Posts Tagged ‘ Islam ’

Guest Post: Why I Love Islam –Jennifer

When asked to write a few words about why I love Islam, I jumped at the opportunity! Of course I would write about the greatest gift I have ever been blessed with, but where to begin? So, out came my notepad and pencil and I began scribbling away.

 

“Islam is a religion of peace”, I wrote. I sat with that for a moment. Yeah, so? That is one cliche we’ve all heard ad nauseum, the line almost every Muslim uses apologetically or in defense to some accusatory comment about Islam. I’m sorry, but being a true lover of this faith and a writer at heart, those words simply aren’t going to cut it. Something inside of me, and the vastness of this beautiful faith, demand more. Here it is:

 

Yesterday, as I was leaving my Doctor’s appointment, I walked by a long row of bright red, yellow and orange bushes. Yes, it is Autumn here in Toronto and the landscape of colors is breathtaking. For some reason, I found myself unable to move. I stood there in awe of this perfect scene and felt completely overwhelmed by the beauty of nature before me. Without even a thought, I found my heart and lips uttering these words:

 

رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَذا بَاطِلاً سُبْحَانَكَ

Our Lord, you have not created all of this is vain. Glory be to you!

 

That, is one of the reasons I love Islam. You see, Islam is not a list of do’s and do nots. It is not simply a dogma to be followed or a prescribed set of rules to govern, but rather a true love, a spirt, that dwells inside the hearts of those who believe. It is a gift for all of us to be blessed with so much beauty that surrounds us, not only in nature, but in science, language, human kindness, etc., but an even a more so profound gift for our hearts to be inclined to naturally associate beauty with God and his bounties. So, when we see something that catches our eye, makes our hearts flutter, such as the Autumn scene I fell in love with yesterday, it is not short of a miracle that we can see God’s intrinsic beauty in those things and in turn give thanks and duly praise Him! Islam lends that gift to its believers. It leaves us in a continuous state of internal worship, reflection and connection.

 

Connection, is one of the other many blessings of Islam. When I think of my faith I think of a family; a group of people from different places all over the world, speaking a myriad of languages, celebrating the richness in the diversities of their cultures and yet sharing in the love of One God, following the teachings of One final messenger and striving towards One ultimate goal: living a mindful, peaceful, content life in hopes of attaining God’s pleasure. It always amazes me when I’m out and about and someone smiles and says “As-salaamu ‘alaikoum Sister” to me as they pass by. It makes my heart overfill with a sense of belonging. There could be no greeting lovelier than “Peace be upon you, Sister”. Sister.  Just the thought of us all being a part of one big family, that binds us only by God’s love and mercy, brings tears to my eyes.

 

When I think of a family, I think of safety, security and well being. Those are all things that I feel my faith offers me. Yes, it would be nice to sit and write an entire article on things that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but the reality of the world we live in is that there are things that can lead us unto paths that aren’t  in our best interests.

 

Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned from my faith is Trust. I Trust that God loves me and wants what’s best for me. In that, I follow what He has lovingly and wisely prescribed for me so that I might live the best possible life I can. Having my faith to turn to for answers when choices are difficult takes a huge weight off of my shoulders. In essence, I turn my faith and trust to God and know that I am in good hands.

 

What I really love about Islam is its simplicity. There is no middle man between me and God. His promise to me, as revealed in the Holy Qur’an is this: “When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them), I respond to the prayer of every supplicant when he calls on Me”.  (Al-Baqarah: 186). Each time I read or hear this verse I break down in tears because it is a reminder to me of just how easy it is to be close to my Creator. I love this verse because it says “every supplicant”, not only the super pious ones, those in positions of power, saints, but EVERYONE, including me! It also says, “whenever he calls upon me”. It doesn’t say during the 5 daily prayers, or in the middle of the night or at any other prescribed time. It simply says, “whenever”. For me, this is the best gift God has given me: His presence and closeness in my life at all times.

