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No Exclusiveness

Today many of us confuse or forget that there is a difference between Islam and Muslims. Islam means peace achieved through the submission to God’s Will. While a Muslim on the other hand is one who consciously tries to attain that peace through understanding and reflecting  on God’s scripture and Creation. A Muslim is not exclusively recognized by his/her culture, race, ethnicity, social class, education or gender. The Quran simply recognizes a Muslim as:

“Those who believe and work righteousness - no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear - they will be Companions of the Garden, therein to dwell (for ever).” Surah 7 Ayat 42

 

Therefore, Paradise is open to any human who believes in the One Higher Being and who expresses this belief through righteous actions. Throughout the teachings of Islam you can find notions of religious pluralism that stresses the obedience of mankind to live in a peaceful diverse world. Islam does not support dehumanization of any race or religion. Throughout the Quran one constantly finds reference to earlier prophets including Jesus Christ, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Abraham, Noah all the way back to Adam, peace be upon them all. The Quran considers them all “muslim” (that is, those who submitted to God’s will). By studying works from Islamic theologians such as Sheikh Tusi d.1274, Ibn Hazm d.1064 and Imam Al-Ghazzali d.1111 one can realize the richness of the diversity of religious knowledge that was shared between all monotheist religions.

 

A Christian will tell you that Christianity is perfect, but not all Christians are perfect. A Jew will tell you that Judaism is perfect, but not all Jews are perfect. The same goes with Islam. Islam is perfect, but not all Muslims are perfect. If a Christian goes against his own scripture’s teachings, then you cannot blame Christianity. The same goes for Judaism, Islam, and any other religion. While we can look critically at religions, we cannot and should not blame any religion for the imperfections of its so-called adherents.



Alternatives

 

After the tragic event of September 11th, people who had never been exposed to Muslims or Islam began feeling hatred towards the religion of Islam and Muslims in general. Western media has fueled this anger for the last four years by categorizing Muslims under the labels of “extremist”, “fundamentalist” or “terrorist”. The religion of Islam and Muslims in general have been labeled based upon the actions of a small, tribalistic group that makes up perhaps less than .01% of the entire Muslim population. Keep in mind that these people do not represent Islamic teaching among the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.

 

“The man who reads nothing at all is better than a man who reads nothing but newspapers.” Thomas Jefferson

 

There are alternative ways to learn about Islam and Muslims other than through the media or other distorted lenses. You could visit a Mosque or talk to a Muslim. Mosques are always open and Muslims can be found on campuses everywhere.