My faith is strong today, because I am open to criticism of Islam, Quran and the Prophet.
Islam is simply another word for Justness, fairness and kindness, and the word Muslim is someone who subscribes to that idea. Of course, not every one in every faith follows its teachings, most people get that right and a few don’t.
The following condensed note is from a speech about Islam, and the language I have used is reflective of a few verses from the Quran.
The more criticism I hear about Islam, the more I dig and learn, and reaffirm the values of Justness, fairness and equity embedded in Islam. Indeed, all religions are designed to build cohesive societies based on mutual trust, respect for the otherness of others and caring and kindness.
I wish and pray that each one of you (Muslim) welcomes the criticism of Prophet, Islam, Quran and Muslims (Reference 1), there is nothing like having a strong faith after you have turned every stone up. Your faith is incomplete if you do not allow criticism or critical questions. Indeed, that is the case with every beautiful faith from Aztec to Zoroastrians and every one in between.
By the way, you’ll never feel the urge to tell that your faith is better, if you understand the workings of your faith – that is to bring tranquility to yourselves and what surrounds you. The fourth synonym of religion is humility.
I have learned and will continue to learn from being critical.
First, let me acknowledge that I chose to purge all the Islamic teachings I had learned through my teen years, I was a severe critique of all that was taught in the name of Islam through my adult life. What was taught did not fit in with my view of the world where all of us have to live together.
You won’t believe what turned me around, first it was a verse from Bhagvad Gita urging one to find the truth on his own, and then a Bible’s verse, “truth brings freedom.” Add to that, my Mother’s persistent saying that you alone are responsible for your actions on the Day of Judgment, and you stand alone defending your record, and there will be no one for any one, and that helped me focus on the purpose of life.
Karen Armstrong’s book on Prophet Muhammad made me see him as a human like me, with whom I can connect. I have actually read the Quran through many translations and discovering that there are two false translations to cause Muslims to have ill-will towards non-Muslims and vice versa (reference 2).
My yardstick measures if a religion contributes towards creating cohesive societies? Mind you, it is the religion I am talking about not its practitioners who may not practice precisely what their religion teaches. I would question the individuals and not their faith. I have come to believe that Islam measures up on the stick like all the beautiful faiths.
Please note that you have to be secure in your belief to give equal value to other faiths, I am seeing more and more people feeling secure to say that all faiths are wise, sane, just, fair and equitable. By the way, if your faith is half-ass, you see other faiths in the same light. I urge you to question your faith if you do not think other faiths are beautiful.
Finally Islam is for me, it is guidance to create safe and secure societies for every human being and seeking harmony between life and environment. My chosen faith works for me as your faith suits you.
Quran is Islam's manual to create cohesive Societies.
Islam is not about ruling any one, controlling anyone, compelling anyone, or telling others what to do.
Islam is not about having an Islamic government, and subjugating people of other faiths. Islam is not about imposing its rules on others.
Islam is not about wearing beards, caps or certain clothes.
Islam is about living an exemplary life of a citizen who is just, caring, trustworthy and around whom others feel safe.
Islam is about living your life in peace and letting others live theirs in peace.
Islam is about minding your own faith and letting others mind theirs.
Islam is about contributing to justice, peace and equality in the society.
Islam is about treating others as you wanted to be treated, and Islam is about respecting the otherness of others. (Reference 3)
Islam is about contributing to the well being of humanity.
Islam says the best ones among us are those who care about following beings, life and environment. Indeed, God assures humanity (not necessarily Muslims) in clear terms that if you are Jewish, Christian, Pagan or other, you need not worry, as long as you cared for fellow beings. You don’t have to be a Muslim to earn God’s grace, but you have to be a contributor to the well being of fellow beings and the universe around you.
God loves those who forgive often and God loves the least among you who is arrogant, and I urge you to think about the wisdom, the depth and breadth of this sentence.
Islam goes to the extent of saying not to treat all prophets as equals including Prophet Muhammad that is the kind humility it imbues.
My biggest joy is removing layers of dust from Islam, and re-discovering its inherent pluralistic nature, I see Quran as a manual to build cohesive societies.
I feel guilty, if my language is not inclusive of other faith traditions. A decade ago, a business radio station asked me to join a Rabbi and a Pastor to talk about Alms giving in the Abrahimic faiths. I asked them if they have other faiths joining, they said no, and then I said, I will do it, if you let me talk about Alms giving in at least three other faiths; namely Hinduism, Baha’i and Sikhism, and they did.
Even if I am talking about Islam, there will be references to other faiths, indeed Pluralism runs through my veins.
Please note, my faith is strong today, because I am open to criticism of Islam, Quran and the Prophet. I had a public challenge to Pastor Robert Jeffress, "if you find three faults in Quran, I will do what you asked me to do" he backed off and we held a full blown Quran conference. a few Muslims said, I should not have challenged him, my response was, did you study Quran, have you developed a faith in it? Video's, Newspaper Report and conference proceedings are at www.QuraanConference.com - it is worth your time, if you have an interest.
1. Criticis of Islam, Prophet and God - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/11/criticism-of-islam-prophet-muhammad.html
2. How I connect with the Prophet - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/how-i-connect-with-prophet-muhammad_b_2547782.html
3. Conducting Civil Dialogue - http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html
4. Quran Conference - www.QuraanConference.com
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net for his writings at TheGhousediary.com and several blogs listed there in.