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Christian confusion about Islam

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I think it is incredibly important that there is cross-cultural communication between east and west; and between the two largest religions on the planet. Hope this thread adds to that discussion.

 

Lisa Renee Ward wrote this: [Does] Islam equal terror and Christianity equal love [?]:

 

Islam equals terror, Christianity equals love

Or so many seem to believe. Not just here on Watch Blog, but on a regular basis we are told how Islam is the religion of blodshed, jihad and murder while Christianity is the religion of peace, forgiveness and love. Only problem with that? The Koran and the Bible are very similar.

 

I'm not going to try to explain how the Prophet Muhummad created the Koran given many claim he was illiterate. There are several schools of thought on that which would be a huge thread on it's own. What I am going to do is point out some similarities between the Bible and the Koran.

 

Since it deals with In the Beginning let's start with one part of Genesis most of us even those who are not religious have heard. Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge.

 

Now, in the garden there is a snake, who is craftier than all the other animals. The snake asks the woman if God really forbade the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. The woman replies that this is correct: if they do eat it then they will die. The snake replies that she will not die if she eats the fruit, but that her 'eyes will be opened' and she will be like God, knowing good and evil. The woman then sees that the fruit looks good, and that it will give her wisdom. She eats some of it and gives some to Adam. They both realize that they're naked and they sew fig-leaves to cover themselves.

 

Allah tells them to eat of whatever they desire in the garden, except for one certain fruiting tree (not actually named). He also warns them of the lure of Iblis, and that they should not follow him as he is their enemy. Iblis nevertheless manages to whisper suggestions to the pair. He tells them that Allah only forbade the tree because if they eat of it then they shall become like angels and live forever. Encouraged by Iblis' lure, Adam and his wife both eat of the tree. As soon they do so, they become self aware, find themselves naked and make an effort to find coverings of leaves for themselves.

 

Is this the only one? No. Noah of the bible, Nuh in the Koran. Destruction? We have it in both, Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot in the Bible and Lut in the Koran. Violence, sex and lusting after virgins? Take your pick you will find it in both.

 

Women? Obey those husbands...in both.

 

The Bible contains laws that very few of us today would follow, I for one admit I often partake of the evil shrimp. I am a religious person, I am a Catholic. However I have taken the time to read not only several versions of the Bible but the Koran as well. If you are seeking violence you can find it in both the Bible and the Koran. If you are seeking love? Again it can be found in both. While the Koran includes more warnings concerning those who are Jews than the Bible contains regarding those who are unbelievers, anyone who has read both understands that is almost the same type of behavior Martin Luther exhibited. Muhummad wrote the Koran as a basis of the religion he was trying to form. Martin Luther took parts of the Bible he felt were appropriate and discarded what he disagreed with.

 

The problem is not Islam or the Koran. The problem is the same problem we have had in our own history of Christianity. Those who selectively use small portions of a religious text to promote their extreme agenda. The main difference is Christianity is an older religion, back when the wars happened that Christianity was the factor wars were fought differently. There were no suicide bombers, there were no IED's, for most of these wars there were not even guns or bullets. The fact that one of the main tenants of the Koran which is it is not acceptable to kill other muslims demonstrates those that claim this is about religion are incorrect.

 

Please don't take my word for it. Read the Koran, there are several online sources as well as print sources. Read the Bible as well, it doesn't matter which translation you prefer, there are several online sources for the Bible as well. Then make an educated decision for yourself. I used several sources to write this thread, I am including two here for those of you who desire to read more.

 

Wikipedia: Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an

 

Is the Holy Qur'an Copied from the Bible?

 

I, as a Catholic am not proud of many moments in my religion's history. As I am sure many who follow the religion of Islam are not in agreement with some who are claiming Islam is the basis of their actions.

