residence in Paradise – surely seeing the Face of one's glorious Creator is the greatest pleasure one could ever experience!

129 To Allāh belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth; but Allāh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
130 O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allāh. that ye may (really) prosper.
131 Fear the Fire, which is prepared for those who reject Faith:
132 And obey Allāh and the Messenger, that ye may obtain mercy.
133 Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,-
134 Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allāh loves those who do good;-
135 And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allāh to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allāh.- and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done.
136 For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath,- an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!

[Qur'an 3:129-136]

To summarize even further, every deed, both good and bad, has consequences, with the best deed being belief in God and the worst deed being disbelief, and God has granted us the freedom of choice.

The question now is: which will you choose to do?

For a more detailed (and frankly much better) explanation on Islam, please go here.

Personal comments

[1] When i learnt that:

a) trials in this life for the believer are expiations for sins and also a means of attaining reward, and thus proximity to God,

and that:

b) the disbeliever, or extremely sinful believer, is rewarded for any good he does in this life,

the world suddenly made sense to me.

It explained why “bad things happen to good people” and why those who commit the most atrocious acts are often the ones living like kings. I don't think anyone can truely appreciate how much strength this gives the muslims undergoing the most brutal of hardships, especially by overlords who seem to have it all. Of course bad things also happen to “bad people” and good things to “good people”. God certainly works in mysterious ways. All i know for sure is that He is Just, He loves justice and He will avenge all those who have been wronged in one way or another.

[2] I don't think repentance will spare a believer the punishment prescribed by law, as repentance is something between God and His servant, i.e., only God knows the sincerity of the believer – i need to check this out.

In my next entry: Another excerpt from the discussion “A Letter to a Christian”: So many religions claim to possess “God's Word”. Who's right – if anyone – and how can you tell? If you just can't wait to find out, then scroll through the comments under that entry and you'll find my suggestions somewhere!

24 Responses to “Islam – Some Basics”

  1. Anonymous says:

    “He may, God-forbid, choose to leave Islam and may die as a disbeliever in which case all his good deeds will be nullified and he will also reside in Hell for eternity.”

    compare with

    “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus”

    Islam and Catholicism can’t both be right, but they can both be wrong and the memeticists right:

    http://www.geocities.com/scimah/memes.htm

    http://www.youmeworks.com/thought_contagion.html

    http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/MEMLEX.html

  2. Anonymous says:

    “God is One. He has no partners. He is Eternal and Absolute.”

    All functioning phenomena are composite and changeable. A phenomenon which was truly unitary could never affect nor be affected by anything else. Neither could it know or be known by anything else.

    Hence the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which avoids the two erroneous extreme views of singularity and plurality.

  3. iMuslim says:

    Two anonymous posters – but somehow i don’t think they are the same person.

    To the first anonymous:

    Islam and Catholicism can’t both be right…

    Actually, I beg to differ. They can both be right – in places. Islam teaches that God has revealed His message time and time again to humanity via different Prophets: your God is One, thus worship Me alone. The Qur’an is simply the final revelation.

    The Torah and the Gospels were also revelations. Even though both have been changed by the hands of men, they still contain some of the original revealed truth. So if Christians (including Catholics) happen to base a doctrine on the true part of the Bible, they will no doubt agree with Islamic teachings.

    I have heard something about memes but not read much about them. I shall have a look through the links when i have time, God-willing.

    To the second anonymous:

    To put it simply – i have no idea what you’re talking about.

    I am not a philosopher by trade so the language you’re speaking is pretty much Cantonese to me [by the way, i’m not Chinese].

    However i am a biologist which is some kind of scientist. Thus I like to reason using the evidence in front of me, and not via some strange stream-of-consciousness method. I see the world around me, and i see the work of one intelligence. I read the Qur’an and i see it to be a miracle in itself – no contradictions, no alterations, clear and to the point. It refers to the creation of God and makes mention of facts not known to any human being alive even 100 hundred years ago, never mind 1400 years ago. In it it says God is One and He is capable of all things. He does not need to be partitioned for anyone to comprehend this.

    It is elementary my dear Watson.

    So please do not speak of God without knowledge and proof, as you really have no right.

    Best wishes all,

    iMuslim

  4. ConcernedEngineer says:

    “God is One. He has no partners. He is Eternal and Absolute. He neither begets nor was begotten. He created all things, seen and unseen, known and unknown – and there is nothing in existance like Him.”

    God is One. I agree with that.

    He has no partners. That’s not true.

    Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'”

    So, clearly, there is a difference between the teaching of the Bible and the teaching of Islam on this issue. There are two things to consider:

    A. Presenting “evidence” for the inspiration and reliability for the Bible and Qur’an.

    B. Discussing the philosophical differences between the idea of a Trinity-type God vs an Allah-type God.

    I shall proceed on “B” first. We’ll get to “A” at some future point.

    God is certainly One. The Old Testament clearly teaches as much. “Here, O Israel, the LORD is God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

    So, clearly there is one God. But, apparently, there are multiple persons in the Godhead.

    So, what?

    So, God experiences community within Himself. He is not alone. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist in perfect fellowship together. And since we have been created in His image, we are created for community. It is not as though God needed community and therefore created people. He was already within community within the Trinity. I believe that it was out of the joy of this community that God created us in His image – in His likeness – that we can share in His community and that, with His help, we could live in community with one another.

    If God has not had community for all eternity, then why did He create man? Did He create man “in His image” and “in His likeness”? If so, then why do we crave for community? If God does not experience community, then why did He hard-wire us to want and need community? And if God has not experienced community from time immemorial, then why does He desire for man to be in communion with Him (assuming that He does)? Or is it that Allah is simply not a relational God?

    I think many millions of Muslims and Christians go back and forth on the doctrine of the Trinity. “Trinity!” “No!” “YES! “NO!” But how many people say, “So what? What’s the big deal? What are the implications here?”

    What say you?

  5. dining.philosopher says:

    iMuslim,

    I started reading your piece and stopped reading when I hit:

    “God states that the reward for dying on correct belief is an eternal afterlife in Paradise and the punishment for dying on disbelief is an eternal afterlife in Hell.”

    I stopped reading because I have seen you and heard you before. It feels as if I have been seeing you and hearing you for about 16 – 20 centuries.

    But tell me – are all Hindus going to hell? What about Buddhists?

  6. dining_philosopher says:

    I dont really like talking about religion with people like you. I think having faith is a wonderful thing and the last thing I want to do, god forbid, is instill doubt in your mind.

    I am a PhD student myself. And I think what you need to try and understand is that the people who wrote the books that you and your christian brothers love to quote were written by “scholars” who are no different from the modern day science “scholars”. The truth was “revealed” to those ancient “scholars” the exact same way truth is being “revealed” to you in your lab. In other words, the “revelation” wasn’t accompanied by thunder and lightning. Atleast in your case, you have a nice well-defined scientific method to follow whereas in tehir case, most of it (actually all of it in my opinion) was speculation.

