IslamicArtDB.com QuranicNames.com QuranClub.net Asmaa.org Islamic Art and Quotes on Tumblr

We no longer maintain this blog. Please visit Hawramani.com for new articles

Footsteps in heaven

It is related by Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (s) once said to Bilal at the time of fajr: "Tell me about your act from which you expect the most in your Islam, for I have heard the sound of your footsteps in heaven."

"I have done nothing," replied Bilal, "which could give me hope, except that when I perform the wudu' in any part of the day or night I try to offer as much of salah with it as I can."
From The Four Pillars of Islam by Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (1913-1999).

Small things

N
one of us know if we will ever do anything significant for the cause of Islam in our lifetime. It is impossible to know if we will ever attain the status of an 'alim, martyr, or parent. This is a strong motivation to do as many little things as possible on a daily basis with the time we have now. Little things that are easily accessible for all of us, that do not require money or a surplus of time, are abundant in Islam.

One can start with something as simple as wudu'. There are a number of merits surrounding the subject of ritual ablution. One of them is to go to bed in a fresh state of wudu'.[1]

Something small like this, done consistently, can help transform one's soul by chinking away at sloth, carelessness, and dirt -- both figuratively and literally.

[1] Sahih Bukhari, 1:247.

Is five prayers per day excessive in number?

In the Mi’raj[1] fifty daily prayers were prescribed for the believers. However, their number was later reduced to five. This was done to impress upon man that he had been found capable by God of devoting such a large part of his time and energy to His worship. The one who keeps this in mind will never regard the five daily prayers as excessive. In fact, he will realize that he had been found worthy of much more and had the Lord, out of His Grace, not made the concession, he would be carrying out His command dutifully and performing as many as fifty prayers (salāh) every day. God showed his favor to him and made the five prayers equivalent of fifty in reward. However, the original command is there to stir his ambition and urge him on to greater effort.

From Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (1913-1999), The Four Pillars of Islam, p. 11.

[1] Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey.

Selfless Giving: The Most Effective Form of Islamic Dawah

Selfless Giving eBook cover

The entire text of this essay is reproduced below. This essay is available as an ebook download for the Kindle and other devices, please refer to our Islamic eBooks page for download links.

D
r. Ali Qaradaghi, former president of the Fiqh and Osool (Islamic law) branch of Qatar University, and the founder of Rabitay Islamiy Kurd, a successful Islamic charity in northern Iraq says in an interview:[1]
“I've learned that dawah[2] doesn't truly reach the masses except when it is through acts of charity, and this is my understanding of the saying of Allah, "Be a nation that calls for what is good, encourages what is right, and discourages what is wrong, and those who do this are the successful ones"[3] . You call people to do charity toward others, and then in addition to it you encourage people to do what's right or discourage them from doing wrong. So in Kurdistan we adopted orphans, built mosques, and supported widows. There were over 50,000 thousand orphans in the country. 4,000 villages had been completely destroyed.[4] When we started our charity organization in 1991 we found out that the fruit of charitable acts is much greater than the fruit of the dawah that tries to only offer wisdom and guidance.”
Hearing this clarified an important concept in my mind: that there are two kinds of religious charities; those that, like Dr. Qaradaghi’s charity, serve people without expecting anything in return, and those that try to administer religion with the help they give.

The lesson I’ve learned from the success of Dr. Qaradaghi’s charity, and the failure of various Christian charities that are active in the same region, is that religious charities should be manifestations of their religion’s teachings, not propaganda centers. Religious charities shouldn't have a conversion agenda; their only goal should be following God’s words when He says:
Verses 8 and 9 of Sura 76 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَى حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا (8) إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنْكُمْ جَزَاءً وَلَا شُكُورًا
And they love to feed the poor, orphans, and those imprisoned, [saying:] "We are feeding you due to our desire to meet God, we do not want from you any reward or gratitude."[5]
This attitude is extremely powerful. And we rarely see it from anyone, even from those who think they are very religious. But every now and then a man or woman appears who changes the world through the constant practice of this oft ignored commandment.

