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Thinker
10-13-2008, 08:39 PM
Muslim Convert – not for me – reasons why.

I am not sure why I’m telling you this because I am sure you are not interested. I think I’m putting it in writing for myself to get things in order. All that said, it probably won’t matter as I suspect this post will be deleted along with many others.

I’d like to believe, as a persons, I am honest, moderate, tolerant and inclusive. I call myself an agnostic; I believe that it is possible that there is a creator (God). I am inherently questioning and curious and came to learn about Islam for none but honest reasons.

I have searched this site and read through some stories on why some people converted to Islam. All of the stories rambled on and I never got a clear understanding of what it was they saw or learnt that convinced them that Islam was the will of God. I found reading those long rambling stories arduous so I’ll try and make mine more succinct.

Things that I like about Islam and the Muslim way of life:
The concept of ummah; belonging to one big family is very appealing.
The strong moral code and ethics which Muslims are compelled to adhere to.
The certainty of belief of the rewards that follow after death for those who worship God.

I can see why all or any of the above might be very attractive to lots of people. The problem is the below (unattractive) things about Islam and some Muslims.

Things I don’t like about Islam and the Muslim way of life:
In my readings and study of the Qur’an and context in which it was written I can’t find anything which convinces me that it is the word of God. I can’t believe that God, knowing how much the world would change, would leave as his guide to all mankind for ever, a book which is so specifically focused on events in 7th century middle-east. I can’t believe that God would leave a guide to mankind so badly written that even after 1400 years of hadith and scholarly interpretation we’re still struggling to interpret it. I can’t believe that God would choose as his messenger a man who was clearly as a man of his time with fulfilling his worldly desires as any other man.
I am suspicious of a book teaching about converting non Muslims and teaching about Muslims not getting too close to non Muslims and the penalties for Muslims who leave Islam: it makes me suspect that Muslims’ fear close scrutiny of their beliefs. And, that has been reaffirmed on this site where the moderators watch out for and close down anything that gets close to making Islamic teachings look false or ludicrous. (I had a lengthy exchange with moderators out of site of the general membership where I was accused of posting questions that ‘mocked’ Islam. The problem is any question that points to an anomaly is interpreted as mocking and that makes me suspect that you are unsure that your teachings will stand up to scrutiny),
I have asked and been told that the Muslims on this forum are typical. In that case I am disturbed because I think that some of your beliefs and practices are ‘extreme;’ I also get a feeling that some of you are in competition to prove that you are more devout than the Muslim next to you. That makes me wonder about the type of people who convert and reasons why some Muslims do what they do and why they would choose to do that.

In short, I know that people are people and there’s good and bad everywhere and I have formed a huge respect for some of the members here but I can’t understand how intelligent people can believe that believe that the Qur’an is the word of God. I can however understand how intelligent people might be so frightened by what they have been taught that they dare not allow themselves to look objectively at Islamic teachings and that make me suspect that it was written by man and not God.

Peace and Respect to all of you


Thinker
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bewildred
10-13-2008, 08:45 PM
Well, I think that saying things like that in an Islamic forum is the summum of disrespect and lack of tact. It's obvious that you master the art of controversy. I think that it's pointless to debate whatever with you.
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Woodrow
10-13-2008, 08:47 PM
Peace,

You have a right to your opinions and it is also your right to accept or reject Islam. None of us have any right to impose our beliefs upon you against your will. Your choice has been made by your own findings through your own searches. That is all any of us can expect. we are forbidden in Surah 2 ayyat 256 to force you to accept Islam. That can only be done by yourself through free choice after carefull, sincere searching.

You have stated your honest views and have not slandered either our beliefs or any members here. I can see no reason you should have any fear of this thread being deleted.
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Hamayun
10-13-2008, 08:59 PM
You used the word "believe" yet you approach everything with extreme scepticism and suspicion.

You have been conditioned according to the norms of the 21st century and therefore anything that doesn't conform to it is despiccable and un-believable in your eyes... do you think the norms will not change tremendously by the 30th century?

You spent all your time quibbling over the most insignificant side stories of Islam rather than concentrating on trying to make a connection with Allah...

Islam is the only religion that does not create a mental image of God so as to avoid mis-interpretations of his existence.

I am glad you have made your decision. I am sure you must have found peace in your decision as I have found peace in mine.

All the best :)

Peace
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Woodrow
10-13-2008, 09:05 PM
Originally Posted by Thinker
Muslim Convert – not for me – reasons why.



I have searched this site and read through some stories on why some people converted to Islam. All of the stories rambled on and I never got a clear understanding of what it was they saw or learnt that convinced them that Islam was the will of God. I found reading those long rambling stories arduous so I’ll try and make mine more succinct.



I can see why all or any of the above might be very attractive to lots of people. The problem is the below (unattractive) things about Islam and some Muslims.

