Who are we? Who defines us?


A debate has been going on within certain circles of the Muslim community about defining or redefining Islam and its followers.

Several terms have been designed to make a distinction among Muslims' various political schools of thoughts. These terms sometimes appear attractive, especially in the state of confusion in which we live. They provide us with a different approach to identify ourselves.

However, when we look at these terms deeply, we begin to realize that they are meant to define us in the mold of our thinking influenced by our social and political milieu.

Terms that are in fashion currently are moderate Islam, progressive Islam, enlightened Islam, modern Islam, extremist Islam, liberal Islam, conservative Islam, reformed Islam, orthodox Islam, fundamentalist Islam, medieval Islam, and obscurantist Islam, etc.

What is interesting is that these terms emerge from the limitations of our own readings of Islam controlled by our own social-political experiences. For instance, in the context of the U.S. and the West, it is now fashionable to use terms such as progressive Islam and moderate Islam.

When asked to define these terms, their proponents say that "moderate" or "progressive" Islam opposes violence, accepts the universal charter of human rights, promotes gender equality and recognizes the idea of pluralism.

Dialectically, what they are saying is that there is an Islam that does not recognize the value of non-violence, that rejects universal charter of human rights and that opposes the idea of gender equality and pluralism. If this is the basis of redefining Islam, then it is a weak premise.

Islam is a faith given to human beings to live their lives according to certain values originally defined by the Divine. People have a choice to reject them or accept them because they are responsible for their own actions. Islam does not advocate violence. Those who use violence as a means to achieve their goals, however noble their goals may be, are essentially in violation of their faith. They are the ones who are deviating from the path of Islam.

Why should their deviation cause some Muslims to redefine Islam and form a separate category of moderate or progressive Islam in order to make a distinction between the two? There are always people and groups who use their faith to promote their own political and economic agenda. This is true with all religions. The most effective way to confront such people is to develop a sound argument on the basis of a comprehensive understanding of the divine values and prophetic teachings.

This is a struggle that we all have to carry on within ourselves and in the society at large. Creating further divisions and categorizing ourselves in terms that refer to our own political expediencies will not serve the real purpose of the faith. Islam, after all, demands from every Muslim to be a witness to the truth.

The truth is clear in Islam. We cannot change it for our political purposes. Thus, the coinage of these terms is primarily a weak strategy that defeats the very purpose of the faith.

The questions that ought to be raised, then, are: what is this truth and how do we discern it from the falsehood? The truth will emerge from our quest of knowledge, experiences, wisdom and guidance from the Divine. The truth will not be dictated by a few sound bites of President Bush or Daniel Pipes or people like them.

In the case of Islam, the truth, as perceived by Muslims based on their general readings of the Quran, is that Islam is a divinely revealed faith that commands its adherents to follow the principles of monotheism, justice, equality, and peace in all aspects of their life.

We have to understand our world in the context of these divinely revealed truths and develop suitable instruments to ensure that they are shared with the rest of the world.

Thus, our struggle is to be a witness to these truths and to challenge all those who are in violation of these regardless of what label they assume.

In the Quran, the Divine tells us of people who would call themselves Muslims, yet, would do everything that is contrary to the teachings of Islam. It is not a prudent strategy to say that because of the deviations of others, we are changing our self-definition and coining a new term to describe our relationship with our faith. Our commitment to our faith is based on the criterion of right and wrong.

The propagation of new terminologies by various Muslims is leading our community into a bewilderment of confusing ideas without realizing that the principles of faith cannot be compromised for our understanding or lack of understanding of political realities.

Thus, we have two tasks at hand. First, internally--we have to challenge those who are deviating from the foundation of Islam, and second we have to communicate to the rest of the world the real foundation on which our faith stands.

It is better that we spend our time and resources in these areas rather than wasting our energy in coining and re-coining terms that confuse us and others as well.

When we do what is expected of us in Islam, we will notice qualitative change in our own attitude as well as the attitude of the people in our faith.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and the director of the Muslim Electorates' Council of America. He can be reached at [email protected]


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Older Comments:
MOHAMMAD FROM USA said:
Islam is one and Muslim are one according to the teaching of Prophet Muhammad and the teaching of the Quran. Having different labels for Islam and Muslim is really ignorance. Dr. Abdullah's article is the best explanation.
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SALEEM FROM USA said:
aoa,
how one can exploit any situation.
make other confuse so that he hesistate and lacks conviction in his decision.
example issue of gay marriage for a western citizens.

KEY word : keep the people confuse and in illusion. will pave way for new laws and new ways of acts. This is abc's of Exploitation.

Key tool that works like a magic in this case is called Democracy/Double standards.

Allah our creator rejects such cruelty and evil at its roots.

now we are asking the defination of muslims types. is a true product of democracy which islam rejects at its roots.

The direction western civilization is heading. soon the people will be asked if its okay to marry pet animals.

You may smile now but this is where they want you to be to such a level where animal rights will be equal to human rights. so its easier for them to exploit you.

Slavery is not good enough for them.
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ZAHIDA WAHID FROM CANADA said:
a real knowledge of islam .it elminate all the confusions .why so many types of islam .isalm is islam rather than modren or fundamentle etc,
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JAN FROM USA said:
Sr.Suzanne writes:

"I have travelled to the M.E... I met with some very ... good people. I also met with some very bad people".

"Bush, Israel or Christianity have no part in the exchanges that have been taking place between Muslims on this site".

"I am involved in dawa and inter-faith work, and I can honestly tell you that the bad things people hear about Islam comes from Muslim people..... That is just as bad as apostasy".

"It is the 'true believers' who are killing Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq now, both Al Qaeda and Americans".

Such commentator shorthand, is misleading, unfair and potentially dangerous, because it distorts the facts and stereotype Muslims, just as do the likes of "Falwell & Coulter"

I could elaborate more on these points and I am sure others could too .... but we seem to be drifting away from the subject-matter-in-question.

Wassalam,
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JAN FROM USA said:
Guess some folks just take positions in one extreme or the other. They seem to have a pre-conceived notion about this or that; hence, they don't see the need to comprehend what the other person is saying.

AC was a case in point in one extreme and now you too sister Suzanne on the other extreme. You seemed to have missed the quintessence of my comments about taking the middle path (Disparities of People and Pets-Ref: 30428AC) and also about not using un-Islamic language, etc in my last post.

In many instances, we seem to have also lost touch with the realities on the ground. We comment on issues on which we have half-baked knowledge picked up from scattered reading of the media or maybe some of us have become "pragmatic" Muslims.

