Last week my blog was about embracing Islam, and some of the parallels between Islam and modern spiritual teachings. I mentioned that, according to Eren Tatari, who wrote one of the books I was studying, there has been too much emphasis on the practice and jurisprudence of Islam and not enough on the faith.
I know that everything happens in divine order, so I knew that it was no coincidence that this week I was confronted on facebook with a shocking video which highlighted the other side of Islam than the one to which I was trying to draw attention. This video showed the results of what happens when people take God out of Islam.
Every surah of the Qur’an reminds Muslims that Allah is compassionate and merciful. Surely the aim of Islam is to emulate Allah.
The Qur’an encourages believers to emulate all of the prophets, including Jesus. Surely they have heard of Jesus’ actions when confronted with a group who would stone a woman for adultery, when he suggested that whoever was without sin amongst them should cast the first stone. Have they not heard Jesus’ entreaty to notice first the log in your own eye before worrying about the speck in your brother’s, to “judge not, that you be not judged”?
In fact, the Qur’an tells Muslims that they no longer need to stone adulterers, as the Jewish tradition directed, but reduced the sentence to a whipping, and then only when there were four witnesses, which would seem quite impossible to attain.
I knew that it was also no coincidence that at the time of seeing this video, I had just finished studying surah 18 – Al-Kahf (The Cave). This chapter of the Qur’an goes to great lengths to instruct Muslims that only God can know and understand all of the circumstances surrounding any event. It explains that even a prophet, such as Moses, interprets situations wrongly, because, unlike God, he never has all of the facts. How, then, can any mortal person judge fairly the actions of another?
The Qur’an suggests that people should show patience and forgive (42:43) and to requite evil with good (41:34). Yet some Muslims continue to use the Qur’an as justification, not only for violence against other humans, particularly women, but also violence against animals.
Anyone who has read all of my blogs, will know that I have been quite vocal in my objections to live animal exports. One of the reasons is that these animals are not only treated appallingly during their long journey, but have had cruelty inflicted upon them upon reaching their destination, particularly in Muslim countries.
Whilst the Qur’an does allow for punishment of crimes such as adultery, and for the eating of animals, it also allows for slavery and transportation of goods using animals. But life on Earth has changed dramatically since the revelation of the Qur’an, over 1400 years ago.
Evolution of the human species has brought us advancements which make both slavery and transportation by animals no longer necessary. We have machines with which to harvest our food, and machines to carry our goods.
The evolution of the human species has also allowed us to be more empathic to the suffering of other humans and other species in God’s creation. As we feel empathy for other humans and other creatures, we put ourselves in their place; we feel their pain. We say to ourselves, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” We aim to emulate God by being more compassionate and more merciful.
In adhering to the violent practices allowed under Islamic law, Muslims are denying the advancement of the human species, and thus denying the advancement of Islam.
Surely it is time for Muslims who have not taken God out of Islam to “stand up for justice”, as the Qur’an impels them (4:135). For it is only when the majority of Muslims, who still wish to emulate Allah, become a voice for Allah, the Compassionate the Merciful, rather than following rules blindly, that Islam will again become a religion which demonstrates its truth.