|أحمد محمد لبن Ahmad.M.Lbn|
مؤسس ومدير المنتدى
عدد المساهمات : 27085
العمر : 67
|موضوع: Chapter 13: My Reasons الثلاثاء 22 أغسطس 2017, 5:57 am|| |
Chapter 13: My Reasons
My best friend is a Daoist, and he says that I "embody the Dao", whatever that means! I have another friend who is an Orthodox Jew, who says that where I stand before God is valid to him, because in his Judaism, everyone has a place.
A dear mentor, himself a Muslim and Sufi, explains conflict between religions by describing all humankind in a circle with God above us. In the center of the circle, we find our perfect relationship to our Lord and Creator. We are all drawn inevitably to move towards this center, because that is our created nature. As we look around the circle, we see some who seem to be headed in almost the same direction as ourselves, and some who are not.
Some seem diametrically opposed to us from our own limited perspective. As we move closer to the place where God wants us to be, we cannot help but come closer to everyone else, even though our perspective may never change. It is only with the help of God that any of us can ever see the truth.
I know that this perfect relationship is Islam, because of Surah 3:19-20: "The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will); nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account.
So if they dispute with thee, say: 'I have submitted my whole self to Allah, and so have those who follow me.' And say to the People of the Book and to those who are unlearned: 'Do ye (also) submit yourselves?' If they do, they are in right guidance, but if they turn back, thy duty is to convey the Message; and in Allah's sight are (all) His servants."
Sometimes people I talk to wonder why, given my disillusionment with Christian doctrine and its deviation from its Prophetic roots, I didn't just reject all religions and become some sort of New Age guru! I answer them that I follow Islam because I know it is best. Some Muslims I know wonder whether I go far enough in condemning other religions in my writing and speaking.
They think that instead of "best", I should say "only"! I often wish it was that simple. In fact, I am prevented from such a statement by verses like the one I just quoted, and by others like Surah 6:108, which says in translation: "Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance.
Thus have we made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did." It is wrong to condemn someone else's path to a right relationship with our God.
If they do submit, they are on right guidance, and we must trust that they will eventually come to Islam. If they do not and are truly ignorant, then they may be driven to the sin of reviling the One God Who is Real. I can only explain why I say Islam is "best" and trust God that this is sufficient. I prefer that approach.
When I think about the circle of humanity described by my Sufi friend, I think that someone standing in perfect Islam would see all the rest of us moving towards them, and could give valid and helpful guidance to anyone, regardless of where they started out, to help bring them to what we all seek.
I've described my childhood's simple Faith in God. I still feel in my heart that that kind of Faith is the best. It's accessible to everyone, regardless of education, experience and intelligence. I didn't understand it back then, and I could not even begin to explain it to myself or anyone else, but I knew that I had been made by God, that God knew me, and that we had a relationship that would go on forever.
As I grew, my expanding ability to describe that relationship and my attempts to categorize it didn't improve it at all. I tried very hard to conform to the religious framework of the people around me because I wanted to fit in with them, not because it made me feel closer to my Creator. Then I read the Holy Quran and recognized my own God in the Words.
I will always be distrustful of modern, organized religions, with their well organized beliefs. They come too neatly packaged for my liking, and I think that they serve the tendency that we all share to stress what we believe much more than what we do, even though God's Prophets seem to me to recommend the opposite.
Any large group of believers can't help but try to organize themselves by those beliefs, and they inevitably develop inclusion and exclusion criteria to keep some people in and to keep others out. It is difficult to leave room for honest uncertainty. To me, Faith is not about being right. Faith is the trust in God and God's Rightness that impels me to act in the way that I am supposed to act.
When I meet others who share the same goal, to act in a way pleasing to our Creator, I know that I am among my brothers and sisters, regardless of their beliefs.
Faith comes from God. It's all we have when we're born without even the capacity for decision or action, and it's all we have when we die. We all respond to it differently, but in each of us, it drives us to draw closer to God, and in doing so, drives us to come closer to each other as well. Conversely, our explanations and beliefs (that become our religions and doctrines) often serve to drive us apart.
