A Faith of Tolerance or Terror?
“Recent events have focused attention on Islam (and its prophet, Muhammad) the often misunderstood faith of (over) one billion people. Westerners are showing a new openness to learning about Islam as they do to other religions, in part perhaps because religion is arguably the single most important and volatile factor in geopolitics today. Islam need to be understood on its terms.”
—- Jon Kalter, in his, Islam-what Non-Muslims should Know.(A brief, brilliant treatment of vital aspects of the faith and life), an Associate Professor of Religion at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee.
The overwhelming support that the Community Board 1 gave to the propose Cordoba (Mosque) House on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010, that resulted in a 29-1 votes should be a wake up call for the few stereotypical and chauvinistic pressure group that were rabble-rousing and beating below the belt against this project. Carrying a sensational head dubbed: “NYers Wage Jihad Vs. WTC Mosque”, the New York Post reported that, “Holding up photos of the loved ones killed in the Twin Towers and carrying signs such as, “Honor 3,000, 9/11-No mosque” the victims’ families called the plan as insult to the terror attack victims.
One even wonder how on earth, (in this modern and advance society) could some one try to link the Cordoba Mosque project, which is not at the ground zero sight to an unfortunate 9/11 incident, which had touched deep down the hearts of humanity at large (except the perpetrators).
According to this paper, before the meeting, the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (a Jew) who supports the mosque project along with Mayor Bloomberg said, “What we (are) rejecting here is outright bigotry and hatred ”. Catholic Priest Kevin Madigan of St. Peters Church, which is about a block away agreed, “ I think they need to establish a place such as this for people of good will from mainline Christian, Jewish and Muslim Faiths, so we can come together to talk”. And the brain behind the project, the media-savvy, eloquent and erudite Imam Feisal stated before the votes were cast that, “Freedom of assembly is the right of all Americans…It will be a place of reflection and prayer…and will heal the relationship between the United States and the Muslim World.”
To cull the words of the three members of the Abrahamic Faith [Muhammad Luquman (a Muslim) Richard Shierer (a Jew) and Father Brian Jordan (a Catholic)] in their joint article in support of the project, published in the Sunday Opinion column of the Daily News. They declared that: “Islam did not bring down the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. What brought the towers down were 19 men who were deeply misguided and brainwashed by an ideology that is not blessed in the teachings of the prophet Mohammed in the sacred Koran. To believe otherwise is to equate Catholicism with the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 by the Irish American Catholic, Timothy McVeigh, or to connect Judaism with the 1977 Son of Sam murders with a Jewish American, David Berkowitz.”
The role religion plays in the social-cultural life of this country can not be overemphasized. The prison chaplaincy officers could attest to the progressive rate of moral transformation of the some inmates, who used to be criminals, but due to the sermons they listen, they are getting converted to Islam, as the crime rate is being reduced to bearest minimum, especially whenever they come out from prisons. So such a center will be a place for them to reflect and carry on with their new found faithful devotion, as they while away time.
As a Muslim, I recently went to the Mosque of Muslim Brotherhood (113 Street) in Harlem to perform Friday Congregational Prayer. And the Imam (Talib) in his sermon attributed a sad story about the aftermath of the 9/11 incident to his late friend Chaplain, who volunteered to help clear the debris of the twin towers. It was a tragic story of a mother and her little baby girl found dead in the wreckage, while holding tight her daughter. They were burnt and their flesh clinched together as a result of the spill of the jet fuel. In fact this symbol of tender heartedness of a mother, even in death, touched me and many other people in the mosque emotionally, and we could not help but to shed tears of sympathy and empathy.
Another scene that makes me break into tears is whenever the TV networks video-cast the tragic incident, seeing helpless people (with same blood veins that run through me), flying off the skyscrapers, like free flowing birds in the ambiance, loosing sight of the lengthy height, with the hope to avoid the scorching fire and fuel from the airlines. But alas, they would fall down fatally with broken limbs and legs.
What always gives me conviction about the eternal wrath of the Almighty toward these terrorists with false claim of martyrdom is a very miserable and interesting event in the history of the prophet. It was about a pious woman who used to devote herself to God, with daily supplication and sleepless nights. But she would neither feed her cat nor allow it the chance to go and fend for itself. The cat died as a result of hunger and famine. Later when this woman died, the prophet was asked about her abode, and he emphatically confirmed that she will be in the Hellfire, due to this cruel and careless crime of hers towards a beast.
