My Take On Islam
by Philip McPherson Rudisill
Composed 2/20/2015 and last edited 8/11/2017
I have noted here what I think are the most important elements of the religion of Islam.
Allah is understood to be a god (and indeed the only God), and the merchant Mohammed (of Arabia, 570 to 632 CE) Allahs last prophet (following earlier of Allahs prophets such as Moses, Noah, Job and Jesus). At age 40 (according to his report) Mohammed was accosted in a cave by a being claiming to be an angel from Allah named Gabriel and who demanded that Mohammed repeat to others what the being dictated to him. Gabriel remained in contact with Mohammed for the next few years (until Mohammeds death at age 62) and from time to time would recite to Mohammed what it claimed to have read from a divine book (Quran) composed by Allah and positioned before Allahs throne. Mohammed then recited to others what he was told by this Gabriel, and his words were written down by scribes (as well as memorized) and recited back to Mohammed for confirmation. After being certified as accurate by Mohammed, the transcriptions were placed in a jar which was sealed when full. After Mohammeds death the jars were opened and the transcriptions were put in order primarily according to length and were copied and sent in a book form to various Muslim communities. The original manuscripts were then destroyed.* These recitations in the book are considered by Muslims to be an accurate rendering of Allahs Quran.**
* It is not clear why the manuscripts were destroyed. One would think they would have been preserved for the sake of scholarship and certification of copies throughout the ages. Perhaps there was a fear that they would have been deemed especially holy in some way, which may have been considered as idolatrous. And perhaps conflicts between different transcriptions of the same recitation arose, which would contradict the thesis of the transmission, i.e., accuracy, and thus would be intolerable.
**In addition to the Quran two other authoritative sources for Muslims are the Sunnah (stories of how Mohammed lived his life) and the Hadith (stories of what Mohammed had to say about various aspects of faith and living), both written by honest people who knew Mohammed very well and were close to him.
There are four reported validations of the divine authenticity and authority of Gabriel:
1. Mohammed was at first so distraught about his contact with Gabriel that he thought he had gone insane and as a result sought to jump off a cliff, but Gabriel stopped him.
2. Mohammeds wife was thoroughly convinced that Mohammed was too honest and decent for Allah to allow to be deceived by a demon posing as an angel.
3. One night, while Mohammed was at home alone with his wife, Gabriel appeared to Mohammed;* but as soon as his wife started undressing as a test (at Mohammeds instruction) Gabriel left, proving to Mohammed that Gabriel was not a jinn, for the jinn enjoy watching people in intimate situations like having sex, while angels are much too modest for that.**
* No person besides Mohammed ever saw nor recognized the being which called itself Gabriel.
** The jinn are creatures made out of smokeless fire who cannot be seen or touched by humans. They enjoy hanging around latrines and sleeping quarters and watching humans in their private moments. See below: Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong.
4. A Christian friend or relative of Mohammeds wife learned about Mohammeds experience with Gabriel, and assured her that the being had to be an angel and could not be a jinn or demon.
In this way Mohammed and his wife were both convinced that the being claiming to be Gabriel was indeed an angel from Allah.*
* Some Arabian language experts assure the world that the language of the Quran is too beautiful and powerful to have been composed by any human; for example the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, Tolkien, etc., would fall flat in comparison. Likewise Pauls masterpiece of 1 Corinthians 13 will be worse than the worst of all the Suras (sections) in the Quran. As a result it is clear to these experts (who read the Quran in the original) that Mohammed could not have composed such a masterpiece of art, beauty, expanse and power on his own (although Mohammed was known to be very eloquent in speech [per Ball]), and that the origin is most certainly superhuman, i.e., presumably divine. The reader may be interested in this comparison of the beauty of the Quran with that of Miltons Paradise Lost. And also there is this comparison of the work of Mohammed with that of Joseph Smith, the American who is considered by millions of Mormons to have also been a prophet, and whose words (from a Golden Book provided in America via a being asserting to Smith to be an angel named Moroni) are far more expansive and comprehensive than those of the being claiming to be Gabriel. According to Ball we read: Importantly Muhammad was known to be illiterate - he couldn't read nor could he write.
