Can you give a brief account of how, why, and when you became a Muslim?
For me, Islam wasn’t so much a life choice but more of a path that I was destined to take. I was and have always been brought up within a Muslim household and so I’ve constantly had the teachings of my religion bestowed upon me. My earliest memory of Islam was my father teaching me ‘Bismillah’, a phrase which is said before every section of the prayer, although I think my fondness of it stayed with me because of his methods and caring nature. He always brought me up with the teachings of the Qur’an (our holy book), yet he also allowed me my own choice at a later age.
Recently, however, I’ve decided to question Islam and its teachings. Through this process, not only have I found myself closer to my religion than ever before, but I have also gained the confidence to be proud of my teachings and follow my faith. The Qur’an isn’t simply a book that attempts to answer life’s questions, but rather it is a collection of chapters that dictate the correct way to live life and achieve happiness. From money, to love, to worship, to friendship, business, politics and ethics are all covered thoroughly and the wording is so beautiful it would bring a tear to your eye.
Is Allah the god of the Old Testament?
I have to be completely honest and admit to not knowing much about God’s actions in the Old Testament, but to us, Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. We believe that most mainstream religions believe in the same Deity but by different names, however they all come down to the one that is the most merciful and most forgiving. Simply put, yes, Allah is the God of the Old Testament, but he is also the God of the New Testament, the Torah and the Qur’an as we all put our faith in one immortal and infinite being.
Do you believe that all non-Muslims will go to Jahannam (hell)?
I couldn’t recite the exact scripture for you but in my belief I think that no, not all non- Muslims will go to Jahannam. For the benefit of the argument I will refer to man within the confides of this piece, but it is equally weighted for women. I feel a true testament to a man’s character lies within his actions and reactions to specific things. For example; If you saw a begger in the street, and a Muslim walked straight past the man, choosing to only spare him a short amount of change before walking off into the sunset, would he be a better person than, for example, an Aethist, who helped the man up, took him for a hot meal and gave him comfort? It clearly all depends on a man’s actions in this life that allow him to be judged. However, with being Muslim, I believe that we should worship Allah in certain ways that he has set out for us, as he has given us life and it is to him that we shall go. This involves the five pillars of Islam; Belief, Prayer, Fasting, Charity and Pilgrimage. Without these actions I do not believe that a man will go directly to Jannah (Heaven), but more likely a form of purgatory which allows man to leave his sins behind.
Can you explain the main differences between Christianity and Islam?
Essentially Islam and Christianity are very much the same; we both worship the same God, both have a holy day (Friday and Sunday respectively), both have primary beliefs that we try to follow in day to day life and both have a great respect for each others faiths and religious choices. However, one of the main differences that springs to mind is the fact that we, as Muslims, do not believe that Jesus, a human, is the son of God. This, in our teachings, means that God must have, with all his infinite wisdom and power, created himself with limitations. A human needs to eat, sleep, breathe and will eventually die; therefore destroying the idea of God’s infiniteness. We do, however, believe that Jesus was a prophet and we hold him in the same level of regard as our own prophet, Mohammed.
What is the general feeling in the Muslim community regarding the september 11th terrorist attacks?
Theres a question that has been thrown about in the media, one that, whilst not necessarily the view of the general pubic, is easily asked but difficult to answer. Firstly, what is the primary viewpoint of Muslims in the west? Their deception is a long way from the beautiful images of prayer and caring views of family, but rather there is a focus on terrorism and disorder. However, the main point I’m trying to get across is why this is. Media outlets have field days attempting to destroy the name of Islam, and yet it is still the fastest growing religion in the world.
I would like to stress that the opinions and words in this document are not meant to cause offence, not are they supposed to give the idea of hatred or disregard for Christianity in any way. My tolerance for other worldly religions far exceeds my scripting, as well as my love for the world we live in and the people in it.
thank you, Phil, for giving me the opportunity to answer some of your questions on this subject. I look forward to further discussion on this topic in the future.
I would like to thank Arif for agreeing to be apart of this dialogue! I hope to continue these discussions with him and others in the future.