UNDERSTANDING ISLAM-A Brief Study*-
Mohammad- paganism to monotheism
Mohammad was born 570 AD of pagan parents. His father Abdullah and his mother Amina were of the Quraysh tribe who were polytheists who worshipped 360 different idols in the Kaa’ba in Mecca. Mohammed was familiar with the polytheism of his tribe. In fact, Mohammed has been recorded as saying, “I have offered a white sheep to al-’Uzza, while I was a follower of the religion of my people.”
Allah is a pre-Islamic name from the compound Arabic word Al-ilah meaning god, a generic name for the highest god. ‘Hubal’ known as the moon god was the god to whom the Arabs prayed at the Kaa’ba and addressed as ‘Allah’. This historic holy site, the Kaa’ba can trace its beginnings to pre-Islamic history. The Crescent moon was the symbol (icon) of the moon god Allah (Hubal) and is still used today although it was an ancient pagan symbol of fertility throughout the Middle East. As the Kaa’ba was where the idol of Allah was located, Muslims paid their respect by facing Mecca when they prayed 5 times a day.
About the time of Mohammed’s birth, some Meccans were seeking monotheism being influenced by the religion of the Jews and the Christians. There were numerous Jewish settlements in Hijaz the area of Mohammed’s birth. Many of these Jews were merchants, farmers, vintners, smiths and who also lived amongst the Bedouin tribes. The most important Jewish dominated city was Medina which featured largely in Mohammed’s life. As Mohammed was later a successful caravan merchant he came into close contact with the Jews and Christians from whom he learned about Judaism and Christianity, i.e. monotheism. Much of Mohammed’s philosophies were borrowed from these two religions, and while adopting these ideas by Mohammed, many misconceptions and errors were introduced into Islam because his appreciation of Judaism and Christianity was superficial and from hearsay. Mohammed was illiterate and so could not pursue an in depth study of the doctrines of the Torah or the Bible. What he learned was what he could glean from verbal narratives from friendly Jews and Christians.
Mohammed was intrigued with the Jewish and Christian philosophies, as against the more basic practices of tribalism and polytheism worship of his Quraysh tribe. Mohammed showed no animosity towards other faiths in the early days of his preaching his Islamic beliefs. Mohammed’s early views of Jews and Christians, ( referred to as ‘People of the Book’-Torah/Bible), were friendly and tolerant. As an example, when Muslims were persecuted by pagans in Mecca, Mohammed told them to take refuge with King Negus, the Christian King of Ethiopia where they were received with kindness and respect and King Negus announced that Muslim refugees could live freely in his country. And when the Meccans approached the King and demanded the surrender of these Muslims, the King refused to accede to those demands, giving protection to the Muslims.
Christian attitudes and practices were based upon compassion, mercy, tolerance and justice. A verse in the Koran reflects this,
“….You will find the people most affectionate to those who believe are those who say, “We are Christians”. (Surat al-Ma’ida, 82, a rare tribute by Mohammed about Christians in the early phases of Islam.
Common Identifiable Values-Judaism, Christianity, & Islam
- God is Creator of the Universe and is omnipotent
- God created man
- God sent many prophets like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad.
- Many customs and traditions like rituals, and food abstinence’s, fasting, prayer are very similar to Jewish and Christian customs.
The influence of Judaism and Christianity upon Islam was profound and undeniable. At this early stage, Islam was a minor religion among older well established religions. You can find passages in the Koran regarding treating ‘People of the Book’ with preference and respect. You could even sense the lack of animosity of Mohammed against Jews and Christians in Islam’s early formation. There was a clear distinction made between ‘People of the Book’ (Jews and Christians), and infidels, or pagans, or kafirs.
Mohammed’s passages in the Qur’an even advocated patience with enemies and non-believers. In Surah 73:10 “Have patience with what they say, and avoid them with a becoming avoidance” (Al-Arab 9). At this time Islam advocated respect of Jews and Christians, and to stress that their God is the same god as Allah. However, this attitude changed and Muhammed abrogated many of these earlier kindlier verses as the Jews and Christians resisted the encroachment of Islam into their way of life and Muslims began their animosity against Jews and Christians. The turning point was evident from battle in Medina and henceforth.
Mohammed’s Attitude’s Changed After Medina
Mohammed continued to preach his faith despite some strong and violent opposition from the critical Meccan society, but his safety was guaranteed by his uncle, Abu Talib the powerful clan leader. But when Abu Talib the clan leader died in 619 AD the clan protection of Mohammed ended and he was fair game to his enemies. After Abu Talib’s death, Muslims were no longer welcomed in Mecca.
Mohammed was invited by 6 Medinan traders to establish himself in Medina to resolve some of the problems of the 11 different fighting clans in Medina. Seventy five Medinans met with Mohammed and formed a group known as ‘The Pledge of War’. This group began the tribal activity of ‘razzias’ or caravan raids, basically pirate raids for spoils such as goods, animals, slaves and ransom. But as Mohammed consolidated his power in Medina and eliminating some of his enemies through assassinations. Mohammed began executing his enemies in a most brutal way to eliminate opposition.
