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Bahara, Australia - wrote on 5/10/2005 5:52:11 AM
i'm 13 year old student and i really loved your article. its great. i heard and saw alot of people saying bad stuffs about islam which are not true. i just cant get it why do they say something about islaam when they have no knowledge about it. they should have some common sence especially those leaders. before they say something about islaam they sould get to know islaam and thats one of their problems. this article is great for those people who say bad stuffs about islaam. i hope this continues and may help you through out the way.
sam, boston - wrote on 3/10/2005 9:05:45 PM
Comment:Thank you for your efforts to build a bridge of understanding. While I applaud much of the article, there is a section which deserved more elaboration and context. In Section 5, you wrote:
"It [Islam] calls for the destruction of 'infidels'," and "...while the Qu'ran does call for the extermination of 'infidels,' the Old Testament is replete with its own exhortations to genocide."
Although you mentioned that historical context is important, your decision not to articulate the context - even briefly - leads the reader to unsettling and ambiguous conclusions. The fact is that all instructions in the Qur'an to fight and kill the idolators were issued as a last resort, under the strict Qur'anic precondition of self-defence which fall under the legal framework of a "just war". The Muslim community was under extreme duress, being subject to torture, killings, expulsions, military assault, and other gross injustices. The references you made were instructions issued in the heat of defensive battles against the Meccans and others who were intent on the total eradication of the Muslim community. Your characterization of the Qur'an's goals as the "destruction" and "extermination" of the idolators without this relevant context leads your readers to your implied view that the Qur'an has "exhortations to genocide" - a shocking statement which does a great disservice to the good spirit of your article. My apologies if this is not your view; perhaps this message can serve as context for those readers who might otherwise reach premature, innacurate conclusions.
The Qur'an is very clear about pursuing every option possible to avoid war and bloodshed; about never initiating aggressions; about fighting only in self defence - if under attack, driven from one's home, or suffering extreme oppression (which it considers worse than killing); about not harming children, women, the old, the sick, and vegetation; about accepting the enemy's appeals for a truce and always ceasing conflicts at the earliest possible oppurtunity. It is far from being characterized as exhorting genocide.
Readers can verify this easily by searching the Quran and/or querying the internet, or by accessing academic texts on the subject.
Ingmar Andersen, Oregon - wrote on 1/19/2005 2:49:09 PM
Comment:Vision from the Outside: OK, I hear Muslims everywhere saying that Islam is peaceful. Yes, I believe the original text is probably peaceful too. Just like all religions, the ideals are not always what is practised, or what the individual comprehends, or the mob-mentality happening at whatever church.
I worked with a group of very religious guys, of different religions, Islamic progressive & new-fundamentalist, Mormon fundamentalist & moderate, Christian Moderate & Fundamentalist, none of them at all well-read in each other's religions, except for Christian moderate and the Islamic progressive, who were the easiest to get along with. All the others were non-well read, would provoke each other at mealtimes and at work, Ugly. The Islamic new-fundamentalist had apparently become more conservative around 2001, as he'd given up a lot of things (interest bearing). He was very sweet, but unfortunately would joke about women getting stoned to death after being forced to confess to adultery. He and the Japanese guy would talk about how lazy and undeserving Americans are, even though their countries take American aid, and they both benefit from American infrastructure: great educations, health and jobs.
The Mormon and Christian fundamentalists were just as bizarre, spurning education, homeschooling their kids yet barely having a highschool diploma.
Education was so obviously the key for getting along, as the most educated folks did the least provoking and judging. (Education meaning non-biased comparative religious studies and world history---not advanced programming.)
Also, I think it is VERY important in these times that people be taught critical thinking skills, so they are not manipulated by media, politicians and religious leaders. Folks are too naive to avoid the David Koresh/Jimmy Jones-type Cults and Fox News Network.
Rilwan H Abarshi, Nigeria - wrote on 1/7/2005 6:06:44 AM
Comment:A fantastic article, we need to do this often and it is the responsibility of all of us to contribute in various way to educate the ignorant about this great religion called ISLAM.
If you are seated some where at one corner of the glob thinking you are too small to make an impact, it means you have never been to bed with a mosquitor.We all can help with our words, strength, ideas, manners, attitudes etc to potray the good islamic orientation.
