Friday, April 21, 2006

Stroke of brilliance

At some point today, I was struck with an excellent idea to write about on my blog. Since then, I have forgotten where I was, when it occurred, and most importantly, what it actually was!

I've been reading a book I really don't like, and I guess I should finish it before I start publicizing such harsh criticism of it because it is really quite popular. But the reasons that I don't like it are what bother me, and what have been bothering me, so I'm going to discuss it anyway, with the full intention of finishing it.

The book is called Towards Understanding Islam and was originally written in Urdu by Sayyed Abul A'la Mawdudi. The foreward states that the purpose was to explain "the fundamentals of Islam to young students and less-educated adults in a simple and straight-forward manner." Now, I am not sure if that means non-Muslims it was written for, or Muslims. Of course now it is distributed as dawah, and I have to admit to the biases I have coming from Christianity. Therein lies my problem, which is over the seemingly obsessive nature in which this book described Muhammad. In fact, it seems to describe Islam as a construct of Muhammad, and that Muhammad is the only reason to follow it! Peace be upon him.

Lately I have given a lot of thought to how I view the Prophet, salallahu alaihi wa salaam, comparing my thoughts now to what they have been in the past. When I first converted to Islam, I still viewed Jesus, as a much higher prophet in status than Muhammad, pbut. Somehow, the status of Jesus, pbuh, had to be lowered; Christians consider him God, after all. But even when I converted I didn't see Muhammad pbuh as much more than the man who delivered the Qur'an. If anyone knew me then, they'll probably remember I rejected the Sunnah, considered it largely unimportant and false. I have come past that, and now view Muhammad, pbuh, as a truly great man and Prophet of God. But I still have to draw the line on calling him the best man who ever lived--because that implies he was better than all the other Prophets and I just can't do that. I can't.

And that is what this book does. Despite that, it has given me a much better understanding about Prophethood in general, and instilled greater respect for all the prophets. However, I think the discussion in this book is adoration on par with worship, directed at Muhammad pbuh himself and not his inspiration. I wonder... did men become Prophets because they were great men, or were they great men because they were Prophets?

I think the latter. That because God had inspired them, and was working through them, they were the best of men. Unfortunately, the way this book seems to be talking about Muhammad, pbuh, is like he were the only Prophet and also that he was so great in and of himself, that he was wise enough to give us the message. That does not jive with my view of prophets at all, because it seems to me that they are great, yes, but given the Message by God--they didn't go out and discover it through their own reflection, but God gave it to them. And because of that, they had greater understanding and could teach about it.

The book just seems to be going further to say that Muhammad pbuh was such a great man, etc., and he taught this and that, and he knew this and that, but not that God had actually inspired him to do this. That conflicting viewpoint has turned me off, but I have to consider whether or not I am wrong in this. And I suppose that will take even more reflection and growth (spiritually) on my part.

No comments: