Bronze-level articleIslam

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Turning towards Mecca
If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.
—Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi[1]

Islam is the third major monotheistic Abrahamic religion. It was founded between 609 and 640 CE by Muhammad, who is considered the last divine prophet and who relayed the text of the Qur'an, which is considered the authentic and final revelation of God (Arabic: Allah).[note 1] Essentially, if God's Holy Book was a series, then the Qur'an is the Revised, Updated, And Final Edition (following the Torah (Ed. 1) and Bible (Ed. 2)), and Muhammad is its editor.

According to Islam, the religion was founded when God (Arabic: Allah) sent the arch-angel Jibreel (Gabriel) to the Prophet Muhammad. The angel related a series of revelations to him, which Muhammad dictated to his followers. It was these teachings, both written and transmitted orally, that were eventually compiled into the Qur'an. Muhammed is considered to be the chief and final prophet.

Islam was long referred to in English as Mohammadanism or Mahometanism; this is now considered an insult. Mussulman is also an old word for a Muslim; again, this is no longer used in English, but is still common in other European languages, such as Portuguese and French, and in Indic languages, such as Urdu, Hindi, and Gujarati. Islam's word for Non Muslims is "Kaffirs", which means "Deniers of truth".

The holy text of Islam is the Qur'an, which is held to be the revealed word of Allah. Muslims believe its verses were transmitted through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, Allah's final prophet. The sunnah, or recorded practices of the Prophet as passed down in books of hadith (lit. "news"), clarify how Islam is supposed to be practiced, and are nearly as important to the practice of the religion as the Qur'an (except for QuranistsWikipedia's W.svg). The Sunni hadith collections are called the Kutub al-Sittah (the six books), the Shi'a hadith collections are called the Kutub al-Arba'a (the four books). Ibadis have their own hadiths, in particular the Jami Sahih. Although Muslims do not believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of Allah, he is an important prophet; he is considered a precursor to Muhammad, helping prepare the world for the "final revelation". Additionally, Muslims believe that Jesus will return at the end of times.[citation needed]

In Arabic, "Islam" means "submission" (root word Aslama "submits" [2]; cf. also common root word for as-salamu alaykum, Arabic greeting).

Some argue that if root word is same, meaning is also same, and claim that since salam means peace, hence Islam means "peace through submission" (to God, specifically) as it descends etymologically from the root word Aslama, meaning "submission"; therefore, a Muslim is "one who has submitted to (or made peace with) God.". However, root word being same does not mean meaning being same, hence Islam most plausibly means just submission [to God].[citation needed]

Whether or not violent holy warriors like Osama bin Laden are "true Muslims" is a question for Muslim scholars. This is a common problem in many other religions which preach peace and harmony, yet frequently have violent histories and theology. One issue Islam struggles with that other religions do not is that Islam has a policy of abrogation, wherein later revelations can supersede earlier ones.[3] Most of Muhammad's more peaceful pronouncements came from earlier revelations [during early Mecca period - when Muslims were weaker], and the more warlike revelations came after [Medina period - when Muslims gained military strength], so unfortunately Salafism and other militant interpretations of the Qur'an are consistent with this policy, and also with Muhammad's action himself as countless Hadiths and Quranic verses narrate him taking part in violent raids.[citation needed]


[edit] Schisms and denominations

"Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects - you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do."
— - Qur'an 6:159.

A literal reading of Qur'an and Hadiths would lead to a conclusion that only one Islam is legitimized under its theology. Hadith Abu Dawood 4597 [4]stated that there will be 73 sects, and only 1 of them will go to heaven, and rest will go to hell. Therefore, the existence of differences among Muslims is not necessarily a proof of Islamic theological pluralism.

There are many different denominations within Islam, but the two most notable groups within modern Islam are the Sunni and the Shi'a. The schism between the Sunni and Shi'a is akin to the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches - it is interesting that both splits occurred as a result of power struggles, personality clashes and theological differences. Before dying, Muhammad did not make clear instructions as to how the Caliphs are to be elected, and neither Qur'an has those instructions anywhere. It is ambivalent on that account, despite Qur'an claiming that “.. We [Allah] have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything (16:89).[5]