Selfless kindness that doesn’t expect gratitude, that only gives and doesn’t wait expectantly for anything in return, touches the depth of our hearts. We quickly fall in love with those who show this behavior toward us, and they quickly amass thousands and sometimes millions of followers. This is not a form of trickery to cause them to convert to our religion. Any religion that practices selfless-giving in service of God and teaches it is a true religion and deserves to be followed. The Quran, though the book of Islam, describes Christians who practice their religion in this selfless way as follows:
Verses 82 to 85 of Sura 5 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُمْ مَوَدَّةً لِلَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَى ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ (82) وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوا مِنَ الْحَقِّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آَمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ (83) وَمَا لَنَا لَا نُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَمَا جَاءَنَا مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَنَطْمَعُ أَنْ يُدْخِلَنَا رَبُّنَا مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الصَّالِحِينَ (84) فَأَثَابَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِمَا قَالُوا جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (85)
And you will find the closest of people to the believers to be those who said “We are the supporters” [of God, the Quran’s way of referring to Christians] because from them there are people devoted to learning and ascetics, and they do not act with arrogance. And when they hear what was sent to the Messenger [Prophet Muhammad] you will see their eyes overflow with tears as they recognize the truth they already know, saying “our Lord, we have believed, so count us among the witnesses.” “And how can we not believe in God and what has come to us of the truth, and we long for our Lord to include us in the company of the righteous?” So God rewarded them for saying this with gardens graced with flowing streams, to live in there forever, and this is the reward of those who do good.[6]
Though it’s not clear from this verse, the Quran doesn’t expect them to convert to Islam, as clarified by other verses from the Quran:
Verse 62 of Sura 2 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آَمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
The [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians–all those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good–will have their rewards with their Lord, there is no fear for them, nor will they grieve.[7]
And also:
Verse 148 of Sura 2 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: وَلِكُلٍّ وِجْهَةٌ هُوَ مُوَلِّيهَا فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ أَيْنَ مَا تَكُونُوا يَأْتِ بِكُمُ اللَّهُ جَمِيعًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
And every group has a direction to which it turns [when it prays], so compete with each other in doing good deeds. Wherever you are God will bring you together [on the day of Judgment], God is very much able at doing anything [He wants].[8]
Not all those who benefit from a selflessly-giving charity will appreciate the service, but this is the whole point: Not expecting anything in return. The charity should embody its religion and represent it, and beyond this, whether people appreciate it or not, is not the charity’s business, it is God’s, because as God says:
Verse 272 of Sura 2 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: لَيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلِأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنْفِقُونَ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ وَمَا تُنْفِقُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تُظْلَمُونَ
It’s not your duty to guide them, rather God guides whoever He wishes. Whatever you spend of good things [i.e. not broken or spoiled things] you do it for yourselves [God doesn’t benefit from your good deeds, ultimately you benefit from it in the afterlife]. Everything you spend should be in seeking of God’s pleasure. Whatever good things you spend will be faithfully returned to you [by God, in this life or the afterlife], and you will not be wronged [i.e. your reward will be just].[9]
Thus we should not expect any form of reward or gratitude for our acts of charity, it is this selfless, non-expectant, unassuming form of giving that softens the hearts of people toward God’s beautiful religions.

Giving selflessly, without expecting gratitude, is a difficult ideal, and one that few people and charities actually reach. It is very difficult to do charity without expecting gratitude from those who benefit from it, it is against human nature. We like to be thanked when we are nice to others. It is a state that could be rightly described by the following Quranic verse, though from a different context:
Verse 35 of Sura 41 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ
And [this state] is not reached except by those who have made it a life-long habit to practice patience, and it is not reached except by those who have a great share [of God’s mercy, bounty, and guidance].[10]
For those who like to do good deeds, the difficulty of selfless giving makes it even more worthwhile to pursue. God rewards good deeds based on the amount of effort we put into them, and selfless giving requires a great amount, maybe super-human, effort to achieve, and for this reason the rewards are clearly going to be great.