    But here is what I am trying to tell you: When the book that you are quoting from says “disbelievers will go to hell”, dont you see that the proponents of the religion were actually trying to scare people into accepting the religion? Dont you see that it was a propaganda tactic to recruit adherents? Really, if there indeed was a God, do you think he’d be so stupid and insecure as to say “You must believe in me and sing my praises or you will burn forever”? It reminds me of Monty Python’s “ooh, You are so big…”

  7. iMuslim says:

    I stopped reading because I have seen you and heard you before. It feels as if I have been seeing you and hearing you for about 16 – 20 centuries.

    And yet, you don’t look a day over… just kidding.

    Did you happen to read anymore of my entry?

    But tell me – are all Hindus going to hell? What about Buddhists?

    Why? Are you a Hindu or a Buddhist?

    I did try and reassure you at the start of the entry that i am personally not able to judge any person’s fate, even my own! Yes, i suppose from the teachings of the Qur’an i could say that Hell is the destination of those who die on Buddhism or Hinduism, having rejected Islam. However if you want me to point to an individual Hindu or Buddhist and say “You guys are hell-toast”, i wouldn’t dare. I don’t know what is in their hearts or their futures.

    I think having faith is a wonderful thing and the last thing I want to do, god forbid, is instill doubt in your mind.

    I find that a strange statement – on the one hand you think faith is a wonderful thing, and you don’t want me to let it go… but yet you do want me to let it go as you think i am delusional! [I know we had a brief chat about this on Daniel’s blog]. Have you ever thought that believing in God is a good thing because that is our nature and when we act according to our nature, it feels good? I imagine you will come up with an example to counter my claim seeing as you have insight into the darkness of man’s soul

    I am a PhD student myself.

    It sucks doesn’t it?

    And I think what you need to try and understand is that the people who wrote the books that you and your christian brothers love to quote were written by “scholars” who are no different from the modern day science “scholars”.

    Woah there horsey… now you’re speaking without knowledge, but we’re all here to learn so it’s ok [sorry if my tone is annoying, i’m in a strange mood!]. The Qur’an was not “written” by anyone. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was illiterate. Yes, it was recorded by his followers during his lifetime but it is not strictly a book. The Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) from God via the Angel Gabriel, and he would recite it to his followers. The word Qur’an actually means “recital”.

    So now you might say “Ok, so it was a recital – it just means it was a product of Muhammad’s own mind”.

    And i would then counter with: “Fair enough, i may have agreed with you if it wasn’t for the fact that the Qur’an is like nothing any human being could produce.”

    At which you may say: “How so?”

    My response: “Read my next entry which will be posted asap.”

    [Btw, do you like the way i had a conversation all by myself there?]

    At least in your case, you have a nice well-defined scientific method to follow whereas in tehir case, most of it (actually all of it in my opinion) was speculation.

    Well, i’m not sure why people think faith has to be so unscientific. It should be about looking at the evidence and making a reasoned judgement. Yes, reasoned. Why does it have to be something that is swallowed like a giant bitter pill? You believe in atoms don’t you? But have you ever seen an atom? Has anyone? [Actually, that is a good question – where is the technology at these days?] Anyway, my point is people “believed” in atoms long before the latest technology as there was evidence that pointed to their existence. I’ll admit one cannot prove God’s existence in the same methodical way as God is not a non-sentient, inanimate thing that is just waiting around to be found. But you get my point – there is evidence, in the world around us and also in the miracle of the Qur’an. Reading it won’t make you believe, but it will give you plenty of reasons to do so.

    But here is what I am trying to tell you: When the book that you are quoting from says “disbelievers will go to hell”, dont you see that the proponents of the religion were actually trying to scare people into accepting the religion? Dont you see that it was a propaganda tactic to recruit adherents?

    I can see your point – honestly i can. But once again you’re not basing your opinion on reality, they’re just ideas.

    If you knew something about the life of Muhammad you will see my point, but before i explain, i must warn you not to be sceptical about my sources. Meaning, these facts about Muhammad are just that – facts. Muslims have been commanded not to lie about their religion. I did quote the narration somewhere else on my blog, but i’ll paste it here with along with my comment in case you didn’t read it:

    Narrated Al-Mughira: I heard the Prophet saying, “Ascribing false things to me is not like ascribing false things to anyone else. Whosoever tells a lie against me intentionally then surely let him occupy his seat in Hell-Fire.” [Al-Bukhari].

    Note that Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not differentiate between a lie that favors him and a lie that belittles him. [Muhammad is the example that all Muslims must follow to practice their religion, thus to lie about Muhammad is to lie about the religion and this is clearly forbidden.] This is because the one who feels the need to lie in order to promote his religion is in fact saying that his religion is deficient and incomplete, that it cannot defend itself, and out of his arrogance he thinks he can “fix” it with his lie. That indeed is one of the worst of sins, a’authobillah.

    Thus the words i quoted above were actually spoken by Muhammad himself (peace be upon him). This is not a ruling that was “tagged on” to the religion a few centuries later.

    Ok, so now that you may hopefully trust what i am about to say, i shall begin:

    When Muhammad (peace be upon him) began preaching he was not the leader of his society. He was from the most noble lineage of Makkah but he had no special influence or status. He started life off as a shepherd and then became a trader. He was a humble man and was well known for his honesty way before Prophethood was bestowed upon him at the age of 40. I’d love to tell you everything about him but i simply cannot do his life-story justice here, please visit this site for an introduction. I would also recommend reading his biography written by Martin Lings titled “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources”.

    Anyway, the society Muhammad was born and raised in was pagan, and how! There were something like 360 idols set up around the Kabah [see glossary]. There were no Christian or Jewish communities in Makkah. So if you’re going to start preaching the message of “Worship the One God” with the added threat of “If you don’t you’re going to Hell”, then this is not the best place to start. And how long did he spend in Makkah doing this? Oh, only THIRTEEN YEARS. And those weren’t thirteen fun-filled years – he only had a handful of followers, mostly poor people and slaves, who were all tortured and abused for rejecting the pagan ways of their forefathers. For three years during this period Muhammad and his entire tribe were outcast from society. With no other tribe trading with them they suffered greatly – sometimes the hunger drove them to eat the leaves of trees. Where was the advantage for believing then? Why wasn’t the threat of Hell converting the pagan arabs left, right and centre? Muhammad (peace be upon him) was simply sent as a Warner. He had no ability to convert people, just to make plain the message. That was what i was trying to do with my entry – make the message plain and not skirt over the issue.

    This is only a small part of the story. He spent the remainder of his life in another city called Medina. This was the first Islamic state and there he was not only a Prophet but also the leader. However most leaders use their influence to gain wealth – but he
    lived a simple life and died poor at the age of 63, like most of his followers. So once again, what earthly gains did Muhammad (peace be upon him) earn through supposedly lying to everyone?

    This is not a unique story – this was the way of all the Prophets of God, including Jesus (peace be upon them all). They all called to the worship of One God, often to their own detriment. Perhaps that is why you have heard the same story for X number of centuries.

