Abraham, Christianity, Commentary, Contemporary, Hanif, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, Judaism, Philosophy, Quran, Religion

The Central Node of God`s Religion: Abraham

Abraham is the key figure of all monotheistic religions. Some may say he is the father of monotheism. If you ask my father, who was jewish, Abraham is no doubt a jew. If you ask your local christian priest, you may hear them say Abraham was a pivotal figure in christian ideals. If you ask your muslim buddy, Abraham was of course a muslim. Here is what Quran says about Abraham`s religion:

3:65-67 O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason? Here you are – those who have argued about that of which you have some knowledge, but why do you argue about that of which you have no knowledge? And God knows, while you know not. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth (hanif), a submitter to God. And he was not of the polytheists.

As you can see Quran criticizes all people of the scripture, including muslims that they argue about Abraham`s religion. It declares that he submitted to God, he was not a polytheist, and his path was of a hanif. The word hanif is originally a hebrew word, and is used in arabic as well. In hebrew it means a wicked, impious, godless person/a person who has stood up against the mainly accepted religion (see The New International Encyclopedia Vol 16 online). The latter meaning makes a person wicked or godless because when you exit the mainstream religion in your society, your society will call you wicked or godless. Interestingly, many definitions of the word hanif is now opposite of this original meaning: to incline towards the right state or tendency . This is not surprising, because Abraham was a wicked, godless person in his own polytheist society, but the religion he chose was the right one. So, he was hanif as in he picked the right path according to the view of monotheism. As he was probably the first monotheist, he was the wicked one according to the polytheistic society he was in. Mohammad – the prophet of Islam- was also in a polytheistic society and he also followed a monotheistic religion. If we extrapolate, we would also have to call him hanif. This is not surprising, because Quran`s worry about non-believers is at an absolute minimum. Whom Quran really fights against are polytheists of all shapes. Before making big conclusions, let`s see what Quran says about this:

10:104-105 Say, [O Muhammad], “O people, if you are in doubt as to my religion – then I do not worship those which you worship besides God; but I worship God, who will take your life. And I have been commanded to be of the believers and ‘Direct your face toward the religion inclining to truth (hanif), and never be a polytheist.

16:120-123 Indeed, Abraham was a leader, devoutly obedient to God, inclining toward truth (hanif), and he was not a polytheist. He was grateful for His favors. God chose him and guided him to a straight path. And We gave him good in this world, and indeed, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. Then We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], to follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif); and he was not a polytheist.

6:161-163 Say, “Indeed, my Lord has guided me to a straight path – a correct religion – the way of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif). And he was not an idol worshipper .” Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.”

According to Quran (and history) It is clear that Mohammad was also hanif, as Abraham was. You could probably say the same thing for Jesus and Moses as well. Quran verses above clearly orders Mohammad to follow the religion of Abraham, but in addition he is also the first of the Muslims (note capital letter. Here Muslim is used as a private name, as in follower of Islam. Otherwise muslim [lower case] literally means “submitter to God”). This means, according to the Quran even though Mohammad is to follow Abraham`s religion, he is also first member of a new religion. This new religion Islam, follows the same principles and in fact is the same religion that Abraham followed. We would expect the same God, to always have the same religion. Can you imagine the same God, creator of the heavens and the earth, introducing essentially different religions to different people? No. This would have to follow that Judiasm and Christianity or at least the religion of Moses, and of Jesus and of Abraham, and of Mohammad were essentially the same. Again before making big conclusions, let`s see Quran: 

2:130-136 And who would be averse to the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, “Submit”, he said “I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds.” And Abraham instructed his sons and Jacob, “O my sons, indeed God has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you have submitted.” Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac – one God. And we are in submission to Him.” That was a nation which has passed on. It will have what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do. They say, “Be Jews or Christians you will be guided.” Say, “Rather, [we follow] the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif), and he was not of the polytheists.” Say, [O believers], “We have believed in God and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are in submission to Him.”

