Islam today, is perceived with stigma and phobia attached to it. With the current and constant violence and turmoil by the Islamic groups all over the world, I chose to interview a friend of mine, who is an extremely religious and sincere Muslim, but not in the least like the so-called Jihadis displayed on televisions, the world over. It was an extremely enlightening interview as my perceptions (misperceptions?) regarding religion were proved false following the interview. It was indeed one uplifting experience to gain insight into the World’s most feared religion today.
When questioned about the ultimate reality in Islam, I was pleasantly surprised that the goal and objectives of Islam are peace and brotherhood. Brotherhood does not imply maintaining peaceful relations with only relatives, friends, or Muslims; rather with all human beings.
Islam preaches that the universe is created by Allah, the Supreme Creator, of the entire Universe. God has created the universe as a test to be taken by the believers, following which, the good people will be rewarded by being sent to heaven and the evildoers would be sent to hell, which is an incessant, burning fire. In that reference, sacred would then imply the good deeds, thoughts, and actions of humans towards one another. Profane refers to all that is evil in Islam, which includes brutal massacres, violence, and killing in the name of Jihad, eating unlawfully earned food, or even verbal abuse. The sole purpose of existence in Islam is to obey God and lead the life as prescribed in the Koran and as stated by the Prophet Muhammad.
The Universe has been created to test humans and their conduct in the world. The Five Pillars of Islam form a major part of the lives of the true Muslim believers, which include the acceptance and firm belief that Allah is the supreme creator of the entire Universe and that there is none like Him; daily prayers, five times a day; fasting in the Holy month of Ramadan, to experience the starvation of the poor and hungry; the donating of ‘Zakaat’ by the rich to the poor, amounting to 0.25% of the total income earned and finally the Pilgrimage to the Holy place Mecca for all those who can afford to do so. The Quran details the formation of the cosmic world and its nexus with the Metaphysical. In the Quran there is a clear mention of the entire process of the formation of the universe and scientific discoveries which were only recently made, have been present in the Quran since the time it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Humans by nature have a propensity to accept wrong rather than what is right. According to Islam, this tendency of humans is because Satan misguides all believers. Humans have are embodiments of a soul, with the ability to think rationally and logically.
There is none like God in Islam, for He is Unique and has no form, shape, or sex; He has no children; as such humans cannot be children of God, leave alone Being God themselves. This fact has been constantly been reminded in the Holy Quran. Even the most insignificant decisions in Islam have to be taken with great care, for example, speaking lies is forbidden in Islam even in the most severe and extreme cases. Islam states that God has provided each being with a soul and a mind and good decisions must only be taken after logical reasoning, even if it is of little or no consequence to anybody. A point of notice in Islam is the firmness and repetition of the treatment meted out to the elderly and the aged. Some ‘suras’ of the Quran have clearly stated the importance and necessity of treating the seniors with affection and care, more importantly, the elders and the parents of the family. Back answering and ill-treatment in any form is prohibited, to the old or the young. Thus if a true believer of Islam utilizes the Quran effectively as a code of conduct to be followed in life, the world would be more a humane and peaceful place to live.
To an Islamic believer, people will be saved only if and when they perform good deeds in this world. Just like any examination or test that yields results only when there is hard work and toil, so too with Islam. Islam acknowledges that Jesus Christ (Isa Alai Salaam) is a prophet of God and Islam and Christianity are religions that are similar in many aspects. The Muslims do not believe that Christ is God Himself, this being a major point of difference between the two religions. The Muslims do not believe that Christ has been sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people since every person is answerable for their deeds, good or bad. Human suffering cannot be alleviated by abandoning religious superstition; rather adherence to it proves to be more fruitful. The Quran states a few basic simples to follow principles, some of them being, if each person follows the few basic doctrines of Islam like praying to God, fear God and stay away from sins, donate the necessary amount of money to the poor, treat the elders and other society members with respect and reverence, treat women with respect, avoid abuse of any kind, physical or verbal, the society would be a better place to live.
Simply looking for peace by meditation or yoga is not the answer to peace. Peace can only be achieved by extending help to those who need it in their difficult times. Peace in Islam can be achieved by leading a morally good life, without causing harm to others and keeping oneself away from the evils of hatred, violence, and causing any kind of harm to others. This is the prime way of achieving oneness with all, in Islam.
Jesus or Christianity
Islam does not believe Jesus to be God, in Islam no one is God except God Himself. But Islam does acknowledge that Christ is a prophet of God, as Prophet Muhammad. As such, there is great relevance and importance to Jesus Christ who is known as “Isa Alai Salaam” by the Muslims. Jesus can never be termed as a lunatic by Muslim believers. Reverence and love for Jesus is a predominating sentiment among all Muslim believers, only the name is different. Additionally like pointed earlier, Christ is not perceived as God or Son of God; rather a Prophet of God. Christianity is a true religion since like Islam there is a Divine base for its establishment. The bible is the only Holy Book that is the closest to the Quran in form and structure. The only difference being that the Bible being a handwritten source has been altered many times and the Quran has retained its form and content, from the time it was revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad.
Christianity, as a religion cannot be termed as oppressive, for no religion is oppressive. It is the propagators and the preachers, the very high commands of Christianity that can be termed as being oppressive. The intolerance of the British to other religions, cultures, and beliefs is not a fact that has been hidden from the world. History is proof of the fact that so staunch and rigid were they in their intolerance that they did anything and everything possible to wipe out the culture and traditions of the prevalent minorities and ethnic groups, especially those of the Indian minorities. Whenever and wherever they went they considered themselves superior to everyone else and treated others with contempt and disdain. It is this image of the Westerners which is associated with Christianity, but the religion per se cannot be blamed, as no religion in the world teaches its believers to scorn and look down upon God’s creations, their fellow humans.