Did You Say “Christian Islam“?
Sorry, Does Not Compute!
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Combining Islam with Non-Islam Is a Nonstarter
Here is the simple equation: Islam is Islam and non-Islam is, well, non-Islam. And the two do not mix.
So there is no such thing in Islam as Christian Islam, Hindu Islam, Judaic Islam, Atheist Islam or Islam patched on to something else that is non-Islam.
Islam is from God; non-Islam is from all of us: human beings. Islam, thus, is divine revelation; non-Islam is a jigsaw puzzle of human invention and ingenuity.
Non-Islam is a human effort to solve problems and find answers to pressing and often persistent human questions, whereas Islam is divine guidance with regard to all of the above: truculent and trenchant problems as well as difficult-to-decipher questions.
Islam has as its source God Almighty who is complete power and perfect knowledge. Non-Islam, on the other hand, has its roots in human knowledge and power, both of which are flawed and imperfect.
That is why while areas of overlap may and do exist between Islam and non-Islam, the two may often be quite divergent from one another.
That is also why mixing Islam with non-Islam often doesn’t give you a colorful quilt, part Islam part non-Islam, but it yields a thick brew that is fully non-Islam in its essential composition as well as in its purpose and import.
That is why to combine Islam with non-Islam is a nonstarter. It falls flat on its face ab initio – right from the very beginning.
What about Combining Christianity
and Islam then?
What about it?
Islam is Islam and Christianity is Christianity and hammering the square pegs of one into the round holes of the other may lead not so much to a harmonious fit or true enlightenment but to a lot of broken pegs and damaged holes. The sparks you may see flying are from the resulting short circuit.
As a result, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists or Atheists who have an interest in Islam, or accept Islam and become Muslim, are just that: Muslims – pure and simple. They are not, at the same time, part Christians, part Hindus, part Jews, part Buddhists or part Atheists, while the other part of their existence is now devoted to Islam.
They have willfully and deliberately left their Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Atheist past behind. They have now assumed a new identity and embraced a new culture, zeitgeist, worldview and perspective on everything including life on earth and in the hereafter.
Islam does not use a hyphen to mark its identity such as Christian-Muslims, Jewish-Muslims or Atheist-Muslims. From this point of view, there are no hyphenated Muslims in Islam.
Ascription vs. Achievement:
Islam Reverses World’s Worship
of Race, Tribe and Gender
This, however, does not mean Muslims are not, at a certain level, part of the natural milieu of life on earth such as history, geography or ethnicity. They are. Those are characterizations that arise out of the accidents of living in this world. Every one of these “accidents,” however, most meticulously planned and executed by Allah the maker and master of the humankind.
Islam recognizes them for what they are, accidents of birth and circumstance, and works with them for the benefit of all. At the same time, Islam continually invites and encourages people to leave those limitations behind and work to transcend the constraints they impose on individuals, groups, societies and cultures.
Islam wants human beings to subordinate what they cannot control to what they can. It wants them to adopt standards of excellence and reward that are based on achievement and not on birth, heredity and ascription.
Surely we made you part of various group and tribal and social structures, says the Qur’an. But that is mainly so you would recognize and easily identify one another. You should know, however, that the real mark of excellence and exaltation in the eyes of God, however, is one’s character, values and beliefs and not one’s racial, ethnic, geographic, gender or some other identity acquired through the accident of birth.
Islam to the Rescue of the World:
A Merit-Based System of Human Differentiation
and Social Stratification
Islam, thus, with one mighty swipe, reverses the world’s age-old apotheosis – worship – of race, color, gender, ethnicity, caste, tribe and territory and replaces it with a new merit-, character- and achievement-based social dispensation of human differentiation – stratification, if you will – of a certain kind.
The miracle of Islam is that it thus set in motion another social trend that came to be the lodestar of human culture and civilization for the future. It is pursuing this powerful new trend that human societies and cultures sought to distinguish and elevate themselves in subsequent ages.
You will notice this to be the case with Islam with regard to most if not all of its teachings: the world follows and moves to synchronize with Islam and its teachings and not the other way around. It is Islam that the world needs, and has always needed, to pull itself out of the morass of moral confusion, social degradation and cultural stagnation in which it found itself in the past and continues to find itself even now.