Things I don’t like about Islam and the Muslim way of life:
In my readings and study of the Qur’an and context in which it was written I can’t find anything which convinces me that it is the word of God. I can’t believe that God, knowing how much the world would change, would leave as his guide to all mankind for ever, a book which is so specifically focused on events in 7th century middle-east. I can’t believe that God would leave a guide to mankind so badly written that even after 1400 years of hadith and scholarly interpretation we’re still struggling to interpret it. I can’t believe that God would choose as his messenger a man who was clearly as a man of his time with fulfilling his worldly desires as any other man.

Peace and Respect to all of you


Thinker
In the interest of brevity I will only address the parts of your post I quoted.

i am one of those who believes the Qur'an is the actually word of God(swt) I came to that conclusion after deep linguistic study of the Arabic language. The Qur'anic challange is valid. No human can or ever has duplicated a similar work. The Arabic Language does not adapt well to that literary form and it can not be replicated.

Muhammad(PBUH) like all Prophets was a Human and nothing more. Perhaps it is because he was a simple illiterate Human, his accomplishments become so profound.

The Qur'an is not focused on 7th Century Mid East. It is focused on all people in all places and all times. there is no time or cultural barrier to those who understand even a few words of Arabic. It really is a very easy to read book. but, sadly many of us often try to make it be what we want it to be and not what it is.
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جوري
10-13-2008, 09:20 PM
Originally Posted by Thinker
In short, I know that people are people and there’s good and bad everywhere and I have formed a huge respect for some of the members here but I can’t understand how intelligent people can believe that believe that the Qur’an is the word of God. I can however understand how intelligent people might be so frightened by what they have been taught that they dare not allow themselves to look objectively at Islamic teachings and that make me suspect that it was written by man and not God.

Peace and Respect to all of you


Thinker
1- There are no Laws in Islam that are Archaic in fact the laws are radically post modern.
2- No consensus amongst members here, is simply due to the fact that so few here are actually versed in jurisprudence, creed etc, naturally human opinion is varied as is human understanding.
some folks believe that all you have to do for a headache is take an aspirin or a Tylenol (paracetmol) but causes of headaches range from sleeping on the wrong pillow to having, to giant cell arteritis all the way up to Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade IV (death in 6 months at best).. Religion isn't a one size fits all, hence prophet Mohamed when approached by a simple Bedouin who asked him, what should I do to be a good man? the messenger told him to simply observe the five pillars-- and quested that those who are learned not speak above or condescend but to the level of the querier's level of understanding~!
3- You'll actually have to read the Quran in full to appreciate how it isn't written by man or men.. just on the most basic common level compare the writing style of the Quran,to poetry of the time and hadith to see that it stands in a league of its own. I don't have the time to present to you all the different facets, from politics, economics, social structure, language, portents etc etc, as and I tend to think that if you are not interested, there is nothing anyone can do to interest you.. All I can see is the rise of Islam during Europe's darkest ages, was key to how successful it is if followed correctly. Why did it start from the middle east? well the east was the birth of civilization. One simply needs to ask what was Europe and America doing at the time? Jesus, Moses, Enoch, Job, etc etc etc all came to you from the middle east, it isn't exclusively to Islam!
4- I think it is presumptuous of you to feign understanding why intelligent people would subscribe to this religion and in hordes, the world over and from all levels of education based on the notion that it is fear driven.. considering there is no imposition on anyone given the current climate the media is putting Islam in-- perhaps others look at things with a keen discerning eye, and have a different level of understanding?
5- I personally think some folks indeed focus on dumb peripheral subjects as to how many inches wide and deep a woman's scarf or skirt should be rather than the critical state in which they find themselves because of their govt. but each is to his own and if you can't distinguish the difference between creed itself and adherents, that is really your problem not the religion itself!
6- Surprisingly indeed Prophet Mohamed was a man, the fact that a simple, unlettered man can come up with all that should be a testament to how extraordinary his message is, and continue to be until such a time Allah swt sees it fit to lift this religion from the world.
To wrap it up though I promised to give this forum up due to my lack of time, this is the theme of our life.. this is the condition in which you and everyone else finds themselves .. you can design a purpose for yourself that strays from what we 'Muslims' believe is the actual purpose of existence.. But try as you may or others your sophistry can't stray far, for the whole universe if built upon seven themes...

You might propose you are here for love, or for success, or for the latest electronics, or to build an empire, or to run a country, or to travel into outer space, or to amass money.. in the end you'll leave it all behind and go it alone to your grave.. and it is death that truly has a way of making primitive and crude the most learned of us.. That is the final destination, and you can choose to travel there the mode you elect..
Thing is I find nothing about Islam prohibiting you from amassing all previous if done in a righteous manner.. even stem cell research which has the church in a tizzy, so long as it is used for the good of man can't be opposed by Islam.. which really leads me to believe, that if you think the religion is backwards or Archaic, it is your solo point of view, as Muslims in general even amongst other immigrant groups tend to be the most successful.
Middle Eastern immigrants were highly educated, with 49 percent holding at least a bachelor's degree, compared to 28 percent of natives.

