40 Top Questions About Islam (IV part)
27- Was Islam spread by the sword?
According to the Quran, "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256), thus, no one can be forced to become a Muslim. While it is true that in many places where Muslim armies went to liberate people or the land, they did carry the sword as that was the weapon used at that time. However, Islam did not spread by the sword because in many places where there are Muslims now, in the Far East like Indonesia, in China, and many parts of Africa, there are no records of any Muslim armies going there.
To say that Islam was spread by the sword would be to say that Christianity was spread by guns, F-16's and atomic bombs, etc., which is not true. Christianity spread by the missionary works of Christians. Ten-percent of all Arabs are Christians. The "Sword of Islam" could not convert all the non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries. In India, where Muslims ruled for 700 years, they are still a minority. In the U.S.A., Islam is the fastest growing religion and has 6 million followers without any sword around.
28- Does Islam promote violence and terrorism?
No. Islam is religion of peace and submission and stresses on the sanctity of human life. A verse in the Quran says, [Chapter 5, verse 32], that "anyone who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind and anyone who has killed another person (except in lieu of murder or mischief on earth) it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind." Islam condemns all the violence which happened in the Crusades, in Spain, in WW II, or by acts of people like the Rev. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, or the atrocities committed in Bosnia by the Christian Serbs.
Anyone who is doing violence is not practicing his religion at that time. However, sometimes violence is a human response of oppressed people as it happens in Palestine. Although this is wrong, they think of this as a way to get attention. There is a lot of terrorism and violence in areas where there is no Muslim presence. For example, in Ireland, South Africa, Latin America, and Sri Lanka. Sometimes the violence is due to a struggle between those who have with those who do not have, or between those who are oppressed with those who are oppressors. We need to find out why people become terrorists.
Unfortunately, the Palestinians who are doing violence are called terrorists, but not the armed Israeli settlers when they do the same sometimes even against their own people. As it turned out to be in the Oklahoma City bombing, sometime Muslims are prematurely blamed even if the terrorism is committed by non-Muslims. Sometimes those who want Peace and those who oppose Peace can be of the same religion.
29- What is "Islamic Fundamentalism"?
There is no concept of "Fundamentalism" in Islam. The western media has coined this term to brand those Muslims who wish to return to the basic fundamental principles of Islam and mould their lives accordingly. Islam is a religion of moderation and a practicing God fearing Muslim can neither be a fanatic nor an extremist.
30-Is Islamic marriage like Christian marriage?
In Islam, marriage is one of the most sacred bonds that two humans can forge. In addition, a marriage in Islam is also practical involving legal agreement and contractual obligations which spouses mutually agreed upon.
According to Islam, no Muslim girl or boy can be forced to marry against their will. Parents are to play a proactive and active role in suggesting potential spouses, but not to impose a decision upon their children.
31- Does Islam promote polygamy?
No, polygamy in Islam is a permission not an injunction. Historically, all the prophets except Jesus, who was not married, had more than one wife. For Muslim men to have more than one wife is a permission which is given to them in the Quran, not to satisfy lust, but for the welfare of the widows and the orphans of the wars. In the pre-Islamic period, men used to have many wives. One person had 11 wives and when he became Muslim, he asked the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), "What should I do with so many wives?" and he said, "Divorce all except the four." The Quran says, "you can marry 2 or 3 and up to 4 women if you can be equally just with each of them" (4:3). Since it is very difficult to be equally just with all wives, in practice, most of the Muslim men do not have more than one wife. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) himself from age 24 to 50 was married to only one woman, Khadija. In the western society, some men who have one wife have many extramarital affairs. Thus, a survey was published in "U.S.A. Today" (April 4, 1988 Section D) which asked 4,700 mistresses what they would like their status to be. They said that "they preferred being a second wife rather than the 'other woman' because they did not have the legal rights, nor did they have the financial equality of the legally married wives, and it appeared that they were being used by these men."
32- Does Islam oppress women?
