Welcome to my blog!

This blog is an honest look at what life is like for this particular American convert to Islam. We're taught in Islam to cover our sins, to not air them, for fear of lessening the severity of sinning. In this blog, I may relate past indiscretions from time to time. This isn't to make light of them, but in the interest of educating Muslims and non-Muslims alike as to the realities of life as an American convert, I present my mistakes honestly. I make no excuses for them, nor do I claim that they were okay to make. I am not perfect, and I make no pretenses as to that. If others can learn from my past, know that Islam, and religion in general, is open for people no matter what mistakes they've made, then I will gladly air my sins when needed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Muslim or muslim?

Please note that yes, I am citing my sources. Why? Because I hate it when people make claims and don't cite their sources. If I'm going to claim something, I want the proof to back it up.

All the views expressed here, unless otherwise noted, are mine and mine alone. And despite occasional claims to the contrary, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist Party scholar of Islam. Maybe one day. But not today. 

Capitalization errors aside, I make a distinction between someone who is Muslim and something that is muslim. This has relevance, I think, with how Muslims try to explain Islam and the definitions of "Islam" and "Muslim" to non-Muslims.

Islam, from the root S-L-M, can be defined as "to surrender oneself, to commit or resign oneself to the will of God. (Lewis & Churchill, 2009)" So, who surrenders, or commits or resigns themselves to the will of God?

According to Arabic grammar (and a huge shout-out to Dawah Addict for bringing this to my attention!), the prefix mu- is the same, essentially, as the suffix -r/er in English. One who spelunks is a spelunker. One who writes is a writer. It means one who {verb}s (YourDictionary.com). Therefore, one who {S-L-M}s is a Muslim.

So, what's the will of God?

Quite simply, the will of God is that things behave in the way that God intended them to behave, before humans and jinn accepted free will (insert "there-goes-the-neighbourhood" jokes here). Nature is muslim by, well ... nature. Humans who honestly believe that there is no deity but the Abrahamic God, and that the prophet Muhammad, peace be with him, was God's final messenger to humankind, and who make that declaration of faith, are Muslims.

But waaaaaaait, you cry. Humans don't follow the will of God! We fight and kill and rape and pillage and destroy the Earth, the very Earth that God entrusted us to take care of! How can we be Muslim? And doesn't the Qur'an say that everyone's born Muslim, but their parents make them different faiths?

Well, hypothetical reader, therein lies the difference between 'muslim' and 'Muslim.' All of nature, the Earth and the skies and the cosmos and the seas, the birds and fishes and plants and animals, are muslim because they are not actively submitting to God's will by their own free will. They have no free will. They are muslim by default. There is no other choice. In the case of babies, their conscious minds, their sense of self-determination, has not yet formed. One might even say that their free will has not yet been granted to them. They, too, are acting naturally and as they should, as God intended them to.

Muslims, on the other hand, human beings (and jinn, I suppose, but who cares about jinn? I don't) who have the choice to submit to God's will or not, are active participants in their submission. They have other options, can use their deductive reasoning skills to see God in other faiths or to not see God at all. It is the conscious decision to accept God's will, to practice Islam to the best of their abilities, that makes humans (and jinn, fine, whatever) Muslim, where everything else in the universe is merely muslim. It's passive vs. active. A natural disposition that you have no control over vs. a conscious choice.

And that, dear hypothetical reader, is my take on being Muslim vs. being muslim.

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