Mohammed’s personality changed in Medina. Mohammed introduced a harder edge to the verses in the Koran especially with regard to warfare. He did this by ‘abrogation’ of his previous pronouncements. In his rage Mohammed turned upon the unbelievers who fought him. The Beni Qoreiga tribe were not the only people that Mohammed was against as he now included ‘The People of The Book. In Surah 9:29 we read his ‘abrogated’ verse, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of Islam’s superiority and they are in a state of subjection.”
In Surah 8:65 Mohammed made another abrogation, “O Prophet! Urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand.” 
The Slow Growth of Islam
The ministry of Islam was started when Mohammed was 40 years of age. His initial methods were similar to that adopted by Judaism and Christianity, i.e. kind, gentle and peaceful persuasion. One of his early mottos was, “No
compulsion in Religion….” Surah 2:256.
Mohammed’s first convert was his wife, Khadija, and in the next 3 years he managed to convert 7 men to join him one of whom was his slave, Said. The others were Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn Affan, Zubair ibnel Awam, Abdel Rahman ibn Auf, Saad ibn abi Wakkaas, and Talha. 
Mohammed, who was then under the protection of his powerful uncle Abu-Talib, the clan chief, began preaching about Islam in earnest. After 5 years of proselytising Mohammed’s followers grew to 16 members. It took several more years before he managed to gain 40 men and women in Mecca.
In Mohammed’s desperation to make Islam more appealing to pagan Arabs, Mohammed introduced some pagan rituals into Islam such as “making Hajj” i.e. circling the Ka’aba, and kissing the Black Stone, the practices of pagan Arabs that pre-dates Islam. This practice has remained as part of the Islamic rituals today.
Further, in order to gain favour and impress the chief of the Quraish tribe of Mecca during his meeting, Mohammed feigned devotion to their pagan deities by reciting from the Koran that Allah praised the three pagan goddesses, Allat, Al-Ussa, and Manat. Mohammed then led a prayer to these goddesses in the presence to the Chief of the Quraish tribe.
Later, Mohammed claimed that it was Satan who had whispered those verses into his ear, and he hastily nullified those verses and “abrogated” the text of Surah 53: 19-23 to the version that exists today.
[Clearly it is seen that Mohammed was equally influenced with the religious rituals of his pagan parents who must have influenced Mohammed sufficiently that without appreciating the significance of it, Mohammed adopted the pagan idolization of the Ka’aba and the ritual circling of it, as a continuation of pagan worship. The Islamic adoption of the “Moon Crescent and Star” symbol is also a reflection of the roots of Islam reaching back into the worship of the “Moon Goddess,” that pre-dates Islam by hundreds or years.
Mohammed’s irresponsible act of praying to the pagan Goddesses, Allat, Al-Ussa, and Manat, in order to appease the Chief of the Quraish tribe, is a reflection of his own unstable faith of Islam. His subsequent nullifying and abrogation of those offending verses again throws doubt on the authenticity of the Qur’an, the Word of Allah. His use of abrogation to justify his actions places questions on the wisdom of Allah’s words in the Koran. Allah would certainly have uttered more prophetic unchangeable words of wisdom.]
Hard as Mohammed tried, nothing seemed to work for him. After having been based in Mecca for 13 years he only managed to gain 100 converts. Certainly early Islam did not appeal to many Arabs of the day. 
Mohammed Changes his Personality at Medina in 622AD into a more Aggressive Muslim
In 622 AD Mohammed decided to change his headquarters to Medina, Arabia. Here Mohammed changed his strategy. He instructed all Muslims to use swords not just words, to fight for the cause of Islam. Jihad was used to subdue the masses to the will of Allah. This strategy proved to be much more effective. Arabs, some admiring Mohammed but many fearing him his ruthlessness joined him in his raids on caravans. They hoped to share in the booty derived from plundering trading caravans and wealthy villages. Mohammed’s followers conducted 27 raids on Arabian tribes and caravans and killed their opponents, took goods, took slaves and dominated new territories. Mohammed himself led 9 of these raids and supervised 26 of them. Mohammed was so successful and his ruthless reputation grew. Soon tens of thousands of Arabs began submitting themselves to join his band of Islamic warriors since Islam embarked on with Mohammed’s new policy of aggressive coercion, i.e. submit to Allah or perish. After only eight years of this new aggressive practice from Medina allowed Mohammed to raise an army of 10,000 mercenary fighters. This huge army was used to attack Mecca with these men motivated by promise of spoils of war, and slaves, rather than for Islamic zeal. Mohammed’s momentum of subjugation of his foes by the sword eventually subdued all of Arabia. Mohammed was planning to march on to Syria when his own death overtook such plans.
On Mohammed’s death, various Islamic factions, together with Jews and Christians revolted against Islamic rule. The first caliph Abu Bakr had to recall the army that was on its way to subdue Syria to put down this revolt. It was a fierce war, known as “the Apostasy War” and it was eventually won by Abu Bakr using threats and inducements to the factions. During the reign of the second Caliph Omar, 637-644 AD subsequent raids on neighbouring countries added Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Armenia, Iraq, and Iran to the Islamic empire. Within one century Islam ruled the whole of North Africa with its new policy of Jihad. Devout and orthodox scholars of Islam know this history of Mohammed’s victories well and it is all tied in into the psyche of Jihadism and the determination to change the world from Dar al Harb into Dar al-Islam.