This, animal, how much more for those who commit this (most) horrible and horrendous crime (as devoted to God as that woman) against their own species.
God himself who created mankind declared in various scriptures that man is the most honoured and superior among all his creatures. No wonder He warns that, whoever kills anyone (not only a Muslim) without any crime or in self-defense, he will find himself in the blaze of the Hell, rather than the bliss of the Heaven.
The repercussion of this incident on the entire Muslim societies in the west, especially, in North America, is devastating. One of such numerous consequences is the advocacy that a “BIKINI-WEARING blogger with the Tea Party ties…” is spearheading. Pamela Geller…a leader in the fight against the proposed Ground Zero mosque, collaborated with the New York-based “Stop the Islamization of America” to sponsor a $10,000 worth of 40 advertisement on buses citywide, according an article on page 19 of the May 26th 2010 edition of Daily News. Some of the sweeping and unguarded phrases she use on her adverts are; “Fatwa on your head? Is your community threatening you? Leaving Islam?” and she as well linked readers on her webpage; www.RefugeFromIslam.Com, and urging them to leave the “falsity of Islam”.
When the Daily New asked her the rational behind her advocacy policy, she gave a flimsy and fragile reason that, “There ought to be ads…for people who want to leave Islam (because) their lives are threatened.” But who told Pamela that, they are being forced to remain Muslims in this liberalized society and thereby serve as their mouthpiece. They are rather happy and blessed to be with the fastest growing faith in the western world, where currently out of every 12 people world wide, 4 are Muslims, constituting about 26 percent of the entire global population.
Any right thinking member of the civil society will side by Errol Louis, a columnist who writes in the Daily News. He recently condemned the sweeping and unguarded statement about Islam and the holy prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings of God be upon him) by the chairman of the Tea Party Movement, and a radio talk show host, Mark Williams.
Mark was quoted on his blog (and later removed) on May 21, 2009 as saying:
“[R]repeat after me: Islam is a 7th Century Death Cult coughed up by a psychotic pedophile and embraced by defective, tail sprouting, tree swinging, semi-human, bipedal primates with no claim to be treated like human beings.”
True to Mr. Williams, this “kind of gutter-level bigotry which Williams continue to spew in recent attacks on a proposed Islamic center in lower Manhattan.” And to add insult to injury, Rich Shapiro, also a Daily News staff writer attributed a statement to him in his Friday, May 2010, article that: “ ….and insisted Muslims
worship “terrorists’ monkey-god.”
But I wonder why William and like-minded people would always run into conclusion to kind of give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Why can’t we read a beat of the history and literature of this fastest growing faith in the western world in order to ascertain whether it is a “terrorist, militant or violent religion, or whether the holy prophet is a pedophile”. I guess we are living in an intellectually challenged society, where nothing could be condemned or be given a tag without a soul searching and critical analysis of its nature. If they care to know or to verify, the holy prophet of Islam Muhammad fought only defensive wars. And it is a human nature to defend one’s self, whenever the person faces a seeming danger. And his marriage was an inspiration from God Almighty.
God Almighty & Prophet Muhammad despised suicide killings
For suicide bombers, if they care to know or perhaps some of them know but decided to ignore it, there several verses in the Qur’an that condemned their inhuman acts and declared them as the people of hell fire. We know they use other verses to justify what they do as Jihad or martyrdom. But those verses they are referring to, they are quoting and analyzing them out of context. God say in Commenting on the first incident of human murder, God says in Qur’an chapter 5 verse 32 that: “….On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel (including all generation of mankind till eternity) that, if any one slew (kill) a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land-it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” In another verse He says: “He who intentionally kills a soul, (not only a Muslim soul) his reward is the scorching Fire of Hell”.
And according to Imam Muslim in his (Sahih) or Authentic book, there was an instance when a Muslim committed suicide and when he was brought to the Prophet for Janazah or funeral prayer, he refused to pray on him, having known the consequences of suicide or murder. This instance involve just the victim himself and the Prophet refused prayer on him, then how much more for those suicide bombers who kill themselves and thousands of people.
I know if the 9/11 unfortunate incident had not happened, people opposing the proposed Cordoba would not have raised eye brows, pointing to the fact that it should not be allowed because, “…we were attacked in the name of Islam.” As one Lothar Bosch from Corona was quoted as opinionating on page 26 of the May 9th edition of the Daily News.
