Skip to comments.In Search of Authentic Islam
Posted on 06/19/2004 1:48:49 AM PDT by Mockingbird For Short
In Search Of Authentic Islam by Wim Ahlers (South Africa)
My first memory of this search goes back about fifteen years when I asked Ismael, a young Muslim with stars in his eyes, who wanted to become an Imam, how he could accept the violence of the Muslim fanatics as part of his religion. His answer was one simple sentence: "That is not religion, that is politics." He said it with the utmost conviction.
Over recent years, the media and sensational world events have promoted the idea that in Islam, politics has become the religion and the religion has become politics. Recently, in an erudite essay that was sent as an e-mail all over the world, Professor Moshe Sharon, who teaches Islamic History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told us that there was no possibility of peace in the Israel/Palestine conflict. In his essay, The Agenda of Islam & A War Between Civilizations, he said that Muslims would never accept Israeli rule, neither would they tolerate Israel's occupation of any part of the territory in dispute. There would be war forever. Peace could only come if and when all the Israelis had been killed by the Muslims. It was a very powerful and depressing message.
But then, synchronistically perhaps, at about the same time, a fascinating article on Tunisia, described as "the most stable and competitive country in Africa", appeared in the March 2004 edition of the monthly magazine, The Middle East, published in London. One section, called "The Real Meaning of Islam", was presented as the official Tunisian point of view. It gave my search a completely new insight and a quite differentunderstandingof the meaning of Islam as accepted by an Islamiccountry. It confirmed that the Koran could be read and interpreted in many different ways.
This in-depth article on Tunisia and on the country's amazing President Ben Ali, tells us how the Tunisian people have advanced in recent years by following what they claim to be the REAL Islamic principles. The way the article spelt it out, revived a feeling of hope for the future.
The constitution and the legal system are secular but the official religion is Islam. Right from the time of its independence in 1956, the country's leadership stressed education for boys and girls, as demanded by Islam. The result is that Tunisia has one of the world's highest literacy rates. The Islamic injunctions on the rights and high status of women over-rode cultural and traditional mores on gender and today Tunisian women enjoy greater equality in the professions and earnings than in many Western countries. Islam's insistence on an egalitarian society and the right of individuals to improve their living standards has resulted in one of the highest per capita incomes in the developing world, almost 80% home ownership and one of the lowest poverty levels in the world.
There are few better examples of the living proof of the Islamic spirit of respect for other religions and races than Tunisia. People of different ethnic backgrounds have lived together so intimately and so easily that, when you are in Tunisia, even the idea of looking at people's colour seems as preposterous as grouping people according to height or weight.
Equally preposterous is the idea of cordoning people according to their faiths. Islam demands respect for all religions. There is a very sizeable community of Jews who have lived happily and prosperously in Tunisia for hundreds of years. The El Ghriba synagogue in Jerba is one of the most important Jewish shrines and thousands of Jews from all over the world attend annual celebrations Lag be Omer.
Seeking after knowledge, progressing, working hard for yourself and your community, equality of the sexes, justice before the law, respect for other faiths and creeds, helping the poor and always striving to do good are all part of the letter and spirit of Islam. This is not 'moderate' Islam as it is sometimes erroneously labelled. It is Islam pure and simple.
Therefore, that Tunisia is modern, progressive, prosperous, at peace with its neighbours and itself and Islamic is not a contradiction of terms. Tunisians will tell you that it is because they have remained true to the real spirit of Islam that other boons have followed.
This is an important distinction to make - especially in the West where a distorted view of Islam, based on the activities of a few who also claim to be Muslims, has sometimes reached dangerous proportions and in fact, has provided the so-called 'fundamentalists' with a significance and size well out of proportion to their real, minute dimensions.
Home grown democracy There is another, unfortunately widely held misconception in the West that for some reason or the other, Islam and democracy do not mix. This is the opposite of the true state of affairs. Everything in Islam promotes the ideal of democracy - from the concept of the ummah, the duties of elected officials, taxation, social welfare, a fluid legislation, checks and balances and the protection of human rights. Autocratic rule is un-Islamic.
Tunisia is a model Arab and Muslim state and it is where most other countries in the region want to reach. Its continued success is proof the Islam and modernity go hand in hand. .... [After President Bourghiba's initial success came anarchy and internal terrorism as he aged and became senile. Then] Zine El Abdine Ben Ali, a young man with a background in diplomacy and national security, and untainted by association with the old fractious political parties, was invited to take over the national leadership.
The Ben Ali Era His first actin power was to stop the squabbling by inviting all Tunisian factions, including those in exile, to come around and together hammer out a new national blueprint.
The core of the blueprint was rapid economic growth based on the country's human resources and an equitable sharing of the national wealth, national unity of purpose and revitalizing Tunisia's rich cultural legacy.
The threat of internal terrorism has now practically disappeared, thanks to rapidly rising living standards, the spread of education, the emancipation of women and the active projection of the true nature of Islam.
Terrorism thrives in poverty, ignorance, superstition and fear; remove these, Ben Ali argues, and drain the swamps in which it breeds. ..."
To this extract on Tunisia, I am adding some ideas about Islam that also come from the Middle East, this time from Turkey, where a remarkable and difficult work of over a thousand pages, was revealed in the 1980s. It is called The Knowledge Book and provides some more alternative food for thought about Islam, but from a future perspective.
For those of you who haven't come across The Knowledge Book yet, this may be the moment to make its acquaintance. It has been around in many countries since the 1980s and has already been translated into more than twenty languages. The website address is www.dkb-mevlana.org.tr
My own association with 'The Knowledge Book' is a long story - suffice it to say that after working with it for a few years and finding it quite difficult in parts, I asked the organisation in Turkey for permission to write a story in which some of its ideas could be introduced to a group of enthusiastic fourteen-year olds who wished to change the world.
The teenagers in the story, all great friends and classmates from different races and religions, experienced serious conflict for the first time in their liveswhen a traumatic shooting and killing in a nearby school triggered a religious conflict that demonstrated to them what had happened over the centuries to humanity & how religious conflicts could destroy friendships and eventually lead to war. Under the guidance of two teachers, they found the solutions to their differences in The Knowledge Book.
An important point of agreement was a new understanding of the purpose of the real Islam, which was that each individual on Earth should endeavour to become a Genuine Human Being. The Knowledge Book taught them how to achieve this spiritual goal and emphasised that all the revealed Sacred books that have been with humanity for thousands of years, were supposed to unite us, not to divide us; to teach us tolerance and love, not fear, murder and hatred. The Knowledge Book entreated these young people to keep their respective religions, but to go beyond religion and find the unity there. They were fascinated to find explanations of humanity's misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Sacred Books in their studies.
The young and eager teenagers eventually confront five religious leaders with their new ideas: an Imam, a Rabbi, a Catholic Priest, a Methodist Minister and a Charismatic Pastor. After explaining to the clergy what they have come to accept as their new belief system beyond religion, with some guidance from two teachers, the youngsters ask the clergy for support as their parents and other grown-ups won't listen to them. Instead they tell them to keep quiet and to listen to their elders. They finally convince the clergy, which marks the beginning of their quest to change humanity and to change the world.
The story has been well received and is already being translated into Russian and Turkish. For information on how to obtain a copy of the book, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Global Village News and Resources - Copyright © 2000-2004
Thanks, I'll take a look.
Gee, backhoe, I'll be sittin' here in front of the computer all weekend long if I follow all those links. Is there any one in particular that is "fair and balanced" and TRUE?
Thanks again. I'll definitely bookmark your page.
I don't understand. One person says Islam teaches peace; the other says Islam teaches war.
Have to go to bed. Will check in around noon.
"They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah." Sura 5:73(Sura means chapter)
Which would explain why the "Prophet" Muhammad said:
"O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends." - [al-Ma'idah 5:51.11]
"Muslims can build a democratic society provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolize the pubic space and regulate every aspect of individual and community life." - Amir Taheri ( Iranian newspaper editor)
"Muslims do not need patronizing liberals to meet them halfway; Muslims need to write an honest biography of the prophet that does not shun the truth, least of all cover it up with the dishonest subterfuge of condescending western scholars"
-Ibn Warraq Author of; "Why I Am Not A Muslim", "Studies on Muhammed", and the "Rise of Islam". ( Warraq is an Arab.)
I would say the problem in a nutshell "is that there are few better examples of Islamic respect for others than Tunesia"!
This article is a great example of an man looking far and wide for a bucket to hide his head in. When you have to ignore a world wide Jihad that is slaughtering innocent people globally, to 'find the real meaning of Islam', in some backwater in Tunisia, while obviously ignoring the newspaper on your doorstep, (quick question, do you even know where Tunisia is?), all the while ignoring the obvious places to look, like the Qu'ran, the statements of the Imams as to 'what true Islam is', the blood and gore in New York, and Israel, it becomes clear that some people are sheeple groomed for the slaughter.