"Pragmatic Muslims" according to Dr. Ghazali, "because of their utilitarian approach towards Islam. A pragmatist judges the value of ideas, judgments, hypotheses, theories and systems, according to their capacity to satisfy human needs ... Obviously the pragmatic Muslims believe that the truth is to be determined by its practical implications and material benefits... Ironically, without elaborating what should be a "reformed Islam" the pragmatic Muslims are taking cue from the neo-Orientalists in launching attacks ..."
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RAIHANAH M MYDIN FROM MALAYSIA said:
I couldn't agree more with Dr Aslam. Muslims are not behaving like an ummah - a unified, homogenous community (despite our obvious cultural differences) with a shared sense of direction in life and for the hereafter. We allow other interests and needs to cloud our sense of unity and hence create subcategories of Islam based on our own understanding (or lack of) Islam.
Having said that however, i do understand the need to separate oneself from others in an era when I am being associated with practices of others merely because we both acclaim to be of the same faith. I do not belong to an Islamic understanding that promotes suicide in the name of jihad. i don't belong to an Islamic understanding that promotes the subjugation of women as creatures of less value than men. I don't belong to an understanding of Islam that promotes traditional cultural values of a particular community over an above another in the name of Islam. These are some of the concerns I have being a Muslim in present times. As a mother I am very conscious of the kind of values my husband and I show to our daughter.
Islam is a way of life, one which is filled with the true essence of love like no other. To love oneself means to be good to oneself to take care of one's emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, sexual wellbeing, dress modestly, to excel in life for oneself and for others etc. but to do so in moderation, equilibrium is the key. I think moderation in all aspect of life is vital, but my sense of moderation is perhaps unorthodox to another. I might be called one who loves dunia (this world) instead of akhirat (hereafter). So what then is the solution?
How do we "communicate to the rest of the world the real foundation on which our faith stands" when we make islam to mean only one or another, when it can mean so much?
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Suzanne is time for you to sign off. You are indeed consistent in conveying the vacuum. You either swallowed a tape on the same tune or you have a hidden agenda. Why I say this, because you don't rationalize, you go on a pre-programmed track that builds on your imagination and mainly on your assumptions. You don't have a conversation since you don't listen to the other party, you have a monologue. It's pathetic, so best you could do, was to drop it, O.K.?
I don't care about your husband being an alien, didn't you encounter yet white racist women having black lovers? They also claim, 'how could we be racist when we live with black guys?' I don't buy it Suzanne, I am as much Middle Eastern as Paul Martin British, if you know what I mean.
The prophet had said many times,'obey your leaders/imams no matter of their looks(even with hair looking like black currents?) It is highly disrespectful to portrait the hypocrites in the position of shakes and imams. So you didn't find Islam in M.E., but you found it in North America? You must be tripping me!
If you read my comments you could know that I was Canadian. I wasn't brought up by Christians or Jews, but by Muslims, that's the difference between you and me. I live in Canada, not in GITMO, so I don't really find much sense if any to your comment that I was living in a homogeneous society vs yourself in a multicultural one. Isn't Toronto multicultural enough for you? You want to teach me what the Canadian Muslims are? You make me laugh.
Reverts to Islam? Becoming fundamentalists and even extrmists? Oh yeah, look at the well-known group P4E(Paradise for ever) made up by Canadian-born new comers. Do you need more fundamentalists than them? You call this 'good' Islam? Suzanne, please, once you condemn fundamentalism/extremism(remember the bearded shaiks you met in M.E.?) then when it works for you, you defend them! There is so much confusion in your mind, let the light of faith get inside you and guidance will be imminen
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SUZANNE FROM CANADA said:
The original article says "we have two tasks at hand. First, internally-we have to challenge those who are deviating from the foundation of Islam, and second we have to communicate to the rest of the world the real foundation on which our faith stands". Evidently, we all have a different view of what the foundation is. Look at the ideas of "progressive" Islam - they are a reaction to extreme interpretations. They wouldn't exist at all, if moderation and individual interpretation were more accepted. Values such as human rights, equality and respect, are the gifts, along with the Holy Quran, that Muhammed (pbuh) gave to us. The idea that these things have to be brought into the religion is wrong, they are already there. They have to be re-introduced into people's interpretations. If the people supporting "progressive" Islam don't know this, that is their failing.

Br Hudd, My husband is from the Middle East, so portraying me as some sort of anti-Arab crusader is incorrect. I'm inciting people to rebel against the ulama, because I stated that I've met some hypocrites who only care about the external show of religion? Again, you are incorrect. Evidently, you grew up in a homogenous society. I didn't - therefore our views of Islam within a diverse society are going to be different. How does this come to equate the fact that one of us is WRONG? If we follow the clear teachings laid out before us - praying five times/day, abstaining from haram things, etc. - how can we judge each other? I take great offence at the idea that reverts to Islam aren't as capable of understanding Islam. Most of the reverts that I've met have seemed more conservative in their approach to Islam than a lot of born Muslims, both from the Middle East and Asia. In Canada, there are many Muslim groups coming out against establishing Shariah. The MAJORITY of these people are born Muslims - uncorrupted by your "Hallelujah Jesus" syndrome. There is NO relation between these movements & reverts to Isl
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SUZANNE FROM CANADA said:
I don't think that a person who tries to respect the beliefs of others is somehow wavering in their vision of Islam or 'trying to play both sides of the fence'. Constancy, please remember, is a trait that it is shared by people of varying faith and morality! It is the hallmark of 'true believers' like GW Bush & Bin Laden, so convinced of their "rightness" that they would destroy all else. It is the 'true believers' who are killing Muslim brothers and sisters in Iraq now, both Al Qaeda and Americans.

I get really upset when I hear people like J Falwell & A Coulter say terrible things about Islam, the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) in particular. So to come across similar behaviour from Muslims, is frustrating. These same Muslims start talking about how if we are attacked, then we have the right to attack. Are they really comparing themselves, as a person reading/writing on the internet, to the Prophet and his early followers (pbut) who had to fight for their lives? Who could possibly make that sort of correlation? A 'true believer'.

External stimuli (ie society) should have no affect on religion. Our faith should remain intact, yet we do not live in a vacuum. We interact with other people, their actions affect us the same way our actions affect them. Showing respect for the beliefs of others is not pandering to them, or watering-down Islam. It is simply setting an example for others. We have no control over the actions of others, but we DO have control over how we respond. Responding to vulgarity with vulgarity only validates what the person was saying in the first place. The best way to contradict lies about Islam, is to live our lives to the fullest - within Islam, and to refrain from unnecessary attacks on the faith of others.

I am raising Muslim children in a diverse society, and the 'passionate' and non-'pragmatic' Muslims that Jan refers to make my job really tough. It makes great discussion, but doesn't do much for practical living.
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JAN FROM USA said:
Allow me a one last go at this discussion. My last post was an attempt to highlight the essence of the subject under discussion, which we are drifting away from. Unfortunately, AC got his DC's all wrapped up and went haywire and further drifted both the polarity and directions of the discussion.

The points about not engaging in un-Islamic language have not only been brought up repeatedly by many but we all pledge to adhere to before we click on to post our comments on this site.

Many on this count have admonished Br. Hudd. And while I may not be old friend Sirius, etc., I must say that I otherwise find Br. Hudd to be the most passionate, and one who has never tried to play a "pragmatic" Muslim that plays both sides of the fence. I guess that quality nowadays is in short supply.

Hudd, my brother in Islam, cool it a bit, for you are in my humble opinion the most valuable contributor on this site. I say this from the bottom of my heart and in a positive vein.

Wassalam,
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Really Mukhlis, and you believe that are better? First of all you use the same tool to support your stand and hatred against me or Middle Eastern Muslims as Bruce put it? You and Suzanne are cut from the same cloth. Listen to what she said:"Many of these bad people had beards and called themselves Sheikh. They mistreated their wives and judged other people unfairly. They also, unfortunately, quoted Quran as they did so." Isn't it an open invitation to rebel against the Ulamah? Well, that is what you are doing that's why you have the whole support of people like Bruce, Tim and the whole shebang of Islam-crashers and reformers. I didn't see one straight Muslim to defend the kind of you or to rebuke me. When I receive an admonishment from H.A., Ahmed from UK, AC, Zinedine, BNAK, Akbar Hussein, Asif Zaidi,etc., then I will reconsider my stand and will seriously look into my system of believes. I can understand new comers to Islam that behave like yourselves. That is because those people still retained some of the old values, like "Jesus Christ Halleluia, we love the world and the world loves us!", take another one, "If you got slapped on one cheek, turn the other one too." You might do that as well, I don't, for me qissas works better. I don't know what venom you are blabbering about, probably you couldn't even have a wild guess of what I was talking about. To all of you hellbound on 'revolutionizing' Islam I have to say the followings: The West will help as they helped Babullah to create a new religion out of Islam, Baha'i. They will help you as they helped Mirza Ahmad to declare himself rasool and messiah. They will help you ridicule the Ulamah as they helped Kemal Ataturk. They will help you re-interpret the Quran in order to suit your cozy westernized life-styles. They will promote you to the upper levels and you will prove yourselves by killing your own Muslim brothers(people like me), as it is done in Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya! Shame on you! Allah is my witness!
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MUKHLIS FROM HONG KONG said:
This article of Dr. Aslam has recieved 56 comments, more than average. Every one is trying to define the Muslim.

I wish to express my respects to sister Suzanne for her last comment 31159. Yes, sis. It looks so awful - the likes of Hudd vomiting venum on this site and asserting that they are real Muslims or that they are experts. I am keeping clear of this unsavory display. Perhaps some one must tell him that others have also studied a lot and know many things about Islam & its principles. This chap has no clue.