I should note that I'm not saying all other non-profits, such as those that produce religious lectures, are useless. Producing and offering lectures is of course a good deed, but those who do so should take into account God’s command:
Verse 256 of Sura 2 of the Holy Quran. Arabic text: لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ
There is no compulsion in faith.[11]
Thus making a group of homeless people sit through an hour-long lecture with the promise of free lunch is wrong and 'un-religious, because it is a form of compulsion (though slight)—the person who does this has used a reward to compel a group of hungry people to listen to religious indoctrination. And it completely goes against the ideals of selfless and non-expectant generosity that I mentioned above.

Religious charities should not force people to consume dawah material with their food, the charities themselves, their selfless giving and caring, should be the very dawah itself.

Notes

[1] Hadeeth Adhikrayat ma'a Dr. Ali Al-Qaradaghi, interview by Dr. Jasim Al-Mutawwa [Arabic].

[2] Arabic for ‘calling’ or ‘inviting’, in Islamic literature it refers to evangelism.

[3] Quran, 3:104.

[4] By Saddam Hussein's regime, through his Anfal campaign.

[5] Quran, 76:8, 9. Literal translation: And they feed food with love to a poor person, an orphan, and a prisoner. Indeed we are feeding you for God’s face, we do not want from you a reward or thanks.

[6] Quran, 5:82-85.

[7] Quran, 2:62.

[8] Quran, 2:148.

[9] Quran. 2:272. Literal translation: It’s not upon you their guidance, but God guides who He wants, and whatever you spend of good things then it’s for yourselves and you shouldn’t spend anything except to seek God’s face and whatever you spend will be faithfully given back to you and you will not be wronged.

[10] Quran, 41:35. Literal translation: And it is not reached except by those who were patient, and it is not reached except by those who have a great share.

[11] Quran, 2:256. Literal translation: There is no forcing in faith.

Share This with Others

The copyright of this work belongs to the author, but you are given the unlimited right to print this essay and give it away at the mosque, to distribute it electronically via email, your website, and any other means, provided that you don’t claim you created it yourself. Free copies of this essay can be found on QuranClub.net in HTML, PDF, and other formats.

Cover Credits

Photo © Neal Fowler. Cover design by Ikram Kurdi.

Published by QuranClub.

The prayer of two prophets

In verse 129 of Suratul Baqara we read the following prayer, which was made by Prophet Ibraheem and his son, Prophet Ismaeel, when they were building the Ka'ba:
رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ
Our Lord, please raise up among them a prophet who recites Your verses upon them, who teaches them the Book, and teaches them wisdom, and who purifies them. Truly You are the Mightiest, the Most Wise.
A few pages later we read the following:
فَلَا تَخْشَوْهُمْ وَاخْشَوْنِي وَلِأُتِمَّ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ (150) كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولًا مِنْكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آَيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ (151) فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ (152)
150. So don't fear them, and fear Me, that I may perfect My favor on you, and that you may be guided.

151. Just as We have sent you a prophet of your own who recites upon you Our verses, who purifies you, who teaches you the Book and wisdom, and who teaches you what you did not know before.

152. So remember Me, and I will remember you, and be thankful toward Me and never ungrateful.
If you read the Arabic, you will see that verse 129 and verse 151 mirror each other's wording (it's apparent in the English translation too). This is Allah's way of telling us that the sending of Prophet Muhammad is Allah's answer to Prophet Ibraheem and his son's prayer.

This little Quranic story can be considered Islam's 'back story'; the two prophets who built the Ka'ba made a prayer to Allah, Allah's answer, which came about 2500 years later, was Prophet Muhammad, a descendant of the two prophets, and today all of us Muslims are living the consequences of this story.

