Sunday, May 9, 2010

What is Islam?

What in fact, is Islam, what does it teach, what do Muslims really believe? Most westerners (including myself previously) won't know the accurate answers. Or they have a picture of Islam created by biased western media. They were taught according to modern western religious studies in school that Islam is a violent religion. I know now that some of the main, most important points were (deliberately?)left out to give Islam a negative image. The image is unfortunately very wrong and distorted.

Some common misunderstandings westerners have of Islam/Muslims:

-Islam is a religion made up by a man called Mohammed.. (pbuh!)
-Muslims bow to a black meteorite in Saudi-Arabia
-Mohammed wrote the Quran
-Muslim women are treated as slaves and forced to cover in thick black clothes by their husbands
-Allah is a god created by muslims (astaghferallah!)

These are only some of the many quite ridiculous perceptions people have. Im not sure if the majority of muslims are aware how western people percieve their religion.

In short, Islam is the belief that there is a God, only one God, there always has been and always will be. God in arabic language is Allah, today arabic speaking Christians use the word Allah too. Allah is not a different, "made-up" god, it is in fact the same only God Christians and Jews belive in.. These three faiths are called "the Abrahamic faiths". What this means is, all three are eachothers succesions, with the same roots. The basic belief system is the same.
Think of it as a metaphore of a tree of life. Judaism is the trunk of the tree, Christianity is the branches, and Islam is the leaves and flowers :) The roots are the same. Without Christianity and Judaism, the tree will not grow leaves and blossom, and the leaves will not survive if they dont get water from the trunk and branches.

God created the earth, the heavens, and everything in it. He sent prophets to humans of all nations and times, beginning from Adam, to Moses, Jesus and the last of prophets Muhammed. The prophets were sent to teach people the right way to live our life, the path to follow to be succesful, in this life and the next one. Their message was always the same. During the course of time men, culture and environment changed and distorted the original message. What purpose would God have created us for if He didnt let us know of Him and of our purpose in life? That in my opinion would just be illogical.

So Muslims believe in Jesus(pbuh)? Yes they do indeed. This is usually a great surprise to westerners/ christians. Wonder why they "forgot' to mention that to us in western school? Oh and also they forgot to mention that Jesus actually predicted his follower will be Mohammed, and this can be found in the Bible! And in Virgin Mary, Angel Gabriel and John Babtist too? If they would have let people know these things in western schools, I bet it would make people more curious and inshallah some would start finding out and getting interested in Islam. But thats not what the church wants of course.
The difference in how muslims view Jesus is that he is a Prophet, not a son of god! Jesus never taught that he is to be worshipped. It cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, on the contrary the Bible refutes this over and over by saying there is only one God. Jesus always emphasized: pray to God, trust God, it is God who makes these miracles, not me, I am just a human being. It was only after his death that the doctrine of the "Holy Trinity" was invented. The Holy Trinity, as a formal doctrine, was adopted by the Council of Nicaea only in 325 CE. It was a political move which went against the teachings of Jesus himself.

Mohammed (pbuh)was the last in the line of messengers, he was sent to ALL nations, to all times. Not just to arab people, the message is universal. The allegation that Mohammed wrote the Quran is just silly, because first of all he was an illiterate man! So how would he even be able to? And there are many facts in the Quran that have been proven to be scientifically correct only in modern times. So how did Mohammed know 1400 yrs ago for example; how the universe was created from nothing and then from gases and that it continues to expand, the sun and the moon float in orbits, that all living things came from water, how the human embryo develops (only seen by microscope) or how the earth is protected by the ozon layer? Just to mention a few of the hundreds of geological, astronomical, anatomical, biological or chemical scientifically proven facts mentioned in the Quran.

Regarding muslim women covering and veiling, most westerners tend to think the husbands are forcing the wife to cover. This could not be farther from the truth! Muslim women choose to cover for modesty out of their own will and respect for their bodies. This is such a broad and complicated subject I will have to write a separate post on it altogether.

This is just a very brief general description of Islam in my own words, I hope it would erase some negative images of Islam.


Umm Sasa said...

assalamu aleikum sisko,
Tosi hienoa että olet aloittanut tämän blogin! Aloin heti seuraamaan ja linkitin facebookiin muille siskoille vinkiksi :D
Odotan innolla uusia juttuja insha Allah :)

TRG said...

Asalamu Alaikum Laylah, jazaki'Allahu khair for linking FHWS to your blog. I have returned the favor and added your blog to the FHWS blog roll. Take care

Layla said...

kiitos Umm Sasa!tervetuloa :)

Thanks Tara! your blog is really informative, mashallah you have gone through lots of trouble in helping people get through the saudi marriage permission process!
keep up the good work!

DB said...


As you can see I have been reading all your blogs. I really find your experiences in Saudi Arabia (a country I have never been to) fascinating. I feel as if I am learning about a new culture through your blog.