Through the ages, the growth of Islam and it’s discipline has been by using the carrot and the stick. The Koran has been so worded that it is impossible for Muslims to leave the fold, for fear of retribution and death. The conversion of non-Muslims even at the point of the sword is clearly advocated in the Qur’an, or otherwise non-Muslims have to accept the inferior subjugated status of a dhimmitude. No Muslim, either man or woman, may marry a non-Muslim unless he/she converts to Islam first. All children born of Muslim parents are considered Muslims and can only renounce Islam with the full approval of an Imam. This approval is indeed rarely ever given and so as an apostate most Islamic nations impose the death penalty. Any Muslim who rejects any part of Allah’s commands is technically a blasphemer and so is an apostate. The penalty for apostasy is death. For those who make sacrifices in the cause of Islam, such as martyrdom, Allah has promised rewards for eternal life in Paradise, but for those who falter or betray Islam, with treachery or blasphemy, the punishment is death.
Islam accepts converts to Islam but it will not accept rejection of Islam by any Muslims, i.e. apostates, as there will be an accounting to Allah on ascendancy to Paradise according to the Qur’an. But many Islamic countries today demand the death penalty for apostasy. Islam is an exclusive religion and will not tolerate unbelievers (non-Muslims).
The ultimate aim for Islam is a World Caliphate. Their method is either by conversion or coercion. To an Islamist there are only two camps in this world, (1) The House of Islam, i.e. dar al-Islam, the house of peace or (2) The House of War, i.e. dar al-Harb, the house of war. There is no other option. 
The Philosophy of Abrogation practised by Prophet Mohammed
Abrogated verses are known as ‘mansukh’ and the abrogating verse as ‘nasikh’ with the latter cancelling the former. The former verse may still remain in the Koran. However, this causes contradiction and confusion not only among non-Muslims but also to devout Muslims themselves. Some former verses may have also been expunged from the Koran in the early translations. Muslim apologists either from ignorance or having been misinformed or for malicious intent will use this confusion of abrogation to further disarm critics of Islam. This is why it is difficult to perceive Islam clearly to both Muslims and non-Muslims. In some respects such confusion adds to the mystery and mystique of Islam, but on the other hand it disarms the undiscerning and makes them pliable in the hands of unscrupulous and malicious Muslim clerics. Muslims will, in all sincerity use a ‘mansukh verse to contradict a ‘nasidh’ verse either out of innocent ignorance or in the art of ‘Taqiyya’. This is why abrogation has been responsible for creating considerable confusion and contradiction in the Islamic scripts that helps to mystify or cause confusion about Islam. This has been the result of bad editing of the Koran by inexperienced scholars and script writers accompanied with the lack of competence in the Arabic language. The Koran has been further complicated by the fact that the Koran today has not been compiled in a chronological order, but by virtue of the lengths of the Sura, hence there is very little to differentiate original verses from the latter abrogated verses.
The only way to identify abrogation is by the date of the text. Later text abrogates earlier text whenever one detects
inconsistencies between them.
Mohammed had observed that the Jews and Christians preached peace, love, and tolerance, without compulsion, and that was the way Mohammed began his mission emulating the Jews and Christians. Despite being shunned by Jews and Christians, Mohammed saw Jews and Christians as peaceful and accommodating religions and remembered the protection Muslims received from the Christian King of Ethiopia. However, his gratitude was short lived. Hence we find in the Koran
Sura 2:256: “Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clear from error”.
And another less known generous act, the “CHARTER OF PRIVILEGES” that Prophet Mohammed granted in 628 AD to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt Sinai which included protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges, freedom to own and maintain their own property, and the right to protection in war. That was the Mohammed before he changed and decided on the more ruthless attitudes to conquer the rest of the infidel world around him.
This Charter clearly showed the young compassionate Mohammed who was grateful for the protection from the Christian King of Ethiopia and in response issued “The Charter of Privileges” for the Christians. 
But that was only 2 years before Muhammad conquered Mecca. After the conquest of Mecca, Mohammed changed and his abrogated verses reversed all his previous peaceful concepts and intent with non-believers. It became obvious to Mohammed that his aggressive and non compromising approach to non believers had, in a few months, delivered more converts and strengthened his following by leaps and bounds than all the years of preaching with compassion and love. It dawned on him that that was the only route to achieve total success in his aims to convert kafirs to Islam. This is when Mohammed abrogated his earlier peaceful verses with Jihadist verses. From then on, Islam has never looked backwards. Islam was on a mission to convert all kafirs to their way of life. These abrogated Jihad verses today represents Islamic teachings and is accepted as one of the Pillars of Islam, openly declared by the Shia sect and as a command of Allah in the Qur’an by the Sunni sect and others. Below are some examples of the Jihadist verses in the Koran:
Sura 5:51 O believers take not Jews and Christians as friends…..
