Muslims today are in general more knowledgeable about their faith, more attuned to its demands, and more assertive about their identity.
Like every great religion, Islam is, and has been for all but the first of its 1400 years, a varied and fractious faith. Muslims do not differ on essentials such as the oneness of God, the literalness of his word as voiced by Mohammed, or the duty to perform prayer, charity, fasting, pilgrimage and jihad, which means something like ‘struggle.’
There is not much debate over the first four of these duties, though quite a few Muslims choose to ignore them. However, the last, which embraces everything from resisting temptation to attacking Islam’s perceived enemies, is a much more contentious term.
Nearly all Muslims, almost all the time, lean to the softer meaning. They think of jihad as striving to perfect oneself, or to give hope to others by good example.
In short, they get on with their lives much like anyone else.
The greatness of Islam as a religion and the universality of its teachings have been extolled by kings, thinkers, writers. Here are a few.
Moses has revealed the existence of God to His nation. Jesus Christ to the Roman world, Mohammed to the Old Continent.
I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of the Quran which alone are true, and which alone can lead men to happiness.
-As Quoted in Cherfils, ‘Bonaparte et Islam’ Paris, France
Sir George Bernard Shaw
If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam.
I have always held the religion of Mohammed in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied Him-the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity.
I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Mohammed that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.
-The Genuine Islam, Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936.
Our use of the phrase ‘The Dark Ages’ to cover the period from 699 to 1000 marks our undue concentration on Western Europe.
From India to Spain, the brilliant civilisation of Islam flourished. What was lost to Christendom at this time was not lost to civilisation but quite the contrary.
To us, it seems that West-European civilisation is civilisation; but this is a narrow view.
-History of Western Philosophy, London, 1948
H G Wells
The Islamic teachings have left great traditions for equitable and gentle dealings and behaviour and inspire people with nobility and tolerance. These are human teachings of the highest order and at the same time practicable.
These teachings brought into existence a society in which hard-heartedness and collective oppression and injustice were the least as compared with all other societies preceding it.
Islam is replete with gentleness, courtesy and fraternity.
Dr William Draper
During the period of the Caliphs, the learned men of the Christians and the Jews were not only held in great esteem but were appointed to posts of great responsibility and were promoted to the high-ranking job in the government. He (Caliph Haroon Rasheed) never considered to which country a learned person belonged nor his faith and belief but only his excellence in the field of learning.
-History of Intellectual Development of Europe
Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest sense of this term considered etymologically and historically. The teachings of the Prophet and the Holy Quran have invariably kept their place as the fundamental starting point and the dogma of unity of God has always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur a majesty. They are an invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which is hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam.
A creed so precise, so stripped of all theological complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary understanding might be expected to possess and does indeed possess a marvelous power of winning its way into the consciences of men.
La Propagande Chrétienne et ses Adversaires Musulmans, Paris 1890.
(Also in T W Arnold in ‘The Preaching of Islam,’ London 1913.)
The Holy Quran is the most scared document in Islam