That has to be wrong. God did not make some of us to be of less worth or to go astray, regardless of the positions and roles that we hold in relation to each other in this life. The greatest evil of any religion lies in its ability to make us treat God or one another with disrespect.
That said, I think that some sort of framework of belief is both necessary and inevitable. It is also inevitable that we group ourselves according to those beliefs, and that we then teach them to our children. Although I agree that we all have an inborn sense of our relationship with God, of the difference between right and wrong, and of the importance of choosing one over the other, I do not agree that the yearning we all feel to know our God is both the beginning and the end of religion.
I don't think that it's possible to live without structured beliefs because I don't think God made us that way. When we worship God, we are responding to a need to have a relationship with our Creator. We also share a need for spiritual companions of our own kind with whom we can talk about our need to understand things like why and how we were created, and what it was that we were made for. Our religious doctrines help fulfill those yearnings. It's our creativity with them that gets us into trouble sometimes.
Most often when I ask people why they have the beliefs that they do, they explain that it's convenient or culturally appropriate. Some people say that they are what they are because their parents brought them up that way, while others seem to get a lot of status, money or power by following the path that they are on.
Unfortunately, one can't follow the news these days without realizing that a religion may also give us permission to treat certain other people in a derogatory fashion, or even give us permission to subjugate them to our will, and still feel somehow morally superior for doing so. I think that the only valid reason to choose any doctrine lies in its ability to aid us in choosing to act as God wants us to.
When I said that some Muslims think I should say that Islam is the only religion, I wrote that I wished it was that simple. In fact, it is! Islam teaches that every people has known a Prophet who taught about God, even though the names are all different.
The Holy Quran commands that we follow these Messengers without distinction, in Surah 4:150-152: "Those who deny Allah and His Messengers, and (those who) wish to separate Allah from His messengers, saying: 'We believe in some but reject others', and (those who) wish to take a course midway – They are in truth (equally) unbelievers, and We have prepared for unbelievers a humiliating punishment.
To those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of the messengers, we shall soon give their (due) rewards, for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." When you look into it, it’s really amazing how virtually every religion seems to have a core of monotheism to it! I think that every one of them started out in the same way, with one of God's Prophets revealing Islam to their people.
Even if I think their beginnings were the same, I can't say that even those religions that began with a Prophet revealing to his people the best way to please the One God are equally valid today. Identifying and acknowledging God's many Prophets and Messengers in Islam is one thing, but following all but the last of them today is completely impossible because of the uncertainty that surrounds much of their teachings, as a consequence of variations and differences that have crept in over time.
Some of these differences exist because of the different needs of the cultures to which the Prophets were sent. For example, having been slaves, the sons and daughters of Israel did not need to be told that slaves are as valued by God as their masters, or that freeing a slave is a good thing.
Jesus came to remind a people becoming mired in legalism and mysticism that it is God's Grace, not strict observance of the law and sacrifice, that brings about forgiveness and reconciliation, and to demonstrate that forgiveness and reconciliation in his own life. The Holy Quran dedicates a significant portion of Itself to the defence and protection of women, and the declaration that before God, men and women are equal.
Unfortunately, some of the differences found between the various doctrines are significant and have occurred inevitably with the passage of time. God does not teach us everything that there is to know. We all try to explain things we don't understand. Over time, in the past in many religions, the core information has been lost or degraded, our own explanations have been expanded, and the emphasis has shifted away from where it should be.
A more dire reason for some of the differences is the tendency we share to use positions of religious authority for our own benefit. Anyone can subvert their religion to manipulate the behaviour of their followers by inserting their own message. If this insertion is successful, it is propagated. Inevitably, even if they began with Divine Revelation, these old religions were subject to modification, decay and misinterpretation.
