There is religious part of Islam. This is what a Muslim should do to please Allah and get to paradise. It’s of little interest to non-Muslims, unless one is a religious studies scholar. However more than half of Koran is devoted not to being a good Muslim, but to treating Kafirs, i.e. non-Muslims. This is political part of Islam. And it concerns each of us, so it’s worth knowing.
These are not my own insights, if I happen to say something sensible about Islam, it’s due to knowledge acquired from Professor Bill Warner. Dr. Warner is a physicist, studying religions is his lifetime hobby, and after 9/11 he focused on Islam, making it understandable to western people. One of his most known books is Sharia for Non-Muslims. Although it’s quite short, only 80 pages, it won’t be feasible to retell it here, instead I’ll write about the method Dr. Warner uses to study Islam.
According to Dr. Warner, the highest authorities on Islam are not Islamic scholars or Orientalists. The highest authorities on Islam are Allah and prophet Muhammad. If what an Islamic scholar or an Orientalist says is compliant with Koran and Sunna (Muhammad’s words and deeds), this is Islam. If it is not compliant with Koran and Sunna, it is not Islam. That’s why Dr. Warner encourages studying the sources of Islam: Koran, Hadith and Sira (lifestory of prophet Muhammad) instead of studying someone’s opinion on them.
One of invaluable Dr. Warner’s contributions is making Koran understandable. The Koran you can get in a bookstore is hardly comprehensible, because for unknown reasons the third caliph, Uthman, ordered to rearrange the Suras (chapters) of Koran from longest to shortest, which makes it impossible to understand which Sura was revealed earlier and which later, and what was the context in which they were given. Dr. Warner’s book, Simple Koran, restores the original chronological sequence of the Suras, which has long been known by both Islamic scholars and Orientalists, and adds there events from Muhammad’s life which provide the necessary context.
The Three Views Of Islam
(from introduction to Sharia for Non-Muslims)
There are three points of view relative to Islam. The point of view depends upon how you think about Mohammed. If you believe Mohammed is the prophet of Allah, then you are a believer. If you don’t, you are a non-believer. The third viewpoint is that of an apologist for Islam. Apologists do not believe that Mohammed was a prophet, but they are tolerant about Islam without any actual knowledge of Islam.
Here is an example of the three points of view.
In Medina, Mohammed sat all day long beside his 12-year-old wife while they watched as the heads of 800 Jews were removed by sword. Their heads were cut off because they had said that Mohammed was not the prophet of Allah. Muslims view these deaths as necessary because denying Mohammed’s prophethood was, and remains, an offense against Islam. They were beheaded because it is sanctioned by Allah.
Nonbelievers look at this event as proof of the jihadic violence of Islam and as an evil act.
Apologists say that this was an historic event; that all cultures have violence in their past, and no judgment should be passed. They have never actually read any of Islam’s foundational texts, but speak authoritatively about Islam.
According to the different points of view, killing the 800 Jews was:
• A tragedy
• A perfect sacred act
• Another historical event. We have done worse.
There is no “right” view of Islam, since the views cannot be reconciled.
This book is written from the nonbeliever point of view.
I’ll be pleasantly surprised if no one will react to this topic with words like bigotry, racism, Islamophobia. However this is unlikely. So I’d like to ask: Have you read the Koran? Do you know the chronological order of the Suras? Have you read at least one collection of Hadith, for example Al Bukhari’s, which is accepted as reliable by most Muslims? Are you familiar with Sira, biography of Muhammad? If you say yes and you came to other conclusions about nature of Islam, let us discuss them based on the content of Islamic sources. And if not, maybe it’s time to become more informed.