Friday, November 2, 2012

Guest Post: White, British and now a Muslim

Twitter can be a voyeuristic pursuit and I enjoy reading microupdates from those whose views are different from my own. I don't recall when or why I started following Rayyan, but I've enjoyed the experience. He's mid twenties, a doting father and a hardworking student. He has more on his plate than I do! Despite this he's spent a lot of time wondering about this great mystery called life.

I feel a little guilty having asked him to write a guest post. Knowing his schedule I've likely deprived him of many hours of sleep, but his is an interesting perspective and he was enthusiastic to share his thoughts here. About four months ago he embraced Islam. I've read a translation of the Qur'an and listened to those who I'd describe as professional speakers on Islam, but when following Rayyan I learned that the discussions generated by a recent convert can be amongst the most interesting and insightful.



In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.

May God give you peace and bless you all, I would like to thank our friend Geoff for giving me the opportunity of writing here on his webpage. Today I aim to give a brief introduction as to who I am and God willing move on to three common misconceptions of Islam today.

My name is Rayyan, I’m a 25 year old man, blessed with a five year old daughter who lives with me full time (lone parent), and I lose my house keys at least three times a year. I invested a year self-studying religion and four months ago today declared I believe in one God and I accept Mohammed as God’s slave and final messenger. If I may, I ask you all to have an open mind and try to be free of all media influence such as the news and ask you not to associate culture with Islam e.g. forced marriages, honour killings etc.


Brief introduction to Islam

Islam is not a new religion that came with the final messenger Mohammed (peace be upon him,) It is the same and only religion of which God sent us messengers (peace be upon them) from which came the Torah, the Bible and the Quran revealing God’s chosen religion for us, his creation. Messengers most non-Muslims may be more familiar with are Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) are the same Messengers in the Quran known as Mūsā and Isa. (Similar to Irish, Scottish Gaelic “Iosa” and Welsh “Iesu”, all the same messenger Jesus, peace be upon him ) Allah (God) tells us in the Quran he created us to worship him alone and not to worship Mohammed or any other messenger (peace be upon them) who He has sent.

Together we can see what practicing Muslims like myself believe and learn about the Sharia (rulings/legislation) of Islam, if you don’t have access to a Quran or translation of a Quran you may check online at Quran.com (I am not associated with this site or its owners, I hope Geoff doesn’t mind this “advertising.”) [Note from Geoff - not at all! I use and recommend it myself. Useful to see many different translations side by side.]

Extreme

Irish were all terrorists, black people all criminals, Jews were greedy cheats and now Muslims are extreme. (I’m referring to historical perceptions here not the Daily Mail.) Although a minority, people hear of Muslims and immediately think of extreme or when they hear of terrorism, they may associate it with Islam. I was the same and actually I’m not surprised by this, the media today describes me as an Islamist, Fundamentalist and Jihadist and while these are great titles they do not portray the correct meaning of these words nor do I deserve these great titles. Prepared for the reality? God has clearly stated to us whatever we do will not benefit him and therefore a person claiming to do bad in his name by hurting others has no clue why Islam is needed, in fact it protects us from people like this! If it is righteous it will benefit us here and in the hereafter, Allah has made it clear we cannot fight or kill unless we do these things in the struggle (Jihad) to escape oppression, to defend ourselves and only as a last resort. If the transgressor stops then we must stop, Allah does not like transgressors (starter of wars or contributors to sin.) I cannot speak for all Muslims or explain the actions of all Muslims but I did find out for myself the purpose of my being here, instances where I myself have been seen as guilty by association and on one occasion I sat and discussed Islam, a lady said the her most disliked part of Islam was the Taliban, honestly guys I don’t think I have ever gone from a conversation to feeling rock bottom it was as if a knife had just been put through my heart. I’ll finish on this subject by sharing that Allah has revealed to be patient and do good in the name of Islam, with the media giving us terrible ambassadors such as the Taliban who would want to embrace Islam? 
Some relevant verses in the Quran; 2:190, 4:76, 9:20, 22:78, 29:6, & 31:15
Marriage

