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By Gholam Rahman, Special to The Palm Beach Post, October 2, 2001
The fundamental premise of Islam is peace:
It is wrong to describe
the terrorists and their Taliban hosts as "fundamentalists." That word
implies that these people are going back to the "fundamental" premise of
Islam. Nothing, but nothing, could be further from the truth. The error
may be innocently rooted in the Christian understanding of
fundamentalism. But the fundamental premise of Islam based on the
teachings of the Koran and the life of the Prophet is the opposite of
these diabolical acts of hate and bigotry.
The root meaning of Islam is peace,
peace within one's soul and
peace in society, that comes through one's conscious, willing submission
to the laws of God. The process began, Muslims believe, with Adam and
culminated in the mission of Mohammed, with Moses, David, Jesus and
thousands of others in between, peace be upon them all. As a fundamental
article of faith, we Muslims must acknowledge all of them.
Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.
In fact, it does not
see itself as a religion in the Western sense, where the sacred and the
secular are considered separate entities. It calls itself a deen, a way
of life, embracing the whole of life, mundane and spiritual, social and
individual, national and international. It is the natural consequence
that arises out of the absolute belief in one God.
For a Muslim to be a Muslim, profession is not enough.
Action is the essence of faith, what we call Iman. The Koran always links Iman with
"good deeds." A chapter named "Neighborly Needs" mocks those who perform
their ritual prayers while neglecting the needs of their neighbors and
the needs of the poor and orphans. The prophet told Muslims that the
72nd part of their Iman (faith) is removing a stone from the public path
a simple statement but one that has profound implications for the
Muslims and for the world.
Islam is a religion based on knowledge.
Ignorance the mother of
bigotry and intolerance is anathema to Islam. The very first word God
revealed in the Koran was "read." Just two sentences down in the same
chapter, God glorifies the pen used to teach mankind; and God never
mentions man alone, unless in the universal sense, without mentioning
women, too. The prophet commanded Muslims to go to the farthest part of
the world, to China, to gather knowledge religion, science and
mathematics, history and philosophy.
Oh, the flowering of knowledge that took place in those early, open-minded days of Islam! Baghdad had an entire street lined with booksellers and libraries and paper merchants. Universities were translating and debating the works of Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. The zero had been imported from India to form the basis of the Arabic decimal system. Chemistry and algebra were invented, geometry and trigonometry were perfected. A woman scholar and mystic, Rabia Basri was establishing the Sufi order that carried the banner of Islamic love of the Divine and His creation to far corners of the world. What a far cry from the hate and bigotry that today are destroying the proud land of Afghanistan.
Five Pillars of Islam: How a Muslim should behave
Islam is both a philosophy and a code of conduct. It is based on what
are known as the Five Pillars of Islam, as exemplified in the conduct
and character of Prophet Mohammed, Islam's last prophet. The five