As we can see here Mohammad is ordered by the Quran to tell believers (this implies anybody who believes in God, usually means monotheists) that we (followers of Mohammad) believe in all the prophets and the religion they brought to their societies, and that we make no distinction and the essence of our religion is submission to God with no trace of polytheism. This of course begs the question: why did we need so many prophets or why did we need a new religion – Islam?

The answer is rather plain: Information age. In the past most of God`s religion was made known locally, from word of mouth by a prophet. Some of those prophets are listed in the verse above. Quran declares that all societies were sent a prophet. We have accounts for many, but not for all. Let`s take Noah, we know of his religion not through an immense mass of written books or movies left from his time. No doubt he was a prophet of God, and received instructions for a monotheistic religion, and he declared this to his society. He was of course declared wicked, and persecuted by his society, just like Abraham. We know about Noah only through scripture: from the followers of Moses (Torah), Jesus (Gospel) and Mohammad (Quran). This is only becuase these three prophets came late enough in history to allow for written documents, which have been passed through generations. This is how we know about Noah, Abraham and other prophets. As we know Judiasm is a tribal religion. You have to be born to a jewish mother to be a jew. So, if Moses’ religion is the only true religion, what about other people who are not born to a jewish mother? That`s why Jesus came. He invited all to the monotheistic religion of God. However, for some reason he also did not leave a written document. History tells us that his followers (ex. St. Paul) wrote the Gospel after his death. Many Gospels were written, 4 was chosen by committees many years after Jesus had come. This always remains an uncertainty. Which bible was better explanation of Jesus? Could it be one that was not chosen by the committee? What if the writers of the Gospels were wrong in some instances? That is why Mohammad came. He came late enough in history to be the only prophet who left before he died a written book of God`s religion. We have the same written document he left us before he died. Let`s not make a mistake, he brought essentially the same religion as Moses and Jesus did, except that his document (Quran) is the only one we can trace back to the source. There are also many signs and indicators that the Quran we have now is the same word by word as the book Mohammad had shortly before he died. In addition, according to Quran Mohammad is the last prophet, and Islam is the last of God`s revelation. Why? Because, God has completed his responsibility to leave people with a direct written source of his religion, as opposed to a religion that is propagated through prophets’ own example when they were alive and after the prophets, word of mouth or secondary written sources alone. Quran, as the only direct written source will be available as far as the humanity as we know it exists. 

Please note that I picked the above mentioned verses only because they all have the word “hanif” in them. There are 9 verses in the Quran that has this word. As an appendix to this article, I will publish a supplement that has the translation of all these verses within their context. This way the reader can go and read these without my comments in between, and decide what they may mean for themselves:

The Central Node of God`s Religion: Abraham – Supplement | It is not Islam-ic.

https://itisnotislamic.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/the-central-node-of-gods-religion-abraham-supplement/

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Commentary, Contemporary, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, News, Philosophy, Quran, Ramadan, Religion

Fasting … the aftermath. 

Distanced yourself from food, drink, sex, bad thoughts for a month, then woke up one morning and all of those are suddenly allowed again. Not only that, it is a celebration, eat and drink in abundance, in good company and don’t forget the desert and other pleasures as well. 

How does one feel? It has become a cliche to say that fasting is so that we understand how less fortunate, or hungry people feel. This is just a made up reason. It is a fast-a-thon jargon. To me, that sounds secondary. The primary reason is to thame oneself, and come closer to God. Less food, more God?

This morning when I woke up, I did not feel like eating anything at all. Knowing full well that I could eat whatever I wanted within my reach. I sat and took time to soak in a few short moments. I felt good because I was supposed to take on the day to celebrate, and be festive. If I told people I felt good as today was the day after Ramadan, I would find acceptance. I logged on to Facebook and posted for everyone to see “Eid Mubarak!” and I took out the USPS forever stamps with Eid Greetings and a nice calligraphy, and took a picture to accompany my message. I secretly felt proud and thankful for living here. 

