Who Represents Islam?
By Ayad M. Dajani
This is a question that is worldly debated in many circles, Muslim and non-Muslim. As a Muslim who lives in the Islamic world, I would like to address this complex issue dealing with who represents Islam, the moderates or the extremists.
To start, I would like to explain that I am not an Islamic scholar but an ordinary Muslim who learnt the teachings of Islam from my surroundings and my understating of what makes a Muslim. To become a Muslim, you only need to profess publicly, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is His Prophet.” You should believe in God the all mighty and in all his prophets and the holy books as stated in the Holy Quran:
"Say ye: 'We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord; We make no distinction between one and another of them; and we bow to God (in worship)'." (Quran, Surah 2:136)
There are five Islamic pillars of Islam: (1) Profession of the faith; (2) Prayers, (3) Alms giving; (4) Fasting; (5) Pilgrimage. Religiously speaking, whoever believes in these five pillars is considered a Muslim, so who represents Islam?
Islam, in my point of view, is a free faith; I mean by that any human being can become a Muslim once he/she accept these five pillars, believes that the Quran is a compilation of the words of God, and acts according to the teachings of the Quran and the true Sunnah of Prophet Mohammed (PUH), in short, to act according to the faith of Islam. But, is there one group of Muslims who represent Islam? Or, if we can ask another question, is there one group of Christians who represent Christianity? Or, Is there one group of Jews who represent Judaism? The answer is No. Why then do the media in the West consider any act by any Muslim as an act by Islam? Why is there a media attack on the faith of Islam and not an attack on the Muslims who perpetrated evil act? Why do Western media attack Islam and not Muslims when terrorist acts are perpetrated by Muslims and ignore referring to the faith when such evil acts are perpetrated by non-Muslims such as Christians and Jews?
I would start with the most controversial word Jihad, what is Jihad? I would describe it as the stressful awareness to protect the interest of someone. But what is jihad in Islam? As I learnt in school, there are two kinds of Jihad, the first is the struggle in the name of god to defend the faith of God when that faith is threatened. But how could a Muslim interpret Jihad in the name of god and act upon it? The only way to conduct Jihad in the name of God is through the moral ethical level that would interpret the actions of a human being. So for a Muslim to defend Islam in jihad would be by performing moral acts as the morality of conduct requires high ethical standards level and calls for morality for every human being; as Prophet (PBUH) said: “I was sent to perfect honorable morals.” So morals are the most aspects of being a Muslim and conducting Jihad on the moral ethical level is considered what Muslim calls The Great Jihad. The second type of Jihad is that which one conducts within the self to purify the soul from all evil.
Consequently, the Muslim who believes in Islam’s five pillars and holds high moral standards represents Islam. Around the globe, there are many Islamic factions and countries claiming they represent Islam, but to follow the path of Islam as interpreted in the Islamic faith there are no group which represents Islam. Only the pious individual Muslim represent Islam and all those countries, groups, factions of Islam only represents their own interpretations of Islam and Quran. The Islamic faith is a dynamic faith that has progressed from the past to the present and to the future. That explains why Islam is the most growing faith in the world because the only person who represents Islam is the Muslim himself with no link between him and his God and this is what makes Islam a great faith attracting lots of people converting to become Muslim.
For my friends out there on Facebook, you can't claim there is one group or faction to represent Islam since Islam is not a political ideology and only Muslims doing good and abstaining from evil deeds have the right upstanding of Islam and they are the only one representing Islam. God guided Muslims to the right path and instructed them to do the right thing and to know what is wrong and what is right without following the interpretations of others. Any Muslim with basic education with deep knowledge or without it, may interpret the Quran as God did not say that the understanding of the Quran is exclusive for certain human beings. The Quran was sent as a clear message to all humankind so I believe all humanity worldwide can understand the Quran if they only read it.
The views expressed here are my personal views and my own interpretation as an ordinary Muslim living in the Islamic world.