No. On the contrary, Islam elevated the status of women 1,400 years ago by giving them the right to divorce, the right to have financial independence and support and the right to be identified as dignified women (Hijab) when in the rest of the world, including Europe, women had no such rights. Women are equal to men in all acts of piety (Quran 33:32). Islam allows women to keep their maiden name after marriage, their earned money and spend it as they wish, and ask men to be their protector as women on the street can be molested. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) told Muslim men, "the best among you is the one who is best to his family." Not Islam, but some Muslim men, do oppress women today. This is because of their cultural habits or their ignorance about their religion.
33- Is Islam intolerant of other religious minorities?
Islam recognizes the rights of the minority. To ensure their welfare and safety, Muslim rulers initiated a tax (Jazia) on them. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) forbade Muslim armies to destroy churches and synagogues. Caliph Umer did not even allow them to pray inside a church. Jews were welcomed and flourished in Muslim Spain even when they were persecuted in the rest of Europe. They consider that part of their history as the Golden Era. In Muslim countries, Christians live in prosperity, hold government positions and attend their church. However, the same religious tolerance is not always available to Muslim minorities as seen in the past during Spanish inquisition and the crusades, or as seen now by the events in Bosnia, Israel and India. Muslims do recognize that sometimes the actions of a ruler does not reflect the teachings of his religion.
34- What is the Islamic view on-
a. Dating and Premarital sex:
Islam does not approve of intimate mixing of the sexes, and forbids premarital or extramarital sex. Islam encourages marriage as a shield to such temptations and as a means of having mutual love, mercy and peace.
Islam considers abortion as murder and does not permit it except to save the mother's life (Quran 17:23-31, 6:15 1).
c. Homosexuality and AIDS:
Islam categorically opposes homosexuality and considers it a sin. However, Muslim physicians are advised to care for AIDS patients with compassion just as they would for other patients.
d. Euthanasia and Suicide:
Islam is opposed to both suicide and euthanasia. Muslims do not believe in heroic measures to prolong the misery in a terminally ill patient.
e. Organ transplantation:
Islam stresses upon saving lives (Quran 5:32); thus, transplantation in general would be considered permissible in necessity provided a donor consent is available. The sale of the organ is not allowed.
35- How should Muslims treat Jews and Christians?
The Quran calls them "People of the Book", i.e., those who received Divine scriptures before Muhammad (Peace be upon him) . Muslims are told to treat them with respect and justice and do not fight with them unless they initiate hostilities or ridicule their faith. The
Muslims ultimate hope is that they all will join them in worshipping one God and submit to His will.
"Say (O Muhammad): O people of the Book (Jews and Christians) come to an agreement between us and you, that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall take no partners with Him, and none of us shall take others for Lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are those who have surrendered (unto Him)." (Quran 3:64)
What about Hindus, Bahai, Buddhists and members of other religions?
They should also be treated with love, respect, and understanding to make them recipients of Invitations to Islam.
36-How does Islam guarantee human rights?
Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Qur’an itself: ‘There is no compulsion in religion’. (2:256)
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.
‘O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in Allah’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (49:13)
37-Why is the family so important to Muslims?
The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry.
38-How do Muslims treat the elderly?
In the Islamic world there are no old people’s homes. The strain of caring for one’s parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our parents, but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves.
Mothers are particularly honored: the Prophet (Peace be upon him) taught that ‘Paradise lies at the feet of mothers’.
When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness.
In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it.
The Qur’an says: ‘Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents.
If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say ‘Uff’ to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they cared for me when I was little’. (17:23-4)
39-What about food?
40-Can anyone become a Muslim?
Yes anyone can. There are two declarations, which are necessary:
1- To bear witness that no one deserves to be worshiped except Allah.
2- To bear witness that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allah.
This makes a person Muslim. But it should be said in Arabic. Next a person takes a shower is recommendable .
After a person becomes Muslim s/he is taught about prayers, fasting, alms to the poor, and pilgrimage. These are the pillars of Islam.
Muslims are brothers and sisters. A Muslim should love for his brother or sister what s/he loves for him/herself. Allah's wealth does not run out and Allah can provide for us all. We pray for each other, and love each other, and love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves. (1)
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