Do all Muslims Represent Islam? (Part 2 / 2)

Do all Muslims Represent Islam? (Part 2 / 2)

By Aisha Stacey

The origin of the blue beads is difficult to trace however, it is common in all countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

The origin of the blue beads is difficult to trace however, it is common in all countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Cyprus and Egypt.

                                        Part 1

In the previous article, we discussed the fact that not all Muslims represent the religion of Islam. Our focus was Islam’s attitude towards war, violence and terrorism. We established that Islam is a religion of peace, and that unjustifiable killing or violence is absolutely forbidden. Sadly, many Muslims around the world have sullied the name of Islam by committing acts and atrocities that have no place in a religion based on the concepts of justice and mercy. However, this is not the only way that Muslims themselves misrepresent Islam.

From the outset, it is important to understand the foundation of Islam – God is One. He has no partners, no sons, daughters or helpers. He alone created, and sustains the universe. Nothing happens without His permission.

“He is Allah, (the) One. Allah-us-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, He neither eats nor drinks). He begets not, nor was He begotten; And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.” (Al-Ikhlas 112)

“Is there any god with Allah? High Exalted be God above all that they associate as partners (to Him)!” (An-Naml 27:63)

Muslims believe this with certainty, there is no god but Allah, and they believe that the prophets and messengers were sent by God to guide humankind to the truth that God is One. Therefore, in Islam there is no room for intercession of any kind. It is God Alone that Muslims worship and God Alone that they ask for help, in all endeavors. This concept is known as tawheed and it forms the basis of the religion of Islam.

Sadly, however, when we look at the behavior of some Muslims we find practices and superstitions that are actually forbidden in Islam. Sincere worship for God Alone has become adulterated by the local customs and traditions, yet many Muslims are unwilling to admit that such corruption exists. The fact is not all Muslims worship in the correct way and not all Muslims are representative of Islam.

One of the gravest sins is calling on somebody or something other than God. This is forbidden in Islam, yet around the world, these deeply entrenched cultural practices remain. Muslims who call on the dead to intercede for them do not represent the religion of Islam. Muslims, who believe that righteous people are able to intercede between ordinary people and God, do not represent the religion of Islam. Muslims who wear good luck charms and amulets in the belief that they can somehow ward off evil or bring good, do not represent the religion of Islam. These are direct contradictions to the Oneness of God.

Corruption of worship is evident in the many myths and traditions that surround pregnancy and childbirth. Many traditions involve the use of charms spells and amulets. A Muslim however, knows that everything is from God, and that there is no luck or randomness involved. Strange superstitions can bring neither harm nor good. Islam teaches that there is no power or strength except with God, it dispels these myths and superstitions thereby freeing humankind from this type of bondage.

Bearing this in mind let us examine the cultural practices surrounding two fictional women. The women in these anecdotes are fictional but the practices are real and form just a small part of hundreds of traditions and practices used throughout the Muslim world to ward off evil or obtain good.

In a small village outside Mogadishu in Somalia, 18-year-old Nura has just given birth to her first child. A beautiful healthy boy. Nura and her family believe that the bracelet he wears made from string and herbs will protect him from the evil eye. Most Somali people link their identity with Islam however, a large number of pre Islamic practices have survived. There is a strong belief in jinn (devil) possession and zar (a cult in which women are willingly possessed) and most Bedouin Somalis routinely wear protective amulets. Prior to Islam the belief system in Somalia was largely animist, it dates back to the Paleolithic age in which every object, be it animate or inanimate had a soul.

These traditions and practices usually evolve around major life experiences such as birth and death and often involve the use of plants and herbs both for their medicinal properties and the belief that such plants and herbs offer protection from malevolent spirits. Thus, a newborn baby would be given an amulet to safeguard him from harm. This practice clearly denies the Oneness of God. These are traditions that do not make sense when the true nature of God is revealed through Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.

Far away in Turkey in the thriving metropolis of Istanbul Ceylan’s mother and aunts are adorning the wall of the room in which she will give birth with strings of onion, garlic and blue beads. They believe that this will protect Ceylan and the newborn baby from the evil eye and evil jinn known in Turkey as the “baby snatcher”. Amongst the strings of herbs, being hung in the birthing room in Turkey you may also find blue beads. These are prevalent in many Muslim communities. People wear amulets, keep them on hand to give to guests, hang them near the doors of their homes or in their cars. The beads are usually made of glass in order to reflect any bad luck or evil and the belief is that like a mirror it draws positive energy away and reflects the bad intentions back. According to this false belief, if the evil is too strong for the blue eye to push away, it breaks and sacrifices itself.

The origin of the blue beads is difficult to trace however, it is common in all countries around the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. It may even date back as far as the ancient Egyptians. The eye of Horus (ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and power) may be the origin of this widespread belief, and the color blue has been used since antiquity to denote healing and protection. Islam is clear, healing and protection is from God Alone.

Corrupted worship and superstitious practices are prevalent in Muslim communities throughout the world. You may have noticed some in your own community; however, they are not representative of Islam. Islam is the religion of informed knowledge, not blind belief and strange superstitions. The power of God is Omnipotent. When Muslims behave in a manner that seems to encourage superstitions and strange behavior, they do not represent Islam. The message of Islam is clear. There is no power or strength except with God, and Prophet Muhammad is His final Messenger.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.IslamReligion.com.

Aisha Stacey is an Australian revert to Islam. She currently spends her time between Australia and Qatar. Aisha works as a writer at the Fanar Cultural Islamic Centre in Doha, Qatar while studying for an Arts/Psychology degree.

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Atheist vs. Muslim (Plain as Day)

Atheist vs. Muslim (Plain as Day)

By Truth Seeker Staff

The belief in God is “plain as day”: easy to comprehend or understand.

“And when waves come over them like canopies, they supplicate Allah , sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, there are [some] of them who are moderate [in faith]. And none rejects Our signs except everyone treacherous and ungrateful.” (Luqman 31:32)

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Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Status of the Sunnah in Islam

Salem Al-`Amry talks on a very important subject that every muslim needs to know; that is the Status of Sunnah in Islam. He sheds light on the meaning of the Sunnah, and he further explains why we should follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) closely just as we are to follow the noble Qur’an.

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The Qur’an: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

The Qur’an: From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

And thus, We have sent to you O Muhammad a revelation, and a mercy of Our Command.  You knew not what the Book is, nor what is Faith?  But We have made it (this Qur’an) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will.  And verily, you O Muhammad are indeed guiding (humankind) to the Straight Path.  (Ash-Shura 42:52)

Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, the final Messenger from God, received the Qur’an, in two stages.  These perfect words of God were sent down to guide humankind out of the darkness and into the light; they are guidance and a mercy.

The Qur’an – the words of God are perfect words, from a perfect God, to His Creation.  On the night known as the ‘Night of Decree’, in the Islamic month of Ramadan, the Qur’an descended, from the Preserved Tablet[1] to the Lowest Heaven.  It then descended from the heavens to the earth in small stages.

The revelation was delivered to Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel.[2] When Prophet Muhammad was around forty years of age he started to spend time in deep reflection.  According to his beloved wife `A’ishah (Al-Bukhari) the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him via vivid good dreams.  He would go to the cave known as Hira’ to worship the One God and contemplate life, the universe, and his place in the world.

One night during Ramadan an angel came to him and asked him to read.  The Prophet, who was unable to read or write, replied ‘I do not know how to read’.  The angel then held him forcibly and pressed his chest so hard that he could not bear the pressure.  The angel then released Muhammad and asked him once more to read.  Again he replied “but I do not know how to read”.  The angel held him forcibly three times and Muhammad responded each time that he did not know how to read (or asked what shall I read).  The angel then related to him the first words of Qur’an.[4]

Read!  In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists).  He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read!  And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught by the pen, He has taught man that which he knew not.  (Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

After this first revelation, which Muhammad found frightening; he was not visited by the angel Gabriel again for an undetermined amount of time.  The next time he encountered him (the angel) he was walking alone.  Prophet Muhammad heard a voice from the heavens.  When he looked up he saw the angel sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth.  Muhammad was afraid and ran home seeking comfort and asking to be wrapped in blankets.  The second revelation occurred at this time.

O you covered in garments arise and warn the people of a severe punishment…  (Al-Muddaththir 74:1-5)

Over the next 23 years until shortly before Prophet Muhammad’s death, the Qur’an was revealed in stages. Several reasons have been suggested for this.  Some say that it was revealed slowly to offer Prophet Muhammad support and address issues as they arose.

Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, narrates that when asked about how the divine inspiration was revealed Prophet Muhammad replied, “Sometimes it is like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes after I have grasped what is inspired.  Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says”. (Al-Bukhari)

Ibn `Abbas described Prophet Muhammad as bearing the revelation “with great trouble and moving his lips quickly”.(Al-Bukhari) As the words of Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad he began to commit them to memory.

Memorization was considered important and was widely practiced even in the early years of Islam.  Prophet Muhammad requested that his companions memorize Qur’an and used various measures to assure that the revelation was preserved in their memories.  According to ibn Ishaq, compiler of one of the first biographies of Prophet Muhammad, `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud was the first man, after Muhammad, to recite the Qur’an publicly and on this occasion was severely beaten.  Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion Abu Bakr was also known to recite Qur’an outside his home in Mecca. (Al-Bukhari)

Qur’an was memorized by the companions during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime and this tradition has continued through the following generations.  Even today Muslims unable to read Arabic memorize the exact same words that were memorized by the Arabs of the 7th century CE.  The majority of the Arabs were unlettered, including Prophet Muhammad; however the importance of the written word was well understood.

Preserving the divine revelation was paramount; therefore trustworthy and knowledgeable people memorized and wrote down the words of Qur’an.  These included the four men destined to follow Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim nation and a man named Zaid ibn Thabit, who would be instrumental in the preservation of Qur’an for the many generations to follow.

Writing materials were difficult to obtain and in these very early days portions of Qur’an were written onto animal skins, thin light colored stones, bones, and even bark.  The companions would write down the words of revelation and Prophet Muhammad would listen to the men recite from the written word to make sure there were no mistakes.  It could be said that the Qur’an was written down under the direct supervision of Prophet Muhammad.  The Qur’an was not revealed in order, however the Angel Gabriel instructed Prophet Muhammad on how to compile the Qur’an in the divinely inspired correct sequence.

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Footnotes:

[1] Lauh Al-Mahfuz (the preserved tablet) is the book in which God wrote the divine decrees and the destiny of all of creation.  It was with God before the creation.

[2] Suyuti’ in Al Itqan Fi Ulum Al Quran, Beirut, 1973, Vol.  I pp. 39-40 based on three reports from ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas, in Hakim, Baihaqi and Nasa’i.

 

 

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