Hafsah Qureshi was born and raised in Lincoln. She attended Washingborough Primary School followed by the Priory LSST Secondary School. She is currently a doctor working in Lincoln and lives with her husband and one year old son. In a series of articles, she will outline why Muslims feel anguish and sadness at people thinking their religion is ‘evil’ and associating it with terrorism, and will try to dispel some common misunderstandings about her faith.
There are extreme fanatics in every religion, including Islam, who misquote religious scripture out of context to suit their agenda and target vulnerable people.
Sadly, terrorists have hijacked the media narrative of Islam, resulting in its ideology or belief system being criticised as ‘backward’, ‘divisive’ and ‘evil’.
But what does your ‘average Joe’ Muslim actually believe? The Muslim you may work with or see in the supermarket? In summary:
- That there is only One Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, a genderless, timeless, All-Powerful entity, whom we call Allah – ‘The One’. He has no partners, equals or children. We make no pictures of Allah, who has no physical body and is beyond our imagination, as depictions of Him would not do justice to His greatness. Muslims are encouraged to contemplate the evidence for such a Being existing, rather than believing blindly.
- That Allah, out of His love, has given us guidance on how to live a harmonious and well balanced life in society. Muslims believe organised religion is necessary to give absolute moral value to actions – otherwise perceptions of right and wrong can be clouded by ones desires or social pressures.
- That Allah conveyed this guidance through His prophets, who were role models on how to live a righteous life. Several scriptures including the Torah and Gospels were revealed to different prophets, but over time these were lost or changed by man, necessitating the renewal of guidance via new prophets and scriptures.
- That the Qur’an is the final scripture, revealed to the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), its words being composed by Allah directly, not Muhammad. We believe that since it was the final revelation, Allah promised to preserve it, and that we have the unchanged version that was revealed in its entirety over 23 years in the lifetime of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Millions of people memorise the Qur’an and people from opposite ends of the earth could recite the book to one another with consensus about each word in the text. Many verses were revealed in response to specific events during the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him), and understanding these verses and their application in modern times requires an understanding of the context at the time of their revelation.
- That Muhammad advocated the same message taught by Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the other previous prophets (Peace be upon them all): Worship God/Allah alone as He alone can benefit you. Pray to and ask forgiveness of Allah directly – no intermediary is required. Do not worship idols, dead people and objects that can’t actually hear you, nor blindly follow your own desires, other humans or societal pressures. Instead, strive to please your Creator alone. Be kind, honest, hard-working, faithful, patient, and humble for these qualities please Allah. Refrain from lying, backbiting, stealing, murdering, greed, arrogance and anger. Look after your parents, family, and neighbours and be helpful to society.
- That this life is a test. Will we actually lead a good, honest life by Allah’s guidance, or not?
- That there is an Afterlife, compared to which the life of this world is extremely short. Those who have passed the test of life, and have fulfilled their purpose by worshiping Allah alone and living a noble life, will go to heaven. In contrast, those who understood the message but lived their lives ignobly according to their own selfish whims, will go to Hell. This will be determined by Allah on the Day of Judgement, so it is not our place to judge others in this life.
And that’s essentially what Muslims believe. These are the values I was taught by my parents and at the local mosque in Lincoln growing up.
You may disagree with the philosophy, but is Islamic ideology and the values it encourages, really so evil and alien?
In the next article I intend to outline our main practices as Muslims.