The first thing Allah created was a host of levels and degrees of paradises and hells. Then Allah created souls. Finally Allah decided which souls would end up in a paradise and which in a hell. Allah is so super intelligent and powerful that the fate of each of the individual souls is determined in advance and in full justice. Accordingly then the point of life may well be to show each human (as well as every angel and jinn) how it is that a particular soul ends up in a paradise or in a hell.*
* This understanding is based on the thesis that the number of the paradises and hells equal the number of souls, Allah presumably doing nothing superfluous. This also suggests a grading on the curve which would be conducive to greater zeal and competition among the Muslims in compliance with the commands of Allah. It does seem clear, however, that at least one uninhabited paradise and hell would serve to increase the delight of those in paradise and the dismay of those in hell, by showing the first the hell that they could have inhabited if they had not been so submissive and the latter the paradise that was available for them had they been more submissive. But this is my own speculation.
This fate does not mean that the souls do not have free will. They are free to do as they wish. But it really doesnt matter, for Allah knows both the makeup of each soul and thus all the motivations and desires of each and, hence, knows exactly how each soul will make its choices when assigned to a human body to inhabit the earth and when confronted with various situations that Allah has preordained and knows are coming. If Allah decides that a particular soul will end up in hell, for example, that soul will be confronted with the appropriate temptations to freely disobey what Allah has demanded of all people in order to be ranked as sincere slaves. The soul does not have to give in to the temptations, but will do so, and all-knowing Allah knows all this. The same thing holds, but in reverse, for those Allah has destined for a paradise.
What counts before Allah is not so much what a person does as rather the intention that a person has in mind when undertaking some action.* For example, when a Muslim pays the poor tax required by the Quran, that Muslim is not to think highly of himself for helping the poor, but is rather to consider himself more like a conscientious taxpayer in a secular community, i.e., he is doing what Allah has commanded and precisely because Allah has commanded it. It is permissible, however, to be grateful to Allah for being so benevolent toward poor people. But the most important thing always is to obey for the reason that one is commanded to obey.**
* This concept of sincerity will have arisen via Jesus who, according to Gabriel, was a prophet of Allah.
** See further Religion is Sincerity." And there is evidence that giving to the poor, along with other good actions, is a way of storing up benefits to be utilized later, either in this life or the next. See this article from The New York Times about how many Pakistanis consider giving to the poor as a form of rewards banking.
A Muslim acts in faith in this wise: if he thinks that he may have been challenged or called by Allah to undertake some mission, e.g., slaying infidels, he must confer with another Muslim, one who is sincere and who is versed in the authentic sources, e.g., the Quran. If both agree that the proposed action (here slaying infidels) seems reasonable and in conformity with the thinking of the Muslim community (Umma) and thus could reasonably be construed as a command of Allah, the Muslim may undertake the action in faith,* i.e., with the assurance that if this action is not the will of Allah, then Allah will intervene and stop it.** And in any case, since sincerity is the condition that determines a Muslims fate by Allah, then even if the action is not called for and indeed is halted by Allah, the individual Muslim is counted as one of the sincere and conscientious slaves, and thus one who has been destined by Allah to obtain a paradise.***
* The requirement for consultation with a sincere and knowledgable Muslim will most certainly have served to keep individual Muslims from going off half-cocked and spreading unwarranted confusion and chaos in the Muslim society.
** The epitome of this thinking is given in the story of Abraham seeking to slay his son and with this son's concurrence. See also this New York Times article concerning this situation. And also this essay concerning Kant's and Abraham. and this related blog.
*** Indeed there is evidence to suggest that if a Muslim sincerely prays for an opportunity to die as a martyr in the cause of Allah, then even if Allah never calls upon that individual to do so, nonetheless, due again to the sincerity, that individual will be treated by Allah as someone who was actually called and martyred for Allah, i.e., will ultimately obtain a paradise.
The revelation of Mohammed is sufficient for all actions and practices of any Muslim and there is no need for Kants moral law of universal reason at all.* A Muslim need have no concern about this moral law and cannot use it to discern whether an action is called for by Allah. This is not to suggest that Allah is actually immoral, but only that for the Muslim the morality of an action cannot be determined except by considering the final effect of that action. For example, and according to Gabriel, a young child was once ordered by Allah to be killed. But while this looked like a heinous murder, this was actually a good deed,** for the child, though innocent at the moment of death, was going to grow up to be disrespectful to its pious parents and cause them great heartache and be deserving of a gruesome hell as a result. By dying now through this killing the parents would be led to have another child and this new child would be more respectful and obedient. Also presumably the child who was slain, since innocent at the moment of death, could expect a paradise. Thus the murder is to be seen more as the work of an excellent and knowledgeable and compassionate surgeon or engineer in making the world a better place for all. Such is the capacity and intention of super intelligent and powerful Allah. Accordingly patience is called for in all judgments concerning circumstances in the world. For what looks bad presently may be marvelous when all aspects are totally comprehended and understood, and this will be the case on the Last Day where all things and all events are made clear to all people, and where what looks wrong will sometimes be shown to be correct and right, as in the case of the killing of this little child.***
* Islam calls for many benevolent acts such as aiding the needy and strangers, and freeing captives (Sura 2:177), and there is a special consideration for women. See next section on the Role of Women in Islam.
