Demystifying Islam

Demystifying Islam

Tackling the Tough Questions

Book - 2014
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Despite heightened interest in the study of the Muslim faith, for many people Islam remains shrouded in mystery and confusion. What really is Shariah law? How is a Muslim to understand Jihad? Does Islam oppose Western values such as free speech or freedom of religion? What place do women have according to Islam? Understanding that this confusion has as much to do with the behavior and words of Muslims as it does with allegations made by anti-Islam activists, Demystifying Islam offers refreshingly bold answers to provocative questions about Islam today. Author Harris Zafar -- lecturer, writer, teacher and national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA -- is forthright about issues where Muslims disagree, and he digs into history through vast research and scholarship to track the origins of differing beliefs. From the burqa to the role of Jesus in Islam, Demystifying Islam is an essential resource and concise guide to understanding the fastest growing religion in the world.
Publisher: Lanham : Rowman & Littlefied, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781442223271
1442223278
Branch Call Number: 297 ZAFAR
Characteristics: xiii, 204 pages ; 24 cm

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amandaselene
Dec 06, 2016

I actually liked this book, despite what either of the other commentators had to say. I didn't know very much about the subject prior to reading this book, so perhaps if you have a deeper understanding of the issues, cultures, and religions you may or may not see this book in a different light.

The author takes main "myths" and tries to dissect them. The only thing I can say is that for all of the negativities that he discusses the ultimate message at the end was that someone radical perverted the true meaning/intention, Mohammad would never do such a thing, and some people are following along false ideals. There are of course limitations with this analysis, however I found it interesting and the book acted as a good primer to get deeper into the issues.

s
StarGladiator
Dec 23, 2015

[This Christmas 2015, there is only one major group protecting the Christians and Jews in Lebanon and Syria: Hezbelloh - - i.e., pro-Iranian Shi'a militia.]
Why oh why has the Obama administration so blatantly gone along with the Sunni extremist (Wahabist, Salafist) agenda to depopulate the Middle East of all non-Muslims (which means ONLY Sunnis or Sunni extremists)? This is a continuation of the Bush #2, Clinton, Bush #1, Reagan and Carter platforms; insanity at its most obvious! What possible underlying moronic and amoral reasons could they have? Anything for oil? Pimp their mothers, no doubt, as they have dismantled the American economy?
The devil take them all! One day there will a reckoning!

m
milo_63
Dec 23, 2015

Mr. Zafar shows up frequently on television to correct negative opinion of islam and, as an Ahmadi muslim, to show us how islam is, in fact, a peaceful and tolerant faith. So, notwithstanding the fact that Ahmadi’s are a very tiny portion of the islamic community and that they are often considered apostates by their religious cousins, I thought that perhaps I could finally see how, in spite of Islamic doctrine in the quran and hadith, muslims have constructed a faith that we should not fear.

To begin, one must understand that the quran is silent about much that is islam and that the bulk of the religion is derived from the hadith. This author, as is common amongst muslim apologists, relies upon blatant misstatement of doctrine or a selective use of the hadith. The author, when it advances his point, borrows from the hadith to support hopeful slivers of the quran and will at many other times, either ignore hadith that clearly negate his point or misstate such passages in a way to support his point. One is left wondering how, if one hadith is somehow valid, that another is not just because the author is embarrassed by it. Another unfortunate technique of this author is to draw support from other prominent muslim apologists who use the same slippery techniques, most prominently Reza Aslan and Karen Armstrong.

So, what are we to make of the author’s arguments? A small sampling reveals much. For example, women are required to wear at least the hijab, both as an expression of faith and as a measure to protect themselves. He conveniently ignores Muhammed’s final sermon, as well as much of the hadith, which likens women to either cattle or prisoners. I won’t even discuss the dismal fate of female captives that Muhammed endorses. Surely, one can more reasonably argue that these measures are more about controlling women’s social and mating choices. Mr. Zafar passionately argues that islam is compatible with free speech, yet more passionately argues that criticism and mockery of islam are like blasphemy and in the interests of social harmony, should be “discouraged”. Unfortunately, once again, a “peaceful” muslim has issued the usual veiled threat of violent retaliation to those who may criticize the faith. More to the point, he justifies such retaliation. Mr. Zafar, also tries to somehow mollify Christians by showing us how Muhammed is just a prophet and makes great effort, laughably relying upon the quran and hadith, to explain to Christians how Jesus, too, is only a prophet and that muslims respect all prophets. He even goes as far as referring to Muhammed’s night flight to heaven hadith to show how muslims respect all prophets equally. However, that hadith very clearly is about showing how Muhammed is the supreme prophet as he ascends the levels of heaven higher than all the other prophets and is equally about, amongst other doctrine, establishing islam’s credentials by building it upon a base of prior, accepted, Abrahamic faiths. Nevertheless, Mr. Zafar makes it clear that islam is actually a corrective to those other faiths whose followers have strayed. Interestingly, Mr. Zafar, as with other muslim apologists, leaves out a large portion of humanity from his comforting dialogue who are neither Christian nor Jewish and fails to mention the many, many exhortations of hatred and violence in the quran and hadith towards those others as well as Christians and Jews. Not very comforting.

In sum, there is little in the “peaceful” muslim perspective that should comfort Westerners who believe in a modern, pluralistic society that values human rights. Further, if one were to slog through the tough reading of the hadith as well as the painful experience of reading the quran, one would see that the ISIS types likely have the more faithful interpretation of their doctrine. One, too, can be forgiven for viewing Ahmadi’s as merely the polite spokespeople for an otherwise dark, dangerous movement.

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