Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Will of Allah

"Sounds great Lex. But you're not a god." - Kitty Kowalski (Parker Posey)

"Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind." - Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey)

- from Superman Returns (2006)


"And when Moses said to his people: 'O my people, call in remembrance the favor of God unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave to you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin.'"

- Holy Qur'an 5:20-21

To some, this current war in the Middle East between Israel and Hizballah is simply over religion. To others, it is simply a war over land. In truth, it's over both, but it's also a war over who will live in peace and who will not - and who gets to choose, governments or terrorist groups. Or, God for that matter. Speaking of God, one side believes in a God who blesses all peoples, but chose the Jews for a specific purpose. The other side believes Allah damns all peoples who are not Muslims, or at least not a certain kind of Muslim.

The world we inhabit is not an American world, a European world, a Christian, Jewish or Muslim world, but our shared world. We didn't create it, we just live on it. What's more, this planet that we call our home is but a speck in the cosmos, really; a dot. Whether you're a believer or an agnostic, the irrefutable fact that the universe is much, much bigger than our most petty problems - it is even bigger than our most intractable problems over borders, beliefs or oil - should humble us.

Now, I'm not the most religiously observant of people. But I do have spirituality. I do have faith. I believe in God. For me, and millions of others, acknowledging that there is a higher power than ourselves helps to keep us humble, just as thinking about the size of the Earth vs. the Universe can. Doing so helps put us in our place. Whether you submit to the power of God or the power of the Universe (for many, the one is indistinguishable from the other), the wisdom of recognizing our size in the overall scheme of things should make us think twice about how we act. If we truly submit to a Higher Power of any kind, then there is no room for arrogance. On our world, we may attain power, importance or influence. On Earth, we might matter.

On Mars, we're nobodies.

Islam, the word, means "submission"...or more correctly, "submission to God". Islam teaches - drills into the heads of students, in fact - that everything that happens is the will of God. Nothing is separate from God. If God wants something to be, it is. If God doesn't want something to be, it isn't. It's that simple. Though Iran's president and countless Arab and Asian imams say otherwise, isn't it right and logical - if using Islamic core beliefs about God as a guide - that Israel's creation, and Israel's having won major map-changing victories in the wars of 1948-49, 1967, and 1973 (against great odds), and Israel's continued existence, would either have been or would be impossible without God allowing it?

Many Muslims often say that they submit to God, but what extremists really seem to think is that they aren't accountable to God, but only to the teachings of Muhammad. If it were otherwise, they would not have raised such a stink about cartoons of their prophet. Muhammad was just a human being, after all. And if such Muslims really submitted to God's will, they wouldn't insist on trying to destroy one the manifestations of his Creation, both ancient and modern: the State of Israel. For those Muslims who would kill innocent people, God is not the inspiration, but a tool. They base their murderous reasoning not on God's reasoning, but on their prophet Muhammad's, or their imam's.

An imam who, with hatred on his tongue, denounces in his mosque the Jewish people or calls the State of Israel an abomination that exists contrary to God's will, needs to stop and think about his words: If nothing can exist outside of God, if God is all powerful, if everything is the will of Allah - see where I'm going? Is it not so that Allah, in His infinite wisdom, knows more than the Arab & Muslim peoples about what an abomination against Him is and what is not?

You can be a devout Muslim and say the Israelis (or generally, just the Jews) stole Arab or Muslim land, and then use Islam and "occupation" as your excuse for terrorism against innocent people rather than peaceful protest, but...well, look at this entry from the Qur'an:

"Say: 'O God, King of the kingdom, Thou givest the kingdom to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off the kingdom from whom Thou pleasest; Thou endowest with honor whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: all the best is in Thy hand. Verily, Thou hast power over all things.'

