Islam is What Muslims Do
“This is not in Islam, no where in the Quran it says that”.
The above is the excuse commonly used by Muslim apologists to distance Islam from the horrific practices of its followers; such as the practice of honor killing or female circumcision.
It is a trick that often works well because sometimes it appears to have some truth in it. In the example of female circumcision, indeed there is no reference to such practice in the Quran. However, the Quran doesn’t make any reference to the practice of male circumcision either, which is a mandatory ritual in all sects of Islam.
A little known fact about the Quran, which is the backbone of Islam, is that it doesn’t say much about the details of its religion, which forces Muslims to seek information elsewhere.
The Quran doesn’t mention anything about how to perform the five daily prayers or how often to perform them.
It doesn’t say anything about other prayers, like the funeral prayers. Also it doesn’t say anything about azan (the call for prayers).
It doesn’t say how much money should be paid as zakat, where did the figure 2.5% came from?
It doesn’t say anything about the hijab, the head cover used by muslim women which is considered now like an Islamic logo. The Quran did use the word ‘hijab’ to mean total barrier that covers everything, not only the hair.
It doesn’t say how to perform the ritual of hajj or omra. There is no mentioning that Muslims should do tawaf around kaaba seven times or do saay between safa and marwa seven times.
The list can go on and on…
Islam according to the Quran
The Quran book, called mus-haf, is a relatively small book of around six hundred pages. Muslim scholars used every possible way to surround the Quran with a halo of divinity. This includes, besides many others, the way the book is printed and presented. Unlike normal Arabic books, The Quran is usually printed using special calligraphy fonts, called naskh, which helps to more than double its size. The contents of the Quran are mostly about biblical stories, which are repeated again and again and serve as reminders of Allah’s track record of inflicting severe punishments on those who disobeyed Him. Such verses were mostly revealed in Mecca, when Mohammed was still a weak person with only a few dozens of followers. The message behind those verses is clear: if you don’t follow me you also expect to be severely punished. When Mohammed assumed power in Medina, the Quran instantly changed its tune and became a tool in Mohammed’s hands to control his followers and justify his actions and intentions. If we take away the verses about the biblical stories and punishments, the Quran would be reduced to a small book, a fraction of its current size.
While the Quran addresses the biblical stories again and again with various details, it only touches briefly on sharia issues with brief concise verses and minimal details. Emphasis on an issue, by addressing it repeatedly or highlighting it, is an indication of the importance of that issue. On applying this principle to the Quran, it would appear that the entire issue of sharia is less important to Allah than, for example, believing in Moses’ magical tricks.
However, there are a few issues in sharia that qualified for fairly good deliberation. The importance of those issues to Mohammed were unquestionable, although it is difficult to work out their significance to the rest of mankind. After all, the Quran is supposed to be Allah’s final book to mankind.
One time Mohammed became annoyed when some of his guests lingered about after an invitation to dinner. To make sure this never happens again, Mohammed did not hesitate to ‘reveal‘ a complete chapter to tell Muslims about good manners. Sura Al nur (Q,24) discourages people from staying long after dinner, and asks muslims not to enter other people’s houses without permission. The Muslim scholars speak proudly of surat al-nur as evidence of the superiority of Islam and the high manners taught in the Quran. It is amazing how the non muslim nations managed without this sura!
When Mohammed became obsessed with the beauty of Zainab, he revealed the necessary verses to justify his plans to get her divorced from her husband Zaid, who was Mohammed’s adopted son, and then marrying her! The ethical practice of adoption was cancelled and made illegal to justify that marriage. It is difficult to fathom why that issue deserved such attention; it was not enough to explain it in the Quran as Mohammed had to demonstrate its practical application in real life! One just wonders how often men feel the urge to marry the wives of their adopted sons?
Sharia in the Quran
The Quran is the first and most important source for sharia. The second important source is sunna, which includes Mohammed’s sayings and the detailed description of his life, because Muslims are supposed to emulate Mohammed and model themselves on his example.
