ISLAM: A RELIGION OF PEACE?

Posted by & filed under Al-Quaeda, Islam, Judaism Christianity Islam, Muhammad, Peace, People of the Book, Qur'an, Saleem Ahmed.

by Saleem Ahmed (Today’s PRIZE GIVEAWAY is a Copy of Saleem’s Book. Leave a COMMENT to enter. See details below)

Andrew Cort’s Mini-Review:   

“Who among us belongs to a wrong religion?” asked Saleem Ahmed at the beginning of a speech in Hawaii in 2006. No hands went up. “Interesting!” he went on. “We may have followers of 4-6 religions among us. No one thinks they belong to a wrong religion. If we belong to the right religion, do others belong to a wrong one? Or shall we think outside the box and suggest ALL belong to RIGHT religions, with unique landscapes and different paths to the same Goal.”
 
Later in the speech he said, “Let all peace-loving people proclaim we are all creatures of the same Ultimate Reality, a Reality which, while called by different names in different religions, conveys the same message of righteousness, peace, and love through all Prophets. Thus, rather than creating divisions among us based on our respective messengers, let us unite on the basis of their common Message.”
 
This, of course, is precisely the message I’ve hoped to promote throughout this “Celebration of Spiritual and Religious Unity, Wisdom and Friendship.” And it is not at all surprising to hear it from an Islamic voice. I saw a Tweet the other day noting that “Not all Jews are Zionists, not all Christians are Crusaders, and not all Muslims are Terrorists.” A good reminder. It’s sad that anyone needs this reminder, but clearly many of us do. Indeed, as I’ve mentioned in my writings, Islam is not a religion of violence. Islam is the religion of harmony, a harmony that is brought about by Faith in God’s Oneness, Surrender to God’s Will, and Virtue through the constant remembrance of God.
 
The Qur’an says clearly, “God does not change men’s condition unless they change their inner selves.” All religions teach this: unless we change on the inside, nothing in the world will ever change, for we will remain forever exactly as we are. It is time to change on the inside – it is time to end the arrogance, the pettiness, the negativity and the hatred, and it all begins inside with each one of us.
 
  I’ve posted this section of the Preface from Saleem’s book before, but it bears repeating. This is from Islam: A Religion of Peace?
 
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  PREFACE
 

People ask, “How can Islam be a religion of peace?”, when the Qur’an requires Muslims to kill “unbelievers” and promises paradise to Muslims who die “killing unbelievers”; when suicide bombers go about killing innocent people indiscriminately; and when it seems we rarely hear moderate Muslim speaking out against their extremist fellow-religionists.
But how can Islam be a religion of war, when the Qur’an also says, “invite all to the Way of Your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and discuss with them in manners most gracious”, and it affirms that Muslims can eat with and intermarry with “People of the Book” (Jews, Christians and others believing in the Eternal Being). In fact, the Qur’an affirms that God sent messengers all over the world, all of whom are to be respected equally, with reformers to come every century.
  



Let’s be frank, both peace verses and war verses exist in the Qur’an, the Muslim sacred text. The former echo the book’s proactive ethos; the latter, temporary shifts in guidance when Prophet Muhammad was under attack.
It is also to be noted that the message on spirituality remained unchanged throughout Muhammad’s 23-year ministry; the message on temporal matters shifted as his status changed from “fugitive” seeking followers to “statesman and warrior” leading a nation.
 

The Qur’an is not arranged chronologically; context of revelation of many verses also remains unclear. For example, prohibition against trusting Jews and Christians (revealed around 622 CE) and permission to eat with and intermarry with them (632 CE) occur 46 verses apart in the same surah (chapter), and in reverse chronological order. Some Muslims believe Muhammad had instructed his followers on the arrangement of verses; others believe this was done later. Perhaps both occurred to varying degrees.

With each side painstakingly presenting Qur’anic guidance supporting its position but ignoring the “other,” objective readers find it difficult to understand the Qur’an’s “bottom line.”
 

