The most encyclopedic and yet the misconceived: oxymoronic!!
As contentious as it might seem (especially to the skeptics of me), I am undoubtedly the most comprehensive of all ways of life. Apart from the endorsement1 I have from the book (the book that has refused to succumb to machinations and manipulation of men)2 that establishes me and from which my canons gush forth as water splashes from the fountain, I present compelling reasons for the thoughtful and any seeker of truth to accept me―I stand the test of time and more responsive to the fitra of humans3. As a result, i am the fastest growing religion4 with following of over a billion of world’s human population.
Despite these and many compelling facts about me, there are misconceptions regarding me especially the lenses through which I see things(my world view).These misconceptions about me emanate from both among those who claim to abide by my canons (muslims) and those who do not. There are numerous reasons for such misconceptions however, only few will be considered here for want of space and mental economy.
One of the prominent issues leading to this misconceptions of me both ‘within’ and ‘without’5 is what seem to me as the ‘reductionists’’ view of me. In the Muslims’ quarters and that of non-Muslims alike, there is the failure or inability of some Muslims and many non-Muslims as well to recognize that I transcend ‘religion’6 and encapsulate all spheres of life―not only spirituality. The misconception here arises when these categories of people hear me speaking of something that is not in strictest sense an act of spirituality; they get dazzled―say economy, governance and finance. Instead of expanding the reductionist view of analyzing me and what I preach, they maintain their myopic view of me which then lead to drawing ‘inconclusive’ conclusions about me―misconception!
Another issue leading to a misconception of me is the fact that despite the pristine purity of my source, especially in terms of knowledge of me, people lend themselves to improper source of knowledge about me or even misinterpretation of me under pretext of tafsiir and ta’awiil 7of the book that establishes me (the Quran). Worse is the case of the non-Muslim folk who want to know about me, but lend themselves so easily to the reportage of the media or what ‘the ignorant’ say, especially about the ‘dark’ aspects of me, they end up not knowing what I am in reality―self imposed confusion.
Also, prominent contributor to my misconception is the attitude of my followers themselves. Some of my followers ascribe to my canons by virtue of their parents being Muslims (Muslims by birth) and never exert themselves in the minutest sense to know more about me. The end result is then the ‘self contradictory’ Muslim who does more harm to me than good by practicing what I do not preach or ask him to do. This leads to misconception of me especially to the outsider (non-Muslim). Some also do not follow what I preach as a result of human weakness, discouragement from other (lack of tawsiya/ta’aawun) or sheer following of whims and caprices. I therefore see no reason for people to charge me by this equation: ‘Muslims’ actions=Islam’s teaching’, without verification. The ill of such equation is that just like all societies, states and even other religions have ideals, I also have ideals which I teach but most of my followers don’t follow―such non following(or improper practice) should not be ascribed to me but to my followers’ weaknesses or inabilities as humans . Also, those who ascribe to this equation fail to distinguish between myself and my followers. I being a system of life of which my follower ‘knowingly’ or ‘unknowingly’ agree to live by my principles― do you then point the finger at me when s/he fails to abide by those principles?―gigantic misconception!
Towards clearing such misconceptions stated above, and many others of me both ‘within’ and ‘without’, there are issues of significance that need to be addressed. However, paramount of all, is the need to gain insight regarding the lenses through which I conceptualizes issues (tassawur).This is of utmost importance because improper grasp of this as a tool to anyone who tries to understand me would be like trying to measure a mountain using a goldsmith’s scale8―wacky. How can this insight of me, tasawur, be achieved then?
As trivial and simple as this antidote might seem, it still remains a compelling reality as most Muslims and non-Muslims alike do not ‘really’ know what Islam is. Therefore the foremost step would be to put aside superficiality and seek what Islam ‘really’ means. This will lay a solid foundation towards appreciating the lenses through which I (Islam) analyse and approach issues (my world view). It will also assist in discerning what the media or any false source of Islamic knowledge is trying to convey with less difficulty. Last but not the least; it will also help in curbing the phenomenon of equating the Muslims’ actions to Islam’s teaching, without verification.
In fact, it is unfortunate to witness Muslims discouraging each other from holding to the creed and tenants of this holistic way of life―no ta’aawun (lit. encourage/help) and tausuiyaa(lit. cooperate/ advice)9In this turbulent moment for every religious wannabe10―especially we the youth, there is urgent need than ever before to encourage and advice each other to seek the proper and holistic meaning of Islam and practice well, if our confession of being ‘best of ummah’11 is true resolution and not a lip service of a best ummah ‘wannabees’.
In sum, I should be seen as a comprehensive and a complete way of life which has left no stone unturned as far as the life of humans is concerned. I stand for harmony and perfectibility with unmatched depth and breadth of scope that comprises all aspects of spirit and life. I (Islam) know all the roads that lead to blessing and happiness. I have the cure for human ills; individual and social and make them as plain as the brightness of full-fledged moon12. however, this meaning of me can be appreciated when my proper world view is sought after―tasawwur.
1 See Qur’an3; 19. Note that there is no notable religious scripture that has categorically supported its religion as the Qur’an endorses Islam.
2 See Qur’an 15:9 .see also ‘’the confession of a British spy’’ by HAKIKAT KITABEVI,8th edition.
3 Elaboration on this point will make the article overly lengthy,as there are a lot of Qur’anic verses and ahaadith to prove this claim. Any wooziness can be cleared by contacting the writer.
4See ://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9704/14/egypt.islam and see also Karen Amstrong’s article: The True, Peaceful Face Of Islam.
5‘ Within’ referring to the muslin quarters and ‘without’ the non muslim quarters
6 Note that religion in the western sense,emphasizes only on spirituality,for that matter it does not reflect the proper translation of the Arabic word ‘deen’ which is attached to “Deen al Islam”.
7 See for example Prof.Naquib’s argument on the pristine purity of the Arabic which is the language of Qur’an and has ultimately led Islamic knowledge untainted with any debris.(his article or book on The Concept of education in islam)
8 A paraphrase of Ibn Khaldun’s response to those who use only reasoning to justify religion or existence of God(philosophy of religion).
9 These words can be found in two Qur’anic verses advising muslims in this regard.Q103;3 and also Q5:2
10 See the Hadeeth that states that ‘islam started as a strange religion and it will return….and also’in the endtime spractsing islam will be as difficult as placing bare piece of fire in one’s palm and holding on to it.
11 The Qur’an supports this proclamation by muslims.see Q3:110,but muslim neglect the conditional clause in the verse and only celebrate the tag.
12 This is a paraphrase of the definition given by the author of ‘western civilization through the muslim eye’(not sure of the title).the author of this article cannot remember the author’s name and cannot find the book either. Can anyone help?.this definition is not be considered as the ‘only’ wholist definition of islam rather it has been used here because it captures some important ingridients when trying to define islam.
Ahmed Badawi Mustapha