Monday, September 21, 2009

My thoughts about Islam so far.

Okay, here's a basic run-down of what I think, comparing Islam and Christianity, at this juncture. Of course, I have not finished reading the Qur'an or re-reading the Bible, so I will reserve my final opinion for that. If you find anything that I relate as negative, please be assured that it is not my opinion of Muslim people. I like you all very much. : )

Disclaimer aside, now...

Thus far, despite the claims of my Muslim friends here and at the masjid, and the constant refrain of "compassionate and merciful" that prefaces any Muslim book/article, I have not seen the Islamic Allah to be like the kind, loving, and truly merciful God I have always been taught about. He seems more like a God who can hardly wait to mete out punishment to the "unbelievers". In the second sura, my understanding at one point was that Allah had already decided who would and would not be a Muslim, and therefore was going to punish the non-Muslims for not being Muslim, although he'd made the choice of their religion! (Mind you, this is me paraphrasing, since I can't remember word for word.)

Another thing I'm having trouble with are the constant commands to "fear and obey Allah". To me it seems that the worship of Allah is based upon fear, and that the relationship is a master/slave one. I have yet to see anything that is to be done out of LOVE of Allah, rather than "fear and obey".

Also, when Gabriel supposedly revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, why did he command him to "Read!" over and over again, despite the fact that the guy was scared out of his wits, not to mention illiterate? Now, I totally believe that God can make great leaders/prophets/whatever out of the blind/deaf/dumb/illiterate - He did so in the Bible. But when Gabriel appeared to others (Mary, and other folks I know I'm currently forgetting), he told them "Do not be afraid" and then delivered his message. Why didn't he do so with Muhammad?

In my search for information to determine whether or not the Qur'an is, as constantly claimed by Muslims, the perfect, unchanged and utterly correct "Last Revelation of Allah", the Qur'an has been shown to conflict with what we know from modern science on some points. Also, the Qur'an was not written all in Arabic - the language was too limited (no Arabic words for some things), so Farsi and a handful of other languages were dipped into, to cover the deficiency.

Muhammad's attitude towards women bothered me, too. I don't remember if I've written this before, so I'll go ahead and (possibly) repeat myself. Yes, okay, he was progressive when it came to women inheriting property, payment of dowries, etc. Got that. But his personal attitude left something to be desired. He said that women were deficient in intelligence and deficient in religion. In regards to religion, it was because women couldn't fast during their periods, which is a natural biological function created by God. I don't remember what the "deficient in intelligence" story was, but that was a reason given by Muhammad for women not getting an equal inheritance as men, and he repeated the comment more than once.

Now, the following are things I picked up from Dr. Gabriel's book:

Muhammad really was not a peaceful guy, and he didn't live a peaceful life. After he'd covered Arabia and subdued or converted the few rebel groups left, he SOUGHT OUT other countries (Sudan was one of them, I recall). He sent them letters, demanding that they submit to Islam and acknowledge Allah and Muhammad as Allah's Prophet, or he would wage war upon them. These were countries that, at the time, were minding their own business, and he was jonesing for a fight, so he went after them.

Jesus, on the other hand, told his followers that "he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword" (when one of his apostles cut off the Roman guy's ear in the garden, trying to stop them from taking Jesus to Pilate). Yes, I know, Jesus also said that he did not come to bring peace, but that parents, children, friends and all would take up swords against each other. This was because He knew that His message would divide families and friends between those who believed what He taught, and those who didn't. Dr. Gabriel's own experience (his father immediately pulled a gun and fired five shots at him after learning his son had converted to Christianity), and the thousands of other stories we hear like it have illustrated that point. Unlike Muhammad, though, Jesus preached His message and moved on if no one would listen. He didn't try to force anyone to accept Him or His message, which is in pretty stark contrast to what I've read of Muhammad.

Dr. Gabriel invites anyone and everyone to check his information - which has been historically documented, not a pro-Christian/anti-Islam fabrication from one person.