So what now? I can have more coffee or more honey. I could sip tea from a warm mug as I listen to the news, and soak in the morning sun. I could wait a little, and go for an open buffett brunch or check out sexually explicit content on the internet. This was allowed. I felt thankful for what I had been having. It is the day of the festival after all. But, I did not want to eat anymore. I was overwhelmed with the variety of options before me. The more I tasted, the more I wanted. It was getting out of my control. I could eat more or do more. Little voice inside me kept asking what more could I have? What more could I do? There was nothing to stop me.  

Right there and then, what fasting was for became as clear as the brisk morning sun. No more did I have to put aside my indulgences. No more did I have to protect myself from excess. I did not have to choose dignity over bad thoughts. I suddenly felt like I had lost a very close friend. Goodbye the Month of Power. Until next year, but who knows if I am to reach you again. Who knows if I am healthy enough to fast again. I glanced at the warm mug I was holding. I was no longer thankful for that. I was thankful I had just spent the whole month fasting, focused on how I ought to be: more human, less animal. This is how the representative of God is ought to be. Goodbye my good friend…until next time. 

 

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Commentary, Contemporary, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, Islamophobia, Misquotes, News, Philosophy, Quran, Religion

“9:5 Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them.” … Wrong!

I am seeing several posts on misquoted representations from the Quran, and even though I am replying with clarifications, the moderators have not yet approved any of my comments. Therefore, I decided to give an example of how Islamophobics use mis-quotations. In addition, I am adding below a very useful link that answers to most of these misrepresentations. 

The actual translation of 9:5 and 9:6:

9:5-6 But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah. and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.

Dr. Zakir Naik explains as follows:

“This verse is quoted during a battle. …We know that America was once at war with Vietnam. Suppose the President of America or the General of the American Army told the American soldiers during the war: “Wherever you find the Vietnamese, kill them”. Today if I say that the American President said, “Wherever you find Vietnamese, kill them” without giving the context, I will make him sound like a butcher. But if I quote him in context, that he said it during a war, it will sound very logical, as he was trying to boost the morale of the American soldiers during the war. …Similarly in Surah Taubah chapter 9 verse 5 the Qur’an says, “Kill the Mushriqs (pagans) where ever you find them”, during a battle to boost the morale of the Muslim soldiers. What the Qur’an is telling Muslim soldiers is, don’t be afraid during battle; wherever you find the enemies kill them. Surah Taubah chapter 9 verse 6 gives the answer to the allegation that Islam promotes violence, brutality and bloodshed. It says:

“If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure that is because they are men without knowledge.” [Al-Qur’an 9:6]

The Qur’an not only says that a Mushriq seeking asylum during the battle should be granted refuge, but also that he should be escorted to a secure place. In the present international scenario, even a kind, peace-loving army General, during a battle, may let the enemy soldiers go free, if they want peace. But which army General will ever tell his soldiers, that if the enemy soldiers want peace during a battle, don’t just let them go free, but also escort them to a place of security? This is exactly what Allah (swt) says in the Glorious Qur’an to promote peace in the world.”

The source of this explanation, and explanations to many other similarly misquoted or misrepresented Quran verses is here:

Answering Misquotes and Misrepresentations

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Christianity, Commentary, Contemporary, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, Judaism, News, Philosophy, Quran, Religion, Uncategorized

The Source of the Word ‘Islam’

If you are following my blog, I have written about the misuse of the word Islam and it`s derivatives. I find this to be a very important topic because the truth of a concept is lost if new meanings are assigned to it. This has been done very conveniently to the word ‘Islam’. Today, Islam is perceived as a religion, a terrorist movement, a source of backwardness and brutality, a political movement among others. But, what is the real meaning of this word? Are all of these true?
As in any other concept, and especially a contreversial one, the source of the concept is one of the best indicators of its pure meaning. Going to the source, would help us focus on the intended meaning, help us get rid of the baggage that has been assigned to it. 
The source of the world ‘Islam’ as we know it first appeared in the Quran. According to tradition and the Quran, The Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of 22-23 years starting in 610, and concluding in 632. This is explained in the Quran; Here is an example:

17:106: “We have divided the Quran into many segments so that you would read them to the people in gradual steps as We reveal them to you from time to time.”

