(52): ISLAM: A Faith Full of Prohibitions?
Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim
Islam and its about 2 billions adherents suffer an acute ad hominem criticism in various places in the world today. The condemnations are wide and wild. While the notorious one centres on terrorism carried out by some Muslims, dubbed extremists; a salient other one is on the many prohibitions embedded in the religion. A non-Muslim friend of mine once told me, “I can’t practice Islam. There are more ‘Noes’ than there are ‘Yeses’ in it”. I didn’t quickly affirm or snub her allegation. I instead felt the need to study the whole thing thoroughly, and so I did.
There are of course many “noes”, which are, nonetheless, for the wellness of humankind. For instance, Islam bans all intoxicants (cigarette and alcohol deserve particular mention), pork meat, interest and usury, any sexual immodesty (adultery, fornication, incest, phonograph, etc.); gay marriage, among others. Religion is religion. It must not always seem reasonable to a faithful before he (generic) abide by all its rules and regulations. Needless to say, though, is the simple fact that scores of medical, social, financial, etc. discoveries confirm the rationale of these proscriptions. I will discuss this later after a brief digression.
Often, a Muslim, especially living in non-Muslim majority places, chooses to ‘belong’, hence disregards the ethics of Islam and ignores to uphold its core values. In the same vein, he might seldom be found observing some inconsequential religious duties, as a Muslim at least by identity. In this effort to be present in two places at once, he ends up pleasing no one; both Allah and the people he wants to be part of. Bollywood Muslim actors are a typical example. A few months ago, an influential BJP leader called on Hindus to boycott films of Khans. And it’s very apparent that they neither please Allah by their films.
So many scholars, both Muslims and non-Muslims such as Thomas Cleary in The Essential Koran (2011), have attested to the fact that Islam does not demand unreasoned belief. Rather, it invites profound faith, growing from observation, reflection and contemplation, beginning with nature and what’s around us. That, and not “Holy war”, as Jihad is wrongly translated, aided the widespread of the religion across the globe. That, too, made the religion to champion in the courses of human (social, moral, financial, political, technological, medical, etc.) development. This was also what “nursed Europe out of Dark Ages” (Ibid: vii). As discussed, there’s nothing good for mankind in the aforementioned banned things and acts.
A few years ago in Nigeria, the ex-governor of the Central Bank and the current Emir of Kano, Malam Sanusi L. Sanusi spearheaded the introduction of a Shari’ah-compliant, non-interest banking system. Although the same has been practised in many countries, including the UK, some Christian groups stubbornly opposed it. He, or another person – I can’t recall correctly – advised them to bring forward a Christian-compatible system and it would be incorporated in the system the same way Islamic banking is. They couldn’t and still can’t.
There have been discoveries on the health risk and danger of eating pork meat. The hazard of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption need no mention, for they are ubiquitous. That’s why many warnings and restrictions always accompany their adverts and selling everywhere. Islam, being a divine religion, already prohibits us from taking those poisonous substances.
On the polygyny issue, which often transcends to women rights, Islam champions this course as well. For over a thousand years, Islam gives women right to own property and to inherit, trade, work, etc. No religious book limits a man to marry one wife (two, three or four, max. on unequivocal conditions and guidelines) except the Qur’an. If women are not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, for instance, that’s their law, not Islamic.
There’s also a huge health risk in same-sex marriage. In fact, no religion approves of it. Even the Vatican declares that the recent referendum result that gives the nod to gay marriage in Ireland is a defeat for humanity. It’s only Muslims’ rejection that’s a thorn in the flesh, but for obvious reasons, I suppose.
What is more? Islam is a religion for humanity that contains a well-nourished, befitting message to meet the contingencies of all time: past, present and future. The media, which are primarily controlled by non-Muslims who mostly have an entrenched hatred for Islam, mainly concentrate only on the wrongdoings of Muslims. ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the like are contraventions of Islam. We barely hear about the plight of Muslims in many places such as Myanmar/Burma, Sri Lanka, Central African Republic, etc. Muslims are portrayed only as the bad guys. This is why people think there are more negativities than there are positivities in the religion. Wrong. I urge you to research on Islam from authentic sources.