    I strongly suggest you read the biography i mentioned together with the Qur’an – at the least you can criticise me with greater accuracy, but please don’t make that your intention!! [Please!] “Available in all good bookshops” – hehe.

    Really, if there indeed was a God, do you think he’d be so stupid and insecure as to say “You must believe in me and sing my praises or you will burn forever”? It reminds me of Monty Python’s “ooh, You are so big…”

    I am going to assume you were joking here (especially with the mention of M.P.), as the use of the words “stupid” and “insecure” were kind of insensitive.

    Anyway, once again i see your point.

    However our belief in God does not benefit Him, nor does our disbelief harm Him – it is for our benefit alone.

    Verily We have revealed the Book to thee in Truth, for (instructing) mankind. He, then, that receives guidance benefits his own soul: but he that strays injures his own soul. Nor art thou set over them to dispose of their affairs. [Qur’an 39:41]

    Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul; whoever works evil, it is against his own soul: nor is thy Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His Servants. [Qur’an 41:46]

    Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the Days of Allah. It is for Him to recompense (for good or ill) each People according to what they have earned. If any one does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against (his own soul). In the end will ye (all) be brought back to your Lord. [Qur’an 45:14-15]

    God has always existed, whereas we were created which means there was a time we didn’t exist, so that suggests that God does not need us. In addition, the Angels are constantly worshipping God – they have no choice (btw, Satan wasn’t an angel if you’re wondering) – so if God was in any need of our worship, He could have made us all Angels or at least compel us to believe.

    So in that sense i agree with you, or should i say, you agree with Islam! Don’t faint on me now…

    The punishment for disbelief is a warning – a terrible warning, but as God doesn’t lie it is not an empty threat. IMHO as disbelief is so severely warned against, it must be the worst thing one can do to oneself in this life… i have a longer explanation, however if i started it now it’d turn into a huge essay and i don’t have the time!

    Anyway, what does it matter to you?

    If you believe in God and submit to Him in Islam then you can hope for Paradise and pray to be saved from Hell.

    If you don’t believe, well, Hell doesn’t exist to you so you have nothing to worry about, right?

    Right?

  8. iMuslim says:

    Hey CE!

    Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'”

    The explanation for that verse is simple – ever heard of the Royal We? E.g., We are not amused?

    That is a common trait in many languages, using the plural to project a sense of importance. God even uses it in the Qur’an – but don’t get excited, He also says quite clearly that Jesus was NOT His Son. Nor does He have any other partners lurking around… so as the Americans say: “Don’t go there!”.

    Wrt to your philosophical point, i’m afraid i have to say the same as i said to Anon. I’m not a big fan of philosophising God – you’re analogising He who has no equal in the entire creation. Plus i’d rather let Him speak for Himself as per usual as i’m bound to underestimate His Greatness or just get Him plain wrong knowing me.

    So the implications for me are getting God mad – and i don’t want to be doing that! A’authobillah.

    I’d rather stick to the Islamic revelation as it is safe and accurate.

  9. dining_philosopher says:

    Faith in god is good. But following every word written in a book (or recited as you put it), is, well, I wish you’d stop doing that. You need to essay your own religion around the concept of a compassionate God. Your imagination is as good as Prophet Mohammad’s. YOU ARE GOD’s PROPHET TOO! If you take a pen and start writing on a piece of paper, Allah will decide what words it will scribble! So, they will be Allah’s words revealed to the world through you. So, use your common-sense and write your own religion.

    Anyway, the society Muhammad was born and raised in was pagan, and how! There were something like 360 idols set up around the Kabah [see glossary]… So if you’re going to start preaching the message of “Worship the One God” with the added threat of “If you don’t you’re going to Hell”, then this is not the best place to start.

    When was the last time you visited India? Or did you ever visit India at all? I think you should stop calling yourself “second generation Indian”. You are a British Muslim.

    Your threat of hell does not bother me. Am I a Hindu? It depends on who you ask. A person can be an atheist (or a Muslim) and still be a Hindu! Many Hindus worship Sufi saints! Anyway, I dont worship Hindu gods anymore but atleast (mainstream) Hinduism talks about good deeds and bad deeds. You kind of earn credit for every good deed that you do. You dont go to hell for not believing in God. Your deeds decide your Karma.

    What bothers me is that it is precisely because of this kind of blind adherence to every word in a book that is resulting in deaths of hundreds all over the world. Imagine, Jews are killing people because some of them believe, with intensity that matches yours, that they are the chosen ones. You are not saying that they should not be letting a book tell them such stupid things. You seem to be merely saying that they are not intrepreting the book properly?!!!

    If Koran were to contain a line that says, “If you are a Muslim, and if you kill a non-Muslim (infidel?), you will be doing the non-Muslim a favor because he will go straight to heaven”, then people like you will happily slaughter innocents thinking that you are doing them a favor! If Koran says, “rape all non-believing women and you will all go to heaven, you would have allowed it to happen thinking that God, in his infinite wisdom, wanted it that way”. Tell me, what exactly are you willing to do for God. What will make you say, “I can’t do that…that’s not right”. I dont want to know the answer to that question.

  10. ConcernedEngineer says:

    “I’d rather stick to the Islamic revelation as it is safe and accurate.”

    No, unfortunately it is not. And you are brainwashed.

    I have empathy for you, friend. I pray with faith, hope, and love that you, my friend, will come to your senses, reject the heretical doctrines of Islam, and turn to Jesus with all your heart and soul.

  11. iMuslim says:

    CE & DP…

    Two very different people brought together on my little blog – you guys make my day, do you know that? Anyway, i just came out of a good meeting so i’m in a good mood to answer your good points. It’s all good…

    CE said: No, unfortunately it is not. And you are brainwashed.

    Tut-tut CE. Three words for you: Pot, Kettle & Black.

    You haven’t even read the Qur’an and you make such judgments? I know you haven’t read the Book of the Mormon either, but that’s isn’t the best response for saying the Qur’an is not what it says it is.

    DP said:
    Faith in god is good. But following every word written in a book (or recited as you put it), is, well, I wish you’d stop doing that.

    What bothers me is that it is precisely because of this kind of blind adherence to every word in a book that is resulting in deaths of hundreds all over the world. Imagine, Jews are killing people because some of them believe, with intensity that matches yours, that they are the chosen ones. You are not saying that they should not be letting a book tell them such stupid things. You seem to be merely saying that they are not intrepreting the book properly?!!!

    If Koran were to contain a line that says, “If you are a Muslim, and if you kill a non-Muslim (infidel?), you will be doing the non-Muslim a favor because he will go straight to heaven”, then people like you will happily slaughter innocents thinking that you are doing them a favor! If Koran says, “rape all non-believing women and you will all go to heaven, you would have allowed it to happen thinking that God, in his infinite wisdom, wanted it that way”.

    I will say the same thing to you as i did to CE: HAVE YOU EVER READ THE QUR’AN?

