SAFAR - RABI-UL-AWWAL
Volume 17-04 No : 208
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Q1. Is Islam a cult? I don't understand how this religion can be embraced by so many. It's inconceivable that such hatred has ever been collected in a single population such as that which calls itself Muslim. Mohammad, and indeed, his followers, are way off the path. Stop your attacks on non-Muslims. John Guerra
Ans. The two meanings of the word 'cult' according to the Oxford dictionary are as follows:
1) "A way of life, an attitude, an idea etc. that has become very popular".
2) "A small group of people who have extreme religious beliefs and who are not part of any established religion".
By referring to Islam as a cult, if you intend to imply the first meaning, then yes Islam is a way of life - in fact it is 'THE way of life' prescribed for humankind by the Creator. I am aware that most widely, the second meaning of the word cult is implied. In that context, Islam is not a cult.
Many people have a misconception that Islam is a new religion and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the founder of Islam. However, let me clarify that Islam is not the name of some unique religion presented for the first time by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who should, on that account be called the founder of Islam.
The Qur'an states that Islam - the complete submission of man before his One and Only Unique Creator - is the One and Only faith and way of life consistently revealed by God to humankind from the very beginning. Noah, Solomon, David, Abraham, Moses, Isaac and Jesus (pbut) - prophets who appeared at different times and places - all propagated the same faith and conveyed the same message of Tawheed (Oneness of God), Risaalat (Prophethood) and Aakhirah (the Hereafter). These prophets of God were not founders of different religions to be named after them. They were each reiterating the message and faith of their predecessors.
However, Muhammad (pbuh) was the last Prophet of God. God revived through him the same genuine faith which had been conveyed by all His Prophets. This original message was earlier corrupted and split into various religions by people of different ages, who indulged in interpolations and admixture. These alien elements were eliminated by God, and Islam - in its pure and original form - was transmitted to humankind through Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Since there was to be no messenger after Muhammad (pbuh), the Book revealed to him (i.e. the Glorious Qur'an) was preserved word for word so that it should be a source of guidance for all times.
Thus the religion of all the prophets was 'total submission to God's will' and one word for that in the Arabic language is 'Islam'. Abraham and Jesus (peace be upon them) too were Muslims, as Allah testifies in Al-Qur'an 3:67 and 3:52 respectively.
Islam is embraced by so many humans in all centuries because it is the Truth and it provides practical and comprehensive solutions to problems of humankind. Islam not only teaches good things but also shows practical ways of achieving that state of goodness.
Your surprise regarding many people embracing Islam is justified. Today, though Islam happens to be the fastest growing religion in the world, it also happens to be the religion about which people have maximum number of misconceptions. This is largely because of the virulent propaganda by the media about Islam.
A Christian surveyor, Professor Edward reported in the Time Magazine of April 16, 1979 that in a span of 150 years, from 1800 CE to 1950 CE "over 60,000 books have been written against Islam by the Christian West." Now, it is questionable, who has initiated, nurtured and collected the hatred which you have referred to, the Muslims or the Christian West?
Many are surprised that despite such propaganda being made against Islam, it still happens to be the fastest growing religion in today's times. It is so, on the merits of its superior and noble teachings. Says Allah swt in the Glorious Qur'an:
"They (the non-Muslim enemies and critics of Islam) plot and plan, and Allah too plans; but the best of planners is Allah".
You have advised the Muslims not to attack non-Muslims; I request you to direct your advice to those authorities, who only claim to be 'peaceful, peace-loving people' and 'peace-keepers of the world', but ironically have attacked thousands of innocent Muslims under the theme 'War on terror'. The noted writer Arundhati Roy states: "So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace."
The terrorist acts attributed to Muslim suspects, should not be attributed to Islam or the Muslims in general but to individual human weaknesses. Such human failings occur among all religious and ethnic groups. Recorded history has not witnessed an incident similar to the 'Holocaust'. However, one is not expected to and should not attribute the holocaust to Christianity or to Christians in general.
A number of skeptics have made comments about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Skeptics allege that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was "a violent man, a man of war". Some further state that "Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses ... Muhammad set an opposite example" (remember Jerry Falwell?). These skeptics somehow fail to realize that far from being a man of war, "...he (Muhammad) must be called the saviour of humanity", as described thus by George Bernard Shaw.
Though the portrayal of Moses and Jesus (pbuh) of being peace-loving people is fully in accordance with the teachings of the Qur'an, the Biblical testimony is contrary to it. Many quotations from these Biblical testimonies can be given to substantiate this claim, but considering the length of the answer, I will simply furnish ONE incident that will prove my point, because in this ONE incident, no less than three thousand people were killed by the sword at the command of Biblical Moses. We read:
"(Moses said): 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour'. The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died." (Exodus 32:27-28, NIV)
It is also a well-known fact that the total number of deaths that took place in ALL the wars fought during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was 1018. The biblical quotation given above and many such quotations appear to escape the grasp of those who allege against Muhammad (pbuh), further ignoring the words of Jesus:
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
(Matthew 7:1-2 KJV)
Q2. Religion, if it is true, should be able to stand scientific scrutiny. Is there an Islamic arena where this kind of discussion is possible?
Ans. It is true, that if a religion is true, it should be able to stand scientific scrutiny.
The Glorious Qur'an is the last and final revelation of God. For any book to claim to be the Word of God, it should stand the test of time. Previously, it was the age of miracles. The Qur'an is the miracle of miracles. Later on, came the age of literature and poetry. Muslims as well as non-Muslims agree that Al-Qur'an is Arabic literature par excellence - that it is the best Arabic literature on the face of the earth. However, today, it's the age of science and technology, and the Qur'an passes this test as well.
According to the famous physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein, "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
It should however, be borne in mind that the Qur'an is not a book of 'Science' but rather a book of 'Signs' i.e. Ayaat. There are more than 6,000 signs (Ayaat) in the Qur'an out of which more than a thousand speak of Science. The Qur'anic data on science does not conflict with any of the established scientific fact. It may go against certain scientific hypothesis or theories, which are not grounded in facts as many a times science takes U-turns. A number of verses of the Qur'an speak on various different subjects of science, such as Astronomy, Physics, Geography, Geology, Oceanology, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Medicine, Physiology, Embryology as well as General Science. There have been several arenas where people have discussed a number of issues related to comparative religion. Islam encourages reasoning, discussions and dialogues. Allah says:
"Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious". (Al-Qur'an 16:125)
With regards to discussions on the theme of your question, I had a public dialogue in April 2000, in Chicago USA, on the subject 'The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of Science' with a Christian, Dr. William Campbell from the USA.
Dr. William Campbell had written a book trying to point out scientific errors in the Qur'an. In the dialogue, I refuted all the allegations that he made against the Qur'an while he could not refute any of the 38 scientific errors in the Bible pointed out by me. You may refer to the video of that debate which is available for sale world-wide. For more information please visit www.irf.net. You can also refer to my book, 'Qur'an and Modern Science: Compatible or Incompatible' as well as my video on the topic, 'Qur'an and modern Science: Conflict or Conciliation.'
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