Conceit, Arrogance, Greed:
Some Reasons Why Some People Hate
Islam and Muslims
Why does the world then not see this fact? And why does it not give credit to Islam for its contributions and achievements? Why does the world not recognize Islam as its friend and benefactor?
Why do some people seem to fight Islam and Muslims against all dictates of rationality and civilized behavior? Why do some people hate Islam and Muslims so?
Reasons for this are many and complex. But at the core of many of them may lie a simple dynamic: a thing called human nature. Human beings by nature are greedy, arrogant, jealous and fearful.
They covet and lust after what others have: other people’s wealth, women, lands, beauty, resources, valuables, name, fame, good reputation and many other things. And they are afraid of losing whatever things they may themselves possess.
Other “religious” leaders and elites have a good reason to hate Islam because Islam often defeated them on the moral and spiritual planes and took followers away from them. So also, other “secular” leaders and elites have an equally powerful motive behind their fear and dislike of Islam and Muslims because they suffered centuries of military defeat at the hands of the Muslims.
So, if the world of non-Islam often feared and distrusted Islam, it was not entirely without reason or background. The question stopped being one of morality, truth and honesty and became one of rivalry and struggle for worldly wealth, possessions and domination.
Qur’an’s “Theory” of Inter-Group Rivalry:
Arrogance and Aggression
The Qur’an, as usual, makes these concepts crystal clear. And also as usual most Muslims remain generally in the dark about what the Qur’an has to say about these things.
Forgive me for referring to Qur’an’s exposition of these notions as “theory.” I believe – and I know and I have seen with my own naked and sinful and nearly blind eyes – that what the Qur’an says is not theory empty of fact, but it is truth itself. It is not a blind and tentative groping after a vague and nebulous reality, but reality itself.
In one word, what the Qur’an says is Haqq – truth – wrapped in divine radiance and shielded from human eyes and grasp by their ignorance and foolishness.
But often Qur’an places and posits these things at such high level of abstraction and universality that many times the most useful way to get a practical handle on them is to treat them as broad theoretical statements and then start finding their real-life applications in a systematic manner.
So, here is Qur’an’s summary statement on why human groups fight and why they, in the pursuit of their worldly goals, often tend to reject truth and cover up facts.
Baghyam bainahum, says the Qur’an.
And here is my extended paraphrase of it: in order to subjugate, control and dominate one another and in order to commit aggression against one another.
And this happens not always out of ignorance or in the dark, but – mark the words of the Qur’an – after things have become quite clear to them. In other words, they generally know what the truth is and then, in their effort to conquer, control and dominate others, they turn their back on truth – and on facts; and on knowledge which they themselves possess.
Hear the Qur’an now: Illaa mim ba’adi maa jaa,ahumul ‘ilm.
How much more clear can or does it get?
Muslim Failure to Articulate Answers
It was all too often the Muslims who remained ignorant of some of these things, not the non-Muslim elites and leaders, whether “secular” or so-called religious. That was because Muslims, over years and centuries, had generally managed to separate themselves from the Qur’an.
As time went by, Muslims and the Qur’an drifted farther and farther apart. As a result, Muslims lost touch with the positions and teachings of the Qur’an with regard to various critical situations that confronted them in life.
With the march of time, and vicissitudes of history, Qur’an and Muslims became strangers. They became like two ships that quietly pass each other on a dark, silent sea.
Consequently, Muslims were not quite successful in developing an effective strategy on how to approach, reach and educate non-Muslim masses about Islam. It did not help matters that Muslims themselves fell prey to the dominant tide of inter-group rivalry and competition.
They began to act more and more like bearers of the flag of “Muslim Nationalism,” rather than conducting themselves as the messengers of liberty, justice, equality and truth to all of humanity that they were supposed to be.
They often allowed Muslim Nationalism rather than Islam to be the motivation and guiding force behind their dealings and contacts with the non-Muslim world at the broadest levels.