Omar, Mississauga, Ontario - wrote on 1/4/2005 8:34:22 PM
Comment:Masha-allah...very impressive article.
May ALLAH show people the truth about Islam and may ALLAH give them Hadaiah.
Sabrine, Australia - wrote on 12/29/2004 1:59:08 AM
Comment:Fantastic article, Gary. A refreshingly objective view on such a misunderstood religion. To finally see someone who's not afraid to question the media's integrity as well as try to understand the reason behind terrorism certainly gives us hope for the ignorant masses. Islam, however, is not anti-science nor is it against intellectualism. On the contrary, Islam paved the way for numerous scientific, mathematical and astronomical discoveries during the Abbasid dynasty and it was these discoveries which effecively pulled Europe out of the Dark Ages. The first universities in the world were founded during Islamic reign, accomodating both Muslims and non-Muslims. But overall, this article is extremely good. Well done!
Robert Williams, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio - wrote on 9/26/2004 2:19:59 PM
Comment: Dr. Leupp quotes Columnist Ann Coulter:
"We should invade [Muslim] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
National Review Online, Sept. 13, 2001 .
But what does Ann Coulter mean by the term "Christianity"? Does she mean to follow the example of Jesus as narrated by the 4 hadith by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in what today is called the New Testament? Or does she mean to follow the degenerate Romanized version of Christendom initiated by the Roman Emperor Constantine? Constantine's Christianity was part of the state, unlike the example of Jesus. When the Romans ran out of lions to feed Christians to, they came up with a new strategy. The Council of Nycaea was used by the Romans as a cover for the domination of Christian people. Next, the Roman Catholics put the believers into their Dark Ages by hiding the Bible in the Latin language, thereby making their church leaders the authority on what God or Jesus had told mankind. The Bible was a closed book for the average man. While the Pope was banning Bible translation, he sponsored massive military efforts against the Believers who followed God's Last Testament - Al Qur'aan. The Catholics referred to these attacks as "holy" crusades, but there was nothing holy about them. But when the printing press was invented and the Bible printed in German, the game was up. Hence, the Protestant Reformation. Christians protested their Dark Age perpetrated by the Catholic Church in complicity with the monarchal states of Europe.
The Roman legacy, however, continues despite the Protestant voices: the last 2 world wars were fought primarily between "Christian" nations, Catholics and Lutheran preachers on both sides encouraged their members to kill each other, even though they were of the same denomination. Commented Norman Hill and Doniver Lund in their book "If the Churches Want World Peace", pg 5: "Certainly it is no credit . . . that the war system of today grew up and has worked its greatest havoc among states devoted to the cause of Christianity".
This sad history illustrates 2 points: first, only a handful of Christian denominations practice Jesus's examples of peace, charity and mercy. Second, the hatchet job on the Bible by the Romans at Nycaea left people in the dark - hence God brought his Last Testament to people through the last prophet, Muhammad (pbuh). God did not let mankind live without direction. Peace through Submission to God ("Islaam"in Arabic) is taught through the Last Testament.
The task for Muslims is not to fall into the trap set by the statists for the Christians and thereby become an impediment to Peace.
The task for Christians is to study their hadith in the New Testament and thereby stop killing others. And if they have further questions about Jesus or what he actually said, then they should read the Last Testament - Al Qur'aan because the Angel Gabriel gave us some transcripts.
Mahmoud, USA - wrote on 8/2/2004 2:07:49 PM
Comment:One day we're gonna have media and we will be able to tell people the truth about Islam and the history
Nathan, North Dakota - wrote on 7/24/2004 12:55:04 AM
Comment:A very good article. It covers in large part many of the arguments I have tried to make to my peers. People really need to quit getting ALL of their information about Islam from TV. All in all, I think we'd be better off if everyone read this.
S. Asif, New York - wrote on 5/18/2004 4:40:03 PM
Comment:A very well researched and poignantly expressed article. The author has expressed some of his own opinions on certain aspects of Islam and its teachings (which he, as an individual, has every right to). I agree with some of the comments expressed earlier that Islam's teachings should be looked in the context of the times that it was being expressed and should be interpreted accordingly to meet with the environment of modern times. We should not be parochial in our approach towards expressing the teaching of this great religion.
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Make the Quran the spring of my heart, the light of my breast, the dispeller of my sorrows, the eraser of my anxieties and worries.