This elicited some responses (all can be viewed at link above, where you can also participate if you like) some of which I will copy here (in my view they add to the debate):

 

Stephanie: Know that you have at least two people (me and my husband) who support your statements and spread a similiar message as often as we can. We have both read the Koran, as well as other informative works that teach about the Islamic faith and its followers. Not to mention, our contact with actual Muslims (who BTW do speak out against terrorists who call themselves Muslims). We have also read the Bible in various forms, the Book of Mormon, the Gita, the Tao Te Ching and other religious works. While there are many things in the Koran that I don't agree with, I'm also prepared to take into account what the living conditions surrounding Mohammed were BEFORE his experience. There are many similiarities between these two religions, as there are significant differences. Blaming terrorism on Islam seems quite absurd if you are familiar with the religion.

 

Terrorism is not an act of Islam. Terrorism is not universal within Islam. Nor is terrorism exclusive to Islam. The use of terrorizing tactics pre-dates Islam.

 

If you have any doubts about this, please do as Lisa Renee suggested and read the book, study the culture, talk to the people. Judging the many by the actions of the few is an ugly, ugly habit that destroys your crediblity with those who know better.

The Professor:Once you stop smoking what ever it is you are smoking then maybe you can read the Koran again. I live in a country with a VERY large Muslum population. I wake up at 5:15 am to the call to prayer. For some ignorant fool in the U.S. to propose to me that Islam is a religion of peace is idiotic, and totally uninformed. Unless you are living in a closet in California you might like to know that Islam has been killing people in the name of Allah since A.D. 622. The more orthodox a Christian becomes the more he would seek to emulate the Prince of Peace. The more orthodox a Muslum becomes the more infidels he will want to kill. Oh, by the way, unless you are a Muslum you are an infidel.
Stephanie: 1) Christians and Muslims can and do co-exist peaceably and work together for common goals, because they are more similiar than the extremists from either religion would have us believe.

 

2) Islam = Terrorism is a fallacy

 

Whether Christianity is true, or whether Islam is true, is irrelevant and merely a matter of opinion (for the sake of debate). The fact that people in general can give others so little room to have a differing opinion on the matter of God is what the problem is, not which faith you follow. If the Islamic Jihadists could honestly believe that everyone had the right (given by God, not by government) to choose their own religion, then they wouldn't feel the need to try and force their twisted brand of Islam down the throats of all the infidels (i.e. anyone who is not directly a part of their cause regardless of their religious affiliations).

Stephanie: There is something you don't seem to understand. Islam according to the Koran and Islam-in-practice can be two very different things. Muslims today don't just have the Koran to determine what their religion means. There have been hundreds of years with many different religious leaders that have changed the tenets of the religion to reflect A) the differing needs of the people and/or B) their own personal ambitions.

 

That is why Islam is so fractured and is at war with its own as often (or nearly so) as it is at war with people of other faiths.

 

Christianity has had the same type of influence, as has Judaism.

 

For example: Neither Judaism, Christianity nor Islam was prepared at their foundations for the prevalence of pornography in the contemporary world. Religious leaders of each of these faiths have studied their different texts and come to the conclusion that, as per the teachings of their faiths, pornography is evil and should be avoided. Yet, in none of the originals texts could you possibly find the statement

"Pornography is evil and should be avoided."

 

Most people of these different faiths feel that their religions really do exclude the use of pornography as a proper sexual stimulant (which doesn't mean they don't use pornography). This is considered by most adherents of these faiths to be a proper use of religious authority.

 

However, people being what they are, not all uses of religious authority are going to be good. People will involve themselves with religious organizations to gain power for themselves (not out of love for their God) and will pervert the religion to their own benefit should they gain the power to do so. Does that mean the religion itself is bad?

 

I don't believe so, because that would exclude every religion. For those of you who are atheists or agnostics, it would also exclude every other belief system including political parties and science. Human nature being what it is, everything we can believe in would be invalidated because anything can be corrupted.

Julia: The issue at hand is what cultural issues cause violence, correct? Does one religion, compared to the other, incite more violence? Or does violence have more to do with the society than the religion?

