Sunday, April 26, 2015

Islam and the Ruins of the Past

I keep reading about how ISIS is always destroying landmarks, ruins, old places and antiquities.  Except for a small few episodes here and there, for the bulk of Muslim history, previous generations of Muslims were largely content with coexisting with such ancient things. 

The Qur'an tells us to pass by the ruins and the traces of past civilizations and ponder over how they passed away.  The implication, of course, is that we too shall pass away, so we had better not be arrogant and not cling to tightly to a world we have to leave soon anyway.

If ISIS wants to destroy all the old ruins and artifacts, then how are we to obey the Qur'anic injunction to ponder over them?  They are blowing up buildings, artwork and all the rest.  The Qur'an does not require it, and the Prophet (p) did not order his followers to destroy the ruins of the past, and Arabia in his day held many such places.

It is not being 'pure' or 'closer to the truth' to go outside the normal bounds.  I pray that Muslims everywhere think more deeply about the meaning of Islam and how to practice it.  When people with Muslim names act irrationally and go to extremes, the wonderful world of mystery and suspense that the Qur'an offers us is diminished. 

Our faith is enriching by itself.  We don't need to play cowboy and make a big scene all the time.  I cannot understand why, with all the warnings about going to extremes we have in the Qur'an and hadith, that so many Muslims continue to do it.  Sure we must oppose evil and struggle for good, but that doesn't mean that we become the evil ourselves.

I counsel myself firstly and my brothers and sisters all over the world secondly - be sober minded in your faith.  Walk when others are running, as the Prophet said.  We must cling to our faith as a drowning man holds tight to a life preserver, even in those times when it seems others are trying to dunk our heads under water, even though they are supposed to be saving us.

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