Our God is One and the Same
Continued from page 1
Finding the answer that I sought in the Bible helped me overcome
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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