The word “Islam” as we know it as a religion most definitively goes back to the Quran. However, note that Islam actually means submission in short, and in this context submitting oneself to the law and ideals of God. It is both a noun and a verb at the same time. In other words, the religion is an act of submission to God. Please notice that this makes it very difficult to find this word in the Quran to mean the religion of Islam (vs. Judaism for example) as we know it today. That is because the Quran does not bother with classifying a new religion for muslims, but it tries to get people to submit to the laws of the Eternal Creator, as other monotheistic religions do. Therefore, Quran does not truly bring a seperate religion, it rather clarifies or emphasizes the same religion that is God’s religion that was brought by the prophets (Jesus, Moses etc.). 

Let`s examine this verse:

3:85: “If anyone desires a religion other than submission to God/Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost.”

Here, “a religion other than submission to God” could mean submitting to wealth, reputation, bad deeds, or man made and mystisized idols etc. instead of the Eternal Creator. Basically, this command is the command of all monotheistic religions including Chritianity and Judaism. Except, this act of submission to God is referred to as “Islam” in the Quran. 

There is a place in the Quran that refers to the religion as literally “The Islam” (Al-Islam in Arabic), as though it was referring to the Islam religion as we know it today:

3:19: “The religion before God is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the signs of God, God is swift in calling to account.”

Notice, however, that the translator felt the need to put in parenthesis the verbal meaning of Islam: submission to His (God’s) Will. That is because even the word “Islam” here coming close to the meaning of the religion of Islam (noun) as we know it today, it is impossible to refer to it without also meaning the verb – submission. If you look at this verse again, submission to the religion of the Eternal Creator would be the claim of all monotheistic religions. The rest of the verse is interestingly referring to the People of the Book, who are the people that received written message from God (Christians, Jews etc.). The verse goes on to say they dissented due to envy of each other, even though they knew right from wrong. So, the verse calls on them and all humanity to submit to the laws of the Eternal Creator. This is NOT saying Jews and Christians need to convert to Islam (noun usage only). 

In conclusion, Quran considers itself a unifier, a clarifier, and a reminder or approver of the true path that was sent to humanity beforehand. That path here is called submission to the rules and laws of the Eternal Creator (God). The word “Islam” -a verb and a noun- exactly means that. It does not really refer to a different religion that is segragated or in competition with other monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism etc.). One should consider the real meaning of Islam when they are making it to mean a terrorist movement, a source of backwardness and brutality, or a political movement etc. 

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Commentary, Contemporary, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, News, Philosophy, Religion, Uncategorized

“Islamist Attack” by “Islamist Radicals” in Lyon, France. 

Just like the word “Islamic” is often a misused word, the word “Islamist” is a horrible, devilish made up derivative of the word Islam. 

Today’s big news for me is what seems to be a terrorist attack by ISIS in France. The link to BBC article is below, and it keeps updating, so if you go there you should see the latest news about the subject matter. 

Man decapitated in attack near Lyon

  
When I first read the news earlier today many things were uncertain. Decapitation, and black flags with white arabic writings were certain. BBC immediately published this article about Islamic terrorism, ISIS connection, and what was going on in Kobane by association. All these were concluded from a stand alone head, and black flags. Theoretically, things anyone could phisically accomplish. 

The article above uses two descriptions: “Islamist attack” and “Islamist radicals”. Below is a quote from the title: 

France has begun a terror investigation after a decapitated body was found at the scene of a suspected Islamist attack on a US-owned gas factory near the south-eastern city of Lyon.