Muslims, thus, ended up becoming just another party to a fight among various contending human groups, all focused on worldly spoils of land and wealth and power and domination. They stopped being that very special group of dedicated humans whose purpose in life was to end human rivalries on earth and build a better world for all – Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
So, Muslims ended up being as clueless as the rest of the world. They neither had answers to the problems of a suffering, contentious humanity, nor were they able to articulate them with any degree of clarity or effectiveness.
Islam or Muslim Nationalism:
Muslims Must Make a Choice
Here is a simple fact about Islam: Islam cannot strike root in a heart that is clogged with the blind worship of race, tribe or territory. Cobwebs of blind loyalty and devotion to all kinds of false gods need to be first cleared from the human heart before the light of divine truth can penetrate it.
From this point of view, Muslim Nationalism, as a blind and unquestioning worship of the Muslim people and all things associated with them, is as much contrary to Islam – and as much a hindrance to the discovery and embrace of the truth of Islam and of truth in general – as all other forms of Nationalism, Chauvinism and Jingoism, whether tribal, territorial, linguistic, cultural, gender-based or racial.
That is why Muslims must make a choice between Islam and Muslim Nationalism. I am not talking about all the petty localized, tribal, territorial and geographical brands and species of Nationalism which Muslims have embraced over the past century or so. I am talking about their overall loyalty to “Muslims” themselves, regardless of whether or not a Muslim act or posture or fact was in keeping with or contrary to the truth of Islam.
Till Muslims, individually and collectively, clear their hearts and minds of these false deities, including the deity of Muslim Nationalism – as well as all other kinds and brands of Nationalism – they will remain strangers to Islam. For Islam is not blind loyalty to geographical, tribal, ethnic or national groupings, but it is total and unreserved commitment to certain basic principles that transcend all narrow and arbitrary demarcations of race, territory and tribe.
As a result, when Muslims forsake or compromise Islam for the sake of Muslim Nationalism, they will also remain at the receiving end of the wrath of Allah and depredation of nations, societies, cultures and peoples more powerful than them. They will open themselves to domination and subjugation by others whether in science and technology or in economic, political or military matters.
Profession of Islamic Faith Begins with Complete
and Emphatic Negation
That is why profession of the Islamic faith begins with a negative statement that sweeps the table clean of all previous beliefs and commitments, allegiances and loyalties. It is represented in two earth-shaking words “Laa Ilaah.”
These two magic words mean that in our life there is no higher power; no controlling authority; no overriding presence of any kind or category. They mean no one is worthy of our full and unquestioned allegiance, loyalty, obedience or devotion.
It represents – albeit in a very specific sense – a complete break from one’s past. It means a complete cleaning of the stables.
A new convert to Islam is thus required to discard and disown all former soft spots, commitments, assertions, identities, loyalties, loves, ambiguities and allegiances. So are all those who are renewing their ongoing Islamic faith by repeating the profession.
It all begins with a clean sweep. It begins with a categorical declaration of “Laa Ilaaha.”
A Christian, thus, says goodbye to Christianity; a Jew to Judaism; a Hindu to Hinduism; an Atheist to Atheism; and a continuing Muslim to any deities whose love and veneration may have crept into his heart unbeknownst to him.
Profession of Islamic Faith
Culminates into Perfect Affirmation
Profession of Islamic faith then culminates in perfect affirmation. It takes the believer to the next higher stage of categorically declaring “But Allah.” That means a believer – new or old – having completely dissociated himself from all other claimants to influence, power, love, loyalty, allegiance, commitment and divinity is now ready to profess a new loyalty, love, commitment and allegiance.
And that new love and loyalty, allegiance and commitment is to God Almighty – none but him – whose Arabic name is Allah. Of course Allah is much more than that, but of that at some other time.
We will visit the concepts of Al-Asmaa-ul Husnaa (God Almighty’s lovely names – 99 plus more) and Ismul Jalaalah (the might, power and glory which the expression Allah stands for) at some future date, should Allah enable us to do that.
Meanwhile, by claiming that there is no God but Allah, a new convert to Islam now directs all his love and loyalty, his devotion and commitment, toward Almighty God and states clearly, firmly and categorically that Allah, God Almighty, alone is worthy of any of these.
So, the declaration of Islamic faith that began with a complete negation in the form of Laa Ilaaha now finds its culmination in the form of Illa Allah.
