‘Bill’ing up the ignorance
I sat down to eat my freshly cooked curry and noticed on the T.V. that Mark Wingett from the T.V. drama ‘The Bill’ and Helen Fraser from the prison drama ‘Bad Girls’ had no life lines left in the quiz show “Who wants to be a Millionaire? Cops and Robbers1 They were asked in the typical uneasy style of Chris Tarrant, “In which city is the Prophet Muhammad buried: is it, Damascus, Mecca, Baghdad, or Medina”. Both actors waited, partially convinced that it was Mecca, but not sure although Mark during his mumblings did a great service for “Islamic Dawah” as voiced in his statement “I know that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens from Jerusalem because his foot print has been preserved there and Mecca is a holy place for Muslims, but its too obvious”. Alas after the mumbling and cross referring to Helen they decided to stop at sixteen thousand pounds.

which of the blessings of your Lord do you deny2 came to mind as I witnessed this epiphany in the words of Mark. Indeed only a night had passed since the night of 'The Ascension' and already it had, had the ears of most of England’s population, despite our attempts of spreading ‘Peace’ (Islam) with words of ‘war’, which is the popular theme of today’s Islamic discourse. I realised as I glanced at my curry, this is what the propagation attempts in England amounted to.

Indeed, if one analyses how the majority of Muslims arrived in Britain and Europe, it is clearly seen that it was not due to a great upsurge in the pursuit of knowledge or education, rather it was only to achieve a financial benefit, and once they had received this, it should have led them back to their homelands. So they accrued a monetary benefit, at a cost of leaving their children being born in a foreign land and thus culturally misplaced. This misplacement has been brought about by a desire for the parents, (who are torn between their original place of racial origin and Britain).Unwillingness to accommodate the host culture within the Muslim ethos. This has in turn been exacerbated by the differences in colour, language and religion. These problems have led to a greater longing of the immigrant parents to return to their ancestral land and as a result they have mentally been unable to leave it behind. Due to these reasons, Muslims living in Britain today have become disenfranchised with their own dimension of British culture which combines the precepts of Islam with British culture. Historical observation of Andalusia in Medieval Spain, shows, ironically, Muslims who were consciously European and who also cultivated that identity. Not doing the same here has left Britain with Muslims being labelled according to their countries of origin, ie; Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc, and thus lacking relevance in society.

Can Muslims make Islam relevant? This might be the leading question. Firstly Muslims must generate a common linguistic bond with the host faith. Indeed, Muslims have “estranged the use of our vocabulary in terms of our definition of the, All Mighty, Allah”. Traditional commentators3 point out that the ninety-nine names of Allah were not intended to limit the divine names to a particular number, but it was to designate ninety-nine distinct names from His Countless Names. If the Muslims embraced the word “God” it would show their connection with the Abrahamic tradition. At this point it is important to note that differences between the Abrahamic faiths have never been rooted in the name of God, but in the variation of law given to Muhammad and the earlier prophets. This is clearly explicated in the title given to The Qur’an as being The Criterion (al-Furqan)4 to adjudicate in correct belief. The Qur’an acknowledges openly that the ‘God’ of Abraham and the ‘God’ of Muhammad are one and the same5. The Biblical word for God invoked in Hebrew by Moses and in Aramaic by John The Baptist and Jesus come from the same etymological root as Allah, and all three of the Semitic words used for God are equivalent except in pronunciation between the three6. The modern day distinction has been created by Muslims, in that they think that the English word “God is pagan or from a Trinitarian source.

The earliest documentation of the use of God is from the English poem ‘Beowulf, which dates from pre-Christian times and therefore does not refer to God as part of a "Trinity", but speaks “constantly of God’s grandeur, taking every occasion to praise God and thank him. “God” in its present form is the most common word for the Creator. This poem declares God’s oneness clearly and praises his wise and merciful supremacy in contra distinction to paganism. Indeed, Beowulf would have been used today by Muslims to supplicate to Allah, and the use of ‘Allah’ for God would have been used if Arabic was the known language. Unlike other religions Islam always allowed for indigenous practices to prevail as long as it did not take away from the understanding and belief in the oneness of Allah and the belief in his last Messenger. Islam came to seal prophecy, to close prophetic dispensation and positively add to what was already known about God by dispelling wrong understanding.


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