A virulently anti-Islam movie trailer sparked widespread protests across the Arab world and may have caused the death of a U.S. ambassador. But the truth about Islam is anything but hateful, writes Olga M. Davidson.
September 13, 2012
1. Allah is not a name of a god. It is the Arabic word God, with a capital G, referring to the very same god that Christians and Jews worship. If you want to be very literal-minded it means “the god” because it is the definitive of the word “god” (ilah or ilāh), and if one adds the definitive article (al) it become Allah (Allāh, actually but let’s not quibble). In Farsi, God is called khodah—as in French, God is called Dieu, etc.
2. Mohammad isn’t a god. According to Islam, Mohammad is the final prophet, or messenger of God. He isn’t worshipped, since he isn’t God or an avatar of God. His example is emulated, but he is considered a real person, who eats, sleeps, loves, and so on. Islam has many prophets before Mohammad, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus and arguably Mary, because she spoke with God. Mohammad is just a man; progeny of human beings. In the Qur’ān it is clearly stated that God is neither begotten nor begets (lam yalid wa lam yūlad)
3. Speaking of Mary, mother of Jesus … she is considered to be among the finest of women and there is an entire surah, or chapter in the Qur’ān, entitled Maryam, the Arabic form of Mary. She is emulated because of her unwavering faith in God and her supreme spirituality. She becomes pregnant with Jesus, though a virgin, because God can do anything, but God is not considered to be the father.
4. Mohammad was not a womanizer. He married a widow, Khadijah, and was singularly devoted to her until she died. She left him with Fatima, their daughter. Upon her death, Mohammad did not want to remarry but was urged to do so by his followers. His subsequent marriages were primarily to form alliances with his nearest and dearest as well as with more remote followers. In the Sunni tradition, Aishah, daughter of Abu Bakr, was considered to be his favorite wife. She was married to him at a very early age and was consequently raised by him and was his only virgin bride. Her tender age was considered to be normal at the time, but marriages are not consummated until the bride has menstruated, just as in Game of Thrones. His other wives were either widows or divorcées. Mohammad wanted to form a tribe or ummah that was connected through faith, as opposed to blood ties. As this tribe grew, consolidating it through marriage ties was politically prudent. At the time, polygamy at was the norm in Arab tribal society and marrying widows and divorcées was a noble thing to do.
5. Women aren’t sold into marriage. Marriage and divorce in Islam have been greatly misunderstood. In Islam, marriage is a contract, not an oath. The groom has to give the bride a dowry to make the contract valid, and that dowry is for her and her alone to use as she wishes. Hence, her father or uncle or brother does not sell her. Unlike her Christian and Jewish sisters at the time, Muslim women could own property. As for divorce, it is not as simple as making a public declaration. Because marriage is a contract, dowry negotiations are taken very seriously; half the dowry is given at the marriage, while the second half has to be given if the bride asks for it or if the marriage is terminated through no fault of the bride. Furthermore, the groom needs to answer to the bride’s family of he wishes to terminate the contract. A bride can terminate the marriage if her husband is impotent or abusive; if he is an alcoholic or drug abuser; if he forces her to abandon her faith or act in a way that she deems as abandoning her faith; or if he disappears for over a year. Marriage as contract, not an oath, is are meant to be fluid, and if a couple is not happy in living together, they can part from each other, remarry and continue to live normal lives.
6. Mohammad was not illiterate. The word Qur’ān means recitation, coming from the root q-r-‘, which means primarily to recite or declaim and then to read. If Mohammad is said to be illiterate, that is to underscore the importance of the spoken word, not the written word. The angel Gabriel gave the command form of q-r-’, saying iqra’, which means “recite!” in Arabic, when he transmitted the message of God as opposed to having something written on tablets. That is why memorizing the Qur’ān is so valued. Under Uthman, who was caliph from 644-656, the Qur’ān became a fixed text, as in it was written down as a finalized text and has not changed since. The style of the Qur’ān in Arabic is rhymed prose, so it is easier to memorize and is considered to be inimitable. The physical book as called a maṣḥaf (pronounced as maṣ-ḥaf), which means pages between two covers or a volume, but the value of those pages is in the recitation. When the Qur’ān became mass-produced, recitations of it were considered extremely reliable, to the great surprise of European editors.
