What is Islam? The attempt to answer that question has been the subject of an almost countless number of symposia, doctoral dissertations, college classes, and books. Yet, for all the hours of lectures that have been given; for all the ink and paper that has been consumed, the answer is still not easy to come by. What is Islam? Is it the five "pillars" of worship? Is it the Ka'ba in Mecca? The Prophet's mosque in Medina? Is it suicide bombers in Israel or Iraq? Is it Osama bin Laden? Ask most Muslims, and they will tell you Islam is none of these things.
Yet, ask that same question to most Americans, and you will likely get a different answer. I recently received an email from someone who told me that she basically disliked Muslims after being married to one for five years. She suspects that he married her to get his Green Card, because, after getting married, he subjected her to horrible abuse. She has since separated from this man. Her story reminded me of another man, a Muslim, whose non-Muslim wife had a very good opinion of Islam...until they were cheated out of their money by a "devout" Muslim.
When I mention these situations to other Muslims, many of them understandably get upset. It is not fair, they tell me, that their opinion of Islam is shaped by the conduct of a few bad apples in the Muslim community. They are absolutely correct. The whole of Islam should never be judged by the sins of a few Muslims, and I have repeatedly made this plea in my writings. Yet, the problem is many, if not most, Americans have never personally interacted with a Muslim before, and sadly, the first interaction these Americans had with Islam and Muslims was on the fateful morning of September 11, 2001. Sad, but probably true nonetheless.
Since that time, Muslims - including this one - have toiled hard to show that Islam is not what happened on September 11. Muslims are not like the 19 hijackers who killed close to 3,000 innocent Americans in New York and Washington, D.C. Yet, American Muslims have to wake up to reality, and the reality is this: many, if not most, Americans shape their opinions about Islam based upon the Muslims with whom they interact. Islam is what the Muslims are. It may not be entirely fair, but that is the way it is.
Herein lies one of the most important challenges for American Muslims today: since we are what Islam is, we have to physically embody the ideals of Islam. We have to become the eloquently written books and pristine pamphlets that we so proudly display to non-Muslims seeking to learn more about the faith.
And those books and pamphlets set a very high standard. They say that Islam calls for the worship of the One God of Abraham, and submitting one's will to His sets you free. So why, then, are so many cultural traditions - ones that contradict the principles of Islam - taken to be Islamic doctrine? The books and pamphlets say that men and women are equal in Islam. So why, then, are so many Muslim women subjected to so much mistreatment across the Muslim world?
The books and pamphlets say that Islam prohibits suicide and abhors violence against the innocent. So why, then, are there Muslims who strap bombs on themselves and kill innocent people in the name of Allah? The books and pamphlets say that all Muslims are brothers and sisters; they say the bonds of Islam transcend racial and ethnic background. So why, then, is there still so much racism in the Muslim community today?
The existence of these inconsistencies is a fact, and it has very significant consequences. American Muslim youth see these inconsistencies, and they frequently become disenchanted and lose faith in the faith. New converts to Islam - who probably embraced the faith because of what they read in the books and pamphlets - also see these consistencies and frequently become disenchanted. And when fellow Americans see these inconsistencies, it has the potential to erect barriers of misunderstanding and suspicion, precluding a harmonious co-existence as neighbors and countrymen.
It should not be so, and none other than God Himself said so: "Believers! Why do you say one thing and do another? Most loathsome is it in the sight of God that you say what you do not do" (61:2-3). As Muslims, we cannot hide behind the unfairness of being judged by the sins of our few; we must always live and breathe the ideals of Islam. We must strive to be how the Prophet Muhammad was described by his wife A'isha (God be pleased with her): a Qur'an walking upon the earth.
It is indeed a daunting challenge, but it is one we must take up. Not so that fellow Americans will have a good opinion of Islam, even though that would be of great benefit. No! it is for the Muslim youth and those new to the faith do not become disenchanted with Islam, even though these are laudable goals. No! Muslims must do as their books and pamphlets say because it is what God wants. And if we claim to be His servants, then we cannot settle for anything less.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and writer. His forthcoming book, "The Beliefnet Guide to Islam," is due to be published by Doubleday in 2006. His blog can be visited at: www.hassaballa.org
the way we live our lives should be, to always have that final hour at the back of our minds, then we will not go astray. may Allah guide us to the straight path (ameen)
Assalatou Wassalamou Al-Haatamal Anbiya.
Brothers & Sisters,
Hasaballa, Assalamou Aleikoum.
"What is Islam?", you have asked. If I do understand your wonderful essay, the next bigger question is:" Are we really Muslims?"