One thing he wrote really stood out in my mind. He questioned a teacher at Al-Azhar (a guy who later was found to have masterminded the '93 WTC bombings) about why he never spoke about the Qur'an's messages on peace and loving others. His (now former) teacher replied, "'There is an entire sura devoted to "The Spoils of War". There is no sura called "Peace".'"

Although most of the Muslims I've met have been nothing but kind and generous (may they be blessed for putting up with all of my questions!), I find the roots of the religion are disturbing to me, although some points within it (like the lovely hijab) are certainly worth adopting.

Likewise, I've met many "cultural Christians" - people who are Christian only by association with the culture in which they were raised, not true believers - or people who claim to be Christian and attend church, etc, but they are not God-like in their behavior, though the roots of Christianity (Jesus' message) are those of peace, love, and forgiveness.


  1. My nephew and I were at Barnes & Noble for a couple of hours this afternoon and I found a copy of this book! I read through parts of it the whole time .. especially his introduction of himself and some of the views on women. Actually I read quite a bit of it though certainly not all. I'm glad you brought it up again as many things you mentioned are also things I've questioned. I met OUTSTANDING Muslims when we went to Syria! I loved them all soooo much and would love to see them again - even live among them. But I still don't agree with Islam for many of the reasons you mentioned above. I think there IS much beauty in it. It's stunning to see their sense of community and their obedience in praying. But, sadly, I don't think it's the right way. I wish all roads lead to God, but the Islamic view of God is very different from the one Jesus portrays. Enjoyed this!

  2. Yeah. Right now, my viewpoint is more "love the people, but not so much the religion".

  3. I'm kind of in the same place and have been for awhile now. I started thinking about Islam when I first became close friends with some Muslims about 5 years ago. I went through a phase where I wanted to be a Muslim, but there were so many things I could never come to grips with.
    I have realized now that its not as simple as sorting out the good from the bad. I have also studied the gospels a few times since then as well as studying the whole Bible again. I am struck each time by the simplicity and timeless nature of Jesus teachings. I love some parts of the Quran, but it just doesn't compare.
    Good post. Keep sharing your findings.

  4. I agree with all the problems you have with Islam. This book seems very interesting, I ordered it and can't wait to get it.

  5. Your profile pic is waaay cute :)

    The book you mentioned sounds fabulous, but the local Barnes & Noble didn't have it! I was sad...

    So far I agree completely with you, although you've done more research on Muhammad - I'm reading the Quran though the language is hard for me...maybe its my copy of the translation? (o.O)

    It's been very uplifting to me to find other non-muslims who find hijab and niqab to be beautiful ^_^ I'm going to wear niqab for the first time today (after work...I'm a wuss, lol) so I hope it goes well *crosses fingers*

  6. You know, Sophia, I just had a question from a Muslim girl about why I wear hijab.... Of course I explained the spiritual basis for it, but then it occurred to me, it's not nearly as strange as she makes it out to be. I keep meeting more and more of 'us' as I read my blogs... There must be half a dozen among my acquaintances now! And then there was the openly Christian girl who posted pics of herself in hijab to be featured on Hijab Style... That very night I took the plunge!

  7. Stacy: Will do, boss! Since I'm not too good as shutting up (how in the world did I make it four years and change in the Army without getting into trouble?), rest assured that I will have much more to say. : )

    Whoo-hoo! You go, caraboska! : D I think there are a lot more Christian women who wear hijab than appears...we (and everyone else) just assume that the non-Muslim hijabis are Muslim, which makes sense in the West, where a lot of Muslims are converts.

    Sophia: Thanks! It is super-cute, isn't it? : ) Is Barnes & Noble the only book store near you? If you're having trouble reading your current version of the Qur'an (I know the Yusuf Ali is difficult for me), try the "Penguin Classics" edition by N.A. Dawood. It's a good starter one; very straight-forward. Plus the type isn't teensy-weensy like in the Yusuf Ali translation, because it doesn't have all the footnotes. I'd keep one with footnotes for clarification, and then the Dawood one for easy reading. : ) Good luck! As you can see, I like to look at things from the roots, not form my opinions from the branches. That's why I went back to Muhammad and Jesus, rather than comparing the religions as they are today. For me, that just gets confusing, because so often the apples have fallen far from the tree (Jesus and Muhammad). For many Muslims, that's a good thing. For many Christians, not so good. Ooooh, please tell me how you like wearing niqab! Personally, I love it. (Can't you tell? LOL)

    Amber: Let me know how you like it.