    You’re making wild accusations about a book you’ve never even read – i think you haven’t just because no where does it say to do what you’ve just said, or anything remotely as crazy.

    You are assuming a lot. There is a proverb about assumptions being the start of something or other, i forget now. But let’s just say – it’s not safe to assume. You think the Qur’an is just like the Bible or other “Holy Books” – and i’m not even sure that the Bible commands such obscenities!

    Read the Qur’an and then come back and tell me what you agree or disagree with in terms of commandments for moral behavior.

    Tell me, what exactly are you willing to do for God. What will make you say, “I can’t do that…that’s not right”. I dont want to know the answer to that question.

    You asked the question, so you get an answer. I would like to think i would follow God’s command to the letter – yes, all of it. I know i’m not so strong to go all the way just yet but i try. Relax DP – no matter what the media says, muslims are not commanded to kill civilians or blow themselves up or commit other “terrorist” activities. Propaganda, much?

    People – all people (yes, even you) – get desperate in desperate situations and they look for any excuse to try and change things, no matter whether it is morally acceptable or not. Just because one says “this is for God” it doesn’t mean God is obligated to accept that deed, because it may go against the clear limits He has set out and thus you have disobeyed Him. The ends do NOT justify the means in Islam.

    And are you saying that people who do not strictly follow a religion are somehow protected from committing murder and rape and other unacceptable acts? Wouldn’t it be easier for someone who has no clear moral guide to justify these acts to themselves? What would be the consequences that would prevent them from doing wrong? Prison? Only if you get caught and/or you are not in a position of “immunity”. It may end up becoming a case of: “This is OK as long as no-one sees me, or no-one has the power to stop me”. Where is the justice?

    We all have a moral conscience (as i said lower down in my entry) so we can all to some degree decipher between what is right or wrong. But we also have selfish desires that can override any altruistic tendency in overt and/or subtle ways. We cannot be trusted to make up the rules for ourselves as we are neither objective nor knowledgeable enough.

    You need to essay your own religion around the concept of a compassionate God. Your imagination is as good as Prophet Mohammad’s. YOU ARE GOD’s PROPHET TOO! If you take a pen and start writing on a piece of paper, Allah will decide what words it will scribble! So, they will be Allah’s words revealed to the world through you. So, use your common-sense and write your own religion.

    THAT IS JUST NON-SENSE. I’m sorry DP, but if you’re not going to follow the truth then just don’t bother following anything, don’t make up your own religion, don’t make up your own ideas about God. If anything it is completely non-scientific. What is the basis of your religion? How intelligent are you to know exactly what is best for you? What is the evidence for this and your religious beliefs? How will you decide whether something is right or wrong? What if someone disagrees with you? What if your actions harm others, but if you don’t do them, you harm yourself, and vica versa – who takes priority?

    These are all questions of ethics and philosophy. While some very astute intellectuals are right now sitting around tables talking and talking and talking, in an effort to conclude the nature of reality and what is “right” and “wrong”, people in the real world are suffering trying to figure it out for themselves. The sad is thing they don’t need to – the wisdom is already here for us, waiting to be used.

    Do you think i’m a muslim because i was born into a muslim family? I CHOSE Islam having studied the evidence and realizing it was the truth. Feel free to disagree with my decision but once again do not assume that i’m walking around blind, pecking the ground five times a day because some random guy who lived 1400 years ago told me to do so.

    Like CE, you assume i’m brain-washed, without even having the decency to do a little research on Islam. When did i ask you to take my word for it? I have said soooo many times to soooo many people: read the Qur’an, read the biography of Muhammad (peace be upon him), make up your own mind. Stop speaking without knowledge.

    Until you do that you are in danger of making ignorant, insulting assumptions about Islam as well as my intellect and ability to reason. [I know i shouldn’t let my ego get in the way, but i’m only human…]

    When was the last time you visited India? Or did you ever visit India at all? I think you should stop calling yourself “second generation Indian”. You are a British Muslim.

    I visited India quite a few years ago now. I was eleven years old so yes, definitely a while ago. There are such things as Indian Muslims you know. I don’t see why not being Hindu makes me less Indian. My parents were born in India and they are muslim. I still have family in India and they are muslims. And if you want me to drop the word “Indian”, fair enough but then i may as well drop the word “British” too, as nationality really means very little to me. Culture is nice, but it is not the be-all and end-all of existence.

    Your threat of hell does not bother me.

    Ok, but remember the threat is not mine – i have no say in your fate. We are all accountable for our own selves.

    Am I a Hindu? It depends on who you ask. A person can be an atheist (or a Muslim) and still be a Hindu! Many Hindus worship Sufi saints! Anyway, I dont worship Hindu gods anymore but atleast (mainstream) Hinduism talks about good deeds and bad deeds. You kind of earn credit for every good deed that you do. You dont go to hell for not believing in God. Your deeds decide your Karma.

    Please explain the concept of Karma to me. From what little i know it ties in with the idea of reincarnation. So if you live your present life wel

    l then in the next life you’ll return as a “higher” being. And if you do better and better you eventually achieve oneness with Brahma (sp?). Alternatively if you do bad deeds you return as a “lesser” being and i’m not sure if there is any kind of end-point with badness. I suppose not being one with Brahma may be it.

    Please correct me as it’s been a while since i read about Hinduism.

    If i am correct then one has to ask two questions:

    1) Why do you believe in the concept of Karma in the first place – i.e., who told you to and why do you believe them?

    and

    2) Who or what decides your fate in the next life? It seems to me like some kind of judgment is taking place. It seems to me like there are consequences for actions, good for good and bad for bad, and remaining in this “mortal coil” is a Hell in itself, especially if one is becoming a “lesser” being each time.

    So how exactly is this concept different to Judgment by God, with a Heaven and Hell at the end, and why is one concept more acceptable to you than the other?

    In the end we may never see eye to eye over such issues, but why assume the worst about me and Islam without knowing the facts? And why assume it is like every other religion without doing some research? And why reject it as falsehood when you haven’t even gone to the source to see for yourself?

    Though i hardly know you, i wouldn’t think you to be so arrogant, especially as you are someone who has dedicated their life to the pursuit of knowledge.

    Please forgive me for my emotive responses – i don’t mean any disrespect but i get a little annoyed when people assume things. I’m probably guilty of the same thing, astagfirullah so i have to learn to control myself!

    All truth is from God, and any mistakes from myself.

    Best wishes,

    iMuslim

  12. dining_philosopher says:

    I would like to think i would follow God’s command to the letter – yes, all of it. I know i’m not so strong to go all the way just yet but i try.

    How will you decide whether something is right or wrong? What if someone disagrees with you? What if your actions harm others, but if you don’t do them, you harm yourself, and vica versa – who takes priority?

    Think about what you just said. Think about the number of religions on this planet. God, unfortunately, spoke to a lot of prophets (and i still say that He can speak to you too!). Often, He said contradictory things to different prophets. Every one of those prophets have a big following. Who decides which was The True Prophet. Religious books and God’s “recitals” are dime a dozen on this planet. You will find a new religion on every street corner. Maybe there is a religion out there that says, “Kill a Muslim and you will go to heaven…” Whos to say that they are not right?