While Muslims generally follow the Qur’an’s peace path, a minority, including the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, follow its war path, to “fight unbelievers, rectify injustices, and gain martyrdom” via their “jihad (holy wars).”

THE SOLUTION
 

The Qur’an affirms it was revealed “in stages,” with later guidance on any subject superseding earlier guidance. Since the last guidance Muhammad received (632 CE) “perfected” the religion, gave it the name Islam (which means “Peace”) and permitted Muslims to eat with and intermarry with the “People of the Book,” this is the true Muslim paradigm.

  
THE FUTURE
 

The Qur’an’s declaration that God sent messengers to all nations of the world (124,000 according to Muhammad), requires Muslims to consider followers of all spiritual paths as “People of the Book.”

***
 

Saleem Ahmed was born in India, raised in Pakistan, and now lives in Hawaii. He considers all three his home. He earned his doctorate in Soil Science from the University of Hawaii in 1965. Currently he works as a financial specialist. Dismayed by how some Muslims were maligning Islam, Saleem started studying the Qur’an and hadeeh during the Iranian hostage crisis (1979-80). His findings led to the publication of his first book on Islam, Beyond Veil and Holy War: Islamic Teachings and Muslim Practices with Biblical Comparisons (2002). Encouraged by the positive response he received from moderate Muslims and non-Muslims – and simultaneously dismayed by the more recent extremist Muslim actions via suicide bombings and disruption of life in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Saleem was prompted write his second book, Islam: A Religion of Peace?

TODAY’S PRIZE CONTEST!

Saleem is offering a Free Copy of ISLAM: A RELIGION OF PEACE? to today’s lucky winner.
Today’s Prize Giveaway has the same rules as the other giveaways:

1.To enter to win, simply COMMENT ON THIS BLOG, leaving an email address so we can contact you if you win. All names of commenters go into the ‘hat’.


2.The giveaway period runs for ONE WEEK from posting. The winner will then be chosen by random drawing and contacted.


3. Only one entry per giveaway. (But you can enter as many different Daily Giveaway Contests as you want!)


If you don’t win this one, be sure to order a copy of Saleem’s book from Amazon:

Janne says:

Raised as a Christian and later exploring the beliefs of other religions, I found it difficult to comprehend that God would choose to be exclusive in making himself known to only a select few. I also found the parts of the Bible as well as those in the Koran which pertain to “holy” war and the crushing of “unbelievers” to be suspiciously unbecoming of a “loving father God”. Are we not all of His creation? It has seemed to me that our holy books have the inclination to paint onto God, characteristics, that are less than God-like and to make Him into our own image, rather than the other way around.

Islam: A Religion of Peace?

Posted by & filed under All Believers Network, Belnet, Beyond Veil and Holy War, International Interfaith Conference, Islam, Jews and Muslims, Muhammad, People of the Book, Qur'an, religion of peace, Saleem Ahmed.

by Saleem Ahmed

People ask, “How can Islam be a religion of peace?”, when the Qur’an requires Muslims to kill “unbelievers” and promises paradise to Muslims who die “killing unbelievers”; when suicide bombers go about killing innocent people indiscriminately; and when it seems we rarely hear moderate Muslim speaking out against their extremist fellow-religionists.

But how can Islam be a religion of war, when the Qur’an also says, “invite all to the Way of Your Lord with wsdom and beautiful preaching and discuss with them in manners most gracious”, and it affirms that Muslims can eat with and intermarry with “People of the Book” (Jews, Christians and other believing in the Eternal Being). In fact, the Qur’an affirms that God sent messengers all over the world, all of whom are to be respected equally, with reformers to come every century.

Let’s be frank. Just like the Old Testament, both peace verses and war verses exist in the Qur’an, the Muslim sacred text. The former echo the book’s proactive ethos; the latter, temporary shifts in guidance when prophet Muhammad was under attack.

It is also to be noted that the message on spirituality remained unchanged throughout Muhammad’s 23-year ministry; the message on temporal matters shifted as his status changed from “fugitive” seeking followers to “statesman and warrior” leading a nation.