Most important is what you said "Invite to the path of your sustainer with wisdom & a good extortion (speech)". Ud-u ilaa sabiil-i rabbika bil hikmat-i wal maw izat-il hasanah."

Wish you success in your dawah, sister. You are free from rancour - that is Allah's reward to you.

May Allah show us light.

Br. Mukhlis.
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HUDD FROM CANADAPOUR said:
Br Dr Alwi you are very adamant in your dissertation supporting the idea of myriad interpretations of Islam. In my opinion you couldn't be faultier. The interpretation of Islam, 'halal' vs 'haram' on one hand and 'taqwa' and 'kufr' on the other, are not subjects of interpretation. Islam revolves on these. What you are talking about is the application of Islamic principle which they differ from culture to culture, here you are perfevtly right. However, we are talking of the same interpretation of Islam but different applications of the legalities. Thus we have different shariah. I personally wouldn't admire having a Wahabi shariah in Canada. How does this work? Same interpretation but different applications? For example, Islam provides several alternatives to an issue, according to fiqh: 1) the legal choice(halal) 2) the recommended(mumtaz) 3) the possible(munasib) 4)the disapproved 5) the forbidden. This is the interpretation. The application is of either of the 5, for a specific issue. Let me examplify. Dealing with an apostate, 1)kill him, 2)show him mercy that he should learn that Islam is a charitable religion. 3) Banish him from the community/city/country/etc. 4)Praise him. 5) Accept him as your leader/mentor/advisor. Having said these, you figure, any society can apply their own shariah in the same interpretation but chosing what was relevant to their society. Islam is one, because God is one and He revealed a universal message, not a mere book to the Arabs! I advise you br to revisit the scriptures, Quran, Hadiths and valuable Islamic literature. I'm doing it all the time and still my spiritual vacuum is not even starting to fill in. But I understand Islam as a global brotherhood, with the same system of values laid down by the Rasoolullah,pbuh. Maybe you follow less the prophet and more the doing of the seculars. Maybe you exchanged the Quran for the charter of the Human Rights. Be known to you, br, The Human Rights borrows from Islamic values.
Peace!
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SUZANNE FROM CANADA said:
I have travelled to the M.E many times. I met with some very religious, simple and good people. I also met with some very bad people. Many of these bad people had beards and called themselves Sheikh. They mistreated their wives and judged other people unfairly. They also, unfortunately, quoted Quran as they did so. The real gifts of Islam - peace of the heart, submission to God and respect for others were lost. Islam is so intertwined with culture that they can no longer discern the difference.
Why can't we discuss religion without bringing up Bush, Israel or the West. I agree that they are responsible for some very negative media about Islam, but the type of "discussion" that goes on in forums like this only cements what people read. If a person is curious enough about Islam to come to discussion forums, it is unfortunate that they encounter nothing but venom and intolerance. Then we wax magnificence about Islam being a religion of peace. Bush, Israel or Christianity have no part in the exchanges that have been taking place between Muslims on this site.
I am involved in dawa and inter-faith work, and I can honestly tell you that the bad things people hear about Islam comes from Muslim people. Not apostates or kufir, but intolerant rigid Muslims with no respect for anyone but themselves. Most of the non-Muslims I talk to don't believe what people like GW Bush or Jerry Falwell say about Islam. But they experience exchanges like this and get the wrong idea about Islam. People who ask questions are not necessarily attacking us. One day you will have to stand in front of God and explain that in your zeal to promote "real Islam" you turned many non-Muslims away from the religion. That is just as bad as apostasy in my opinion, but God knows best.

"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for THY LORD knoweth best who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidanc
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AISHA BHABHA FROM CANADA said:
MASHA'ALLAH,your article is so positive and certainly help me to put things BACK in perspective.
May the ALMIGHTY give you the courage and strength to continue .
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
If you accept that each and every interpretation of Islam is contextual (i.e. depends on context and cannot be divorced from social conditions) - then there are many interpretations of Islam. Each one of which is correct and valid for the context that it was meant for. For example - I don't think that the fatwas of Middle Eastern ulamas are relevant for Muslims in America or even Singapore for that matter. Because the social context is different. American Muslims need American ulamas to make fatwas for them. Because only American ulamas understand the social conditions of America. And likewise for Singapore. That is why there are many variations in Islam. And that is also why we cannot have only one Islam. There has to be plurality in order to reflect the diversity in the Muslim world. Descriptions such as Liberals etc come from the way the Liberals interpret Islam. I for one accept the Human Rights. Hence I do NOT accept the death penalty for Muslim apostates because the freedom to choose a religion is a basic Human Right. I guess that and many other issues makes me a Liberal. You must understand that the world we live in today is very very different from Arabia of the 7th to 10th century. Society has evolved and so must our interpretations of Islam. Otherwise Islam will just fail to deliver because it would not be relevant to the world around us anymore.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Hey Bruce, what's up buddy? I am not M.E. vs Canada/West. Both, Suzanne and myself are Canadian. Therefore the debate is not between East and West but restricted to two compatriots. There is nothing for the Middle East to understand on neo-imperialism, nay the onus is on the West to understand that the people of M.E. are humans. Well, I'm very sorry for you Bruce, if you reread my comments and didn't understand. I don't have now the time and resources to re-educate you on Islamic history and culture. Good luck buddy on your own! Oh, boy, the tone alianates you? You are already alianated my friend, you were born that way, not that something could be done. I remember your vitriol directed against Muslims on this site. We, true Muslims are not going to shell eggs for losers like you only to join us? We have our own losers(apostates) we don't need more. Islamophobia is not created by people like me, it is people like you that causes it to be. I don't have a problem with Islamophobia, it just strengthens my faith. You are diluted in your feable capacities of intellectual engagement. I did not arrest anybody's free opinion, I defended my religion from apostacy! Of course, Islam will never perish and I'm not worried, but I can't allow any half-witted moron to try to redifine that which already was defined from the foundation of the Universe. If you know what I mean. My friend, Islam was born in Middle East as well as all revealed religions, of course it must have a M/E. nuance. Or you expect the Patagonians to tell the Pope what Catholicism was all about? As a M.E. proverb says,'if you want bread, bring your flour to the baker.' The flour is Islam and the baker is M.E., period! Mecca, Medina and Maqdis are in M.E. as well as all the Islamic heritage sights, like Karbala, an-Najjaf, etc. Of course you don't understand the culture of the M.E., what do you understand ..? Look at the 'king' of your country, Mr Bush, what does he understand?
Peace!
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Mr Dr Sr Alwi, take care what you say, if you are an honest man do not try to put your words in my mouth. The interpretation of Islam is one, the same prophet Muhammad,pbuh, interpreted for us. We Muslim of the world differ in culture not in interpretation. Singapour is not an Islamic country(I wonder which one would be) therefore you cannot promote the culture and customs of that country as Islamic, except for the customs pertaining to the Singapourian Muslims. The pillars of Islam and the item of faith must be the same, otherwise we have no Islam. As long as those exist, the rest is only make-up. Now, your personal believes on Islam are yours and as long as you don't present them to me as a general truth or 'al-Haqq' it's fine with me. When you tell me that Islam is what you think it is and call me Middle Age man because I promote the original Islam the one and only, that my friend upsets me. If you want to present your ideas about Islam, or a 'new' Islam, say so. Don't present the Islam you practice as the absolute Islam. Start like, Muslims should not Muslims must, or mention, 'in my opinion'. Do that and we are cool. But as long as you try to sell me on a new sect where the verses of Quran are adulterated and the Sunah of the prophet discarded, count me as your nemesis. I welcome any opinion, pro or against Islam, as long as it is done in straightforwardness, without guile or secret agenda.
Having said these, I bid you Salam!
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BRUCE FROM US said:
Reading the exchange between Suzanne and Hudd makes me worry about the ability of the M.E to ever understand the West and visa versa. I certainly identify more with Suzanne's concerns re: the respect of another's opinion and their right to express it in an open forum. I did reread your posting Hudd, and I still fail to understand your point. Yes, the tone of the posting do alienate a non-Muslum like myself. Perhaps you don't care whether they are alienated or not, but if so, don't complain about "Islamaphobia" in the West. I would also assume that they would alienate any Muslim that would happen to see things a bit differently than the posters. What I see in the more rabid postings is a lack of respect for people with differences of opinion and the arrogance to question their Muslimness. Maybe this is a M.E. vs West cultural phenomenon? Maybe I don't understand the culture of the M.E. but we won't live on this earth together without some kind of understanding.
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
Are you telling me that ONLY your understanding or interpretation of Islam is correct ? Despite the fact that the context of your interpretation is medieval Middle Eastern ? No way ! How can such an interpretation apply to 21st century East Asia ? The social conditions are vastly different. Hence East Asia can only follow an East Asian interpretation. And therefore there are many Islams. If you try to force your interpretation on others, you will only generate hatred towards yourself and very sadly - towards Islam too.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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BRUCE FROM US said:
I wonder if AC realizes his simplistic demonization of anyone not thinking like himself sounds amazingly like something his "Evangelical (Zionist)Christains" would say. Same person, just different religion. Nothing like ignorance to speak with assurance.
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TIM FROM USA said:
There is a cartoon strip in the newspapers here in the US where the jokes are based on the statement"People unclear on the concept". This is a public opinion forum where the idea is to allow people to express their opinions, beliefs, and views. Agreement is not a requirement. We are discussing ideas, folks, not making rules and policies. If we all agree on an idea it doesn't mean that we are right. Conversely, if a person disagrees it doesn't mean that he/she is wrong,or stupid, ignorant, or an apostate, or a heathen.