7. You can’t be a Muslim if you don’t want to be. Contrary to the misnomer, “Islam or the Sword!”, the Qur’ān is quite clear about not forcing anyone to convert. Conversion must be done through the heart. It is simple because one just has to pronounce, with sincere intention, the shahida: lā ilāh ilā allāh wa muhammad rasūlu’llāh ( “there is no god but God and Mohammad is his messenger”) three times in front of credible witnesses. Hence one comes to Islam from pure intention as opposed to being schooled by a priest, minister or rabbi.
8. You are unlikely to meet 72 virgins in heaven. The Qur’ān says nothing about 72 virgins waiting for you in heaven. Heaven is described, among other things, as the opposite of the harsh desert, hence it is verdant with the river or body of water, Kawthar, and filled with hūr al ayn, which means “ones with eyes that are very dark around the pupil”—a sign of true beauty. The concept of 72 virgins comes from outside of the Qur’ān.
9. Non-Muslims are not infidels. Christians and Jews—also Zoroastrians, for that matter—are considered to be ahl al kitāb or “people of the book,” because they are monotheists, and Islam is strictly monotheistic. References to infidels in the Qur’ān usually have to do with the Quraishi of Mecca, Mohammad’s own tribe, because they tried to kill him and destroy his following. Same would go for any Christian or Jewish tribe with the same intent.
Olga Merck Davidson earned her Ph.D. in 1983 from Princeton University in Near Eastern Studies. She is on the faculty of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations, Boston University, where she has served as Research Fellow since 2009. From 1992 to 1997, she was Chair of the Concentration in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Since 1999, she has been Chair of the Board, Ilex Foundation.She is the author of two books: Poet and Hero in the Persian Book of Kings (Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1994; 2nd ed. Mazda Press: Los Angeles, CA, 2006) and Comparative Literature and Classical Persian Poetry, Bibliotheca Iranica: Intellectual Traditions Series (Mazda Press: Los Angeles, CA, 2000), both of which have been translated into Persian and distributed in Iran.
Copyright © 2012 The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC.
[Image: Indian Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Shahi Jama Masjid Mosque in the Walled City of Ahmedabad on August 20, 2012. (© Sam Panthaky, AFP/Getty Images)]
Robert Pattinson: “If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are. Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.”
I have been thinking a lot recently. About so many things in life. About my career, am I taking the right path in life, how is my family in Indonesia, college, and so many little things. Guess what Russel Peters says about women are thinkers are true huh? Well, I’ll try to manage my thoughts well and put it in here accordingly.
Let’s trace back on July, it was perhaps one of the busiest time for me in my whole life. It was Indonesian Week. So Indonesian Week is an annual event in my campus APU, where we proudly present a week of organized events of Indonesian Cultures. I’d to say thou it was one of the crucial moment of my-life-learning-lesson. It was hard, tough, harsh, dramatics, tearful, tiring, but yet happy, enjoyable, addictive, so much passion around it, dedication, love, laughter, hectic, just everything mixed together for me. But it was unforgettable moment. All of the hard work we put paid off when the closing event “grandshow” performance went well. I was literally screaming and teary. But we’d wrap it nicely, and I could not thank everyone involved enough. I learned to be more human, there were critics, lots of them, praises, and everything, I couldn’t ask for more. I get to see the world, to get to know my friends better, and experienced how to handle some extra-complicated-too-much-too-handle-matters. It was just simply great.
After July, we have August. Where each days are holy. But I decided to stay behind in this beautifully quiet city, Beppu. Mom and Dad tried to make me go back, but I made my mind in wanting to do part time job here. And that is what I have been doing. All make another post about my part time job, though I have just start it there are some funny stories that are worth telling. However, during Eidul Fitr, it felt really quiet and lonely. As it was my first time celebrating it without my family around. But it was okay. I baked some nastar and it kinda felt like I was at home.
