02.11.08

Owning Islam

Posted in Islamist at 12:36 am by Haider

I was once having a religious discussion with an Islamist, who I had a “few” disagreements with. I was extremely polite and presented all the reasoning for my arguments. I expressed my sincere intention to know what the basis for his beliefs were. But rather than give his reasoning and explain the justifications for his beliefs, he simply replied:

“I have no time to waste with Shia.”

This came as a total shock to me. When I was an Islamist, I jumped at every opportunity to spread my ideas. I wanted people to know more about my beliefs, and the more they challenged my beliefs, the more effort I put in to explain them. Their religion or beliefs did not deter me from giving people my full attention. I would even write up a lengthy reply to people who seemed to have no concern for the truth and did not even consider changing their beliefs. Preachers usually struggle to prepare an audience, before their audience can be receptive to their message. They would speak against adhering to religious beliefs out of custom and tribal loyalty, so that they can set the stage for open-minded dialogue. And there I was, prepared to listen to what this Islamist had to say, only to be turned away and rejected for belonging to a sect that he despised.

Imagine if Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him and his family) was to reject people, and not “waste his time” with them, simply because they were athiest, or did not believe in his prophethood! The Prophet struggled to find people that would listen to him, but this Islamist refused the audience of a person who was more than willing to listen and consider what was being said.

I believe the main reason for this attitude was that the Islamist believed that Islam belonged to him, and he was free to choose who he will let into Islam or not. Since he has a grudge on Shia, he does not want them to embrace Islam, as he sees it. He does not believe that their well-being is worth his efforts.

Another crucial reason is that he was unable to provide me with a valid response to the points that I raised, or may have been personally offended when I politely pointed out his ignorance. Both reasons are a shortcoming on his part, and not mine. If he is ignorant, then he should gain knowledge, or admit that he does not know how to adequately respond to my arguments. This does not mean that I won the argument, but that he does not want to take part in the discussion, because he lacks the necessary knowledge. To be personally offended by what I said shows that he’s not prepared to engage in discussion at all, whether with me or anyone else with any view that he would disagree with. Communication requires a certain character. You can’t simply express opinions without expressing them in the right way or with the right attitude. A person who preaches Islam should exemplify Islamic morality.

What I find extremely irritating about many Islamists is that they assert the truth of their beliefs yet lack any commitment to the Prophet’s personality. They put a lot of emphasis on what the Prophet used to wear, but pay little attention to his attitude and the way he delivered his message.

We shouldn’t see Islam as property that we own or a club that we run. Islam is God’s message to mankind, and we should deliver that message to all those who seek it, regardless of our contentions with their beliefs or their lifestyle.

7 Comments »

  1. Bashar said,

    February 11, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Most people who do thins don’t have answers and prefer not to hear facts that would make them raise doubts they are wrong.

  2. Haider said,

    February 11, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Yes I agree. Also, if they admit that they don’t know, they think they are putting Islam down and so it’s their duty to fake a victory.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Ahmed & Sara said,

    February 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    So true.. We like what you said about “paying attention to the Prophet’s clothes and ignoring far more important attributes and qualities”.
    It is extremely unfortunate how often such scenarios are present. Religion is certainly not owned by us, and even WE should always be open to learn from other people. This is because nobody has perfect knowledge and in engaging people with an open mind, we set ourselves up for one of two things. Either we may learn something from them, that may help us in our religion- perhaps we have misunderstood something taught to us, or we did not have the tools necessary to comprehend it, it may re-affirm our beliefs and make them stronger for having discussed them with yet another person; it may raise questions for you personally that add dimension to your approach and thinking on the subject therefore giving YOU the benefits. And maybe, maybe, it may let the other person see the argument you are trying to get across. It is not an act of charity to give knowledge that we hold, but it is an absolute responsibility.
    Finally, on the point of attitudes, the Quran specifically addresses our Prophet Muhammad, and asks him to be gentle in his approach with people, for people will turn away from him otherwise. I quote:

    (3:159) ” It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee. So pass over (their faults), and ask for Allah’s forgiveness for them. and consult them in affairs, then when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah, for Allah loves those who put their trust in Him”

  4. Haider said,

    February 18, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Ahmed & Sara,

    Thanks for visiting my blog :)

    I certainly agree with you about approaching what others have to say with an open mind. I have changed my views drastically after listening to other people’s insights about facts and interpretations of Islam that I completely overlooked in my own reading of it.