And yes, Moslems eat lamb.
To ignore the 99% and embrace the 1% is the ability to immerse oneself in the lie and to ignore the truth. It is delusional, disingenuous and traitorous to cry that the fire in the theater is all illusion, sit back in your seats just because you are afraid of burning to death.
Thanks for your post. I want to believe what is written there, but as long as extremists hijack Islam for their own purposes and have little resistance, I will restrain my hope.
Tunisia is not a tolerant country. If you are a Christian you had best keep it quiet. You are tolerated as a foreigner but not as a citizen.
I know of no Muslim country that is tolerant.
In 680 [A.D.], the Prophet's favorite grandson, Hussein bin Ali, had his head chopped off in Karbala, central Iraq, by the soldiers of the Caliph Yazid. The severed head was put on a silver platter and sent to Damascus, Yazid's capital, before being sent further to Cairo for inspection by the Governor of Egypt. The Caliph's soldiers also cut off the heads of all of Hussein's 71 male companions, including the one-year-old baby boy Ali-Asghar.
Islamic history is full of chopped heads being sent around by special delivery to reassure rulers, to terrorize foes and to impress the common folk. In 1821, the Qajar king of Persia ordered a week of celebrations when he received the severed head of a Russian general who had been captured in a battle near Baku. In 1842, the Afghans massacred the British garrison in Kabul, a total of 2,000 men and their wives and children, chopping off their heads and putting them on sticks to decorate the city. (They allowed one man to leave to report to the British.)
In 1885, it was the turn of British Gen. Gordon to have his head chopped off and put on a stick in Khartoum after it had fallen to the forces of the Mahdi. Slightly later, Mullah Hassan, the Somali rebel known to the British as "the mad mullah" but to his fanatical supporters as "the Shah," made a habit of chopping Western heads in what is now Somalia. At one point he had a large collection of severed Italian and British heads.
Iran's Khomeinist mullahs also love severed heads. In April 1980, Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali wanted to cut off the heads of eight American soldiers who had died in a failed hostage rescue mission in the Iranian desert. He was prevented from doing so thanks to a last minute intervention by the Swiss government. In 1986, the Khomeinist mullahs cut off the head of William Buckley, the CIA's Beirut station chief who had been kidnapped by the Hezbollah and sent to Tehran for interrogation.
And in 1992, the mullahs sent a "specialist" to cut off the head of Shapour Bakhtiar, the shah's last prime minister, in a suburb of Paris. When the news broke, Hashemi Rafsanjani, then president of the Islamic Republic, publicly thanked Allah for having allowed "the severing of the head of the snake."
In 1993, Fereidun Farrokhzad, one of Iran's most famous pop stars, had his head chopped off in Germany by a Khomeinist hit squad after the mullahs issued a fatwa for his murder.
Chopping off heads was widely practiced throughout the Afghan wars of the 1980s. An estimated 3,000 Soviet soldiers, many of them Muslims, had their heads cut off by the Mujahedeen, who at the time enjoyed U.S. and other Western support. (In other cases the Mujahedeen cut off the testicles of the Soviet soldiers and fed them to other Soviet prisoners.)
Needless to say, rival Mujahedeen also chopped off each other's heads. The group led by one Haji Akbari was especially notorious in that respect. One of its members was Osama bin Laden.
Throughout the 1990s, head-chopping was routinely carried out by the Army for Islamic Salvation (AIS), the Islamic Armed Group (GIA), the Salafi Group for Preaching and Armed Jihad (GSPAJ) and other Islamist terror outfits.
One Algerian specialist in slitting throats and cutting off heads was known as Momo le Nain (Muhammad the Midget). He was a 20-plus-year-old butcher's apprentice recruited by the GIA for the purpose of cutting off people's heads.
In 1996 in Ben-Talha, a suburb of the capital Algiers, Momo cut off a record 86 heads in one night, including the heads of more than a dozen children.
In recognition of his exemplary act of piety, the GIA sent him to Mecca for pilgrimage. Last time we checked, Momo was still at large somewhere in Algeria.
Four years ago, Iran was shocked by the murder of the well-known dissident leader Dariush Foruhar and his wife Parvaneh. The couple, in their 70s, had their heads chopped off and displayed on their mantelpiece. The regime blamed "rogue elements" within its Ministry for Intelligence and Security. But no one was punished.