Most Powerful Proclamation on Earth
Once again, this positive statement also is couched in two words: Illa Allah, which means Allah is the sole exception to the earlier rejection of all deities and powers and influences in one’s life. None but Allah is left as the object of unquestioned and overriding devotion, commitment and adoration.
Thus, the positive statement that you believe in Allah does not make sense or acquire validity until it has been preceded by your unconditional rejection of all other claimants to name and fame or to authority and control over you and your life.
Now read: Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah.
Paraphrase: I put God above everything in my life. So far as I am concerned, God’s command is supreme. And everyone and everything is subordinate to that fact.
But mark you, this most powerful proclamation on earth is not for the glory of an individual, tribe, nation, race, class or gender, but purely and solely dedicated to the glory of God Almighty, who is God of everyone and everything, whether they know him or not and regardless of whether they accept him or not.
No Words More Powerful in Human Language
Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah.
No god but God!
Human language has no words that are more powerful or profound that these four words. They combine in them a profession of simple faith as well as a categorical declaration thereof.
At the same time, they also constitute a complete ideology and philosophy of life and an unreserved commitment to live life in a certain specific way: individually as well as collectively; socially as well as culturally and morally; politically as well as economically and militarily; and in every other way.
The believing individuals – who now come to be called Muslims or even Mu’mins – have made their choice and it is God. They have chosen God Almighty over and above everything and everyone else.
For them the buck stops, as someone said, with God Almighty.
A Trap Set by the Devil
But beware of the danger. Read the warning signs. And don’t rush blindly into the trap the Devil has set for those who try to escape from his grip.
The tragedy of human life is that the Devil haunts and hounds human beings all the time and tries to get them in trouble at every opportunity he gets. We should not forget that it was he, as the Qur’an tells us, and not the woman, as so many others tell us, who was instrumental in having the humankind thrown out of “The Garden” – Paradise?
Now that human beings are ready to profess their love and loyalty to God, the Devil sets a new trap for them. He comes to them and whispers something like this:
“Hey buddy, now that you have embraced God, you want to know what God wants from you? What God really wants you to do? I will tell you what he wants and what he would like you to do. Just trust yourself and do whatever you feel strongly about deep down inside you. If you feel it in your heart deeply and strongly enough, it must be from God. It must be God “talking” to you. So, go ahead and do it.”
Or things to that effect.
There are no objective criteria. There are no verifiable reference points. There are no universal standards of right or wrong. There are no immutable notions of good or evil.
There is no clear cut concept of Halaal or Haraam.
And there are no clear boundaries defined by God – Hudoodullah.
It is all about what you feel; and think; and believe at the moment – based on whatever dark forebodings or whisperings you may have heard in your heart or imagined in your mind.
The result often is madness and mayhem; chaos and confusion; suffering and pain; injustice and oppression; aggression and war; marauding and murder. Humanity has been a victim of this from its beginning days.
Human Beings Need a Model – and a Manual
Thus, human beings need both theoretical and practical guidance if they are to escape the traps the Devil has set for them at every turn.
Human beings are fairly smart people. They can generate the most powerful ideas and thoughts. They can dream the most spectacular dreams. They can also be spell-binding talkers about those ideas and dreams.
But in human life there is often a slip between idea and practice. Human beings need a bit of handholding when it comes to translating ideas into practice. They need a guide, a teacher, a mentor.
They need a practical model as well as a clear theoretical explanation.
Humanity thus needed two things:
- A manual that will tell them what to do and how to do it. And humanity received such a manual from God in the form of the Qur’an.
- A practical human model and example that will actually show them what the finished product looked like. And that is what the life of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, provided.
Without that kind of help, human beings often get their ideas mixed up when they are still at the stage of thinking. And they often make the silliest of mistakes when they get to the level of putting their ideas into practice.
Muhammad the Educator –
and the Model: Muhammad, Rasulullah!
It was for this reason that God Almighty sent down his messengers and prophets, not only to teach, but also to show humanity how to put into practice the guidance that came from on above.
May God Almighty bless all his prophets and messengers! Without their teaching, humanity would forever have been groping in the dark. And without their showing how, humanity would never have been able to practice these things right.