Muhammad's cousin Ali was expected by some followers, the party of Ali (Shiat Ali), to be his successor in the fledgling Rashidun Caliphate. Instead, Muhammad's companion Abu Bakr becomes the first Caliph from 632 to 634. He dies of natural causes in 634, but his reign was mostly marked by a fight against 'Ridah', or apostasy, in the form of tax collection (Zakat was collected by the government at the time). After him comes Omar, from 634 to 644, who called himself the 'Commander of the Faithful', tying the Church and military together. The third Caliph was Uthman, from 644 to 656, and who called himself 'Caliphate Allah' (lit. the Successor to God). Uthman is 'elected' through a quid pro quo style election in which he makes promises to families with lots of power and money, and he is hated by the people. Uthman today is a major source of contention with Islam because late into his reign he collected all copies of the Qur'an and burned those not exactly like his. Typically, it is considered that A) he did it or B) the people hated him so much that they just pinned the event onto him. He was murdered in 656. Finally, as the fourth Caliph, Ali took his place, and reigned from 656 to 661. It is worth mentioning that Ali refuses the title of Caliph because he regarded it as tainted by Uthman. After that, the murder of Ali's son Husayn solidified the schism. Ali is later killed in a fight with the Kharijites, lead by Mu'awiyah, and with his death, the golden age of Islam is considered over.

Within and around these groups there are other subsets of Islam. Among these is Sufism, which is generally thought of as an ascetic spiritual movement similar in philosophy to Buddhism, but could be as fundamentalist as Salafism and Wahhabism, as Hassan Al Bana, the founder of Muslim Bortherhood, was a Sufi. Druze, Yazidism, and Ba'hai are offshoots of Islam, though not traditionally considered to be included within the Islamic faith but independent belief systems.

  • Shi'a/Shi'ites [About 15%][citation needed] believe that the prophet Muhammad appointed Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor. Shi'a prefer hadiths attributed to the Ahlul Bayt (the prophet's family) and close associates. Shi'as consider the city of Karbala holy. They make up roughly 10 to 20% of all Muslims.[6]
  • Sunnis [80+% Muslims][citation needed] consider Abu Bakr to be Muhammad's legitimate successor. There are four major schools of legal interpretation among Sunnis; Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, and Shafi'i. They make up roughly 80+% of the world's Muslims.[6] Sunni beliefs are typically based on the Qur'an and the Kutub al-Sittah (the six books of hadith). The Kutub al-Sittah consists of Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan al-Sughra, Sunan Abu Dawood, Jami al-Tirmidhi, and Sunan ibn Majah. Sunnis are sometimes called Bukharists.
  • Sufism is a mystical denomination, which is often subject to persecution among other Muslims, as popular Sufis prescribed total detachment from Islam's Sharia, while traditional Muslims claim the detachment has no basis in Islamic theology, and personal mysticism and societal theocracy are compatible.[citation needed] Often-misguided variants of Sufism are sold to western New Agers.
  • Ahmadiyya is a reformist denomination founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, who called himself subordinate Prophet within Islam, and is considered to be the Mahdi. Their motto is "love for all; hatred for none." Mainstream Muslims reject Ahamadiyya's as Muslims, as Ahmadiyya do not believe in the "Final seal of the Prophet", which Qur'an titled Muhammad to be.[citation needed]
  • Ahle Quran, also known as Quraniyoon, is an Islamic denomination that generally rejects the authoritative nature of hadith collections, and considers the Qur'an to be the only dependable religious text.[citation needed]
  • Nondenominational Muslims are those who do not follow a particular branch and simply call themselves "Muslim".[citation NOT needed]
  • Ibadi is a branch of Islam that came out of the Kharijites. Its adherents are particularly found in Oman and Algeria.[citation needed]
  • 5-percenters self-identify as Muslims and follow the Five-Percent Nation.[citation needed]
  • Alawites are an off-shoot of the Shi'a movement. Notable Alawites include the ruling Assad family of Syria.[citation needed]
  • The Nation of Islam is a US based organization which blends elements of Islamic teaching with elements of liberation theology and black nationalism. Originally, the movement held its founder, Wallace D. Fard, as the Mahdi, though since the late 1970s it has largely reintegrated with mainstream Sunni Islam. Louis Farrakhan, a prominent minister within the movement, rejected this reintegration and led a schism of the organization, retaining the Nation of Islam name.[citation needed]
  • Liberal Reformist, who generally use post modernist techniques to argue that there is no link between text and meaning, there is no right or wrong interpretations, and only good and bad people interpreting a meaningless text into what they think it means. Traditional Muslims as well as Critics/Islamophobes claim that it makes no sense, as it means Qur'an is essentially meaningless, and interchangeable with, say, Harry Potter.[citation needed]

[edit] The Five Pillars

The concept of "Five Pillars" in Islam does not occur in Qur'an, but only in Hadith.[7]

Islam (i.e. the Qur'an, plus Hadiths) has five core pillars, which are considered to be vitally important parts of Islam. All Muslims are expected to follow them.