Sura 8:37 Allah may separate the pure from impure……
Sura 5:33 (Those who fight Allah)….shall be slain or crucified…
Sura 8:12-13 Cast terror into the hearts of infidels. Strike off their heads….
Sura 8:67 …make wide slaughter in the land
Sura 9:73 Make war on unbelievers (of Islam)…
(List of 6 of 17)
Islam suddenly altered to become a religion of “intolerance” after 630 AD. The Prophet Mohammed realized that for his teachings to succeed, there was no room for tolerance. Islam became a very exclusive religious cult from that time on.
[An Observation: The Koran is the indisputable Word of Allah and as such has to be accepted as a whole, without any questioning. But Mohammed was the prophet who could abrogate passages as it suited the occasion and without reference to anyone, as he was Allah’s prophet. He has stated on several occasions that he fell into a swoon and the revelation came upon him, as in the case of his marriage to the wife of his step-son. He exonerated his behaviour to his wife with the excuse that he received a vision from Allah to take his step-son’s wife as his own wife. His seventh wife was his ex-daughter-in-law. Interestingly, Sura 4:3 limits the number of wives to four, and in Sura 4:31 marriage to one’s daughter-in-law was prohibited. But in Sura 33:36–40, Muhammad was conveniently given a new revelation from God that ordered Zaid, Muhammad’s adopted son, to divorce his wife so Muhammad could marry her by God’s command. This swoon and revelation appears more a human convenience for his lust rather than a revelation of Allah. The revelation was too selfish a design to have been an ethereal revelation.
Muslim scholars and statesman Ali Dashti gives a list of 22 women in Muhammad’s life. 16 were wives, 2 were slaves or concubines, 4 were not wives nor slaves but devout Muslim women who “gave” themselves to Muhammad willingly.]
The Islamic Principle of Taqiyya
In order to understand the Islamic mind we have to understand the Arab Bedouin Tribal culture. This is a culture based upon tribalism and the hard nomadic values of tribal warfare by raiding neighbouring villages and taking over their women and children as slaves and concubines, their possessions, their stock and their grazing lands and killing their men with the exception of those who would accept Islam. People are mainly illiterate, but cunning, and resourceful in order to survive. They are also extremely proud and arrogant people, especially the men. The masculine Arab culture placed a very high value on ‘honour and shame’ associated with his place in the social order of his family, his tribal group, or his society. It is important that he does not suffer ‘a loss of face’. The importance of honour and status is so important that it often justifies ‘honour killings’ within the family. Blood feuds and vendettas are maintained for generations to defend the honour of long dead ancestors. Mohammed himself ordered the vengeful murder of all those who mocked or satirised him, as he was an Arab and the potential loss of face was unacceptable.
“Lying and cheating in the Arab world is not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honour and status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities, for those with the wit and cunning for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert shame into honour on their own account and vice versa for the opponents. If honour so demands it, lies and cheating may become absolute imperatives.” 
Thus by skilful manipulations, by dissimulation, deceiving, lying, confounding, deflection of accusations, it is possible to foil or block or fend off an attack or accusation, and thus turn a humiliation into a positive outcome and the save one’s face or one’s life. This same skill is part of the tribal Bedouin life and it has been adopted into the Islamic way of life in the defence and protection of Islam. This skill is known as ‘Taqiyya’ and greatly enhances the capabilities of Muslims to defend and promote Islam. This skill, Taqiyya, comes so naturally to Muslims that they are not even aware that they are using it to communicate dissimulate Islamic information to the less informed. It is a part of their way of life since childhood. This trait can also be observed in many other cultures especially in the East.
To give a few examples of Taqiyya as an illustration, Muslims will deny that “terrorist suicide bombers killed innocent people” were Muslims who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York. And they are right because Muslims do not approve of Suicide (Haram, so they could not have been Muslims) and wanton murder of innocent people ( but Muslims do not consider non-Muslims as innocent. They are the enemy and so are legitimate targets.). So Muslims may safely say that they condemn any terrorist acts, because terrorists are not identifiable as Muslims. But Muslims knew that these were acts of Islamic Jihad, and thus were truthful in denying it was “an act of terrorism” by Muslims, because they were actually “acts of martyrdom” or Jihad not “terrorism.” Muslims do not do “terrorism.” (Taqiyya)(Semantics) Yet this is what the Koran commands her followers:
Qur’an:8:12 “I shall terrorize the infidels. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them because they oppose Allah and His Apostle.”
Qur’an:8:57 “If you gain mastery over them in battle, inflict such a defeat as would terrorize them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned.”
Misconceptions about Islam
It is commonly said by Muslims that “Islam means peace, it does not it, translates as ‘submission’ to Allah. This is typical dissimulation.
Lesser educated Muslims sometimes claim that the root word of Islam is “al-Salaam,” which is “peace” in Arabic.
The root word for Islam is “al-Silm,” which means “submission” or “surrender.” There is no controversy about this among Islamic scholars who understand Arabic.
Submission and peace can be very different concepts, even if a form of peace is often brought about through forcing others into submission. As the modern-day Islamic scholar, Ibrahim Sulaiman, puts it, “Jihad is not inhumane, despite its necessary violence and bloodshed, its ultimate desire is peace which is protected and enhanced by the rule of law.”
