January 09, 2008

Islam, My religion



A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. - John F. Kennedy


Before we begin:First: These thoughts represent the author’s personal view. These are my personal views as a Muslim. Why do I choose being a Muslim and why everyday I decide to abide with the Islamic rules.
Second: This is not in the defense of Islam. Islam is a belief and a way of thinking. And just like other thoughts it should be subjected to criticism. And just like other thoughts only the valid ones remain. False thoughts always fail.
Third: This post was inspired by a reply on “the sandmonkey’s blog”. Sandmonkey wrote a post about a program called “make me a Muslim”, which is a reality TV show, where a girl and 4 Imams try to fix the Brits by making them Muslims, an idea that I personally disapprove. But the comments on that post crossed the line of attacking the show, to attacking Islam as a belief. And when I tried to show that moderate Muslim does exist, I got a comment that I am in denial. I decided to write this to prove I am not.
The second inspiration was a post by fantasia. She drew her sword attacking Hijab, in a response to a great post by Miss Egyptiana. It wasn’t the attack on Hijab that inspired me as one more time the comments on fantasia’s post took another direction. As someone came over and started an attack on Arabs implying an attack on Islam.
I can’t deny that these comments have made me think about my religion. And I found myself writing these words.
So here we goI am like millions of Muslims all over the world. I was born a Muslim and an Arab. Just like millions of people in that world, I didn’t choose my parents, I didn’t choose my country and I didn’t choose my religion.
I was raised to be a Muslim in what a call a moderate Muslim family. My family I think represents millions of Muslim families, or at least my family represents the norm for Egyptian Muslims.
I was raised to believe that there is only one God. I was to memorize verses of Quran as early as I could do. I was taught how to pray, trained to fast. For me religion was just some mystical rituals. I loved to fast in “Ramadan” as it was a sign that I have grown up. I prayed because this is what everyone else does. I was 10 years old when I started posing my very first question about God. Why did God create us. I didn’t like the answers I got back then and between you and me I don’t like them till now. But just like any Egyptian I am a believer, I believe in a creator and in the after world. We, Egyptians, were the first to believe in the after world. And just like my ancestors, I believed in it. It wasn’t the hardest part.
The older I grew the more I started letting go. I kept the rituals but started looking for answers every where. Being the person I am, I wasn’t easily convinced by the simple things that convinced others.
It wasn’t hard to believe that this universe must have a creator. It was hard to abide to the laws this creator set. As for me, back then and till now, life is such an unexplainable test. We were created to take that test, probably fail it, and then live an eternity based on our results.
I can’t deny that I have had really hard time moving down that way, and sometimes I still do. Once again, being the person I am, I though it over and I found my answer on a word said by “Joey” in my all time favorite show “F.R.I.E.N.D.S”. It was an episode where Joey’s father turned to be having an affair. In a hilarious moment, Joey father and his girl friend were supposed to spend the night at Joey’s. Joey asked his father to sleep in a separate room, saying “as far as you live under my roof, you live by my rules”. I kept laughing at Joey, and his father and the affair. I laughed at the rules and roof line as it is the line used by all fathers all over the world. But in a second thought, I discovered that as far as we are living under God’s roof so we should live by his rule and only then I started buying the unexplainable rules I couldn’t buy earlier. I started abiding by the things I don’t understand the same way I do by the things I understand.
The question now will be, why Islam?
I can’t deny that part of being a Muslim is that I was born a Muslim. I went through evaluating the God concept, and then I got to the point of believing why God have laid his rules in what we call religion. So, as far as I believe in God and I am ready to follow a religion why trying finding a new one while I already have one. But again being the person I am, I didn’t stop at that point. I started searching. I found that being a Jew means that I don’t believe in Christianity, and being a Christian means that I don’t believe in Islam while being a Muslim means that I believe in both religions. I found that Islam isn’t just a religion it is a life style, where people are obligated to respect each other, to love each other and to help each other. Islamic rules are the constitution of the Islamic community.
If Muslims abided by the Islamic rules, the Islamic community will be sober, STI free, with no gamblers and no poor.
Taking a good look at history I found out that Arabs were just savages living in the desert. They have done everything we do in the modern days. They got drunk, had sex whenever possible and gambled there life away. And to top it all, they never managed to build a state. They lived in scattered groups and they have always fought. Before Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), the Arabs spent there time in war or preparing to war. And then it was a miracle, a man who can’t read or write who managed to teach those ignorant people civilization. He grouped the fighting scattered group in a state that ruled most of the old world for centuries.
Dr. Francis Steingass said that Quran is one of the most important books in the world due to the Quran's "ability to transform savage tribes into civilized nations.
So Islam isn’t just a religion. It was the constitution that built that empire. It was the law. And that explains why the first “Khaleefa” had to fight those who reverted. He fought them because they were outlaws. They threatened the growth of the empire. They didn’t abide to the constitution. Just like any civil war in any place in the world. Doesn’t the American fought for the right to free slaves?
Then it was typical for the empire to move outwards. Can you blame Alexander for conquering the world?
Islam is a constitution based on liberty and equality. Everyone is free to believe or not. Everyone is free as far as his freedom ends at the start of his neighbors’ freedom. Everyone is equal, Islam doesn’t discriminate. There is no difference based on religion, race or gender.
I just look around and I feel hurt as people keep attacking Islam because of people who can barely called Muslims. They attack Islam as if the extermination of Islam is the solution.
I look around and I hope for respect. I hope for respecting the idea that changed the face of the world, I hope for respecting the man who changed the savages into civilized people, I hope for respecting the legacy the Muslims left by saving the heritage of civilization in the time Europe was busy in inquisitions.
Is respect that hard to achieve?