There were times when I wanted to go back so bad thou, when seeing photos of my family, friends, and foods. There were loads of them. But a woman shouldn’t go back on her own words. :) And it turned out to be okay by being here, there were a lot of things to do. I get to know some of my friends better. Been cooking a lot and inviting them at home, and I actually got to hangout with people that I never thought of getting together with them and got introduced to some cool people. I also decided to go to Kobe and visited my uncle and his family that I haven’t seen for more than a year. At that time it happened to be the time of Indonesia Cultural Evening, experiencing it was great thou, i mean my entire time in here have been revolved around Indonesian Week and APUIna based event. There were a lot f people who went thou, however, I must say we roll better in APU when it comes to organize an event or Indonesian Week. But I guess everyone have different targets. In Kobe was wowsome, I got to eat a lot of homemade Indonesian Food, and actually have some great talks with my aunty. She showed me the world of working in embassy from different perspectives. I have been wanting to work at Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry that is why I am majoring international governance at APU. It’s not like I am questioning my dream again, but it just got me thinking, is this the right decision, what is going to happen to people around me, and all that. I realized thou there are consequences in everything I do, good things and bad things just like the two sides of coin. I also think not about what’s going to happen if I’ve the job, but what’s going to happen to my parents, I mean I’m the only child and working as being a diplomat requires me to move a lot, I mean if I make it to the top. And then what’s gonna happen to my husband? Does that mean I have to limit my choices of husband to be? (lol why am I thinking too far and too much). Well yea it just got me thinking. Other than that recently I have been calculating the time ‘till I graduate.
Recently, me and a very good friend of mine discussed what we want to do after graduate. Since I have a very small interest in finding a job in Japan, I am most likely to go back to Indonesia and take the exam to enter Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry or actually do this extremely cool program “Indonesia Mengajar”. Young Indonesians, university graduated, go and experience teaching in the very rural areas in Indonesia. To places where electricity, reception, water, internet, skyscraper, or fancy modern gadgets are taboo. We get to live in a way that many of us could not even imagine. I am actually seeing this as an opportunity to challenge myself and isn’t this COOL? like literally cool. But I told one of my already graduated senpai, and he’s like, think about it carefully, thoroughly, your parents might not like the idea, but just follow your heart. If I do join this, I might get sent away to place like Halmahera or some places totally unfamiliar or the name that I might not even heard about before. My parents might object the idea, as it might be dangerous, and everything, but well I am just liking the program and I still have plenty of time to think about it and might as well persuade them. Well Indonesia Mengajar is definitely in my to do list. It is just a matter of time.
Other issues that we have been discussing is actually the current state of the young generations in Indonesia. We have the feeling it’s getting worst and worst. Perhaps to the extent of they are so careless and the influence of media in their well being. Media definitely play pivotal part in character building. Sadly, in Indonesia the kids are the main target but the programs provided are not educative. Kids are given programs that are not suitable for them to watch, such as Soap Opera, reality show, and music tv program that broadcasted in mostly every station. Even if there are educative tv programs, these kids have lost interest in watching them. On the other hand, they’ll just be engaged in playing playstation, Nintendo DS, etc. I mean seriously in this world there are a lot of things to see in this world. Being close to nature, play around with other kids in the neighborhood, and actually being out and about. Learn how to live your life from the simplest things in life. There are so many things in this world to see, to explore, and to experience. Oh, and one interesting thing is, sometimes when you ask little kids (your cousin, niece, or nephew) “What do you want to be when you’re old?”, they’ll answer I want to be an entertainer. And I was a little shocked, I don’t know perhaps, when I grew up, the society was totally different. If I were asked what I want to be, I’ll answer “Doctor, pilot, teacher, architect, or nurse.” It was more of a hard work, like you actually have to study and master it. Is it a sign that we are taking life easily now? We careless about the future that we are holding in our hands? or I don’t know. It left me hanging with a big question mark in my head. Our world is moving forward, where things are getting easier to get and convenient but is on the other hand a price that we have to pay is to let the young generation left with no dream? no BIG or HUGE dream? Something that actually wanting to make a difference in this world.