In truth, the Qur’an not only calls Muslims to submit to Allah, it also commands them to subdue people of other religions until they are in a full state of submission to Islamic rule. This has inspired the aggressive nature of Islam and its success in conquering and subdue other cultures.
The Myth that a small minority of Islamic extremists have hijacked Islam
The skilful, misleading misinformation that a small minority of extremists have hijacked Islam and does not represent Muslims is a myth clichéd in the western media. Survey consistently show 10-15% of all Muslims sympathise with Islamic Jihad. This means 120-180 million Muslims out of the 1.2 Billion Muslims in the world, are prepared to fund, facilitate, support morally and financially these Jihadists. Imagine attempting to destroy a subversive army of 120-180 million people. Is this a tiny minority who support Islamic Jihad? (This shows how Muslims attempt to portray that Islam is non-violent. It is meant to disarm non-Muslims.)
The above illustrates how abrogation and Taqiyya makes the clear understanding of Islam almost impossible to those who have not studied Islam in depth. Most westerners therefore are gullible to the falsehoods that are being spread by Muslims to disarm the infidel, a common technique of Islamist infiltration. Some examples have references in the Koran like Surah 5:89, and Surah 16:106, and Surah 3:28. But disinformation, dissimulation, and Taqiyya, with abrogation make it almost impossible for the less well read about Islam, from being able to perceive through all this fog of deception and disinformation. But is all part and parcel of Islam that really needs a clear understanding. To the uninformed non-Muslim it is little wonder that they are misled and misinformed.
The Education Curriculae in Madrassas and the Level of Literacy in Muslim nations
In order to understand Muslim people and their culture, it is essential to ascertain what influences their thought processes. It is necessary to ascertain the level of education among the normal citizenry and the influences on they values, their cognitive capabilities, and their perceptive visions. I have chosen the Pakistan system to examine as much of the information from Pakistan is available in English. There are two systems in Pakistan, the Government schools and the madrassa. The madrassa is by far the more popular because it offers free(subsidized) education, including boarding facilities. But most madrassas are financed by oil rich Islamic countries like the Wahhabi group in Saudi Arabia.
There are 2 courses of study in a Madrassa, (1) the elementary course, the ‘hifz’ course, for the memorization of the Koran, (This is equivalent to a Primary school education in the West.) and (2) the ‘alim’ course or an accepted scholar course. The alim course takes 12 years, and qualifies that graduate to become an imam, or an Islamic teacher or to work in a Mosque. (On a time scale this is equivalent to an O-level or school leaving certificate level.)
Hifz Syllabus Structure
We estimate that a child will need approximately one year to complete a level. (About 6 years in all.)
• Complete the Azhar Academy Ahsanul Qawaid (green book) Listen
• At the end of this course children should be able to read Qur’anic text slowly and gain fluency with little practice.
• Basic Duas Download
• Islamic studies – The Dar-us-Salam Series by Maulvi Abdul Aziz Book 1
• Memorise at least half of Juz Amma and read the whole of Juz 30 fluently.
• Introduction to Qur’anic Arabic
• Complete Level 2 Dua book 1 Download
• Know how to pray
• Islamic studies – The Dar-us-Salam Series by Maulvi Abdul Aziz Book 2
• Memorise Juz Amma completely
• Start memorising Surah Mulk, Ya Seen & Ar Rahman
• Read the Qur’an fluently with Introductory Tajweed rules
• Complete Level 3 LHA Dua book
• Islamic studies – The Dar-us-Salam Series by Maulvi Abdul Aziz Book 3 & Book 4
• Hanafi Fiqh of Taharah & Salah
• Memorise Surah Baqa’rah
• Islamic studies – The Dar-us-Salam Series by Maulvi Abdul Aziz Book 5 & 6
• Qur’anic Arabic – Module 1
• Transfer to Evening Hifz School (Mon-Fri 5.00 pm – 8.00 pm)
Islamic Studies will be studied from the Darus Salam
A typical curriculum for an alim course is,
(1) Arabic language, (2) Tafsir (Koranic interpretation), (3) Shari’ah (Islamic Law), (4)
Hadith (recorded sayings and deeds of Prophet Mohammed), (5) Mantiq (Islamic Logic), and (6) Muslim History. Some madrassas also offer courses in (a) Arabic Literature, (b) English or some other foreign language, and (c) science, and (d) World History.
The predominant aim is to produce students who have a solid knowledge of Islam in every aspect, and to be able to teach and preach Islam to more people. Fortified with such an intensity of Islamic knowledge the continuation of the faith is ensured. But the curricula would be deemed rather narrow as far as general education is concerned, as compared to schools in western countries. So we now see the extent and the limitations of a madrassa education. It would appear that the hifz could be equated to the British O-level education, specializing in Islam.
Taking Pakistan as a model of an Islamic country, statistics show that,
- 92% children enrol in Primary school (age 7 to 12), probably learn to recite the Koran
- 63% of children remain at middle school level (age 12 to 17) (having completed 5 years of Primary school hence able to recite the Koran.
