In response to questions
represented to me by the Vancouver Cross-cultural Seniors
Network Society I have written a brief introduction to Islam
centered around the questions. The questions were:
What are the key beliefs of
What stereotypes do you
experience from non-Muslims?
What are the Madrassas?
What are the Muslim
attitudes towards the women concerning equality and education?
What is the relationship
between fundamentalism and violence?
What are the current trends
I have taken the questions
up in the same sequence in which they were presented. So I will
start with the first question.
Question No. 1: What are
the key beliefs of Islam ?
Answer: Islam means peace.
It requires total submission to Allah (God). He is sovereign,
His law, His will, and His love must prevail over all the
creatures. We believe in all angles, prophets from Adam (pbuh)
to Muhammad (pbuh) the last messenger of this chain including
Mosses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh), all the revelations including
Torah and Gospel and Quran (the final revelation from God), Day
of Resurrection, accountability on that day about deeds (good or
bad), Hell, Paradise and fate according to the deeds on that
day, in presence before Allah ( the almighty God).
Islam has Five Pillars or
1.. Belief in Allah
alone and nothing alike to Him.
2.. Praying to Allah
five times a day is compulsory.
3.. Zakat (alms giving)
is given to the poor of the community on the basis of one's
accumulated property or wealth after paying the dues and debts.
4.. Fasting daily is
prescribed for the whole month of Ramadan in which one fasts
from dawn to dusk and abstains from certain activities like
smoking, drinking, eating, intercourse and all wrong doings etc.
5.. Hajj is pilgrimage
to Mecca, which is required to be performed once in a lifetime
if a person can afford and has met all his family
responsibilities and debts.
Those who practice these
five fundamental requirements of Islam are the Fundamentalists.
Islam is a moderate religion and no extremism or modernism is
accepted in Islam. The concepts of modern and orthodox come from
Christianity and were introduced in U.S.A. during the 18th
century. The basic theme of Islam is good behavior and justice
for every one. Jihad (fighting) is not among the five basic
Pillars of Islam. In Islam Jihad Akbar means purification of
self from all bad practices.
Question No. 2: What
stereotypes do you experience from non-Muslims?
Answer: Ignorance and
misrepresentation, which may be created intentionally or
unintentionally, is the root cause of stereotyping. I believe
that the Media creates the images for public consumption and
ignorant members or blind followers consume these ready made
images. These days a stereotype of a Muslim is a bearded man
with a gun in hand and some times shown as praying but mostly as
a terrorist gunning down or bomb blasting the innocent people.
Killing the innocent is not in the spirit of Islam or taught any
where in Quran or instructed by the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). On
the contrary it is said in Quran that " if you kill one innocent
person then you have killed whole humanity and to save a life is
like saving the whole humanity".
Question No. 3: What are
Answer: Traditionally the
Madrassa's were the noble institutions created for teaching and
propagation of Islam and in this context the first Madrassa was
started by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Medina. In last couple of
decades instead of teaching Islam, Madrassas were used by an
other supper power to produce soldiers for Afghanistan to fight
against Russia and by that superpower they were assured that
they were fighting for Islam and they named it Jihad, which is
against the true spirit of Jihad. Jihad is a defensive war
fought for our own existence for the protection of religious
sanctity and protection of Law and Order situation in consensus
by the Muslim community at large. Present day Villain Osama bin
Laden actually was a creation of such an activity.
Question No. 4: What are
the Muslim attitudes towards the women concerning equality and
Answer: In Islam women and
men are considered essentially equal, and lead in different
responsibilities and division of work. Man is responsible for
providing for the family's material needs while women have the
responsibility raising the children and taking care of the house
and honor. There is no restriction to women for education or
earning of money in Islam. It is not expected for her to spend
her earning on family if she does not voluntarily want to do
If she inherits money or
property, she does not need to share it with the family in her
lifetime that is why her share in the heritage is half but
comparatively husband has all the responsibility for expenses of
the family. In this way she has privilege over man. As for as
the veil wearing of women is concerned it is custom of the area
rather than a requirement by Islam, however women is expected to
cover her head as a symbol of being an honorable woman and be
respected as such.
Instruction in Quran says
that her face and hands should be visible. The veil used by
women in Afghanistan is customary to that area and will remain
irrespective of the government there as it is part of their
culture. In Islam Polygamy is allowed only in need and not for
sexual pleasure. However, in Quran it is permitted if justice
can be done to all wives. First of all religions, Islam gave
equality and rights to women as before that she had none. Islam
restricted the number of marriages, as before that there was no
limit to the number of wives. Previously all chiefs and kings
had unlimited number of wives. For example, David (pbuh) had 99
wives according to the Old Testament. Prophet Muhammad did not
marry after the restriction was revealed in Quran. For different
reasons and needs, he married eleven times.
Question No.5: What is
the relationship between fundamentalism and violence?
Answer: There is no
relationship in Islam to fundamentalism and violence. The
fundamentalism is adherering to the basic principles of Islam,
which does not teach violence. Instead Islam teaches peace and
love as its fundamental requirements as mentioned earlier.
Suicide is prohibited strictly in Islam.
The suicidal bombing is NOT
Islamic for example even the funeral prayer for the Suicidal
death is not permitted.
Tactics like hijacking,
bombing or killing innocents is not Islamic in nature but may be
tactics of political strife for frustrated people against
suppressive powers not allowing them democratic means for
resolution of their problem. Suicide or Hara karri was
considered noble in Japan and was introduced in the Second World
War. Highjacking was introduced by Socialist organizations
active in Palestine. Afterwards these methods were practiced by
Christian organizations in Ireland and in political strife in
Question No. 6: What are
the current trends in Islam?
Answer: The main current
trends in Islam are twofold:
1.. Revival of Islam in
their lives and countries
2.. To have Islamic
democratic system in their countries which is little bit close
to the US system with the underlying principle of accountability
for every one.
Democracy is not the same
in every country. Like British and French democracies, Islam has
its own democratic system, which can enforce Islamic Welfare
State and Accountability for every one. Islam was the first
system that gave the Welfare concept to world which was later
adopted by western countries in 20th century to counter
Socialism. Since the demise of Socialism the welfare facilities
gradually started to disappear. As the Socialism is totally
opposite to Capitalism, the interested sector does not want
Islamic System to replace the vacuum.
The modern world has double
criteria. They like Democracy for themselves, but don't allow it
to the Muslim population areas and always stop their democratic
process by force, and at that time they don't care even for the
Resolutions passed by United Nation's Security Council or
Question No. 7: What is
the position of Capital Punishment and Secularism in Islam?
(This question came from
Answer: In Islamic state
capital punishment is a must to stop the Adultery which was
originally allowed in Old Testament and Quran only endorsed it.
Other such crimes like theft, robbery etc. are crimes punishable
by capital punishment in an Islamic welfare state only.
In Islam Secularism has no
place, because Islam is not only a religion but a system also.
In this system the Sovereignty lies with Allah subhanu tala and
not with the people. Islam is a complete system in itself and
provides complete protection to minorities. Islam is not forced
upon us or on an Islamic state, that is why I have chosen to
show you what the Islam is about. Many of the practices in the
name of Islam are not Islamic and usually stem from Sectarianism
and are far away from what is taught in Quran and Sunnah (
traditions of the Prophet).