To tell you the truth, after getting to know about the details I also thought there may be a connection between this attack and the Psychopaths of Syria and Iraq (PSI, is the acronym I use instead of ISIS or its derivatives). Alternatively, it could have been done by any other group with phisical or conceptual connection to PSI. Nevertheless, I take issue on the fact that this is to be considered an “Islamist attack”, done by “Islamist radicals”. 

First, philologically what are the areas the word “Islamist” is used? We understand its combination with terror, but anywhere else? Since this word stems from the word Islam, it must have some use in the religion. Take for instance Islamist temple, or Islamist country. Neither of these make any sense, and are not in use. These two examples could only imply a terrorist connection in today’s world.  The suffix “-ist”, adds the meanings ‘one who’ or ‘that which’ to the foregoing word, such as artist, scientist or dentist. I suppose Islamist would mean a person who does Islam (the religion). That is meanigless by itself. Note that there is a name for a person who practices the religion, and that is muslim. In the final analysis the only use of the word “Islamist” is as it pertains to a an act of terrorism. 

Second, religiously this word is also meaningless. As mentioned above, there is no use of this word in the religious life itself. In the Quran there are mentions of muslims, there are people who fight on the side of the muslim society (these are called soldiers), there are the people who worship to a pantheon of gods, there are people who appear to be muslims only for their societal benefits, there are prophets, societies etc. No description in the Quran can be adjusted to mean Islamist. 

As a result, I have to conclude that the word “Islamist” can only mean something in conjunction with a terrorist act. The only benefit of the use of this word can be to the Western politics, which seem to try to keep the religion of Islam and its people under scrutiny, and this is an understandable political agenda. Clearly, their best allies are the terrorist groups such as PSI, who are not living a religious life, are not muslims, and conduct acts of violence under God’s watch, in contradiction with Quran’s and Bible’s teachings. 

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Commentary, Contemporary, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, News, Philosophy, Religion

Why am I writing about Islam-ic? 

As you all know the religion Islam is subject to a lot of discussions largely from terrorist or related activities. As a result a new terminology has been created, I believe spontaneously. Most of it uses the word “Islamic” as an adjactive, as in “Islamic terrorism”. I have a big problem with this usage. Because no matter how long I have been listening to this it still feels like it is meaningless.

Talking about the use of this terminology is inevitably to be affected by my thoughts about Islam. So, I decided to create a blog to first and foremost create awareness to the misuse of the word “Islam” and all of its derivatives, and to talk about the pillars of the religion where I stem these ideas from.

Islam, is the name of a monotheistic religion. The name is actually given by God in the Quran, as in, the Quran clearly declares the name of this religion to be “Islam”. It is not a given name by a person, or a name that came to be used as a description of the religion. For example, the name “Christianity” is likely to be a given name. Given to the followers of Christ. While “Islam” is actually chosen by the scripture itself, not after the fact that Islam had happened to be, but as it was being revealed. The word in Arabic stems from a root that means peace or peaceful. There are several other meanings by association, but we may get into those later.

A person who follows the religion Islam is called a muslim. That word litterally means, a person who submits to the will of God or a person who harmonizes with facts and regulations of any environment there is. This name is also given by the Quran. It is not a given name, by other people. Note that no such person as an “Islamic person” exists. Such a person would have to be a person that in some way pertains to the religion itself rather than follow the religion. As Islam was sent by God through the Quran, an “Islamic person” would have to be a person litterally sent by God that somehow includes all the religion within themselves, and others by living this person, they would be muslims. As can be deduced from this, “Islamic person” referring to a muslim, is a wrong use of the derivative of the word Islam. This is rahter an attempt of an outsider to give a name to a muslim person, knowing that they follow Islam.

This is a good start that portrays the subject matter of this blog.

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