- Holy Qur'an 3:26

God took the Land of Israel away from the Canaanites and gave it to the Jews. God took the Land of Israel away from the Jews and gave it to the Romans. God took the Land of Israel away from the Romans, and gave it to the Muslims. God took away the Land of Israel from the Muslims, and gave it back to the Jews. Simplistic it might sound, but for a religious or faithful Jew there should be no question that this is so (there are ultra-religious Jews that don't accept this, funnily enough). Too, for the humble Muslim who submits to God, there shouldn't be any question that God has the right to do whatever He wants. As we all know, though, questions abound.

Muslims hold up the Qur'an to be the word of God; it is said that Muhammad heard prophecies from the angel Gabriel, and only later were the oral teachings transcribed into written material. Given this sort of development, we can probably assume that what is the finalized Qur'an of today evolved more along the lines of the game "telephone" rather than the giving of the Torah at Sinai. Think about it: God instructed the angel Gabriel; Gabriel instructed Muhammad; Muhammad instructed the Arabs. But Muhammad wasn't a god to be worshipped among the many other gods that Arabs believed in and worshipped at the time; he was a human. Fallible. Prone to make mistakes.

You're telling me that 1,400 years ago, messages from the Almighty couldn't get lost in translation, or distorted by a fallible human? As Hollywood has reminded us on occasion, long before Muhammad, Jews had their own problems with getting the full story from God when it was passed down to mankind via a human intermediary. Take this incident at Mount Sinai for instance:

"The Lord, the Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen...(drops one of the tablets)...Oy! Ten! Ten commandments for all to obey!" - Moses (Mel Brooks)

- from History of the World: Part I (1981)


Imagine if God said to the angel Gabriel, "Tell the Arab Muhammad that women are superior to men." Say the angel Gabriel committed it to memory, flew down to Muhammad...but forgot the entire message on arrival, and only said "Women are equal to men." In Muhammad's mind, in the tribal society of the Arabia of the time (and today), such an idea was preposterous. He might have listened faithfully, remembered it for later, but heard it as "Women are inferior to men." Thus - fast forward - even today devout Muslim women in some countries need permission from the eldest male in their family to travel abroad (men have no such restrictions), and in Saudi Arabia women can't drive.

Walk around on a Saturday in Jerusalem, though, and you'll see Muslim Arab women giving driving lessons to other Muslim Arab women. I guess they have more rights here than elsewhere.

If you were a Muslim who truly submits to God, you would be humble before Him. You would not commit such acts of blatant arrogance as blowing yourself, a bus, or a restaurant up to kill others of His children, because you would know that it is not you or your imam who decides whether Israel exists or not, but God. Iran's president this very day said the solution to the Middle East's problems is the destruction of Israel. What sort of god does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believe in? I use lower-case, because he obviously isn't talking about our God. In his deluded arrogance, Islam is the supreme power on Earth - Islam the religion, not the God of Islam. Any god will do for Ahmadinejad.

Going further, if this Islam was truly a God-centered religion instead of a human-centered religion, when "fundamentalist" Muslims go on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, they would honor God's power, rather than pay lip-service to it while memorializing Muhammad's memory more. What good is symbolically stoning the Devil, when Muslims seem intent on symbolically working with the Devil to destroy Israel? Peacefully questioning God's will is one thing...but openly challenging God's inherent right to have His way is another. Hizballah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, President Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, and millions of others around the globe, question on a daily basis God's right to have His way.

Every rocket or missile launched at Israel from southern Lebanon or the Gaza Strip is a vocal protest (that in His wisdom God allows) against God's will and the Qur'an, not a celebration of either. It's a temper tantrum; it's Muslims saying to Allah, "You're not the boss of us!" By the same token, any suicide terrorist who would scream "God is Great!" before taking innocent lives in an Israeli restaurant or before flying a passenger jet into a New York skyscraper would, rather than glorify God, commit acts of holy war against Him. They should thank God that He is merciful and forgiving.

Rather than submit to God's will, too many Muslims would rather that God submit to theirs.

As a result, people are still dying in Israel and Lebanon...

"And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd.'"

- Holy Qur'an 17:104

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