I, Muslim: Islam from an Outsider's View

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by Daniel J. Durand


Islam is everywhere these days, and if you don't believe me, turn on the news. America's obsession with Islam is a direct result of world events leading up to and culminating in the September 11th attacks. One might even say that because of Islam, or more accurately, Islamic extremists, the Muslim faith is more popular than ever before. Indeed, thanks to pop culture and ceaseless news coverage, Islamic people are now seen by some in the same way Russians were during the Cold War.

Putting aside all the hype, the question must be asked, what exactly is Islam? Millions of people are believers in the religion, and it would be foolhardy not to have some basic knowledge of the faith, particularly with all the attention it has been receiving. Muslims are people too, and even though some may not have the best intentions, understanding the difference and the motivations behind both side's beliefs is critical to making any progress as a society.

Now for the history lesson: Islam began roughly 1,500 years ago when the Prophet Mohammed was given a command to recite scripture by the voice of Gabriel, who came to him while meditating in a cave. After a while, the story of his experience spread, and lines were drawn between believers and skeptics. Eventually, these skeptics tried to have Mohammed killed in the Muslim holy city of Medina, but failed to do so.

Galvanized under Mohammed's leadership, the people of Medina and the surrounding area took up arms and attacked the city of Mecca, from which Mohammed had fled to avoid persecution. Several battles between Mecca and Medina took place, ending in both cities firmly under Muslim control.

When the Prophet Mohammed died, there was some debate over who would take up his position as leader of the Muslim faith, and what was becoming known the world over as a nation-state in addition to a religious practice. As a result, many of the current sects of Islam, such as Sunni, Shia, and so on, are divided along political lines as to who the rightful heir should have been, or by interpretation of the Prophet and his successor's work.

So what does a Muslim believe? According to Space and Motion, all Muslims believe in the following six pillars:

“Belief in God, the one and only one worthy of all worship.
Belief in the Angels.
Belief in the Book (al-Quran / Koran) (sent by God).
Belief in all the Prophets and Messengers (sent by God).
Belief in the Day of Judgment (Qiyamah) and in the Resurrection.
Belief in Fate (Qadar)”

The site also has an English translation of the “Muslim creed”, which is:

“I believe in God; and in His Angels; and in His Scriptures; and in His Messengers; and in The Final Day; and in Fate, that Good and Evil are from God, and Resurrection after death be Truth.
I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship but God; and I testify that Muhammad is His Messenger.”

According to the site, the core beliefs of Islam are that God (called Allah in Arabic) is the only true god, and that Mohammed is his true prophet. Essentially, the remainder of the religion, the Koran, and the teachings of the Prophet, are validated by these two core beliefs and all other aspects draw from there.

So, what about all of the things we hear about on the news, like the suicide bombings and women being forced to cover their heads? Apparently, these are based on interpretations or local custom, and are not spelled out anywhere in the Koran itself as being an actual part of Islamic belief.

In fact, according to another Islamic education site, God's Mosque, men and women are equal in the Koran, and Muslims are practically pacifists unless the need arises for self-defense. The site claims that the radical events on CNN such as suicide bombings and terrorism are in fact a clever manipulation of the text. As for mistreatment of women, the site adds, “These oppressive rules in some Middle-eastern countries go against God’s laws.”

Islam is just another religion in world full of different beliefs- in some respects, it even has similarities with other major world religions like Christianity or Buddhism. Yes, it does have some members who are inclined to violence, but to a degree, every religion does. The difference is that Islam had it's bad press more recently- religious persecution is not unknown to any faith, and the 24-hour cable news network is a very recent invention.

I would suggest to fearful Americans out there, that until you can count on one hand the number of times you have personally been assaulted by an Islamic jihadist, or a fanatic of any other religion, put the fear aside and be rational. There are plenty of other things to be afraid of, like spiders, snakes, or the economy.

Links

Islamic History Info- http://www.islamreligion.com/category/89/

Space and Motion- http://www.spaceandmotion.com/religion-islam-muslim-islamic-quran.htm

God's Mosque- http://www.godsmosque.org/topten.htm

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Comments 10 comments

viquar profile image

viquar 4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

Thanks for sharing the Hub Daniel. It seems that you have done a good amount of research to put an outsiders view and is completely unbiased. I being a Muslim consider your hub as done in good intention, although some of the principles in reality are a bit different. I have already promised one of our fellow hubbers Michele Travis to write an in-depth hub about Islam, for which I am not able to find enough time to write.


darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 4 years ago from Southern Idaho Author

I'm glad you liked it. What exactly didn't jive with this one, though? I mean, going off of internet sources, you're bound to get some misinformation, but I'd really like to know what I got wrong.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

good work Darknezz111. I have studied Islam and I liked the information you present. The history is okay but Islam was breed in war and a warriors religion. I probably am wrong but I have not found evidence against it.


darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 4 years ago from Southern Idaho Author

Actually, I was thinking exactly that when I was doing research. It seems Islam was a very political religion, very quickly gaining support, and using that support to conquer much of the world. When Europe was having the dark ages, the Muslim world had an army capable of invading much of modern France, Italy, and Spain. You make a very good point about it being a "warrior religion."


Mahmo profile image

Mahmo 4 years ago

Good hub. Mr. darknezz 111 ( we ask Allah to bring light to you ! ) ,when you say that Islam is " warrior religion" because the " Muslim world had an army capable of invading much of modern France, Italy, and Spain" you ignore basic facts in Islam history.Is there any evidence that muslims had invaded these countries for the sake of occupation or to conquer its people ?.Did Muslims destroy any of these nations's culture ? If you read the history of Islam or the world there is no evidence to that effect.The said campaigns were mainly intended for spreading of the Islam's word and to defend against the attacks of both the Persian and Roman empires .As you know the Persian Empire is the predecessor of today's Islamic Republic of Iran which is now one of the Muslims's strong nations and this also clarifies to you its repeated conflicts with the western world which is the successor of the Roman Empire.The traces of Islam and its monuments are still found in most of these invaded countries whether in mosques built there or castles or the Islamic art of drawing or words in the language. The Muslims army was only using horses for travel and primitive weapons for war while the real invaders of today are using weapons of mass destruction to kill the people and destroy their civilization and no doubt we all know them and have the evidence to prove their acts.


darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 4 years ago from Southern Idaho Author

@mahmo

Glad you like the hub, but don't jump all over the comments. I was merely agreeing with Rodric29 that he made an interesting point, and giving some background to show how I came to that conclusion.

And those military campaigns in Europe happened after the fall of Rome, hence "Dark Ages". Strategically, the Muslim armies of the day were better equipped, and it was a brilliant tactical move to invade when they did.

As far as culture, I'm pretty sure the Moores in Spain would testify to the hard time both sides had in getting along with each other- both cultures tried to supplant each other, and neither party is innocent.

Lastly, you said "The said campaigns were mainly intended for spreading of the Islam's word..."

I put it to you that the Muslim campaign to spread Islam is no more just than what the Catholics did during the Crusades. Both sides resorted to violence and war atrocities to spread their own theology. In today's world, that kind of action would be called fascism, and be met with sanctions and military action.


Mahmo profile image

Mahmo 4 years ago

Thank you brother for your clarification.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Amen, Darknezz111! I never intended to offend people, but when I study Islam I see force from the the very inception. Christianity was breed in love and later corrupted by a gainsaying church that thought it was on God's errand. Despite the history, Islam can be a religion of peace if the culture of aggression is removed that surround it. Pure Islam as found in the Koran can be a source of inspiration. All the added culture and rules that came AFTER Mohammed is what seems to move Islam with its many sects today.


darknezz111 profile image

darknezz111 4 years ago from Southern Idaho Author

That seems to be true of most religions- that when you get down to the core, they all just want us to reach out, love one another, and get along. I don't know about you, but I get tired of walking on eggshells when people talk about religion, and they add all this nonsense, when really it should just be about communion with God.


Rodric29 profile image

Rodric29 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I agree with you Darknezz111. I also tire of walking on the proverbial eggshells about it. I feel like I constantly need to justify why I believe a certain way. The judgement comes more so about politics than religion nowadays.

Religion is a context from which we decide to approach God. It is important and gives us perspective but means nothing without the Godly relationship. Our path to God may be different, but our commitment to Him can be just as sure.

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