    I mentioned India because it is a place which is nothing like what you will see anywhere. It is a place where adherents of different religions live in relative peace. It is a place where headscarves need not be banned to achieve “integration”. It is a place where you see respect for all faiths. It is a place that you, an English woman, will never grasp. Learn to respect all faiths and all prophets. If you ask me, Buddha was the greatest of all prophets. Zarathustra comes a close second. I am not religious but I bristle when you say “Muhammad is the only prophet” because you are implicitly insulting other religions by calling their prophets fakes.

    As far as Hinduism is concerned, it does not have a good definition. I think Hinduism was a religion of philosophers. Like I said, even atheists can be Hindus. But, some idiots started “reciting God’s words” and hence putting down all sorts of nonsense into “holy” books which every Hindu is supposed to follow. A lot of it merely reflects the political situation at the time of writing. A lot of it is designed to oppress some sections and protect others and in general, help with administration. Purely due to political reasons/propaganda, lot of the nonsense made it into the “mainstream” Hinduism that is being followed by millions. Hinduism used to be something else. It used to be the “religion” of thinking people.

    But ofcourse, as far as blinker-wearing people like you are concerned, Buddhists , Hindus , Sikhs, jains…they are all pagans.

  13. iMuslim says:

    Think about what you just said. Think about the number of religions on this planet. God, unfortunately, spoke to a lot of prophets (and i still say that He can speak to you too!). Often, He said contradictory things to different prophets. Every one of those prophets have a big following. Who decides which was The True Prophet. Religious books and God’s “recitals” are dime a dozen on this planet. You will find a new religion on every street corner. Maybe there is a religion out there that says, “Kill a Muslim and you will go to heaven…” Whos to say that they are not right?

    Islam teaches that God has chosen many Prophets over the history of mankind. But we can’t believe everyone who says “Hey, i’m a Prophet too!”. There are signs and indications that someone has received true divine guidance. God only chooses the best amongst men to preach His message as they are effectively His representatives on Earth. And i disagree that God has told people to do different things – that would be cruel and weird. The message that each Prophet was inspired with was the same – it is man that took the scriptures and altered them for his own purpose. The evidence for that is clear – so don’t look to God for the blame, look in the mirror or on the streets. We human beings are quite capable of modifying the truth for our own gain – we lie a plenty, but God does not lie as He has no need to.

    I mentioned India because it is a place which is nothing like what you will see anywhere. It is a place where adherents of different religions live in relative peace.

    I agree that India is the place to go to see multiculturalism in action – but relative peace? I’m not so sure. Gujarat (where my family are from) has seen too much blood shed and the caste system is making people’s lives miserable. It’s ok if you happen to be from one of the top ranking castes, but the untouchables are living the life of scum.

    It is a place where headscarves need not be banned to achieve “integration”. It is a place where you see respect for all faiths. It is a place that you, an English woman, will never grasp. Learn to respect all faiths and all prophets.

    Umm… once again you assume that i do not respect other faiths. Just because i don’t agree with them all or follow them all does not mean i do not respect the right for people to be different. Faith is a choice and it always will be.

    England is a land of difference. Have you ever visited London? It’s the most multicultural place on Earth! If i had such a massive chip on my shoulder wrt other faiths and peoples i wouldn’t be able to step out the front door! Especially as I’m one of only two people in my lab group that was born in the UK.

    If you ask me, Buddha was the greatest of all prophets. Zarathustra comes a close second. I am not religious but I bristle when you say “Muhammad is the only prophet” because you are implicitly insulting other religions by calling their prophets fakes.

    You have skipped over many things i have said, and i never said Muhammad was the only Prophet. I’ll quote myself to prove it:

    This is not a unique story – this was the way of all the Prophets of God, including Jesus (peace be upon them all). They all called to the worship of One God, often to their own detriment. Perhaps that is why you have heard the same story for X number of centuries.

    See? However Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the seal of the Prophets, i.e., the last in a long, long, long line of them. I cannot comment on Buddha, besides did he even call himself a Prophet? And how well have his teachings been preserved, i.e., how much of what has been recorded were his words and not the words of priests/monks who came after him? I was under the impression that Buddhists (at least one type) did not believe in God. So perhaps your definition of Prophet and mine are different. There have been many great men and women who were wise teachers. It does not make them all Prophets – i.e., people who have been chosen by God to preach His message. As i said earlier, God’s message is one and He does not lie to His people. He is constant and so does not change over time – to think that is to anthropomorphize God and once again one needs direct evidence before one can say anything about God’s nature.

    As far as Hinduism is concerned, it does not have a good definition. I think Hinduism was a religion of philosophers. Like I said, even atheists can be Hindus. But, some idiots started “reciting God’s words” and hence putting down all sorts of nonsense into “holy” books which every Hindu is supposed to follow. A lot of it merely reflects the political situation at the time of writing. A lot of it is designed to oppress some sections and protect others and in general, help with administration. Purely due to political reasons/propaganda, lot of the nonsense made it into the “mainstream” Hinduism that is being followed by millions. Hinduism used to be something else. It used to be the “religion” of thinking people.

    So you see how dangerous it is to make one’s religion up as one feels? This is exactly the evil consequence. The same consequence can be seen for all divinely inspired religions that have been altered by men – even in the various sects of Islam. You may think it is OK for the philosophers to do it, but in reality all humans are capable of error and this error can lead to grave problems for those who listen and obey.

    That is why God kept on sending messengers to His people, so that they could be reminded of the true purpose of their existance, the true nature of life, and thus be saved from these man-made alterations. Islam is not the religion of Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is the religion of God – that is, Muhammad was not inspired with anything “new”. The same message was preached at the beginning of humanity and will exist till the very end.

    But ofcourse, as far as blinker-wearing people like you are concerned, Buddhists , Hindus , Sikhs, jains…they are all pagans.

    Why am i blinkered? Because i hold an opinion? Sorry DP but not everybody can be right all the time, and thinking so won’t bring world peace. Tolerance may, but not blind acceptance.

    All the people you mentioned are non-muslim but that’s their choice. If they don’t want to believe no-one can force them to nor can any Muslim even harm them on this basis. Muslims are not allowed to be arrogant – our blood is not special. Anyone can become muslim, all it takes is a simple testimony:
    Ash-hadu anla illaha ilallah wa ash-hadu anna muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasoolu.
    I testify that there is no-one worthy of worship, expect Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.

    Islam is a world religion that has been accepted by peoples of all colours and races. The black man prays next to the white man and the brown man and the albino man! The poor next to the rich. The ex-Jew next to the ex-Christian next to the “born”-Muslim. The history of Islam has numerous examples of people who were fighting against it one day, and accepting it the next. They were welcomed into the muslim community and no retribution was taken, nor were they thought less of.

