I see Islam and Qur’aan as a universal systems and not the exclusive religion of Muslims. Legitimate criticism and appreciation is invited. You are welcome to express it in the comment section at the end of this article.
Essence of creation, religion and God’s will.
We exist, and that is a fact of life and perhaps depending on our orientation, we can trace us back to a singular source; be it the intelligent design, big bang or the evolution. For the sake of using a common word or a generally acceptable identification of that causer, we can name that creator and the sustainer, a God**(note below)*, love or simply the causer of life.
When the matter and life came into being, each one was designed to seek its own balance. For example, the Planet Jupiter has been precisely set to circumambulate around the sun, and it has been doing that for millions of years; it has its own place in the scheme of things, and designed to stay on its course, it respects the other planets' space and co-exists with them.
Whereas, the humans were not put on that trajectory, they were given the freedom to create their own space and balance. The creator is all about love and intentionally reached out to each one of the seven billion of us and delivered a beautiful formula called religion through the spiritual masters to live in peace with oneself and others.
Even though the claims of the self appointed guardians of religion tend to be based in arrogance, religion itself is opposed to arrogance. Indeed, religion is about humility. The claims of truth are fine, but when that truth is based on denying other versions of the truth, then it is sheer arrogance and strips the humility from religion and becomes dirty politics. Furthermore, claims like the best, the oldest, the wisest, the peaceful, the non-violent are all colored with arrogance and goes against the very grain of the religion; humility. We need to go back to the basics and do the research and give credit to God’s wisdom; let’s not lock up God and confine his words to mean exclusive benefits to us. God cannot be a small guy in his outlook towards his creation.
When you find in peace with yourselves and what is around you, when you feel that you do not hate any one, do not cultivate ill-will towards others and do not look down upon others, then you have become a peace maker yourselves. You have understood the wisdom of your own faith, and you would have earned the capacity to be a contributor towards peace and balance towards what is around you. You cannot be secure and safe when others around you are not. As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I would say, faith is in the heart of the believer.
Please remember that God did not skip any one, (Sura Hujurat 49:13) he reached every soul, every tribe and every community. Furthermore, he did not sign a deal behind any one's back to favor one over the other, or privilege one or the other, he just cannot do that, if he did that he would be a sneaky God and that is not what God is all about. Just as we love whatever little we create, God loves us all despite our shortcomings. He has blessed us with an opportunity to be our best in creating balanced societies (One self, to ones' own family to the world) where one can live without fear, where justness is the norm of the society.
What is God’s will?
Qur’aan has stressed our duties and obligations towards others, think of it, there are two parts to Islamic teachings; i) Connecting with the Creator for serenity and peace from within and ii) extending and sustaining that balance with others.
Islam has crated beautiful pathways to be in peace with oneself. Every act of worship; fasting, sharing (zakat), and Hajj has the component of bringing the communities together – to create harmony and build the idea of co-existence.
One who does good to others is dear to God. God cares those who care themselves (not exclusive but inclusive themselves) Doing goodness involves the existence of others. Prophet Muhammad explains the good deed as an act of planting the tree, knowing well that you may not be the beneficiary of its fruits and shade.
What is the ultimate will of God?
It is the harmony in creation through Justness.
Each one of us is dear to the creator and it is our individual and collective responsibility to keep that ecological, social, moral or spiritual balance within us and with what surrounds us; life and environment. Those who sin, i.e., creating an imbalance in the society through murder, theft, falsities or taking advantage of others, will pay a price for it in terms of un-settling emotions and discomfort within. Those who work for keeping that balance intact will rejoice a balanced tranquil life.
The verse of Qur’aan 49:13 can be summed up in the following manner. Please remember that God did not skip any one, he reached every soul, every tribe and every community.
Jesus was a Pluralist, he embraced every one and set the example to us that we should not reject any one because they are lepers, prostitutes or whoever we don't agree with, he was representing God's point of view. Moses was a Pluralist uniting the tribes to live in peace under One God; Muhammad was a Pluralist who brought all the differing tribes and faiths to co-exist and live their own traditions under the Madinah pact and he declared no man is superior to the other and that all are equal (acknowledging the otherness of other) in God's presence. Buddha was a Pluralist and taught the principle of pain (internal hell) and pleasure (paradise), Mahavir taught to accept the different views to find solace within; Krishna the Pluralist said whenever there is immorality on the earth, he will emerge and restore the balance back to the society; Zarthustra the Prophet of Pluralism taught the concept of what is good and bad some five thousand years ago; Pluralist Nanak said service to mankind with a blind eye amounts to creating beautiful societies, and Bahaullah, the pluralist said we are all one race and one humankind and all religions are beautiful. The Shamans in Cherokee, Mayan, Toltec and all other native traditions in America, Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia taught us to co-exist, live together with our differences. They were all God's men and women and God is all about pluralism; i.e. co-existence.
