First published on 23rd December 2013. Reverted to draft as it was sent to Express Tribune Blogs sometime in early January. Re-published on 24th February 2014 after being kindly rejected for ‘not being the type of posts published in ETB’ and the writer ‘should write something on another topic and send it again…’ 349 more words
I would like to chime in from a different perspective. I was a Southern Baptist for many years, eventually walking away from the church because of just such hypocrisy between teachings and behaviors. I studied religion throughout my childhood and adolescence because it really fascinated me, and has carried over to adulthood. After leaving the church for about 6 years I began practicing meditation, and eventually practiced as a Buddhist for about 3 years, but there were still components of the philosophy that were lacking. Other life situations and challenges, including a divorce, came along further developing perspectives and thoughts on things. Eventually I met an amazing woman and her family and learned about a reformist sect of Islam called Ahmadiyya. After months of attending events, asking questions, and learning more about it I felt drawn to the teachings of peace and the motto "Love for All, Hatred for None." I have become heavily involved in the community and find it to be one of the most loving and accepting communities, and we are constantly attempting to clear and dispel the myth and falsehood surrounding Islam. There are many who practice Islam in the same manner this article speaks about Christianity, but this is so far from the way that Islam is meant to be. In Islam, we believe that there is no compulsion in religion. You should do what you do for God, no other reason. Killing or hurting others is only advocated under extreme circumstances, such as when they are attempting to keep you from being able to worship God and get rid of Islam. In our community, however, even under these types of circumstances we do not advocate violence. Just read "The Wrong Kind of Muslim" by Qasim Rashid to see the kinds of things our community suffers in Pakistan. Further, the Holy Qur'an clearly states that if you kill even one person, of any faith, it is the same as killing the entirety of humanity. Just as Christianity gets a bad rap by many for being too hardline, or too rigid, Islam does the same. There will always be extremists or those that twist the words and ways of any faith. One of the critical components of Islam is the belief in all of God's Prophets, which includes Jesus, Abraham, Moses, and many others. Why would you want to kill people who believe in the same people as you? We all believe in one God, that is the most important thing. As a convert, I make many mistakes or missteps, from both cultural and religions perspectives, but I am learning. Some of the cultural components I respect, but also respectfully decline to partake in as my focus is on Islam as the practice and not the multitude of cultural components that alter that. There will always be those things that get twisted by human beings, but our goal as Ahmadis is to keep Islam in it's true form as God intended it, through critical thinking and analysis and academic understanding of the religions before and the teachings provided in context of when they happened.