Religion as a Common Denominator

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Interfaith, Islam, Muslim World Channel: Opinion Views: 5331

Hershey, Pennsylvania -The West and the Muslim world are multi-faceted, multi-cultural, and multi-religious realms despite the narrow way they are often viewed and defined. There are millions of Muslims in the West, and there are millions of individuals of other faith traditions in the "Muslim world"; there are underlying relationships between these supposed separate worlds that exist in the basic foundations of their cultures; and the continual resurgence of religiosity is at the heart of both of our cultures and is seen throughout our histories.

The goal of religiosity is piety, and a temporal consequence of piety is the insistent turning of the individual and collectivity toward those values and ethics that are universally cherished by all human beings. Given this relationship between piety and time-honoured ethics and values, anyone of goodwill, Western or not, should feel encouraged by that facet of Islamic doctrine that supports the cultivation of piety through religious practice, which elicits from its practitioner an inter-human ethic also shared by the Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Parsi and Buddhist traditions.

Therefore, similarities between cultures can be found in the religious and theo-centric realm. Even seemingly clashing cultures can find common ground here. American heritage has a strong theo-centric basis. I recall, as a school-child, reciting daily "one nation, under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all", as taught by the American Pledge of Allegiance. This idea is precisely Qur'anic. Moreover, the sense that executive, legislative and judiciary institutions must be parochially neutral while at the same time acknowledging divinity and cultivating piety and sanctity, no matter what the outward form (be it Christian or Buddhist or Islamic, etc), is in keeping with the operational understanding of governance as derived from Qur'anic principles. These principles were elaborated on and lived by Muhammad and his apostles.

Though similarities can be drawn, the East has kept theo-centric principals closer to the surface of its cultures, while the West continually supports a more secular culture. There is very little the "Muslim World" needs to learn ideologically from the modern West. The making of ideologically-sound governance and society lies in the application of it's the East's own shari'a, a code of law defined by the Qur'an that embraces pluralism. Whether this element of the shari'a is represented, fostered and supported by the dominant domestic or transnational geopolitical power-brokers is an entirely different issue.

The brand of Western-based secular humanism which views public expressions of faith or mention of God as a malignant imposition of religion is repugnant to the Islamic paradigm. Regardless, a Muslim in the West is still expected to abide by the mores and legal precedents of their locale. Taking a hyperbolic example, if, through due process, it is decided that religion or mention of God is to be a purely private matter, the Muslim, by the mandate of the ethic dictated by shari'a, needs to comply, or find somewhere else to live.

In the Muslim world, like in the rest of the third world, there exists an imposition of Western, corporate client regimes and aristocracy through the use of covert and overt war operations. With self-determination undermined, the ensuing harmful socio-political and economic consequences cause many segments of the population to naturally feel deeply violated. When these "Muslim world" populations express themselves intellectually and verbally against very real injustices, they do so in the phraseology and intellectual paradigm of a shari'a-ethic that promises them their rights to life, liberty, property, security and fair distribution of wealth and opportunity. The shari'a has its basis in religion, hence, religious revivalism in this context is analogous to an American demanding their "Constitutional Rights" in the face of socio-political and financial victimization. The various reactionary movements have their basis in this dynamic. The relationships between the actual operations and crimes attributed to these various movements on the one hand, and the transnational corporate or Western agendas on the other, needs further scrutiny.

Religion, when practiced authentically, by definition builds bridges amongst its practitioners, no matter what the brand of their respective religions. The Qur'an explicitly addresses this phenomenon in many instances. One of the most dangerously flawed theses (which even well meaning religionists fall prey to) is the thesis that there is something within authentic religion (no matter what form) that is central in causing conflict along religiously parochial lines. This is like claiming that there is something inherent in the existence of a plurality of races/ethnicities that causes sectarian conflict in that arena.

Religious bigotry, racial bigotry, ethnic bigotry or any other bigotry is by definition a psychological perversion. Although religion, race and ethnicity are semantically linked to their respective bigotries in an existential manner, they are not causative. A pious Jew, Christian or Muslim will ideologically behave in the same manner when it comes to inter-personal ethics. The modalities of worship may differ -but the treatment by a pious Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Parsi or Buddhist person toward their fellow man will be the same.