Most of God’s prophets and messengers, however, were sent to specific tribes, nations and cultural and geographic groupings. And they were sent for limited periods of time.
They all came; they did their mission; and they all left. As a Muslim scholar – a real one – once put it, they left because they had come only to leave and to go back.
The last and final prophet and messenger to come from God was Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – may God Almighty bless him! He, unlike all the previous prophets and messengers,
(a) Came to all of humanity; and
(b) Came for all time to come.
And there was something else. He put into practice everything that he taught. And he showed others how to do it – every minute detail, nuance and variation of it.
Thus, he set about teaching human beings in great detail all that they needed to know about how to live a good, productive and most wonderful life on earth, and on how to make that earthly life the basis for an even more wonderful life of joy, bliss and fulfillment in the hereafter.
It was thus most natural and logical – and of course a mercy from God Almighty – that “Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah” should now move to yet another level in the form of “Muhammad Rasulullah.”
In this way, the abstract commitment to God and his divine revelation became, in a most natural way, a concrete contract with a human being Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to accept his message; to follow his directives; and to emulate his example.
Prophet Muhammad’s (May God Bless Him!)
Earthly Role: Teaching, Demonstrating
and Preparing the People
- Wa yu’allimuhumul kitaaba.
- Wal hikmah.
- Wa yuzakkeehim.
Who knows how exactly to translate God’s words? I certainly don’t.
But I do have an issue with Muslim translators of the Qur’an blindly incorporating Western, Christian, Biblical ideas and traditions into translations of the Qur’an.
Not because I don’t love or respect the West, or Christians or the Bible. Quite the contrary in fact. I am perhaps as much a creature of all of the above as anything else.
My reservations spring from the fact that many of those linguistic and cultural imports are woefully inadequate for our purposes and out of touch with reality.
And some of them are plain wrong.
Therefore, for Muslims to parrot those things without understanding their limitations or their negative implications is a distortion of Islam and a disservice to humanity.
So, here is my paraphrase of the above quotes from the Qur’an:
- And he teaches them the highest levels of knowledge – Al-Kitaab.
- And he shows them the operational details and procedures of how to translate those higher-level concepts and ideas into practices of everyday life – Al-Hikmah.
- And he builds their character and purifies their motives, thoughts, life and behavior and prepares them for the challenges of handling truth and being role models for humanity – Tazkiyah.
Thus, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, showed tens of thousands of his Companions, as he called them, men as well women, in practice how they should go about doing all this in real life. He thus provided a practical demonstration – personification – of everything that he preached.
What a Miracle Indeed!
And God picks an unlettered man, as the Bible calls him, from an illiterate culture, in a desert like Arabia, at a time when books were rare, libraries rarer still, printing presses non-existing and education itself was not available and often forbidden to most but a privileged handful such as the royalty, the nobility and the clergy?
What a miracle indeed!
But isn’t that what miracles are made of? Seemingly impossible outcomes generated by an unlikely configuration of seemingly improbable events?
Let me show you in the Qur’an what a true miracle is really like.
Read the story of Moses in the Qur’an – that is right, I said “in the Qur’an” – and you will know what true miracles are made of. Read below my paraphrase of that miracle as narrated by the Qur’an.
Wa laqad mananna alaika marratan ukhraa.
Idh auhainaa ilaa ummika maa yooha.
fal-yulqihil yammu bissaahili,
Ya’khuzhu ‘aduwwul lee wa ‘aduwwul lah.
Wa alqaitu ‘alaika mahabbatam minnee,
Wa li-tusna’a ‘alaa ‘ainee!
Here now is a paraphrase of that story of Moses in the Qur’an.
“And don’t forget, Moses, that we did you a favor on another occasion.
That was when we told your mother:
‘Throw him in a casket.
Then toss the casket in the sea.
The sea shall then deposit him on the shore.
An enemy of mine and his will then recover him.
And I wrapped around you a blanket of love from me.
And we did all this so that you can be reared and perfected right before my eyes.’”
Now, ladies and gentlemen, what do you think of this as a formula for bringing up your favorite children? Hand them over as infants to your worst enemies, and keep a close eye on them as they are being reared, nurtured, educated, socialized and trained by them!
