In time We shall make them fully understand Our messages through what they perceive in the utmost horizons of the universe and within themselves, so that it will become clear unto them that this revelation is indeed the truth. [41:53]
Forget what people, the media, or books tell you what Islam is or what Muslims do for a minute. Sometimes, things are too ideologically charged and we must start from scratch. In the beginning, the Tradition tells us that the first revelatory words of the Qur’an delivered to the prophet Muhammad were:
Read/Recite in the name of your Lord who has created. Hu created the human being from an embryo. Read/Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous. Who taught by the pen, taught the human being what he did not know. [96:1-5]
Islam, to me, is peace-seeking through surrendering to ultimate Truth. It is a practice of discovering and aligning oneself to those truths out in the world and deep within, to gain taqwa, God-consciousness, cultivate respect for creation, and achieve a healthy balance in life. Most of all, Islam is not a man-made religion, but a divinely-appointed dīn, a way of life, following the best guidance [2:185], and is practiced differently over the world. Each human’s journey on the path to this recognition is unique, according to one’s experiences and abilities.
“[Islam] is perhaps the one remaining subject about which educated people are content to demonstrate outright prejudice and bias.” — Carl Ernst
The Qur’an, translated as “the reading” or “recitation” was revealed to the prophet Muhammad as a reminder for all of humankind, anywhere or anywhen they may live. It is the uncorrupted continuation of a divine message from the first Homo sapiens until the last prophet and messenger, Muhammad. What better way to study this relationship between humanity, non-human creation, and Creator other than this? Read, think, experience, and feel it for yourself.
And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge.
Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – all of these shall be questioned. [17:36]
I use various translations and listen to recitations of the Qur’an.
Thus does God make plain to you his proofs
That you might use reason. [2:242]
Notable Qur’an Translations & Interpretations
- Ghulam Ahmad Parwez’s The Exposition of the Qur’an (PDF)
- The Monotheist Group’s The Great Qur’an (PDF)
- Muhammad Asad’s The Message of the Qur’an
- M.A.S. Abdel Haleem’s The Qur’an
- Ahmad Zaki Hammad’s The Gracious Qur’an
Other Resources on Islam
- Said Mirza’s Will You Not Reason?: A Concordance of God’s arguments in the Qur’an (PDF)
- Ghulam Ahmad Parwez’s Islam: A Challenge to Religion (PDF)
- Ahmed Hulusi’s Muhammad’s Allah and The Power of Prayer
- The Monotheist Group’s The Natural Republic (PDF)
- Hossein Nasr’s The Heart of Islam
- Charles Le Gai Eaton’s Islam and the Destiny of Man
But Islam has been weaponized by fundamentalists, legalized into obscurantism by sectarians with agendas, and denounced by islamophobes. Maybe it has always been like this. There is misinformation and dogmatism coming from inside and out of the supposed ummah. My advice is be inquisitive and skeptical. And have a little faith that the answers you seek to your questions will come when they are written for you. If you have comments or questions, I would love to hear from you. You can leave a comment below or contact me elsewhere. Peace.
We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. [49:13]
Last updated: 19 November 2019