Transforming Discord to Diversity

The Other Day, I met a dear friend whom I had taught Arabic in college, a white Midwestern American who had recently embraced Islam. He was inspired to it by the Islamic history and Arabic courses he had attended in college. Brought up a Protestant in a healthy, supportive family in a small town, he had no traumatic experiences before or after his conversion. It was nothing but a clean, searching heart and a clear mind that convinced him of the truth of Islam.

Almost surprisingly, his family was supportive and understanding. I was impressed by his reasonable, moderate and balanced attitude after his conversion. Soon, he left for Egypt to study Arabic. He had been writing to me about his experience in Egypt, which, in many ways is the heart of the Muslim world. It was, he said, a maturing, sobering, enriching and, well, disturbing experience. He confided in me his invaluable experiences, which I find worth sharing:

In Egypt I met not just numerous Muslims, but numerous kinds of Muslims, groups that disagreed with and often belittled each other, others who sometimes claimed exclusive monopoly over the true path, the saved group, groups that instilled their members with a sense of superiority over other Muslims, and added to the divisions in an already divided, weakened and bleeding society. No doubt, I learned a lot from each of these groups. Particularly I learned from those who had a clear and straight approach to the Quran and the Sunnah.

Starting off with no background, his good nature was averse to suspicious tendencies such as excessive allegiance to a saint or an icon, dead or alive, rather than to the pure and beautiful principle of Tawhid, and to the teachings of Allah’s Messenger. The creeping practices of exotic forms of worship while leaving aside the clear instructions of Allah, and visitations to tombs, leaving aside the houses of Allah, were beyond his understanding. They almost gave him a stomachache.

But that was the least of his problems. More confusing and hurtful for him was the attitude of those groups who did recognize the common errors of ignorance, exaggeration and negligence in people, but failed to deal with them in a beautiful, Islamic way.

I found myself attracted naturally to those who showed close connection with the Quran and the Sunnah, and sought to seek the knowledge of these sources rather than rigidly committing themselves to specific schools of thought, with increasing cultural accretions as icing on the cake. Nevertheless, I found increasingly that no group was perfect. Those who emphasized knowledge of the sources sometimes lacked the ethics, the courtesy, the humility, in short the ‘adab’ and ‘akhlâq’ that must accompany that knowledge.

At the American University of Cairo, most of my friends were in the engineering department. My own humanities background has led me to appreciate some of the complexity of human life. This complexity is humbling. It leads you to God, because nothing else seems real. But some of my friends wanted to understand the world as an engineering problem: it was black and white. Sometimes I felt they understood machines, but they did not understand humans. They understood humans as machines.

I know I have a lot to learn. Perhaps I should sympathize with them more. But I must admit, nothing has been more disturbing to me than these divisions in the Muslim Ummah, and the resulting confusion.

I consoled my friend, and shared with him my own tumultuous journey through the wilderness of opinions and divisions. Three things are the key to a way out, I have discovered:

  • Love of Allah, for it is the source of peace and certitude
  • Knowledge of Islam and of humans
  • Dialog with other Muslims

I reminded him of the promise of Allah:

And those who strive in Us, We certainly shall guide them to Us. [Sûrat Al-¢Ankbût, 29:69]

Divisions often arise from short-sightedness and swollen egos. We Muslims have inherited numerous divisions, most of which we can overcome through dialog and serious learning. Learning not only the source texts but also learning about real humans and real societies, their history and development, their problems and concerns– this all opens to us oceans of wisdom.

After we treat the ailment of discord and divisions through knowledge, wisdom and humility –more often than not– we can reduce these divisions to diversity through the magic formula of dialog; a dialog which nonetheless is based on our shared belief in Allah and His din. And that can happen only if we humble ourselves before the complexities of Allah’s creation, appreciate diversity, and admit that we have a lot to learn from each other, because no one has all the solutions, and everyone’s efforts are needed.

