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A blog for that outspoken and aggressive member of the Buffy Bulletin Board.
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   Friday, December 31, 2004

Islam for Dummies

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Some comments I read recently, coupled with stories like this one made me want to take a quick time out to run over some of the basic tenets of Islam.

I say again, a couple of points, as a matter of record. 1) I'm an atheist. 2) I was raised a Catholic. 3) I don't hate Catholics, Jews or Arabs and don't have an "agenda" to support one particular faith.

Islam teaches respect for others beliefs, and says it is wrong to proselytize i.e. promote their faith looking for converts. In the Qur'an, Allah told Muhammad that "You certainly cannot guide whomever you please; It is Allah who guides whom He will. He best knows those who accept guidance." (28:56). Muslims can explain Islam to followers of other faiths, but it is up to Allah to guide those whom he wishes to.

Islam promotes peace.

Islam forbids suicide. Despite what you might hear (such ridiculous tales of 77 virgins and the rest) the Qur'an clearly states: "Do not kill yourselves as God has been to you very merciful" (4:29). Only Allah is to take a life. Since death must be left up to Allah, physician assisted suicide is not allowed.

Islam promotes living in harmony with other races and religions.

Islam regards Abraham as the father of their religion. They worship the God of Abraham.

Islam says there have been many prophets, such as Moses, and Muslims think Jesus was one of them. (His teachings being co-opted after his followers after he ascended to Heaven.)

Islam believes both Jews and Christians have strayed from or misinterpreted the Word of God, but that basically, they all worship the same God. The God of Abraham and Moses.

Islam believes Muhammad to be THE prophet, in much the same way the Jews see Moses as being THE prophet, as well as the last prophet.
As such, the shahada (testimony) states the central belief of Islam: "There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his Prophet." So they are similar to Jews in promoting the Oneness of God, as opposed to Christian trinitarianism.

The shahada is one of 5 main pillars of faith in Islam. The others are Daily Prayer, Giving alms to the poor, Fasting, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life.

Islam also shares the Judaeo-Christian concepts of guardian angels, the Day of Judgment, general resurrection, heaven and hell, and an eternal life for the soul.

Islam believes Jesus did not die on the cross but was taken up bodily into Paradise.

Islame believes in the existence of Satan who drives people to sin.

Islam believes that Muslims who sincerely repent and submit to God return to a state of sinlessness.

Islam also teaches that all people are considered children of Adam. Islam officially rejects racism.

Islam also teaches that Alcohol, other drugs, eating of pork, Gambling etc. should be avoided.

Ramadan is the holiest period in the Islamic year; it is held during the entire 9th lunar month of the year. This was the month in which the Qura'n was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a time at which almost all Muslims over the age of 12 are expected to fast from dawn till dusk.

Jihad is one of the most misunderstood words in the West. It is not a religious or holy war. It refers rather, to the internal struggle the devout must face in order to achieve their goals.


There's plenty more I could add, but I think that's enough to give a taste of it.
If you would like to know more, and do not think you could read the Qu'ran for religious reasons, I would highly recommend the book "The History of God" which covers the rise and spread of Judaeism, Christianity and Islam from an historical neutral point of view. (An impressive achievement given that the author used to be a nun.)

If you would like your faith not to be represented on the world stage by those whom you consider false practitioners, then I think it behoves you to ensure you do not fall into the same trap, regarding other faiths and creeds.


If this militant violence (done in the name of Islam) is not true to the nature of the religion... in fact, flies completely in the face of it, why is there not more outrage being voiced among the Muslims?

I have heard of VERY little outcry against the suicide-bombers and insurgents... or against leaders like Saddam or the Taliban from the Muslim world.
Well if you insist on getting your news from places like FOX, and dismiss outright the possibility of getting your news from other sources (european or muslim or whatever)...

For your benefit, I'll post a few of the many many many condemnations here in the next few days. Just so you don't have to watch Al-Jazeera or something, and maybe see some unfavourable stories about American.
I find it quite unbelievable that the majority of the Islamic world condemns the "jihad" on the "infidels". If so, they ought to raise their voices. Instead, we in America, see only pictures of Islamic hatred towards us. Of course, I wouldn't be so naive to say that what I see on the news is a whole picture of reality, but if the majority of the Islam world was against what's happening at the hands of Muslims, the outcry would be heard across the entire world. I simply do not believe that the majority of Muslims are against what's happening.
I kind of figured that you would find it unbelieveable.

Nevertheless, it is true.

I will address a future column to try and explain how and why this is case, where you can go to see and hear vociferous condemnation, and why it doesn't necessarily equate to you hearing it.

But to point out a comparison, how often do you hear of the Vatican outright condemning the behaviour of pedophile priests or abusive Catholic institutions (like the Magdalene Sisters in Ireland) ?
Or even of Catholic peoples condemning these acts?

I think you'll find that most average lay-men catholics (for example) consider it a no-brainer that these things are abhorrent. They just don't get very loud in their condemnation precisely because it is a no-brainer.

Similarly, there are segments of the catholic society that DO condemn such acts, because it is their mandate, they have a platform, or they feel particularly strongly about it.

And that is what you should be looking for the muslim world. There are condemnations. They are loud and many. And if you asked the average joe-six-pack who happens to be a Muslim if he condoned or condemned terrorist fundamentalists, he'd look at you like you had 2 heads. What a question! Of course he condemns terrorism. But does Joe-6-pack Muslim get on a soapbox? Probably not.

Anyway, I'll more to say (and hopefully more eloquently with some supporting evidence) in a later article.
I concur. There just seems to be a lot of Muslims that hate America and would like to see it burn. At least that's what my TV tells me... I see big groups of angry people burning American flags and yelling "death to America". If it was one or two whacko's on the side of the road, that's one thing. But our media (perhaps falsely) leads us to believe that such is commonplace (if not the norm) among the Muslim Arab world.

But I'm the first in line to distrust media....
It's funny. You distrust the media because you believe it's a liberal left-wing biased media. (Preferring Fox.)

I distrust the media partly because I think it's right-wing, but mostly because it serves corporate interests over the interest of the common man and citizen. The rights of the powerful instead of the rights of all.
There just seems to be a lot of Muslims that hate America and would like to see it burn.
You would no doubt get that opinion watching American TV. But yes, it is inaccurate.

But that's not to say the Arab world is wholly supportive of the US either. There's a difference between protesting the actions of the US and it's occupation of Iraq, or it's blind support of Israel, and yes even burning a few flags (not considered that big a deal in the East) and actually wanting "death to America"

It's the same sort of distinction you need to make when looking at anti-war protests at home. Those people do not hate America. They do not approve of what the government is doing in their name, and maybe hate members of that government.

There are large (very large) protests against US imperialism that happen even in Britain (America's most faithful lapdog/ally).

If you were to see some footage from those, shot in the same way, you might think there's a lot of English people who wished "death to America". But they don't, of course.
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