Cutting heads is frequently practiced against clerics from non-Islamic faiths or even rival Islamic sects. At least four Christian priests and nine Sunni Muslim muftis have been murdered in that way in Iran since 2001.
In Pakistan, rival Sunni and Shiite groups have made a habit of sending cut-off heads of each other's activists by special delivery. By one estimate, over 400 heads have been chopped off and mailed since 1990.
Chopping heads is also practiced by Muslim militants on the Indonesian island of Borneo as a means of driving the Christian majority out. It has been effective in forcing nearly half of the island's Christians packing.
At one point in the 1980s, the Abu-Sayyaf Islamist group in Mindanao, The Philippines, used the tactic of severing heads as a means of terrorizing the security forces.
Americans should also remember Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was brutally murdered in the same way in Pakistan over two years ago.
Although head-chopping is now seen as a mode of communication between Islamist militants and the Western world, the overwhelming victims have been Muslims.
Mankind has a natural propensity to become used to the worst atrocities and factor in the cruelest facts of life. But the sight of a severed head will continue to shock even the most blasé of the cynics. This is why those who are defying the whole of humanity in this war on terrorism are certain to continue to employ people like Momo le Nain.
A good book that illustrates the myth of Islam living peacefully with Christians and Jews is "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters. I am half way through it at the moment. Basically the Christian and Jewish communities were peaceful so long as the shut up and said nothing. They lived under sufferance and under the whim of which ever Muslim was in power at the time. When there was a change in ruler there tended to be a fresh persecution. Some rulers were kinder than others but only in relation to the excess of the worse rulers!
The subjugated communities were also economically usefully they were a source of wealth you could tax and confiscate from them all you wanted. They also were political scapegoats, any time a Muslim wanted someone to blame there were the Christians and the Jews.
The ordinary Muslim always had a underlying hatred of the Jews in particular.
Living in peace with your Muslim rulers is just a form of slavery. Sometimes you might get a kind Muslim slave owner but you were still a slave.
So much for the myth of the peaceful coexistence.
The inherent problem is that one person says Islam teaches peace and 1.5 Million Islamic teachers teach that it means Global conquest.
To make understanding it easier; the common patters is that the person saying it means peace is rarely Islamic and never saying it to Islamics, but to the intended targets of Islam. If you really want to know what Islam means, read what Islamics say to Islamics, not what anyone says it means to Infidels.
As Islam teaches that lying is fine if it gains what you cannot get by other means, any thing said by a Moslem is suspect, as their word is worthless if they have anything to gain.
Like Mohammad Ata said on the plane before it flew into the World Trade Center, "Nobody move and everything will be ok". He lied. And so do all those who say Islam is peaceful. Tell that to the familys of the childs birthday party at the pizza parlor Sabbaros. You can not move against Islam and call it peaceful all you want, and you will still end up scraping your family members off of the walls.
Well that sounds peaceful enough to me.
Any one searching for true Islam and having trouble finding it missed a representation of it when Berg was beheaded. After Mr. Johnson's murder, anyone not grasping the Truth of Islam is never going to find it.
"terrorism thrives in poverty, fear, ingorance and superstition...'
Is BS. So called 'Professors' of Middle Eastern Studies on US campus collect money for terrorists. OSB had 300 + million dollars. The 19 Saudi who carried out the 9/11 atrocity were educated men with college degrees. Zarqwari is/was a medical practitioner. Islam is a cult, it's hero a 'prophet' who was a warlord, a pirate, a rapist, a mass murderer. No verse in the koran as 'revealed' to this psychopath (who, from ancient arabic sources, has been confirmed to have suffered from epilepsy and numerous schiziod episodes) can be understood without reading this insane evil creature's biography.
Each step he took that made him more powerful, was accompanied by a 'revelation' from the mouth of allah...through the intermediary of the Archangel Gabriel...how convenient, the 'angel' showed up just when he was needed...and when he didn't, well, the 'prophet' simply 'recited' what suited the occasion.
The muslim must take the entire book as holy, word for word the word of allah...and the 'prophet' is considered to be a 'divine and sinless man'...
Believe nothing. All muslims are not terrorists, but we all know every terrorist is a muslim. Read the biography THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD. Published in 1913 - profoundly well researched, the work of an eminent historian. And it hasn't been tampered with. Understand the 'prophet' and understand islam.
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