Ten years from now I don’t know how the world is gonna turn up like, it’s gonna be tougher perhaps, easier maybe, we just don’t know and no one could predict it precisely. Well I am hoping for the best in the future.
Recent skype phone calls with Mom have been about the son of her friend or relative, that she planned on introducing him to me. Oh God! Am I at the right age of thinking about it? I am 20, young, living life to the fullest. There were plenty of times when I whined of not having a guyfriend, but that is all I do. Just whined. Some people get tired of hearing it, but that’s all I do. And I barely make significant move on getting one. I believe it’s just because I am not really thinking or wanting one seriously. There was one attempt when Indonesian Week had just finished and I was on my PMS I guess, I nagged to one of my friend to actually invite some friends over including this particular guy and had dinner together. But then it ended just like that. And now, I, of course still want one, but I guess I’ll just wait for it to come. Tons of love quotes out there say the same, just wait for love to come don’t chase after it. But think carefully, let’s say love is like money, if we don’t actually work to earn money, it just won’t come to us, make its move to us right? So we have to look for it out there. Aggghhhh it left me confused when we talk about love.
As I am writing this, I have been at Starbucks for 4 hours straight, in the last 30 mins the guy that I used to fancy is sitting down across the table. Our eyes met when he was trying to reach for his chair, I nodded but that was all. Not even a single hi comes out from his mouth nor mine. I guess thats how my life is at the moment. And I am happy.
The greatest love stories don’t always have a stellar beginning. In fact, most of it began with a situation less than ideal and through some exciting turn of events, the couple created their own happy ending. They don’t usually meet at a local coffee shop and fall madly in love with each other. They don’t accidentally bump into each other at the corner of the street and realize that they’ve spent their whole lives just waiting for each other. And they sure don’t hear each other sing and want to finish each other’s duets for the rest of eternity. The greatest love stories usually take more than that. Some may begin with a meaningless conversation but soon realized that it was probably one of the most invigorating conversations they’ve had in a while. Some may feel a deep attraction but resisted the urge to pursue because one of them may still be in a relationship with someone else. And some may hold back whatever feelings they had began to feel because logically they can’t see themselves with each other. But pursuit is what makes the difference. And the funny thing is pursuit first comes unconsciously right after an attraction and gets kicked into high gear when one comes to his senses that this is what’s going to make him happy. Feelings come aligned, logic is justified, action takes place and uncomfortable situations were overcome. In the end, the handsome man defeated his rival and won the hand of the girl he loves and they lived happily ever after. The harder the pursuit, the greater the love story. That’s just how it goes, and it doesn’t depend on how it all began.
people dream because they want change, but some too afraid to dream because if they dream too high and they don’t get it, it might hurt them most.
February have just passed in a blink of an eye. and it’s a new month all over again, hello March. Winter is going to be over soon, the cherry blossom will be everywhere in no time. but before we are talking too much about what is going to happen this month, March, let’s go back a little, and see what have happened last month.
February used to be my favorites, because it only has 28-29 days in a month, it means Mom would send me money earlier compared to other month’s that has 30-31 days. i am joking. February is my favorite because it means winter is going to be over soon. soon all the coats that have been wrapping us, heat tech accompanying our days, and boots would only be in used for a month or so. but most importantly, February is always awesome because holiday starts. where everyday is holy, no college life, assignment is done, exams are over, and so on. :)
February is also the month when people believe love is in the air, we could see many couples getting lovey dovey because valentine’s day is on the 14th. the girl would buy or made a box of chocolate, and give to their beloved ones, in hope for their relationship would last forever, or in hope for getting a boyfriend. but what to say, i don’t have any, and i got to spend my valentine’s day night at karaoke with other single friends and sang our heart out. nonetheless, it was a very incredible night.
however, february is the month where you watch your friends packed things and go back to their home countries, or leave for military services. for me, i got to experience both, a slightly different feeling when sending them but one thing in mind, i’ll see you guys again. the ones who goes back home of course i’ll say i’ll see you next month, or two months. but for those who are going to military, i’ll see you in two years time or until we meet again.
