Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, answers: “To be a person of truth, one should not judge matters so unfairly. What is inaccurate in your judgment is that you are judging Islam by what some Muslims are doing in the name of Islam, or by what is projected in the media about Islam. Rather, if you were to refer to the actual texts, scholars and history, you would see something completely different.
Of course, we must realise that a person can easily make such broad, negative judgments about any religion in the world if he only looks for negative aspects. Although I am a Muslim by conviction, I do not rush to paint the adherents of all other religions, like all Hindus or all Christians or all Jews, with the same broad brush. The vast number of people from all these religious traditions are peaceful and tolerant. But, of course, even with this fact in mind, there are examples of extremism in all religions.
Wasn’t it a few people who called themselves Hindus that killed Mahatma Ghandhi for befriending Muslims and other cultural minorities?
I’m sure it is known that it is Manusmriti that contains teachings like, “A Shudra’s (Untouchable) waist is to be branded or his buttocks are to be cut only because he occupies the same seat as the Brahmin. And isn’t it Hindu belief that states that “If a Brahmin abuses a Shudra, he is to be fined mildly, but if a Shudra abuses a Brahmin, he is to be killed”?
Also, we should remember that it was extremist Baruch Goldstein, the Orthodox Jew, who murdered innocent Muslims engaged in prayer in the Occupied Territories in Hebron. And please bring to mind the actions of extremist David Koresh and his so-called Christian group, the Branch Dravidians.
People’s resentment toward Islam and Muslims might also blinded them from recognizing the historical contributions of Islam to science and civilization. If you sincerely wish to educate yourself briefly on such aspects, you may do well to watch a recent PBS production entitled “Empire of Faith”. This video, by the way, was not produced by Muslims, but by Western scholars of Islam! You may also do yourself a great favour toward gaining an objective knowledge of history to know that, according to some objective western historians, Islamic civilization was one of the most tolerant of all civilizations in history!
Perhaps you should also know that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world in spite of all the negativity and propaganda against it! Also, 85 percent of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims are non-Arabs, and they come from all of the existing racial and ethnic groups of humanity spanning the five continents!
Further, some prominent converts to Islam belong to the categories of philosophers, theologians, thinkers, social scientists, journalists and diplomats. Some examples include: Dr. Murad Hoffman, the Late Muhammad Asad, Gai Eaton, Roger Garaudi, Michel Wolf, T.J. Winter and Omar Faruq Abdullah. These intellectuals came to Islam from such diverse religious and ideological backgrounds as Christianity, Judaism, and Marxism. Also, they proceed from diverse races and ethnicities such as German, French, English, and American.
Also, have we forgotten that some of the world’s most beautiful works of art were the works of Muslims? Isn’t the Taj Mahal, which has been considered one of the seven wonders of the world, the work of Muslims?
Finally, the Qur’an teaches, “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and then rendered you nations and tribes in order so that you might know one another. The most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most pious. Allah is indeed Knowing, Aware.” (Al-Hujurat: 13)