Median earnings for Middle Eastern men were $39,000 a year compared to $38,000 for native workers.

they tend to be better-educated than native U.S. residents — about half hold bachelor's degrees, compared to 28 percent of natives. They also perform as well economically as natives — 30- and 40-year-old Middle Eastern males with a college education have the same median income as natives, and Middle East immigrants are more likely be self-employed.




Middle Eastern Immigrants in U.S. Educated, Prosperous, Study Says
Gannett News Service, August 15, 2002

(Also ran in Arizona Republic - 8/15)

WASHINGTON — Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States are well educated, earn more money than most Americans and are predominantly Muslim, according to a report released Wednesday.

They also are among the nation's fastest-growing immigrant groups, according to the report issued by the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a think tank that supports reducing the number of immigrants to the United States.

The report says the number of Middle Eastern immigrants increased from fewer than 200,000 in 1970 to almost 1.5 million in 2000. The overall number of foreign-born residents in the United States tripled to 31 million over the same period.

The report offers a rare portrait of an immigrant group that has received intense scrutiny and negative publicity since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Project MAPS, a survey of "Muslims in the American Public Square" conducted in 2001-2002 by researchers at Georgetown University, found that 86 percent of all Muslim professionals were concentrated in three careers: engineering, computer science, and medicine. Law, law enforcement, and politics accounted for a minuscule 0.6 percent. American Muslims, some demographers say, have also been voting well below their numbers in the population -- registering to vote at only half the national rate, according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey [PDF], a project of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. "If they ever did play to their weight" in the electoral arena and in Washington, Muslims "would be a much more considerable force in public policy-making," says Steve Clemons, a Democrat who directs the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation in Washington.

http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/p...ab_America.pdf
http://www.cis.org/articles/2002/mideastcoverage.html
.
whatever your path, we wish you all the best!


cheers
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Abdul Fattah
10-13-2008, 10:15 PM
Hi Thinker,
Thanks for your post, if you don't mind I'd like to take the liberty to reply to it.

I have searched this site and read through some stories on why some people converted to Islam. All of the stories rambled on and I never got a clear understanding of what it was they saw or learnt that convinced them that Islam was the will of God. I found reading those long rambling stories arduous so I’ll try and make mine more succinct.
I think the problem is that people don't just convert because of certain arguments, but instead there's also a segment of personal experience that play a part in it. I've dedicated a whole website (link in my signature) to try and answer "why" I converted, and I still think that the site doesn't quite cover it. The final choice to convert was the result of so many different factors, events, thoughts, and so on. It's nearly impossible to convey that to another person in writing.

Things that I like about Islam and the Muslim way of life:
The concept of ummah; belonging to one big family is very appealing.
The strong moral code and ethics which Muslims are compelled to adhere to.
The certainty of belief of the rewards that follow after death for those who worship God.
About that last point, being a Muslim doesn't guarantee a good afterlife, each person will be judged according to his actions. So according to Islam merely acknowledging Islam or testifying to it isn't sufficient.

I can see why all or any of the above might be very attractive to lots of people. The problem is the below (unattractive) things about Islam and some Muslims.
I think in the end true Muslims follow Islam not because it suits them, but instead because they are convinced it is genuine.

Things I don’t like about Islam and the Muslim way of life:
In my readings and study of the Qur’an and context in which it was written I can’t find anything which convinces me that it is the word of God.
Have you read the whole Qur'an front to back? For me, reading the Qur'an front to back was already very convincing by itself. But then again, the personal events in my life around that time might have made me more "open-minded" towards it. Also, when you read the Qur'an, do you read it at face value, or do you read it with the intention of not believing it? In other words, do you stop at every verse convincing yourself it's false, or do you stop at every verse and consider what if it's false, and what if it's true. Or do you just read it and go with your gut-feeling? (btw, I'm not trying to make a point here, I'm genuinely curious)

I can’t believe that God, knowing how much the world would change, would leave as his guide to all mankind for ever, a book which is so specifically focused on events in 7th century middle-east.
There are some parts which were focussed on 7th century middle east indeed, but the largest part of the Qur'an explains concept and ideas which are universal throughout all times. Then some other parts tell stories about previous prophets. So I really don't think your judgment there is accurate. Only a very small part is focussed specifically on the 7th century middle east. you're welcome to prove me wrong though.