 

All I know is to make the constant America. In America, we have a variety of individuals, some more violent than others. Of individuals wee consider truly "americanized", the religion most used to justify violence has been christianity (abortion center bombings, killing of gay people, the KKK and its bible thumping, etc.) I know of quite a few Christian militant churches here, but not any organized Jewish or Muslim militant synagogues or mosques. And when I was on campus, it was always the raving Christian preachers who were chasing down girls in short skirts and demanding they submit to the will of God or burn in the eternal fires of damnation.

 

I think, however, that this is due to the fact that the majority of the American population is Christian, and so, when someone becomes a moral militant, they are more likely to use the Christian religion to justify their actions. (Not because I think Christianity is more or less prone to violence than Juadiasm or Islam.)

 

I think it is more likely that you will find a disenfranchised group of Christians here who feel that their personal values are under persecution, and that they will fight their disenfranchisement through the manipulation of the word of God. Before 9/11, I would say that the individuals who felt that their beliefs and morality were most persecuted in the United States were Christians. I think that Muslim and Jewish americans certainly felt persecuted culturally, but I'm not so certain that they felt that their morality was being attacked (as strongly as some Christians do).

 

For instance, I think there are individuals who feel strongly that they are being persecuted because the ten commandments are being banned from the courthouse, and because abortion doctors commit abortions. The institution of American "has it out for them." Whereas the average Muslim or Jewish person doesn't feel like their religious beliefs are being targeted on the political or institutional stage. I would think their persecution worries would focus on whether or not their indvidual neighbors are bigots.

 

In Pakistan, I believe the opposite is true. The moral militants are Muslim, and they feel their government is "out to get them." Why can't they impose Sharia law? Shari'a law is being denied them! The Christians and the Jews (and Hindus), who are in the minority, are more worried about their nieghbors killing them, than religious persecution by the state.

 

At least, if I was in Pakistan, that's how I would feel.

 

Of course, there are plenty of examples of the minority becoming morally militant. But I think you often see that when it IS the state that is actively persecuting their religious morality.

 

Anyway, it's just to say that, when I look at the example of America, it makes me think it has more to do with the structure of society, than which religious book a person ascribes to.

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My years in a habit taught me the paradox of veiling

 

 

If ministers really want a proper debate, they must learn that where the veil is forbidden, women hasten to wear it

 

Karen Armstrong

Thursday October 26, 2006

The Guardian

I spent seven years of my girlhood heavily veiled - not in a Muslim niqab but in a nun's habit. We wore voluminous black robes, large rosaries and crucifixes, and an elaborate headdress: you could see a small slice of my face from the front, but from the side I was entirely shielded from view. We must have looked very odd indeed, walking dourly through the colourful carnival of London during the swinging 60s, but nobody ever asked us to exchange our habits for more conventional attire.

When my order was founded in the 1840s, not long after Catholic emancipation, people were so enraged to see nuns brazenly wearing their habits in the streets that they pelted them with rotten fruit and horse dung. Nuns had been banned from Britain since the Reformation; their return seemed to herald the resurgence of barbarism. Two hundred and fifty years after the gunpowder plot, Catholicism was still feared as unassimilable, irredeemably alien to the British ethos, fanatically opposed to democracy and freedom, and a fifth column allied to dangerous enemies abroad.

Today the veiled Muslim woman appears to symbolise the perceived Islamic threat, as nuns once epitomised the evils of popery. She seems a barbaric affront to hard-won values that are essential to our cultural identity: gender equality, freedom, transparency and openness. But in the Muslim world the veil has also acquired a new symbolism. If government ministers really want to debate the issue fruitfully, they must become familiar with the bitterly ironic history of veiling during the last hundred years.

Until the late 19th century, veiling was neither a central nor a universal practice in the Islamic world. The Qur'an does not command all women to cover their heads; the full hijab was traditionally worn only by aristocratic women, as a mark of status. In Egypt, under Muhammad Ali's leadership (1805-48), the lot of women improved dramatically, and many were abandoning the veil and moving more freely in society.

But after the British occupied Egypt in 1882, the consul general, Lord Cromer, ignored this development. He argued that veiling was the "fatal obstacle" that prevented Egyptians from participating fully in western civilisation. Until it was abolished, Egypt would need the benevolent supervision of the colonialists. But Cromer had cynically exploited feminist ideas to advance the colonial project. Egyptian women lost many of their new educational and professional opportunities under the British, and Cromer was co-founder in London of the Anti-Women's Suffrage League.

