Long and final post from an ordinary Muslim ready to accept Allah's judgment
I'll start with an extensive quotation for a close, good faith, non-reactionary reading. I encourage all those interested to visit the website and explore it in detail to address specific concerns and issues, all of which in the website use the Holy Quraan as the only reference. If you visit the quoted page in the website, you'll find all the links that provide the Quraanic rationale behind its claims.
I have no desire to engage in debate with anybody who doesn't use the detail and duly contextualized content of the website in order to refute its claims.
"...O people of the Scripture, let us come to a common agreement between us and between you; that 1) we do not serve except God, and 2) do not set up anything at all with Him, and 3) that none of us takes each other as patrons besides God...." (The Message 3:64)
This website has been created for all people who have a desire to allow God into their lives and follow His path alone...
This website invites all people of various beliefs (Sunni, Shia, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Bahai, Agnostic, Humanist, and even Atheists) to come and examine for themselves the system of Submission/Islam which is based on God Alone.
Many of you may outwardly be content with your current faith or that which you inherited from your parents and community...but to some out there, there will always be a tugging at the back of their mind that 'there is something more', and that 'some things don't always make sense'...
If you are one of those people, then open your eyes, put on your thinking cap, and welcome to an open examination of the system of Submission/Islam which very few know about...
WHAT IS Islam?
The system of God "Islam/Submission" has been taught to us through God and His messenger and is fully outlined in the final Book of God (The Qur'an) which was revealed centuries ago...
The Qur'an claims legitimacy for itself and within itself, allowing NO room for self-made priests, or religious leaders, who have distorted and misquoted the Book of God to give themselves authority and partnership with the Almighty...
“'Shall I seek other than God as a judge when He has sent down to you this Scripture fully detailed?'” Those to whom We have given the Scripture know it is sent down from your Lord with truth; so do not be of those who have doubt." (The Message 6:114 )
"Say: 'Which is the greatest testimony?' Say: 'God is witness between me and you, and He has inspired to me this Qur'an that I may warn you with it and whomever it reaches, that you bear witness that along with God are other gods!' Say: 'I do not bear witness!' Say: 'He is only One god, and I am innocent of what you set up!'” (The Message 6:19)
"And We have come to them with a Scripture which We have detailed with knowledge; a guide and a mercy to those who believe." (The Message 7:52)
"We have revealed to you the Scripture with truth that you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you, and do not be an advocate for the treacherous. " (The Message 4:105)
"And the Day We send to every nation a witness against them from themselves, and We have brought you as a witness against these. And We have sent down to you the Scripture as a clarification for all things, and a guide and mercy and good tidings to those who have surrendered." (The Message 16:89)
"And We have sent down to you the Scripture with truth, authenticating what is present of the Scripture and superseding it. So judge between them by what God has sent down, and do not follow their desires from what has come to you of the truth. For each of you We have made laws, and a structure; and had God willed, He would have made you all one nation, but He tests you with what He has given you; so strive to do good. To God you will return all of you, and He will inform you regarding that in which you dispute." (The Message 5:48)
What about Obeying the Messenger?
The gravest crime the self-appointed scholars who claimed to be Muslim made was to give authority to the traditions (Sunna) and the books of Sayings (Hadith) ALONGSIDE the authority of God and His messenger. They believe that it was God who authorized such action by commanding the people to ‘obey God, and obey the messenger’…
"Whoever obeys the messenger has obeyed God; and whoever turns away, We have not sent you as a guardian over them." (The Message 4:80)
What is so sadly neglected is that the most critical aspects of the messenger’s life have been recorded and captured in the most detailed manner…not in the books of Hadith or tradition…but in the Holy Book itself. The questions that he was asked, and the answers (inspired by God) that he gave:
"They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say: 'In them is great harm, and a benefit for mankind; but their harm is greater than their benefit.' And they ask you how much are they to give, Say: 'The excess.' It is thus that God clarifies for you the revelations that you may think." (The Message 2:219)
"And they ask you concerning the Spirit. Say: 'The Spirit is from the command on my Lord, and the knowledge you were given was but very little.'" (The Message 17:85)
The list of questions and answers goes on throughout the Book of God…This is the life of the Messenger, and this is the ‘obedience’ of the messenger…Without ‘obeying the messenger’, we would inadvertently ignore nearly 1/3 of the Book of God which deals with his most authentic narrations authorized and inspired by God which we have been commanded to follow…
“Nor does he speak from personal desire. It is a divine inspiration." (The Message 53:3-4)
What is Difference between Islam and Today's PRACTICES?
