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mollytheresa
11-06-2006, 01:07 AM
Hello!
I am a college student in Minnesota, USA and am taking a World Religion course. We are now studying Islam; would anyone be willing to answer a few questions? They are general questions, and the answers can be as basic or elaborate as you want to provide. Anyone willing would be greatly appreciated!

Questions:

1. How is Islam lived in your life?

2. Is there a local community of faith that supports one another?

3. How do you interact with people of other faith backgrounds?

4. How are you different from other Muslims?

5. What are the rewards of your faith?

6. What are the struggles?

7. Does the culture where you live feel like a safe one to live in and practice your faith tradition? If not, how do you overcome that?

8. What is the biggest misconception outsiders of Islam have that you wish you could dispell?

9. If you could pick one theological, Muslim belief for all people to understand and practice, what would it be?

10. Is Muslim a religion that was passed on to you from family generations, or did you seek it out individually?

Again, thanks for your time and insight! I have greatly enjoyed learning about the Islam religion thus far and hope to gain more knowledge from you...
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F.Y.
11-06-2006, 03:27 AM
Hi there mollytheresa - what a cute name! :)

1) I try to live Islam everyday throughout my life. All the decisions I make, I try to live according to Islamic practice and law. There are certain things I do everyday: Pray 5 times, wash before I pray and other things that I do according to Islamic practice. Smiling is considered a 'charity' and a good thing to do with other people (and we try to incorporate these small acts everyday; including removing harmful things from the road so no one will get hurt, helping someone with their luggage if they are travelling and so on). I try to dress according to modest Islamic dress code, greeting other people with the Islamic greeting which means 'Peace be with you', treating others with kindness. As you mayhave learned we follow the Quran and the Sunnah (tradition) of the Propher Muhammad (pbuh). He had Sunnah ways of eating and drinking (e.g. eat with the right hand, pray before we eat, good table manners). If I lived in a country where there were orphans or beggars, I might pass my hand over the head of the child or give money.
2) I live in a place where there are not many muslims, so support is there - but is hard to find. The local Imaam and his wife are very nice people and very open. We sometimes visit them. Those people that are new to Islam (and there are a good few here) are helped by the Imaam. Otherwise, they can go up north to another large city about 1 hour away and there are more support groups there.
3) Islam teaches us not to criticise or hurt people of other faiths. I act 'normally' with them, I speak to them ("Wow! She speaks English!"), have jokes with them, help them with assignments/work and just act like a regular person. I think its important we see the humanity in everyone. But if the topic comes up, I always explain the Islamic point of view, referring to distorted media perceptions they may have expereinced and just reiterating our point of view. If they have a different view, that's fine with me - I can't force ideas down their throats, I only give them the information I know.
4)Oh, this is tough! :) I find a deep sense of belonging in the muslim community so it's hard to find something that is different about me. We have the same beliefs and practices. Where I live, I'd say I'm one of the first hijab clad ladies to be out at university (and there are not many of us) and seeking my own professional development. At our unit there are about 3 of us in hijab; one is studying pharmacy and the other girl is doing her masters degree. I'm studying Education. There’s also variation in the countries we originate from – so that’s another difference.
5) A feeling of connection to Almighty God, I feel ‘complete’ – I feel weird if I don’t pray or remember God in the day. I believe it gives me a realisation of how tiny we are compared to other things and so helps me keep my ego balanced. I feel like if I were to lose everything I had like family or a home, I would have the comfort of knowing I still have my faith. Also, clear guidelines allow me to know what I can do and how I can go about doing it in an appropriate way. Its also great to see Muslims from all over the world and knowing you have a connection with them and we always try to support one another. Belief in justice – humans have faults and so there is no absolute justice in this world and it gives me reassurance to know that God will deliver absolute justice in the next world, so all those who were trampled on and were not treated fairly will have lots to look forward to.
6) It’s a struggle when you know you have done something you shouldn’t have, like you might know gossipping about someone is not the right thing to do and your conscience kicks in. That’s all part of being human, we slip up every now and then, and its important just to learn from it. The hardest struggle is explaining your faith to those who have no faith, especially in secular societies. Because of my dress and I’m so noticeable because of this, people will naturally edge away from you thinking you are ‘weird’. Negative media attention has also had an adverse affect on the way I am seen and treated by others.
Its hard to keep up what I am doing in a society where there is a lot of Islamophobia happening, and to counteract this perception I have to be ‘extra’ vigilant, and ‘out there’ in terms of talking, joking, smiling at people and trying to ‘prove’ I am a normal person. Although the people where I live may not overtly show it, they probably do have a negative perception of my faith and that is the reason why I try my best to talk to and smile with everyone.
7) The culture where I live is actually very accepting and sincere. It definintely is a safe one to live in. You do get the odd person who will yell abuse, but that is very, very rare.
8) Where do I start! It depends on what you mean by outsiders. The misconception I would want to clear up with my Christian brothers and sisters would be very different to the misconceptions others may have. I’ll take a general standpoint on it. The biggest misconception: Islam is a terrorist religion that is practised by Arabs. Yep, that’s it. With women it may be: Islam regards its women as inferior and they have no rights at all, whilst their husbands control and beat them day and night.
9) Belief in One God for everyone. The practice of believing that there is one God, who has no partners, is eternal and created all humanity and everything on Earth.
10) (Can I just correct your question? You said, ‘Is Muslim a religion….’ It’s actually “Is Islam a religion….’)
I was born a Muslim, but wasn’t really into it till I reached 15 and started finding stuff out for myself.

