Dear Qureshi Sahib,
We need not be Islamic scholars to understand the working knowledge of Islam. The Quran describes it quite well. In our everyday life, we come across numerous questions, problems and hard to explain phenomenon. As reasonably educated and thinking people we should be able to wade through those challenges and anomalies with ease if we try to understand the mechanism and the philosophy of the order and discipline the nature uses to run not just our planet but the whole universe.
When studying Islam and the behaviour of its adherents from a distance and giving the subject only a cursory look, then, your question: (Which Islam are we talking about?) would be a natural query and a reaction which is quite understandable. The truth is, we can raise the same question for other religions as well, for example there are well over 2 billion Christians, the way you wrote a commentary on 1400 years of the Muslims, one can compile a much larger and much more complex and dreadful story of the history of Christianity and its followers. We will find similarities, such as, Christian fighting against Christian, some time in the name of God, and often times, supporting their self serving ideological or political interests. Similar examples can be found about other faiths and communities.
The behaviour of people under different socio-cultural and political pressures may depict the local social environmental conditions but does not necessarily reflect on the religion they may subscribe to.
Islam (as per the Quran) does not ordain a specific type of government system, but its emphasis is on governance in terms of equality, fairness, security and justice for all.
The rigidity of the Muslim behaviour, as you have quite correctly pointed out, may be due to general lack of education and at the same time having minimal knowledge of their religion. Until about the time of renaissance in Europe, the Christians have also displayed rigidity in their belief system. The Muslim societies, the world over have missed their share of renaissance. The Europeans started colonising poorly organized societies around 16th century after having gone through renaissance and entering the industrial revolution. The changing social conditions had profound impact on the colonised population causing an obstruction to the natural intellectual development of the colonial masses.
Another little known fact is that during early days of Islam, the Muslim Mullahs banned translation of the Quran into other languages. This became a factor in not discovering the real Islam. Moreover, within 200 years after the passing away of Prophet Mohammad, various man-made religious books, including the Hadees literature started to appear. As a result, Islam became highly distorted and corrupt, far from the message of the Quran. The abundance of the Quran translations that we see today is a recent phenomenon, started only about 100 years ago.
Islam does not guarantee any special or a higher status to Muslims, they have to achieve the status through their actions. God of Muslims is not just their God, He is everyone’s God, whether they recognise Him or not.
You have talked about the Abassids and Omayyad, merely fleetingly. These two establishments had a lot to offer to the man kind in terms of their work in science, mathematics, medicine and astronomy. Several books can be cited about their work which became the foundation of the sciences later in Europe. A very interesting documentary show was recently presented on the subject of developments and innovations that came out of Muslims during their hey days while Europe was much backward. Those times are referred to as the golden age of Muslims while Europe calls that time the dark ages, because for them it was truly the dark age in their own domains. This discussion is a separate subject on its own.
Regarding your comments, “……….it is a convulated logic that since we are sinful therefore, God is not kind to us ……………..”
No, it is not like that, you have, most likely, heard that from semi-literate Hadees thumping Molvis. The Quran, does not have any such message and we should not fall for Molvis.
The life in the universe obeys basic physical laws, established by nature (I call that God). Our own happiness and success may be the outcome of numerous factors depending on our actions and the interactions with lots of other forces – every individual is like a source of influence and every environment has numerous additional sources of impacts and influences to cause some effect on us.
The story of defiance of the Satan should be taken as a metaphorical representation of a Satan like entity living inside of us all, against whom we constantly carry out a battle between good and evil all our lives.
Simply put, when we ask, “Which Islam are we talking about?”, Many of us are simply confused because there is an Islam that requires you to have your trousers 3 inch above the ankles, and perhaps your shirt to be 6 inch below your knees. Then there is Islam that wants you to have a beard, no moustaches and a head cover at all times. There is version of Islam that claims that each Namaz offered in Mecca is equivalent to 27000 offered anywhere else – why do you think our politicians go there year after year? Then there is TTP that sells its own version of Islam to some idiots, promising them 72 Hooris waiting for them the moment they get to the other side after they have exploded themselves with a bomb killing many innocents, who have nothing to do with the Hoori paddling Islam. One can go on describing the versions of Islam, but the truth is that none of those are the religion that comes from the Quran. Those versions are nothing but dogmas and most of the Muslims have stopped wondering about the difference because the Molvis keep bombarding them with their own versions day after day.
The general Muslim population fails to distinguish between the real Islam and hundreds of man-made versions because of simply one reason – they have not bothered to study the Quran in a language that they understand well!
The sectarian problem is a major setback, thanks to the man-made dogmatic religious versions, they all claim that they represent exactly what the Prophet introduced – Alas, only if they take the trouble to read the first 3 verses of Chapter 53 in the Quran, they will find out that the Prophet preached only what was revealed to him through the Quran – hence, the only religious book they need is the Quran.
Regarding your concern for different interpretations of Islamic injunctions, why not go back to the only source that we have and it was sent down for our guidance – that is the Quran. More we rely on the man-made religious literature, more we are going to move away from the real Islam as well as away from other Muslims.
Similar to the modern Western societies, where the religion has been separated from the state, the Quran has nothing in it that opposes secularism.
You have cited the example of Muslim Spain (al-Andalucía), let me give you a wonderful example of a theoretical cosmological study that came from al-Andalucía, regarding the proof of creation of the universe (as opposed to being always there) and an indirect proof of existence of God. The study is named, ‘Kalam Cosmological Argument’. One can find several versions of this article on the internet if searched using the name I have provided, but for comprehensive study, I suggest people should go to Stanford University encyclopedia, here is the link:
Regarding the entities like ISIS and Al-Qaeda, we must not confuse them with any religion, they are the political forces, created by the US for their own imperialistic interest.