** See Sura 18:60-82.
*** This is quite a contrast from the Christian sources where it is impossible (not permitted) for any Christian to understand a command of God as being contrary to the law of universal brotherly and fraternal love, nor as inhibiting an immediate act of love (John 5:1-18).
Thus if a would-be martyr obtains a confirmation (by another knowledgable Muslim) of an intention to die as a suicide bomber, for example, and to kill other people in faith, he need not worry about the suffering and deaths of these victims, for if Allah permits the killing to succeed, these victims either deserved to die and go to hell, or else, and especially in the case of children, by dying they avoid future opportunities for sin and will finally themselves inhabit a paradise.
Women are under the control and training and protection of the relevant male caregiver (e.g., fathers, brothers, husbands). They are not to be punished or beaten unless necessary for family order and harmony and then not in such a way that bruises would show in public and be demeaning to the woman.*
The situation of women in Islam might be compared with that of the care of children generally. Parents take children to the pediatrician and force them to undergo examinations which they might want to resist. If the children had the understanding and knowledge of adults, they would realize that this parental insistence was for their own good and to help insure that they will be happier by being healthier. The same holds of the discipline imposed upon them; it makes life much better for them than if they were allowed to run about wildly and doing whatever they wanted and going wherever they wanted. The intelligent and knowledgeable Muslim woman will realize and appreciate that her male guardian is responsible in a like way for guiding her and generally for taking care of her and in that way to make sure she is happier than she would have been running around like an unruly child or Western infidel. And in the same way that parents are more gentle with children when they obey, even so the male guardian of a Muslim woman will tend to be more gentle when the woman obeys him.
And also, due to the inherent sexual weakness of men, one requirement for all women is to dress modestly in public so as not to excite men into unsociable behavior.
The world is divided into two zones; one is that of Peace and Submission, i.e., the Islamic state where the Sharia law* is honored universally, and the other (the remainder of the world), the Zone of War. The sort of individual Muslim action indicted above in the section on Immateriality of the Moral Law, i.e., slaying a child, can only be valid in the Zone of War. No sane scholar or imam will be found in the Zone of Peace to authenticate any hint of a divine command to a Muslim to slay anyone (in that zone), and certainly not a fellow Muslim (unless he is misbehaving--see Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong below).**
* See Sharia.
** People who currently complain about the violence undertaken in the name of the religion of Submission (Islam) do not realize that the peace can only come after the submission of people living in the Zone of War such that this Zone becomes part of the Zone of Submission and Peace.
The individual Muslim is called upon to do whatever he can to comply with the requirements given in the Islamic sources, e.g., the Quran. If the relevant situation arises, the Muslim is called upon to enforce the requirements concerning right and wrong (which are specified in those sources*); if this is too difficult, the Muslim is expected to at least speak out for right and against wrong; and finally if this is also too difficult (and here as in all things Allah will be the judge of ones sincerity), the Muslim is required to love in his heart what Allah requires and hate what Allah has forbidden. It is clear that in an Islamic state, once order has been established, not only will certain actions never be seen, but certain words and speech will never be heard and, finally and accordingly, certain thoughts will never arise to the consciousness of a Muslim.** ***
* There are five classes of actions available to the Muslim: what is required, what is recommended but not required, what is up to the Muslims free discretion and is permitted, what is discouraged but not forbidden, and what is forbidden. What is recommended and what is forbidden are connected with some relevant incentives. To disregard what is required or to engage in what is forbidden will mean a future in hell.
** Each Muslim is thus considered as a policeman, as it were, and responsible for doing all that he can to insure that all members of the Muslim community comply with requirements of the Islamic sources for the individual Muslim, and even that non-Muslims also remain respectful of the various prophets of Allah. See also duties of the Muslim.