  • The Shahadah (lit. "Bears witness"): An oath of faith which states "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."[note 2] One who voluntarily takes the oath is considered a Muslim. However the phrase is often spoken into the ear of newborn babies as both a proxy oath for the child, and a blessing. Once a convert has taken the oath, they cannot change their mind without being considered an apostate by the Muslim community. Many Muslim scholars believe that the punishment for apostasy should be death,[8] and such death penalties are imposed in a number of Islamic countries including Pakistan[9] and Saudi Arabia.[10].
  • Salah: Prayer. Prayer must be made five times per day, though this can be suspended depending on illness or travel. Prayer is made facing the Kaaba, a shrine in Mecca held to have been constructed by Abraham. Prior to praying, a Muslim is required to perform a ritual cleansing, or ablution called Wudu. Each prayer consists of a series of prostrations and is divided into a number of sections called Raka'ah. Each Raka'ah includes recitations from the Qur'an including Al-Fatihah, the first Sura. Prayers are made during the dawn, early afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and night-time and are of prescribed lengths. The dawn prayer is 2 Raka'ah, the early afternoon and late afternoon prayers are 4 Raka'ah, the evening prayer is 3 Raka'ah, and the night-time prayer is 4 Raka'ah. This becomes impossible once you are around Arctic and Antarctic Poles, where morning and nights can last for months. The Qur'an is ambivalent on the existence of such poles.
  • Zakat: Giving alms, done by all who can afford it. Typically, a Muslim gives 2.5% of their accumulated wealth (or savings) to charities, often organized through local mosques; however, it is becoming acceptable to bypass the mosque's role as a middleman to charities and donate directly to the charity.[citation needed]
  • Sawm: Fasting during the month of Ramadan. During this month, which rotates throughout the year due to the fact that the Islamic calendar is lunar, Muslims must abstain from food, drink (including water), smoking, and sexual intercourse from sunrise (specifically when a thread of light can be discerned from the darkness) to sunset. The goal of the fast, as with most ascetic pursuits, is to rid oneself of material concerns and to bring oneself closer to God. Women who are pregnant or menstruating, those who are ill or elderly, and pre-pubescent children are exempt from the need to fast. Said fasting has had the effects of increasing crime, health problems, and driving accidents. It is worth noting that during Ramadan life typically flips around: people sleep during the day and at night wake up to do normal life.[note 3]
  • Hajj: A pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca during the month of Dhul-Hijah. Muslims are required to circumambulate the Kaaba ["House of Allah"], a practice earlier Pagans also used to perform, walk seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah (where Hagar searched for water for her baby Ishmael), travel to Mt. Arafat (where Muhammad delivered his Farewell Sermon), and symbolically stone the devil. As it is now impossible for all Muslims to travel to Mecca, a community leader is typically elected to go to Mecca and make the pilgrimage for the entire community as a proxy.

[edit] Other important beliefs

  • Tawhid is the belief that Allah is completely transcendent of humanity, is completely unknowable, and is in perfect unity with himself. This can lead to questions for the believer such as, "How can I submit to a God that’s completely unknowable?" As Allah is completely unknowable, Islam becomes very works based as the believers can't know if Allah hears their prayers and can't know if they're saved by faith.
  • Shirk is the single worst sin, the unforgivable sin, and is the sin of attributing properties to Allah. Interestingly enough, the word 'unknowable' is a property, so attributing tawhid to Allah means that all Muslims have committed Shirk. Saying or affirming the phrase 'Allahu akbar'[note 4] would also mean that we're committing Shirk, as greatness is a property. Good thing we can ignore that, though.

[edit] Muhammad's theological importance and Hadiths

In Islam, Muhammad is the ideal human being, for all times, greater than all other prophets [Jesus], and an example for all Muslims to emulate. He is the last prophet sent by God to mankind, Qur'an being the last book, which contains solutions to all problems humans have/will have/can have, ever.

After Muhammad, no more prophets will be sent, and no other further revelations from God will be made. Muhammad was the source on how Islam is to be followed, and what a verse actually means.

This necessitated the Hadiths [which were not codified until 200 years after Muhammad's death], as Qur'an by itself lacks context and chronology.

According to Critics/Islamophobes, this leads to a inherent problem within Islamic theology. As Qur'an claims that it was revealed because earlier messages [Bible and Torah] were corrupted by fallible humans, and claims that only Qur'an is protected by Allah from corruption [11], Hadiths have no such protection and were recorded and transmitted by fallible humans, and hence possibly a erroneous as Bible and Torah. However, without hadiths, Qur'an would lose all context and chronology, and Islam's five pillars support would also be lost.

This is a point of endless conflict between Quranists and Non Quranists [Quran + Hadiths]. Liberal reformers do not consider it a problem, as per them, "Islam is whatever you think it is".

[edit] Social mores

Muslims also adhere to a number of dietary and behavioral rules, including prohibitions on eating pork and consuming alcohol, and maintaining certain standards of cleanliness.