In comparing the teachings of Islam as derived from the Book of God to the practices taught and enforced by the popular Sunni and Shia faiths (1.2 Bn followers), we find that the list is quite extensive, with some of the highlights as follows:
In Islam, the requirement to be a Muslim is to simply accept and live according to the ‘Straight Path’ (6:151-153), Vs. the Sunni or Shia 5-pillars which come from unauthorized books…
In Islam, abolishing Slavery is taught to be an act of righteousness (90:12-13), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings which encourages slavery under war…
In Islam, women are never forbidden from praying or fasting during Menstruation (2:222), nor is there a specific dress code (i.e. the Headscarf) imposed on them beyond modesty, Vs. the Sunni and Shia which teach the undermining of women and forcing them to cover their hair and avoid praying or fasting at certain times...
In Islam, a man or women may leave a Will, after settlement of debt (4:12), Vs. Sunnis who refuse to accept wills if there are any direct descendants...
In Islam, Monogamy is the basis for normal relationships, while polygamy is only allowed in cases involving marrying the mothers of orphans under the man’s guardianship (4:3), Vs. Sunnis where a man may be a polygamist simply if he can afford to, and Shia which allow sex for pleasure (Mut’a)...
In Islam, Divorce is enforceable only after a two-phase period, and it may be made nullified if the couple reconcile before the end of this period (65:1, 65:4), Vs. Sunni teachings that destroy families by allowing a divorce to occur on the spot with no waiting period and no nullification...
In Islam, Thieves do not have their hands cut-off, but are made to work until they return that which is stolen (12:76), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings which brutally amputate the hands causing disability...
In Islam, no one is allowed to be killed or Stoned for adultery (24:2), Vs. Sunni and Shia laws of stoning married adulterers to death...
In Islam, absolute Freedom of Faith is allowed (2:256, 10:99; 18:29; 88:21-22), Vs. Sunni and Shia requiring apostates to be killed and rejecting the practice of other faiths...
In Islam, people are acknowledged as being diverse and each is to be respected for his/her level of spiritual growth. A Submitter ‘Muslim’ must work to attain the status of Faithful ‘Mumin’ (49:14), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings that all followers of their religion must think, act, and even look the same (cult syndrome)...
In Islam, War can only be declared in cases of self-defence - no offensives (2:190), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings allowing raids and attacks on any people who are considered non-Muslim by their standards...
In Islam, Pilgrimage is a centre for gathering of nations and for all to witness the benefits of being together (22:27-28), Vs. Sunni and Shia bringing in polytheistic rituals and superstition (touching of black stone, circling 7 times, etc..)...
In Islam, a Year is a luni-solar count made of 365-days (17:12, 9:36), with all the seasons fitting-in-place Vs. Sunnis teaching it to be a lunar one based on 354 days which creates confusion of seasons and time…
In Islam, males and females are not required to be Circumcised (32:7), Vs. Sunni and Shia teachings requiring all males to be circumcised and females in some cases...
In Islam, music, statues, gold and silk are all Lawful (7:32-33, 16:116), Vs. Sunni beliefs forbidding silk & gold for men, and forbidding music & statues for all...