    You say Hinduism is for the thinking people, well i say Islam is too and definitely more so. It has evidence for it’s divine status via the Qur’an and there is ample evidence for the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Qur’an has been preserved completely without alteration. Islam does not require anyone to believe in it blindly, and God encourages man throughout the Qur’an to think and contemplate the world around him and his own existence. There is no blind loyalty to any human being as we are all capable of error – thus no-one escapes justice, no matter how rich or powerful. We only obey God, and His Messenger because he was inspired by God – and the evidence for that is great.

    Aren’t you a little curious why i

    say Islam is the truth? Or are you once again going to assume i’m wrong just because i have the audacity to say it out loud?

    I know many people say their way is the truth – but they have to prove it. If they fail to deliver the goods then we have the right to walk away.

    So are you prepared to do some work? Cos nothing good in life comes easy…

  14. budist says:

    If allah is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Compassionate then why is there so much suffering in the animal and human realms?

    One third of humanity lives in reasonable conditions. Two thirds live in consitions of poverty, sqaualor and disease. Why doesn’t allah sort it out? Is he an ego freakist who just wants to be worshippeed – a parasite on fearful obligations – just a celestial politician who promises everything then like all politicians never delivers?

    God’s univesrse is full of suffereeing. So excuses …
    Maybe He doesn’t know?
    Maybe he doesn’t care?
    Maybe he can’t do anythihng,
    Maybe he doesn’t exist

    Then pity animals realms. Why did god/alah makes animals who live in constant state of fear? No mental peace. Cute robin or bunny rabbit always looking around fearful of predators in never ending fear, no peace of mind. Allah very cruel.

    I’m a Budist who doesn’t believe in Satan/Allah or that a predatotry pedophile could posibly reveal anything but falsehood so destined to hell.

  15. dining_philosopher says:

    Have you ever visited London? It’s the most multicultural place on Earth!

    At this point I felt tempted to talk about 711 and about New York and indeed about entire western “multi-culturalism” and what “integration” means to you white people. But then again whats the point?

    Iraq is a glowing (or should I say burning) example of your inability to understand other cultures. And it wont change. Thats because you whites refuse to even acknowledge that you got it all wrong. You say, “But we are a multi-cultural society! We are secular…its in the book!” You dont have a clue! Yes, you are an ignorant white woman. Its just that you dont know it yet! You are a white muslim fundamentalist. You could very well have been a white christian fundamentalist.

    There are signs and indications that someone has received true divine guidance. God only chooses the best amongst men to preach His message as they are effectively His representatives on Earth…..

    You know what? I did not even bother to complete reading your verbal vomit. Its not worth my time. You are full of shit. I used to think that you had some grey matter in your head. Thats the reason why I bothered to engage in this “dialogue”. I was wrong. Have fun. Ignorants like you cannot be cured by others. Your ignorance can only be cured by yourself and your experiences. But after interacting with idiots like you (and I have interacted with enough of them in the recent past), I am beginning to see why and how guns enter the equation. I now see why people kill each other and die. I can now see that world cannot live in peace unless Islam and chritianity are completely destroyed. Unless Bibles and Korans are all burnt.

    Allahu Akbar! Kill all infidels! Lets start with Buddhists. Buddha was no Prophet! Lets establish Sharia all over the planet! Because that is the only way to live! And lets stone that raped female to death while we are at it!

  16. iMuslim says:

    DP,

    I don’t know what to say. Your response has come out from left field.

    I suspect your anger is not necessarily because i am speaking non-sense, but because i do not agree with you. Or at least you think that i do not agree with you. We both agree faith is a choice, we both say that one cannot be forced to believe and that there should be a respect of differences. But you want me to one go one step further and say everyone is right in everything they say all the time just because it happens to be a matter of religion, no matter whether they have any evidence for their beliefs or not. This is unacceptable in every other walk of life, so why is it acceptable in religious matters? Are you one of those who advocates blind faith even though you know the trouble it leads to?

    I can understand why you might wish me or other Muslims such ill. You see the violence in Iraq and other places around the world and it sickens you. It sickens me too. It sickens a lot of people. Last night i watched the news in horror as another 160 or more people were blown to pieces in Iraq. WHY? It’s the question on everyone’s lips. It’s the kind of senseless violence that makes you question everything about life and humanity.

    I suppose you think i am just as capable of it. That i have some burning desire to “kill infidels” and that i experience some kind of elation when i see blood flowing in the streets. I don’t and i’m certain most rational people don’t either, but you won’t believe me until two things happen:

    First, Muslims and all people of faith need to go back to the real roots of their beliefs and question everything. Once they have separated good from bad, truth from lies they should try their hardest to make it work because the potential for improving humanity is immense. I cannot convince you that Islam is not what you see on the news because Muslims are failing to practice the two fundamental virtues of patience and humility, and i point the finger of blame at myself first. I know i can do better and i don’t have the excuse of bombs dropping from the skies to prevent me. May God help me and forgive me.

    Secondly, you have to lose this burden of hate that you seem to have in your heart. This is the kind that burns and it will only blind you to any good that comes your way. I mean it. Hate eats out your insides. It sprays from your words like blood from a severed artery and i can only imagine it is the tip of the iceberg to what is locked up inside you. I cannot even begin to know what caused it – perhaps a whole host of bad personal experiences, piled up one after the other. This kind of resentment doesn’t just appear overnight that’s for sure.

    It is difficult to communicate effectively over this emotionless medium. This will no doubt sound patronizing but my heart really feels for you. I’m speaking as a sister in humanity now. Forget that i’m a Muslim for a moment. Please don’t take me the wrong way – i’m not feeling sorry for you like “Oh, poor little disbeliever, if only he was muslim that would make things better”. I mean – how do i say it – i feel bad that you have hate at all because it is something that really hurts and can act as such a barrier for social interaction. It is what fuels these conflicts because people don’t want to think they are killing human beings with souls. Hate transforms their enemy into an object, less than an animal, just an animated robot that needs to be destroyed. They don’t think of the consequences, the families left behind, the chaos that will ensue from the endless cycle of violent retribution. Hate not only blocks the safety valve, it obliterates it, there is no end to the potential for slaughter even when the enemy has been subdued and is no longer a threat. Even when there is no more need to fight, if there ever was a need to begin with.

    I am not a pacifist but i know that guns are not the answer. Is it hypocritical of me to say that tolerance and understanding are? All i have been doing with this blog is trying to engage in dialogue, try and help people on the outside understand what is going on inside Islam. I have never said to take my word for it and have been trying to encourage you and others to read the sources of Islam to getter a better understanding of what the religion is really about. That way maybe you could also help prevent Muslims from going against the doctrines of their religion by killing innocents and unleashing Hell on Earth.

    But if you are not willing to understand my perspective and simply slam the door in my face with some swear words to boot, i wonder how am I supposed to react? With the same hostility? Will that solve anything? Patience is a universal virtue. If you expect it from me, then you should be the first one to display it.

