Jun 27, 2007

Explaining Islam

Karen Armstrong holds the ticket as a Muslim apologist. I consider her to be one on a broader scale. Apologia refers to a rational explanation. In her own words, Karen Armstrong is an apologist not only of Islam but of other religions as well. I personally salute her unwavering commitment in communicating to the public what various religions is all about. Through her writings she has labored to clear some of the most common (and often damning) fallacies that has befallen Islam today. Since I have yet to read her books, I find it odd and ironic that someone of immense knowledge on Islam should be banned from our country where Islam is often a victim of misinterpretation, mingled with customs and traditions and personally misconstrued.

While it is consoling to have a prominent figure making waves and throwing positive vibes about Islam, it also a saddening reality that a person not of the faith is the one able to provide the world with an objective etching. Armstrong speaks of the beauty of Islam through her studies of the Quran and other scholastic Islamic texts, and that's just the tip of the iceberg that is Islam. Imagine how much more Muslims, practicing, faithful Muslims, have to contribute to clearing Islam for slander and vilification by the west. If only.

However, there must also be caution in glorifying the likes of Armstrong in championing the religion. Never is she to be mistaken as a reference or guide on being a Muslim and practicing Islam for Muslims, be it in the old days or the modern world.

While her intentions and efforts are undoubtedly noble, her writings and opinions can only be taken as that - her writings and opinions. Allah dictates in the Quran that in matters of religion (which in actuality covers every aspect of our lives) Muslims are to consult the more knowledgeable amongst us (i.e. the religious scholars)( the Quran 21:7). It is therefor impossible for someone like Armstrong to guide us on religious matters since she lacks that one fundamental facet - faith in Allah. It is pertinent for me to point out that Karen Armstrong had stressed, in an interview, that she does not see belief as an important factor in one's religion. That is an expression of her faith but it clearly goes against teachings of the Quran, in which stress is placed upon building a strong belief in God, the angels, heaven and hell among others, time and time again. Without the belief that a higher Being is watching over and providing for you, there can be no compulsion to show gratitude and give thanks. Without the belief that there is an abundance of unseen bounty in the hereafter, there can be no real compulsion to do good deeds unselfishly.

This post is not meant to undermine Karen Armstrong in any way. I, for one, am fast becoming an admirer of her works. However, it is important to be both pedantic and prudent in selecting our sources as guidance.

Fathi Yakan's To Be A Muslim (see chapter The Creed)

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