All humans -be they theo-centric or theo-phobic -desire to spend their time on this earth with their rights secured, free to enjoy their pursuits within a peaceful and ordered society. This is the common bridge between religionists and non-religionists. There is an underlying commonality that exists in the humanity of the peoples, the cultures and the religions of this world. A massive public campaign must be waged which supports tearing down the barriers between our "two worlds". Honest journalism must be encouraged and cultural education and understanding must be promoted. It's time that we stop looking for differences and start paying attention to the similarities.

Faiz Khan is a Muslim scholar and educator as well as an M.D. with a dual specialty in emergency and internal medicine. He is also a co-founder of MUJCA-NET, the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth.

Copyright 2007 Islamica Magazine.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium is prohibited.

  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society
  Topics: Interfaith, Islam, Muslim World  Channel: Opinion
Views: 5331

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Older Comments:
I wanted to say thank you for your efforts in uniting and bringing peace between different faiths. I really do thank you from my heart, because I could see your heart in your article.

Something that is important for all to remember is that "religion" leads to death. "religion" usually equals Law. Islam, Christianity and Judaism all have a Law that is far beyond any humans capability. In the Tawrat and Zabur, the prophets predicted the coming of a Man who would be the "sacrificial Lamb" to take our place just like the story with Ibrahim and his son. Because God has sent this sacrificial Lamb named Isa al-Masih (the Messiah) we can now be free from the Law that was set in place from the time of Musa. We are not free to live how we want, but now we are free to love God with all our heart with no fear and doubt. We can do all of our works in RESPONSE to God's love for us and not out of fear or as an effort to make ourselves good enough. Isa al-Masih broke the chains of the Law, there is no reason to bind yourself again. Be set free my brother. Please see my heart and do not get angry. I love Muslims and want them all to know Jesus al-Masih. Much love and peace,


Ryan P

To Chris:
FYI .. (2:8) ayah is -

2:8 (Y. Ali) Of the people there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day;" but they do not (really) believe.
What you posted is wrong, defamed like your scriptures.
Please do not spam/post wrong verses from Quran in future.

RE: Nathan Hale
You say:
There can be NO common ground between Biblical Christianity and Islam period. One is right(Biblical Christianity) and the other (Islam)is wrong.
Wow you are clearly very intelligent and so open minded, I bet you spent hours thinking up that amazing speech, Nathan, I defy you to convince the most spiritually hungry and gullible person on earth that Christianity is true.

Its an eye opener article to many people whoever wants to know the real meaning of life n live uder the Guidance of Almighty GOD. So that one can achieve the hieghest standard level of life.

I am for it.
I am a Jewish woman.
A Christian friend and I would like to get together with a Muslim woman of liberal views like your article. This is patterned after The Faith Club in the book by the same name
Do have a suggestion of someone in the Pittsburgh, PA area?

Nathan wrote
"There can be NO common ground between Biblical Christianity and Islam period. One is right(Biblical Christianity) and the other (Islam)is wrong"

Never did someone illustrate the point so succinctly. YOU are RIGHT and I am WRONG and therefore you don't have to think anymore. Did you catch the paragraph about bigotry being a form of psychosis? Read again. Read it until it gets through.

It is amazing how an idea such as "Coexistance" can be disrupted by ignorant people. This article reinforces the need for all humanity to exist in harmony. How could anyone not agree with that? This article is excellent. May Allah Bless the man who has such insight as this and may Allah guide the ignorant to become more open minded and less open mouthed!

Allah, Most Gracious taught us in the Holy Quran in Al Baqarah, (2:8)Those who believe in the Quran, those who follow the Jewish Scriptures, the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah (God) and the Last Day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no grieve, nor shall they fear. The Holy Prophet, in The Charter of Freedom
Granted to Christians, guaranteed the Christians protection from then until the Day of Judgment. There have been many wars fought over different views over Religion. Can we make it a better world for us and for our children? I hope so with all my heart!

I truly believe and support the authors general ideas, very well articulated as well. The problem remain as quiet significant number of Muslim living in the west fear the west itself (example; little integration or interaction between Muslim and nonMuslim except in work arena). Thus building wall instead of building bridges. Fear in getting to know their neighbors, fear of being influence by the other's values, fear that their values will be challenge are some issues plaguing individual Muslim in the west. IMHO.

This is an excellent article.I believe the theme here is to come together under common terms and then resolve differences in a polite manner.

There can be NO common ground between Biblical Christianity and Islam period. One is right(Biblical Christianity) and the other (Islam)is wrong