Islam has become a hot topic in the media for the last decade or so, but what is Islam really about? Almost everyone appears to have an opinion, whether good or bad, about the religion, the teachings in the Qur’an (the principal religious text of Islam), and the followers of Islam, Muslims.
Even the frontrunner of the American Republican party and quite possibly the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, has made his opinion exceedingly clear. In a 2011 interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN), Donald Trump discussed the “Muslim problem”:
“The Quran is very interesting. A lot of people say it teaches love … But there’s something there that teaches some very negative vibe … Now I don’t know if that’s from the Quran. I don’t know if that’s from someplace else. But there’s tremendous hatred out there that I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Naturally everyone, including Mr. Trump, has a right to their own opinions since we are fortunate enough to live in a country with free speech. My only request, however, is that we learn about not just Islam, but also other religions, before we form opinions based on facts; we should not simply believe news anchors and google results.
I also encourage reading other books and articles about religion to understand that every religion has its good and bad parts. I think it is extremely important to note that I am not an Islamic scholar, Islamic activist, a perfect Muslim or a non-believer, but instead I am somewhere in between; a moderate Muslim would be the best way to phrase it.
I also want to make clear that the point of this article is not at all to say that Islam is superior to other religions in any way and I am not encouraging anyone to leave their own beliefs for Islam. I am predominantly citing credible sources and attempting not to include my own opinion.
I will try to explain as much as I can about Islam, but I cannot include everything, while keeping it simple and brief. Essentially, I believe it is important for individuals to see that there is also good in Islam, and not just evil, as the media and Islamic extremists make it seem.
I am passionate about peace and tolerance for all religions, but realize that it is hard to attain this goal. However, I strongly believe that spreading knowledge is the key to understanding and possibly even solving some of the issues that we are faced with today.
We live in a truly baffling world, where violence against innocent bystanders and xenophobia has become the norm. So, with all of this said, I would like to share some of my knowledge, which is based mostly on reading about Islam. I hope that this will help some non-Muslims to understand the religion further.
Essentially, I believe it is important for individuals to see that there is also good in Islam, and not just evil, as the media and Islamic extremists make it seem.
Islam means “submission to God.” The Qur’an is the holy text used in Islam and literally means the “recitation.” The holy book is believed to be a revelation to Prophet Muhammed from God (Allah) through the angel Gabriel.
The Qur’an includes chapters (surahs), which are divided into verses (ayahs). The first surah is the Fatiha (the opening) and I would like to share the translation to this chapter because it is an important prayer that is used daily by Muslims. Please notice the picture below to see it the Fatiha in Arabic.
This surah basically tells us that God is good and kind, and that He will help and guide us to live the right way. In English the surah translates to the following:
In the name of God, the Mercy Giver, the Merciful
- Praise be God, the Lord of the Worlds;
- The Mercy Giver, the Merciful;
- The Master of the Day of Judgement;
- You alone we worship, and you alone we ask for help;
- Guide us to the straight path
- The path of those whom You have favored;
- And not of those whom You are angry with, nor of those who have gone the wrong way.
Another surah I would like to share is surat-al-asr; Asr translates to “time” or “evening.” This chapter basically means that we should not waste our time, but instead follow the teachings of Islam and be good to ourselves, as well as others. Though this surah is short, it is very meaningful. It translates to:
In the name of God, the Mercy Giver, the Merciful
- By the time;
- Man is at a loss;
- Except for those who believe, do good deeds and advise each other of truth and patience
Now, I want to briefly discuss the 5 pillars of Islam. These are the most important parts of Islam and every Muslim is expected to follow them. They are:
- Take Islam as your religion and believe in God and Prophet Muhammad.
- Worship God by praying 5 times a day facing Mecca, the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad and Islam’s holiest city.
- Give a little of your money to the poor or needy people.
- Fast during the holy month of Ramadan, which is when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet.
- Take a trip to the Holy City of Mecca.
The final thing that I want to mention is that Islam has many similarities to Christianity and Judaism, as all three religions belong to the Abrahamic tradition. Muslims also believe in Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The stories of these prophets are even included in the Qu’ran.
Therefore, Islam is not an evil religion; it does not teach violence or hatred against others. The problem is not the message of the Qur’an, but it is the way that it is interpreted. The God that is portrayed in the Qur’an is good and kind; He is said to be good to Muslims and non-Muslims.
According to the Qur’an, God does not encourage killing others or spreading fear without purpose. This idea, as well as the violence committed by terrorists, is created by humans who have misinterpreted the Quran. I am also Muslim and I am extremely appalled by the attacks around the world by Islamic extremists, who claim to be Muslim and believe in Islam.
Therefore, Islam is not an evil religion; it does not teach violence or hatred against others. The problem is not the message of the Qur’an, but it is the way that it is interpreted.
My message to them is: do not kill innocent people in the name of God or in the name of Muslims! If you continue to do this then, you are not a true believer of Islam or God! Let’s all work together (Muslims and non-Muslims) in an effort to defeat the evil in the world and help the people who have been affected by these monstrosities.