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  • 3. “I will terrorize the disbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint [and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes]” [The Qur’an (8:12)]
    Islam bashers say that this verse is enough to prove that Islam is terrorism and violence. They say it’s a sick religion that orders its adherents to kill those who don’t accept it in the most terrible ways.

    Now let’s read the previous verse in its complete context in order to understand what it is actually saying. Allah says in the Qur’an:
    “[Remember] When you begged your Lord for help, He answered you, ‘I will reinforce you with a thousand angels in succession.’ God made this a message of hope to reassure your hearts. Help comes only from God, He is mighty and wise. Remember when He covered you with slumber as a reassurance from Him, and sent down water from the sky to purify you, to remove Satan’s insinuations from your [hearts], to make your hearts strong and your feet firm. Your Lord revealed to the angels: ‘I am with you: give the believers firmness, I shall cast terror into the hearts of the disbelievers, strike above their necks and strike their fingertips.’ That was because they defied Allah and His Messenger, and if anyone defies Allah and His Messenger, Allah punishes him severely, ‘That is what you get! Taste that!’ and the torment of the hellfire awaits the disbelievers.” [The Qur’an (8:9-14)]

    After the advent of Islam, Muslims lived under persecution for 13 years. Whenever they asked the prophet P.B.U.H. to invoke Allah to deliver them from the hands of the Makkan pagans, he ordered them to be patient for Allah has promised His sincere servants a great triumph, but it was not time for it yet. During those 13 years, many men and women were tortured and killed for holding on to their faith. Prophet Muhammad himself was beaten and targeted to be killed several times, but never did the Muslims raise one finger in the faces of their persecutors. Near the end of year 13, Prophet Muhammad ordered Muslims to forsake their homeland and immigrate to Madinah. After Muslims immigrated to Madinah leaving behind their homes, lands and all possessions, the Makkan pagans didn’t leave them alone, they sent scouts after them and started to make their preparations seeking to attack the Muslims in their new home at Madinah. It was only then when Muslims started to fight back.

    The first battle that the Muslims ever led against the pagans was the “Battle of Badr”. They were outnumbered by 3 to 1. Their army comprised nothing but 313 shepherds and former slaves who never fought before. They only had “two horsemen” and the rest of them were foot-soldiers armed with swords and light shields. The pagans’ army on the other hand comprised more than 1000 soldiers, most of whom were strong husky combatants, known of having fierce fighting skills, they had more than 100 horsemen and 600 strong shields. Any quick analysis of the situation will tell you that the Muslims didn’t stand a chance to even face the pagans’ army for more than 15 minutes.

    On the battle’s eve, Muslims were unable to sleep out-of fear and worry. The news brought back by their scouts weren’t auspicious. On the battle’s day, they woke up astonished that they all fell asleep and they even enjoyed a sound sleep to the extent that some of them had wet dreams. This could cynically make you laugh, but actually it’s an indication to how deeply and securely they slept without any traces of worry or fear on their minds. Those who had wet dreams during their sleep, woke up afraid that they might get killed in the battle without praying for they were impure and needed to wash their bodies, so it started raining and they all washed their bodies, performed ablution and prayed. They prepared themselves in ranks for the battle and it was then when the prophet gave them glad tidings of victory and that Allah has sent His angles to fight alongside the Muslims.

    Amazingly Muslims won this battle in a magnificent way. The above verses were revealed after this battle as a commemoration of the incident so that Muslims throughout the ages would remember that victory is not given for the stronger army, but it is given to those who have stronger faith. Allah grants His victory only to those who are pious and righteous.

    Although the context is clear and the reason of revelation is written in all exegesis, some people twist the meaning of the verses to satisfy their own inclination and prejudice. If you compare the two preceding translations, you will instantly notice that the words placed between square brackets in the first translation given by Islam bashers is an addition not found in the Original Arabic wording of the Qur’an. Moreover, the incident itself was one of self defense against a much stronger and mightier army. Muslims were defending their new homeland against those who drove them out from their original one after having tortured and persecuted them for 13 years. So the question here is: “What exactly is the way which “Islam bashers” deem appropriate to deal with those unscrupulous invaders, lie on the ground and play dead?!”