A related concept is Taqiyya, an allowance for Muslims to conceal their religious beliefs during times of persecution, such as the Spanish Inquisition, though it has also been practiced by Shi'a facing persecution at the hands of Sunni Muslims. Some non-Muslims believe that it really means that you can pretend to have peaceful viewpoints while secretly harboring extremist ones. This has unfortunately been used to validate persecution of Muslims by Critics/Islamophobes.

Making images depicting God's creations is seen as a form of idolatry and as such is strictly forbidden by certain Hadith. Hence traditional Islamic art very rarely depicts people, and seldom animals, but focuses instead on geometric patterns, calligraphy and non-pictorial decoration. Not all Muslims believe this due to varying interpretations of the Hadith, while some believe only making 3D models is haram. Most Islamic art depicting humans or animals most likely comes from Persia, as Persian traditions of paintings depicting humans sometimes won out over an artist's religious beliefs. The vast majority of devout Muslims hold images of the prophet Muhammad to be particularly blasphemous, though there is no evidence in Hadiths that claim so. Because of all this, the most important aspects of Islamic art include architecture, such as the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, intricate geometric patterns, and calligraphy.

Some Muslims, mostly Salafi, believe it is forbidden to play or listen to musical instruments, due to it being a "distraction" or supposedly "Satanic" noises made by instruments. [12] They base this on a hadith, though the hadith's authenticity is widely disputed by Muslim scholars, as is the interpretation. Many believe music with instruments is okay as long as it's not mixed with lewd content. [13] Despite the common viewpoint against it, listening to music with instruments is widely accepted in Islamic countries, even Saudi Arabia to a certain extent. [note 5]

[edit] Islam, politics and Arab identity

The fact that Islam arose in the Arabian peninsula and that translations of the Qur'an are considered to be less faithful than the original Arabic text means that Islam has become largely associated with Arabic culture. Qur'an particular insistence on infallibility of Qur'an and fallibility of humans give theological support to perspective that all translations are necessarily prone to errors. The Arabic association can lead to nationalistic tendencies within the Arab world being blended with, and indeed disguised as, expressions of Islamic faith; believers are duped, with the promise of a glorious martyrdom, into serving nationalist causes, often violently. This is consistently demonstrated by Al Qaeda and other militant groups; a fundamental reason for their existence is to protest perceived imperialism and aggression by Western governments in the Middle East. Seen as particularly offensive is Western support for the nation of Israel, and to a lesser degree, other non-democratic, secular, corrupt, and oppressive regimes in oil-rich nations, especially pre-revolutionary Iran. Al Qaeda made no objection to the non-democratic and oppressive, but Sharia-based, regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

This philosophy has translated even to non-Arab Muslim extremists, such as those active in Kashmir, southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Almost invariably, statements from "Islamic militants" are in Arabic, regardless of their background. Perhaps because of this, being "Muslim" is often viewed as no different from being "Arab" in the mindsets of many people throughout the (non-Arab) world despite the fact that the largest Muslim populations in the world are not ethnically Arabs. Interestingly, Heinrich Himmler of the Nazi SS was a supporter of Islam -- particularly extreme Islam as he thought it engendered a warrior spirit -- and he recruited Bosnian Muslims, Arabs, and Indians into the 'racially pure' SS.

Since Mohammad's day Islam retains a strong element of tribalism, particularly the use of loyalty oaths to living persons, and an theological dichotomy between the Muslims Ummah [Global Muslim community] and Non Muslims. The separation is heavily and repeatedly referred to in Qur'an, and it is almost impossible to open a random chapter in Qur'an and find nothing disparaging said about Kuffars / Non Muslims.

[edit] Islamic law and statehood

Literal reading of Islam, as well as it's application by Muhammad, shows a necessary overlap between state and religion.

"Legislation is not but for Allah."[14][15]

An increasing number of nations use Islamic law[citation needed] as the entire or partial basis of their legal systems; states governed entirely by religion in this way are known as theocracies. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country.[16] Islamic theocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Iran have been sharply criticized by human-rights advocates for their illiberal treatment of women, homosexuals (who are sometimes executed),[17] and apostates.

Sharia is Islamic law, based on the teachings of the Qur'an and other texts regarded as sacred, such as the hadith. Most Sharia deals with aspects of the social contract, though treatment of crime and punishment is also covered. Interpretations of Sharia vary widely, and some of the stricter variants, enforced in the fundamentalist Islamic states of the Middle East can involve brutal punishments for crimes such as sodomy (homosexuality), adultery and fornication (premarital sex). In some countries, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, victims of rape have been punished as adulterers or fornicators when they have been unable to prove rape charges.