I just have to disagree with you on what westerners believe about Islam. The "misconceptions" you mention above are those of people totally ignorant of Islam. I am by no means an expert but in university in U.S.A. I did take a couple religion courses which taught about Islam amongst other religions. Non of those misconceptions were conveyed during my classes and it was not explained as a violent religion. The classes explained the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. They also explained Jesus and Mohammed as a prophets of one and the same God. To say western schools (plural and general) leave out these important facts in order to cast Islam in a negative light is wrong. Maybe the schools you went to in Finland taught those things but then one school in Finland is not representative of all western teachings.

P.S. I wonder how objective you can be about western perceptions and treatment of Islam now that you have embraced a new culture and religion. Obviously you would not have embraced them if you did not think they were good. So naturally you may be a bit biased right?

Layla said...

Hi there DB
Looks like your uni courses were very informative as you say..The information that e.g Finns have about Islam comes from media and then what was taught at school.
However what they teach at elementary and high school level is first of all ridiculously little and like I said they do leave stuff out and are not objective. I say this now because the more I learned about the religion the more I realised that this was all left out in school, what a shame! It really saddens me that people don't know some simple things of the religion. This can be seen through the complete ignorance of Islam that is not rare in Finland or elsewhere in the west.

I can admit my own ignorance before starting to learn about Islam, I'm not ashamed of it or anything! My family and friends with exception of few that have a muslim fathers don't know basic things about Islam also. When I've explained to them some things like for example same God and Jesus was a prophet they are very surprised and these are highly educated people!

Of course one school experience doesn't mean every school is the exact same but the books are the same at least. But that would also mean your one postivie experience from University doesn't necessarily mean all unis teach that well!In Finland people don't tend to take religion classes in University, don't know how many would elsewhere either..

So I dont agree with you on this one :) and I think I'm objective too,just because I converted and I enjoy life here doesn't mean I forgot about my roots or think that suddenly the western way is all bad and awful!
I'm just glad I have come to something that has given me such happiness and inner peace I didn't know existed before.

DB said...


I guess you're right that probably religion is not studied in "schools" in the west. Of-course religion classes at university would be more informative and in debt than in school. I also admit that probably most people would not take any classes on religions in university especially in countries where you only study the subjects of your major, like in Finnish universities. I went to what is called a "liberal arts college" in the USA. The system of education in such institutions offer and ensure that students study a wide range of subject areas including their major. So that accounts for my opportunity to take classes on "the major world religions" and "eastern religions" which I guess is not accessible in all western universities.

Also I think I just naturally knew some of these basic ideas about Christianity, Judaism and Islam even before University because I grew up in a multi-cultural and therefore multi-religious country. I don't know of any Jews there but the country is full of different Christian groups, Hindus and Muslims. So it's hard to see Islam as a violent religion and Muslims as "bad" when you know them intimately and visit their homes for Eid celebrations. I guess It's hard to understand how really ignorant of these things others can be when I just picked up the information through everyday life while growing up. Watching lots of TV (documentaries and travel programs) and reading extensively also taught me a lot about religions without me really studying it.

I think the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York and the bombings on the London transport system have influenced our perception of Islam and Muslims. Yes it is unfortunate that for most westerners that's "the face of Islam" for them.

But as my university experience shows (and if there is one there must be more examples) rest assured, NOT ALL western institutions of learning are lambasting your religion : )

bigstick1 said...


Yes, I will go with Allah being the same God as Yahweh also know as by some as Jehovah? Some however have a different orgination of where Allah come from that I think is more accurate.

Have you studied what this god does starting from Judiasm to Christian to Islam. Have you study where this God originally came from? This god was a lesser pagan god that later was turned into THE god. Are you really familiar with this god's tactics.

After all this god has sanctioned murder(men, women, children, and animals), rape, sexual slavery, slavery, ethnic cleansing, mutalation, torture, lying, deception, etc. This is Yahweh, Jehovah and Allah all round into one.

Start reading the beginnings of the Abrahamic faiths and where Yahweh was first formed and how Yahweh was divided out from the pack and why. You will find that the exodus did not actually occur, Mose was a fable, David was a fable, Abraham was a fable, Solomon was a fable, and it continues. There is no actual proof that Jesus even existed except by written word of the gospels and depending on which one you pick up it will change the story just enough to make him different. Again, more than likely Jesus is a fable.

Your take on religion is from a view of a nice person who choses to overlook all the bad stuff in these books and you chose to overlook the damage it does to both men and women by following such these unrealistic barbaric fairy tales. It also overlooks how these religions are practiced by many to create hostility among different sects, belittles and vilifies women, villifies homosexuals, condones rape and murder all in the name of religion.

Remember you don't have to post this, Laylah. It could just be points to ponder.

Aura said...

Interesting post!

I went to school in Finland and I don't remember actually anything about islam from the elementary school lessons... It could be that we were not really taught anything about islam, or then my memory just fails. But in high school I had an unbiased and IMO a lot better teacher, probably a Christian but she treated all religions quite equally. (The only one she totally judged was Scientology, because those guys rob people's money.) But I have to say that this course of world religions (others than Christianity) was not compulsory, so only those who already were interested in different religions would take a part.