In Islam, rule of Government is under the constitution of the Qur'an through consultation and free-speech (5:48, 42:38). Vs. Sunni teachings which allow the rise of dictators or monarchs, and Shia teachings which uphold self-appointed religious leaders based on genealogy.
Therefore, the clearest difference is that Islam is a monotheistic, clear, consistent, dynamic, progressive, balanced system...a system that eliminates conjectures, hearsay, fairy tales and contradictions...therefore it eliminates hardship, confusion, chaos, and division. It is a system which puts more accent on the usage of intellect, reason, pondering over God, His Creation, meaning of life, pondering over everything...While the sects represent superstition, unfair treatment for non-cult members, inequality of the sexes, oppression of human rights, inability to contribute to human progress, amputations or physical violence, regression of ideas and thoughts to primitive levels of barbarism, and most importantly setting-up partners with the One True God and thus promoting polytheism.
For the Sunnis and Shia who are shocked by the words they have been reading, we invite you to seek God Alone with your heart and your mind and to give-up all the previous wasted years of idolatry and polytheism that you have unknowingly been party to...For our Lord tells us that it is never too late to seek His forgiveness:
"Say: 'O My servants who transgressed against themselves, do not despair of God's mercy. For God forgives all sins. He is the Forgiver, the Merciful.'" (The Message 39:53)
But be warned, while only God knows the fate of an individual, by simply turning away without verifying what has been said here can bring the gravest of consequences:
"And who is more wicked than one who is reminded of his Lord’s verses but he turned away from them, and he forgot what his hands had done. We have made veils upon their hearts from understanding them, and a deafness in their ears. And if you invite them to the guidance, they will never be guided." (The Message 18:57)
Now ask yourself: Will God Alone be enough for you?
"And when God Alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are filled with aversion; and when others are mentioned beside Him, they rejoice!" (The Message 39:45)
Why is Islam for me?
This is what it all boils down to, a "what's in it for me" outlook that is very human and very natural...Well, the answers that may sway you to 'God Alone' and let you abandon your current faith, whatever the costs may be, are as follows...
"And if the town’s people had only believed and been aware, then We would have opened for them blessings from the sky and the land; but they denied, so We took them for what they used to earn." (The Message 7:96)
Islam guarantees victory (30:47, 22:38-39, 47-7).
Islam guarantees prosperity and abundance (7:96, 41:30-31).
Islam guarantees maximum freedom for the people - freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom to travel, and freedom of economy (2:256, 10:99, 88:21-22).
Islam guarantees human rights for all the people, regardless of their race, color, creed, social status, financial situation, or political affiliation (5:8, 49:13).
Islam guarantees a political system that is based on consultation and the freedom for open expression (42:38).
Islam guarantees a society that upholds and maintains the highest standards of moral behavior.
Islam guarantees a maximum regard for people's lives and properties.
Islam guarantees prevalence of love, courtesy, peace, and mutual respect among the people, and with other world communities (3:110, 60:8-9).
Islam guarantees environmental protection as a result of deterring pollution through conservation and prohibition of wasteful practices (30:41).
If you are convinced that a dignified, prosperous, righteous, logical, and practical way of life is your desire, then Islam is for you. You can begin to change your life immediately by putting-aside all that you have been raised to believe in and objectively taking a fresh-start by reading-up on the topics we discussed and many more in the words of God in His Book, and discover for yourself with no prejudice or interference.
"That is because God was not to change anything He bestowed to a people, unless they change what is in themselves. God is Hearer, Knowledgeable." (The Message 8:53)
SAY NO TO ANYTHING ELSE
By quoting from the aforementioned website, my intent is simply to put forth an “Allah Only”, “Quraan Only” anti-sectarian, unifying view of Islam from practicing Muslims. As an anti-sectarian Muslim, I humbly suggest that we read and understand the Quraan as responsible Muslims, willfully submit ourselves to Allah at a deeply personal, meaning spiritual, intellectual and physical level, and utilize the guidance revealed in the Holy Quraan to attain personal and communal - not sectarian – happiness as Allah’s creations in this world and the next. Not surprisingly, my personal views of sectarianism and endless blame games are not at all positive based on my personal understanding of the Quraan. No offense is intended to those who are sectarian in their beliefs.
