By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Islam is greatly misunderstood, even by so many who claim to practice it. In this way, how is Islam any different from so many other religions? Judaism is greatly misunderstood by at least some Jews and Christianity or especially Jesus’ message, peace be upon him, is greatly misunderstood by so many of those who claim to believe in him. Fortunately, in our present time, in these latter two cases, misunderstanding of religion hasn’t lead to many “Jewish” or “Christian” suicide bombers, but it hasn’t always been the case that they’re inherently peaceful private religions, and who knows what the future may hold for them? I pray violent sects don’t emerge again from either, but we can’t say for sure whether they will or not…
Spirituality is pure, the Divine spark at the heart of all religions. I define my Islam as a form of spirituality, rather than religion. Something happens when religions become organised, that has a tendency over time to corrupt them. Becoming more about power politics or financial gain than a genuine relationship with the Divine, religions can lose their way… The Holy Qur’an states all of the prophets had the same “deen” (loosely translated as religion, but more close in meaning to “way of life”) and that deen was Islam i.e. the meaning of the Arabic word “Islam”, which means Salaam/Shalom/Peace through submission to the Will of God. When one looks at the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and the Holy Qur’an in this light, one inevitably arrives at conclusions in stark contrast to those who are only Muslims by culture or ideology.
I find it interesting to note, so many if not all prophets and sages, were very controversial figures in their own times… Why was this, and why do so few people reflect upon this? To be a true student and heir of the prophets, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or by whatever description we refer to ourselves, we must understand where they were coming from and what they were trying to teach those around them… So many adherents of every religion, follow like sheep and preach like parrots… How is that, in any way like the example of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad, peace be upon them?