One day at speakers'corner here, some fellow brothers in Islam found me saying that; "I am trying to be a Muslim". They got mad at me,to them, if should answer straightaway; as yes I am a Muslim, Alhamdulilah. Then the tide turned between me and them the whole evening arguing on the matter. I went home feeling very bad about myself, but in away felt happy for I think from that moment I have given them something to ponder about. What is to be a Muslim? Am I a muslim because of dress code, name, a facial feature, a skin coulour or a geographic boudary?
"...Lakad kaana fi Rassoulilah Aswatan Hassanatan..."!!!; "...Wa inaka Laala Houlkil Azim..." (Sala Laahou Aleihi Wassalam).
Indeed He was a Muslim; the dearest and beautiful father of Fatimah Zharah, the Husband of N'na Aisha and Khadijatou(may the Most High be pleased with them all). Well before the revelations to him, the pagan community called him AL-Amin. Al-NabiyuLah Yaakouba(PBUH), told his children: ...Laa Tamoutounna Illa Wa Antoum Muslimouna.
I think it is easy, very easy indeed to define Islam or to say I am a Muslim(mah) or to show the features that seem to portrait a Muslim(mah). Unfortunatly to be a Muslim(mah) is in deed one of the hardest adventure (if I may call it so)one would ever engaged to, in our life time. Therefore to achieve the state of being a Muslim(mah), is the highest achievement for any human being. It is almost "impossible", because of the ways Allah Subhanahou Wataala has desired for us. One can be a 100% Believer, Trustworthy, Truthfull, Honest, Sincere...etc, but a Muslim(mah) "never", we just have to try, it is that efford which should be 100% before death comes to us.
Your first mistake was, your narrowing down the issue only to America. Its not the only place practising muslims are hated.But your concerns are only about people who live in America.Muslim ummah is one body,it is better that you should widen your thoughts.Oh..excuse me, if i have hurted your nationalism. But didnt you know Muhammed(pbuh) has been stern on all forms of nationalism.
Second issue is moral behaviours like being good, kind, affectionate are fine. But thats not what islam is all about. Those are results of submission, which is infact Islam. No, its not same. You can obey your lord and still can be rude to people around you. You can obey muhammed(pbuh)'s guidelines in way of living and still be noted down as a threat. You dont have to fly flights into skyscrapers to be identified as a terrorists in western world.
Islam as a religion, way of life should bring terrors to non believers hearts, since we are supposedly following Truth and they don't. Let's not pretend otherwise. I really would have appreciated, if you had criticized secular powers using their military might to crunch islamic territories (even before 9/11) before criticizing the resistance of muslim in elsewhere.(definately not in america. why your concern limits only to american muslims,but your criticism reach way beyond?).
So, islam is submission to lord and to Him alone, even if the whole world doesnt likes it.
Just look at history not far just 50/60 years back, who killed masses in Nagasaki and hirishima, using Wapons of Mass Distruction? Who burned fields of commen use crops in Vietnam and Germany? Who piosoned water of common consumption in vietnam, Korea? Probably we may find answar, and finds missing links. Muslim means who submitted himself to God Almighty (Allah) never do such things but according to teachings of Almighty and according to last sermon of our beloved last massanger of Allmighty Muhammed(pbuh), " Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you". Seal of holy prophets Muhammed (pbuh)also took part in defferent Ghazwa's as well to protect Muslim interest as duided by Allmighty God. Struggle against odds and unfair behavior of others towards innocents and weak is also one of the basic responsibility of Muslims. We must aware of there are some Conspiracies are going on to manipulate meanings of Quraan and Ahadis according to evil forces. I pray to Almighty Allah please give us wisdom and make us firm on our true islamic beliefs and teachings (Ameen)
May Allah continue to guide us aright.
i went to a site called faith freedom, i think thats the name i'm not so sure now, but the site has alot of bad, very bad things written about Islam, it is owned by a muslim converted to christain. when i went through it, it shook my faith as a muslim, what is your site doing to answer all the questions on that site and address all the so called contradictions and misconceptions on it. i will look for that site again and send the URL to you. pls we need to do something, if not for the grace of God, i would have lost my faith by reading those articles.
Living according to our faith is for reverence and praise of Allah(swt) alone!
If an entire group or a single person is silly enough to blame religion for the poor character and lowly actions of a few mere mortals, then they aren't very intelligent. Why bother trying to convince them otherwise...it is a waste of energy and resources. Live according to your faith, and if Allah(swt) so choses, will use you to help someone else find Islam...whether your personal intention was to guide toward Islam or not!
Jazak Allah Khair
Don't forget to mention the rest of the world e.g. Canadinas we are in the same boat. A pole was done a few weeks ago and found that there is a high percentage of racisim in gereal but more so against Arabs and Muslim. It all gos back to power and money. That is the root cause of all evil, the love of money. I wonder if the Arab world or Muslim world would be different if they didn't have the riches e.g. oil and other stuff that America want so bad.