No, the Qur’an does not say: “Please do not try this at home.” But I am sure some of us would be tempted to add that.
So, you want to know what a real miracle is like, go to the Qur’an.
The miracle of God selecting an unlettered man, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, to be an educator to humanity is no different from God selecting, earlier, one of his worst enemies, Pharaoh, to be a foster-parent, teacher, mentor and guide to one of his most beloved prophets, Moses, may God bless him.
Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam,
Personified the Qur’an in His Life and Character
So that is exactly what Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, did:
He personified the Qur’an in his life and character.
In other words, he was a walking, talking, living, breathing Qur’an in flesh and blood.
No one summarized this better than his wife, Aa’ishah:
Kaana khuluquhul Qur’an, she declared.
Paraphrase: He personified the Qur’an in his life and in his conduct.
Of course, God Almighty himself had painted the same portrait of his beloved messenger, to his beloved children, of his beloved creation, Adam, earlier, but with a much broader brush.
Wa innaka la-‘alaa khuluqin azeem, said the Qur’an.
Paraphrase: And what a marvelous character you possess!
And what could be more marvelous than to personify the whole Qur’an in his life, as Hazarat Aa’ishah had put it?
What a glorious miracle!
And Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, prepared those tens of thousands of his Companions for the rigors and blessings of it all by cleansing, purifying and elevating their minds, souls, bodies, clothes, abodes, food, drink and every thing else about them.
What a miracle!
Thus, he was not only a teacher and a mentor in an abstract or academic sense, but also a complete practical guide and model who helped humanity to cross the bridge between theory and reality; between precept and practice; and between the world of mere ideas and the challenges and ambiguities of real life.
Here, once again, is how the Qur’an summarizes these most amazing facts about the role of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in this world:
Wa yu’allimuhumul kitaaba wal hikmah. Wa yuzakkeehim.
Allah’s Creation Comes in Pairs:
So Does the Kalimah Tayyibah
God Almighty’s creation does come in pairs. And a judicious juxtaposition of the positive and the negative is among them.
If the Kalimah, as it is generally called in many parts of the world, short of Kalimah Tayyibah, meaning blessed and beautiful expression or speech, comes wrapped in a twin pack of negative and positive, it is not unlike many other things in God’s big and beautiful creation.
For, Allah says that he arranged his creation in sets of pairs.
Here are his words in the Qur’an: Wa min kulli shai-in khalaqnaa zaujain.
Paraphrase: With regard to everything, we created pairs.
So, the Kalimah is not all that different.
First comes the cleaning of the heart and mind and body and soul of all spurious, false and rival commitments and loyalties and allegiances and walking away from them. Then, that is followed by a positive assertion of one’s new commitment to God Almighty.
And him alone.
The result is a new birth of faith and freedom in your bosom; a new direction to your life; a new organization of your priorities and preferences; and a redefinition and realignment of your relationships and dealings with the rest of God’s creation.
It is a deliberate and determined move from bondage to a multitude of false loyalties to the freedom of devotion to one true God.
What a Powerful Miracle:
Positive-Negative Charges Produce Light
and Male-Female Pair Produces Life
It is no different from the mixing of the pair of negative and positive electrical charges. Either one, without the other, leaves you in the dark. Wandering, groping, bumping against everything and often risking your life and limb.
But combine the two, and you have light.
So also, you combine the rejection of the plethora of false deities – Ilaahs – that burrow in all human hearts and minds with the affirmation of faith in the one true God, you turn on the light of faith in your soul and in your life. It illumines your whole existence and illumines the whole world for you.
You then become a beacon of light for all others.
How beautifully the Qur’an captures this concept and this imagery!
Qur’an: Kullamaa adaa-a lahum mashau feehi, wa idhaa azlama alaihim qaamoo.
Paraphrase: Whenever there is a spark of light, they move with it. But when darkness envelops them, they have no choice but to stand still.
So, you combine positive and negative electrical charges and you have light.
And you combine the male and female in creation, new life is born.
Allahu Akbar, what a powerful miracle this Miracle of the Pairs is!