    The worst forgery of all is when Islam bashers trim out the words from amidst the verse and tamper with its translation to portray Muslims as a bunch of blood thirsty cannibals who are sitting above the bodies of their decapitated victims and cutting off their fingers and toes. This is the instant image that anyone gets when reading the incomplete verse, while the complete context is actually ordering the fighters to either strike with their swords the enemies above the neck and kill them instantly, or strike at their fingertips in order to restrain them from attacking the Muslims. This is also why Prophet Muhammad said: “If you kill [your enemy] then make it a quick death.” And this is also how the prophet P.B.U.H. never killed anyone in all of his battles except one man, and we have already told this story before. This was a sword fight for crying out loud, so what exactly is it that Islam bashers want Muslims to do, throw down their swords and deliver thunderous slaps on their enemies’ faces?! Even the context of the order itself was not directed to the Muslims, but it is a narration of Allah’s orders to the angles whom He sent to support the Muslims’ army, and the verses were revealed to Muslims after the battle was over, this is why Allah is continuously saying “Remember”.

    From: Islamic Methodologies Made Easy – ISBN 9789779027395
    By: Ehab Shawky Abd El-Khalek.

  • 3. “I will terrorize the disbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint [and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes]” [The Qur’an (8:12)]
    Islam bashers say that this verse is enough to prove that Islam is terrorism and violence. They say it’s a sick religion that orders its adherents to kill those who don’t accept it in the most terrible ways.

    Now let’s read the previous verse in its complete context in order to understand what it is actually saying. Allah says in the Qur’an:
    “[Remember] When you begged your Lord for help, He answered you, ‘I will reinforce you with a thousand angels in succession.’ God made this a message of hope to reassure your hearts. Help comes only from God, He is mighty and wise. Remember when He covered you with slumber as a reassurance from Him, and sent down water from the sky to purify you, to remove Satan’s insinuations from your [hearts], to make your hearts strong and your feet firm. Your Lord revealed to the angels: ‘I am with you: give the believers firmness, I shall cast terror into the hearts of the disbelievers, strike above their necks and strike their fingertips.’ That was because they defied Allah and His Messenger, and if anyone defies Allah and His Messenger, Allah punishes him severely, ‘That is what you get! Taste that!’ and the torment of the hellfire awaits the disbelievers.” [The Qur’an (8:9-14)]

    After the advent of Islam, Muslims lived under persecution for 13 years. Whenever they asked the prophet P.B.U.H. to invoke Allah to deliver them from the hands of the Makkan pagans, he ordered them to be patient for Allah has promised His sincere servants a great triumph, but it was not time for it yet. During those 13 years, many men and women were tortured and killed for holding on to their faith. Prophet Muhammad himself was beaten and targeted to be killed several times, but never did the Muslims raise one finger in the faces of their persecutors. Near the end of year 13, Prophet Muhammad ordered Muslims to forsake their homeland and immigrate to Madinah. After Muslims immigrated to Madinah leaving behind their homes, lands and all possessions, the Makkan pagans didn’t leave them alone, they sent scouts after them and started to make their preparations seeking to attack the Muslims in their new home at Madinah. It was only then when Muslims started to fight back.

    The first battle that the Muslims ever led against the pagans was the “Battle of Badr”. They were outnumbered by 3 to 1. Their army comprised nothing but 313 shepherds and former slaves who never fought before. They only had “two horsemen” and the rest of them were foot-soldiers armed with swords and light shields. The pagans’ army on the other hand comprised more than 1000 soldiers, most of whom were strong husky combatants, known of having fierce fighting skills, they had more than 100 horsemen and 600 strong shields. Any quick analysis of the situation will tell you that the Muslims didn’t stand a chance to even face the pagans’ army for more than 15 minutes.