Tolerance, Mercy and Magnanimity of Prophet Muhammad
God says in Qur’an chapter 21 verse 106 that: “We (God) sent you not, but as a mercy for all creatures.” This finds expression in his (Prophet) admonition to Muslims in their defensive wars, not to kill older people, women, children and even animals and cut down tree (environmental protection?) except for food. If they care to know, history is replete with numerous instances where the Prophet encouraged and has exhibited high sense of tolerance, forgiveness magnanimity and leniency towards the non-Muslims who aggravated and provoked him (and his companions) physically and psychologically. He once said according a Hadith or prophetic wisdom related by AL-BUKHARI that: “He who does not have mercy upon people (not only Muslims), God will not have mercy on him.” And, in another Hadith by AL-TIRMIDHI, he says: “Be merciful with those on earth (not only Muslims), the one in heaven (God) will be merciful upon you.” I will mention few of these instances for the information of non-Muslims and for Muslims who do not know and as a result are brainwashed by some “holier than thou” fanatics:
There was one particular instance when a non-believer found him sitting by himself, under a tree and he drew out his sword and asked; “Man Yamnahuka Mini?” that, “Who could rescue you from me?” and the Prophet answered: “Allah!” or “God”. The sword fell down instantly from the hand of the man. The Prophet then picked it up and directed it on his head and asked the same question he asked him, “Who could rescue you from me?” he then pleaded with the Prophet to leave him alone and vowed never to fight him or any Muslim. And the Prophet, full of mercy left him to leave unhurt.
In another Instance, one of his enemies left Medina on his camel with his sword with an intention to go to Mecca and kill him. Upon entering the premises of Ka’aba, his second khalifah or successor Umar Bun Khatab saw him and predicted that; This guy came hear with a bad intention towards the Prophet. Umar, by virtue of his physical prowess went closer to him with a robe, snatched his sword and tied him with by a tree. He sent someone to call the Prophet to come and witness as he points the sword on the neck of the enemy, about to kill him. However, the Prophet upon arrival told Umar to drop the sword and untie him. When he did that, the Prophet unbelievably asked some one to go and fetch him (the enemy) some water and get him some food. This further aggravated Umar and the rest of the companions, who were wondering and asked him why should he not let them kill some one who came with an intention to kill him but rather being generous to him? The prophet asked him: “Tell me why you left Madina with an intention to come and kill me. He wanted to deny it, but the Prophet told him that God sent down Angel Gabriel to inform him about his meeting with another enemy to come and kill him. The enemy was amazed by this information, a secret, he thought only him and his friend knew about. And he could not help but to embrace Islam, by virtue of the lenient, humane and benevolent mannerism of the Prophet towards him.
There was a time a non-believer entered the mosque and the Prophet was sitting with his (suhabah) companions, he move to a corner and begins to urinate. The companions became aggravated and they decided (to) attack and beat him up, as he was running from one point to another spilling his urine all over the mosque (and every one knows how the house of God needs to be revered, especially in Islam) But the prophet rather told them to leave him alone to urinate at one spot, since he (naturally) can’t hold it, and they could pour water on the urine, which would clean the mosque from impurity.
In yet another instance, he went to preach at Taif (a suburb of Mecca) and the non-believers authorized their children to throw stones at him, which caused him severe injuries on his legs and body.
He sat by a tree, with blood oozing from his body and tears flowing from his eyes, praying. God instantly sent Angel Gabriel to ask him if he wants Him (God) to send down the Angels who wield control over the mountains to destroy them instantly. But the prophet rather said amazingly that, “Oh God! Guide this people, for they do not know!” He added that he hopes that their progeny will one day hold the banner of Islam and hence there is no need to call for their destruction.
Views of the Western Intellectuals about Muhammad & His Faith
“Muhammad is the most successful among all the prophets and religious personalities.”
— Encyclopedia Britannica.
To paraphrase an Arab poet, Truth (about you) is what is confirmed by some one who is not related to you (or you no not share the same faith with). God inspired some galaxy of intellectuals or oreintalists in the west in particular to analyze the history of this greatest man and his Islamic faith through the lens of objectivity. Having read much about the above mentioned enviable qualities of this man, ranging from; benevolence, tolerance, compassion, generosity, mercy and magnanimity, they made these observations and commendations about him and I will itemize some of these quotes one after another:
Napoleon Bonaparte in his, “The Genuine Islam” (1935-1936) stated that: “I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable by the Europe of today.”