Muslims also follow rulings from various schools of Islamic jurisprudence called fatwas. Though the term fatwa has come to be synonymous with declarations of war by some extremists within Islam (leading to a certain amount of envy from fundamentalist Christians who wish they could pronounce death sentences on anyone they dislike), a fatwa can be issued by Islamic scholars on issues as simple as questions regarding conduct in daily life. Fatwas are not legally enforced and can be simply refuting another fatwa or Islamic viewpoint.

[edit] Jihad: Crusade and/or Puritanism

Another commonly misunderstood term is "Jihad", which has come to be synonymous almost exclusively with the concept of war waged by Muslims against the West. The misunderstanding occurs because the only Jihad that affects non-Muslims is the lesser Jihad.

Theologically, Jihad has two meanings. The greater Jihad is the struggle to improve one's self and one's society (read: "become better Muslims"). The lesser Jihad is against the enemies of Islam, and can be violent or non violent, as well as aggressive and defensive. In all history, it was used to expand as well as defend the Islamic state under order of Caliph. Prophet Muhammad engaged in aggressive and defensive Jihad, both.

"It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah [Polytheists] dislike it" - Quran 9:33[18]

"The Messenger of Allah was asked about the best jihad. He said: "The best jihad is the one in which your horse is slain and your blood is spilled." — cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan." [19]

Muslims claim that it is in propagation of morality and justice, however, since morality and justice under Islam is to be derived from Islam, it is essentially the same as the propagation of Islam.

[edit] Book of Jihad[20]

Book 019, Number 4292: "Ibn 'Aun reported: I wrote to Nafi' inquiring from him whether it was necessary to extend (to the disbelievers) an invitation to accept (Islam) before m". ing them in fight. He wrote (in reply) to me that it was necessary in the early days of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Nafi' said that this tradition was related to him by Abdullah b. Umar who (himself) was among the raiding troops."

Book 019, Number 4294: "It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirs. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muilims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai' except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. When you lay siege to a fort and the besieged appeal to you for protection in the name of Allah and His Prophet, do not accord to them the guarantee of Allah and His Prophet, but accord to them your own guarantee and the guarantee of your companions for it is a lesser sin that the security given by you or your companions be disregarded than that the security granted in the name of Allah and His Prophet be violated When you besiege a fort and the besieged want you to let them out in accordance with Allah's Command, do not let them come out in accordance with His Command, but do so at your (own) command, for you do not know whether or not you will be able to carry out Allah's behest with regard to them."

By some, the term jihad is considered similar to the English word "crusade", which can refer to any noble Islamic endeavour, or it can mean, well, Crusade; However, this is arguable, as Crusades are not inherent in the doctrine of Christianity in the way Jihad is in Islam - as it was exemplified by Muhammad himself.

[edit] Treatment of non-Muslims

Historically, all the first four Islamic states under the "Righteously guided Caliphs" required that Jews and Christians pay the jizya, a tax levied exclusively against non-Muslims which was of a higher amount than zakat.[21][22]

Qur'an 9:29 [23] is cited as the justification of this:

"Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled."

The free practice of religion in Muslim countries is a source of controversy. The Qur'an guarantees the free practice of religion for Jews and Christians (although adherents to these religions are expected to pay tribute and to acknowledge Muslim rule if in certain Islamic states). Regardless the reality is sometimes quite the opposite. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, other religions are banned from open practice and apostasy can be a capital offense.

As Sahih Muslim Hadith 4366 says, "Narrated by Umar ibn al-KhattabUmar heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims."

Other states, such as Iran, nominally allow other religions to exist, though those religions (including the Ba'hai and Zoroastrian faiths) are typically persecuted. Some states including Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan have significant non-Muslim minorities which are treated with varying degrees of persecution, though the rise of fundamentalism in these countries has led to an increase in outbreaks of violence.

[edit] Critics and criticism

[edit] Anti-free speech

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Abbas: A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet (ﷺ) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (ﷺ) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. [..] He sat before the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: Messenger of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her. Thereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood.
—— Sunan Abi Dawud 4361, Eng Book 39, Hadith 4348, Book 40, Hadith 11 [24]

The most famous recent case of free expression vs. the right to murder people you disagree with religious values is that of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which echoed the controversy regarding the Danish cartoons, only with a considerably higher body count. Both instances involved unflattering depictions of Muhammed, which violates Islamic teachings regarding both blasphemy and idolatry.

Salman Rushdie's 1988 novel The Satanic Verses provoked outrage among many Muslims. The book was banned in India and protests in which the book was burned were held in London, England. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then-Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa against Rushdie, calling on all good Muslims everywhere to do their best to kill him. Guess what? He had to go into hiding too. Even worse, governments that should know better, like the UK and the US, shunned him instead of coming to his aid and defending his right to free speech.