When Egyptian pundits sycophantically supported Cromer, veiling became a hot issue. In 1899 Qassim Amin published Tahrir al-Mara - The Liberation of Women - which obsequiously praised the nobility of European culture, arguing that the veil symbolised everything that was wrong with Islam and Egypt. It was no feminist tract: Egyptian women, according to Amin, were dirty, ignorant and hopelessly inadequate parents. The book created a furore, and the ensuing debate made the veil a symbol of resistance to colonialism.

The problem was compounded in other parts of the Muslim world by reformers who wanted their countries to look modern, even though most of the population had no real understanding of secular institutions. When Ataturk secularised Turkey, men and women were forced into European costumes that felt like fancy dress. In Iran, the shahs' soldiers used to march through the streets with their bayonets at the ready, tearing off the women's veils and ripping them to pieces. In 1935, Shah Reza Pahlavi ordered the army to shoot at unarmed demonstrators who were protesting against obligatory western dress. Hundreds of Iranians died that day.

Many women, whose mothers had happily discarded the veil, adopted the hijab in order to dissociate themselves from aggressively secular regimes. This happened in Egypt under President Anwar Sadat and it continues under Hosni Mubarak. When the shah banned the chador, during the Iranian revolution, women wore it as a matter of principle - even those who usually wore western clothes. Today in the US, more and more Muslim women are wearing the hijab to distance themselves from the foreign policy of the Bush administration; something similar may well be happening in Britain.

In the patriarchal society of Victorian Britain, nuns offended by tacitly proclaiming that they had no need of men. I found my habit liberating: for seven years I never had to give a thought to my clothes, makeup and hair - all the rubbish that clutters the minds of the most liberated women. In the same way, Muslim women feel that the veil frees them from the constraints of some uncongenial aspects of western modernity.

They argue that you do not have to look western to be modern. The veiled woman defies the sexual mores of the west, with its strange compulsion to "reveal all". Where western men and women display their expensive clothes and flaunt their finely honed bodies as a mark of privilege, the uniformity of traditional Muslim dress stresses the egalitarian and communal ethos of Islam.

Muslims feel embattled at present, and at such times the bodies of women often symbolise the beleaguered community. Because of its complex history, Jack Straw and his supporters must realise that many Muslims now suspect such western interventions about the veil as having a hidden agenda. Instead of improving relations, they usually make matters worse. Lord Cromer made the originally marginal practice of veiling problematic in the first place. When women are forbidden to wear the veil, they hasten in ever greater numbers to put it on.

In Victorian Britain, nuns believed that until they could appear in public fully veiled, Catholics would never be accepted in this country. But Britain got over its visceral dread of popery. In the late 1960s, shortly before I left my order, we decided to give up the full habit. This decision expressed, among other things, our new confidence, but had it been forced upon us, our deeply ingrained fears of persecution would have revived.

But Muslims today do not feel similarly empowered. The unfolding tragedy of the Middle East has convinced some that the west is bent on the destruction of Islam. The demand that they abandon the veil will exacerbate these fears, and make some women cling more fiercely to the garment that now symbolises their resistance to oppression.

 

· Karen Armstrong is the author of Muhammad: Prophet for Our Time comment@guardian.co.uk

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Some Islam haters asked me if I consider the extremists teachings a valid one .. Please find the reply too:

 

It so funny that some like you, enjoying your life, is asking such a silly question to some one who is fighting these criminal to death over the last fourteen centuries. Paying the high price of fighting them with our blood in Iraq where they had massacred more than hundred thousands of our beloved Muslims , in Pakistan, in Afghanistan in Jordan in Egypt in Algeria, In Suadi, etc...

You either don’t read or don’t understand what you read..Didn’t you read my reply calling them “Khawarig”.Or you might not know what this word means. I started to doubt your claim that you were practicing Islam for more than 20 years before enjoying your non religious status! Which Islam they taught you in the Egyptian Mosques , is it the Salafee Wahabee one?

