A Fils for Your Thoughts

July 26, 2008

Understanding Islam: Is Islam a Divine Religion?

Filed under: Understanding Islam — Haider @ 11:58 pm

I have already stated that, in order to understand Islam correctly, we must take into account the meaning God intended to convey to mankind, and the message brought by Prophet Muhammad as he understood it, and not as the Muslims understood it.

Our intention is to bridge the gap between the Muslims’ (and the non-Muslims’) understanding of Islam and the meaning God wants us to understand.

However, does this mean that we must begin with the assumption that Islam is a divine religion, and that God has conveyed it to Prophet Muhammad? What if someone, say a Christian, for example, doesn’t wish to base his understanding of Islam on such an assumption, but rather begins with the premise that Prophet Muhammad pretended to be a messenger to exercise (divine) authority over the Arabs. Can this serve as a starting point for the understanding of Islam?

The short answer is no. The long answer is also no.

Allow me to explain:

When you wish to understand the teachings of an individual, the validity of the teachings is besides the point. What you are trying to understand is how the individual himself understood his teachings, and what he was trying to convey.

We cannot say: Islam is what the Muslims believe, when what the Muslims believe conflicts with the understanding the founder of the religion had of the religion.

Similarly, you do not need to prove God’s existence in order to determine what God intends to convey through Islam. To understand Islam, you must form an understanding of what kind of deity is being presented in its teachings. Is the God of Islam a just God or an unjust God? If He is just, then we must interpret Islam’s teachings from that perspective (i.e. Islam cannot promote injustice, because the God of Islam is a just God).

Therefore, we need to form an understanding of what the attributes of the God of Islam are, so we can interpret Islam in a way consistent with His attributes. I will prove the validity of this approach further during our discussion of what the valid criteria for interpretation are.

To sum up, Islam is:

– The message God (i.e. the God of Islam) wants to convey to mankind

– The religion as Prophet Muhammad understood it

Our role is to determine what that message is and how it is to be understood correctly.

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