This event inspired the late noted journalist Christopher Hitchens to examine closely the Western Left's lackadaisical attitude towards Islamic extremism. The sympathy which he perceived among his colleagues for Islamic extremism caused him to adopt a firmer stance against what he calls "Islamofascism", or "Fascism with an Islamic face". This has become the criticism named, regressive left.

[edit] Antifeminism

Islam is decidedly antifeminist, against all attempts to argue that it "supports" women.[25]

Qur'an 4:34 states "Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand."

Muslim men are allowed to have 4 wives, but Muslim women can not have 4 husbands.

The wearing of the burqa and sister garments by many in the Middle East is another example of societal coercion. These women must dress in a conservative fashion at all times to avoid social harassment.

However, there are open feminists who are practicing and devout Muslims, such as Amina Wudud and Irshad Manji, who claim the two are compatible [without addressing the theological text that appears to mean otherwise].

[edit] Comments on Non Muslims

Qur'an states that those who, after receiving the message of Qur'an, do not convert, are dumb, deaf and blind. The Qur'an's term for Non Muslims is "Kuffar", which literally means "Denier of truth".

2:171 "And the example of the disbelievers is similar to one who calls upon one that hears nothing except screaming and yelling; deaf, dumb, blind - so they do not have sense."

6:39 "And those who deny Our signs are deaf and dumb in realms of darkness; Allah may send astray whomever He wills; and may place on the Straight Path whomever He wills."

Muslims argue that once signs are revealed, if one does not become Muslim, it is arguably acceptable to label him as dumb, deaf and blind.

However, as "signs" of Allah, Qur'an states things like 16:79: "Do they not see the birds suspended in mid-air up in the sky? Nothing holds them there except Allah. There are certainly Signs in that for people who have faith." So it is nothing more than argument from ignorance.

Holding these views about Non Muslims are not limited to fringes in Taliban. Even among the most modern of Muslims, liberal defenders of Islam and critics of Islamists, like Mehdi Hassan (Viral Oxford Debate hero), these views are found -

The kuffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Qur'an; they are described in the Qur'an as “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as not of no morality, not as people of no belief – people of “no intelligence” – because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Qur'an describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.
—Mehdi Hassan[citation needed]

If non-Muslims were to say so about Muslims, this would be bigotry. However, Muslims seem to have no problem with these verses.

A general Muslim response to criticism of these verses is that it was only referring to non-believers that they were at war with, and that Muslims can't start wars but only fight defensively.

[edit] Evil Jews

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Boxthorn tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.
—Sahih Muslim, 41:6985

Jews have been persecuted in all Muslim countries to various degrees, and by Muhammad himself.

"You [Jews and Christians] should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I wish that I should expel you from this land Those of you who have any property with them should sell it, otherwise they should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle (and they may have to go away leaving everything behind)." [26]

[edit] Homophobia

Homosexuals are severely punished in Islamic states such as Iran or Saudi Arabia (except that Iran doesn't have any). Punishments can include flogging, beatings, mutilation of the genitals, and in some cases, execution. Gays being thrown off roofs and then stoned (not in the good way) is the common punishment in ISIS-controlled parts of Syria and Iraq.

In Hadiths, even "Effeminate men" were ordered to be turned out of houses by Muhammad.

Narrated Ibn Abbas: the Prophet cursed effeminate men and those women who assume the similitude [manners] of men. He also said said: "Turn them out of your houses." He turned such and such a person out, and Umar [a principal companion of Muhammad] also turned out such and such person.
—Bukhari vol. 8, no. 6834

[edit] Corporal punishment for children in religious schools

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Command a boy to pray when he reaches the age of seven years. When he becomes ten years old, then beat him for prayer.
—Abu Dawud[27]

This is a notable problem in certain Islamic regions. This has been known to even take place in certain madrassas (religious schools) in the United Kingdom. [28][29]

[edit] Sharia as applying to non-Muslims

The notion that non-Muslims should also be subject to Islamic jurisprudence is a key tenet of Islamism, and both instances brought Islamists scurrying out of the woodwork. Such individuals, like any religious fanatics, lack a sense of humor, and provoked a seemingly endless and quite unnecessary series of debates across the Western world. Should we allow this? Well, we allow jokes about Christians and Jews? Why not? Should we exercise restraint when using our right to freedom of speech? Are we refusing to show the cartoons on national news because we don't want to offend Muslims, or because we're scared of offending Muslims? The answer to those questions, in order, is: Yes, Yes, and the news networks were scared of being blown up or something equally horrid. In our eyes, the cartoons' only real crime were being unfunny. And no violence is needed to make that point. Yet the extremist Muslim position survives and thrives in the latest South Park episode which parent companies Comedy Central and Viacom heavily censored in order not to offend the already infantilized sensibilities of many Muslims. Appropriately for South Park, however, the images of Muhammad were so cartoonishly over-censored (especially Kyle's speech at the end, of which only a few words—mostly pronouns and conjunctions—can be heard) that the censorship itself has the feeling of satire.