- 44% of children continue at secondary or alim level (age 17 to 19). So less than 50% finish the equivalent of secondary school, but specializing in Islam.
- There is also a ‘fazil’ course, (2 years) that is known as a degree course, but probably more on the lever of the British A-level course.
- There is also another course the ‘kamil’ post graduate course (2 Yrs) which is equivalent to a diploma course in Britain. It can be seen that there is an concentrated emphasis of Islamic knowledge in the Madrassas. With the heavy financial influence of the Wahhabis and their ideological preferences, the madrassas will lean heavily toward fundamentalist Wahhabi outlook of Islam and a leaning toward Islamic Jihadist political indoctrination of the students while at a tender age. This influence will be on impressionable aged students and could be the root of the current anger of Muslim youth. The Muslim students know everything about Islam and nothing much of the wider world and their values. Thus they have regimented minds.  
The Critical Importance of Knowledge as against Fundamental Education
In the human quest for intellectual or scientific excellence there is no compromise. You either progress or you retrogress; there is no place for standing still in the quest for knowledge (stagnant). This is why the topic of education is so important in the understanding of the culture of Islam and Christianity or all the other cultures of this world. The importance of this topic is essential in understanding the mental perceptions and the causes for the incompatibility cultures. It will also provide an insight into the reasons for the decline of Christianity and the resurgence of Islam. While Christian faith has been diluted and corrupted by liberalism and materialism and selfishness, Islam has remained confined and regimented to orthodox doctrines of a 7th century culture unchanged with time.
The Significance of Early Religious Education
Religions have survived through the centuries because the older generations and their clergy have passed on their beliefs and traditions to their descendants. Some secular countries believe that this dissemination of religion is the sole function of the parents, and the Church, but not through the state financed schools. But non-secular nations will instil religious knowledge and traditions through their educational system, their mosques and temples, and even legislate religious codes of ethics into state laws. The laws of most nations all originally evolved primarily from religious laws and community ethics. However, today liberalism and radicalism has begun to to introduce modern evolutionary values to these ethics.
The Philosophy of Islamic Education- its Strengths & Weaknesses
Needless to say the Islamic educational system has been very effective for 1400 years. It is a system that has bonded the Islamic peoples together like no other system has. They are united in their belief structure, their values, their philosophies, their faith, and their purpose. On the other hand, the west, are divided and fragmented in ideology, belief structure, values, philosophies, faith and purpose. Certainly, Muslims have their tribal and sectarian differences but they have no doubt about who Satan is, or who the kafir is and who to trust and who not to trust. This is taught to children as little a 2 years of age. Their unity of perception stems from their faith in the Word of Allah, in the Qur’an. The Word of Allah has remained the same and constant for all 1.2 billion Muslims for 1,400 years with no change in Allah’s doctrines. (The Bible has been modernized and re-translated several times in its history, with some tweaks here and there.)
As pointed out above, the whole of Primary School (92%), middle school (63%) and Secondary school (44%) is imbued in the study of the Koran and Islamic studies with very little else. The Koran, being the Word of Allah, may not be questioned, as it would be sacrilege for a Muslim to question the Word of Allah and is considered an Islamic crime, so the inquiring mind is stifled from the start. Graduates from the Madrassas have very little to gauge their knowledge against. They are taught to accept the Qur’an and the Hadiths without question.
- Added to this is the physical reinforcement of their commitment to their loyalty to Allah, reminded by the call to prayer five times a day, beginning at the light of dawn from the minarets?
- The congregation of the faithful at the Mosques bringa all Muslims into a spirit of camaraderie and collective kinship. As one brotherhood regardless of race, colour, or nationality.
- The opportunity for the constant influence of the clergy/imam through the mosques to exhort, or instil religious fervour or hatred 5 times a day.
- The opportunity to observe individual members as they gather together, and so are able to offer support or apply pressure if his resolve appeaers to be weakening.
- Subjugation, control, and manipulation of immature young intellectuals is in the hands of the Mullahs and senior Muslim peers.
- This direct interaction of a Muslim with his Mullah is intimate and constant and effective.
The constant influence of Islam upon a person is continuous and constant from childhood. First the indoctrination from the system of education and then the follow-up by the Mosque and the Imam is typical of cult control.
The Weaknesses or Disadvantages of the Islamic System
- Too specialized and narrow an education based mostly on Islamic studies. This smothers the cognitive capabilities of the mind.
- Not many finish secondary school, 44%. The population as a whole has a very limited educational standard, and thus limits their perception of the world about them.
- Produces a stifled and stunted mind incapable of creative thought outside of Islam. By the very nature of not questioning the Quran, the Hadiths, will naturally extend to not questioning the Islamic teachers and the Imams.This stifles intellectual inquiry especially regarding Islam and its doctrines.
- The educational system consists of an indoctrination of the mind from a young age, so the mind is stunted, and will never have a wide or open perception outside of Islam.
- More than 50% remain semi-literat. That is proven by the statistics.
- The system will produce followers rather than leaders.
The Palestinian Authority’s Indoctrination of Children – An insight.
