The goal of this series is not to preach or to convert anyone, but to simply share knowledge and answer common questions. The media caters to the extremists, but here we will focus on the real intentions of Islam.
Islam: A Different Perspective
There is a lot of to say about Islam, all of which is beautiful and fulfilling to anyone with an open heart that is willing to deeply listen to the truth that comes to it. But to speak about Islam, I must first talk about the concept of the Creator in Islam.
Al-Rahman: The Merciful is one of the most repeated names of God/Allah in the Quran and among the most powerful. However, a full appreciation of its power comes with an understanding of the Arabic meaning of the word. It is substantially different from the common English translations.
When you think of someone who was merciful toward you, or someone who may be characterized as merciful, this quality is associated with you requiring mercy from someone because of a sin or mistake that you have committed. Hence, the act of mercy was made (in that case) to forgive you or redeem you from whatever you’ve committed.
Now when you think about Al-Rahman; this is a name that originates from another Arabic name called “Rahim”. “Rahim” is the Arabic word for a pregnant mother’s womb. This is where a baby is kept during the months of pregnancy and where it is being taken care of in respect to all its physical and emotional needs. A baby in a mother’s womb is known to his/her mother, is taken care of and is protected from all harm. Visualize a pregnant women just about to hit a table corner, what does she do first? She holds her belly to protect it from being hurt in anyway.
This relationship does not have anything to do with the waiving of punishment, or that the baby requires to be forgiven for something. The relationship between a mother and the child in her womb is a relationship of complete utter compassion, care, protection, gentleness and companionship. This is how God is conceived of in Islam when he names himself “Al-Rahman”. This naming of God is one of the most common in the Qur’an, appearing at the head of all but one of its chapters, thus demonstrating it is a core quality of God. This really sets the stage for explaining the nature of the relationship God has with his servants. It’s a relationship of love, compassion, care, gentleness, protection and companionship.
It would then only make sense that this loving, caring, compassionate God would come up with loving and compassionate teachings and guidance. This is where Islam comes in. “Deen Al Islam” is the Arabic phrase for “The religion of Islam”, but once again when one wants to understand the real meanings of this phrase he or she has to examine the words from the perspective of the Arabic language. “Deen” is a word possessing many meanings in Arabic and consequently in Islam, it means the way of being (i.e. your state of being), what you say with your tongue and what you do with the rest of your senses, the teachings you abide by in your life, what guides you, as well as how you live your life. Hence its meaning is much more comprehensive than just religion. Now “Islam” originates from another Arabic word that is called “Salam” and this simply means “Peace”. Hence the correct English translation of “Deen Al Islam” in English would logically be “A state of living in Peace”. And this “state of living in peace” relates to self, family, community, globally and most importantly with the master of all, God. Which when you think about it, logically coincides with what you would expect from “Al Rahman” that loving, compassionate, caring God we talked about in the beginning of this post. This is for me a true introduction to Islam, in its real sense and true meaning.
This post is not meant to be a linguistic lecture in Arabic, but it is meant to shed light on the truth of Islam, the worldview it presents, why it was revealed for humanity and what are its core teachings. Hopefully in the rest of this series, we will take you on a journey to understand Islam for the first time as it truly is and learning about it from people who are sincerely trying to live it in the most honest way they know how.
Written by Marwa Farouq
Translation of the word "Deen"
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