Such “Allah Only”, “Quraan Only” anti-sectarian, unifying view of Islam and various practices resulting from it are as old as The Holy Quraan itself. In my family, a traditionally “Shia” family with roots in Old Dhaka, my great-great grandfather came across such views during his pilgrimage to Mecca in the 1870s. Since then, being “Shia” has been a matter of cultural practices for our family in a traditionally tolerant, largely anti-sectarian “Sunni” Muslim community in Old Dhaka. The cultural practices revolve around the following tenets of "Shia" Islam: -
The Shia believe in the five pillars of Islam, as do Sunnis, but categorize them differently. Shia beliefs include the following:
I. Theology of Shia (Usūl al-Dīn)
1. Tawhīd (Oneness): The Oneness of God
2. Adalah (Justice): The Justice of God
3. Nubuwwah (Prophethood): God has appointed perfect and infallible prophets and messengers to teach mankind the religion (that is, a perfect system of how to live in "peace" ("submission to God"))
4. Imamah (Leadership): God has appointed specific leaders to lead and guide mankind — a prophet appoints a custodian of the religion before his demise
5. Qiyamah (The Day of Judgment): God will raise mankind for Judgment
II. Aspects of Religion (Furū al-Dīn)
1. Salat — called "Namaaz" in Persian — (Prayer) – Performing the five daily prayers (Prayers can be made up for at night)
2. Sawm — called "Roozeh" in Persian — (Fast) – fasting during the holy month of Ramadhan (Able to eat after the sun goes down)
3. Hajj (Pilgrimage) – performing the pilgrimage to Mecca (once in a lifetime)
4.Zakat (Poor-rate) – paying the poor-tax (2.5% of your wealth every year should go to the poor)
5. Khums (One-fifth of savings) – paying tax to the Imam (سهم امام)
6. Jihad (Struggle) – struggling to please the Almighty. The greater, or internal Jihad is the struggle against the evil within one's soul in every aspect of life. The lesser, or external, Jihad is the struggle against the evil of one's environment in every aspect of life. This is not to be mistaken with the common modern misconception that this means "Holy War". Writing the truth (jihad bil qalam) and speaking truth in front of an oppressor are also forms of Jihad.
7. Amr-Bil-Ma'rūf – commanding what is good
8. Nahi-Anil-Munkar – forbidding what is evil
9. Tawalla – loving the Ahlul Bayt and their followers
10. Tabarra – dissociating oneself from the enemies of the Ahlul Bayt
Anybody familiar with the religious-cultural activities centered around Husseini Dalan in Old Dhaka can some shed light as to what they are and how they're related to the aforementioned fundamentals of the sect.
Based largely on anti-sectarian excerpts from the Holy Quraan, and a sermon from Ali Ibn Abi Talib's sermons quoted in Nahj al-Balagha, my forefathers understood the folly of all "my way or the highway" type of exclusivist, absolutist and divisive sectarianism, whatever form it takes within Islam.
Here are a couple of excerpts: -
The Qur'an, chapter 28 (Al-Qisas), verse 15: “ And he went into the city at a time of unvigilance on the part of its people, so he found therein two men fighting, one being of his party and the other of his foes, and he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies, so Musa struck him with his fist and killed him. He said: This is on account of the Shaitan's doing; surely he is an enemy, openly leading astray"
Arabic: وَدَخَلَ الْمَدِينَةَ عَلَى حِينِ غَفْلَةٍ مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا فَوَجَدَ فِيهَا رَجُلَيْنِ يَقْتَتِلَانِ هَذَا مِن شِيعَتِهِ وَهَذَا مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ فَاسْتَغَاثَهُ الَّذِي مِن شِيعَتِهِ عَلَى الَّذِي مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ فَوَكَزَهُ مُوسَى فَقَضَى عَلَيْهِ قَالَ هَذَا مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ عَدُوٌّ مُّضِلٌّ مُّبِينٌ
The Qur'an, chapter 30 (Ar-Rum), verse 31 to 32: “ Turning to Him, and be careful of (your duty to) Him and keep up prayer and be not of the polytheists. Of those who divided their religion and became seas every sect rejoicing in what they had with them."