The major drawback I think the write-up sufferred is the complete lopsidedness. There must be a causal relation to every consequence. To portray the muslims as belicose, transigent, and intolerant only suggests the lack of objectivity. Muslims are rising to the defence of their faith in the presence of enormous orchestrated int'l conspiracy that sees Islam as an emerging paradigm from western political system. individual's deficiencies must be isolated from the norms and it is not only peculiar to Islam. New entrants to Islam are aware of this and do not necessarily base their judgement on these exceptional cases. But the crux of the matter is the attempt to westernise Islam and redefine it from the perspectives of westernisation. This, is being pursued vigorously and equally being challenged vehemently. Otherwise, how do you explain the various battles waged by the Prophet (s)? They were simply for self-defence and the for the protection of the deen. Bro. like in the words of the matryr Dr. Ali Shariati he said: 'father, mother we're being accused'. and to sum it up, in another essay he said: Yeah! brother, that's the way it was'. Truly, that's the way it is even now!
There is a saying:
"Don't judge a car by its driver, judge a car by its make-up"
I'm also setisfy regarding this article but I will not go in whole lines of article. Islam has protect right of women which say that women and men both are equal but Alas! in the muslim society she is spending as an animal (sorry to say) and men whatever want to do, can do. Beside know her right, whenever Men is misbehaviour, snatch her all rights, and say her for remain silent forever, as Men want. He also use part of traditional system but he avoide rule of islam whatever islam is saying and aware about her rights.
And further, Islam don't allow for murder of nonmuslims or others, we should know from Hadith that Hazarat Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him)used to invite for preach Islam in Mosque of Jew who were also nonmuslims.
the article is too simplistic. The issues are DEEP
and need a poignant , UNAFRAID approach.
It's true and further more let me add one europien girl who embarace islam and then after converting in islam her husband left her with a small girl she neither can go to her parents nor any muslim. as she is much afraid. But She don't know How Near to Allah She is and how Allah Helping her, It's just how you look to life and truth.
Worldy benifits and settlements might show them successful but always see the results at end.
There are examples in europe who have children who wear Hijab and memorize quranic verses, and some who can leave everything for their parents
Same society some examples who cry in old age saying their kids don't even ask them and wander and part of bad society. They loose world and also hereafter.
Lot many things we don't know becuase mostly we concentrate on ourself.
My openion which i want to convey to every reader muslim or non muslim. Please read Quran and just act accordingly. Its have every answer.
To those who sufferred becuase of trusting someone Allah is the Justice You will find the best in your life or allah will forgive some of your sins and Allah will defentaly punish in this and next world who do wrong. you can see results in this world. Allah forgive us and safe us from any sin and wrong doing. amin
Allah love everyone and Justice to everyone.
May allah help us to Understand Him. Amin.
One thing I will like to emphasize is that we should not allow ourselves to be pushed to the wall by western media which try brand islam as a terrorist relegion and a religion that abused human rights.
equality in islam does not mean that every aspect of life of both men and women must be equal. In certain situatins women are restricted and other situations they are favoured more than men likewise applies to men. it is just like in an exams where 2 people got the same marks but that doesn't mean every question they have equal marks.
What western media try to do is that, they normally talk about the side where men are favoured than women and went on to conclude that we discriminate against women. You will never hear them talk about situations where women are favoured than men. If we are going to follow what they say we will end up making so many mistakes. One example of this is what happen in Newyork where a woman was allowed to lead a congregational mixed prayer. This is a practice that was not done in the erra of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and as the Prophet told us we should follow his practice and Holy Quran.
So if we Muslims are not careful we will end adding so many practices in the religion which will lead us astray. So we must follow wahe the Prophet did and what the quran says.
I therefore pray for mulims to do good and abhore bad. May the Almighty Allah bless us and make us grow strong to keep our faith. Wasalaam
I am afraid that the author has fallen in the trap of trying to defend Islam through the behavior of Muslims. Islam is a God sent message to humanity and understand it one must refer to Quran and Sunnah and not judge it by the behavior of mortals who may behave or misbehave. No one judged Christianity by what the Crusaders have done, or the Spanish inquisition, or Nazis crimes, nor we judged the Jewish faith for the Zionists atrocities against Palestinians. So why Islam should be judged by what some "Muslims" do? It is useless to go down this road.
Regarding the Americans, and the West as a whole, the best way is for them to learn about Islam from credible sources. It is the Muslims' duty to guide them to these sources.
Wearing traditional arabian dress, eating dates, growing a beard, covering your head with a piece of cloth DOES NOT MAKE YOU A MUSLIM.
