Clearing up misconceptions of Islam
Islam is a religion offering peace, social justice and respect for life to every human, regardless of religion. Any nation or country that practices and respects these values has no conflict with Islam.
Here is what the Quran says about some of the world’s current concerns.
Holy Quran 8: 61-62. “But if the enemy (‘enemy’ refers to those who fight Islam and oppress Muslims) inclines toward peace, do thou also incline toward peace, and trust in God.”
The great disciple and the successor of Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, instructed his governor in Egypt, “Do not reject peace to which your enemy may call you and wherein there is the pleasure of Allah, because peace brings rest to your army, relief from your worries and safety for your country. . . . If you include an agreement between yourself and your enemy or enter into a pledge with him, then fulfill your agreement and discharge your pledge faithfully.”
Holy Quran 60: 8. “God forbids you not, with regard to those who do not fight you for your faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loves those who are just.”
Holy Quran 4:58. “. . .When ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice. . .”
Respect for life
In Islam, fighting is only to be done in a defensive manner, and without exceeding certain limits. Islam condemns any killing of innocent people, and also prohibits suicide. Even in war, it lays down strict rules of combat that prohibit harming civilians, destroying crops, trees, livestock and the infrastructure of any city or country. Some scholars condone suicide in certain strict circumstances. For example, if there are no other options to save innocent people, then one may sacrifice his own life to protect others, but should not harm any innocent people.
Holy Quran 2: 256. “There is no compulsion in religion.” Therefore, people cannot be forced to practice Islam.
Islam permits people of other religions to live on Islamic land and gives them freedom to practice their religion without violating the laws of an Islamic system. Muslims and non-Muslims can coexist in the same land.
Holy Quran 2:62. “Those who believe in the Quran, and those who are Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord. . .”
Why have so many Muslims around the world taken the Quran out of context?
The entire religion cannot be blamed for the malpractice of its followers. We see many Christians and Jews disobeying the Ten Commandments, for example, by committing adultery or lying. Should we say then that Christianity and Judaism are religions of wrongdoing, just because many of their followers commit wrongdoing? Certainly not.
What are the fundamental reasons that a book of prayer, love and devotion has become a basis of “holy war”?
In its early days, followers of Islam were persecuted by non-Muslims, just as followers of Judaism and Christianity were persecuted in their early days. Some of the verses in the Quran regarding fighting have been taken out of context as these verses refer historically to the time when Islam was evolving and wars were being waged against it. Some Muslims refer to any war in defense of Islam and the rights of Muslims as a “holy war.” Holy Quran 2:190. “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors.”
Why is there so much misunderstanding between Muslims and non-Muslims?
This is due primarily to bad publicity about relatively few and isolated acts. Another reason is the social gaps between Muslims and non-Muslims caused by their social, cultural and language differences. Leaders on both sides often exploit these differences for their own political goals. We can bridge these gaps by reaching out to each other.
Islam does not mean “offer peace” in Arabic; it means “submission” to the will of Allah (i.e., God).
“Islam” comes from two Arabic root words, “silm” and “salim.” It has many different meanings. One is indeed to submit (to God), and the other is peace. Explained another way, submission to the will of God promotes peace.
Sheikh Safdar Razi is affiliated with the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association (IABA) of Austin.