SUSRIS periodically shares perspectives from columnists in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf. For your consideration here is today’s column by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim who writes regularly for Arab News.
Do Muslims Really Understand Islam?
The total number of the Muslim population is around 1.6 billion or about 25 percent of the world population. Generally speaking, most of the Arab population are Muslims, but not every Muslim is an Arab. For example, Pakistan and Bangladesh are not Arab countries, but they have more Muslims than all 22 Arab countries combined.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. The Muslim population is growing at a steady pace in many non-Muslim countries especially in the US and Europe. All it takes to be a Muslim is to announce that there is no God, but Allah (SWT) and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his messenger.
So, if the number of Muslims is on the rise, then why do Muslims feel insecure and threatened and why do Muslims always think the others are after them at a time when there are more Muslims being killed by Muslims than there are Muslims killed by non-Muslims? And is a Muslim killed by non-Muslim considered a bigger crime than if he is killed by a Muslim?
Islam is a religion of peace and harmony and a religion that has five pillars, which are easy to follow.
1. There is no God, but Allah (SWT) and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is his messenger.
2. Praying toward Makkah five times a day.
3. Zakat (2.5 percent) of what you own in excess wealth (not including your house… etc.).
4. Fasting during the day in the month of Ramadan
5. Performing Haj to Makkah once in a lifetime, only if you can afford it and are physically capable of doing it.
The rest of the teachings of Islam are for extra good deeds for the Muslim. And all the good deeds always match the needs for the daily life. Islam requires us to have a clean body and soul. The Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings are the guidelines for a Muslim and the Holy Qur’an said: “You have your own religion and I have mine.” And also, it said, you can’t force non-Muslims to convert to Islam. In another word, Islam is very easy to follow when followed the right way. And if you do, then you can maintain social justice among people regardless of their faith.
Ironically, the Muslim countries don’t provide social justice. The first word that Angel Gabriel taught the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the word read and the strongest verses in the Qur’an are the ones about injustice (Thulm). And one of the biggest sins in Islam is a Muslim killing another fellow Muslim. So, why the Muslim world is very backward in providing education, social justice and we see killings in Muslim countries being carried out in the name of Islam? We see it in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Mali and other Muslim countries. And every time there is a mass killing, these Muslim countries always blame it on the others, but not themselves. This is why the Muslim countries always figure at the bottom of the list of development, health care and education rankings. So, it is not the others who defame the name of Islam, it is the Muslims who do it.
And Muslims have done a lot of damage to themselves in many ways.
One of the most noted drawbacks among many Muslims is their behavior and their relations with others from different religions. But, all Muslims know that the peak of the Muslim empire’s expansion happened when many non-Muslims lived in the Islamic empire’s capitals such as Baghdad in the past. There were many Christians and Jews living side by side in Damascus and Cairo. They were scholars who worked side by side with Muslim scientists. Muslims at that time didn’t feel threatened because Islam is a religion that is protected by Allah (SWT) not by human beings. And as for anti-Islam propaganda, it was the case even during the time of the prophet. But, the Qur’an taught Muslims that the religion would spread further. And Islam is not affected by the acts of individuals.
Last year the Muslim world and Muslims were very angry when an unknown preacher burned a copy of the Qur’an, but do the Muslims know how many copies were burned and damaged by Muslims themselves? Every time there is a bomb explosion near a mosque, school or a house, then an unknown number of copies of the Holy Qur’an are burned and damaged.
During the unrest of the Arab Spring and recent incidents of sectarian violence in many Muslim countries, we saw many buildings, hotels, mosques, houses and schools being completely destroyed and we all know that tens if not hundreds of thousands of copies of the Holy Qur’an must have been burned or damaged in the process, but no one spoke about it. We saw riots in many Muslim countries when a cartoonist drew images about the prophet that were surely in bad taste, but it was Muslims who died during these riots.
Islam is not threatened by non-Muslims, it is threatened by Muslims themselves. We as well as the whole world saw and heard of the attack on a young girl who wanted to seek education. So, why did Muslims feel threatened by a 14-year-old Pakistani girl (Malala Yousafzai) when she spoke about the need for education? What do we say to the world about the attacks in Pakistan and Iraq on mosques as part of sectarian violence?
What would the whole world say when they see the Syrian weapons of mass destruction being used by Syrian Muslims against Muslims and non-Muslims? Islam is far from these practices, but at the end of the day, these practices are committed by Muslims.
The Muslim world is losing many of its talented brains who emigrate to non-Muslim countries, ironically to seek social and religious freedom. And we are beginning to see happy Muslims not in Muslim capitals, but we see them in Australia, Europe, America and Canada. We see the Muslims in the West enjoying social equality, religious freedom, political participation and good education.