I can’t believe that God would leave a guide to mankind so badly written that even after 1400 years of hadith and scholarly interpretation we’re still struggling to interpret it.
Rather then seeing this as a flaw and poor writing, most people see this as a rich writing that can be interpreted on many levels.
Furthermore, I wouldn't say people are struggling with interpretation. Most Muslims are in consensus about the meaning of the Qur'an. What happens though is that some innovators work the other way around. They go searching the Qur'an for evidence of whatever they want to prove. Bu those are just a small fraction of Muslims. But I can however understand how to an outsider, it might be confusing. Especially if there's several people like that on this forum debating over the actual meaning of verses.

I can’t believe that God would choose as his messenger a man who was clearly as a man of his time with fulfilling his worldly desires as any other man.
First of all there's nothing wrong with a man, any man to fulfill his desires within certain boundaries.
Secondly, the prophet peace be upon him never abused his positions as prophet for his worldly desires.
Thirdly, even non-muslims studying the life of the prophet (peace be upon him) admit that he was no ordinary man, but a man of most excellent character and gifted in many ways.

I am suspicious of a book teaching about converting non Muslims
Is it not logical, that if Islam is indeed true, the moral thing to do is spread this truthness? Attempting to convert people is only immoral on the premise that Islam is false, therefor using this as an argument not to convert is circular. Furthermore the Qur'an clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion. So there should be no converting against people's will. How can you be suspicious of such a thing?

and teaching about Muslims not getting too close to non Muslims
Islam doesn't teach us to avoid non-muslims and isolate ourself. What you are probably referring to, is the verse saying not to take non muslims as closest friend. But again, this is only immoral based on the premise that Islam is false. It's a well documented phenomena in psychology and sociology that people will change depending on the company they keep. Therefor, if for the sake of argument you assume that Islam is genuine, then it makes sense that when a Muslims seeks a close friend, someone to confide in, someone to spend a lot of his leisure time with, that he would seek a fellow Muslim. They will then strengthen each others faith on the straight path. However that doesn't mean that you can't be friends, or can't be kind and warm to non-muslism.

and the penalties for Muslims who leave Islam
Those are simply wrong. There exist hadeeth which show that people who left Islam were not prosecuted. As for those hadeeths who do speak of penalties for people who left Islam, in every one of them, the person who were penalized also committed other crimes. So in conclusion there exist no scriptural evidence for this practice and it's un-islamic.

it makes me suspect that Muslims’ fear close scrutiny of their beliefs.
People generally fear scrutiny of their beliefs, I think it reflect more on human psychology rather then on Islam.

And, that has been reaffirmed on this site where the moderators watch out for and close down anything that gets close to making Islamic teachings look false or ludicrous.
(I had a lengthy exchange with moderators out of site of the general membership where I was accused of posting questions that ‘mocked’ Islam. The problem is any question that points to an anomaly is interpreted as mocking and that makes me suspect that you are unsure that your teachings will stand up to scrutiny),
Well I can't say anything about that, since I don't know which post of you have gotten deleted. What I can tell you is that from my experience as a member and as an ex-mod that this forum is fairly open. The only topic that isn't allowed is debate on which division/sect/group of Islam is right. Other then that anything can be asked or debated about as long as it's in the right section and brought in a respectful manner. Even things that potentially make Islam look bad, can be brought in a respectful manner. A lot depends on the way you formulate the question. Again I can't judge your posts, since I don't know which posts of you have gotten deleted, but are you certain they weren't deleted due to the manner in which you presented your arguments rather then due to the arguments itself?

I have asked and been told that the Muslims on this forum are typical. In that case I am disturbed because I think that some of your beliefs and practices are ‘extreme;’
Extreme in what way? In the sense that we do extreme things for our religion, or in the sense that we are extreme in following our religion, because those are two totally different things. And in what sense it is disturbing? I personally don't see any problems with striving as much as possible to follow the rules of Islam; since in my opinion the rules of Islam itself are very moderate. So then even being extreme in following them should make you a moderate person.

I also get a feeling that some of you are in competition to prove that you are more devout than the Muslim next to you.
I haven't noticed that before, but then again I'm only active in the comparative religion section. On one hand I can understand your concern, intentions are a very important concept in Islam. And each action will be judged on it's intention. On the other hand, are you sure that what you noticed is people trying to prove that they are more devout, and not just people trying to be more devout? Because frankly I don't see that big a problem with people being competitive in being 'good'.

In short, I know that people are people and there’s good and bad everywhere
Amen to that ^_^

and I have formed a huge respect for some of the members here but I can’t understand how intelligent people can believe that believe that the Qur’an is the word of God.
Well at the risk of sounding vain, I would consider myself fairly intelligent.
And at the risk of sounding condescending and smug, just because you don't understand something, doesn't mean it doesn't make sense.

Peace and Respect to all of you
And to you to! =)
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