Imam Ghazzali on rejecting science

The 20th century scholar Said Hawwa mentions in his book, Allah Jalla Jalaluhu:
ولقد قال الإمام الغزالي في كتابه (تهافت الفلاسفة) حاملاً على علماء الدين، المنكرين للحقائق العلمية، كمعرفة وقت الكسوف والخسوف وغيرها: (ومن ظن أن المناظرة في إبطال هذا من الدين، فقد جنى على الدين وضعف أمره؛ فإن هذه الأمور تقوم عليها براهين هندسية وحسابية لا تبقى معها ريبة، فمن يطلع عليها ويتحقق من أدلتها، ثم يقال له: إن هذا على خلاف الشرع، لم يسترب فيه، وإنما يستريب في الشرع، وضرر الشرع ممن ينصره لا بطريقه، أكثر من ضرره ممن يطعن فيه، وهو كما قيل: عدو عاقل خير من صديق جاهل).

Imam Ghazzali says in his book Tahafutul Falasifa (The Incoherence of the Philosophers), talking to the scholars of religion, those who deny scientific truths such as the knowledge of solar and lunar eclipse schedules and other facts:

"And anyone who thinks that it is a religious duty to debate and refute these scientific facts has committed a crime against religion and has weakened it, because these facts are based on geometrical and computational evidence in which there is no doubt; when someone acquires knowledge of these scientific facts and checks the validity of the evidence behind them, if he is told: these facts are in contradiction with religion, he is not going to doubt his scientific facts but rather he will doubt the religion [QuranClub's emphasis]. The damage done to religion by those who try to support it in misguided ways is larger than the damage done by those who slander it, it is as they say: a wise enemy is better than an ignorant friend."

When religion isn't shy of science

Said Hawwa, the 20th century Islamic scholar who was mentioned in our previous post, writes in his book Allah Jalla Jalaluhu:
في كل ظاهرة جوانب لا تُعدّ ولا تحصى تدل على الله.

إننا نقول هذا، لأن بعض الناس يتوهمون أن التفكير في الكون، ودراسة ظواهره بعمق، وترتيب المقدمات على النتائج، والوصول إلى الحقائق، ونبذ الأوهام، والقضاء على الخرافة، والتمسك بالقانون الذي أوصلت إليه التجربة: كل هذه المعاني مما لا يتفق مع الفكر الديني.

ولئن وجد هذا عند ديانات خاطئة، ومذاهب باطلة، فلا يصح هذا في الدين الحق، ولن يوجد أبداً. لأن الحق لا يتعارض مع الحق. فإذا كان الدين حقاً، فلابد أن يكون كل أصل فيه، وكل فرع من فروعه، منسجماً انسجاماً تاماً مع الحقيقة التي قام عليها البرهان؛ وإلا فأن نصاً واحداً من نصوص الدين، يُثبَتُ تناقضه مع الحقيقة القاطعة، كافٍ لأن يزعزع الثقة في الدين كله.

من كتاب "الله جل جلاله" لسعيد حوى.

In every phenomenon in this universe there are an uncountable and incalculable number of features that give evidence of God's existence.

We say this because some people have the illusion that thinking of the universe, studying its phenomena in depth, formulating laws upon our findings, reaching scientific truths, dispelling myths, abolishing superstition, and holding fast to the laws that experiments prove, are all activities that are in disagreement with religious thinking.

And if [anti-scientific thinking and attitude] is found in false religions and invalid doctrines, it should not be found in a true religion, because truth does not contradict truth. Thus if a religion is true, then all of its roots need to be true, and all of its branches, in complete harmony with the truths that conclusive evidence support. Because if not, if even one line of text in the religion's texts is found to contradict a proven truth of the world, it is going to be enough to shake our trust in the entire religion [QuranClub's emphasis].

Said Hawwa on the human need for God

Syrian Islamic scholar Said Hawwa
Some people think it is God's duty to come to them and compel them to believe in Him. They think if God doesn't show up on their doorstep, they don't need to acknowledge His existence.

