I am a Muslim, and it is my great pleasure to provide Bloomington Alternative readers with some basic information on the subject of Islam. It is important to clarify that my beliefs are my own. I am from Chicago, and I converted to Islam after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and then the Q’uran, and after much discussion with my girlfriend at the time, a person who is now my wife. I do not speak for anyone else.
Almost one in four people in the world today say they practice Islam. If you know someone who identifies as a Muslim, you can ask their opinion and gain understanding. Certainly, you will find that not all Muslims think alike.
"Every Muslim in the world ... is in agreement on the core tenets of Islam."
Every Muslim in the world, however, is in agreement on the core tenets of Islam. In Arabic, this faith is stated in this way: "La ilah illa Allah, Mohammad Rasoolu Allah", which in English can be translated as "I testify that there is no true god but God (Allah), and that Mohammad is a Messenger of God." Every Muslim in the world agrees that the Q’uran is the collection of the revelations sent to humankind through the vessel of the Prophet Mohammed. Within this framework of belief, or faith, Muslims are organized to discuss what is written in the Q’uran.
Islam is all about options. And it is every human’s right, and responsibility, to choose whether to believe that what is written in the Q’uran is the Word of God, and then, whether or not to “hear, and obey.”
In the Q’uran, 99 words are used to describe Allah; Most Merciful, Most Gracious is used frequently. It is stated that there is a Day of Judgment, which occurs after death in this life, when a person is judged by God for the actions in this life. There is no intermediary between God and the person being judged.
"There is no intermediary between God and the person being judged."
The Q’uran speaks of “Nubia,” who are the prophets through whom God sends the Message. These Prophets include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. To emphasize, Jesus is a Prophet of Islam. Through all these prophets, God sends a message to humankind.
The message is consistent: Individually humans are to worship God and be thankful to God. Collectively, humans are to treat each other with respect and help those who are less fortunate than they are.
All the prophets were persecuted during their lifetime.
Moses’s people turned to worshipping the Golden Calf, and the Ten Commandments were revealed, the first of which is, “Do not worship other gods,” the second of which is “Do not worship idols.”
In all four books of the Bible that relate Jesus’ life there are two statements of Jesus: Do unto others as you would have done unto you, and love thy neighbor (and when asked to clarify who one’s “neighbor” is, he said, “Anyone in need”).
The Q’uran teaches that all men are equal (and that men and women are equal). The Q’uran also teaches that God does not beget, nor is God begotten; God does not eat, nor is God eaten.
"The Q’uran teaches that all men are equal (and that men and women are equal)."
As anyone who reads and discusses a book knows, varied opinions and conclusions can be reached. There is no question that there are things done “in the name of Islam” that are not consistent with the Islam revealed in the Q’uran.
There are three types of Jihad.
The first is the personal resistance to the temptation not to pray, not to fast, not to help those who are less fortunate. This emphasis on spiritual values is a direct rejection of the “consumerist” philosophy of “he who dies with the most toys wins.”
One rite that Muslims practice to remind themselves that mindless consumption is not the primary goal of life is called Ramadan. Muslims fast (no eating, no drinking, no sex, no violent emotions) for a Lunar Month from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. I urge anyone who is curious to try doing this. I believe that at dusk you will be hungry, and thirsty! At that time, you will really treasure that act of eating, and drinking, and you are encouraged to celebrate that act of breaking your fast with others.
"When Muslims are driven from their home or their land taken away, or they are forcibly prevented from prayer, their religious belief is that they must resist."
While you fast, you will experience the temptation to eat, or drink, or have some sort of emotional outburst. Also, when you fast, at some point you will have some empathy for those who must fast not by choice, but because they do not have food or water. In this way, you will gain a collective consciousness and you will have the option of whether to do anything to help those less fortunate than you are.
The second aspect of Jihad is to speak the Truth, and do not confound the Truth with Falsehood.
The third aspect of Jihad is that in Islam, when Muslims are driven from their home or their land taken away, or they are forcibly prevented from prayer, their religious belief is that they must resist.
This is different from the teaching of Jesus to “turn the other cheek.” If you are in favor of the imperialist wars of the United States, which are driving people from their homes in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other places of the world, Islam is indeed a threat. Those who believe in the Day of Judgment, where, with no intermediaries, they will be judged by God for their actions in this life, will resist the occupation.
Islam can be viewed as a threat to consumerist and expansionist/imperial society, or a path towards a sustainable way of life for all mankind. It is up to each person to decide whether that is a threat to the United States.
David Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.