 

You might ask me why I call them non Mulsim while I call you as such.

Very simple answer... They don’t worship God while you are. They worship their sick interpretations... How it is possible for them to claim that they are Mulsims at a time the Quran clearly dictates

“ Killing one innocent is equivalent to the killing of whole humanity, saving one is as saving the whole”..

Or you might not include this in your list of “barbaric” verdicts in Quran that you might grap online..!

I agree with Mideaster. For you, the question is not to fight these criminals; it is the hatred mentality of how to discredit Islam by labeling the whole Islamic teachings and people as such...

Can you give one good aspect about Islam?

If you can’t, how come all those great Suffis, Shia, philosophers, scholars melted in Quran?

How come the president of USA honored Quran in his second inaugural address?

http://www.cnn.com/2005/ALLPOLITICS/...ipt/index.html

 

That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards,and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before -- ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

How come the Quran is standing in the Hands of Mohamed over the high supreme court building of the greater civilization in human history...?

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http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/15/daveed.go...iors/index.html

 

Rejecting radical Islam -- one man's journey

The humble mosque would soon move to a hilltop headquarters in Ashland, thanks to financial support from a Saudi Arabian charity known as the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which has since been shut down by U.S. and Saudi authorities for alleged terror ties. Lawyers for Al-Haramain have denied those charges and have filed suit against the U.S. government seeking to have its name cleared.

 

 

I don't know why some one who clearly understand different aspects of Islam would call Wahabisim as Radicle Islam and not by name.

Through the last month there were tens of demonstrations in front of Suadi embbasies around the glob, one of them this Sunday in front of the White house, denouncing the Suadi support to terrorism networks.. Why no one westren media even referd to them?

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,2248969,00.html

 

 

It's time to herald the Arabic science that prefigured Darwin and Newton

 

 

In this era of intolerance and cultural tension, the west needs to appreciate the fertile scholarship that flowered with Islam

 

Jim Al-Khalili Wednesday January 30, 2008

The Guardian

Watching the daily news stories of never-ending troubles, hardship, misery and violence across the Arab world and central Asia, it is not surprising that many in the west view the culture of these countries as backward, and their religion as at best conservative and often as violent and extremist.

I am on a mission to dismiss a crude and inaccurate historical hegemony and present the positive face of Islam. It has never been more timely or more resonant to explore the extent to which western cultural and scientific thought is indebted to the work, a thousand years ago, of Arab and Muslim thinkers.

What is remarkable, for instance, is that for over 700 years the international language of science was Arabic (which is why I describe it as "Arabic science"). More surprising, maybe, is the fact that one of the most fertile periods of scholarship and scientific progress in history would not have taken place without the spread of Islam across the Middle East, Persia, north Africa and Spain. I have no religious or political axe to grind. As the son of a Protestant Christian mother and a Shia Muslim father, I have nevertheless ended up without a religious bone in my body. However, having spent a happy and comfortable childhood in Iraq in the 60s and 70s, I confess to strong nostalgic motives for my fascination in the history of Arabic science.

If there is anything I truly believe, it is that progress through reason and rationality is a good thing - knowledge and enlightenment are always better than ignorance. I proudly share my worldview with one of the greatest rulers the Islamic world has ever seen: the ninth-century Abbasid caliph of Baghdad, Abu Ja'far Abdullah al-Ma'mun. Many in the west will know something of Ma'mun's more illustrious father, Harun al-Rashid, the caliph who is a central character in so many of the stories of the Arabian Nights. But it was Ma'mun, who came to power in AD813, who was to truly launch the golden age of Arabic science. His lifelong thirst for knowledge was such an obsession that he was to create in Baghdad the greatest centre of learning the world has ever seen, known throughout history simply as Bayt al-Hikma: the House of Wisdom.