A report by Itamer Marcus of the Palestinian Media Watch has reported that the Palestinian Authority has brain-washed their school children that there is no greater achievement than to die for Allah in battle, known as Shahada. This has been accomplished through the educational system, cultural programs, directives from political and religious leaders, through children’s TV broadcasting, and even from encouragement from within the family. 11 year old are quoted as saying the death for Allah as their goal in life. 80% of Palestinian school children polled said that they wished to seek death as a Shahid.
These are some of the activities introduced by the Palestinian Authority to Indoctrinate
- From ages 6-9: Playing Death Games Activities.
- Ages 10-13: Expressing and writing the desire to Die or be Shahids.
- Ages 14-17; Experiencing and training for Shahada Missions.
One 11 year old girl said, “Shahada is very, very beautiful. Everyone yearns for Shahada. What could be better than going to paradise?
Here is a poem written by a boy heading for Shahada,
“Do not be sad, my dear,
And do not cry over my parting,
Oh my dear father,
For my country, Shahada…
How sweet is Shahada
When I embrace you, Oh my land!
THE PERCEPTIONS OF A MUSLIM
The Educated and Sophisticated Muslim-A dormant Islamist
Most westerners have different concepts of a Muslim. So let us attempt to define and quantify in a broad manner who are we talking about. Many westerners have a perception such as the following:
Many westerners have had contacts with Muslims as close neighbours, as parents of their children’s classmates, as colleagues at work or at the university, in business, or as casual friends having met through mutual friends. Naturally these people are working families, some professional, some business, and of a comparable income level as themselves.
Generally, these Muslims are friendly, educated, sophisticated, polite, well mannered, and there is not a thing that is reprehensible about their person or social etiquette except that they are Muslims. As polite neighbours and friends it is normal to avoid discussing controversial topics like religion or politics. To all appearances, these Muslim people are as normal as any other members of society. These Muslims, are hard working, integrated with the neighbourhood, worship as Muslims do, and basically keep to themselves and live harmoniously in their community.
Yes, there are millions of such Muslim families all over the world. Most are very devout Muslims and they make no bones about it. Most of us would classify these Muslims as ‘moderate Muslims’. But is this a misnomer or does it reflect the inner feelings of a devout Muslim?
The above is the face of the ‘dormant’ Muslim, wrongly identified as ‘the moderate Muslim’. These people augment our workforce, as Doctors, University Professors, school teachers, Pharmacists, Accountants, Lawyers, Businessmen, Manufacturers, shop keepers, Imams, Islamic teachers, and contribute to the fabric of our society. They pay taxes, and even become members of Parliament and the House of Lords. So it can be seen as inconceivable that they should be vilified as a culture that is on a crash course with the western culture. With this perspective, it is difficult to find any justification to imagine that they are not useful members of society. No one would doubt that there are many Muslims who are assets to our society.
A Muslim psyche and the Islamic Faith
A Muslim is the person, and Islam is the religious ideology that he has accepted. A person is like you and I, red blood flowing in our veins, with emotions, and warmth and generosity, and caring. But Islam is a fundamentalist ideology, rigid, inflexible, and exclusive. (As the facts of Islam-Muslim are fairly standard, anything in this section within quotation marks, “….” will be quotes from the web, much of which will be from wikipedia. I will also make references to the many surveys from the web.)
To Be A Muslim
“One has to accept Islam which is “one who submits to Allah”. Muslims believe that there is only one god, translated in Arabic as Allah.
Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad, God’s final prophet, and regard the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the words and deeds of Muhammad) as the fundamental sources of Islam. They do not regard Muhammad as the founder of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original monotheistic faith of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. Islamic tradition holds that Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of these prophets over time either in interpretation, in text, or both.
Islam includes many religious practices. Adherents are generally required to observe the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five duties that unite Muslims into a community. In addition to the Five Pillars, Islamic law (sharia) has developed a tradition of rulings that touch on virtually all aspects of life and society. This tradition encompasses everything from practical matters like dietary laws and banking to warfare.”
“The Five Pillars of Islam (Arabic: : اركان الدين) are five practices essential to Sunni Islam. Shi’a Muslims subscribe to eight ritual practices which substantially overlap with the Five Pillars. They are:
(1) The shahadah, which is the basic creed or tenet of Islam: “‘ašhadu ‘al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa ‘ašhadu ‘anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh”, or “I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam (although technically the Shi’a do not consider the shahadah to be a separate pillar, just a belief). Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed.
(2) Salah, or ritual prayer, which must be performed five times a day. (However, the Shi’a are permitted to run together the noon with the afternoon prayers, and the evening with the night prayers). Each salah is done facing towards the Kaaba in Mecca. Salah is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personalcommunication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salah is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. In many Muslim countries, reminders called Adhan (call to prayer) are broadcast publicly from local mosques at the appropriate times. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Qur’an.
(3)Zakat, or alms-giving. This is the practice of giving based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford it. A fixed portion is spent to help the poor or needy, and also to assist the spread of Islam. The zakat is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a “trust from God’s bounty”. The Qur’an and the hadith also suggest a Muslim give even more as an act of voluntary alms-giving (sadaqah). Many Shi’ites are expected to pay an additional amount in the form of a khums tax, which they consider to be a separate ritual practice.