  8. Heather, you might want to be careful about admitting in public that you use NJ Dawood's translation. It is apparently not a very literal one, and furthermore apparently the translator is an Iraqi Jew. Which steps on toes by the mere fact in some circles. There are those who claim that the translation was made with the purpose of discrediting and otherwise dissing Islam! This accusation is groundless, as far as I can see. But it's good to be aware of the problem.

  9. Caraboska: Okay, thanks. It is the only one I can really understand without having to reading every itsy-bitsy foot note. And, as I mentioned, I also have the Maulana Ali translation, with footnotes, for additional information. I cross-reference every verse with the Ali translation. It takes forever, but nobody can say that I'm not being thorough. : )

  10. Heather, So you don't misunderstand, I use Dawood too. I'm just alerting you to some issues I've become aware of :) Mind you, I now have Dawood with the original alongside. Not that I read Arabic much at all, but God willing I would like to learn in the future...

  11. Cool thing you're reading the Bible. I have nothing against it, but you cannot compare the one they have now (or the ones) to the original Gospels. I'm sure you know there are lots of Gospels missing just because they'd interfere with the Empire or out of convinience (Make some research about the Coucil of Nicea), and many added. People along the way changed Christianity to fit their own standards and needs. The Book is not the same, although it's your choice to believe in it or not. Are you sure that what you're reading is 100% -real-?

    There are many posibilities, since the teachings of Islam respect Christians and Jews. But some people just want to find the 5 legs of the dog (they just have 4). Islam hasn't changed, the Quran hasn't either. I do respect Christians and Jews, but there are lots of things man-made since time damaged those religions. Reason why God brought Islam to us, the purest religion so far.

    Some people aren't born to be Muslims, that's just what God chose for them.

  12. Interesting to see your thought process! Here are my thoughts on a couple of things...

    "I have not seen the Islamic Allah to be like the kind, loving, and truly merciful God I have always been taught about. He seems more like a God who can hardly wait to mete out punishment"
    What could be more merciful than warning us about the consequences of our actions, and giving us time to make amends?

    "Allah had already decided who would and would not be a Muslim"
    I have heard plenty of Christians say God chose them, not the other way round. But both faiths also believe in free will and personal responsibility. I don't know how it works.

    "To me it seems that the worship of Allah is based upon fear"
    But it also says of the true believers no fear need they have, and nor shall they grieve.
    Fear of God in terms of a healthy respect is probably positive.
    Jesus spoke of fear of God too, e.g. Luke 12:5 "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."

  13. i think its extremly unfair to make such a huuge generalisation of the charasteristics of an entire god based on your own opinions of how merciful he is if you read the quran thoroughly you will see much about the mercy of the "islamic god" also i hardly consider it studying a holy text if you are looking for what "doesnt make sense" just read hapily for the sake of reading like you would read any book this will help you form a general overview in the end however if you look for mistakes you will have no pleasure in reading
    i am in total awe that there are so many non-muslim hijabis or niqabis im a hijabi however if it wasnt for my conviction in islam i doubt id wear it and i dont wear niqab as i dont think its islamicaly required however i love niqabis and im always proud of those sisters
    btw this comment is not like critical of you i think converting to a religion is a total huge step as i cant even imagine let alone set out to change my religion from islam, seriously sometimes theres no rational explanation for why you feel total conviction in certain things
    good luck
    naz :)

  14. This blog is exactly mirroring what I'm struggling with. I feel a deep soul connection about covering and it matches with my Christian upbringing, but the more I research Islam, the more I question what I believe. I haven't been able to find any Muslimahs to explain their faith and Google can only go so far.

    1. Lovesflowers26,

      Let me know if you want to talk it out. I'd be more than happy to be your listening post.