Michael Hart in his, ‘The 100’ A Ranking of the most Influential Persons in History, also stated that: “Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world’s greatest religions, and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.” And Michael upon his in-depth research and travel through the nooks and crannies of the entire world adjudged Muhammad as the best personality in human history.
The famous Scottish historian and writer, Thomas Carlyle (d. 1885) in his works on ‘Heroes & Hero Worships and the Heroic in History` described revelation of Muhammad as: “issuing from a spark that is divine and Holy”. He understood Mohammad’s greatness and portrayed it in its strength as likewise Irving and Spurger among other orientalists, eloquently described the greatness of Muhammad, “….But from an early age, he had been remarked as a thoughtful man. His companions named him, “Al-Amin”, The trust worthy. A man of truth and fidelity; true in what he did, in what he spoke and thought. They noted that he always meant something. A man rather taciturn in speech; silent when there was nothing to be said; always throwing light on the matter. This is the only sort of speech worth speaking! Throughout his life, we find him to have been regarded as an altogether solid, brotherly, genuine man, A serious, sincere character; yet amiable, cordial, companionable, jocose even – a good laugh in him… there are men whose laugh is as untrue as anything about them; who cannot laugh. A spontaneous, passionate, yet just, true-meaning man! Full of wild faculty, fire and light; of wild worth, all uncultured; working out his life-takes in the depth of the Desert there….It goes greatly against the impostor theory, the fact that he lived in this entirely unexptionable, entirely quite and commonplace way, till the heat of his years was done. He was forty before he talked of any mission from Heaven. All his irregularities, real and supposed, date from after his fiftieth year, when the good Khadijah died….Mahomet himself, after all that can be said about him, was not a sensual man. We shall err widely if we consider this man as a common voluptuary, intent mainly on base enjoyments,– nay on enjoyments of any kind…All his “ambition,” seemingly, had been, hitherto, to live an honest life; his “fame,” the mere good opinion of neighbors that knew him, had been sufficient hitherto. Not till he was already getting old, the prurient heat of his life all burnt out, and –peace-growing to be the chief thing this world could give him, did he start on the “career of ambition;” and, belying all his past character and existence, set up as a wretch empty charlatan to acquire what he could now no longer enjoy! For my share, I have no faith whatever in that.” Washington Irving, a famous author, died in 1859, also said: “His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain glory as they would have done had they been effected by selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manner and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonial of respect was shown to him.”
W. Montgomery Watt said: “His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believe in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad …Thus, not merely must we credit Muhammad with essential honesty and integrity of purpose, if we are to understand him at all; if we are to correct the errors we have inherited from the past, we must not forget the conclusive proof is a much stricter requirement than a show of plausibility, and in a matter such as this only to be attained with difficulty.”
The German Poet, Wolfgang Goethe said, “I looked into history for a human paradigm and found it to be in Muhammad”, he was a master of poetry, drama, and the novel. He also conducted scientific research in various fields, notably botany, and held several governmental positions.
Dr. Gustav Weil in his, History of the Islamic Peoples said: “Muhammad was a shining example to his people. His character was pure and stainless. His house, his dress, his food-they were characterized by a rare simplicity. So unpretentious was he that, he would receive from his companions no special mark of reverence, nor would he accept any service from his slave which he could do for himself. He was accessible to all at all times. He visited the sick and was full of sympathy for all. Unlimited was his benevolence and generosity as also was his anxious care for the welfare of the community.”
Edmund Burke said: “The Muhammadan law, which is binding on all from the crowned head to the meanest subject, is a law interwoven with a system of the wisest, the most learned and the most enlightened jurisprudence that ever existed in the world.” Maurice Gaudefroy said: “Muhammad was a prophet, not a theologian, a fact evident that one is loath to state it. The men who surrounded him and constituted the influential elite of the primate Muslim community, contented themselves with obeying the law that he had proclaimed in the name of Allah and with following his teaching and example.”
Annie Besant, an English theosophist, philosopher and political figure who advocated home rule and educational reforms in India wrote in her Life and Teachings of Muhammad, that: “It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knew how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for the mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme (God). And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel, whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.”