We read in most accounts of the history of science that the contribution of the ancient Greeks would not be matched until the European Renaissance and the arrival of the likes of Copernicus and Galileo in the 16th century. The 1,000-year period sandwiched between the two is dismissed as the dark ages. But the scientists and philosophers whom Ma'mun brought together, and whom he entrusted with his dreams of scholarship and wisdom, sparked a period of scientific achievement that was just as important as the Greeks or Renaissance, and we cannot simply project the European dark ages on to the rest of the world.

Of course some Islamic scholars are well known in the west. The Persian philosopher Avicenna - born in AD980 - is famous as the greatest physician of the middle ages. His Canon of Medicine was to remain the standard medical text in the Islamic world and across Europe until the 17th century, a period of more than 600 years. But Avicenna was also undoubtedly the greatest philosopher of Islam and one of the most important of all time. Avicenna's work stands as the pinnacle of medieval philosophy.

But Avicenna was not the greatest scientist in Islam. For he did not have the encyclopedic mind or make the breadth of impact across so many fields as a less famous Persian who seems to have lived in his shadow: Abu Rayhan al-Biruni. Not only did Biruni make significant breakthroughs as a brilliant philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, but he also left his mark as a theologian, encyclopedist, linguist, historian, geographer, pharmacist and physician. He is also considered to be the father of geology and anthropology. The only other figure in history whose legacy rivals the scope of his scholarship would be Leonardo da Vinci. And yet Biruni is hardly known in the western world.

Many of the achievements of Arabic science often come as a surprise. For instance, while no one can doubt the genius of Copernicus and his heliocentric model of the solar system in heralding the age of modern astronomy, it is not commonly known that he relied on work carried out by Arab astronomers many centuries earlier. Many of his diagrams and calculations were taken from manuscripts of the 14th-century Syrian astronomer Ibn al-Shatir. Why is he never mentioned in our textbooks? Likewise, we are taught that English physician William Harvey was the first to correctly describe blood circulation in 1616. He was not. The first to give the correct description was the 13th-century Andalucian physician Ibn al-Nafees.

And we are reliably informed at school that Newton is the undisputed father of modern optics. School science books abound with his famous experiments with lenses and prisms, his study of the nature of light and its reflection, and the refraction and decomposition of light into the colours of the rainbow. But Newton stood on the shoulders of a giant who lived 700 years earlier. For without doubt one of the greatest of the Abbasid scientists was the Iraqi Ibn al-Haytham (born in AD965), who is regarded as the world's first physicist and as the father of the modern scientific method - long before Renaissance scholars such as Bacon and Descartes.

But what surprises many even more is that a ninth-century Iraqi zoologist by the name of al-Jahith developed a rudimentary theory of natural selection a thousand years before Darwin. In his Book of Animals, Jahith speculates on how environmental factors can affect the characteristics of species, forcing them to adapt and then pass on those new traits to future generations.

Clearly, the scientific revolution of the Abbasids would not have taken place if not for Islam - in contrast to the spread of Christianity over the preceding centuries, which had nothing like the same effect in stimulating and encouraging original scientific thinking. The brand of Islam between the beginning of the ninth and the end of the 11th century was one that promoted a spirit of free thinking, tolerance and rationalism. The comfortable compatibility between science and religion in medieval Baghdad contrasts starkly with the contradictions and conflict between rational science and many religious faiths in the world today.

The golden age of Arabic science slowed down after the 11th century. Many have speculated on the reason for this. Some blame the Mongols' destruction of Baghdad in 1258, others the change in attitude in Islamic theology towards science, and the lasting damage inflicted by religious conservatism upon the spirit of intellectual inquiry. But the real reason was simply the gradual fragmentation of the Abbasid empire and the indifference shown by weaker rulers towards science.

Why should this matter today? I would argue that, at a time of increased cultural and religious tensions , misunderstandings and intolerance, the west needs to see the Islamic world through new eyes. And, possibly more important, the Islamic world needs to see itself through new eyes and take pride in its rich and impressive heritage.

• Jim Al-Khalili is a professor of physics at the University of Surrey; he is the 2007 recipient of the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize and delivers the Faraday lecture at the Royal Society in London tonight

j.al-khalili@surrey.ac.uk

 

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