it's difficult to tell people what Islam is. It is actually far easier to tell people what Islam isn't! For reference, here is a primer to some of my posts on Islam which deal with several misconceptions and issues. It's by no means exhaustive or complete but it should help guide the overall debate. I intend this post as a more general reference and to that end I invite other bloggers to contribute links, with which I will update the post accordingly.
Allah = God = YHWH?
There is pure free will in Islam.
Muslims fundamentalists don't outnumber Christian fundamentalists.
Islam was not forced upon conquered people at the point of a sword. (historical context).
Calls for an Islamic Reformation make no sense - Wahabism actually fits that description best!
Muslims have continually, explicitly, and consistently condemned terrorism.
The Qur'an does not condone intolerance against Jews, or call for aggressive war against infidels.
The Qur'an does not call for wars of aggression.
,The Qur'an condemns terrorism ("hirabah").
The Qur'an supports freedom and liberty.
Parallels between the burka and the bikini.
The history of Jews under Muslim rule, compiled from Jewish sources.
Courtesy of Al-Muhabajah, here are Islamic perspectives on: terrorism. women. torture. rape. and also some more about hirabah, parts one and two.
She also has a summary of her posts about why an Islamic State should not mandate wearing of hijab.
If anyone has questions about what Islam teaches, it's always better to go straight to the source. It is available online, with a searchable index in English with multiple translations available here: http://www.al-islam.org/quran/. however, I do feel translations of the Qur'an are inherently flawed.
And I highly recommend the teachings of Ali AS, the chosen successor of the Prophet SAW according to Shi'a belief. Ali is also highly regarded by Sunnis as their fourth Caliph. A collection of his sermons, titled Nahjul Balagha (Peak of Eloquence), is available on line for free, as well as in traditional printed version on Amazon.com.
Finally, I also recomend the book, Mullahs on the Mainframe (available from Amazon as well), for a description of my own religious community as an example of how Muslims have embraced modernity and freedom without sacrificing their belief or practice.