People can be assaulted or even murdered because a militant Muslim or lynch mob believes they have broken Sharia in some way.[30] In Bangladesh 3,000 people have been arrested following attacks and killing of atheist and other bloggers. As of June 2016 it is unclear whether this will make a difference.[31]

[edit] Promotion of creationism and pseudoscience

The Qur'an in several places concurs with the outline of the Creation story in Genesis. Specifically, Adam is taken to be the first human, formed by God in an act of creation out of clay. Unlike the Bible, the Qur'an explicitly claims to be the actual word of God, and so it is unusual for Muslims to believe that the Qur'an contains errors. However, the Islamic text is somewhat vaguer than Genesis, leaving some room for interpretation, and it is not impossible to find Muslims who accept evolution as fact, though it might be impossible to find Qur'an to support evolution of man from "non man" organisms.

Many Muslims (such as Liberal Muslims) are theistic evolutionists and support the idea that Muslim religious teachings are compatible with evolution. For example, Shaikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, an American Muslim and specialist in Islamic law has argued in Islam and Evolution that a belief in macroevolution is not incompatible with Islam, as long as it is accepted that "God is the Creator of everything" (Qur'an 13:16) and that God specifically created humanity (in the person of Adam; Qur'an 38:71-76).[32]. However other Muslims claim that evolution contradicts Muslim teachings and take a position similar to the position of Christian creationists.

In modern times, anti-science attitudes are a serious problem in some Islamic states; although creationism is more usually associated with fundamentalist Christianity. While some Muslims, such as Zakir Naik, tacitly promote creationism and pseduoscience by defending the inaccuracy of the Qur'an, people like Harun Yahya actively promote creationism and pseudoscience and attack evolution.

By contrast, medieval Islam was at least relatively pro-science, with early scientists such as Ibn al-Haytham and AvicennaWikipedia's W.svg significantly advancing their fields and paving the way for similar movements in Europe in the centuries to follow.[33]

[edit] Muslims apologetic obfuscation

If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
—The Qur'an, proving that Qur'an is against violence

However, if we don't quote mine, the whole verse states

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel [Jews] that if anyone slew a person - unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity
—Qur'an 5:32

So Qur'an is referring to a verse in Jewish scripture, which is not the same as ordaining something to Muslims.

And the very next verse in Qur'an reads

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment..
—The Qur'an 5:33

[edit] Muhammad's character

In literal Islam, Muhammad is the ideal human being which Muslims should strive to emulate [only to a degree that Qur'an allows]

Muhammad had 13 wives, owned slaves and prescribed severe torture (Qur'an 8:12). Among Muhammad's wives, one (named Aisha) was 6 years old at the time of marriage and 9 year old at the time of the consummation of the marriage[note 6](Sahih Bukhari 5:58:236), when Muhammad was around 54.

These have become problematic facts for some Muslims, as their modern sensibilities contradict with the infallible moral nature of Muhammad, for all times.

Muslims generally respond by saying it was culturally accepted then or claiming cultural relativism (Which implies that Muhammad is not an ideal for all places and all times), totally denying the validity of Hadiths, or taking the postmodern revisionism approach where "Anything can mean anything" (Liberal Muslims). Criticism of Mohammed's marriage to Aisha possibly when she was 9 is by far the most commonly used criticism of Islam as well.[citation needed]

[edit] Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a former Muslim, victim of female genital mutilation, and prominent feminist and critic of Islam. Until her mid-teens, she obeyed the stricter codes of Islam before gradually adopting more liberal positions. She supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie during her fundamentalist years, but as she studied the Western philosophers of the Enlightenment upon her escape to the Netherlands, her stance became more open-minded, to the point where she is now a staunch supporter of everyone's right to freedom of expression.[citation needed] In 2004, she wrote the screenplay for the short film Submission, a film examining the treatment of women in Islam.[citation needed] On November 2, Theo van Gogh, the director of the film, was murdered by Muslim extremist Mohammed Bouyeri.[citation needed] A dagger stabbed into Van Gogh pinned a note to the body attributing the assassination to the film.[citation needed] Ali was forced into hiding, and to this day is not able to appear in public without armed guards.[citation needed]

[edit] Islamophobia

See the main article on this topic: Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a defined as "an irrational fear of Islam or Muslims",[citation needed] and considered a form of bigotry.[citation needed]

The term is controversial, with some arguing that it is a label used to de-legitimise and silence every criticism of Islam and every argument that shows that Islamism is a plausible (and the most probably) result of Islamic doctrine, and others saying it describes the pattern of irrational fear-mongering and ignorance that leads to hate crimes against minorities and the restriction of their rights.