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Violence in the Name of Christ and Our Response (or lack thereof)

First I want to apologize to anyone who returned to read more about this in the last 2 days, I promised more later that evening, but didn’t deliver. Hopefully the adage of “Better late than never” holds true here.

On Friday 22 July 2011  a 1500 page manifesto outlining ideas on immigration and how Muslims were taking over Europe and plans to stop them apeared on the internet. A few hours later a massive bomb exploded in Oslo, Norway at the government center. A short time later a man dressed as a cop walked on to an island near Oslo where there were young people from the Labor Party gathered for a camp. The man approached the gathered youth and began shooting. The bomber, the shooter, and the author of the manifesto are one and the same, Anders Behring Breivik.

On a Facebook page he created as well as in his manifesto Anders claimed to be a Christian. News reports say that he has tied to Christian fundamentalism. His own lawyer has called him an Christian extremist. The police have said the same thing. Seems that Breivik was desirous of reviving the Crusades, that dark splotch on the history of Christianity. He claims to belong to an organization called the Knights Templar. Breivik has said that he is not alone that there are at least two more cells of these terrorists wanting to purge Europe of the Marxist-Islamic Alliance. In his manifesto Breivik stated that peaceful measuers were over and that it was time for violence. His manifesto has been compared to similar ravings from Al Qaeda. The terrorist violence is the same as well.

Breivik and the new Knights Templar (if they exist) claim to be saving Christendom from Islam, they act in the name of Christ. But what is the difference between these paranoid extremists and their Islamic counterparts? Nothing except a label. Neither represent the system of faith in whose name they act.

I am no expert on Islam, but I do not think that the terrorist extremist represent the whole or even majority of its followers any more than Breivik and his Knights Templar represent Christianity and the majority of Christians. I have a dear friend who is a Muslim. He and I were working together at the University of Illinois in 1995 at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing (by Christian extremists). Amr was the president of the Egyptian Students Association, a national organization, and I recall how deeply hurt he was when the bombing took place. He wrote a letter for national publication condemning such acts. It was only later that we found out it was American Christians who were behind that attack. Amr, his wife and their families are very loving, peace loving people and I believe that that is the majority of those with in Islam. It is no more fair to judge all Muslims based on the hateful, deplorably violent acts of a few who claim Islam than it is to judge Christianity and Christians based on the evil acts from terrorists who claim the name of Christ.

I hear Christians say that there is not a strong enough Islamic voice condemning the violence of the terrorists. Non-sense! I just don’t think that those Muslims who are condemning the violence are listened to, nor are they afforded the airtime of those who want to blame them too. But where are the Christian voices condemning the violence of this past Friday? Eerily silent. Does this silence reflect a tacit approval of this act of terrorism? I wonder I really do. The couple of blogs I read doubted Breivik’s claim to “Christian”. One said that he thought all protestants should return to the Roman Catholic Church and because of that he just isn’t a Christian. What the fuck? Catholics aren’t Christian? Ohters have said that Breivik’s acts are not the type a Christian would commit, I agree, but he still acted in the name of Christ and Christendom. If we demand stronger language from moderate Muslims shouldn’t we be willing to use stronger language to condemn evil done in the name of Christianity rather than rationalize away that the perpetrator for whatever reason isn’t a Christian?

What Breivik did was horribly evil! As a Christian I condemn any such acts in the name of the God who IS love. Christianity does not allow for such acts in any of its doctrines, scriptures, dogmas, etc. However, some people twist the meanings and interpretations and believe they are acting for God. They are deceived. Those who bombed abortion clinics, shot doctors, killed women going to clinics are no different than Breivik.

That said, I pray for Breivik. I pray that he can be brought to see the error of his actions, the error of thinking he could advance the Kingdom of Heaven with bombs and a gun. I believe that he needs to face the full consequences of his actions, his horribly evil and devastating acts. Yet, I pray that God gets through to him. I prayed the same for Osama bin-Laden while I condemned his actions. Neither, IMHO, represent the religions in whose name they acted.

Terrorism is terrorism. Extremism is extremism. Evil is evil. There is no difference between an Islamic terrorist and a Christian terrorist.