Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Combating evil: What Islam and the Qur'an are really all about

Guest post by Hamid M. Khan 

Hamid M. Khan, an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Law at the University of Colorado Law School, is a Rule of Law Adviser with the U.S. Institute of Peace in Kabul, Afghanistan, and a fellow with the Truman National Security Project in Washington D.C.

(Ed. note: This is Hamid's sixth guest post at The Reaction. You can find his previous posts here (on Pakistan), here and here (on Obama's Cairo address), here (on revolution in Iran), and here (on being Muslim in America). Yes, he's becoming a regular. -- MJWS)


Last Friday's heinous attack on U.N. workers in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, which was prompted by the burning of a Qur'an by Florida Pastor Terry Jones, serves as a stark reminder that is all not well within Islam. As an American Muslim working to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan on behalf of the United States, I am appalled by the senseless violence instigated by those claiming to share a religious faith and once again leads to question how Muslims choose to uphold their own faith. 

Few Muslims quibble with the notion that the Qur'an is the word of God. Moreover, it is generally accepted that the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad some fourteen centuries ago. While the Qur'an is found in book form today, it began as an oral tradition and hence, even to this day, millions of Muslims follow that tradition by memorizing lines from the original Arabic. Coincidently, the content of the Qur'an (which is about the size of the New Testament) largely remains a mystery to most believers since the original version is in sixth-century Arabic and more than 85 percent of Muslims today are not Arabic speakers. Moreover, even if one could begin to grapple with the Arabic, the Qur'an is filled with allusions, allegories, puns, and an unmatched poetic style. Consequently, Muslims will often turn to religious leaders to understand its content, leaders who often know little more than their fellow believers. Nonetheless, every believer bears personal responsibility for understanding what the Qur'an truly says. 

The Qur'an's contents, like other religious tomes, is varied. Despite notions to the contrary, less than five percent of the text is devoted to legal matters. Moreover, the most mentioned person in the Qur'an is the patriarch Moses, followed by Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary is mentioned more in than the Qur'an than she is in the Bible. In fact, the Qur'an takes pains to codify the tolerance of other faiths and repeatedly recounts how struggling for "true" faith has always been measured by those who have withstood ridicule and derision and remained steadfast. The reality is that most of the Qur'an is dedicated to the principles of mercy, compassion, grace, salvation, and love. However, this message is not for the edification of Pastor Terry Jones but for Muslims as a whole. 

During my lifetime, I have witnessed in horror as Muslims have taken to the streets in fits of rage to attack anyone and everyone, all in the name of "defending" Islam. Whether it's violence spurred by cartoons of the Prophet or publication of The Satanic Verses, or physical attacks on those who would disagree with Islam and its practices, the reality remains: not only have these Muslims willfully ignored the Qur'an, they have betrayed the faith they claim to uphold.

Islam, a faith comprised of over 1.3 billion followers, has endured for fourteen centuries and influenced the course of history itself. Islam's "golden age," where it was seen as a force for intellectualism, philosophy, science, and understanding, has today been eclipsed by puritans bent on reducing the faith to a series of simplistic notions, turning the Qur'an into an irrational legal code that promotes violence, authored by a bloodthirsty God.

Muslims need to accept that, inasmuch as they believe in the Qur'an and Islam, they would do best to uphold the Qur'an by living up to its central tenets: compassion, mercy, and tolerance. They need to accept that the best "defense" against the calumny of others is explained by the Qur'an itself: combat evil with good. Muslims need to demonstrate that Islam is found in more than just the Qur'an, that it is expounded by steadfastness and acts of goodness and love. And it should be remembered that, no matter what, evil cloaked in faith is never acceptable, especially to God.

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  • Dear all

    Unfortunately, many aspects of Islam are misunderstood by non-Muslims/and some Muslims; due to ignorance, misinformation, and incorrect assumptions. Today, Islam is surrounded by many misconceptions and Stereotypes, and unfortunately associated with terrorism. Deliberate distortion, play a role in its negative portrayal and representation.

    It is unmerited to Judge Muslims and Islam based on the actions of those who commit terrible crimes against Innocent people "as proof of the violent nature of Islam and Muslims.

    Islam Is peace and that is why:

    Do all Muslims represent Islam?

    Was Islam Spread by the Sword?

    The Tolerance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) towards Other Religions

    Let There Be No Compulsion in Religion

    The Rights of Non-Muslims in Islam

    What Does Islam say About Terorrism? 1 /

    What Does Islam Say About Terrorism? 2, War & Terrorism

    Islam: A Home Of Tolerance, Not Fanaticism, War & Terrorism

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:48 PM  

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