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It is Truth
Here is a link from an msnbc story about "spyware". Apparently, software that spys on your web habits and computer actvities can find their way into your computer. The following is a link for free anti-spyware software (shareware) if you are interested.
The link came from the article:
It's great to hear from you. My family's doing well. You can see pictures of my new daughter at http://etori.tripod.com/maryam.html
As far as work, I am very grateful to God for having recently finished my residency and now I am officially an Internal Medicine doctor. I can practice on my own. I now work nights to bring in some income while I try to start my own practice. My wife Aasma is taking time off to take care of our new daughter Maryam.
I'm sorry to hear that you were sick. When I was a senior in high school, I had mono and was out of school for 2 months. My teachers each came to my house once a week.
By the way, I agree. Doctors use antibiotics too much - actually pills altogether.
As far as your questions are concerned, I sent out that letter and pamphlet to about 40 family members and you're one of only two people to respond. I appreciate that. I'm not sure how people took it, but let me explain why I did it... In 1991 when the US was invading Iraq, I told my mother that I wanted to skip college and join the military. I told her that I wanted "to go fight the towelheads" I thought Muslims were barbaric, war-mongering, Christian-and-Jew haters who oppressed women and followed a backward religion. Her response was, "You know NOTHING about those people!!!" I'm telling you this because this is the state of a lot of people today. Many people today feel the way I did then. But over the next 2 years in college, I found Islam to be the exact opposite of what I had thought.
In order to answer your questions from your email, I have to kind of mention some key points that may sound a bit off the subject, but they're not...
In order to understand Muslims, there are a few ultra-important concepts to understand...
1- The Oneness of God
2- Islam is a way of life
3- The present state of the Muslim world
First, some definitions.
"Islam" the word, is unlike any name of any religion on earth. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Bahaism, Buddhism, etc are all named after people places or things. "Islam" is an Arabic word which means "submission to God".
A "Muslim" is "one who submits to God".
"Allah" is the Arabic name for God. It is the same name used by Jesus (peace be upon him) in his native Aramaic tongue. Christians in Palestine and Syria use the same name, Allah, to denote God. This name is very important because it cannot be plural in number, nor does it have a gender associated with it. It cannot become god, gods, goddess, or goddesses. Muslims in NO way worship Muhammad or any of the prophets (may peace and blessings be on all of them).
Now #1, the Oneness of God. Before looking into Islam, I thought that Muslims worshipped someone other than the God spoken of in the Bible. However, this is not the case. The Qur'an mentions Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Ezekiel, Jonah, Zacherias, John the Baptist, and Jesus (may peace and blessings be on all of them). The Qur'an also mentions others, and Muslims are required to believe in all of them, without exception. We Muslims believe that God sent prophets to earth to guide humankind to the true religion...that is to call them to worship only one God and to submit solely to Him. We believe that they all preached the same core message, with only minor variations to correlate with the time/culture to which they were sent. So God sent one prophet. Over time the people strayed from the message, and God, in His Perfect Mercy and Infinite Wisdom, sent another prophet to call them back.
Muslims are also required to believe that God revealed Books to specific prophets - namely the "papers" to Abraham, the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and the Qur'an to Muhammad (may peace and blessings be on all of them). We do not believe that all of these texts exist in their original form, however. That over time, as people strayed, they corrupted their texts or lost them, etc.
So, Muslims believe that the same One God that revealed those books to Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus (peace be upon them) is the same One God that revealed the Final Revelation, the Qur'an, to Muhammad. So Allah is the same God.
Now, as far as the Oneness of God, Muslims believe that everything, absolutely everything must be done for His sake....that religion is not something we humans are supposed to attend on the weekends, but rather, that it is a way of life...that we should be God-conscious all the time. The moment you do something for someone else's sake, you, in effect, violate God's Oneness. Everything must be for His sake. So, if you give in charity so that others see you and call you generous, then you are making your desires and the thoughts of those other people into gods, and this is unacceptable. Also, praying to anyone other than God, the Creator and Sustainer, is unacceptable...that is giving attributes of God to someone else. It is only God Who hears prayers and it is only God Who can answer them.