    On the battle’s eve, Muslims were unable to sleep out-of fear and worry. The news brought back by their scouts weren’t auspicious. On the battle’s day, they woke up astonished that they all fell asleep and they even enjoyed a sound sleep to the extent that some of them had wet dreams. This could cynically make you laugh, but actually it’s an indication to how deeply and securely they slept without any traces of worry or fear on their minds. Those who had wet dreams during their sleep, woke up afraid that they might get killed in the battle without praying for they were impure and needed to wash their bodies, so it started raining and they all washed their bodies, performed ablution and prayed. They prepared themselves in ranks for the battle and it was then when the prophet gave them glad tidings of victory and that Allah has sent His angles to fight alongside the Muslims.

    Amazingly Muslims won this battle in a magnificent way. The above verses were revealed after this battle as a commemoration of the incident so that Muslims throughout the ages would remember that victory is not given for the stronger army, but it is given to those who have stronger faith. Allah grants His victory only to those who are pious and righteous.

    Although the context is clear and the reason of revelation is written in all exegesis, some people twist the meaning of the verses to satisfy their own inclination and prejudice. If you compare the two preceding translations, you will instantly notice that the words placed between square brackets in the first translation given by Islam bashers is an addition not found in the Original Arabic wording of the Qur’an. Moreover, the incident itself was one of self defense against a much stronger and mightier army. Muslims were defending their new homeland against those who drove them out from their original one after having tortured and persecuted them for 13 years. So the question here is: “What exactly is the way which “Islam bashers” deem appropriate to deal with those unscrupulous invaders, lie on the ground and play dead?!”

    The worst forgery of all is when Islam bashers trim out the words from amidst the verse and tamper with its translation to portray Muslims as a bunch of blood thirsty cannibals who are sitting above the bodies of their decapitated victims and cutting off their fingers and toes. This is the instant image that anyone gets when reading the incomplete verse, while the complete context is actually ordering the fighters to either strike with their swords the enemies above the neck and kill them instantly, or strike at their fingertips in order to restrain them from attacking the Muslims. This is also why Prophet Muhammad said: “If you kill [your enemy] then make it a quick death.” And this is also how the prophet P.B.U.H. never killed anyone in all of his battles except one man, and we have already told this story before. This was a sword fight for crying out loud, so what exactly is it that Islam bashers want Muslims to do, throw down their swords and deliver thunderous slaps on their enemies’ faces?! Even the context of the order itself was not directed to the Muslims, but it is a narration of Allah’s orders to the angles whom He sent to support the Muslims’ army, and the verses were revealed to Muslims after the battle was over, this is why Allah is continuously saying “Remember”.

    From: Islamic Methodologies Made Easy – ISBN 9789779027395
    By: Ehab Shawky Abd El-Khalek.

  • Produce your #Proof if you are truthful….. Quran (2:111),(27:64).

    ” Most dislike human in the sight of Allah are the deaf,dumb and blind who don’t use their #Intellect….see Quraan(8:22)”.

    ” And obey Allah (Qur’an) and His Messenger (Hadith) , and do not #dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)”.
    Qur’an (8:46).

    #Whosoever makes any sect in Islam, he will be among loser…
    ★#In Islaam there is no #sect…★ See Qur’an..(6:159) (3;85) (3;103) (4:59) }}}…..

    ”Do not follow #forefather blindly………..Qur’an.(2:170)&(5:104)…many other…””

    ” You shall not #accept any information unless you #verify it for yourself. I have given you hearing, the eyesight,and the brain and you are responsible for using them….Quraan(17:36)”.

    ” Many religious leaders & #preachers take people’s money illicitly and repel from the path of (One True) God…Qur’an(9:34)”.

    ”if you obey considering #majority of earth(blindly), they will lead you astray from God’s way , most people follow nothing but #conjecture and they only live by guesswork……Quraan(6:116)”.

  • Produce your #Proof if you are truthful….. Quran (2:111),(27:64).

    ” Most dislike human in the sight of Allah are the deaf,dumb and blind who don’t use their #Intellect….see Quraan(8:22)”.

