Muslims must follow Quran to the letter
Najabat Abbasi, director, Islamic Society of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Drive:
Islam means peace, obedience and submission to the will of Allah. A Muslim is a member of the religion of Islam who follows God's commands, does not disobey him in word and action, and adopts Islam as a way of life. Islamic life is based on two solid foundations: belief and action. The belief and action must go together.
A Muslim looks toward God as the only source of guidance and knowledge for acquiring concepts, values and standards, legislature and laws, ethics and morals, institutions, etc. The Muslims must believe in everything mentioned in the Quran, the divine book that was revealed to Prophet Mohammed through the angel Gabriel, which retains the references from previous scriptures and testaments.
According to Quran, there are six articles of faith, which constitute the belief part. These six articles are to believe in Allah (God in Arabic, that he is one, unique, all-powerful, ruler and master of all; in malaikah (angels); in rusul (prophets and messengers in God); in kutub (books sent by God); akira (hereafter); and in fate or predestination.
Any Muslim who does not believe in any of the above basic beliefs will not be a Muslim at all.
Once a Muslim has consciously accepted the six basic beliefs, he is expected to follow them with action to complete his faith.
Allah has given the Muslims the five pillars of Islam to act on in order to be a true Muslim: shahada or tawheed (the declaration of faith); salah (prayers); saum (fasting); zakat (alms); and hajj (pilgrimage).
Any Muslim who believes some part of the Quran or some of the six articles of faith and disbelieves or is suspect of some other part(s) will not be considered a Muslim and will be punished by Allah by being disgraced in this life and given the most severe punishment on the Day of Judgment.
- Send e-mail to Najabat Abbasi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actions more crucial than specific beliefs
Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:
This is an interesting question that would seldom come up in the religions I practice. That's because these religions are less concerned with belief than with action - mitzvot (commandments, good deeds) in Judaism; practice, both spiritual and ethical, in Buddhism.
The most striking differences among Jewish sects are in the mitzvot practiced - for example, do you adhere to the dietary laws? The core list of beliefs is short; many Jews only believe some of them, and nobody checks who believes what. But there are 613 mitzvot, and while few of my relatives practiced even close to all of them, the Judaism in which I was raised certainly emphasized what you did over what you believed.
Buddhist practices vary even more widely, as does the emphasis on belief. Some forms of Buddhism are rooted in specific beliefs. But Zen Buddhism encourages practice focused on our deepest nature, deeper than language can touch. In this context, ideas and beliefs are only a tool. If they help you wake up, fine; if they don't, discard them.
Every religion emphasizes compassion, ethics, love, selflessness. Belief may help us live compassionate, ethical, loving, selfless lives, but religions with wildly incompatible beliefs support the same moral actions.
And finally, no two people have the same eyes, the same ears, the same mind. So no two people have the same exact belief. No one person at different times in her life has exactly the same belief. Even in religions that emphasize belief, there is a wide range of meanings people put to the same words. So if, without giving up your intellectual integrity, you are comfortable in a religion, and nobody's kicking you out, there's no need to leave it because you don't share all the beliefs of all your religious brethren.
- Send e-mail to Judy Roitman at email@example.com.