Arabic: مُنِيبِينَ إِلَيْهِ وَاتَّقُوهُ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَلَا تَكُونُوا مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعاً كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ
Imam Ali said: -
“ You should know that you have again reverted to the position of the [pagan] Bedouin Arabs after immigration to Islam, and have become different sects (Shia's) after having been once united. You do not possess anything of Islam except its name, and know nothing of belief save its show. You would throw down Islam on its face in order to defame its honor and break its pledge for brotherhood which Allah gave you as a sacred trust on His earth and a source of peace among the people. Be sure that if you incline towards anything other than Islam. the unbelievers will fight you. Then there will be neither Gabriel nor Michael, neither Muhajirun nor Ansar to help you, but only the clashing of swords, till Allah settles the matter for you…You have broken the shackles of Islam, have transgressed its limits, and have destroyed its commands! ”
Intermarriages with Sunnis in my family have been commonplace since that memorable pilgrimage to the Holy City, and each person in my family is free to worship as they feel, think and see fit. One of my uncles, born and raised in New Zealand of all places, participated in the Islamic Revolution in Iran upon his graduation from Al Azhar, and is an “orthodox Shia” so to speak. His Egyptian wife is a traditional “Sunni” Muslim sympathetic to but not a member of Hizbut Tahrir. By the infinite grace of Allah they have a genuinely happy marriage as they have managed to find a common ground in the Holy Quraan, the Hadith, mutual good faith and love. Their children and grandchildren are systematically exposed to the Holy Quraan, the particular Shia and Sunni ways of practicing Islam, and are free to choose their way of worship as they wish, or not to worship at all. Only Allah knows what is truly in the hearts and minds of His creations and only He can accord the inevitable judgments that await us all. Such unions, though discouraged by the sectarian leadership, are not uncommon in the scholarly culture Al Azhar and other Muslim Communities other than sectarian orthodoxies the Gulf, parts of rural Iran, Southern Central Asia, most of South Asia except notably Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia except Thailand and parts of Indonesia.
My late grandfather and father considered any such labels to be divisive, sectarian and ultimately blasphemous, and based their ways of worship solely on the divine authority and guidance of the Holy Quraan, and the interpretations, insights and opinions of Muslim scholars throughout the ages. Islam for them was also an “intellectual” deen (Way) and they were naturally erudite in their own thoughts with regards to those the interpretations, insights and opinions – as the single most necessary component of that “intellectual” deen besides holistic Allah-consciousness. They saw such commitment as a responsibility as thinking Muslims for whom Islam is more than the comforting but divisive conformity in the cultural practices one is simply born into.
They and many others since the revelation of the Holy Quraan clearly understood the role Muslim scholars and luminaries must play as Muslims without appointing themselves de facto priests and intermediaries between Allah and man’s salvation, despite semantic claims to the contrary. The Holy Quraan itself warns of this phenomenon that can lead people astray by creating divisions with the “my way or the highway” approach, and assigning de facto partnerships to that salvation in a manner akin to the Catholic Church. In an age where both literacy, access to information and more detailed, context and semiotics-based translations and transliterations of Quraanic Arabic are becoming more and more commonplace, the roles of scholars in Islam - already limited because of Islam’s prohibition of priesthood – must evolve accordingly in order to accommodate these Information Age realities very different from perhaps any other age in human history. On the other hand, those scholars intentionally and inadvertently benefiting from divisions, exclusions, seem ultimately interested in nothing other than the conviction of their vanity.