    The equation that many Islamists live by is:

    My opinion = Islam

    And so they can’t approach others with an open mind, else they may be forced to change their beliefs. And since, as the claim goes, Islam will never change till the Day of Judgment, they can’t go around listening to others and changing their opinions (i.e. changing Islam) in the process!

  5. Mass said,

    March 1, 2008 at 3:18 am

    here is my 2 fils thrown in…

    Well you have to understand where the “Islamist” (whatever that really means) is coming from when he replied back “I don’t waste my time with a shia’a.

    When there is nothing at all positive that is to be said about the shia creed, and not a single Muslim scholar has praised shia’a, in essence shism is an internal destruction to Islam if it is to be believed and takes away the Authority of revelation and hands it over to individuals whom claim infallibility and so on.
    To claim that Most of the prophet’s (salla Allahu 3alayhi wa sallam) companions have left Islam in hypocrisy is essentially destroying the message and cutting off those whom have been entrusted to it.
    Other than insulting the prophet’s wives and stabbing their honor.
    ( I will leave you with the end of this reply with some quotes to understand the intolerance you have encountered.)

    “when I was an Islamist” apparent I have heard this from some shia’a and I was told this about some other Shia’a and most of the Kuwaiti atheists I have encountered are from shia;a background despite that most Kuwaitis are Sunni. I am not saying you have turned atheist but I don’t really know what you mean by an Islamist perhaps a non secularist opting for implementation of Sharia

    Indeed many so called Islamists lack the prophet Muahmmad’s salla Allahu 3alayhi wa salam’s character but that’s obviously not inherit to Islam nor synonymous to “Islamism” but what you say later on is very general and everyone would agree to, you don’t really point out anything.

    الإمام أبو حنيفة رحمه الله :
    إذا ذكر الشيعة عنده كان دائماً يردد: (مـن شــك فـي كـفـر هـؤلاء، فـهـو كـافـر مـثـلـهـم).

    الإمام الشافعي (عبد الله بن إدريس) رحمه الله :
    قال : ( ليس لرافضي شفعة إلا لمسلم ) و قال الشافعي: (لم أر أحداً من أهل الأهواء أشهد بالزور من الرافضة!) الخطيب في الكفاية و السوطي

    الإمام أحمد بن حنبل رحمه الله :
    روى الخلال عن أبي بكر المروذي قال : سألت أبا عبد الله عمن يشتم أبا بكر وعمر وعائشة؟ قال : (ما أراه على الإسلام).

    (Abu Abdullah is Imam Ahmad)

    وجاء في كتاب السنة للإمام أحمد قوله عن الرافضة : ( هم الذين يتبرأون من أصحاب محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ويسبونهم وينتقصونهم ويكفرون الأئمة إلا أربعة : علي وعمار والمقداد وسلمان وليست الرافضة من الإسلام في شيء ) . السنة للإمام أحمد ص

    الإمام البخاري رحمه الله قال رحمه الله : ( ما أبالي صليت خلف الجهمي والرافضي ، أم صليت خلف اليهود والنصارى ولا يسلم عليهم ولا يعادون ولا يناكحون ولا يشهدون ولا تؤكل ذبائحهم ) . خلق أفعال العباد ص 125 .

