Monday, August 20, 2012

Diversity in Islam

Does Qur'an condemn forming Sects in Islam

Diversity in nature is given, indeed, Islam acknowledges diversity of humanity. Had God willed, all of us would have been produced with exact same specifications in a mass production factory, but God willed for us to be unique beings, accountable for our in individual actions in keeping his creation in balance and harmony or messing it up.

Every religion including Islam is about guiding us to keep God's creation in harmony and intact. We are all different pieces of the universe that fit together to keep the world in 
equilibrium. God willed us to be different, and we have learn to live with each other. That is the core mission of every prophet, messenger or a peace maker.

For nearly 1400 years there was only one way, the way Quraan was translated or interpreted by the people in the past. No one questioned it.  Not any more. 

Today, we have more than 25 English translations of Quraan, and thanks to some of the translators for correcting the misguided translations that have lasted for centuries to the point a few Muslims believe that the translation is also the word of God. To put it bluntly, we have been given the translations that were not entirely true to the word of God. Indeed, it is obligatory on our part to continue to find the truth in the light of all the dominant qualities we ascribe to God; Kind, merciful, and beneficent as listed on top of 113 of the 114 Chapters in Quraan. 
We have found that there were many wrongful translations of Qur’anic verses by the Christian Kings  in the 11th Century and Muslims themselves in the 20th century to serve their political interests or misogynic attitudes.
A member of the forum at   posted verses (below) from Sura Anam and Rome with the note that Quraan condemns forming sects in Deen.  I have found that it is the arrogance that is condemned; if you found other wise, please share your findings, so we can learn the truth together.
It is not only Quraan, but every social, business; political or civic group resists the division. Getting it down to family level, no family wants division either. Likewise, no religious group wants division. But it happens, when people disagree for lack of trust or legitimate difference in understanding the situation. God has endowed us all with free will and we must appreciate that without reserve. 
I am glad to quote Muhammad Asad in his explanation of the verse 6:159, “expresses a condemnation of all sectarianism arising out of people's intolerant, mutually-exclusive claims to being "the only true exponents" of the Qur'anic teachings.”
Indeed, what is condemned in the Quraan is the arrogance of self-righteousness, in this instance to believe that Shia and other traditions are wrong and only Sunni is right or Sunni and other traditions are wrong and only Shia is right.  Shame on all of us to stoop so low to denigrate the other denominations as if Allah has signed a deal with us behind other’s back, Allah does not do that, he is just and has given us the freewill to be righteous in our own ways.
 Let’s hope and pray that Ulema have the humility to come together and agree that  declaring any tradition within the fold of Islam to be less amounts to Shirk, only Allah knows what is in one’s heart. We can always condemn acts that are destructive to the humanity (all of God's creation). but we cannot condemn one's faith in God. Only God knows what is in one's heart. Jesus said, condemn the sin and not the sinner. We keep forgetting that God alone is the decider, and none can be partners or assistant or mangers of God in judging other’s faith.  

Prophet Muhammad knew the division is caused by human fitra (nature) and prophesized that his followers will form into many groups - and he advised them all to compete in doing good instead of being arrogant.  Sura Hujurat lays out that about division - it’s all God’s design, and adds that we have to learn about each other and know each other, so that we may accept our differences and live in harmony.
49:13 (Asad) O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.  Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.
Here are a few verses on arrogance:
2:34 (Asad) And when We told the angels, "Prostrate yourselves before Adam!" [25] -they all prostrated themselves, save Iblis, who refused and gloried in his arrogance:  and thus he became one of those who deny the truth. [26] 
4:172 (Asad) Never did the Christ feel too proud to be God's servant, nor do the angels who are near unto Him. And those who feel too proud to serve Him and glory in their arrogance [should know that on Judgment Day] He will gather them all unto Himself: 

4:173 (Asad) whereupon unto those who attained to faith and did good deeds He will grant their just rewards, and give them yet more out of His bounty; whereas those who felt too proud and gloried in their arrogance.  He will chastise with grievous suffering: and they shall find none to protect them from God, and none to bring them succour. 

Qur'an condemns forming Sects in Deen.
The following verse was posted  at the World Muslim Congress forum,
 “Surah Anam 6:159. As for those who divide their Religion and break up into sects, Thou hast no part In them In the least: their affair is with Allah. He will In the end Tell them the truth of all that They did.”
Here is Asad’s translation in response to the above.
6:159 (Asad) VERILY, as for those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects - thou hast nothing to do with them. [161]Behold, their case rests with God: and in time He will make them understand what they were doing
A reference primarily, to the Jews and the Christians, who have departed from the fundamental religious principles which they had originally shared in their entirety, and have gone different ways in respect of doctrine and ethics (cf. 3:105). Beyond }this "primary" reference, however, the above verse connects logically with verse 153 above, "this is the way leading straight unto Me: follow if, then, and follow not other ways, lest they cause you to deviate from His way" -and thus relates prophetically to the followers of the Qur’an as well: in other words, it expresses a condemnation of all sectarianism arising out of people's intolerant, mutually-exclusive claims to being "the only true exponents" of the Qur'anic teachings. Thus, when asked about the implications of this verse, the Prophet's Companion Abu Hurayrah is reported to have answered, "It has been revealed with reference to this [our] community" (Tabari).(Quran Ref: 6:159 )
A few more verses were posted on the topic
“Surah Room 30:31-33 31. turn ye back In repentance to him, and fear him: establish regular prayers, and be not ye among those who join gods with Allah,32. those who split up their religion, and formed Sects,- Each party rejoicing In that which is with itself! 33. when trouble touches men, They cry to their Lord, turning back to Him In repentance: but when He gives them a taste of Mercy As from Himself, Behold, some of them pay part-worship to other god's besides their Lord,”

And as a habit, I usually check Muhammad Asad’s translation, if not satisfied, I check a few more, and here it is:
30:31 (Asad) [Turn, then, away from all that is false,] turn­ing unto Him [alone]; and remain conscious of Him, and be constant in prayer, and be not among those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, 

30:32 (Asad) [or] among those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects, each group delighting in but what they themselves hold [by way of tenets]. [29]

30:33 (Asad) NOW [thus it is:] when affliction befalls men, they cry out unto their Sustainer, turning unto Him [for help]; but as soon as He lets them taste of His grace, lo! some of them [begin to] ascribe to other powers a share in their Sustainer’s divinity, [30] 

May Allah guide us to know each other, and learn about each other instead of denigrating the other, which leads to conflicts and counter conflicts. Islam is about peace and living in harmony.  As Muslims we have to prove that to ourselves first.

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who mitigates conflicts and nurtures goodwill, that was the underlying theme of the Prophet in just about everything he did,  a beautiful practice that needs to be highlighted in our daily discourse.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies, where no human has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. Please check and related sites listed at the blog.  

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


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 ( 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.


Thank you.


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.