March 1998: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 3

Our God is One and the Same

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Finding the answer that I sought in the Bible helped me overcome that obstacle.

I never adopted the hejab, the female dress code which many women choose to wear. I never read anything during my introduction to Islam that even suggested that women should do so. My introduction to Islam was through a westerner’s eyes with a Christian foundation as strong as any. As there were no mosques to speak of in America twenty-five years ago, I could only imagine what practicing Islam might mean and the few Muslim friends that I knew looked like contemporary college students and business professionals that could fit in comfortably anywhere in the world.

When the opportunity to travel to a Muslim country presented itself, I rose to the challenge. I was not prepared for Islam as I found it being practiced by an entire nation. For over twenty years I remained skeptical about many practices of the faith, particularly those based on traditions not specifically mentioned in the Quran. Although I tried to remain open-minded, I continued searching for answers. In the meantime I had returned home and was trying to balance a western upbringing with the basic tenets of Islam which I felt somehow had to be compatible.

By now there were mosques in many metropolitan centers and I tried attending one in my area every weekend. At first I enjoyed going and listening to the sermons. However, there were many issues that bothered me. The people who practice Islam have many religious laws and guidelines that they claim are part of the religion. Well, they certainly are a part of “a” religion, but most are not the requirements for practicing true Islam, although most Muslims would strongly disagree with me.

As a Lutheran, I was taught that the Bible was “the” source for all religious guidance, and that if the Bible could

not substantiate a practice of the faith, that practice could not be considered a part of the religion.
When I moved on to becoming a Muslim as a young adult, it was on the basis of the Quran being the final message from God to humanity, a completion of God’s word to mankind. Moses had been given the Ten Commandments; other Old Testament prophets and messengers subsequently followed to enlighten the believers until Jesus came; the Gospel or New Testament was written, not to replace the Old Testament but to substantiate it, and to give additional good news from God. The Quran was for me the final edition of His word. It was a final testament that supported previous scripture, that confirmed, consummated and superseded all previous scripture; that established precedent and as necessary, abrogated or corrected that which had been altered over time.

So when I saw firsthand the actual practices of Islam and the traditions associated with Islam, I thought about all the reforms that had taken place in the Christian church throughout the ages and saw an immediate parallel. Where did truth stop and fiction begin?

Two years ago, I finally found the answer. A newly written English translation of the Quran was in my hands at last and I was ready to read! It was superior to all the other translations I had attempted to read. All the cultural trappings that many associate with Islam were absent and all I had to do was ask God to lead the way. Because God has created each and every one of us specifically for the place in time that we occupy, consequently His word has to be applicable to everyone who is fortunate enough to access it, regardless of one’s position on the timeline.

Islam is not about Muhammad, although he was chosen to deliver God’s word, the final testament, the Quran. Islam or Submission is about God and our surrender to His will (2:208), and our acceptance of His message through all the messengers He has sent down to us. The purpose of the Quran is to support previous scripture (2:41, 89, 91, 97, 144-146), to clarify that

which has been altered or forgotten over the centuries (5:48), to repeat to us exactly what is required for our salvation (5:69), and to clearly distinguish between the way to Heaven and the way to Hell (39:23)!

The majority of Muslims today will tell you that you cannot follow Islam by following only the Quran. They will tell you that it is also essential for your salvation to follow the traditions and practices of Muhammad. These practices and traditions were not recorded during the prophet’s lifetime, but began appearing two centuries after his death. The integrity of these writings relied solely on the memory of people who were relying on the accuracy of information handed down to them from previous generations (a.k.a. hearsay). There is abundant evidence available to anyone who cares to examine the history of Islam that many splits occurred among the faithful as they disputed. Today we can see the remains of these disputes, most notably in the differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims, although there are other, smaller sects as well (3:105, 6:159). However, examining the many differences would carry us beyond the scope of this particular writing. Interestingly enough, they are united in one way, that being that salvation is dependent on following the traditions and acts that are attributed to the prophet.

They believe that the Quran is above the mental grasp of all but the most dedicated religious scholars, since it contains prophetic information that many could not understand and were unwilling to accept on faith that God would explain in due course (55:1-2). (As an example, try to explain the book of Revelations. Most Christians accept its contents on faith alone.) Consequently, the majority of traditional Muslims feel the need to rely on the sayings and the acts of the prophet in conjunction with the Quran in order to practice their religion. Is this not a partnership?

These Muslims fly in the face of God’s

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