Obviously, Mohammed did not encounter every conceivable problem in his life. Therefore, Muslim scholars added three other sources for sharia to help Muslims to deal with the changing times and circumstances. Quyas, is where Muslims look at how Mohammed solved a nearly similar problem in his time and take that as a guideline. Ijmaa, is another source of sharia where Muslims follow the general consensus of scholars, if they agree on one. Then comes Ijtihad, in which Muslims use their Islamic background and knowledge to make up their minds on how to deal with a new issue.
With the changing times and the inevitable changes in life style and circumstances, Muslims encounter new problems that never existed in Mohammed’s time. The Internet, mobile phones, theaters, TV and drugs are examples of the problems that Muslims have to deal with but Mohammed never had to. Therefore, Ijtihad is increasingly a more important source for sharia.
For example, Mohammed never had to deal with hijacking planes. Therefore, when Mohammed Atta and his fellows planned to fly those planes and crash them into buildings, they probably used Quyas and Ijtihad to infer that their intended action would please Allah and his prophet. The eventual approval of that action by the Muslims ‘umma‘ added another credit to the terrorist attacks through Ijmaa.
Islam, a misunderstood religion?
“..those muslims misunderstand Islam”
The above is yet another excuse used by Muslim apologists that aims to sanitize Islam from the practices of its followers.
Such claims are usually made against the devout members of Islamic organizations, such as Taliban or Al Qaeda, who spend their entire lives learning about Islam. The irony is that the people who make the claims have very little knowledge, if any, about Islam; the so called moderate Muslims and their allies of non muslim apologists.
Islam has a soft outer layer characterized by observing the five pillars of Islam ( shahada, prayers, fasting, zakat and hajj) and avoiding sins like adultery, alcohol and pork consumption. There are tens of millions of Muslims whose understanding of Islam is limited to that polished image. They are the Muslims who truly misunderstand Islam. It takes more exploration and learning to discover the inside harder core of Islam where the importance of jihad and rejection of the others become more highlighted. Unfortunately, by the time Muslims reach that level of knowledge they have already committed themselves to the service of Allah and their brain damage is complete.
There was never a time when Islam had a one distinct picture that Muslims could see with clarity and agree on. From the beginning, Islam was destined to have multiple interpretations. The Quran addresses issues in a concise style that is too rigid and vague and sets the grounds for multiple interpretations. Muslims are told they can find in the Quran all the information they need, but when they open the book they only find repeated vagueness. Instead of coming to the obvious conclusion that the Quran is nonsense they try to extract any interpretation to support whatever imagination the have in mind. Seeking refuge in hadith does not help because different hadiths give different pictures of Islam depending on which ones you want to believe.
Let us not forget that Islam, from its inception, has been used as a political tool to subjugate the masses. Todays Muslims have the same problem in understanding Islam as their ancestors did over the past fourteen centuries. Muslims, who are biased to their own political views, can usually manage to find some kind of support in the Quran or sunna.
Only 24 years after Mohammed’d death, a group of Muslims broke into Uthman’s house, the third rightly guided Caliph, and murdered him while reading the Quran. Those Muslims did not think for a second they were committing a murder but were utterly convinced they were practicing jihad for the sake of Allah. Their judgement was based on their understanding of the Quran and sunna. On the other hand, Uthman’s supporters, who also based their judgement on the Quran and sunna, believed those men were murderers and deserved to be killed.
Caliph Ali, the fourth rightly rightly guided Caliph, and his supporters of sahaba (Mohammed’s companions) were engaged for five years defending the Islamic state against their adversaries, who were also sahaba. Both sides fought the war while holding the Quran and shouting Allahu Akbar as they slaughter each other for the sake of Allah. More recently, when the Muslim nations were divided over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, both sides produced mountains of evidence, all based on sharia sources, to prove they were right and the other side was wrong, or even committed kufr and deserve the death penalty!
A religion that can be so misunderstood for fourteen hundred years is certainly not worth to be followed.