Thanks molly, hope that helped.
Peace
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mollytheresa
11-07-2006, 02:14 AM
Dear F.Y.,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. They were not only immensely helpful for my class, but I was greatly intrigued as well.

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to learn about many of the world's religions, and I anticipated learning about the Islam faith the most. I knew I had misconceptions from the media, and I didn't want to.

Although I have seen just a glimpse of your faith, I am deeply moved by it. The thing that strikes me the most is the depth to which you live your faith. It is not just a weekly trip to church or saying prayers before bed (which, I am sad to say, is the average extent of my personal worship). You truly try to live your faith in every thing you do. I now have new goals to work toward, and I hope to be so whole-heartedly enveloped in my faith as you are in yours. Although our cultures may be very different, and our faiths may vary in just as many ways, we have the same goal...

Thank you again for your time, insight, and disclosure. Oh, and good luck pursuing your education!

Peace be with you as well.

Gratefully,
Molly
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F.Y.
11-07-2006, 02:20 AM
No worries! Take care and visit us again if you have free time! :)
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AnonymousPoster
11-07-2006, 02:04 PM
Hello,

Welcome to the forum! I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability.

1. How is Islam lived in your life?

All thanks are due to God, who has enabled me to live Islam a great deal in my life. I remember God many times throughout the day in the form of prayers (in this case, spoken invocations), for example: when I wake up, I say a prayer whereby I am reminded that to God belongs all life and death and that one day He will resurrect us; when I leave my home, I say a prayer to place my trust in God and to keep me safe throughout my journey; before eating food, I begin in the name of God to receive blessings and when I finish, I thank God for the food that He provided.

It is also my duty to pray to God 5 times a day, which is the formal prayer that is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. I also fast in the month of Ramadan and give charity to the poor. I aim to read a certain portion of the Quran each day.

2. Is there a local community of faith that supports one another?

The followers of Islam are called Muslims, and these are all like a big family, so each person is like a brother or sister to one another. God has commanded us to stay united and to help and support one another to be successful and obey God. We are forbidden to do things that damage this bond, such as backbiting and slandering someone, or fighting with one another. Because this family is so vast and spread across the world, there are some places where there are only a few Muslims and it is hard for them to experience such brotherhood; in other places, there are many Muslims and these are able to benefit fully from each other.

3. How do you interact with people of other faith backgrounds?

I respect people from others faiths and would be interested in talking to them about religion, but this is not a very common occurrence and thus I try to illustrate my faith in the actions that I do. God has commanded Muslims to teach others about Islam, so by trying to be a good Muslim, I hope to teach others and show them the good character I have learnt. I think this is especially important considering today's politcal climate, where a person with a beard or scarf is perhaps feared or alienated; so I hope to prove that Muslims are humans just like anyone else: we value life and respect people, and we are taught to be kind, helpful and truthful.

4. How are you different from other Muslims?

It might have been easier to explain how I am similar to other Muslims, as I would have mentioned that we all pray together, we read the Quran and are generally similar in many ways; but as for our personal actions (which make us different), this is perhaps something between an individual and God. I do not know for sure how much better or worse I am than another person, but I can only try my best to please God as much as possible whether in open or in private. People vary in their level of knowledge and faith, so we all aspiring to gain more knowledge and to increase our faith so that we come closer to God.

5. What are the rewards of your faith?

The ultimate reward is being admitted to paradise. God describes this for us in the Quran and Prophetic teachings (the Sunnah) and tells us that it is a place that no ear has ever heard, no eye has ever seen, and no heart could ever have imagined. This is the eternal reward that a successful person will receive in the life that shall come after our death, yet the close relationship with God and the inner peace and success that we achieve in this present life constitute a wordly reward.

6. What are the struggles?

There are many struggles that we go through in this life, because God has explained that the path to Paradise is full of obstacles and hardships that will test our faith and will require us to strive hard to become successful.

For a Muslim man living in a non-Muslim environment, it can be a struggle to go to his workplace with his trousers above his ankles, as people might think this is strange. It might be a struggle to avoid shaking hands with the opposite gender as this is not allowed in Islam (except in the case of people whom one cannot marry).

7. Does the culture where you live feel like a safe one to live in and practice your faith tradition? If not, how do you overcome that?

Yes, it does, because we have a good Muslim community here and people are tolerant of our beliefs.

8. What is the biggest misconception outsiders of Islam have that you wish you could dispell?

That we are brutal people who insist on violence and oppressing women.

9. If you could pick one theological, Muslim belief for all people to understand and practice, what would it be?

It is difficult to pick out one aspect of Islam for people to practise, as Islam is a religion that requires entering into it fully. But the core belief in Islam involves believing in One God without any partners.

10. Is Muslim a religion that was passed on to you from family generations, or did you seek it out individually?

I was raised a Muslim. I have always enjoyed being a Muslim and have been awestruck at the beauty and truth that I have seen. I have had the opportunity to study for myself and have been exposed to many other belief systems. Thus my greatest debt to God is for gifting me with Islam from the beginning of my life, and my greatest hope is that my life shall end upon the same belief and thereby I am rewarded, through God's immense Mercy, with a place a Paradise.

Thank you for your interest in Islam. I hope my answers will be of benefit to you. May I ask if these are for a project you are doing or if these questions are out of personal interest?
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