There have been some really nasty remarks made to Dr. Alwi, Suzanne and others. And it isn't just on this particular article either. Why are people being attacked personally here? Are some of you so insecure that you take a disagreement to your position as an attack on you?

For example, Dr. Alwi was advocating human rights and tolerance. He was then accused of advocating alcohol, being (gasp!) a Shiite, and basically being an all-around fraud. He never mentioned alcohol or implied that he was in favor of it. He was even disparaged for being from Singapore.

If you want a website where the the requirement for entering an opinion is that we all agree on any point, then I suggest that you start your own site. Finally, read what Islamicity has said as the guidelines for this discussion board.
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AC FROM UK said:
Jan Comment 31133
You quote people's comments and then say,
"That sums it best for me."

What's your point?

Let me put it in simple terms for you since you are Americana.

True Islam = Following Quran + Authentic Sunnah (Sayings + Actions + practices of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) + saying + actions + practices of the three rightly guided generations that came after the Prophet (pbuh)

Simple, Yes!

Further......
Muslims don't need Islam defined by = GW Bush (can this man read??)+ Necons (Zionist fascist racist Jews or any other Jews) + Evangelical (Zionist)Christains etc + Non practicing so so muslims who have sold their souls to the enemies of Islam and Allah (SWT).

Islam = True religion of all Prophets (including Isa (pbuh))of Allah (SWT)

ISLAM = ONLY RELIGION ACCEPTED BY ALLAH (SWT)

Jan SIMPLE, YES!

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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Suzanne, it's br Hudd. Don't twist my words like Israeli prosecutors do to the Palestinian negotiators. Stop depicting yourself as part of the Canadian umah in regards to your thinking. If you didn't notice, I am a Canadian. Your opinions are weird and ambiguous, while Muslims follow the straight path. I said that you sided with the kafer in defending a 'free' choice like Dr Sir Alwi in the detriment of the Muslims who opt for shariah vs democracy, savvy my sister? I urge you to re-read my comments, perchance this time you would understand if you sincerely looked for it. Yes, I talked of one religion and I didn't attack Mr Dr Sir Alwi, I simply criticized him as well as I criticized you. You a Canadian believer in democracy and freedom of choice can't comprehend this item of freedom? The freedom to criticize, or you believe yourself above criticism? I'm not angry, I'm strongly opiniated and ready for a debate not fight. I'm a disciple of Ahmad Deedat, was he angry? Yeah, the kafer thought so, but in reality he was very enthusiastic about his religion and the truth he discovered in it!
"Your approach only further alienates people from the religion." What is the meaning of this comment? What religion? A democratic Islam? 'Truth stands clear out of error', says the Quran, did you not read in the Quran,'They(the people of the book, Jews and Christians)will never be pleased with you unless you followed their form of religion'. This is what I see on this site posted by Muslims like you and Mr Dr Sr Alwi, you don't know how far to bend over for the Westerners to appreciate you! Wouldn't this anger any honest Muslim? I come to this site to read intelligent articles & comments that would lift my spirit and fill my heart with hope for the North American Umah. You and your kind don't give me that assurance, but rather warrants a sort of Islam in which Muslims would follow the same agenda like the non-Muslim as their democratic freedom, if that be the case, then Islam-RIP!
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JAN FROM USA said:
1. "Those who misuse Islam for political purposes must be exposed as deviants as
those who are exploiting religion." (Br. Aslam)

2. "We are all ignorant, for we all do not know the absolute truth... but some are more enlightened than others." (Br. Imran)

3. "a sincere and honest Muslim has the necessary knowledge to distinguish between truth and falsehood. If such a Muslim, that noticed the ignorance, which is the number one enemy of Islam, according to the prophet,pbuh, would keep silent would commit a terrible transgresion. In a well known hadith our beloved prophet said,"If you witnessed a wrongdoing(ignorance is one) straighten it by your hand. If you couldn't then by your mouth. Least you couldn't do that as well, then change it into good by your heart(in your heart)." (Br. Hudd)

4. "these people don't have to claim to be speaking for Islam .... these are the anarchists - and they abound in human society from time to time." (Br. Almi)

5. "Thus, we have two tasks at hand. First, internally--we have to challenge those who are deviating from the foundation of Islam, and second we have to communicate to the rest of the world the real foundation on which our faith stands."
"Thus, our struggle is to be a witness to these truths and to challenge all those who are in violation of these regardless of what label they assume." (Br. Aslam)

That sums it best for me.


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HUDD FROM CANUCKLAND said:
Sirius old friend your comment as always is legitimate. You are trying to say, do not mix your visionary aspirations with obvious reality. Fair enough, Sirius, the differences though are geo-political and socio-ethnical, not in matters of faith, even though I must admit that in practice or popular believes Muslims differ. I hate to say this, but yes, we seem as motley as an Asian bazar! I would compare this, if you will, with Catholicism. A Catholic in Rome has the same believes as the one in Lima, Dublin, Berlin, Seoul, Middle East, Madrid, Hong Kong, etc, but try to live among them and you will feel funny if you were a Catholic from Helsinki. Would that be because Catholicism was devided? Or was that because the people were belonging to different cultures and systems? I don't say you wouldn't feel home in the church, or a North American Muslim wouldn't feel at home in any mosque. What about out there in market-place? Different story, isn't it?
I know you perceive what I want to say and maybe appreciate my point.
Salam/Peace!
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Yeah, right, it seems that we have another self-imposed 'professor', Mr Imran! Wow, brother, it's as easy as that? We are all ignorant? I agree you are one, but all? Think again. If you as a Muslim regard yourself as the 'righteous', sole clairvoyant human on this site, while others are all erring, what kind of a Muslim you would be? But you are not. It makes no difference to me that you posted as Imran(the family of Maryam,pbuh), ... You strive to please the non-Muslim society you live with by wiping out any difference between religions. Well, this works for 'democracy', in private, all religions believe about themselves that are the best and the right one, otherwise all of them would apostate. As a Muslim you are encouraged to believe that Islam is the right way and the true religion above all. As a differnt faith you are encouraged the same. If you don't believe me go to a church mass or synagogue, etc. Saying that, we have as individual believers of different faiths the mission to convey our perceived truth to the other peoples, it is called 'dawuah' for a Muslim and a 'mission for a Christian,etc. It is not intollerance or an attack from my side, it's conviction and debate. Are these concepts too complicated for you? Islam doesn't encourage an eye for an eye? Don't you confuse Islam with Christianity? In Islam is called 'qissas'(the law of equity), the oldest law given before to Moses,pbuh, when did you last read the Quran? For Jews was 7 eyes for one Jewish, then Kahane made it 50:1. The Americans in all their post WWII wars made it 1000:1. Yes, Islam encourages eye for an eye, but recommends mercy. Even if we claimed eye for an eye it is our right to claim it and it's still righteousness and humane as compared to the USA type of reasoning, 1000:1! Islam never built walls, it was you buddy, yeah the Europeans Communists and the Europe originated Zionists. A piece of advice from an old man, 'stay low keep cool. ..'
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SUZANNE FROM CANADA said:
Sister Hudd, try to find peace in your heart. I will not even ask why you would imply that Canadian Muslims aren't bound by the same rules as other Muslims, such as yourself. How can you draw a connection between a person who disagrees with your style of communication and a Kufir? What is the possible relation? You know nothing of me, and yet I am not a real Muslim (like you). You talk of one religion, and then attack Dr. Syed Alwi (I don't care if it's his real name or not) for possibly being Shia, based entirely on your interpretation of his name. Evidently, you read a lot - that knowledge is worthless unless you can put it into practice. I don't know where your anger comes from, but it certainly doesn't help the Ummah at all for you to be attacking everyone on a personal level who disagrees with you.