On this attitude the great 20th century Syrian scholar Said Hawwa (pictured) writes:
ترى هل الله هو الذي يحتاج إلينا كي نؤمن به، أم نحن الذين نحتاج أن نؤمن من أجل أنفسنا؟ والجواب { إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ } (العنكبوت: 6) وإذن فلنحرر أنفسنا من أجل أن نكون أهلاً لرؤية آيات الله. سعيد حوى في كتابه الله جل جلاله
Tell me, is it God who needs us to believe in Him, or is it we who need to believe for our own sake? And the answer is: "Indeed God is totally needless of the inhabitants of the worlds" [Quran, 29:6]. Therefore let's free ourselves so that we may be in the company of those who see His signs. -Said Hawwa in his book, Allah Jalla Jalaluhu.
Said Hawwa goes on to say that belief in God comes out of thought and reflection, as demonstrated in the Quran by the story of prophet Ibraheem's finding of God. It is not God's fault that people refuse to dedicate time to think about where they came from, and what the purpose of their existence is.

It is only 'terrorism' if Muslims did it

That Terrorism means nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes has been proven repeatedly.  When an airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, it was immediately proclaimed to be Terrorism, until it was revealed that the attacker was a white, non-Muslim, American anti-tax advocate with a series of domestic political grievances.  The U.S. and its allies can, by definition, never commit Terrorism even when it is beyond question that the purpose of their violence is to terrorize civilian populations into submission.  Conversely, Muslims who attack purely military targets  -- even if the target is an invading army in their own countries -- are, by definition, Terrorists.  That is why, as NYU's Remi Brulin has extensively documented, Terrorism is the most meaningless, and therefore the most manipulated, word in the English language.  Yesterday provided yet another sterling example.
The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of "Terrorism" [Salon.com]

When Allah misguides people

Yesterday I happened to be listening to some Quran when the following verse caught my attention:
وَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ
And Allah misguides those who knowingly do evil. [Quran, 14:27]

This was somewhat of a surprise to me. Doesn't Allah always push humans toward what's good, right, and just? Apparently not.

To understand this verse better, let's look at what comes before it:
يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآَخِرَةِ
God will make the believers firm (on their beliefs) in this life and the next by the help of God's enduring words. [Quran, 14:27]

In other words, depending on a person's choices, God may either choose to guide the person toward a better future, or toward a worse future.

God reserves the right to be a bad influence on people who God deems deserving of it.

Muslims saving Jews during World War II

I had never heard of this:
That story begins with a single word: Besa. It is a code of honor that's been practiced among Albanian Muslims for centuries. Rooted in teachings from the Koran, Besa compels Muslim families to place a stranger's needs above all else.

Jews fleeing to Albania were welcomed into Muslim homes, not as refugees but as guests. Entire villages would protect them.

Where to find news on the Egypt protests

Here are the best options we have found for following news on the Egypt protests:

Photo by Ramy Raoof.

Forgiveness and Repentance

How often is our patience tested through daily trials? How often do we lose sight of our goal as Muslims? How often do we forgive those who hurt us?

I have been pondering upon the importance of repentance and forgiveness. We are all weak humans, when we give into the whispers of shaytan sadness takes over our souls. If such feelings are persistent, then one has not repented to Allah (swt), for Allah (swt) never turns away a repentant slave, He is Most-Forgiving.
وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرِ ٱللَّهَ‌ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا
But seek the forgiveness of Allah; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
سُوۡرَةُ النِّسَاء: 106

I recall getting very frustrated with some family members, the worries of life had its toll on me. My father saw that I was suffering deep inside. He sat me down and asked me why I could not let my worries go and forgive the individual who had hurt me very much, I replied "I can't forgive her, dad". My father then said something to me that has never left my mind to this day, he said:
if Allah (swt) forgives all our hideous sins, then who are we not to forgive one another?
It is of utmost importance for us to remember that no matter how hurt we feel, no matter what an individual has done to us, we must put our trust and reliance in Allah (swt), Is he not the Most-Forgiving?

For every sin we have committed, repentance and reliance on Allah alone is the key to a happy heart, a happy heart is consistently in the remembrance of Allah (swt).