In the past, it was the Muslims who led the world in the field of science and technology and now the Muslim world is the least developed even though we have the largest natural resources, fertile land and the willing people to exploit these resources. But, we still see the Muslim countries as the least developed. Islam is a religion of peace not jihad and destruction.
— Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a Commodore (Retired), Royal Saudi Navy. He is a frequent contributor to SUSRIS. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim:
- Commentary | Kingdom Needs Oil Industry Think Tank – SUSRIS – Mar 26, 2013
- Commentary | Perspective on Stability – SUSRIS – Feb 23, 2013
- Commentary | Prince Muqrin: A Pilot, an Astronomer and a Politician – SUSRIS – Feb 15, 2013
- Commentary | America: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t – SUSRIS – Jan 26, 2013
- Commentary | A Giant Leap for Saudi Women – SUSRIS – Jan 12, 2013
- Commentary | Football, Politics and Diplomacy – Mulhim – SUSRIS – Jan 1, 2013
- Road to Peace: From Riyadh to Vienna – Mulhim – SUSRIS – Dec 27, 2012
- Gaza and Israel – What a Waste! – SUSRIS – Nov 19, 2012
- The GCC States: Between Democracy and Prosperity – SUSRIS – Nov 3, 2012
- Arabs, Israelis, Conflicts and the Future – SUSRIS – Oct 19, 2012
- What’s Wrong With Criticizing Expatriates? – SUSRIS – Oct 4, 2012
- National Day a Proud Moment for All Saudis – SUSRIS – Sep 23, 2012
- 9/11 and a Tale of Two Archives – SUSRIS – Sep 11, 2012
- Memories at the Movies – SUSRIS – Sep 1, 2012
- The “Stairway to Heaven” and the Iranian Revolution – SUSRIS – Aug 20, 2012
- Saudi Mega Projects and the American Taxpayers – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRIS – Aug 13, 2012
- Prince Bandar: From a Pilot’s G-Suit to a Political Three-Piece – SUSRIS – Aug 4, 2012
- Saudi Mega Projects and American Cowboys – SUSRIS – July 24, 2012
- Questioning the Roots of the Arab Spring – SUSRIS – July 17, 2012
- Fighter Jets and Sword Dances – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRIS – June 29, 2012
- Commentary | Saudi Journalists Association: The Beginning of a New Era – SUSRIS – June 25, 2012
- Russia, Bridesmaid, but Never the Bride – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRIS – June 22, 2012
- Crown Prince Nayef and World Security – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRIS – Jun 19, 2012
- Gulf States and An Era of Cooperation – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRIS – June 2, 2012
- Saudi Pioneers and Mega Achievements – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRIS – May 12, 2012
- Is Visiting Jerusalem Recognition of Israel? – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – May 1, 2012
- Muslims’ Hijrah to Europe – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Apr 23, 2012
- The Legacy of Saudi Aviation: Dhahran Airport, Pan Am and TWA – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Apr 20, 2012
- The Eastern Province, Land of Opportunities – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Apr 17, 2012
- Syrian Spring, Israel’s Easy War – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Apr 4, 2012
- King Abdullah and the Young Ambassadors – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Mar 20, 2012
- Saudi Cancer Foundation and the Giant Steps – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Mar 14, 2012
- Syria – Where are the Americans? – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Mar 6, 2012
- Arab Spring and the Hidden Apartheid – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Feb 21, 2012
- KFUPM, from Jabal Al Dhahran to Pasadena’s JPL – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Feb 17, 2012
- The Expatriate Who Forgot His Home Address – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jan 24, 2012
- Atlanta and the US-Saudi Business Forum – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Dec 6, 2011
- America Fired Itself From a Job – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Nov 17, 2011
- A Muslim in a Church and a Jew in a Mosque – SUSRIS – Sep 20, 2011
- September 11 and the Longest Ten Years – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Sep 10, 2011
- Airline Diplomacy – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jul 17, 2011
- President Ahmadinejad: Iran Doesn’t Need Enemies – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jun 8, 2011
- Expats and Loytalty – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – May 29, 2011
- Improving Saudi Tourism Prospects – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – April 14, 2011
- What if Arabs had recognized Israel in 1948? – Adulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – April 5, 2011
- Reflections on the Foundations of US-Saudi Relations – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jan 22, 2011
- Is there a larger role for Saudi Aramco? – Abdulateef Al-Mulhim – SUSRISblog – Jan 12, 2011