    I ask forgiveness because it seems i am no better than all the people who have let you down before. I can only do so much and i never said i was perfect. I am still learning about my own faith and trying to improve my character on a daily basis. However i will not abandon a belief that i have based upon reasoning and study for you or anyone, inshallah. This is not stubbornness or arrogance. How can you expect me to leave truth for falsehood? Light for darkness? Sight for blindness?

    I do not look down on anyone for not being Muslim because for the first 20-odd years of my life, i was not a Muslim. I was the most blind, the most ignorant, the most self-conceited individual – and not because i wasn’t Muslim, but because that was the person i was. But Islam has brought the best out of me, and i pray with more hard work it will help to purge me of my remaining ills.

    Now if that is what it did for me, how can i not want the same good for someone else? For those i love or even strangers on the street? It’s like having cancer, discovering the cure for it, then keeping the knowledge to yourself. Could you witness others suffering the same disease around you and have no empathy for them, no compassion? It is not a matter of “i am better than you” because i am undergoing treatment – I just got to the cure first. It is free and here for everyone.

    I probably sound like some happy-clapping soft-brained fool, but there is no other way to express my contentment and my desire for others to share in it. You may say that there are other ways to achieve it, and that might be true, but lies are only a temporary bandage on the wound of the soul, and it is only truth that heals the injury.

    Once again the use of the words “truth” and “lies” may seem arrogant. Who am i to know the difference? Why am i the privileged one? There is no privilege. There is no extraordinary intelligence at work here (according to you i possess no intelligence at all). It is a simple matter of reading, contemplating, reasoning and then making a decision. Virtually every human being on Earth is capable of doing this, and those who are not are not held accountable.

    I did not wish for War in Iraq and to accuse me of wanting it is absurd and insulting to such a degree i cannot even express myself. You do not know me at all DP, and you have displayed exactly the kind of prejudice that you accuse me and others of. Look in the mirror and know that what you hate in others is what you hate in yourself – it is simple psychology. I know i am no-one special, but it is frankly your loss if you do not wish to continue speaking to me even on polite terms.

    I pray for you – yes, i pray for YOU because i cannot stand that anyone, whatever their belief should live with this kind of resentment. I am sure the potential for the same is within me too like fire is in flint, and so i shall definitely pray for myself too.

    May God guide both of us.

  17. ConcernedEngineer says:

    iMuslim,

    You insist that we should read the Qur’an before making a judgment about it.

    There are millions of religious denominations in the world. (And I’m sure some new ones are being made up all the time). Do you reserve judgment on all of these until you have become a scholar of their teachings?

    How do we decide what to read and what is not worth our time?

    I’ve only got about 70 years on this earth – give or take 42. I don’t have time to read every religious book every written. So, you have to convince me that reading the Qur’an will be worth my time.

    Now, I already said that I would start reading the Qur’an, and I will. But I don’t know that I’ll read the whole thing. I don’t know that I’ll go that in depth. Why should I? I have God’s word in its completeness already.

  18. Concerned Buddhist says:

    “Allahu Akbar! Kill all infidels! Lets start with Buddhists. Buddha was no Prophet!”

    Hey, steady on! I thought they had to kill all the Jooooooooooooz as first priority before they started on the rest of us.

    Some Christian theologian once said “First they came for the Jews, but I didn’t worry because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, but it didn’t bother me because I wasn’t member of a union. Next they came for the gays…

    How far down the list are the Buddhists?

    But, I suppose as Trotsky said
    “You may not be interested in Jihad, but Jihad is interested in YOU”

    Or as Kipling said “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, is because you’ve converted to the religion of peace.”

    Remember Bamiyan

    – Concerned Buddhist

  19. dining_philosopher says:

    You are right. I was harsh. I apologize for my rudeness. It was wrong of me to say certain things that I said.

    My frustration stems from the fact that we have been killing each other for centuries upon centuries precisely because of the beliefs (yes, they are all religions of love and compassion!)that you are trying to “explain” in your blog. My frustration stems from the fact that your blindness cannot be cured – by me or anybody else. But I hope that someday you will see that Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and just about every religion on this planet has given “peace” to someone or another. I personally wish you had found “peace” through Buddhism instead of Islam. You would then have been calling Islam “temporary bandage”. But at the rate you are going, I dont think you will ever see the light. One more thing, you keep saying that Islam advocates humility and patience. Do you really think Islam would have survived all these centuries with guns and swords? There were hundreds of religions and thousands of prophets. islam survived because of swords and guns. This is true of every religion. Religion needs political backing, publicity and propaganda. Islam, and the words of your beloved prophet would have perished a long time ago had you struck to your ideals of patience and humility.

    After interacting with people like you, I have come to the conclusion that this ignorance will continue. I was wrong when I said that peace can only be found with the destruction of Islam and Christianity. No. We will always find excuses to kill one another. Like I said, people like you have been so thorougly indoctrinated that nobody can change you. One last thing…

    Are you one of those who advocates blind faith even though you know the trouble it leads to?

    This in a nut-shell explains who you are. You actually dont see that your faith is blind as well. You think that your faith is driven by “reason”. So does a Christian or a Jew or a anybody else. How many religions did you truly study and evaluate before choosing Islam? Had you started with Buddhism, you would have been saying the exact same things about Buddhism! Anyway, this is a never ending saga. You think I am attacking the Muslim in you by talking about the terrorists. No. I was merely trying to show you certain things about yourself. Like I said, in my view, you are no different from a pious christian who believes that all pagans are going to hell or from a pious Jew who believes that Israel is indeed the promised land or from a Hindu Brahmin who actually believes that he is “superior” to a Hindu Sudra. You are all ignorants in my book. On one hand, I wish I could give you a pill and cure your ignorance. On the other hand, I know that you need such blind and irrational beliefs to get thru life. Once we enter the realm or irrationality, discussion regarding the absurdity of a belief becomes moot – the belief that God exists is as absurd as the belief that His Son walked on water. Anyway, once again, I apologize for dirtying your carpet. I apologize if I said anything to offend or insult you.

  20. Concerned Buddhist says:

    Dining philosopher,
    I think you’re right about what they want to do to Buddhists. I’ve just been checking out interfaith relations between Islam and Buddhism at http://buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=8,2588,0,0,1,0

    “The word ‘but’, as everybody knows, is an Arabic word and means an idol. Not many people, however, know what the derivation of the world ‘but’ is. ‘But’ is the Arabic corruption of Buddha. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Before Islam came into being, Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhar and Chinese Turkestan, as it was of the whole of Asia. In all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism… “

    They want to exterminate us Buddhist idolaters almost as much as the Jewish sons of pigs and monkeys. But what do we do about it? I don’t want a clash of civilisations or a civil war. I don’t want to vote BNP, but who else will protect us?.

  21. iMuslim says:

    Hello peeps,

    Quick response as it’s stupid-o-clock again.

    I actually wrote my latest entry before reading any of your comments. I imagined they would overlap and it seems they have done to some extent.