P.S.
Please, comments should be within the context of mutual respect. This post is against violence and religion fights. So, please don't start one. Only civilized discussion is allowed.
======================================================

I personally blame Muslims for the way Islam is treated. We, Muslims, brought it on our religion. everyone who gave the impression that Islam is a religion of violence, everyone used Islam as mean of suppression, everyone who tailored a religion fit to his needs and called it Islam. I blame everyone who showed Muslims as sex-manic bloody creatures, everyone who mistreated a woman by the name of Islam. I blame everyone who acted with ignorance claiming knowledge. I blame them all for the comments that inspired these posts and I blame them for the following pictures.

If this is how they see Islam, it is because this is how they see us. This is how we show ourselves




16 comments:

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Most of the Western Muslim establishment is comprised of Islamist groups claiming to be moderates. True moderate Muslims reject Islamic supremacy and Sharia; embrace religious equality and democracy.

What is a moderate Muslim? According to a dictionary, a moderate is a person who is opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion. Yet, majority of the public seem to be struggling with the definition of a moderate Muslim. Perhaps we can make this task easier by defining a radical Muslim and then defining the moderate as an opposite of the radical.

Muslims Against Sharia compiled a list of issues that differentiate moderate Muslims from Islamic radicals. Hopefully you can help us grow this list.
http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/ 2008/01/what-is-moderate-muslim.html

Poll: Who is a moderate Muslim?
http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/ 2008/01/poll-who-is-moderate-muslim.html

Shimaa Gamal said...

Though I don't agree with the term Muslims against Sharia, and though I am not against sharia and I don't believe that moderate Muslims should be against sharia, because sharia is the Islamic teachings.
I believe that it is the different interpretations of these teachings is what's giving it a bad name.
I believe that it is the wrong application of these teachings is the reason Islam is misinterpreted by western non Muslims.
I don't agree too with most of the definations of the moderate Muslims you gave in the link. As I guess these defines the Muslim the west wants.
A pro west Muslim, isn't something that I can't object. But we can't sterotype moderate Muslims to be all pro-west.
Again, a Muslim can take whatever routes he wants. Being a pro-west, or pro-east or even neutral. But this won't make him radical or moderate.
If there is a reform to correct the way Islam is being seen by the west, this reform shouldn't change the Muslims to be pro-west. The reform to save the Muslims from the misinterpreted Islam teachings and to correct the way Muslims view themselves.
Jihad on the other hand isn't something that separates the moderate Muslim from the radical Muslim. Because in Arabic the term Jihad isn't associated with violence. The Jihad in Arabic is a wide term that means the struggle through life for a cause.
Islam is being lost in translation and sterotyping. Because some stupid bloody creatures decided to use the term Jihad to justify thier violence, the term is now associated with terror. Though that term is associated mainly with self control and tolerance.

I published the comment because it is your right to speak up your mind, and work for the ideas you believe in. I agree on some and I don't agree on others. But this is how things should be.

I will try to elaborate on the list in your link.

Thanks
Shimaa

Muslims Against Sharia said...

“sharia is the Islamic teachings”

We disagree. Sharia is a set of Islamic (mostly severely outdated) laws and it should not be imposed on public.

“I believe that it is the different interpretations of these teachings is what's giving it a bad name.”

If something is good, it will not be misinterpreted. If something leaves room for misinterpretation, it should be replaced or discarded.

“Islam is misinterpreted by western non Muslims”

What does Saudi flogging or Iranian stoning have to do with Western non-Muslims?

