The earliest traditions from Islam, including the time when early Muslims were being prosecuted in Makkah, show that forced conversions and the imposition of religious doctrine on other religions was not allowed. The same can be said of the times when the Muslims were in power and had taken control of large swaths of the globe. The reign of Umar is mentionable in this regard. In around a decade Umar was able to expand the Islamic frontiers manifold through armed conflict but again Islam was not imposed on the conquered people (Ahmed 34). Instead, Islam was spread in most of the conquered areas through open interaction with the non Muslims. Even with the existence of evidence to the contrary, today’s radical Islamists are bent upon furthering Islam through violent means.A major problem that Islam faces like other major religions is the loss in translation. Islam was originally revealed in the Arabian Peninsula and the medium of communication and instruction remained Arabic. The Prophet Muhammad was Arab and was not instructed in other languages, so his entire set of instructions for Islam has been preserved in Arabic. Similarly, the Quran was revealed and the scribed in Arabic too. There were initially no problems as to the use of Arabic since the early converts and most of the converts in the Prophet’s own lifetime were Arabs. However, as the Islamic empire began to spread under the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the need for taking up other languages became apparent. It was felt that translating massive works of Quran and Hadith into other languages would abrade the meanings of the original texts. In an effort to preserve the structures of Quran and Hadith, the caliph Usman decided to compile the Quran into Arabic (Burton 213).The compilation of the Quran into Arabic signaled the onset of orthodoxy in relation to religious texts in Islam. There has been a staunch tradition in Islamic communities to recite the Quran and to rote the Ahadith without actually comprehending the meaning of these texts. Translations are typically seen as vernacular deviations from the classical Islamic texts and is hence not encouraged or allowed. Consequently, the modern radical Islamist has been able to issue extremist ideas by using fragmented versions of Islamic texts. Since the average Muslim has little understanding of the classical texts, they tend to rely on community religious leaders for
Ahmed, Nazeer. Islam in Global History: From the Death of Prophet Muhammad to the First World War. Washington D. C.: American Institute of Islamic History and Culture, 2001.
Burton, John. The Collection of the Quran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Ernst, Carl W. Following Muhammad: rethinking Islam in the contemporary world. The University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Qutb, Sayyid. Milestones. Kazi Publications Inc., 1993.
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