Live every minute as if it is your last, seek forgiveness from Allah (swt).


Narrated Mujahid:
Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, 'Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.'" The sub-narrator added: Ibn 'Umar used to say, "If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death."
(Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 76 :: Hadith 425)

Allah's reason for making 'darkness' plural while leaving 'light' singular

Aboo Imraan al-Mekseekee of The Aajurroomiyyah Blog makes this interesting observation:
The word 'the light' النُّورِ (an-Noor) is singular while the word 'darkness' الظُّلُمَاتِ (ath-Thulumaat) is plural. Why is that?
Brother Aboo Imraan explains that the singularity of 'light' signifies the fact that there is one single truth (Allah's way), in contrast to the plural 'darknesses', signifying the various ways of deviation.

Reaching Muslims and turning them into Christians

A new Christian book titled Reaching Muslims aims to convert Muslims into Christians. We can do better than this.

A brother sent me news about an upcoming Christian book that wants to improve the relationship between Christians and Muslims. It is written by Nick Chatrath, a very friendly Indian man who is also a Christian evangelist. Evangelists are Christians who believe in the importance of spreading Christianity throughout the world.

In this video which is on the book's Amazon.com page, Mr. Chatrath makes it clear that his aim is to help Christians convert Muslims to Christianity, for example when he says that many features of his book are designed "to help you help Muslims see Jesus afresh."

Obviously we Muslims aren't very keen on seeing Jesus afresh, but this Christian effort isn't entirely negative. It certainly is better than the older (and sadly, still prevalent) doctrine of considering all Muslims savages and barbarians.* It is also better than trying to trick uneducated Muslims into converting to Christianity using fake Qurans. But still, this book shows a deep problem that both Christians and Muslims suffer from: Neither side is interested in understanding the other side unless there is an agenda involved.

Both Islam and Christianity teach the important of acceptance and forgiveness. And yet, each side often gives the other side this attitude:
If you are not like us, we are going to do everything in our power to change you into someone who is just like us. We'll learn about you, and we'll befriend you, and slowly but surely manage your thoughts so that you start to see the world just like we see it.
This attitude is extremely disrespectful toward the person receiving it. It doesn't show any acknowledgement for the fact that the other person is a human being—able to understand the world for themselves and make their own decisions. It discounts the other person's lifelong beliefs (you are wrong. We are right) without having earned the right to do so.

Religious belief is very personal, and as prophet Muhammad has taught us, nobody has the right to push it on others. I shouldn't have to say this, everyone knows that it is impolite to tell a stranger, or your neighbor
You know what you said about [insert topic here]. Well, you are wrong.
or
I know you are Muslim and you believe that Jesus is a prophet. But you are wrong. Jesus is actually God's child, and you must believe this because, well, we do.

Challenging people's beliefs on issues of faith is impolite. But there is an exception. Prophet Muhammad invited his closest friends and relatives to embrace Islam; after a lifetime of friendship, he had earned the right to talk to them about such personal topics. This is the only type of evangelism that doesn't offend the intelligence and dignity of its audience.

Nick Chatrath's method of evangelism, however, is offensive. It doesn't bother to do the hard work necessary to earn the right to ask others to embrace one's own religion. At best it creates a polite relationship between a Christian and a Muslim, exactly the kind of relationship in which it is very impolite to push personal beliefs on others.

What is the solution? It is to keep what is personal personal. This is a very basic, millennia-old code of conduct of civilized society, one which evangelists of both sides have so far been incapable of grasping.

[Last updated: January 17, 2011]

* We Muslims have had our own share of considering non-Muslims savages and barbarians. Thankfully today most of us have taken to heart the Quran's messages of acceptance and kindness toward non-Muslims.

Assorted Links

Hajj poem

Aerial view of Mecca at sunset
Photo source.

Every sin washed away.

Every tear passing with fear.

I repent to you today.

The one voice I struggled to hear.

Pull me closer to your care.

Hold me to my words.

My life was full of empty air

This light is all I've yearned.
Older Posts Newer Posts