I am not the critic of everyone who posted. Apparently that job has been sufficiently filled. I am simply a person who posted my opinion - which I understood to be the purpose of the site. I know you don't care what I think, but my opinion is as worthy as yours, as is everyone else who posted. If there are misconceptions of the religion, from within and without, only reasonable dialogue is going to combat it. Your approach only further alienates people from the religion.
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'RABIU OLAIWOLA FROM NIGERIA said:
its great that ideas like this have a way of getting to a large section of the muslim community.we have a grat deal of a long way to go.we must not separate islam/muslim from politics.its not wrong for a muslim to go into politics, we definitely neeed political power.our approved mentor and model-prophet Muhammod was into governance.a muslimwith islam could go into politics and make the difference.
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
In reply to Ibrahim Siddiq, I can also say that currently Islam is being hijacked by Middle Easterners foreign to Singaporean culture ! You are looking at it from only your personal vantage point. Do you think that the Middle Eastern brand of Islam is acceptable here in East Asia ? We have our own brand of Islam. What makes you think that yours is correct ? Maybe its your brand of Islam that is wrong ! Start opening your mind to a larger world out there.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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IBRAHIM SIDDIQ FROM SAUDI ARABIA said:
This is a very interesting article, the subject of which should invite deeper thinking and discussion. An unfortunate circumstance facing the Muslims in the world is the ever present, and domineering efforts to re-define Islamic foundations and practice according to the desires of other cultures, most if not all of whom are either not Muslim or not practicing Muslims. Allah grant us all success in this world and the hereafter.
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IMRAN FROM USA said:
I think the point is lost in these comments...

There is only "one" Islam, but there are "many" interpretations or levels of understanding/misunderstanding of Islam. It is like MATH. 2+2=4. But people who are not good in math, but preach it will say 2+2=7.

There will always be people who will misuse religion or pervert it. Hilter, for example, misused Christianity, and preached his own version of extremist Christianity -- a fact that the West likes to forget and does not mention in their history books. The European colonist slaughtered the Aztecs, Incas, native indians in the name of Christianity. Does that make Hilter's or Colonist's interpretation of their religion "True Christianity"? I think not.

Tim -- Having or not having a pope or central authority makes no difference in religion. Christianity has hundreds of sects and cults. Buddism has many sects... so what did a central authority accomplish. little or nothing.

There hasn't been a religion in human history that wasn't used in direct violation of its own teachings. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddism, Hinduism, etc... It is not religion's fault, it is man's own fault. But it is so easy and convenient to blame religion, because it detaches one from blame. A falling of mankind. So before you start labeling religion, try labeling yourself.

Hudd -- Intolerance is an un-Islamic attribute. In any discussion it is un-Islamic to respond with an attack. Islam does not encourage eye for an eye. You only get two walls and war in the middle.

Everyone -- before you respond, put yourself in the others shoes and try to understand where they are coming from. If you can't, ask for clarification. If you can, your response should be constructive and not with malice intent.

We are all ignorant, for we all do not know the absolute truth... but some are more enlightened than others.

Today the target is Islam... Tomorrow it will be something else... and History will rep
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
The more irrational your response is - the worse Islam's image becomes. I really do not understand these Middle Easterners and South Asians. Can't they see that there are entire civilizations based on other religions besides Islam ? Here in Singapore (East Asia) we are multi-religious and we grow up in a society made up of so much diversity. We know that other succesful civilizations exist - besides Islam. But I guess the Middle Easterners are NOT used to a multi-religious, multi-cultural context. And following the fatwas of Middle Eastern ulamas will NOT help you - because the American society is very different from the Middle Eastern societies. Perhaps first generation immigrants will never truly integrate into Western societies. But maybe their children who are born in the West will. I suppose there will be lots of heartaches when these children become old enough to get married. Too bad. Thats integration for you...A reality you cannot run away from.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Suzanne, Suzanne, who made you critic over the posters on this website? Are you offended in the term 'ignorant'? What word would you use to call a spoon? A spoon is a spoon, an ignorant is an ignorant. However an ignorant cannot perceive ignorance and thus an ignorant for another ignorant is a wise man. For your information, a sincere and honest Muslim has the necessary knowledge to distinguish between truth and falsehood. If such a Muslim, that noticed the ignorance, which is the number one enemy of Islam, according to the prophet,pbuh, would keep silent would commit a terrible transgresion. In a well known hadith our beloved prophet said,"If you witnessed a wrongdoing(ignorance is one) straighten it by your hand. If you couldn't then by your mouth. Least you couldn't do that as well, then change it into good by your heart(in your heart)."
That's very sad that you weren't offended by Tim's words. You either have a poor image of your religion or you have difficulties in understanding directly addressed invectives to your faith. Doctor Sir Alwi is an apostate, but then how would you know? It takes more than expressing the shahadah for a person to be a Muslim.
What's wrong with us? Nothing except the fact that we are Muslims. Thus we don't follow the North American criteria of evaluating people. Muslims have their own judgement(dean) and as the Holy Quran states:"Lakum deenukum wa liya deen", Eng. "To you your way/system, to me mine". As a 'free' Canadian woman you can choose whatever your 'way' conditions you to follow. I am conditioned by Quran and Sunah like any of my Muslim brothers, I do not have the liberty to follow what I think is right. If I chose the wrong to follow, my brothers would criticize me and call me all sorts of epithets that they might see relevant to my position. It is their freedom. You want to arrest us that freedom, Suzanne? As a 'good' Canadian you admonished the Muslims for their freedom to express their opinion because it hurt the kafer
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PUBLICDEBATE FROM USA said:
Dr. Abdullah said: "Those who misuse Islam for political purposes must be exposed as deviants as
those who are exploiting religion."

Salaam - Islam is not only being used, it is being manipulated for political purposes. There are two sides to this coin - the extremist wahaabis, and the extremist "progressives muslims" (Progressive Muslims Union, Muslim Wake Up). At this time it is the extremist "progressive muslims" who are intent on using US imperialism to impose their order.

Actually this is not very different than what the wahabbis did --- they too got huge amounts of US money - now the US has found a new stoogie the "progressive muslims" to do their bidding.