Basically, Islamophobes are generally those who think there is something bad in Islamic text itself, and hence something bad in all true Muslims[citation needed], where definition of true Muslims being those Muslims who do not use inconsistent methods to interpret Islam based on personal moral conveniences.

Those who argue against Islamophobes claim that there is nothing bad in Islamic text as text has no meaning beyond what one forces it to mean, and all bad committed in the name of Islam is a result of wrong interpretations of Islam, where a wrong interpretation is any interpretation that leads to something wrong.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Academic resources

Online resources


[edit] Notes

  1. Islam's god is not the same Abrahamic god as the one in Judaism and Christianity; Allah is merely the Arabic word for 'God'. It is blasphemous to say that God (in the Christian sense) is the same as Allah, as the Christian God affirms the Trinity, and Allah doesn't. Muslims will see the Trinity as polytheistic, directly contradicting tawhid. It should be noted that it is also considered blasphemous for Allah to be placed in a human or animal sexual gender category; see Qur'an 112:3-4.
  2. This is the shortest version of the Shahadah and is translated from the Arabic phrase لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
  3. A friend of mine (whose name I obviously can't give for security reasons) lived in Egypt, Libya, and Jordan for several years in each country and once sold a car at 3am during Ramadan. The man buying the car was awake (obviously) and the bank people were there as well.
  4. Arabic الله أكبر (lit. 'Allah is greater' or 'Allah is the greatest')
  5. Well, it's not illegal per se
  6. Yes, we're using euphemisms to try to soften the blow

[edit] References

  1. Butterworth, Charles E., Ph.D. The Political Aspects of Islamic Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Muhsin S. Mahdi. Cambridge, MA: Distributed for the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies of Harvard U by Harvard UP, 1992. Print. ISBN 9780932885074
  2. Sūrat l-Baqarah (Surah 2), verse 111, Quranic Arabic Corpus
  3. Theories on Abrogation, Hadith Studies
  4. Sunan Abi Dawud 4596; Book 42, Hadith 1. Sunnah
  5. Sūrat l-Naḥl (Surah 16), verse 89, Quranic Arabic Corpus
  6. 6.0 6.1 World Factbook - Religions, The Central Intelligence Agency
  7. Book 40, Hadith 3, Sunnah
  8. Apostasy, Answering Islam
  9. Death penalty laws in Pakistan, Asia News
  10. Death penalty laws in Saudi Arabia, Gulf News
  11. Sūrat l-Hij'r (Surah 15), verse 9, Quranic Arabic Corpus
  12. Rules on playing musical instruments: Fatwa No. 82320, Islam Web
  13. Regarding the permissibility of music, VirtualMosque
  14. Sūrat Yūsuf (Surah 12), verse 40, Quranic Arabic Corpus
  15. Kitab Al-Imara (The Book on Government), The Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement
  16. Islam in Indonesia: Contrasting Images and Interpretations, p 68, ‎Kees van Dijk - 2013
  17. Theocrats call LGBT activists "far right", Butterflies and Wheels
  18. Sūrat l-Tawbah (Surah 9), verse 33, Quranic Arabic Corpus
  19. The Book of Jihad, Web Archive
  20. Kitab Al-Jihad wa'l-Siyar (The Book of Jihad and Expedition), The Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement
  21. A. Ben Shemesh, Taxation in Islam Volume II, Qudama b. Ja'far's Kitab Al-Kharaj. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1965, p. 14
  22. K.S. Lal, Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India, Delhi, 1999, pp. 139-140.
  23. Sūrat l-Tawbah (Surah 9), verse 29, Quranic Arabic Corpus
  24. Sunan Abi Dawud 4351. Book 40, Hadith 1, Sunnah
  25. Muslim Feminism Destroyed In 2 Minutes, IntrovertedSmiles
  26. Book 32, Hadith 72, Quranx
  27. Hadith 2, The Centre for Muslim-Jewish Engagement
  28. Reform call as madrassa teacher guilty of child cruelty, The British Broadcasting Company
  29. YouTube
  30. Man Is attacked with machetes by Muslim boys who were upset he wasn’t fasting, FriendlyAtheist
  31. Bangladeshi police arrest more than 3,000 people to prevent further attacks on atheists and others, FriendlyAtheist
  32. Evolution and Islam, Masud
  33. Science and Islam,The British Broadcasting Company
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