February, because the day is holy, i of course have more time for sleeping, watching korean dramas or movies, karaoke, playing, cooking, messing around the house, etc. i often invited friends over to sleepover, dinner together, playing, laughing, and most of all the time watch movies while hiding under the blankets. February brings happiness to extent that i feel closer to my friends, that i was not that close to before. Thank you.
and now we have March, the great great great March i believe. March marks that winter is over spring in no time. Coats go away i welcome pretty dresses.:) March is still holiday for me, no school, more playing, more sleeping, more karaoke, and so on.
this March me and some friends are going to Korea, to play again. No, i am joking, we are meeting our friend that will be going to military, and i shall add the part playing again.:D we are going to stroll around Korea for five nights. Lotte World, Jjimjilbang, Myeongdong, food culinary are definitely in our to do list. (i am a little excited for our trip). plus plus plus i am going with three awesome friends and they are in my list of favorites people. and and and i might be seeing this friend who happen to be in Korea to during that time. but maybe..:)
but before that, i’ll have to attend the graduation ceremony. Graduation ceremony is important, for me it means those who are graduating have reached the third chapter in their very own book (first chapter: Childhood - Teenagerhood, second chapter: Uni Life, third chapter: Post-Graduation). it is sad to see them go, especially the closed ones, but under that lies happiness that can not be described, happiness to see them moving forward, leaving all the good memories to be remembered, and say things like i’ll see you until we meet again. during graduation ceremony, sometimes people got teary, their parents are here to celebrate along, but then the memories from freshman year, second year, etc starts flashing back in their mind. they smile to the sweet ones, and smile even bigger for the bitter ones, cos they have walk passed it and survived. for those who are graduating i wish you guys good luck because you guys might need it.
and even before the graduation, i have this one thing called grade announcement. where my one semester result being revealed. all the late night stay for assignments, early morning rushes just to get to school in time, running in high heels so i wouldn’t miss the bus, eating fast food or unhealthy ones because there were too many things to do, all my time i spent in library to remember those so-freakingly-hard kanjis, would be added together and some magic math happen and my GPA would come out. T.T fufufu. oh how i wish i could just skip that part. but no matter what i’ll still have to face it. finger cross no matter what the result come out, i have to be strong, be happy, and accept it. (when the time is approaching i believe i won’t be saying this and instead i’ll have 100 butterflies that have been just released from their cage, and flying around in my tummy).
i am saying good luck to myself because i believe i might need it.
sorry for the long post. xx
it has been a while. autumn passed in a blink of an eye, and soon winter would pass too. it has been a crazy month, February as usual you got me to spent my valentines alone without a date in the last four years. damn you february.
(photo booth with Daniel Oppa, Handi Gege, Distry and Prima)
(Rheta’s birthday i had the honour to be Obama’s Meme)
(skype <3 with Andin)
(purikura @youmetown with my favorites people Ibu Iyenk and Prima)
(and then Karaoke Night with Ka Nunuk, Dea, Prima)
(the karaoke nights restricted for single ladies -14 Feberuary 2012- <3)
(Me & Jae before he left for Korea TT)
(-Winter fling-photos with Bapak Doddy & Ibu Iyenk, with Takeshi @home, with Takeshi & Nesya @Yufuin, with Jae i cooked the last nasi-goreng TT, with Itabashi Sensei and classmates, with the gardenhills familiy)
(@yufuin with nesya and takeshi)
(a silly conversation with a guy this morning:D)
(and Wendy’s birthday.. ——-> the girl with peace sign is Wendy)
however, there were many more things that i did but havent got a chance to take pictures of it, like when we went to karaoke, onsen, or crazy sleepover. dear February i am looking forward how you gonna end this month for me.. xx