When you talk about exposing, are you also going to expose the "leadership" of such organizations, that are essentially doing the job as outlined by the Rand Corporation to divide up Muslims? These people may not be directly employed by Rand (although there is a former employee of Rand on the PMUNA board of directors) - but they are following the road map laid out by them... The information is out there, and it is important to understand, and expose these designs.
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ZAKARI NASIR FROM NIGERIA said:
assalalykum,
may Allah reward you abundantly, it is true that the U.S and the west are trying to blackmail islam and muslims generally by giving us all sort of names like terrorists, extremists, fundamentalists etc but they will never succeed because Allah will continue to guard islam and muslims. Thanks, was salam.
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Z AHMAD FROM USA said:
This appears very logical to me. The basic reason is I may be wrong in my dealing but not the religion. So what we need to look for is What is Right not Who is right. And ISLAM is the religion for mankind not for muslims only which teahes us equality, justice and peace for one and all.
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HUDD FROM CANADA said:
Dr Syed Alwi? Is this your real name? ... Let's drop Dr, we are all brothers and we will not credit you because you added Dr to your supposed name. We judge you after your statements that are downright ridiculous and very westernized. It's blasphemous to associate you with Islam. Syed? Please, don't be conceited, Syed is a tittle used by the descendents of the Hashemites(family of the prophet,pbuh), it means in English,'Sir'. So you are Dr Sir Alwi? Alwi must be an aberation of Alawi which means follower of Ali,ra. This lets me conclude that you are a follower of the Shia sect, Alawiyah(controversial even for the mainstream Shia) which explains a lot of your misinterpretations and misunderstanding of Islam. That's fine with me as much as you were anything else, let's say, .. atheist, communist, kabalist, zionist or any 'ist'! However do not claim that you would represent more than a handful of .. marginalized so-called-modern-muslims. .. You are trying to say that the errant Muslims of your clique in Singapour would set the norms for the International Islamic society? I understand you feel devided, I feel devided from you when I read your comments. I say to myself, this is not my brother, this is something else. I visited Singapour and met with brothers there of non-Arab origin. They were all very 'cool', great guys following the Islam we all know and the one that makes us one umah/nation. I tell you this Mr Alwi, read the last sermon of the prophet,pbuh, in Mecca and if you still believe that we must be devided then step out from the folds of Islam and disgrace yourself and not the people you represent! May Allah have mercy over your fallible soul and grant you what you deserve. In conclusion, Mr Alwi, Dr & Syed are for the democracy not for the brotherhood. Islam is one!
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SUZANNE FROM CANADA said:
Anyone who reads through the comments posted here can understand why there can't be "one" Islam. Look at the attitude of the writers, look at the language used. How many times did people use the word 'ignorant' when responding to the beliefs and opinions posted by others? Suddenly, people without the knowledge or the right to do so are judging people, Muslim and Non-muslim.

I am a Muslim, and I was not offended by anything Tim said. I don't feel the need to brand Dr. Alwi a traitor, an apostate, an anti-Muslim. What is wrong with you people? There is nothing wrong with questions and discussions in and about religion. In fact, that is what keeps a religion alive. The fact that none of you is able to put forth your view of Islam without first insulting someone says a lot about you. Perhaps you should focus on that, and not worry about how other Muslims (or non-Muslims) practice their religion. In the end, it is God who will judge us - by what is in our hearts.

Too often, we hide behind the name "Muslim" as though it makes us righteous without question. People especially from homogenized "Muslim" countries do not understand the worth of other faiths. Simply by being born Muslim, they see themselves as closer to God than other people. They twist the Quran to fit their cultural beliefs, and distort the religion beyond belief. It is just as bad for a "progressive" Muslim to "modernize" the religion than it is for a man to twist the religion into something that allows him to deny his wives/daughters dignity and happiness? ALL of us need to look at the early years of the religion, and the fact that Islam freed slaves from bondage, it freed women by offering them more to life, it asked people to purify their hearts. Is Islam still doing that for us? If not, why? The fault lies with us.

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SIRIUS FROM FINLAND said:
Well, after been monitoring different muslim sites for a while one thing has come clear in my mind: there's a lot of talk about unity, one islam etc. But, as I've come to see it, it's more about rhetoric, a myth. And this is not some evil divide/conquer techniques: I don't create this, I just see this. And I tell this, which, I quess, some may for some reason take as an aggressive act.
Peace
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MUKHLIS FROM HONG KONG said:
I am digressing from comments on this article, but I would like to address Dr. Alawi's remark that he stands for protecting people's liberty to drink. By people, if he means Muslims, it is a wrong stand.

Islam has hundreds of dos & don'ts. Abstaining from Alcohol is one of them. It is not a cardinal sin (Gunaah-e Kabirah). It is not the sole criteria to judge if one is Muslim or not. Like people dis-obey many of these hundreds of rules in Islam, a perticular Muslim could be dis-obeying this also. Allah will judge his good deeds and bad ones and which ever is heavier, well that will be the judgemnet. Allah can forgive any sins for anyone. That is his sole prerogative, we can not take that for granted.

Having said that, we do not need a religious police like in some Muslim countries. Hwr drinking is not a birth right to a Muslim. Muslims do not have to rise in defence of that right. Dr. Alawi, please reconsider. All of us have some defects. We have to accept them as such & try to get free from them - not defend or encourage them.

"These Malaysians" is in bad taste. Please address specific people or group who are making derogatory remarks. I am not a Malaysian, but I would feel hurt, if I was.

Wassalaam,

Mukhlis
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
What is there to argue about ? The fact is that Muslims come from all over the world. Do you expect a Singaporean Muslim to have the same viewpoints as an Arab Muslim ? Of course not. We are exposed to very different societies. Hence we do not have the same views. On the issue of Syariah and Fiqh, please - the world and society has evolved. Today we acknowledge Human Rights. We cannot go around killing Muslim apostates for example. But some Muslims insist on doing that. So of course there are differences in Islam between Liberals who want a more compassionate and more contemporary interpretation of Islam on one hand - and Hardliners who want a more literal, medieval interpretation of Islam on the other. To pretend that the Muslim world is homogeneous and that there is only one interpretation of Islam - is proof of one's arrogance and ignorance. The truth is that there are many variations within the Muslim world. And its not about right or wrong but rather simply - its an issue of adaptation and natural selection operating on Islamic ideology in various social environments. Thats leads to diversity and plurality of views on Islam. There is no one fixed, absolute truth version of Islam. There are many..........

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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HUDD FROM KANADISTAN said:
Tim. It is offensive for a Muslim to read your comment. Although I understand the source of your mistaken interpretation of Islam I cannot condone with your lack of tact. You gravely upset Ahmad and so you did me. Let's blame the whole thing on your ignorance of Islam and the cultural and historical backgrounds of the so called Muslim countries, Middle East included. Your philosophy about religions oposed to modernization is true, but remember, Islam is a way of life. Maybe you didn't know what Islam teaches. Unlike Christianity, which is a religion and has the motto,'Believe and do not search/investigat', Islam has,'Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave', or 'Everything under the sun has a purpose and a well defined reason', that's the reason why in Islam you can question everything. When prophet Muhammad,pbuh,entered Mecca in his returning victory after 10 years, he went to the Holy Kaaba and distroyed every idol in it. After finishing breaking all the idols, Muhammad,pbuh, came out from the Kaaba and addressed the people with the followings:"This day I destroyed all religion in Arabia." Tim, religion is a set of irrational believes practiced by the ancients in their limited knowledge of everything, you cannot question religion, you are supposed to either follow or drop it. The world for religion in Quran is 'milah', roughly means covinent. The term used for Islam is 'dean', which roughly means, discernment/insight/(mental)judgement. Islam is insight. Islam cannot be backwood, because to be backwood is reactionary which is against Islam which is progressive. You would ask,'why then all these jihadists and extremists that act like they were people belonging to the Middle Ages?' Islam has all the solutions to a modern decent life for the present day man, problem is the people. Many of the Muslim nations are kept in 'technical information' isolation for fear that they would become better than the west if they found their way to it and develop God knows what?!
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
This is in reply to almi. I do not encourage Muslims to drink alcoholic beverages. However I do fight for the freedom to do so. In other words I push for CIVIL & PERSONAL LIBERTIES to be upheld. In other words, the freedom of choice. All this slander around me is just incredible. One should be given the right to choose. Sometimes I even think that I should sue these Malaysians for slander and libel. Maybe that will teach them to think a little bit instead of passing slanderous and libellous remarks.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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TIM FROM USA said:
Nice to meet you Ahmed, but I don't take back anything that I wrote in my previous comment. First of all, I am very much aware that Islam doesn't have a clergy like the Catholics. I used the pope to illustrate that the Catholic church defines its theology with a unified voice. Islam lacks a unifying leader and this is why we see all these different sects with sometimes conflicting views with other sects yet each claims to preach the same message. Do the Shiites have exactly the same message as the Sunnis or the Wahabbis?