It is up to each individual Muslim to choose - according to all of their circumstances in this world and subsequent the intellectual and spiritual limitations they have placed upon themselves with regards to their individual abilities as ordained by Allah – what sort of role what kind of scholar is to play in his or her life and to what end as an individual Muslim living this life as an integral part of his/her community and the world.
My younger brother and I subscribe to the way of our forefathers not because we have had the benefit of being born into it, but because that is where we find ourselves as individuals in this existential journey. We read, get inspired by, think about and internalize the guidance revealed Quraan as a we pray, we fast, we serve our communities, we meet our financial, ethical and moral obligations, we endeavor to refrain from unkind acts to ourselves - meaning the indivisible unity of our spirit, intellect and body - and everyone and everything in the world around us, and we humbly struggle for justice as the extension of cultivating and nurturing that kindness.
For me personally as an anti-sectarian Muslim, the defining principle of being one is love of Allah, and the manifestation of that love through the diligent cultivation of kindness, and social justice as an extension of that kindness. Kindness starts with oneself by taking care of the self and discarding the ego by willfully submitting to Allah, by taking care of one’s family and community, and by understanding that Allah is the ONLY omniscient and omnipotent judge of all things, and nobody will escape HIS judgment in this world or the moment of our death.
Islam as per the Holy Quraan is also an "intellectual" Deen (Way) without priesthood - de facto or any other kind intermediary between Allah and man's existential and other salvation - and every individual Muslim has the responsibility to exercise his or her Allah given faculties, nurture and enhance those faculties through discipline and scholarship, and apply the guidance of the divine revelation of the Holy Quraan in everyday life wholeheartedly and holistically.
The concept of “authorization” of books other than the Quraan with regards to the Messenger (PBUH) and other concerns are addressed with Quraanic references in the easy to explore website and my quotation from the website. I personally find equating, for all practical purposes, the reverence for a revealed text to man made text, and empowering scholars restricted in their role according to the revelation, to the point of becoming intermediaries between Allah and our salvation, nothing less than heartbreaking and tragic. No intentional or inadvertently semantic twists or doublespeak can mitigate the actual power relations at play there. Some of those power relations become dangerous once they seek to impose knowledge masquerading as debate with its own set of absolutist dogmas and rules of men, and exercise power without the possibility of role reversal and playing GOD in their judgments. Divisions with easy answers in a world where other men do the thinking for us, ultimately benefit those who profit from such divisions as a source of socio-political power. There is great indignity in speaking for others in a universe created by the only omniscient and omnipotent Creator who has created it in ways we’re just beginning to understand as modern scientific knowledge since Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Chaos Theory, the Human Genome Project, and incredible advances since in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics.
The Quraan was revealed for the benefit of all of mankind, not as a “rocket science” to an elite few to interpret and try to impose its meaning upon others by intentionally and inadvertently taking advantage of our needs and senses of inadequacy, submission and wonder. We are all born with natural, Allah-given abilities that may be nurtured and enhanced through scholarly and other endeavors, but those value additions in no way allow for a de facto priesthood for us to sheepishly follow by assigning such prohibitive and from my daily readings of the Holy Quraan - prohibited partnerships.
Scholars, according the Quraan, have a very limited role to play in our lives as weathermen out to tell everyone which way the wind blows. Sadly all too often we accord them the power to do the thinking for us, and take the easy way of the sheep. Another story, but as good-hearted, intelligent and literate Muslims in the Information Age of the 21st century, our individual application of Islam in spirit, mind and body as inseparable components of individual existence in this life is imperative as a way to be happy in this world, as a part of this world, and in the world to come.
(also posted in another thread)
"O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant." (49:13)
Last edited by Sohel; October 4, 2007 at 01:10 PM.