Otherwise, we wouldn't have so many different ones! Today, choosing between these doctrines, or choosing to leave one that has become false, can be difficult. When we are young we aren't responsible (for choosing), because we don't even realize that we have a choice. Even when we get older and more experienced, I don't think many people feel drawn to change for a number of reasons. However, if you can, I think it is very important to make your own choice, and to choose wisely. Intellectually, I have chosen Islam because, as I said, I know that it is the best.
Its Prophet, Mohammed (PBUH), was divinely supported and inspired. The religion that he taught remains strong and vital, further evidence of that support and succour.
The Book of Islam, the Holy Quran, contains many miraculous truths and insights on many diverse subjects including cosmology, embryology, physics, history and the location of Noah's (PBUH) Ark. Both the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and the Holy Quran fit well into the Prophetic tradition of the Middle-Eastern Semitic peoples.
Mohammed (PBUH) is the last of the Prophets, and the Holy Quran the last of the Holy Books because it has descended seamlessly and quickly from revelation to print, in a people with an oral tradition strong enough to prevent mistake or modification. It has been safe from manipulation or decay ever since.
Islam, when based solely on the Holy Quran, unchanged from when it was first revealed, and guided by the practices and associated teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), is the only religion that I can be sure is the way God intended, and so Islam is the filter by which I choose to judge other doctrines and to live. I follow Islam because it helps me make good choices, and to treat God and Creation the way I'm supposed to.
Emotionally, I chose Islam because of the gentle way it accepted me. If one is born and raised a Muslim, Islam is complete in itself. I came to Islam with a long history of worship, prayer and meditation in a religion that I thought I understood. That religion is still a part of me, and it always will be.
I thank God that in Islam I better understand who Jesus was and can better comprehend his role as Messiah. I smile when I meet evangelical Christians who tell me they want to bring me "back to Christ" because in truth, in Islam I never left him. I became Muslim, and this book was written, because of my realization that Christianity no longer followed the Christ. Islam completed my religion; it didn't erase it. From my own experience, I know that Islam is the eventual destination of anyone honestly seeking to find peace with God.
Finally, spiritually, I accepted Islam because when I read the Holy Quran, I felt as if I was coming home. Coming to Islam was a return to the simple Faith of my childhood. It calls us to trust and obey, and to accept ourselves the way that God made us. It teaches us again and again that God knows us in the same way.
We don't need to be perfect, because God Is! We just have to do our honest best, trust God to make us better, and realize that God knows the truth about everything that we do. Surah 4:31 teaches: "If ye (but) eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of you all the evil in you, and admit you to a Gate of great honour." Surah 39:53-55 commands us: "Say: 'O my servants who have transgressed against their souls!
Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, for Allah forgives all sins, for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: After that ye shall not be helped.
And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you - of a sudden, while ye perceive not!" Islam is simple surrender to the Will of God. I was told once not to read the Holy Quran because it was a dangerous book. I learned by my own experience that the Holy Quran is the most dangerous book in existence. No one can read it and experience the simple Truth and submission to God that it conveys without having his or her life changed.
It is the Word of God. That is the reason that although I will always choose Faith over doctrine, I still choose to follow Islam. In the same way that a good tool makes our work easier and better, a good religion makes it easier to act well. A bad tool just doesn't do the job. We all serve God. Some of us do so well and willingly, others either poorly or without understanding. Willing service will always be rewarded. In the universe that God created, everything contributes to God's plan.
Even the rebellions and thoughtless acts that we and others commit, though they result in pain and suffering that should not have occurred, are incapable of making creation deviate from the end that God has intended since the beginning.
God knew what we would do before the beginning. There is a Best Path that leads us directly from where we are to where God wants us to be. The first surah says: "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment.
Thee do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray." Islam is the Straight Path. The words and meaning of the Holy Quran give the best guidance. Surah 6:153 teaches: "Verily this is My Way, leading straight. Follow it; follow not (other) paths; they will scatter you about from His (great) Path; thus doth He command you, that ye may be righteous."