A common question and subject people need an answer or an understanding of is the marriage of Aisha and the messenger Mohammed (peace be upon him). Aisha was six years old when she and the messenger (peace be upon him) who was aged over 50 agreed to marry (Bukhari vol 5, book 58:234.) (Note to self: There are easier topics to go with Rayyan!) The age of Aisha isn’t told in the Quran but is told in hadith (an act, approval or disapproval of the prophet passed through time from Muslim to Muslim) I don’t feel the need to defend the actions of any prophet (peace be upon them) neither did I intend to spark a debate on the authenticity of this I do expect some disapproval from the readers here. Muslims learn a lot from this marriage e.g. the duties of a husband and the way Aisha throughout the marriage was happy with the love prophet Mohammed gave her, an example for the rest of us. The Quran makes it clear marriage and consummating of marriage is between two consenting people who have matured (reached puberty and can procreate.) Mohammed (peace be upon him) was a mercy from Allah to mankind and a patient man, he first got married aged 25 to Kadija, this was his first ever relationship up to this point in his life, he would go on to marry Aisha and wait three years into their marriage before consummating. What did the final messenger teach us when it comes to marriage? You ever heard about the Muslim man with four wives? Yea... Well actually it may be a true story, in Islam if the husband can financially and emotionally support his wives and all adults are consenting then Allah does not disallow this. Marriage is what Allah gave to us to help each other stay strong in faith and Islam teaches us how marriage can contribute. It isn’t common amongst Muslims to have more than one wife because the correct way comes before one’s own pleasure. I ask Allah let it be in his plans for us all to do good in marriage, and do as the final messenger (peace be upon him) did; love, protect and complete half the deen (faith) of his wives. Ameen. 
Some relevant verses in the Quran; Surah (chapter) 4
Intolerance of other religions and people with no religion

Kill the infidel! Or shall I put my sword down and let him live? Let’s leave him tied up for a bit so we can see what Quran says on this. I’m joking of course! Muslims should and the majority of us do try to live by what God has revealed to us in the Quran, we as humans have free will unlike Angels who were given no free will.

So is Islam tolerant or intolerant? I have a duty of dawah (spreading the message of Islam and inviting you to Islam) to non-religious people and atheists (those who don’t accept religion or believe in the existence of Allah.) Atheists are a challenge to us, If I live amongst only Atheists and die amongst atheists we may go to the fire in the next life if I do not give dawah, a brother who teaches me about Islam said once “Allah is the sustainer but this doesn’t mean we can do nothing and have food put in our stomachs” the point here being we have to earn rewards that He may bless us with. We want Jannah (heaven/paradise) for all humanity not just for ourselves. A common fear spread amongst the west is that Muslims want to kill all the non-believers, if only the people knew what Allah and his believers wanted for them (Jannah). As I write this up I am balancing it with my own views and dawah but if God wills may it benefit and bring you on the path towards Islam. 

Slipping back into the marriage subject for a moment, Muslim men can and do marry Christian and Jewish women as it is permitted within Islam for men to do so. Personally although it is OK to do so most prefer a Muslim wife so we can benefit each other in faith over all other things, whereas if my wife weren't Muslim it would be different perhaps giving constantly giving dawah (preaching) in the hope of her embracing Islam although obviously we do not know what Allah knows and therefore do not know what he has planned for us. “Islamic-ally” tolerance of other religions is part of Islam as it is in the Quran and it is in Hadiths and through the periods of Caliphates (Muslim Rule) all religions were practiced freely. Remember if we force somebody to Islam; can we do this in the name of Allah? Does this benefit the faith? Allah does not benefit from out worship; we are the ones who benefit from worshiping Allah. 

It has been revealed and made clear Islam is the religion chosen for “believers” not for “ye who don’t believe”. Different religions, for the sake of explaining I will say Christianity and Judaism are “other” religions though technically they are people of God’s books, they lived and still do continue to live peacefully in most countries alongside Muslims, the terrorists who associate themselves with Islam whilst attacking any other religion despite it being made clear not to transgress it is of their will and Islam is innocent of this. The same of course for other religions such as Hinduism or Sikhism, Islam says people who do not accept Allah and his messengers (peace be upon them) are disobedient which some may not like, the definition does apply fairly as they are disobedient to the Quran, and revealed is “whom Allah guides no one can misguide nor can anyone guide to Islam other than Allah.” 
Some relevant verses in the Quran; 7:2, 11:118, 14:4, 28:56, 60:8

Me asking you to do things
Although I have provided some verse references, in order for verses not to be taken out of context it is in everyone’s benefit, if willing, to read the Quran and study from people with knowledge. I personally recommend a few brothers with lectures available online via YouTube: Dr Zakir Naik, Yusuf Estes, Abdur Raheem Green, Bilal Phillips and many others out there whom God willing can benefit us. To really get an understanding of Islam and of the individuality of Muslims, attempt to reach out and break this segregation taking from it the knowledge on Islam, all the outcomes of doing this are beneficial even gaining an understanding of Islam could change your views. Study Islam and not Muslims, please do not follow blindly but discover for yourselves the truth.

