24 February, 2006

The Other Side of Islam

There's much more of the good side of Islam that is very rarely mentioned in the news or reported on. Normally, today, Islam is receiving an enormous and extensive amount of negative reporting. There are many who try to distort, misinform and falsify what Islam is. Those against Islam are celebrating. Still: Islam continues to grow fast, expand and flourish. Very rarely is it mentioned, that - it is not Islam that is the problem, but it is people who are; it is us Mankind and our dark, destructive ways. Very rarely is it mentioned too, is the fact that - should any one want to pick on any of them, all other great religions and ideologies can be tarnished or dehumanized.

Anyone who hates Judaism, would pick on the history of the Israeli state and its brutal, aggressive, repressive and oppressive nature; anyone who hates Christianity, would pick on some of its gruesome history and doings, starting from the 11th Century when the 'Crusaders' laid waste to towns and butchered whole populations in cold blood from Palestine to Syria - and on to the merciless way in which nations were colonized and their indigenous people exterminated;  anyone who hates Buddhism, would pick on the recent Sri Lankan civil war and its horrific, brutal nature or the horrific mistreatment of the Rohingya people in Myanmar; anyone who hates Hinduism would pick on its very cruel, oppressive, exploitative and dis-unifying 'caste system';  and anyone who hates Marxist communism, would pick on any of the many past to present dictatorial, repressive and violent communist regimes. And yet: all these religions very much preach peace and the brotherhood of Man; and so does Marxism. And  should any one want to, you can pick excerpts from any great religious holly book - be it the Noble Qur'an or the Holly Bible or the Holly Torah - and deform or contort or falsify them to make them look negative or violent or ugly.

As for Islam's destructiveness - one should ask: how come the pyramids and the sphinx in Egypt and many such ancient structures are still there today in many parts of the world, from Kazakhstan through Azerbaijan, Turkey to Morocco, after Islam dominated these places long ago? Has Islam gone any where and exterminated a whole indigenous people and plundered its people's resources? Has Islam used a nuclear bomb or any such weapon ever, before? It is very rarely mentioned that Islam has not been an instigator of modern day destruction and  horrors such as those caused by: World War I, Napoleon, World War II, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Emperor Hirohito, the Vietnam war, Pol Pot, the South African apartheid system, the Rwandan Genocide, Foday Sankoh, Charles Taylor, Joseph Kony, the Latin American and Mexican drug related deaths and executions, and many such others.

Since its inception, there is, as there has always been, a very positive, beautiful side of Islam:

Though very little is said or mentioned now - Islam enlightened the world with knowledge, science, literature, wonderful architecture and art; when most of the world was in darkness. Most of us know of Aristotle, Galileo, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, John Keynes, Adam Smith and the amazing Stephen Hawking. But how many have heard of the great Islamic scientists and scholars like: one of the greatest scientist of all time and the father of algebra, algorithm and what lead to present day computers and the Internet -  Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī or Abu Musa Jābir ibn Hayyān or Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Sīnā or Abū al-'Iz Ibn Ismā'īl ibn al-Razāz al-Jazarī or Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathīr al-Farghānī or Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi or Abu al-Fath Abd al-Rahman Mansour al-Khāzini or the one and only Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham or Abū Yūsuf Yaʻqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī or Abu Saʿd al-ʿAlaʾ ibn Sahl or one of the most celebrated scholars of all time Abū Ḥāmed Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ghazālī or one of the greatest scholars and economist of all time - Muḥammad bin Khaldūn Al-Hadhrami or many of the other great Muslim scientists and scholars.

Those against Islam would like people to believe that Islam was spread by the sword. How contrary that is: most people do not know that, it is the beauty, the purity, the goodness and the strength of Islam that won most of its present day followers - extensively. Stretching from Morocco to Mongolia. Most people do not know that the invading and marauding Mongols who invaded the Muslim world in the 13th Century and wreaked havoc and destruction, were so taken and impressed by Islam that most, including their rulers, converted to it and indeed very much helped in propagating Islam eastwards. The very large Muslim population presently in South East Asia, the Horn of Africa and East Africa, were converted, peacefully by Hadhrami preachers and merchants.

Enemies of Islam would like it to be believed that Islam is oppressive to women. If it is, then: how come Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world? Be it in the US where tens of thousands convert annually; or Europe, where thousands convert each year; or Southern Africa - where many, Blacks in particular, are finding comfort and security in Islam. Even more extraordinary - is that in these places, women converts to Islam outnumber that of men. Those against Islam only pick on Islamic sharia laws, but never tell you to read all the other main religious books out there today, and see for yourself what is written in these other books - on women and women's rights, on gender equality, on slavery, racism, castes etc. And what each book says on crime and punishment - in relation to murder, adultery, theft, sorcery, witchcraft etc. You may be surprised at what punishments are prescribed for these. And you may be surprised at what all leading religions have to say on gender rights and issues.

