to you be your Faith, to me mine

Brian, out of some masochistic impulse, has signed up for a mailing list called Ar-Rahman (The Beneficient). As far as I can tell (from his reports), it's populated by teens whose Cool Identity Thing is Islam instead of skateboarding or the Confederate Flag or any other similar substitute for their self-esteem. One of these young earnest types posted his Revelation of the Week:

everyone person born is a muslim at birth, since it is the true religion. After time, whether it be parents, where we live whatever, that changes, and people have then conform to their different religions. So I have reverted back to Islam. Most people that I have talked to, do not like the word converted. That means you made an entire switch, which is not true. Since you start off as Muslim, you are just reverting or coming back to it.

Brian was somewhat offended by this, which is understandable if taken at a superficial level (which most assuredly, the author is doing). But it is actually a reflection of a deeper and more elegant concept, which is not unique to Islam, either.

The underlying matter of dogma is that the faith (in this case, Islam) is laid out as Ultimate Truth for mankind, by the authority of God. This concept is at teh heart of Christianity as well. Christianity focuses on personal salvation, whereas in Islam I would argue it is more of a personal responsibility issue, but that is truly tangential.

Regardless, Christianity is just as explicit as Islam about the damned state of non-believers. It is fair for a Muslim to call Islam the true religion, and both Muslims and Christians agree that there IS such a thing as a "true religion". Given that the True religion was presented to Mankind 1,423 lunar years ago or 2,002 solar years ago (YMMV), it is logical that all persons born after those dates are subject to that true religion. In Islam, religion is not just a lifestyle choice or a set of abstract philosophies, but rather a condition or state of being. It is the default state for a human being (according to the dogma, of course. If you aren't Muslim, clearly you won't agree.)

It's worth noting that Islam also recognizes as Prophets of equal station, Jesus and Moses (and Noah, and Abraham, and Adam). One of my favorite stories as a child was a tale how the Prophet Moses convinced Muhamad SAW to ask God to reduce the number of daily prayers from 50 to 5. Thanks, Moses :) So in actual fact, Jews and Christians are seen as cousins in faith.

Our young zealot[1] above is focusing on a semantic issue, mainly. For him, it's all about the word "converted". It's a valid but pointless argument. And, due diligence would require that he also mention these Ayats (verses) of the Qur'an:

Ayat 2:256 - "There is no compulsion in religion"

Ayat 109:6, "To you be your Faith, and to me mine."

(click the image to hear a recitation in RM format, courtesy of islam.org)

The point here is that individuals make choices of free will, and part of that is what leads people to either reject or accept the faith. These choices need to be independent (2:256) and respected (109:6). But there is a Right Choice and a Wrong Choice (these moral absolutes are part of what makes a religion a religion and not a science, and are not unique to Islam).

[1]I use the term zealot in a deliberately condescending sense. If I use the word fanatic, it would be in a "this guy is off his rocker and keep him away from my family" sense.

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