There are converts to Islam in the West but there is no real big rush by the natives to become Muslim. I am around Muslim converts and they back me in what I said.The biggest numbers are still from immigration and from the fact that Muslims in the West often have large families.

Finally, I rarely watch television because there is little on worth watching and it is nothing but a propaganda medium.
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AHMED FROM UK said:
Tim ol' chap you could not be more wrong, if not ignorant. Its obvious to me you clearly do not understand Islam or pretty much anything not shown on state controlled TV.
Islam does NOT have a clergy like Catholicism, hence no Muslim Popes. Its also a demented fantasy on your part to think that the growth of Islam in the West is immigration only. If you werent so backward and ignorant you'd know what you were talking about.
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SISTER NUR FROM USA said:
I am an American revert. I don't think it's fair that you said it is 'weak' to say that Muslims defend the TRUE Islam, something that seems to be fading away with Bin Laden and other extremists. They are the extremists in Islam, they don't even follow Islam to be doing what they are doing. Allah (SWT) knows best. I understand what points you are trying to make, but as nice as you try and make it all sound- as much as we don't like it, there are versions of Islam...remember what the Prophet (SAW) said. Islam will have the most sects in the end...We need to stop the terrorists before we can ALL call ourselves Muslim.
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TIM FROM USA said:
Good article but many of you don't understand that there really isn't one Islam but many Islams. There is no one, defining voice to Islam and as a result you have many schools of thought interpreting the Quran to their own agenda. Consider the pope and the Vatican in the lives of Catholics. A Catholic may not agree with all the views of the Vatican, but the Vatican defines their religion. Islam is wide open.

Second is the fact that Islam cannot modernize itself. All ancient religions have this problem and there are no nice, easy solutions. We simply live in a world that the ancients could not possibly understand. Modernizing but without losing or corrupting the core elements is the goal.

This leads me to agree with Dr. Alwi. Too many Muslims make all these wonderful statement of how
Islam brings peace and equality to the people of the world and then act like intolerant barbarians. Respect for opposing views is a must in a free society and this has to include tolerance for anyone who wishes to separate themselves from their religion. The Middle Eastern mindset creates so many of the problems faced in Islam. Non-Middle Eastern Muslims cherish Islam but can't relate to many of the Middle Eastern attitudes. It is said that Islam is growing in the West but it is not from the locals joining Islam but through immigration.
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ARIANIT FROM KOSOVA said:
Asalamu alaikum. Dr Syed Alwi is expressing his anti-muslim hate very openly comparing Al'lah-s word, The Holy Qur'an with his Human Rights laws that are nothing but another human-made laws and are very far away from being perfect, as Qur'an is.
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ASLAM ABDULLAH FROM USA said:
A few clarifications:
1. I am not a middle easterner. I do not identify
with any ethnicity. I was born in India but I am
not a nationalist. I learn from everyone.
2. Read human rights articles by Dr. Fathi
Osman or many other Islamic scholars and
also read the objectives of Sharia, you would
find that the human rights document legging
behind in protecting human rights.
3. In fact, Islam calls for human dignity which
combines both the rights and responsibilities.
4. Who is a Muslim is very well defined in the
Quran.
5. We seek the application of the Quranic
principles of dignity and justice based on our
capacities and abilities.
6. Quran is a book of guidance that inspires to
live our faith in chaning circumstances as it
asks us to remain commited to it.
7. Words such as moderate, progressive, or
extremists are relative words. They are not
absolute themselves. For instance,
moderation in drinking in the western world
has different meanings. In Ireland moderation
means drinking less than 8 pegs of liquor or
beer, in England, less than 5 pegs, in the US
less than 3, in Germany more than 7. etcs.
If we have to define Islam in relation to each
situation what appears to be moderate in
England may be perceived as extgreme in the
USA.
8. Those who misuse Islam for political
purposes must be exposed as deviants as
those who are exploiting religion.
9. In the end, religion is all about sincerity. It is
not seeking domination of other people. It is
submitting to God, almighty.
Aslam Abdullah
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LAURA NOUR RABBETH FROM USA said:
I just have to say that this is a MOST EXCELLENT article. Every word in it rings true and thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this priceless wisdom. May Allah bless you always.

Salam, Laura Nour Rabbeth
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NANCY FROM USA said:
You can define Islam any way you want but in the US the attached news explains how American Christians and Jews define Islam:

http://www.onlinejournal.com/Special_Reports/040105Rockwell/040105rockwell.html
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M.KHAN FROM USA said:
I AM GLAD SOMEBODY SPEAKING THE TRUTH !---TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT!
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KALTUN FROM UK said:
Alsalamu alykum
why shoud we need to be defined?
you can find people doing the some or more all around the world.
definition only lead to division and we all know what they say about divid and conquer!
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MIRZA NASRULLAH BAIG FROM SAUDI ARABIA said:
I agree with you, its very good article and all muslims must read it particularly those who are very much influenced by the western propaganda against Islam, Jazakallahu khair
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YUNUS AIDAROOS FROM UK said:
It would have been more useful/practical if the writer suggested ways for our media to shun using
western coined ,derogatory words/phrases to attack muslims.
As far as the tile goes, any muslim who ponders on the Quran KNOWS the answers !
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ALMI FROM MALAYSIA said:
Dr Alwi's remarks are not unusual. what he has said here is so mild compared to what he has said elsewhere - specifically on website malaysiakini. there he has even gone into suggesting that muslims should be liberal enough to drink liquor as and when they please. actually we don't know who is behind all these. these people don't have to claim to be speaking for Islam, because Islam does not condone alcohol intake. these are the anarchists - and they abound in human society from time to time.
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MUNTHASIR FROM INDIA said:
Let's not talk abt human rights. Dr.Alwi injected irrelevant issue into this topic.Why do we have to listen to others ? Be it American president or pope.These days everybody has opinion on Islam.

Muslims are destined for leadership, we are reduced to position some of us question the very notion.They think we dont have any eligibility to claim leadership. They make statements that 'We are stuck in the past', but they failed to understand,this is human society reached pinnacle of its development in 7 th century.

We have removed GOd from our life. Our standards for good,morality,development,acheivement, progressive society has been altered.Pomp of life and glitter of the world has replaced Allah from our life.Would you think,if we have million nobel laureates in our society Allah would be pleased with us?!

As Dr.Aslam Abdullah mentioned we have two tasks at hand ,but the message should be simple.We are leaders and however our state right now,we have to work for leadership.If we fail to convey with this unwaveringly we would always be misunderstood.

Coming to differences in muslim society, we all claim to follow one divine quran thats alhamdulilah good enough to unite this ummah. we are divided over applications of sunnah, but fard is clear among us.
Fornication,Telling lie,Slaying life,Backbiting, Drinking alcohol,Gambling,improper income, Interest, Adultery,Sodomy,Shirk,Arrogance, pride all these are still considered wrong in all the sects. Sunnah is not jus following Adabs of prophet,but also application of fard as he(pbuh) did.
Islam has been defined once for all by Lord himself, there is no addition and subtraction anymore as if implying the notion that islam has become incompatible with time.Allah says in glorious quran(i have not reproduced exactly), either you take it fully or ignore it, but dont try to fool around with partial agreements.

So,ALLAH defines us.
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
In response to all the criticisms directed at me, I would like to ask - why is it that you Middle Easterners do NOT apply the Syariah in America or the UK ? The truth is that its virtually impossible to implement the Syariah without conflict with Human Rights. You can talk a lot - but you cannot enforce anything ! For as long as you choose to avoid discussing this issue rationally - you will always remain divided. You must confront reality head on if you want to be united. But you do not have the courage to do so. For me - I come from East Asia. We are not the same. East Asia is MULTI-RELIGIOUS and so our interpretation of Islam is somewhat different from yours. I for one - do not view any religion to be some kind of "absolute truth". To me - we must view organised religion with some skepticism.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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IMRAN FROM USA said:
It is human nature to equate practice/observation to belief. This is the most primitive and rudimentary form of reasoning. If someone "says" he/she is of religion X, and says or does Y whether right or wrong in the "name" of religion X, then religion X "promotes" Y. This reasoning is not correct, but it is human to reason this way, and that is the heart of the problem. It is unrealistic to expect an uninformed person to research and validate claims made in the name of any religion -- people are just not that proactive, nor have the time. So their observations define their understanding of religion X.