Thanks again to Geoff for the kind offer of posting this to you guys and for you guys taking the time to read it and I hope it benefits Muslims and non-Muslims in some way. I will answer questions below if you would like to leave one Via the comments section underneath this post or via Twitter @rayyanibnandrew

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post thanks for sharing

Naomi said...

Hi Rayyan, when you took your year studying 'Relgion' did you also look at Christianity and Judaism? If so what made you conclude upon Islam as your chosen faith?

Very interesting post by the way, thanks Geoff for inviting Rayyan.

Naomi

Rayyan Mclean said...

Thank you Anonymous! Hi Naomi,I was educated in a Catholic primary school and studied Christianity (not so much Judaism) from lectures and English translation of the Old Testament. Only recently (a month or two) have I learnt about Judaism mostly because my study buddy from college is Jewish and I study at the family home. There hasn’t been one visit without discussing each other’s faith, we just enjoy the chats (me and friends mom) they look after me always with Coffee, and their cat has even taking a liking to me! Before accepting Islam I was already unconvinced by Christianity, I would say it was more Christianity that brought me to Islam, I just loved “the idea” of Jesus being real, what a great guy dying for our sins! And mixed with studying His era in history (well-known in history such as Romans and the Jewish) it was the foundation of the belief I have today and motivation to keep going. I was really unaware that Islam was an Abrahamic religion I assumed mistakenly it was a cultural based faith with several Gods and so on I really don’t know what I must have been doing during Religious Education at school or remember it being a big part of R.E. class (my memory really does fail me at times.) I don’t know why Christianity didn’t work out for me; I can only say it wasn’t Gods will.
I didn’t want to be a Muslim but Islam did convince me, I started off with what I know e.g. Practicing Muslims don’t drink and do this or that… Googling away what does the Quran say about (subject here.) Allah was saying in the Quran "In them (alcohol and gambling) is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit." I look back now and realise I approached Islam (amongst everything else) with questions based on what I’m going to lose out on it was pretty much all self-pleasing. I went and bought a few beers to “chill out” and just relax but I was at the point where I couldn’t stop even while drinking it was on my mind. To be sat there having a few beers while studying Islam definitely isn’t right, but this is how I found myself. There is just nothing I could read in the translation or hear in the lectures that didn’t make sense it all seemed perfect and I do believe and I can honestly feel now Allah opened my mind and heart to his revelations and I think it was because I took that first step towards Him. A lot of stuff was going on with me during this time from dreams, to having an actual conscience that mattered to me I couldn't just shrug off my actions if they had no benefit to anyone and by benefit I mean good for a reason, not for pleasure. I may have got a little deep here I find it difficult to answer questions without explaining. Thanks for reading the article and taking interest.

Naomi said...

Not too deep at all, I have never conversed with a Muslim and it sounds as though you have really found what you are looking for! I as a Christian of course believe Jesus is more than just an idea of a man and that he did die and was resurrected. And salvation through him is Gods gift - we have to do absolutely nothing to earn it.
I think it's great that you can talk of the positive things of Islam and clear up the rubbish that people are fed via the media and taint you all with.
God Bless you - and you Geoff!

Rayyan Mclean said...

Did you convert to Christianity or have always been a Christian? I would love to hear a christian or Jew "convert story." I like also that your not blind folded with the media! its frustrating and to be honest does get me down I try to avoid the news these days it is a challenge to though.

Naomi said...

I was brought up within a strict 'Christian' regime, which to my mind now as an adult wasn't very Christian at all in fact quite judgemental and I still don't think my parents would give Muslims or Jews the time of day! My testimony is here http://talkingchristian.blogspot.co.uk/p/finding-godeventually.html