The day is not far when individuals of every faith, race and ethnicities will work with you in the same office and live in the same neighborhood, perhaps it is the same street and the same community. We have to learn to live with all and keep that elusive balance, and it comes from learning to accept the otherness of other, and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
It is sad that a few men, including a handful of Muslims attack the idea of co-existence. A majority of people in all faiths understand that Pluralism is not a religion, but a practice of 'living and letting others live'. It is simply an attitude of accepting the otherness of other and respecting the God given uniqueness of each one of us. Pluralism is an attitude of religious co-existence, letting others to be who they are and resisting the temptations to look down upon others who believe differently. What is the need for it?
By initiating and signing the Madinah pact, Prophet Muhammad boldly acknowledged the otherness of other religions and peoples and taught us not to live in denial. The Sura Kafirun incorporates the idea of co-existence and embodies the ideals of a civil society - http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html
Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Islam, Pluralism, interfaith, peace, civic issues and India. He initiated the World Muslim Congress with a belief that what is good for Muslims has got to be good for others and vice-versa for the world to co-exist in peace and harmony. He expresses his ideas through several forums and Blogs dedicated to each topic. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network offering pluralistic perspectives on issues of the day. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net.
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In the compilation below, Non-inclusion of the names of other faiths, does not mean they are exlcluded. God has not skipped one soul on this earth, every one is reached, there is always an equalizer among a group, when that group goes nuts. - Mike Ghouse
Islam and Qur’aan are not exclusive
The word Muslim is an Arabic word which simply means Submitter to God Alone. Anyone who submits to the will of God is Muslim in the Qur’aanic context. According to the Qur’aan, a righteous Jew, a righteous Christian, a righteous Muslim or any righteous person is Muslim in the eye of God(2:62, 5:69).
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
The Arabic word Islam simply means Submission (to the will of God). So, anyone who follows the religion of Islam is Muslim. The concept of Islam can easily be derived from this verse of the Qur’aan (42:13)
[42:13] He decreed for you the same religion decreed for Noah, and what we inspired to you (Mohammad) , and what we decreed for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: "You shall uphold this one religion, and do not divide it." The idol worshipers will greatly resent what you invite them to do. GOD redeems to Himself whomever He wills; He guides to Himself only those who totally submit.
The above Qur’aanic verses, along with numerous other verses, confirm the truth that as far as God is concerned, there has always been one religion Islam, which was decreed for Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad. All the scriptures revealed to mankind from God advocate one and the same religion. This religion God calls Submission or in Arabic Islam. It is a mistaken concept among Muslim and non-Muslim alike that Islam was founded by Mohammad, who was happened to be an Arab. Satan successfully duped majority of people on earth including majority of ignorant Muslims by making them believe that Islam is an Arabian religion or a religion of Mohammad!
Submission to God as a religion is also described as Monotheism (in Arabic Hanifeyah) (3:67, 6:79, 10:105, 98:5) The principal command from God in all scripture is to worship God Alone, devoting all the religious practices to Him and rejecting all other idols (example:Jesus, Mohammad, Mary, Ali, St. Judah, Pope, Priest and so on)
Old Testament: "You shall have no other gods besides Me" (Exodus 20:3)
New Testament: "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." (Luke 4:8)
Final Testament: "You shall know that: "There is no other god beside God." (Quran 47:19)
Submission to God (in Arabic Allah) is the religion whereby we recognize God's absolute authority, and reach an unshakable conviction that God alone posses all power; no other idol possesses any power that is independent of God. The above Quranic verse (42:13) confirms that the religion that was revealed to Mohammad through the Final Testament (Quran) is not different from what was given to the previous prophets.
May God guide us,
Mohammad Irtaza is a researcher in Qur’aan based in Arizona and contributes his compilations about Qur’aan on different issues.
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
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August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
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Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.
The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.