Karen Armstrong wrote in her Muhammad: A biography of the Prophet, that: “Muhammad scrupulously helped with the chores, mended his own clothes and sought out the companionship of his wives. He would consult with them, seek their advice on matters pertaining to the community, and take their words seriously.” Talking about Islam, she wrote in her, Islam- A Short History, that:
“One of the greatest of the world religions through the 1500 years of its existence, Islam has also been by far the most misunderstood. The western world has undergone a complete revolution of thought in recent centuries, but its mistrust of Islam is still essentially medieval…Islam has not only been one of the world’s most important and inspiring religions but the basis for one of its most illustrious civilizations.”
Dr. Maurice Bucaille, an eminent French surgeon, scientist, scholar and author of “The Bible, The Quran and Science”, wrote that, “A totally objective examination of it [the Qur’dan] in the light of modern knowledge, leads us to recognize the agreement between the two, as has been already noted on repeated occasions. It makes us deem it quite unthinkable for a man of Muhammad’s time to have been the author of such statements, on account of the state of knowledge in his day. Such considerations are part of gives the Quranic revelation its Unique place, and forces the impartial scientist to admit his inability to provide an explanation which called solely upon materialistic reasoning…..There are those who see Muhammad as the author of the Qur’an. How could a man, from being illiterate, become the most important author, in terms of literary merits, in the whole of Arabian literature? How could he then pronounce truths of a scientific nature that no other human-being could possibly have developed at that time, and all this without once making the slightest error in his pronouncement on the subject.”
Professor Keith Moore, a German writer and scientist, a master of poetry, drama, and the novel. He also conducted scientific research in various fields, notably botany, and held several governmental positions. He said in his book: The Developing Human: “It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, or Allah, because most of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God, or Allah….I have no difficulty in my mind reconciling that this is a divine inspiration or revelation, which lead him to these statements.”
Veccia Vaglieri, a famous Italian Orientalist, wrote in her book, In Defense of Islam, that, “Throughout the years of his youth, Muhammad only married one woman, even though the sexuality of man is at its peak during this period. Although he lived in the society, where plural marriage was considered the general rule, and divorce was very easy, he only married one woman, although she was older than him.”
The late Professor Hassan Ali, may God have mercy on him, wrote in his Magazine, ‘Noor al-Islam’ that a Brahmin (member of the highest of the four Hindu castes: the priestly caste) colleague of his once told him: “I recognize and believe that the Messenger of Islam is the greatest and most mature man in history.” Professor Hassan Ali, asked him: “Why do you consider him as the greatest and most mature man?” He replied:” No man possessed the characteristics, mannerisms, and ethics that he possessed at one time. He was a king under whom the entire peninsula was unified; yet he was humble. He believed that the dominion belonged to his God alone.”
There are very interesting instances in history, that show how Islam serves as a light emerging out of darkness of the Jahiliyah (ignorance) period or the dark ages. As Umar, [the second successor of the prophet] used to say, “He who does not know the Jahiliyah or period of ignorance, [or better still; dark ages] does not know Islam”. Because part of this period’s human inhumanity to human was when they used to bury their infant daughters alive. According Umar, whenever he remembers, the instance when he took his daughter (before the advent of Islam), who was a toddler to the desert, at the out-skirt of the town to bury her alive, while he was digging the hole, she told him, “Dad, the dust is dirtying your beard”, but he ignored that and carried on with her burial alive. And talking about the oppression of women, history is replete with women’s oppression and repression in the pre-Islamic Arabic (society) where they were treated as slaves and a son would own his father’s wives after his death. However with the advent of Islam, all these despicable and dreadful rituals were abrogated by the prophet.
As we determine to bridge the socio-cultural gaps between us and members of other faiths in this ethnically and religiously diverse society, through interfaith dialogue and innovative advocacy effort of an organization such as the U.S.-MUSLIM ENGAGEMENT PROJECT, and its affiliates, [which Imam Feisal of CORDOBA HOUSE (INTIATIVE) is coincidentally, part and parcel of its leadership] let us render a sober reflection on the wisdom of Karen Armstrong, a prolific author and theologian who stated that: “We in the West must come to terms with our own inner demons of prejudice, chauvinism and anxiety and strive for a greater objectivity.”
By: Husseini Yushau Baba Al-Waiz, New York City State Chief Correspondent for AfricaNewsAnalysis & author of, Not good without God & Paradise Under Mothers’ Feet.