Yet another Amazing Paradox:
The More Islam Takes Away from You,
the More It Gives You
Yet, an amazing paradox awaits new converts to Islam.
Many of them have marched away from Christianity or Judaism, only to find themselves on the horns of a new dilemma.
Except that now their challenge is not to reject but to accept. Not to walk away from, but to run toward.
Islam now sings a very different tune, which in reality is the same old song that Islam ever sang. A song that reverberated from mountain tops as God’s beloved Prophet David – May God Bless Him! – sang it.
The eternal and undying song of Islam.
You want Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, it seems to say, well, you cannot have him unless and until you are willing to wholeheartedly and without reservation also embrace Jesus, God bless him.
And Moses, and David, and Solomon, and Abraham, and Jacob, God bless them all.
Nor can you lay any claim to Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, without also asserting a blanket love and loyalty to all his other brother prophets and messengers of God, regardless of where or when they came – in what land or culture; amid what people, tribes, nations or societies; and at what particular period of time – before the advent of Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
But Now You Do Things the Islamic Way,
Not the Old Christian or Jewish
or Hindu or Atheist Way
But now it is no longer holding on to your old love that is important; it is no longer doing things the old way; but it is learning to love Islam and do things the Islamic way – the new way.
So also, you want the Qur’an?
Well, you cannot have it without your opening your heart and mind and the very depths of your soul to the Torah of Moses, to the Injeel of Jesus and to the Zabur of David, may God bless them all.
That means to the extent you move toward Islam, to that extent you move away from their moorings in Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Atheism or something else.
This they must do even though they will find in Islam an echo of some of the core teachings of their own former faiths in their original form, in the pristine state they should have been.
Thus, Christian converts to Islam will discover that Islam teaches them to love Jesus and his mother Mary more than their own parents; that they cannot be Muslim without first believing in Jesus as a prophet and messenger of God; and that they must also affirm the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus, son of Mary, may God bless them both.
But they will do this not because they brought in snatches of their former faith of Christianity with them, but because that is what their new faith, Islam, has offered them. Thus, their love for Jesus or Mary now is not their leftover Christianity but their newfound Islam. And they must embrace and execute their love of Jesus or Mary now not their old Christian way but strictly using the new guidelines of Islam.
Converts to Islam from Judaism, Buddhism,
Some Other Faith – Or from a Background of
No Faith at All
So also, Jewish converts to Islam will find that Islam wants them to be even stronger in their age-old monotheistic belief in one God. Not because it is a legacy of Judaism, but because it is a blessing of Islam.
So also, Hindu converts will be encouraged by Islam’s emphasis on truth and devotion, while Buddhist converts will find Islam’s positive and caring approach to human suffering and worldly temptations quite refreshing and life-giving. Not because that is what their old faiths taught them, but because that is what their new faith of Islam offers them.
Even Atheist and Agnostic converts to Islam may be pleasantly surprised to see that Islam, far from being a rigid, closed and doctrinaire system, is quite open in inviting human beings to vigorously pursue the path of personal investigation and scientific analysis and inquiry with regard to all things.
Yet, in spite of all these similarities and overlaps, Islam remains Islam, while the various forms of non-Islam that these converts left behind continue to be what they always were before these people accepted Islam: non-Islam.
Therefore, there is no such thing in Islam as “Hindu Muslims” or “Christian Muslims” or “Jewish Muslims” or “Atheistic or Agnostic Muslims.”
What Islam offers instead is a clear choice between Islam and non-Islam, beginning with a clean sweep of non-Islam prior to entering the fold of Islam, as symbolized by the statement: Laa.
Whatever good elements are contained in any individual form of non-Islam, they are all already encompassed by the divine blanket of Islam. This obviates the need for these new converts to Islam to pack any of their old stuff as they make their move from non-Islam to Islam.
All this stems from and symbolizes the inclusiveness and flexibility of Islam. And not a throw back to what they have left behind in the form of their Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Atheist or Agnostic past.
That means when you have Islam, you have everything else.
You are now the heirs, through the intermediacy of Islam, of the entire legacy of divine guidance and goodness that humanity has either received from above – heaven – or developed through science and research from below – right here on earth.
© 2007 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com .