#2 As far as Islam being a way of life, it is important to mention the sources of religious teaching in Islam. First is the Qur'an, which we believe to be the literal word of God revealed through the angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad directly (may peace be upon both of them). As Gabriel said it, Muhammad said it, word for word. It was then written down and memorized. The second is something called "ahadeeth" which are similar to the present-day gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) in that they are other peoples' accounts of what happened. So, the ahadeeth are what other people wrote down regarding what Muhammad (peace be upon him) did, what he said, and things which happened in front of him which he did not disapprove of. Ahadeeth occupy hundreds of volumes and they are ranked according to their authenticity.
Because there are hundreds of volumes, we know explicit detail about the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him). We know how he prayed, how he fasted, how long his beard was, how long his hair was, etc. We know how he negotiated treaties, how he helped the poor, how he responded to slander, etc. We know even which side of the bed he slept on, which prayers he said in each situation. And we even know how he cleaned himself in the bathroom. In fact, his life is the most well-documented of anyone in history. From these things, Muslims do their best to emulate the prophet (peace be upon him).
So, in this respect, Islam is a way of life. It speaks to how to pray, fast, obey your parents, help your neighbors, perform funerals, welcome a child into the world, the prayers you say in your car or in your bed or after eating, etc. It speaks to govenrment, laws, economics, treaties, and war. All of these things are part of religion, because everything must be done for the sake of God, Alone, and with a deep God-consciousness. If we are always aware of God we will not speak in a mean manner to our spouses, we wouldn't talk about people behind their backs, we would be kind to thos who treat us badly, we would help the poor, etc.
Finally #3, the present state of Muslims in the world. Prophet Muhammad said that prior to Jesus' return to earth (peace be upon both of them), that the world would face an AntiChrist and that during those times and the times before he arrives believers would be deeply persecuted. He said that the nations of the earth would gather around the Muslims like hungry people gathering around a table full of food. He also said that the person who holds onto Islam in those days, it would be like trying to hold onto a burning hot coal. Whether or not these are those days, I do not know, but it certainly feels like it. Even though Muslims represent 25% of the world's population, over 85% of the world's refugees are Muslim. Throughout the so-called Muslim world they are either being bombed by outsiders or are being persecuted by their own governments. In fact, in some so-called Muslim countries, I would be arrested because I wear a beard and go to the morning prayer. My wife would be arrested because she chooses to cover her hair.
So, while there are Muslim majority countries, there are no countries on earth which should be called Muslim countries. A Muslim country abides by Islamic law, and there are none which do this currently. So, despite the fact that Islam is a peaceful religion which calls to God-consciousness, it is difficult in most countries for people to learn about their religion. They are concerned about food, water, and shelter, not about learning what their religion teaches.
So, Islam is a monotheistic faith with many similarities to Judaism and Christianity. It is a way of life. And the Muslims throughout the world are being persecuted for their religion. So, finally to answer your questions...
You asked, "I was also wondering what you think about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. From what I've been listening to on the news and in the paper, they are all very dedicated muslims. If they are such dedicated muslims like they seem, how is it they carried out one of the biggest mass murders in U.S. history? I'm just confused about who is interrpreting the Koran in the correct way. Is it muslims like bin Laden or is it Muslims like the majority in the United States, who are peaceful and righteous people?"
Regarding Osama bin Laden, I know nothing about him. As a Muslim, I believe in justice. If he did it, then he did it and deserves the punishment. If he didn't, then he didn't and doesn't deserve the punishment. Also, as a Muslim, I am not permitted to speak without knowledge. And I simply do not know. Our media has lied before, and when it comes to oil, I'm sure they'd lie again.