    ” And obey Allah (Qur’an) and His Messenger (Hadith) , and do not #dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)”.
    Qur’an (8:46).

    #Whosoever makes any sect in Islam, he will be among loser…
    ★#In Islaam there is no #sect…★ See Qur’an..(6:159) (3;85) (3;103) (4:59) }}}…..

    ”Do not follow #forefather blindly………..Qur’an.(2:170)&(5:104)…many other…””

    ” You shall not #accept any information unless you #verify it for yourself. I have given you hearing, the eyesight,and the brain and you are responsible for using them….Quraan(17:36)”.

    ” Many religious leaders & #preachers take people’s money illicitly and repel from the path of (One True) God…Qur’an(9:34)”.

    ”if you obey considering #majority of earth(blindly), they will lead you astray from God’s way , most people follow nothing but #conjecture and they only live by guesswork……Quraan(6:116)”.

  • Produce your #Proof if you are truthful….. Quran (2:111),(27:64).

    ” Most dislike human in the sight of Allah are the deaf,dumb and blind who don’t use their #Intellect….see Quraan(8:22)”.

    ” And obey Allah (Qur’an) and His Messenger (Hadith) , and do not #dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)”.
    Qur’an (8:46).

    #Whosoever makes any sect in Islam, he will be among loser…
    ★#In Islaam there is no #sect…★ See Qur’an..(6:159) (3;85) (3;103) (4:59) }}}…..

    ”Do not follow #forefather blindly………..Qur’an.(2:170)&(5:104)…many other…””

    ” You shall not #accept any information unless you #verify it for yourself. I have given you hearing, the eyesight,and the brain and you are responsible for using them….Quraan(17:36)”.

    ” Many religious leaders & #preachers take people’s money illicitly and repel from the path of (One True) God…Qur’an(9:34)”.

    ”if you obey considering #majority of earth(blindly), they will lead you astray from God’s way , most people follow nothing but #conjecture and they only live by guesswork……Quraan(6:116)”.

  • Produce your #Proof if you are truthful….. Quran (2:111),(27:64).

    ” Most dislike human in the sight of Allah are the deaf,dumb and blind who don’t use their #Intellect….see Quraan(8:22)”.

    ” And obey Allah (Qur’an) and His Messenger (Hadith) , and do not #dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)”.
    Qur’an (8:46).

    #Whosoever makes any sect in Islam, he will be among loser…
    ★#In Islaam there is no #sect…★ See Qur’an..(6:159) (3;85) (3;103) (4:59) }}}…..

    ”Do not follow #forefather blindly………..Qur’an.(2:170)&(5:104)…many other…””

    ” You shall not #accept any information unless you #verify it for yourself. I have given you hearing, the eyesight,and the brain and you are responsible for using them….Quraan(17:36)”.

    ” Many religious leaders & #preachers take people’s money illicitly and repel from the path of (One True) God…Qur’an(9:34)”.

    ”if you obey considering #majority of earth(blindly), they will lead you astray from God’s way , most people follow nothing but #conjecture and they only live by guesswork……Quraan(6:116)”.

  • I think when we all decide the objective of discussion and discourse is to find the Truth wherever it is lays even if the one holding the truth is a child, or a revert or an village elder, then we will start to open our doors and see change.

  • I think when we all decide the objective of discussion and discourse is to find the Truth wherever it is lays even if the one holding the truth is a child, or a revert or an village elder, then we will start to open our doors and see change.

  • I think when we all decide the objective of discussion and discourse is to find the Truth wherever it is lays even if the one holding the truth is a child, or a revert or an village elder, then we will start to open our doors and see change.

  • I think when we all decide the objective of discussion and discourse is to find the Truth wherever it is lays even if the one holding the truth is a child, or a revert or an village elder, then we will start to open our doors and see change.

  • I think when we all decide the objective of discussion and discourse is to find the Truth wherever it is lays even if the one holding the truth is a child, or a revert or an village elder, then we will start to open our doors and see change.

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