“But we can't sterotype moderate Muslims to be all pro-west.”

Pro-West is meant as pro-democracy. Moderate Muslims are pro-democracy/pro-West. Radical Muslims are anti-democratic/anti-Western.

“The Jihad in Arabic is a wide term that means the struggle through life for a cause.” – which overwhelmingly seems to be Islamic domination.

“I agree on some and I don't agree on others. But this is how things should be.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s what freedom is. That’s what moderate Muslims want. That’s what radical Muslims oppose.

mahmood said...

dear Shimaa,
I salute you at a post well done and for your courage to stand up against the wave of fifth columnist.
when i read some of these blogers i feel like I'm reading the thoughts of pure hate with no rational, for they have to bring the name Islam in in every social problem they may encounter.
yet they dare not to bring up christianity claiming they are muslims so they can only criticize islam (mal3ooba) or the bible and or old testament with it's violent nature to the discussion. so that leave us with confused thoughts about their motives, it's either the have no courage or they are serving another religion regardless of what they pretend to be(atheist, ex this or ex that) that's only a decoy to add some credibility to the other wise none credable characters they pretend to be.
Also some are against religion all together because it restricts their whims and desires which are is considered immoral and shameful by most beliefs, some they go even further by blaming the society as a whole for nothing more than their own shortcomings.
I live in the west and i see less hate to Muslims than those in Egypt who are expressed by none Muslims in Egypt and those who can not control their urges.
I have news for you Islam was, is and will be the choice of the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people no matter how the anti Islam attempts either by financing suspicious institutions to attack Islam nor by those who try to falsely blame Islam for their problems when they should blame themselves.
the irony also becomes clear when you see Islamic haters who are suppose to be loving people according to their teaching but the proof is an obvious contradictions. even as you can see some are against having the law so the are so hateful they would rather live in a lawless society rather than hear the word Islam.
But you know Shaimaa whatever these people think they can achieve..! it's nothing more than a passing illusion and the only thing that will destruct is their dark hateful self.
people like these brought me closer to my religion because i have seen other religions lived with them and at the end of the day nothing compares to Islam at least in my opinion and experiences. and if these guys don't like it then ask those other guys to finance a one way ticket out of Egypt and to a country that will approve of your morals.

Again Shaimaa i salute you and send you my best regards and highest respect. keep up the good work

Muslims Against Sharia said...

mahmood,

"yet they dare not to bring up christianity"

You are a moron. What does Christianity have to do with our problems? How is blaming Christianity or saying that the Bible is just as flawed going to help us? Our "Islam can do no wrong" mentality will destroy us.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Mahmood
I posted your comment though I don't agree on most of it. My post was about the fact that Islam is a tolerant and flexible religion that isn’t violent in nature. I wrote that post to clarify that Muslims aren’t barbarians who fail to discuss problems.
I don’t believe Muslims should take defensive positions with regard to anyone. We have put ourselves in the corner by trying to defend Islam. Defense against what we considered attacks, and might have been only a way to explore Islam, made us look like ignorant, closed minded freaks. The truth is, we are not.
In my opinion, Muslims started brought these attack to themselves, by not having a civilized conversation about our religion. Some of us have tried to push Islam down the throats of people, who don’t want, an approach that no rational person would ever approve.
Some Muslims started acting violently to defend their religion, which worsen the picture.
My post wasn’t about Egyptian non Muslims. My post isn’t to sell Islam. My post was a try to clarify that we are not ignorant, we are not blind followers. My post was to prove that I am not in denial and Muslims aren’t just a bunch of bloody creatures who believe that they are the best nation God sent to earth, just because they were born Muslims.
I don’t agree with you about pointing to Egyptian non Muslims as fifth columns. They are not. I agree that recently we have started to have a degree of tension between Egyptians. For so many reasons that I am not going to address. But I believe that the last thing to help dissolving this tension is calling some non Muslim Egyptians fifth column. If there are fifth column elements in Egypt, they are those Egyptians who try to discriminate against Egyptians by calling some of them Muslims and the other Christians.
I am so sorry; I can’t agree with you that Islam will always be the choice of Egyptians. Because, Muslims choose every day not to abide to Islamic rules and so does many Christians and Jews all over the world out of the fact that some people blindly believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
I posted your comment as a sign of moderation. You have the right to believe and to support your beliefs so do everyone else. Everyone has the right to believe and support his beliefs without taking defensive positions or attacking on basis of preventing assault.

Shimaa

mahmood said...

