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My Islam: Not Dogmatic Secularism Nor Religious Fanaticism | Sh. Omar Suleiman

Imam Omar Suleiman

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I believe in Islam. Not just as a way, but as the way. Not just as an interpretation of the truth, but as the truth. That doesn’t make me hateful or intolerant. That just makes me Muslim.

I also believe that others should be afforded the same right to discover and practice what they believe to be true. Allah said in the Quran that there is no compulsion in religion, and far be it for me to force my way on anyone else. I honor the right of a Christian or a Jew or anyone else to feel about their faiths as I feel about mine. Despite the difference in beliefs, I insist that we can work together to establish a society permeated with justice and peace, and that we can subsequently coexist in a loving way.

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What God and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) deemed as permissible and prohibited in the Quran and Sunnah, I must abide by. That doesn’t make me hateful or intolerant. That just makes me Muslim.

I believe that abiding by the Quran and Sunnah is an avenue of spreading harmony and tolerance. This Tolerance is what makes me speak out against hate and violence against anybody irrespective of their beliefs. This is not foreign to Islam given the no compulsion in creed provision. So while I do not expect others to uphold my moral standards, I will stand up for their right to be treated with dignity and humanity. I too expect to have the same right to believe that what they deem moral is actually immoral. 

I refuse to accept the idea that believing strongly in my creed and what it entails makes me a disloyal citizen or a disagreeable neighbor. I am committed to fighting injustice in all of its forms, and striving for a peace that benefits all people. If fellow scholars, activists, or faith leaders ask me to abandon my own principles in order to work with them for that goal, then I’m not interested in working with them.

If fellow Muslims want to question my commitment to belief because of my commitment to justice, then I’m not interested in changing their perceptions about me. I refuse to be caught between dogmatic secularism and religious fanaticism. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was sent to this world as a mercy, comprehensive in both message and embracement. Our creed is essential to our work, and our work is of benefit to people of all creeds.

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوْ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ إِنْ يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَى أَنْ تَعْدِلُوا وَإِنْ تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

“Oh you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it may be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor; Allah is nearer to them both in compassion. Therefore, do not follow your low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do.” (4:135)

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Imam Dr. Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SMU (Southern Methodist University). He is also the Resident Scholar at Valley Ranch Islamic Center and Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square. He holds a Bachelor's in Accounting, a Bachelor's in Islamic Law, a Masters in Islamic Finance, a Masters in Political History, and a Phd. in Islamic Thought and Civilization from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Andrea-Hassna

    February 27, 2017 at 2:40 PM

    Cannot but agree with all you said, dear Shaykh Omar! May Allah bless you for all the efforts you take for enlightning the Muslim- as well as the Non-Muslim Ummah!

  2. Avatar

    Simon

    February 27, 2017 at 3:03 PM

    Salaam Alaykum, As a revert I’ve experienced first hand just how brainwashed people have become by stereo types forced down their throws by the media and numerous other sources.

    Seeing your own family who claim to love you for who you are and pretend to be above and beyond discrimination of any kind, turn on you when you admit you’ve accepted Islam. It’s like there’s a secret switch, suddenly you’re an abominable human being and they say things you’d never thought you’d hear them say.

    Living in Germany there’s not a day that goes by that the radio isn’t spouting some attack by Islamistic terrorists or an apparent threat in some town/city.
    Trying to set a good example and change people’s minds is exhausting when the world around you is painting all the muslims with one brush. The only good news is bad news, I guess?

    • Avatar

      MalikSaabSays

      March 3, 2017 at 10:55 PM

      Salam everyone.
      Simon – Stay strong brother. Keep going forwards. Have to go through hardship to truly enjoy the ease.
      Omar Suleiman – Simple statements. I don’t know what prompted you to write this; I suspect the tipping point might’ve been the negative judgements coming from those of ‘our own community’. The time of An-Nasr 110 was here, is here, and is to come.
      Keep. Moving. Forwards :)

      “..Fear them not but Fear Me..”

  3. Avatar

    MAMIRA Ali

    February 27, 2017 at 3:32 PM

    Assalam o alaikum Shiekh Omar.
    May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala bless you for sharing such profound lessons with us. To stand up for justice is the Sunnah of Rasool Allah SallAllahu Alaihi Wasallama and ti follow his Sunnah is our salvation . May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala help us in Standing up for truth Ameen

  4. Avatar

    Muhammad

    February 27, 2017 at 6:52 PM

    Very good, showing that we are the moderate nation of the Earth, with respect for others yet conviction in belief.

