Competition or Cooperation

Category: Americas, Articles, Faith, Featured, Society | Topic: interfaith, islam, quran | Views: 825 | Comments: 1

Considering the current atmosphere, I was surprised by a Scientific American article saying that competition was not the only force that shaped life on earth. So let us take a look at the other side of our nature for a change.

According to the Holy Quran, God created us as tribes and nations to know each other and sent Prophets to all of us. The message they spread was essentially the same in all cases. So we can say that God is consistent in His Messages, considering the stage of development of the community addressed. Did each community follow the guidance offered? Well we read in the Torah, the, Bible and the Quran that time and again communities strayed and needed further guidance from God. 

From this we can logically say that the messages spread by the Prophets of God, which formed the various Abrahamic Faiths, were consistent. Only the behavior of the followers of the various religions was illogical, and in many cases, very far from God’s Guidance.

This is true up until today. Can any of the Abrahamic Faiths claim that all their members follow the path of their religion? Yet we seem to judge a Religion by the behavior of its extremists. This is obviously not logical, considering that the majority of religious people are decent, generous, and law abiding. 

Instead of judging each other’s religions by the extremist’s behavior and saying the religions are the cause, we need to learn something about their religions. Then we can say to an extremist that YOU are wrong because YOUR religion says so.

Let me give you an example from my religion. The Taliban and some other Muslim Extremists would deny education to women. Yet Islam’s Prophet says, “The search for knowledge is obligatory on every man and every woman”.

Is it better then, to say to the Taliban, “We believe women should be educated”, or would it be more effective to say, “Why do you defy the teachings of your own Prophet who said every woman has the right to seek knowledge equally with men?”

You ask why these men do not know this. Speaking no Arabic they are easily misled by people steeped in such cultural or political beliefs.

Juvenile suicide bombers are sent from Pakistan by cowards for political reasons to cause havoc in Afghanistan. Finally after ten years of war, a small group has formed to re-educate some of those captured alive according to the correct teachings of Islam, which forbids both suicide and indiscriminate killing. One 17 year old said, “They told me nothing would happen and I would go to Paradise but I just want to go home!”

Education is better than war, and a lot less expensive in lives and money. The Prophet Mohammed said, “The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”.

Recently in another example of cooperation, Simi Valley Mosque joined the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints collecting food for the Salvation Army to feed the poor. Muslims from Myanmar, England, Algeria, India, Pakistan and two Palestinian boys 13 and 14 stood together outside the Dollar Tree collecting food to help their American Neighbors in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Islam in America can remind Muslims in the rest of the world that the Quran says, “(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying: “we feed you for the sake of God Alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.” (Quran, 76:8-9)


Yahya Merchant is a founder member of Discover Islam. A member of the Conejo Valley Interfaith Fellowship, the Ventura County Interfaith Community and the Campus Interfaith.


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  1. I have recently become acquainted with the site. The importance of seeking knowledge is emphasized within the article, and the author’s example of the Taliban’s opposition to the education is women due to lack of knowledge is quite appropriate. However, I adamantly disagree that this lack of understanding is because they do not speak or read Arabic. One need not be a reader of Arabic to understand the Qu’ran. It has been translated into hundreds of languages, so that anyone might comprehend its words. This reasoning would support the idea that if a Christian did not read Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus the Christ), then he/she would not be able to understand the Holy Bible. The ignorance of the Taliban and those who feel as they is due to a strong reaction against perceived ‘Americanization’ of the Muslim World. And I feel that this reaction is based on the fear that their women might be carried away with a longing to become American-like, and therefore abandon Islamic values and beliefs. And yes, the religion does inform us that we should all seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, and even unto China. Therefore, we must strive to acquire understanding of our world, humanity,nature, fauna, and flora. Muslims should be impeccable in the way in which we live in the world, and we must consistently remind each other of the importance of this. We have become lazy, developed bad habits, such as over-eating during Ramadhan (iftar), and sleeping during the daytime hours, when we ought to be planning for our children, families, and our communities. In addition, we must honestly address the ills, which exists within our communities, such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse/addiction, illegal activities, racism, cultural bias, and other myriad issues. We must not allow the masjid to become like the church, where real life issues are ignored, and sermonizing, and preaching replace the power of the meaningful words of Allah, and his Prophet (saws).