Dear shimaa,
thank you for your tolerance in publishing my comment, though i must clarify that i did not mean to call Egyptian christian fifth columnist, when you read the sentence that followed i was pointnting at some blogers.
thank you for alerting me to what seems to be a serious accusation that I surely did not mean.
I hope that will clear any misunderstandings in that matter.
I happen to agree with you entirely on the fact that some Muslims are aggressive in their approach and I'm completely against that. and so many of us do not obide by the rules which is not good but we are human after all and we make mistakes.
also i was not attacking other religions either, i was just hinting to the fact that there is a small number of people who target Islam and make it the only fair game in their debate, challenging them to write about others not to put others down but for diversity sake.
Thanks again Shimaa and even though you disagree with the way my comment appeared to be I appreciate your civility and manners in responding to me and allowing me to appear in your respected post.
please accept,
my best regards and highest respect

Z-Lo said...

I discovered your blog because I was impressed with your comments on Sandmonkey's review of the Make Me a Muslim show. Anti-Islam sentiment in the West is an issue I follow closely. You said that you blame Muslims, but xenophobia, fear and bigotry in the West are also to blame. I think it is a shame that Muslims have to constantly apply the "moderate" prefix. Although we may seem few and far between, there are Westerners who are not hostile - just to make it known.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Z-Lo
I am honored that my blog got your attention. I agree with you, it is a shame that Muslims has to use the moderate prefix to prove they are worth to be heard. I blamed Muslims because I believe that it is initially our mistake. Many of us, Muslims, have given Islam, which is unknown in the west, a bad name. You are right, the west also is to be blamed, for not trying to see the many faces and discriminating against Muslims just because a few happened to be irrational.
I am a Muslim, and I feel hurt every time someone insults my beliefs. I am a Muslim and I feel hurt because I have to prove I am a civilized person. I am a Muslim and I believe that Moderation is the norm of everything and extremists are not. That’s why I believe there are westerners who are not hostile, the same way I know that Muslims are not hostile.
Thanks for passing by, and I hope you liked my other thought-less thoughts.

Shimaa

Muslims Against Sharia said...

"Many of us, Muslims, have given Islam, which is unknown in the west, a bad name."

We could not agree with this more.

Fadfadation said...

Sarah,

iny an7any laki i7teraman :)

Shimaa Gamal said...

Who is Sarah? :)

Fadfadation said...

looooooool

lamo2a7'za ya benty...asly ana 3andi sha3ra...sa3a teroo7 wee sa3a tegy :)

el sen ba2a ya Shaimaa...lol

Great post

Shimaa Gamal said...

hehehee, wala yehemak :) ana 2olt meen Sarah di :)
Asl Sarah dah el esm el tany lama ba2leb Adham Sabry :) 2olt la tekoon harashteny we betsaya7 :) ma3 eny basaya7 le ro7y aho.

Thanks for passing by. and Thanks for the comment :) madam tele3t ana Sarah ;)

gjoe said...

Hallo shaimaa,
Like the blog :)

My personal experience had tought me that in order to really abide by Islamic set of rules, one should read as much as possible about Islam. The more you read, the more you understand. you'll find that everything fits.Just like a puzzle.It may seemed jumbled at first, but when you connect the peaces together,it makes perfect sense.
There is a general notion though in islamic rules.It is the point that "A line has to be drawn somewhere.There must be a reference set by the Knowledgeable Creator, so that people could come back to.Otherwise, the wrong and the right get really mixed up."

Islam DOES address logic and mind. Islam DOES encourage people to think and reason.If it didn't, then our Holy Quraan, wouldn't be full of examples, stories of the previous nations, descriptions of the universal beauty and the variety of creation.

I used to think too about certain questions specially related to destiny, fate, the future and the afterlife. The more I read, the more answers i found.
I suggest that you start with ketab tafseer. Quraan has answers to every question.

Another point: I always wondered why do muslims act so defensive in portraying islam? I mean,Muslims sometimes feel obliged to decorate certain facts in order to "appear" acceptable to non-muslims. The truth is, even in the time of Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) no matter what he did, non-believers stayed non-believers.

I agree with you though in the "blame" part. Nowadays mulsims are to be blamed for how non-muslims see islam.But my point is that sometimes, no matter how good we do, we are still to be seen as bloody savage people who just want to go to heaven to have the 72 wives!

Bold and Beautiful Post.

Shimaa Gamal said...

Hello Gjoe
Thanks for passing by, I am so happy you liked my blog.
I have always said, if religion and common sense conflicted so there must be a problem with our perception. Religion is common sense. Any religion is common sense and the things that contradict with common sense might not be divine at all as a friend of mine once said.
One more time, welcome to my blog. I am so happy you liked it.