Reading and promoting the propoganda in flyers, Saudi doctored Qur'ans, and other religious upholders of Islam DOES NOT MAKE ONE A MUSLIM.
Belief in and actions reflective of teachings in Qur'an makes one a Muslim.
The Arab world is busy becomming Jew .. not in it's religious behavior...but in it's sick, greedy, manipulative, evil ways of propoganda, lies and scams on it's own people.
Arabs and some Indo-Pak Muslims are LOST and SCREWED out of reality by thinking todays Ummah is that that accompanied our prophet on the battle fields.
We are ruled by CRIMINALS who choose SWISS bank accounts over their DEEN.
Islam is alive and well and always be....it's a promise from ALLAH.
It's Muslims in particular countries who are going to feel the burn because the THIEVES appointed over them cares more about the Military Industral Complex than their freedoms
Muslims lacking knowledge of Islam = bad conducts/behaviors by those Muslims.
Just b/c you are a Muslim or born in a Muslim family DOES NOT mean you know how to ACT LIKE A MUSLIM. Same goes for Christian, Jewish and others... I can come w/ thousands of abusive incidents taking place in non-Muslim communties/families/relationships.
Just look at sport events in the WEST....Women are being used as SEX TOYS, who are jumping up and down for no reasons (they call it "extra entertainment)...Diviorce rate 70% in cities and 50% in the suburbs of America.
I think the Dr. can come up this better articles than this one..
Zigzag!!! Don't be brainwashed by FOXNEWS...go read about Islamic civilization... and Islam itself. Stop walking in zigzag manner. Muslims are supposed to walk in a straight path.
Submission to the laws of Allah is the ultimate love.Sura Al'ASR By (the token of) Time.Verily Manis in loss.Except such as have Faith and do ritheous deeds, and(join together)in the mutual teaching of Truth,and of Patience and Constancy.
Your opinion is appreciated.
Aslam Aleikum va Rahmatollah
Many of the "books and pamphlets" available in most masjids the author mentions also come out clearly against homosexuality, intellecutal dishonesty, blasphemy, and innovations in worship -- why doesn't the author take his own advice and call things by their name, instead of saying that (as in a previous column) he "benefited" from people espousing such things? Would this author also "find it intellectually enriching" to have an audiece with such intellectually talented Muslims as Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasrin? How about such avid fans of Islam/Muslims as Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, or Khalid Duran?
I generally agree with you on the concepts that you mentioned. There are many bad apples around us wherever you go, whether here in the USA or back in our homes. We represent Islam and I am proud to carry its banner. LIVE ISLAM!
However, I have never really met any non-muslim who wishes well for Islam.
"The people of the Book will not be satisfied until you join them"
They will continue to combat our way of life and we have to struggle against that. I am absolutely dissappointed in your characterization of my people as suicide bombers. Had it not been for the Intifada that cost our people many martyrs, "Israel" would stop at nothing to steal our homes and kill our children! Of course, it happens to be backed by Amrika as well.
America created Al-Qaeda and Israel created the Palestinian resistance groups like Hamas. How? Their actions and the injustice that they've spread on this earth. Allah brought out these resilient fighters who are ready to sacrifice their lives for their people in the face of injustice. I don't agree with their strategy all the time but they don't sit down idle and watch what America/Israel do to their people. Let's live Islam and hope that Allah guide the Americans to the straight path, lest they perish like those before them.
how come you are a mosslim and you still doesn't know what Islam means? :)
how come you never read the Hadith where the Angel gabriel comes in form of human to the Prophet to ask him about Islam, Iman and Ehssan??? how come also you didn't read in the Quran "It was not allowed to any believer man or believer woman, when Allah and His messenger judge (the arabic word is kaddaa which doesn't mean 100% judge) a matter to have the choice of their own" ????
about the remaining of your post, it's a mix between something right and alots off missleading! like comparing mosslims to Americans it's a big mistake!.
proof: the Islamic message is the last true message given by the Almighty to all mankind, then this message belong to all humanity. they have to seek it no matter who claim to practice it. unlike America is a country where when you get citizenship, you become American. it's the problem of Americans more than the problem of foreigners(mention I said foreigners and not mosslims) that often the citizenship is given to those who marry an American.
If someone is not practicing Islam but claim himself or herself a mosslim in America, that's because they careless about Islam or they don't know what is Islam like you (following what you claim in your post). It's free country and you do as you like! no one gonna punish you for bringing Islam down, for missleading people in the name of islam or for making propaganda to glorify yourself as a mosslim and claim others are not.
thanks to Allah the Only one deserves the thanks in any situation.
and "thanks" to the freedom after that.
your brother in Islam if you like, Edriss :)