Posts tagged ‘Mu’min’

May 4th, 2011

Was Osama bin Laden a Muslim Leader? Qur’an’s unpopular and politically incorrect Verdict

إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ لَمۡ يَرۡتَابُواْ وَجَـٰهَدُواْ بِأَمۡوَٲلِهِمۡ وَأَنفُسِهِمۡ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِۚ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلصَّـٰدِقُونَ

“The (true) believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere.” (Al-Hujraat, 49:15, Pickthall).

There has been a lot of chatter this week whether Osama bin Laden was a Muslim leader. Muslims and non-Muslims have equally dismissed him. Even US President Barack Obama when announcing his death clearly said bin Laden “was not a Muslim leader.” The Qur’an is the highest authority in Islam and the Hadith—saying of Prophet Muhammad—the second. Only these two sources can show whether bin Laden was a Muslim leader.

The Qur’an verse I quoted above is from a chapter of the Qur’an people who engage in interfaith dialogue and reconciliation erroneously quote. Verse 13 of the same chapter starts with “Oh Mankind.” Muslims have used to draw even Christians into dialogues. That is a topic for another time. This verse has nothing to do with non-Muslims but everything to do with Muslims. I engaged two Muslims: a Saudi and a Moroccan; and an American Christian and renowned international expert on Islam Carl Medearis discussing this verse. Please read the exchange under the post “Reconciliation: The choice of peacemakers.” It might help you understand the context of this Qur’an chapter.

The above verse shows one rank of Muslims. Yes, you have read it correctly. Allah ranks Muslims. Muslims are ranked in categories called darajat. They are Muslim, Mu’min and Muhsin. Muslim doesn’t necessarily mean someone who has embraced Muhammad as a prophet. Jesus disciples were called Muslim. Mu’min means “believer” in Arabic. Dr. Sayyed Hossein Nasr is Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University explained the darajat:

Not everyone who is a Muslim is a mu’min and not everyone one who is a mu’min is a muhsin, but a muhsin must also be a mu’min and a mu’min a Muslim… In any case, throughout Islamic history there have been the ordinary believers, or Muslims, or those of intense piety, m’umins, and those who have sought God here and now, or muhsins.[1]

Muhsin is the highest rank of a Muslim. He or she believes in everything that is written in the Qur’an and acts upon it without wavering. Those Muslims who fought alongside Prophet Muhammad were muhsin. They did not doubt the message of the Qur’an or what Muhammad said in the Hadith. Though the message was at times equivocal and unpopular or even politically incorrect, they heeded it. Unlike mainstream Muslims, they strove “with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah” because they were “the sincere,” muhsin.

Who are ordinary Muslims to question whether Osama bin Laden was a Muslim, let alone a Muslim leader? He used his wealth and gave life for the cause of the Qur’an. He even spurred other Muslims to do the same. Let not some Muslims and non-Muslims mislead you. Although Osama bin Laden preached unpopular message, he was not only a Muslim leader but also a leader of the muhsin. This is the verdict of the Qur’an. It just shows another Crack in the Crescent.


[1] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2004), 62.

February 17th, 2010

Confusion a Boom for Islam

Islam is growing rapidly. Some estimates put the world’s Muslim population at 1.8 billion, surpassing that of Catholics.  One wonders how this robust growth has been possible, especially considering how much Islam has been in the news. The September 11 attacks, activities of Al-Shaabab in Somalia, suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings in various Islamic countries, Abu Sayyaf fighting the Filipino government, mistreatments of non-Muslims in Sudan and the establishment and enforcement of the shariah law in Nigeria, all have been carried out in the name of Islam. The perpetrators call themselves Muslims and shun Muslims who call for tolerance.

Muslims in western countries, attempting to portray the tolerant nature of Islam, criticize these atrocities, pointing to some verses in the Qur’an. One of the verses, Suratul Al-Baqara (chapter 2 of the Qur’an) verse 256 states, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break…”

One thing worth noting is that there are three darajat (ranks) of Muslims mentioned in the Qur’an. Muhsin, the highest rank, refers to a Muslim who believes in everything that is written in the Qur’an—strives to understand it in the order of which it was revealed by keeping in mind the rule of abrogation—and acts upon it without wavering.

Some so-called moderate Muslim scholars claim that Islam is a tolerant religion and by no means calls for coerced conversions. The one thing that they don’t disclose is that the aforementioned verse that they widely quote was revealed when Prophet Muhammad and his followers had conquered Arabia and the region was already under Islamic rule (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2676).  Jews who refused to convert to Islam were expelled. Others paid jizya (tax levied against non-Muslims). If Islam were for religious tolerance, why the exertion in the form of taxes on non-adherents?

Muslims who strive for the establishment of Islam as the dominant religion and eventually attain the rule of the shariah law use the Qur’an and the Hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad) to make their case. Some verses from the Qur’an call on Muslims to show love to Christians while some enjoin Muslims to show hatred toward them. How do you reconcile these differences that are polar opposites? The verses on “love” for non-Muslims that some Islamic scholars keep on quoting have been abrogated (Al-Baqara 106). Though outmoded, they quote them anyway to placate what the masses like to hear, especially in the United States. After all, no one wants to be associated with a mass murderer. Imam Hani Ayyad of American Muslim Center in Dearborn, Michigan, referred to muhsins as “those who try to hijack our deen [faith], who distort, tarnish and darken it.”

Dr. Ron Miller, co-founder of Common Ground, claims that Islam is “the most misunderstood and maligned religion in the western world.”  In a recent speech at the Lansing (Illinois) Public Library, he dismissed Osama bin Laden and the rest of Muslims who call for the establishment of the shariah law as ignorant. He dismissed their rhetoric as that of “some ignorant madrassas somewhere, and not all imams are well-educated.”  What a bold statement from a non-Muslim! Madrassa teachers and imams can be ignorant when it comes to world affairs, but certainly they are not ignorant of the teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadith.

Islamic scholars generally gloss over the central message of Islam. Prophet Muhammad, before driving the rest of the Jews out of Arabia, gave them an ultimatum, “Embrace Islam and you will be safe!”  Some Muslims in the west condemn the likes of Bin Laden even though he is a muhsin. How come they do not criticize the Islamic government of Sudan or Al-Shabaab in Somalia? Fatwas have been issued against Bin Laden. The governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would like him to be arrested and handed over to the United States for prosecution. These calls are empty rhetoric because Prophet Muhammad also said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. So he should neither oppress him nor hand him over to an oppressor

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