Zakat can be given in the path of Allah. By this is meant to finance a Jihad effort in the path of Allah, not for Jihad for other reasons. The fighter (mujahid) will be given as salary what will be enough for him. If he needs to buy arms or some other supplies related to the war effort, Zakat money should be used provided the effort is to raise the banner of Islam. http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/zakat.htm
(4) Sawm, or fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslims must not eat or drink (among other things) from dawn to dusk during this month, and must be mindful of other sins. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy. Sawm is not obligatory for several groups for whom it would constitute an undue burden. For others, flexibility is allowed depending on circumstances, but missed fasts usually must be made up quickly.
(5) The Hajj, which is the pilgrimage during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. When the pilgrim is about ten kilometers from Mecca, he must dress in Ihram clothing, which consists of two white seamless sheets. Rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the Black Stone, running seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina. The pilgrim, or the hajji, is honored in his or her community, although Islamic teachers say that the Hajj should be an expression of devotion to God instead of a means to gain social standing.
- In addition to the khums tax, Shi’a Muslims consider three additional practices essential to the religion of Islam. The first is jihad, which is also important to the Sunni, but not considered a pillar. The second is Amr-Bil-Ma’rūf, the “Enjoining to Do Good”, which calls for every Muslim to live a virtuous life and to encourage others to do the same. The third is Nahi-Anil-Munkar, the “Exhortation to Desist from Evil”, which tells Muslims to refrain from vice and from evil actions and to also encourage others to do the same.”
- JIHAD-The 6th Pillar of Islam (It is an Islamic Pillar with Shiites but not with Sunni)
- Jihad means “to strive or struggle,” and is considered the “sixth pillar of Islam” by a minority of Muslim authorities. Within Islamic jurisprudence, jihad is usually taken to mean military exertion against non-Muslim combatants in the defense or expansion of the Islamic state, the ultimate purpose of which is to establish the universal domination of Islam. Jihad, the only form of warfare permissible in Islamic law, may be declared against non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam or submit to Islamic rule. Jihad is perpetual in nature; in theory, there can be no permanent peace with non-Muslim states, only truces which can be repudiated when circumstances become favorable for the resumption of hostilities. It ceases only when Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians submit to the authority of Islam and agree to pay the jizya (a poll tax) and kharaj (a land tax), and when polytheists convert to Islam.
- Under most circumstances and for most Muslims, jihad is a collective duty (fard kifaya): its performance by some individuals exempts the others. Only for those vested with authority, especially the sovereign (imam), does jihad become an individual duty. For the rest of the populace, this happens only in the case of a general mobilization. For most Shias, offensive jihad can only be declared by a divinely appointed leader of the Muslim community, and as such is suspended in his absence. Some Muslim authorities, especially among the Shi’a and Sufis, distinguish between the “greater jihad”, which pertains to spiritual self-perfection, and the “lesser jihad”, defined as warfare. Jihad also refers to one’s striving to attain religious and moral perfection.”
- After World War I
After World War I losses, the remnants of the empire were parcelled out as European protectorates or spheres of influence. Since then most Muslim societies have become independent nations, and new issues such as oil wealth and relations with the state of Israel have assumed prominence.
The 20th century saw the creation of many new Islamic “revivalist” movements. Groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan advocate a totalistic and theocratic alternative to secular political ideologies. Sometimes called Islamist, they see Western cultural values as a threat, and promote Islam as a comprehensive solution to every public and private question of importance. In countries like Iran and Afghanistan (under the Taliban), revolutionary movements replaced existing regimes with Islamist states, while transnational groups like al-Qaeda engage in terrorism to further their goals.. Liberal Islam is a movement that attempts to reconcile religious tradition with modern norms of secular governance and human rights. Its supporters say that there are multiple ways to read Islam’s sacred texts, and stress the need to leave room for “independent thought on religious matters”.
COGNISANCE OF A TRUE MUSLIM
Now that we fully appreciate what is expected of a ‘true’ Muslim, and his/her obligations to Islam in accordance with the tenets of his religion described above, we will look again at a Muslim and his mental psyche. A dormant Muslim has the right to live peacefully, regardless of his inner feeling or urges, as a normal citizen. He will nurture his family, raise his family, attend mosques, pray 5 times a day, and observe all the rituals and traditions of his religion without disrupting anyone else’s life. But his total devotion is to Allah and the Koran. Most westerners will say, “What’s wrong with that, they are just like or better than I am”. But let us see a cross section of surveys of Muslim opinions, a random selection:
CBS news,National Review Online by Patrick Basham
78% support severe punishment for the publishing of the cartoon of Prophet Mohammad.
68% support that British people who “insult Islam” should be arrested and prosecuted.
62% must not be protected if it offends religious groups
45% believe 9/11 was and American-Israeli government conspiracy.
25% British Muslims believe that 7/7 was justification for British support of US-War on Terror.
30% British Muslims would prefer to live under Sharia Law than British Law.
29 % British Muslims would aggressively defend Islam from internet and external threats, real or imagined.
27% See a conflict between loyalty to the ummah (the global Muslim community) and loyalty to the UK