Here are what some call: ‘set up questions for interfaith students’

Questions:
I wrote earlier, but my question wasn’t responded to. But on reflection I have several questions, and I would really like a response in order to better understand the Muslim (Islamic) religion, and the general culture of the people who follow it. Please do not think that I am judging you, or begin cruel, but there are conflicts between what I have been taught, and what I have seen, and I believe that in order to form an honest opinion about Muslims, I should probably ask you about your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Again, I have hundreds of questions about Islam, but I will limit myself to 3, for now.

1- Is being of Islam and being Muslim the same? I have been taught that they are, because it uses both names in the Qur’an to define believers. However, I know of a “Muslim” who holds himself responsible to that faith, while at the same time claiming that he is not of Islam, and that he has never read the Qur’an. Is that possible?
2- I have always been taught that Muslims, especially those born and raised in the Middle East, think of women as inferior, stupid, unworthy of being equalized with a man, and that Muslim men have a right and duty to beat, and humble their women, and educate them in their insignificance. I have been taught that women are held to blame for anything that goes wrong in a relationship, and that a man is able to punish his wife physically, for any reason, and as harshly as he feels is needed; including the right to beat her to death. However, I have been surprised to find that when I converse with Muslim men, one in particular, I am treated with respect, kindness, and that they reflect everlasting patience. What am I to believe? How are women viewed by your faith and culture, and what are the standings on how they are to be treated? And why?
3- I have been taught that Muslims do not believe in Jesus Christ. That you acknowledge him as a person, significant to other faiths, but not as a significant part of the eternal plan of God, or to Islam. However, when reading the Qur’an it directly speaks of Jesus Christ and how he will be held in the highest honor of this world. It also speaks of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Could you please explain your exact beliefs regarding Jesus Christ, his gospel, and how it applies to Islam?
Thank you so much, in advance, for responding to my questions. I’m really grateful for any clarification and understanding you could send my way. Thank you~

Time: Saturday October 23, 2010 at 6:29 pm

A1: Although a technical distinction does exist between the phrase Islam and Muslim, for practical purposes, a person that submits to the Oneness of Allah (God), accepts all the messengers including the final messenger whom Muslims call Mohammad (pbuh), believes in life after death, awarding of heaven and hell based on actions, as well as the other significant tenants of Islam, then such a person can be called a Muslim. Thereafter, fulfilling the rights in totality as it relates to each branch would assist a person in attaining perfection in being a good Muslim. Likewise, a Muslim is s/he whom others are safe from as a result of their claim of being part of  ‘Islam.’

On a practical level, the word Islam and Muslim are used interchangeably, however, in the context of the phrase in which it is used, the meaning could differ. This is well noted by scholars when they discuss the definition of Imaan when covering its aspects in a book called Muslim (by imaam Muslim) when discussing what is Islam, Imaan, Ihsan, etc.

Additionally, you may request pertaining the ayah you are seeking clarification and the response would be based of what the the commentators have said regarding the given phrase (ayah) of concern.

On need not read the Quran to be a Muslim (faith holder of Islam). This is not a requirement of Islam (name of religion.) This can be true for many other religions as well. Likewise, reading the Quran alone does not make a person a Muslim either. It is following the Quranic injunctions in a harmonious manner that keeps one on a scale of being a ‘perfect believer.’  Additionally, the extent one follows his/er religion with sincerity and devotion, to that extent would one gain enhancement within the faith.

A2: Fair question as it relates to the ‘other half

Woman (like men, etc) must be treated with respect, dignity, affection and compassion. In Islam, a woman is entitled and not limited to the mere following: a woman inherits and can own property under her name, be the queen of her home in the values she shares, a woman would be awarded a better heaven as a result of superior deeds performed, she has a right to seek divorce when abused/hurt/violated, the right to give charity from her own wealth without an over looking male eye/dominance, a woman is awarded safety and security without being viewed as a lesser/ inferior human, not thrown in the thick of battle yet left protected and not exploited, etc.’ (These laws mind you were given to Muslim woman prior to other religions and nations awarding their woman folk such rights!)

(Additionally, here is an answer we have given prior with minor modifications to help our audience understand the Muslim/Islamic relationship to savagery and barbarianism)

The issue western nations are battling with as it relates to Arabs (aka Muslims/Islam) being brutal towards woman is not a new concept. It is mind-boggling as well as a travesty that people residing in the Americas would not use current social data/trends of behavior that gives proof to the greater exploitation of woman under the guise of ‘freedom and western civilization.’ More significant to observers is that the violation of female rights in the west is NOT viewed as flaw linked to Judaism/Christianity,  or for that matter industrialization, capitalism, etc. Although i do agree that we cannot blame religion for the flaws of humanity, likewise it is unfair to remotely imply that Islamic culture sanctions such behavior.

Kindly do not think that i am alluding to the perfect state of Muslims either. In fact, Muslims have stooped to a new low in most of their spiritual matters. While the latter may be true, this should not overshadow injustices the west is placing upon its citizenry (female) under the clauses of perceived equality and rights awarded. It is the duty of Muslims to assist the east and west out of the cancer of pain towards the innocent.

Just as your prior questions calls for a distinction between Islam and Muslim, likewise, we must be fair in distinguishing between Arab and nonarab, Islamic culture and the general culture of a person in which they remain Muslims. Muslims cannot be all lumped as one. Just as we have multiple strains of Judaism, Christianity and its branches, likewise Islam too has strains within itself that need attention. (The implication and impact that possible media has had on your second question did make me chuckle a little. It was well needed.)

A3: Muslims do believe in Jesus (peace be upon him.) Declining to believe in Jesus (peace be upon him) removes one from the faith of Islam. In all fairness, we believe in Jesus (pbuh) as a prophet just as we believe in Moses, Noah, Abraham, Mohamed (peace be upon them all) as Prophets. I find it more spiritually rewarding that i recommend you to view original sources of such a claim. Based on your writing style and smarts, i think it would do greater justice if I request you to read (surah Mary) chapter 19 versus 16 onwards. This is my view as well as the view of Muslims as well as those that relate themselves to the love of Mary and Jesus (peace be upon them both, Ameen.)

I sincerely thank you for your patience. You have been kind, polite and diplomatic in your questions. Despite our ability to answer comparative questions, sadly, we are not a comparative religious site, opening such a gate would hinder our other abilities. May the Almighty always bless you and keep you in search of the Truth and grant you the best of from His Guidance, Ameen.

Allah Certainly Knows Best.

(p.s. kindly note, i do think every person has some element of savagery in them, just that some have it placed away, others choose to use it to their detriment.)

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