    ابن حزم الظاهري رحمه الله :

    قال عن الرافضة عندما ناظر النصارى وأحضروا له كتب الرافضة للرد عليه: ( وأما قولهم ( يعني النصارى ) في دعوى الروافض تبديل القرآن فإن الروافض ليسوا من المسلمين ، إنما هي فرقة حدث أولها بعد موت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بخمس وعشرين سنة .. وهي طائفة تجري مجرى اليهود والنصارى في الكذب والكفر ) . الفصل في الملل والنحل ( 2 / 213 ) .
    وقال : ( ولا خلاف بين أحد من الفرق المنتمية إلى المسلمين من أهل السنة ، والمعتزلة والخوارج والمرجئة والزيدية في وجوب الأخذ بما في القرآن وأنه المتلو عندنا .. وإنما خالف في ذلك قوم من غلاة الروافض وهم كفار بذلك مشركون عند جميع أهل الإسلام وليس كلامنا مع هؤلاء وإنما كلامنا مع أهل ملتنا ) . الإحكام لإبن حزم ( 1 / 96 )

    أبو حامد الغزالي رحمه الله قال :

    ( ولأجل قصور فهم الروافض عنه ارتكبوا البداء ونقلوا عن علي رضي الله عنه أنه كان لا يخبر عن الغيب مخافة أن يبدو له تعالى فيه فيغيره، و حكوا عن جعفر بن محمد أنه قال : ما بدا لله شيء كما بدا له إسماعيل أي في أمره بذبحه .. وهذا هو الكفر الصريح ونسبة الإله تعالى إلى الجهل والتغيير ) . المستصفى للغزالي ( 1 / 110 ) .

    There is plenty more quotes to be said, but that should be enough and I think you would be aware of such quotes

    Having kept in mind all the above you should be able to understand why he wouldn’t “waste time” with you
    And it would be very generous despite what all shi’a say that is intrinsic to their belief is at fundamental clashes with the basic deriving of epistemology of Islam, that still some muslims would want to coexist.

    Sheikh Qaradawi use to advocate for “taqreeb” many scholars if not most especially those more traditional that modernist warned him of the utopism that he dreams of is unattainable. After decades he has come with the notion of “ta3ayush” which makes much more sense to me and rejected his long lived daydream that was always struck by a reality of disapointment.

    Surely we live side by side and in some countries in the same space, we should opt for living side by side (only in those places and we shall not open gates for easy flow of shi3a) we cant annihilate each other nor it does any good to even try. There are many challanges facing us in the reigion we shouldnt have to worry about them, least for the time being !

  6. Haider said,

    March 1, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Dear Mass,

    Thank you very much for your feedback.

    Before I reply to your views on the Shia, I should first explain what I personally mean when I use the term “Islamist”:

    An Islamist is one who bases his understanding of the world primarily on scripture, prophetic narrations and the teachings of Islamic scholars, and *then* on reason and observation (if such methods even make an appearance in his epistemology). If a person makes scripture his basis, then he will need to base his belief on faith (i.e. belief without evidence), because whenever you wish to rationally assess any belief, you must compare it first with reality in order to determine whether it is consistent (i.e. true) or inconsistent (i.e. false). Beginning from scripture means you accept the worldview that the scripture presents, without care for how this fits in with reality.

    And in order to maintain your belief in the scripture, you must cast doubt on your senses, or refuse to accept the observations you make, lest they clash with your understanding of scripture.

    There are many other derivatives of this attitude, but this is the core of an Islamist approach to Islam. To enforce one’s opinion on others is the default, because one who cannot present his beliefs through argument will resort to force (to protect himself from the doubt he dreads and to deal with the ideas that he cannot grasp or accept). This is an extremely broad subject, which is why I dedicated a blog category for it. Believe me, there’s a lot to discuss about this issue.

    As for the Shia:

    Do you believe that a person who worships a cow or prostrates before an idol is not worth your time, if you wish to guide others towards the truth? The fact is, if you wish to help others “see the light”, their current beliefs are irrelevant. No matter how false or corrupt they are, you should still be willing to present Islam to them.

    The prophets came to guide people who denied God, insulted his religion, abused his worshippers, killed his prophets, committed all sins under the sun. But this didn’t prevent them from seeking to spread the truth and guide these people. If the Shia are as evil as you make them out to be, then this is still no excuse to shun them from the religion of God. Re-iterating the message of this post: We do not own God’s religion, and we cannot invite or reject people based on our personal grudges, no matter how much we can convince ourselves that our prejudices and “intolerance” stems from Islam.