Thus the rise of different classifications of religion (ie. moderate, conservative, radical, etc.). The problem with Islam is the same problem with many other religions, ideologies, and concepts. It is a human problem. It does not matter how perfect a religion is, rather how imperfect man's understanding and practice of religion. So Dr. Abduallah, there are not 2 but 3 tasks at hand. The first and most important is better understanding of Islam. Then can one challenge those who deviate from it, and communicate/demonstrate to the rest of the world the truth.

As I see it, the truth is that there is only one Islam, but there are many different levels of understanding and misunderstanding of Islam. Thus there are different "types" of "Muslims" (liberal, conservative, fundamental, etc.) -- all under the same religion, but many with their own set of interpretations/misinterpretations and practices/mis-practices.

Islam is not a simple religion, it is an advanced religion. To understand it, you must want to understand it. Sadly, most want to use portions of it out-of-context for personal, and political gain or cultural acceptance... a failing of mankind... a challenge to the righteous.
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ROBIN FROM INDIA said:
the hypocrites hsve been there all along and we should pay them noheed. the present time is more important than ever in our history that we go back to the quran and the sunnah.the most deserving of Allah's harm are the socalled progessive moderate and librel muslim because in describing us they make mockery of the Creator.
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DR. ALI L. MACKNO FROM PHILIPPINES said:
Assalamu alaikom...
I agree with Dr. Aslam Abdullah that Muslims should not be divided or classified as fundamentalist, extremist, moderates, etc., before Allah (SWT), a Muslim is he who follow what He has ordained him to be. Islam, itself, means "peace" and we are ordained to promote and establish "peace" on earth. To achieve this - we have to establish "peace" and "harmony" in ourselves by going deeper and understanding true Islam as expounded in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). The chaotic situation in our Muslim communities in general is the product of the selfish interest of our leaders and the inabilities of our religious leaders to do something to correct these terrible mistakes. Our religious leaders are not at par with the changing modes of time. We cannot effectively confront modern civilization. Western cevilization is more appealing to so called modern Muslims than what we are taught of our very own Islamic civilazation. It is very urgent that educated Muslims who are concerned with the inundation of western civilization into the fabric of own Muslim society - must to think of how we can effectively slow down if not completely stopped this onslaught. Wassalam.
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JAN FROM USA said:
RE-PACKAGING:
An attempt to "re-package" Islam to denote the religion in a "new and improved" mode is nothing more than an appeasement of the West and also to pacify the West post-9/11.

A handful of Muslims are falling into the trap or becoming "Rand Robot" either by design or default for reasons similar to the ones of the likes of Salman Rushdie claim to notoriety.

ALWI AGAIN:

Mr. Alwi's agenda, from his letters, appears quiet similar. The Islamic corporal punishment bogey is just a red herring - to stir much ado about an issue that is by no means a priority. What this guy really wants is the curtailment of Islamic influence, even in Muslim communities. Read what he wrote in letters to Malaysiakini (non-Muslim operated website) and other such forums:

"Indeed, even the concept of God has been put under the microscope.... how does the Syariah of the 10th century adapt itself to the 21st century? ...And what about Darwinian evolution? Where does that put God? The questions can go on endlessly. But the ideas of modern skepticism armed, with the blades of modern science, have clearly torn apart the domain of religion. One must remember that the business of religion is not necessarily a rational one....It seems to me that Malaysia is becoming "too Islamic"...The more Islamic Malaysia becomes - the less comfortable many people both in and out of Malaysia will be. Time for you people to think twice about Islamisation".

ISLAMIC CORPORAL PUNISHMENT:

Where on earth the type of corporal punishment that Alwi alludes to is applicable?
Saudi Arabia? Even there are some reservations on its applications. It is one thing to call for a "better and comprehensive application" of the Shariah in Saudi Arabia and criticize its misapplications, if any, and another to jump on the anti-Islam bandwagon, and make wild statements, such as the ones made by Alwi and quoted above.

Guess some people prefer Hell Fire or Electric Chair!

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MUSHTAQ FROM USA said:
thank u for shedding some light on the present day muslims and its community. i have a question to any body who has the answer to it? and specially i want dr syed alwi to answer.
why american tend to put their all beliefs on declaration of independence , bill of rights , and constitution, is it a word of god or some religious writings i mean when ever something is said to americans that this is wrong that is wrong do this or do that they will say ohh this is wrong according to the constitution ohh this is right according to the constitution, i know that constitution is a thier main source and its a good source of rights , but do the americans really follow it i am not sure about dont say that i hate america if was to hate america i would not be leaving in it, i have been living in america for four years and thankfully i do understand things. remember that during the 1960 how the people of america has suffered hardship only because of the americans and on the basis of constitution and rights.i am talking about the discrimination . what my point is that americans are not right at all time and americans know it very well.

creator bless the whole world and the universe not just america

thank u
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MUKHLIS FROM HONG KONG said:
Agree that Muslims should not devide themselves into categories. Also agree with what Dr. Syed Allawi (comment 31033) says & I could elaborate on it. So we have two streams of thought. One that says Islam was cast in concrete 1000-1300 years ago and nothing can evolve any further. Others say ethics, morality, social justice - all are evolving. Now you can not cutoff limbs, stone a person to death neither prevent a Muslim from leaving Islam if he so chooses.

One solution is the memebers of the former group - pls migrate to later. Second solution is - let us be separate groups to be distinguished but not to despise each other (Qur'an).

Mukhlis
Hong Kong
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AYESHA FROM USA said:
Nowadays, even spanking your own child is considered cruel punishment. What document of human rights do you consider Dr. Syed Alwi? The fairest document of Human rights is Quran, and nothing should cause us to redefine its teachings. I believe the author has put forth a well thought article. Thankyou Dr. Abdullah. May ALLAH bless us all, ameen.
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AHMED FROM UK said:
dr.syed alwi as usual adds nothing but his ignorance to the debate. Since he cant offer any concrete rebuttal, he goes into character assasination mode. Typical westernized extremist, Muslim or not.
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ABU YOUSUF FROM ALABAMA said:
SALAM
THIS IS THE VERY REASON WE NEED A CALIPH. ONE VOICE TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. ONE VOICE TO SAY THIS OR THAT IS CORRECT.WE ARE DIVIDED AND LACK LEADERSHIP .WE HAVE POLITCAL LEADERS WHO HAVE THIER OWN AGENDA BUT THEY ARE AFRAID OF TRUE ISLAM!WE ARE MUSLAMS SLAVES OF ALLAH IT IS OUR RIGHT TO HAVE A CALIPH TO LEAD US . NOT THE WESTERN IDEA OF WHAT ISLAM IS . WE SHOULD DEFINE OURSELVES IN NOBLE TERMS
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DR EDRISS FROM US said:

time to make salat my brother. Allah said in the Quran Al_Kareem "I(Allah speaking) didn't create the mankind and Jinn only to worship me". If you worship Him as He commanded thru His messengers, you don't need anybody to identify you.
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NURA FROM USA said:
There is really only one Islam. Division of our
faith into different catagories, or groups is
rediculous. Where in the Quran does it say that
Islam should be separated this way? When people
ask me what religion I am, I say Alhumdulillah, I
am muslim, and when they ask what religion muslims
follow, I say Islam, Alhumduli
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DR SYED ALWI FROM SINGAPORE said:
Does the writer accept Article 18 of the Human Rights document ? The freedom to choose a religion means that Muslims cannot punish the apostates of Islam. What about cruel and unusual punishment ? Is stoning to death a cruel act ? I think that the writer has not given much thought to this article. Its a typical knee-jerk reaction of Middle Eastern Muslims and again - they take the easy way out by blaming the West.

Regards
Dr Syed Alwi
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