Allow us to introduce a dazzling new contributor: Alex Mack. Hailing from the USA, he offers us a window into a world few of us have ever truly thought about, unless of course we too are converts to the faith. And his observations are not only brilliant and astute, he also pulls no punches…
To make a conversion/reversion story short, I read the Qur’an on my own and fell in love. The interpretation I have and enjoy is by Maulana Muhammad Ali.
It has an extensive commentary that helps dispel all the misconceptions about Islam. I am not an Ahmadi Muslim, I’m just a Muslim. The interpretation is by an Ahmadi group, but their work helped bring me to Islam, so put a sock in it.
This is a list of frustrations of a new Muslim I apologize in advance for any inconsistencies or grammatical errors.
1.) Dajjal this, Dajjal that, Dajjal, Dajjal, Dajjal. He lives here, no there; it’s a man from Iran, no wait, Israel! Oh did you hear what he said (during a casual conversation) that’s where Dajjal is supposed to come from! This needs to stop; it’s weird and sounds similar to Christians with the rapture. Maybe as Muslims we should stop adopting Christian problems (we should be aware of this). It seems as though Muslims mix Christianity with Islam. As an Ex-Roman Catholic (whom I respect), I have a hard time seeing the similarities between Islam and Christianity. It might just be me, but the similarities seem shallow or irrelevant and Dawah carriers should stop pushing this. Every time we say this the Christian says to him/herself “So if we have similarities that means we might be right.” Or “So those verses were stolen from the Bible.” This of course is food for thought.
Oh, one more thing: if you make fun of other peoples Deen, rituals, and practices, you should be back handed, on the spot, because you are backbiting. It’s rude and inconsiderate; all you’re doing is contributing to the hate and bigotry that pollutes the world. When you do this you are no better than an atheist. My parents are also both still Roman Catholic, so you disrespect the Vatican, you disrespect my family. You don’t know the level of spirituality someone else may have so shut your trap and learn a little respect for other people’s traditions. Now this doesn’t mean someone can’t be critical about certain things, but there’s a difference between bigotry and honest intellectual discussion. Last, my father encourages me to be the best Muslim I can be, yes that’s right hardliners, encourages me!
2.) The Qur’an is not much different from modern Arabic. If I’m not mistaken there is a difference.
3.) A constant denial that there are hadith in Muslim and Bukhari that are problematic, even responding with “Well, Allah says he was going to protect hadith.” I don’t think Allah has stated this anywhere. Again, if I’m not mistaken, he ONLY thing he said he is going to protect is the Qur’an.
I think this might be a form of denial, mental illness, or severe brainwashing. My issues as a new Muslim did not occur until the good old hadith spammers showed up with the famous lines “Authentic Hadith from Muslim and Bukhari….blah blah blah.” Then you get the “it’s Sunnah”, of which I have heard some strange things that make little to no sense in today’s world. Let me emphasis this once more: strange things I have heard on my journey brothers and sisters, strange things! Sometimes I hear things from kids that are just out there, I’m assuming they get this from two sources, parents and the inter webs.
4.) When pressed during dialogue, and you reply with “Well brother, Allah guides whom he wills and leads astray whom he wills.” I understand this but in dialogue (dare I say “Socratic Dialogue”) and looking to find the reasoning behind peoples assertions, it gets you nowhere and exposes your weaknesses. Secondly, I know it’s in the Quran, but a complex theological topic can’t just be thrown around to hide your inability to answer questions. Just say ‘God knows best’, which is the equivalent as the atheist saying ‘I don’t know’.
Side note, ever notice how atheist always say “We don’t know” when arguing about something related to science, as if they are part of the Scientific community or something?
5.) 99% of Khutbahs suck, far too much yelling and irrelevance. Every time I attend one I can hardly pray, I get so pissed off. All that goes through my mind is “Who let this guy get up here and where is the bucket of water?” I attended one that was excellent though, mind you, just one, and he didn’t raise his voice. He only used Qur’an as his reference, if I recall properly.
6.) If it’s from Saudi, it’s authentic. This seems to be a sort of ‘cultural fashion’ that new Muslims adopt unintentionally. I can speak from experience, almost falling into the trap of thinking “Saudi Law is Islamic Law”. If that is Sharia I don’t know what is – just look at their government, and you’ll know what a police state and monarchy looks like. Furthermore, the history of the Wahhabi movement isn’t a peaceful one. I run into great Saudis by the way, in no way am I making a hasty generalization.
One more thing to think about, all of the books published in Saudi, block out woman faces (or at least the ones I have seen). If you cut men and woman off from each other to the extreme, you get problems possibly severe psychological ones. Lowering your gaze does not mean don’t give salaams to a sister or completely ignore her. From a westerners point of view (oh wait does that make my view Kufr?!) it means don’t ogle at each other like pieces of meat.
Stop giving slippery slope scenarios about interacting with the opposite sex, if you can’t control your animal desires then you have a personal problem. If I’m not mistaken that’s what practicing Sufism and Tasawwuf is for, but of course that’s ‘Kufr’ too. So it seems that if you’re Salafi or Wahhabi you’re in a bit of a pickle…
7.) Why do countries Bastardize Islam for political purposes? It makes me sick!
8.) Muslims are the only people who truly test my Islam. This has solidified itself recently, atheists don’t bother me at all anymore, and Islam has all the answers to atheist sophistry (insert internet sophistry here).
This doesn’t relate to Islam having answers but, I have a theory: the only reason internet atheism exists is because people of religion give meaning to them.
Here’s some atheist logic for you from the good old “Stop Spamming1” person on YouTube. I’m sure you’ve stumbled across his vitriolic comments before. I removed the agnostic points for the sake of “understanding atheism”, as this seems to be his last resort when probed. This is from his YouTube page.
An atheist does not believe there is evidence for the existence of gods.
An atheist does not make any claims.
An atheist passively and patiently waits for evidence.
I’ll leave this to the reader to decide whether or not this makes sense.
9.) Lastly, Allah has a hand, but it’s not like our hand, so on and so forth down that terrible slope into anthropomorphism. I’m sorry it’s not a slope, it’s a cliff and at the bottom is atheism.
When I first heard a brother tell me this I almost jumped out of the car. What you are doing by uttering these words is spreading cancer. This cancer seems to be coming from the Salafi/Wahhabi movements, as a matter of fact all problems seem to stem directly from them.
These frustrations have sent me to darkest depths of doubt and unnecessary skepticism but, Alhumdulilah it was a good thing. What brought me out were Sufism and Tasawwuf. It calmed me down, and brought out the best in me and then I started asking simple questions such as ‘why’ and ‘how’ (especially how). You would be surprised how far those two questions will take you.
Last, Islam has taught me to not be a sheep, to be aware of B.S, reflect on creation, ponder, meditate, notice sophistry, not only tolerate but accept people for their differences, and not be a sucker for every fancy Imam who speaks Arabic and flashes fancy clothes and has a big beard.
Peace and blessing of Allah be upon you all!