Understanding Islam: Islam and the Muslims

Posted in Understanding Islam at 11:33 pm by Haider

To begin our discussion about, and study of, Islam, it is important to begin with a definition. It seems that today Muslims are offering different definitions of what Islam means, such as “Peace” or “Submission to the will of God.” What interests us at this point is not the linguistic definition of the word “Islam.”

This is because the word itself carries a range of linguistic meanings. Besides, the book isn’t dedicated to the study of the word, but of the religion referred to by the word. However, the distinction I would like to make clear is this:

– Islam, which is what we are trying to reach a better understanding of, is not the religion the Muslims are practicing, but the message God wanted to convey to mankind through His messenger Muhammad

[whether Islam is, in fact, a divine religion, or Muhammad is a true prophet is irrelevant to the discussion, as I will explain in the next post]

– What the Muslims adhere to is their understanding of Islam, whether their understanding is correct or not. Therefore, when the Muslims disagree over an issue, or an interpretation of a verse, we cannot say that the verse has contradictory, yet equally valid, meanings. Where there is a dispute over the interpretation of a verse, some Muslims would have interpreted the verse incorrectly, and so their understanding of Islam is not consistent with the message God is trying to communicate to us. Their interpretation is not the divine message we must follow

To understand Islam, we must be able to draw a distinction between what the Muslims believe, and what God wants us to believe. The gap between the two is what we try to bridge by using a valid method of interpretation that can extract the meaning conveyed by God, without any distortion to that message.

And for us to do that, we must determine whether the approach the Muslims are using for the interpretation of Islam is valid in the first place, and how we can prove the faults in their approach to their understanding of Islam.

What is clear at this point is that, given the differences that exists amongst the Muslims, and the fact that one group rejects the interpretation of the other, we cannot accept what the Muslims believe is Islam to be Islam (as intended by God). In the least, not all the Muslims are correct in their interpretation, and we must be able to determine which groups amongst them have used a valid approach to the understanding of Islam, and which ones have not.

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