More recently, reports have begun coming from the Middle East that women will no longer be "expected" to participate in the pilgrimage to Mecca, thereby eliminating women from the holiest rite associated with Islam. Having once done that, it would then be easy to keep women physically, mentally, emotionally isolated within any Muslim society.
Of equal concern is the way in which the Koran is interpreted to facilitate and carry acts of terrorism. The Koran does call for the defense of Islam, that should Islam be threatened, it is the responsibility of every Muslim - presumably, women too - to rise to the defense of Islam."Islamic rulings of warfare are complex, appear to be contradictory and require careful analysis. The simplistic visions of paradise for suicide preached by militant jihadist clerics defy over 1,400 years of Islamic history and wisdom. Yet those like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are not ignorant of Islamic law and use it selectively to pursue their agenda of mass murder and hatred."
It was during those battle experiences that the rules of war under the Prophet changed from what the Arabs had been accustomed to. There was no more beheading dead bodies, because the Prophet had received the word of God on the burial of the dead. Which is why today, as we watch Muslim extremists behead people on world television, there is a question raised about the authority - certainly the gruesome act raises enough question - however, wherein does the authority to perform beheadings come from in the modern world when it was the Prophet himself who had received specific instructions from God about how to treat the dead, and ceased what was once an Arab, not Islamic, tradition?
The Koran does say that believers should defend Islam, but it never mentions suicide bombers, and nowhere does it say that Muslims should pursue a course of divide and conquer by the sword. Also, the Koran says that the best example of being Muslim is how the individual Muslim lives his or her own life, and that that should be enough to "convert" non-believers. Unfortunately, what we have going on today is an aggressive quest of violence against Israel and the west, even though the west practices a policy of religious tolerance and poses no threat whatsoever to the practice of Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad received the Word of God during times of great unrest in the Middle East. There has been, since his time, before his time, civil warfare in the Middle East. "Of the 27 battles in which the Prophet played a direct or indirect role, the first 18 defended the Muslims against the Meccans and the other nine he initiated against the Meccans and other tribe in Arabia. Each battle introduced new rules on Islamic conduct. The first three battles (Widan, Bewat and Wadi Safwan) were skirmishes in and around the Juhaynah hills commanding the trade route to Syria, and occurred in the first two years of the hijrah (migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina). The Prophet Muhammad formulated rules from these battles, including designating a Muslim battle flag and limiting the reason for battle to self-preservation."
On the taking of prisoners, Muhammad himself set the example; he had killed anyone who was a threat to him and to what he wanted to accomplish, while others who posed no such threat and were often released. We can compare the modern day extremists who really follow no precedent, and it is often times unpredictable as to how they will treat prisoners. In Iran, however, photojournalist Zahra Kazemi was arrested as a suspected spy, imprisoned and beaten to death. Kazemi, a Canadian citizen of Iranian heritage, had used her Iranian passport to enter Iran to work as a photojournalist. She was brutally murdered, and without apology from the Iranian Government.
There is also the matter of Israel, which Muslim extremism has vowed to annihilate. Especially in recent years, Israel has made efforts to resolve its issues with the Palestinians, and to move forward in peace. Those efforts have been time and again thwarted by Islamic extremism. If we turn to the Prophet Muhmmad for insight as to how he dealt with the Jews, we find the example of Medina. The Jewish forces were expelled from Medina, but even in the time of the Prophet the subject of treatment of the Jewish people was one that was debated. Since Islamic law and tradition incorporates into it much Judaic law and tradition, it becomes difficult to understand the relationship between the Muslims and the Jews.
The Islamic or religious orientation to these issue is not always well understood in the West, or even in Israel for that matter. Jerusalem is regarded as the third holy city in Islam. From there, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens and was acknowledged by earlier Prophets. Islamists and ordinary Muslims alike claim that Palestine is a religious endowment (waqf) for the Muslim community, and this claim stands in addition to the nationalists and territorial arguments of the Palestinians, who are, after all, Christians as well as Muslims. So, a contemporary issue has been welded to the earlier historic disputes, and recurs in the rhetoric of Islamic war as declared by radicals today."
The conclusions that might be draw from reading the Koran, a study of Islamic history, a study of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, is that the centuries since the time of the Prophet have not yielded answers or insights into a better understanding of Islamic tradition. That the Koran can be subject to criticism and question is simultaneously unsettling and irrelevant, since it is only how the religious leaders of Islam who today wield a tight control on the followers of Islam interpret it. Suffice to say, however, that the clerics, especially extremists such as have a grip on Iran, will not interpret the Koran in a way that is favorable or equal to its own society, or to the world community.
There has since the time before the Prophet Muhammad received the inspired Word of God raged internal dispute and war in the Middle East between the Arab factions. That war now rages between the Islamic factions, only under the label of faith - which is, again, unsettling at best. We know, too, that much of the tradition and philosophies held in the Koran are very much like those that come from the Old Testament and the New Testament, yet extreme fundamentalism continues to defy the edits of the Koran in favor of waging war against Christians and Jews alike, and there is no visible sign of end to that.
So, while the Koran, like the Bible, carries very inspired messages, Muslims, like Christians and Jews, do not have yet seem to have gotten the message quite right. So long as there is extremism - and that extremism raises its ugly head in all three communities - there shall continue to be unrest and conflict between the three world religious books.
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