*** The scope of instruction for daily living by the Muslims is comprehensive, e.g., entering or leaving a bathroom with a particular foot, reciting certain phrases such as if Allah is willing with every expression of an intention regarding future actions, detailed washing instructions before prayer, compassionate concern and assistance for the poor and for strangers, modesty in dress and conduct.
Incidentally this consideration may account for differences in teachings and sermons of imams in different areas of the world. In the West, where Muslims are in a subordinate position, it is far more difficult and dangerous for a Muslim to take action again blasphemy and immodesty and other prohibited things, and where there will be a greater stress on the Quoranic principle that there is no coercion in religion. When we look at Muslim majority countries, on the other hand, there will be an easier, and thus a greater, refusal to allow such conditions to pass unpunished, for here it will be much easier for a Muslim to join with others and strive against what is prohibited and for what is required. Accordingly calls to overt action and talk for societal conformity and religious submission and obedience will be undertaken more often and with greater zeal in the Zone of Peace and Submission.* Thus in some places Islam will be considered more of a religion of peace, while in others it will be far less tolerant of forbidden activities.
* On the other hand, when lone wolves strike out in the West against these forbidden acts, since it is far more difficult and dangerous than in Muslim countries, there will likely be a greater, expected reward.
In an effort to promote peace among people the Muslim is urged (with a likely reward) to get along with others. If attacked the Muslim (or the Muslim state) is allowed to strike back in self defense, but no harder than originally struck.
In general a Muslim may expect several tests and trials instituted by Allah during life whereby he is able to demonstrate sincerity of heart (or not, as the case may be*) so that there will be understanding as to why that individual inherits a paradise or a hell upon the Last Judgement. As a consequence of this teaching the wise Muslim will always be on the lookout for any opportunity for proving dedication and sincere submission to Allah. This ties in closely with the individual policeman duties indicated in the earlier section on commanding right and forbidding wrong.**
* Compare: Christians Lords Prayer where one asks not to be led into temptation, i.e., a test and trial.
** See this blog of a young Muslim homosexual who believes that the same-sex attraction was applied to him by Allah in order to test him as to whether he will avoid homosexual sex as Allah has commanded. If he remains chaste he will be greatly rewarded by Allah in the next life.
The entire world will eventually be Muslim and subject to the Sharia law; and the War Zone (see earlier section) will have vanished. At that point it will be impossible to stand out in enforcing what is right and forbidding what is wrong (as mentioned above) for all shall be submissive and in compliance and, as a consequence, there will be no opportunity to find a fellow and informed Muslim (an imam) to justify some action for the sake of Islam which is also dangerous and leading to martyrdom (and thus to an immediate paradise). For this reason it is urgent that any Muslim today, who thinks that he has reason to risk his life and die in the sincere intention of complying with a possible command of Allah,* should act now; for later there will be no need and hence no chance for martyrdom and thus no opportunity for an immediate achievement to the delights of a paradise.** *** As it is now, if anyone has an opportunity to die while promoting the sincerely assumed commands of Allah and who fails to take advantage of that opportunity and act accordingly, that person will likely end up in a hell and be laughed at forever by those who acted in sincerity when they had the opportunity and who were slain in the effort and granted the delights of an immediate and eternal paradise.****
* It is clear in the sources in Islam that a hint of a command of Allah is sufficient to warrant attacking Muslims or non-Muslims, if that command is confirmed by another, knowledgeable Muslim as likely from Allah. See above: Acting in Faith; and also: Sincerity.
** There may still be opportunities for actions which (undertaken in sincerity) can provide excellent chances of a paradise (though not necessarily immediately upon death), e.g., memorizing the Quran. See Former Muslim Extremist concerning also a belief that by memorizing the Quran a boy will be guaranteed a paradise and will be permitted to choose 10 additional people to join him. This may account for the eagerness that some Muslim parents exhibit for placing their sons in fundamentalist madrases.
*** A reprobate or dissipated Muslim may well find it especially appealing to seize an opportunity to become a martyr, for then this one action would wipe out all his former sins and failures, and open the door to a paradise now. See also New York Times article.
**** See article in the New York Times about a young Muslim shooter who wrote in his diary: Dont be fooled by your desires, this life is short and bitter, and the opportunity to submit to allah (sic) may pass you by. And see this other article in the New York Times concerning the underwear bomber who, when told that his mentor concerning the bombing, was having sinful affairs with prostitutes, replied that the mentor could repent for those sins, and his commitment to jihad would outweigh such transgressions.