  5. Avatar

    Shafiq

    February 27, 2017 at 10:07 PM

    “What God and His Messenger ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) deemed as permissible and prohibited in the Quran and Sunnah, I must abide by. That doesn’t make me hateful or intolerant. That just makes me Muslim.”

    That is why slavery, sex with enslaved women, killing of apostates, homosexuals, blasphemers, these things are not hateful or intolerant activities, despite whatever liberals may say. We will define what is hateful and intolerant, not those liberals.

  6. Avatar

    Handsome Jack

    February 27, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    So YOUR Islam is still THE way, even though its YOUR interpretation and not accurately reflected in the Quran, and different that OTHER people’s interpretation of the Quran, therefore their way isn’t THE way, but you insist YOUR way is THE way. See, the problem? That’s the problem with Mohammed and Islam in general. It’s so haphazardly written and confusing and contradictory that there ultimately isn’t a THE way in it.

    • Avatar

      Not_so_handsome

      February 28, 2017 at 10:18 AM

      @Handsome Jack, you may be ‘handsome’ but you are surely stupid and confused. You didn’t understand this blog, nor the verse – read it again until you get it!.

    • Avatar

      Raza

      March 1, 2017 at 2:21 PM

      Hello Handsome Jack, reading the article I think what Omar declares in his 1st para is the belief statement. Everyone has the right to stick to his belief and thats what he conforms later by quoting Quran that there is no compulsion in accepting Islam. I hope its clear now. Quran/ Islam is not conflicting…. it may take a bit of time to understand but when you get it, its absolutely beautiful.

      Take care. :)

  7. Avatar

    Shobi Ahmad

    March 1, 2017 at 9:44 PM

    I’m kind of with Handsome Jack on this one. It’s great that Shaikh Omar is proud of his faith and states unequivocally (in word and in action) that others should explore their truth as well. But a lot of people are increasingly seeing the Islamic creed as problematic. It puts the Qur’an and Hadith on an untouchable pedestal and those things say some very controversial, confusing things that can easily be either misinterpreted, or quite frankly, directly advocate things that many today would consider morally questionable. So it’s great that Shaikh Omar is committed to “justice.” But if “justice” means restricting the freedom of homosexuals, or the freedom to leave Islam, or allocating women 1/2 the rights of men, then I think many people would indeed have a problem with a commitment to that kind of justice.

    • Avatar

      Ridwan

      March 2, 2017 at 9:02 AM

      @ Shobi and Jack
      -The problem with both of your point of views is that they’re not based on objective morality. What is wrong for you today maybe right tomorrow. Without God there exists no Objective basis for morality that transcends human subjectivity. Until and unless you can tell me why you are objectively right you have no place to criticize others for their beliefs. That being said even the issues you’ve brought up shows that you just regurgitated fox news and didn’t make the effort to study from the like of Shaykh Omar, or other scholars.

  8. Avatar

    Omar Mallajah

    March 6, 2017 at 3:46 PM

    “I refuse to accept the idea that believing strongly in my creed and what it entails makes me a disloyal citizen or a disagreeable neighbor. ” Sure, but it does make you a bonehead. You have to profess the strength of your faith in overbearing language. Is that not a symptom of the flimsy, flighty nature of your ‘belief’? Few see the lie in belief

    • Avatar

      Ridwan

      March 6, 2017 at 9:22 PM

      And yet you’re oblivious to your own ‘beliefs’ that you impose in your own overbearing language. Your statement shows the flimsy nature of your own moral foundation. For someone to have principles is overbearing for you, and that’s because you don’t have any consistent morality to begin with. You wish for us to have morality that just flips flops as time goes on. I think its more dignified to have principles that don’t change. @ all the haters- Why is incest wrong? And the questions can go on. To be honest I’ve only heard weak arguments against these if you agree with homosexuality for example you really have no basis to say these other behaviors are wrong. That being said we will continue to stand upon the timeless principles of Islam, and see your definition of whats moral change right in front of us, Only God can provide an anchor for morality that is not influenced by human whims and flaws.

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