I will tell you what I do know. Islamic law comments on war. In war we are NOT permitted to kill women, children, men who are not fighting, the ill, the handicapped, or animals. Even in war, we are NOT permitted to cut down fruit-bearing trees. If we are not permitted to cut down fruit-bearing trees, then we are certainly not allowed to destroy two buildings full of innocent people. One verse of the Qur'an says, "if you kill a person...it is as if you killed all of humanity. And if you save one life, it is as if you saved all of humanity."
You also asked, "I heard somewhere once that most muslims believe that Christians and Jews are threats to the muslim culture and should be done away with. I also heard that most muslims believe America and Westernization as a whole to be evil and that Americans should be killed. I understand however that these ideas are mostly from radicals, but I'm just curious about all of this."
In Islamic law, Jews and Christians are protected. They even have their own court systems. So if you, as a Christian, lived under Islamic law, you would go to a Christian judge and be judged according to the laws of the Christians, even though you are living in an Islamic land. Proof that Islam honors the traditions of the Jews and Christians is that churches and synagogues still stand in Muslim lands. The oldest Christian communities in the world live in Muslim lands - Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. And, the Golden Age of Jewish literature occurred during the 800 years that Islam ruled Spain. Just prior to slaughtering the Jews in Spain under the Inquisition, the Muslim ruler of the Ottoman Empire sent ships to Spain to save the lives of those Jews. Jews and Christians have thrived under Islamic law. However, were we to look at the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Slave Trade, we'd find that Muslim mosques were destroyed, the Muslim people were slaughtered, etc.
Many people have forgotten history. When Islam was spreading throughout the world, in many places it was welcomed by the people. For example, the high priest of Jerusalem welcomed the Muslim ruler, Omar ibn al-Khattab, into Palestine and offerred to let him pray in the church. Omar instaed, prayed next to it saying, "I fear that in the future people who come after us may use this fact as a reason to tear down your church." So he prayed outside as a means of protecting the church.
The US has only existed for roughly 200 years right? Well, Islam ruled Spain for 800 years. During that time Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived in peace.
Now, about the culture...Islam is found on every continent. Arabs only represent 18% of the Muslims. The largest Muslim nation is Indonesia. Muslims come from many different cultures...but in general, we all adhere to the same set of morals. The gripes that Muslims have with "Western" culture are the same ones that many Christians object to: pornography, adultery, the break up of the family, excessive entertainment, homosexuality, violence, drunkenness, disrespect for parents, etc. Personally, I think the TV is a poison. It really is. It glamorizes sleeping around. It makes everyone think that they have to look 20 the rest of their life, etc. Many religious people feel this way, regardless of which religion they practice. So, Muslims speaking out against this stuff is no different than sermons given on Sundays in churches across America.
And lastly, you said, "Always remember that religion has a way of setting up barriers between people."
Actually, I disagree. It is not religion that puts up barriers...it is lack of it. Your religion and my religion both call to worship God, to be God conscious, to obey our parents, to help our neighbor, to give in charity, to avoid evil, etc. It is lack of religion or lack of understanding it that brings about deception, lies, foul language, domestic violence, talking about people behind their backs, etc. More people have lost their lives in the name of secularism and money than in the name of religion - and these times are no different.
As far as our families, I agree with what you said..."I just want you to know that there has never been a barrier between me and my family and you and your family. We all love you just the same, and may our differences only make us better and more educated as people. Our house is always open to you and your family, feel free to stop by at anytime if your in the area." I feel the same way.
I know that I have a way of being wordy, but let me know if this generated any other questions.
Yet Paul knows full well what he is doing. He understands, with a surprisingly modern sophistication, the techniques of religious propaganda; he understands what is necessary to turn a man into a god, & he goes about it more astutely than the Romans did with their emperors. (182)
'The Gospels, it is generally acknowledged, are unreliable as historic documents. Mark's, the earliest of them, was composed no earlier than the revolt of AD 66, & probably somewhat later. All four Gospels seek to evoke a period long predating their own composition - perhaps by as much as 60 or 70 years' (175)