    It’s not in my hands to convince you all that Islam is the way which is why i have to leave it to you. In the end i’ve made a decision, i’ve done my job of passing on the message to some degree, and now it’s down to you guys.

    The world is a complicated place and we all lean on something to get through it as DP said. Ignorance is a relative term and only death will finally reveal who the blind ones truly were.

    I know when this life is all you have then that is little comfort.

    Best wishes,

    iMuslim

  22. iMuslim says:

    Response to DP:

    You are right. I was harsh. I apologize for my rudeness. It was wrong of me to say certain things that I said.

    I am glad you apologized – not because of my pride, but because i felt sad at the thought that i had got you so wrong. I didn’t like the idea that you were not someone i could talk to. But anyway, it’s over.

    My frustration stems from the fact that we have been killing each other for centuries upon centuries precisely because of the beliefs (yes, they are all religions of love and compassion!)that you are trying to “explain” in your blog. My frustration stems from the fact that your blindness cannot be cured – by me or anybody else. But I hope that someday you will see that Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and just about every religion on this planet has given “peace” to someone or another. I personally wish you had found “peace” through Buddhism instead of Islam. You would then have been calling Islam “temporary bandage”. But at the rate you are going, I dont think you will ever see the light.

    It is so funny from my point of view to see you use the phrase “blindness” to describe my position, and “see the light” to describe the journey to yours. I suppose you have the right to use whatever words you like! I agree with Daniel, we are living in two different worlds and it is unlikely we will ever truly understand the other’s opinion until one of us changes. I personally do not know any atheists who converted to Islam (i.e., amongst my circle of friends) but of course it does happen. In fact, this video is of a talk by an ex-atheist on the pillars of Islam. He’s quite funny – i can’t imagine him being a Maths professor!

    One more thing, you keep saying that Islam advocates humility and patience. Do you really think Islam would have survived all these centuries with guns and swords? There were hundreds of religions and thousands of prophets. islam survived because of swords and guns. This is true of every religion. Religion needs political backing, publicity and propaganda. Islam, and the words of your beloved prophet would have perished a long time ago had you struck to your ideals of patience and humility.

    Patience means maintaining composure in the face of adversity, relying on God alone through prayer and by acting within the boundaries He has clearly outlined. Humility means we understand that our guidance to Islam was not because we were special or worthy, but because God is Most Merciful. Thus we cannot display any arrogance wrt our faith.

    Islam does not mean peace. That’s a common misunderstanding amongst muslims. Islam means peaceful submission to God through willful obedience. It is not a religion of pacifism, but neither is it a religion of war-mongering.

    I assume you have some kind of family waiting for you in India. Imagine you are back at home with them. It’s the middle of the night and you are sleeping peacefully in your bed. All of a sudden you hear a noise – things breaking, it sounds like a struggle. You jump out of bed and run to the source of the clamor only to find that a masked man has invaded your home and is now attacking your sister and mother. He has a knife.

    What do you do?

    You fight him of course. You exert every last drop of blood to defend your family. You don’t sit idly by saying: “Sorry ma, i’m a pacifist, don’t you know?”.

    The ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is one big family – it contains both believers and non-believers. We have a duty to protect our brothers and sisters from harm and oppression, and unfortunately that can sometimes mean fighting. It is a last resort but it has to be an option because some transgressors will never relent until you use force. That is the way of man. To deny this is to deny human nature, and Islam has been revealed with this nature in mind. Who better to know the creation than the Creator?

    You are implying that fighting is what has maintained the religion. It is true that Islam was spread through many countries of the Middle East through conquering of lands by the early muslims. However it would be absolutely incorrect and impossible to say that people were forced to convert at knife-point – one cannot become muslim this way. It also does not account for the mass-conversions observed in places such as Indonesia and Malaysia where no fighting took place. Islam was spread there via the trade route.

    So history does not entirely agree with your point of view.

    Like I said, people like you have been so thorougly indoctrinated that nobody can change you.

    How? How have i been thoroughly indoctrinated? For some reason i’m thinking of a Clockwork Orange… narcotics, flashing images, torture.

    This in a nut-shell explains who you are. You actually dont see that your faith is blind as well. You think that your faith is driven by “reason”.

    Do you find my entry “Reasons for Reason” lacking in this? I’m not sure of a better way of approaching all these different religions then to take them as a hypotheses and then test them according to the variables they should display.

    How many religions did you truly study and evaluate before choosing Islam? Had you started with Buddhism, you would have been saying the exact same things about Buddhism!

    It is true – i did not spend ten years traveling the continents of the world in search of the truth. I wonder if that is necessary though? I was born into a Muslim family, studied Christianity all throughout my primary & secondary education, and encountered various faith during my undergraduate degree. I may not have studied each religion intensely but i did read about them. I think that is what has helped me to appreciate Islam all the more when i began practicing it.

    You are all ignorants in my book. On one hand, I wish I could give you a pill and cure your ignorance.

    As i said, ignorance is a relative term.

    On the other hand, I know that you need such blind and irrational beliefs to get thru life. Once we enter the realm or irrationality, discussion regarding the absurdity of a belief becomes moot – the belief that God exists is as absurd as the belief that His Son walked on water.

    I do wonder why such an “absurd” idea such as God is so easy to swallow. However there are many weird and wonderful ideas out there, so it seems that absurdity is something quite acceptable to the human intellect – maybe we aren’t as intelligent as we like to think [that includes you!].

    That’s why i thank Allah for the Qur’an. If i had to rely on philosophy and logic alone in this crazy world, it would be a 50-50 chance at best for believing in God.

    Laters aligators.

  23. najis kafir says:

    Allah has no partners? So who in the name of all that is unholy is Mohammed?

    My understanding of Islam is that Allah runs a brothel in the sky where anyone who self-destructs 7/7 style while killing najis kafirs like myself gets to roger 72 virgins for all eternity.

    But to recruit these psychos (who have a genetic advantage in the psychotic shaheed department by being seriously inbred homozygous offsprings of successive generations of cousin marriage) you still need Allah’s representatative on earth to point them in the right direction for sex-utopia – none other than the pseudo prophet Mohammed.

    Mohammed is Allah’s partner in crime and terrorism.

    In fact you could say that Allah is the brothel-keeper in the sky and Mohammed is his pimp. Allah couldn’t function on this earth without Mohammed and his shaheeds.

    Allah has no partners? They are legion!

  24. iMuslim says:

    Allah has no partners? So who in the name of all that is unholy is Mohammed?

    Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the slave and messenger of Allah. A Prophet, like the Prophets before him, chosen by God to preach the same message – that God alone is the only one worthy of worship.

    My understanding of Islam is that Allah runs a brothel in the sky where anyone who self-destructs 7/7 style while killing najis kafirs like myself gets to roger 72 virgins for all eternity.

    Well, as a practising Muslim, i am qualified to state that your present understanding of Islam is at best, erroneous. I suggest you read the sources of Islam, starting with the Qur’an to discover what Islam truly is.

    I didn’t learn Maths from a French teacher – know what i mean?

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