The Qur’an is not arranged chronologically; context of revelation of many verses also remains unclear. For example, prohibition against trusting Jews and Christians (revealed around 622 CE) and permission to eat with and intermarry with them (632 CE) occur 46 verses apart in the same surah (chapter), and in reverse chronological order. Some Muslims believe Muhammad had instructed his followers on the arrangement of verses; others believe this was done later. Perhaps both occurred to varying degrees.

With each side painstakingly presenting Qur’anic guidance supporting its position but ignoring the “other,” objective readers find it difficult to understand the Qur’an’s “bottom line.”
While Muslims generally follow the Qur’an’s peace path, a minority, including the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, follow its war path, to “fight unbelievers, rectify injustices, and gain martyrdom” via their “jihad (holy wars).”
THE SOLUTION
The Qur’an affirms it was revealed “in stages,” with later guidance on any subject superseding earlier guidance. Since the last guidance Muhammad received (632 CE) “perfected” the religion, gave it the name Islam (which means “Peace”) and permitted Muslims to eat with and intermarry with the “People of the Book,” this is the true Muslim paradigm.
THE FUTURE
The Qur’an’s declaration that God sent messengers to all nations of the world (124,000 according to Muhammad), requires Muslims to consider followers of all spiritual paths as “People of the Book.”

This inspired formation in Hawaii of the All Believers Network (Belnet). People worldwide are invited to join Belnet and participate in an International Interfaith Conference in Hawaii in 2011. Encouraged by the Hawaii state legislature, this will explore spiritual commonalities across religions and reflect on how we can move from exclusion to inclusion in our respective faiths. (Hopefully there will be a follow-up 3-day Conference in 2012).

An Interfaith Symposium:
ONE REALITY, ONE HUMANITY, CONVERGING PATHS
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Unity Church of Hawaii, 3608 Diamond Head Circle, Honolulu, Hawaii
Mission:
To discuss and celebrate some of the commonalities among the world’s religions, and to explore the idea that the same Reality is shared by all.
For additional information about the symposium, please contact symposium coordinator Saleem Ahmed, (808) 371-9360, email HiSaleem@aol.com or info@AllBelievers.net.
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Saleem Ahmed was born in India, raised in Pakistan, and now lives in Hawaii. He considers all three his home. He earned his doctorate in Soil Science from the University of Hawaii in 1965. Currently he works as a financial specialist.

Dismayed by how some Muslims were maligning Islam, Saleem started studying the Qur’an and hadeeh during the Iranian hostage crisis (1979-80). His findings led to the publication of his first book on Islam, Beyond Veil and Holy War: Islamic Teachings and Muslim Practices with Biblical Comparisons (2002). Encouraged by the positive response he received from moderate Muslims and non-Muslims – and simultaneously dismayed by the more recent extremist Muslim actions via suicide bombings and disruption of life in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Saleem was prompted write his second book, Islam: A Religion of Peace? (2009). With the general support he has received for the founding of the Pacific Institute of Islamic Studies (PIIS), we should expect other books from him and colleagues investigating other aspects of Muslim life, including interfaith thinking and action.

                   
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Did you like this post? Leave a Comment and tell us what you think! (The reader with most comments this month will win a Free Copy of The Purpose of Religion: Enlightenment, Meaning and Love in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Symbology)
Thanks,
Andrew Cort

(Tomorrow: Gurdjieff)

Wes Hopper says:

It’s very helpful to have a knowledgeable post to put the Muslim faith in a social and historical context. Only the most extreme fringe of Christianity seeks to reestablish Old Testament law, and it’s not hard to see how a similar situation could exist in Islam with a small group that is not representative of the whole.

Janet Elizabeth says:

Good message about peace and real meaning, Thank you

Andrew Cort says:

Thanks Saleem. A wonderful message, the deepest meaning and message of Islam. It’s true that there’s a perception that peace-loving Muslims don’t speak out. Thanks for this excellent example of reality.