In all the three main religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism - you have to understand in what situation or context were issues/laws mentioned and what they were related to. For instance, all the three religions seem to allow slavery - but, do they? To understand this, you have to read and research to understand how slavery was in ancient times. As for the cutting off of the hands, stoning to death, capital punishment and other such measures which we consider extreme today - you have too, to understand in what context these laws were endorsed. From the Bible, I quote - what most of us today may consider absurd and strange - from Deuteronomy 25:11-12 NV: If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, .......you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity. For us today, to understand this - the rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts in particular; and there are many such like verses in all major religious books, we have to go back into ancient, Middle Eastern history and understand the circumstances that lead to such verses and such measures.

Those against Islam never tell you that Islam commands all its followers to be not only most caring and kind to their spouses - especially husbands to wives - but also to be most caring and kind to: parents, family members, neighbors and all whom we meet or interact with - irrespective of race, gender or religion; and to be very caring and kind to all creatures on Earth. They never tell you, that, in Islam - a husband has to pay for all the expenses and all the bills at home and for the family, however much money the wife has. They never tell you, that, in Islam - it is the men in families and communities that have to care for, financially and in all ways, for all the women in that family or in that community. They never tell you that - it is only by its strength and nobleness - that despite all the negative reports and news media; and despite all what the enemies of Islam have done and are doing against it - Islam continues to flourish and strengthen.

Though polygamy is allowed in all Muslim countries, it is rare; very rare here in Hadhramaut. Note: polygamy is banned in the 'developed' countries - it is considered primitive, while homosexual relations are allowed; and so is the keeping of mistresses. For instance: American law  and constitutional rights - which is a reflection of  the so called 'democratic' Western nations - is hypocritical and most absurd in the way it handles the whole issue of polygamy: a man has the right to engage in any form of consensual sexual relationship with any number of women and can live with multiple women; he can keep as many mistresses as he wants - Hugh Hefner style - and even sire children from different women so long as they do not marry; it's not against American law. But when that same man accepts a legal, binding commitment for two or more partners "as a spouse" even with the consent of the women -  the American legal system comes down hard on him; and he could even be sent to jail.

Muslim countries and urban centers have the lowest rates of: crime, fights and brawls, rapes, murders and suicides. In Marrakesh, Damascus, Khartoum, Amman, Sana'a, Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul, Dubai, Astana, Baku or even in Cairo with its almost 20 million inhabitants - you can walk at any time of day or night without feeling threatened. They have the lowest rates of drug abuse and usage, of teenage and unwanted pregnancies, of abortions, of domestic violence; and contrary to what some might think - the divorce rate is very low. Muslim countries, too, have - the lowest rates of prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases. Having traveled extensively in HIV/AIDS afflicted countries and watched the horrors of the pandemic; having been with an HIV infected person in his last days to his last moments and death - I thank God for the very rare presence of it, here in Hadhramout. The same is, in other Muslim regions; WHO figures prove this. Whenever HIV/AIDS and other STD cases, are being discussed by non-Muslims or in international forums, the reasons for the very low rates of such cases in Muslim countries is never made clear. But there is only one reason for that: Islam.

I have long wondered and asked myself: what is the greatest thing a human being can have or achieve? Years back, I could not reach at a clear answer or conclusion; but with time and age - I now believe it is: peace of mind. That is the greatest achievement one can have in life; and the highest quality of life one can have. My being a Muslim has allowed me to achieve that; in a way. In-spite of all the very difficult circumstances that I have gone through: moving from place to place and country to country, wars and divorce - I still am very much contended and at peace; mentally and with myself.

People should not pick on weaknesses in other people's religions to create hatred. All religions and all ideologies have their own dirty closets. All religions and all ideologies can be picked on. It is wrong too, to compare religions in belittling, demeaning and hateful ways. All Muslims have the the highest respect and regards - not only for Islam's Founder - but for all Prophets and Messengers of God: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus and the many others. We have the uttermost reverence for all that they stood for, believed in and their histories. All Prophets and Messengers of God lead and lived extraordinary lives. People should not pick on any of their lifestyles to demean or belittle what they were and stood for. I wish people would not preach hatred, conflict and confrontation. I wish, not only: explosions, wars and killings - would be repeatedly mentioned about Islam, Muslims and Muslim countries in news reports and the mass media; and thus, Muslims and Muslim countries being associated with and related to such. I wish, the other side - the beauty and nobleness of Islam - can be regularly mentioned and reported on, too.

Other Posts On This Site On Islam

Notable Sites On Islam: IsalmicFinder, Islam-Guide, Islamcity.com, Islamworld, Islamtoday, Islam religion, BBC, ReligionsFacts, Islam.com, Islamic Research, Saudinf.com, uga.edu, Islamic Science, IsalmicWeb, Islam Online