I recently engaged in a private dialog with someone who claimed that though Muslims declare Islam “honors women” and is a “religion of peace” that the opposite is true. I decided to share some of my portion of the dialog and open it up to others to share their ideas and beliefs.
I’m sure Muslims have done horrible things in the name of Allah the same way Pope Urban II in 1095 convinced Christians to wage a “holy war against the infidels” starting the crusades.
I believe through my life experience and the teachings I have read so far that God infuses all life and through the prophets Jesus, Muhammad, Bahá’u’lláh, the Buddha, and others sent his message of love to the various human cultures around the world. The political leaders who wrote down and translated the teachings of Jesus & Muhammad wanted to control population more than teach God’s love. Greed and pride twist words into laws that have nothing to do with God.
I believe it is our individual duty to find our personal connection with God through the teachings we are given, but in order to be world citizens we must also learn to find the common ground between the different teachings. I don’t believe we can truly love our neighbors until we stop negating their belief systems and start finding the common ground that brings us back to love.
So, none of us may be “right,” but between us we can find a truth to agree upon that allows us to coexist peacefully.
As far as I can tell from research, Muhammad did not write or use the Koran to control people himself. Much like Jesus he shared the divine revelations he received by preaching “one god” to the common people. His followers wrote down the revelations much like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul did for Jesus.
Then, governments like the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire used the texts of these prophets to control their population. Much like Judaism divides between Ashkenazi or Sephardi and Orthodox or Reform, Christianity has a split first between Orthodox and Roman Catholics and later between Protestant and Catholic. Islam, the youngest of these religions, already has a split in belief between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. These splits have more to do with government policy and fundamentalist extremism than what the prophet had to say about spirituality. (Read Hama Rules for a bit of journalism from Thomas L. Friedman about how our buddies the secular Syrian government dealt with fundamentalist Muslims in Hama in 1982 and the repercussions of that event.)
I reread a version of the Hopi Prophecy last night and was struck by this quote:
“It is only materialistic people who seek to make shelters. Those who are at peace in their hearts already are in the great shelter of life. There is no shelter for evil. Those who take no part in the making of world division by ideology are ready to resume life in another world, be they Black, White, Red, or Yellow race. They are all one, brothers.”
When we are born into this world we have no control over what laws and spiritual teachings will guide us into maturity, but we do have a choice about whether we will battle our neighbor over which of us worships the “correct” way. No one wants to be told they were raised “wrong” but we have a chance of bridging cultural gaps if we continue to look for and share God’s truths hiding in each of these texts that have been watered down with Man’s greed & desire to control.
For a little further reading, if you’re interested, here’s a link to the basic teachings of a nineteenth century prophet who appeared in the middle east. Baha’u’llah is the first prophet to have written down his own revelations as well as lay out a democratic form of world government that does not include an elite or “divine” clergy, but puts the burden of spiritual and societal development on the believers themselves. He also has quite a bit to say about the oneness of religion validating the prophets who came before him and how each of them has appeared to aid in the evolution of mankind.
I’m curious to know your thoughts and wish peace to all.