    If there is nothing positive to be said about Shia or Shi’ism, shouldn’t that be a good indication that they need Islam? :)

    The people who need Islam the most are those who are suffering the most. The more darkness one experiences, the greater his desire for the light.

    I say that I used to be an Islamist because when I was searching for the truth I embraced the version of Islam I came across whole-heartedly, without comparing its entirety to the evidence I was seeing around me. I called for Sharia law to be implemented, but didn’t really know what that meant, or what the consequences of that would be. I saw Iran as the Islamic ideal, because it presented the theory that I supported, but I did not realise how many people were abandoning Islam or were committing sins because of the pressure they were experiencing from the government.

    I am sure you have revised your beliefs many times when you were able to see a different interpretation to Islamic teachings, or found some of your beliefs to be inconsistent with the world you see around you. I had the same thing, which is why I abandoned Islamism (i.e. the dogmatic belief in Islam: scripture comes before reality).

    And if there are many Shia who are becoming atheists, it’s because Shi’ism promotes rationality, the pursuit of evidence, etc, while Shia scholars have not presented a comprehensive, rational understanding of the Shia interpretation of Islam (i.e. Shi’ism). Although you can have Shia Islamists (Iran produces them by the bucket load), but Shi’ism is less prone to “Islamism” than Sunni Islam, because there is such a strong emphasis on rationality, understanding the reasons for rituals, being consistent, etc. If a person cannot fathom Shi’ism, he will feel compelled to leave it. The solution some offer (what I would call an Islamist solution) is to ignore your doubts, to seek refuge in God from Satan, to not listen to those who ignite your doubts and to re-enforce your convictions through faith and perseverance. What the Islamist solution lacks is evidence and a comprehensive understanding of Islam (based on evidence) that can resolve the inconsistencies these people see in their beliefs.

    Islamists tend to believe in a worldview that is more or less *self*-consistent, but is not consistent with reality. This, again, is a huge topic, and I can give you many, many examples on how this is the case.

    It is interesting to note that you condemn the Shia for taking some personalities as infallible, yet you formed your opinion of Shi’ism by accepting the opinions of scholars as though it was divine revelation. Shouldn’t you be willing to question their opinions, and be willing to consider other possible interpretations (or even validity) of the prophetic narrations that they have based their opinions on (if they were based on narrations to begin with)?

    From what I see, some Shia beliefs have been grossly misunderstood. You will find out from my blog that I am not a conventional Shi’i, nor do I accept all the popular Shia beliefs. Some of your criticisms of Shi’ism, I am sure, are extremely valid, which is where I disagree with other Shia and side with your criticisms. And there are other beliefs that I accept in Shi’ism, which you might reject, either because they are misunderstood, or because they are different to what you have become accustomed to accept.

    Personally, I see that the Shia interpretation of Islam has a lot more to offer than other interpretations. You might wish to debate whether we have free will or are predetermined, but at the end of the day, each belief has its consequences, and the Shia take on this issue and many other issues produce far more beneficial consequences than their counterparts.

    I hope you never abandon your willingness to reconsider your position and to always pursue the truth, wherever it may take you, and no matter how uncomfortable it might feel.

    You should approach other people’s beliefs in the same way you expect others to approach yours.

  7. DotNet said,

    April 30, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Dear Mass

    you have mentioned what
    الإمام أبو حنيفة
    الإمام الشافعي (عبد الله بن إدريس)
    الإمام أحمد بن حنبل
    ابن حزم الظاهري
    أبو حامد الغزالي

    Said about Shia and none of them where “Sahabi”
    Did you asked yourself what the prophet (peace be on him and his family) “as he likes us to mention his name”
    Said about Shia or what the “sahaba” said about them.

    In fact all the STRONG statements against shia came in the “amawi and abbasi” periods , which was Strongly shifted in the lifestyle and “Mindstyle” from the prophets days(peace be on him and his family) which we have to follow.

    a fils for your thoughts

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