The War on Terror has aroused much interest in Islam. No day passes without a news item mentioning Islam in one way or another. And some people are even asking “How to Stop Islam?”.
But before answering this question we need to understand what is the meaning of the word “Islam”.
The word Islam has a few meanings, the most common of which are:
The people associated with the above meanings of Islam are called Muslims, but the above meanings are distinct, and a person who is Muslim in one of the senses is not necessarily Muslim in the other senses of the word “Islam”. Failure to distinguish these different meanings often leads to confusion.
Islam as submission to the will of God, has existed throughout all of human history. In the Old Testament Abraham and some other prophets were described as “walking in the ways of God”. This meant that they were righteous people, who believed in one God, the Creator of the Universe, and strove to live in accordance with the intentions of the Creator. The opposite of such behaviour is “following imaginings of one's heart” or “following the whisperings of the Devil”. In the Qur'an people following the ways of God are known as “sincere Muslims”. This meaning is not the same as the other two meaning of Islam, because Islam as a religion based on following of the Qur'an did not exist before the times of the Prophet Muhammad, but “sincere Muslims” existed long before that time.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), the famous French Emperor, was a man of great vanity and ambition, and he succeeded to conquer many countries, but in the end was defeated and finished his life in exile on the Island of St. Helena. While in exile, he had opportunity to reflect upon Life, and his thoughts were published in a book entitled The Thoughts of the Prisoner of the Island of St. Helena shortly after his death. One of his thoughts was:
“The existence of One God is undoubtable, but all religions are creations of Man.”
If by “One God” Napoleon meant the Creator of the Universe, then such belief in existence of One God would make Napoleon a sincere Muslim. He did not place much faith in man‐made religions. But what religions was he familiar with? Christianity, and some names of other religions. He knew that the religion of the Arabs was Islam, but he had little knowledge about it. But Islam is nothing else but belief in One God, the Creator of the Universe — everything else follows from that. Some people come to such belief naturally by themselves. Abraham did. And so did some others.
So, if you happen to be a person who believes in One God, Creator of the Universe, and do not believe in any other gods, half‐gods, or God's relatives, and seek to live your life honestly in accordance with the intentions of the Creator, then you are a sincere Muslim (sense 1). This is so even, if you have no knowledge of Islam, as an organized religion (sense 2), and do not think of yourself as a Muslim.
While some people become sincere Muslims (sense 1) naturally without any human guidance (that is through God's guidance), for the majority of people the only way to develop such belief is to follow the teachings of the Prophets as recorded in the Qur'an. Such people who follow the religion of Islam based on the Qur'an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad are Muslims in the second sense of the word “Islam”.
Islam as an established religion based on the revelations of the Qur'an came into existence some 1400 years ago. Now it has followers all over the world. These followers of the established religion of Islam are Muslims in the second sense of that word. While the purpose of this religion is to lead people to the way of righteousness, that is to become “sincere Muslims”, the fact that a person calls himself a Muslim and follows Muslim religious practices does not necessarily make him a “sincere Muslim” — he might be a hypocrite, performing religious practices merely to gain respect of others, but does not sincerely believe in or practice what he pretends to follow. Such person is not a Muslim in the first meaning of the word “Islam”, although he would be known as a “practicing Muslim” to other people.
Even people who sincerely seek to follow the religion of Islam can follow it in the wrong way, because they are mislead by others, or mislead themselves. Such people will not be following the Straight Path, but will be “wandering in confusion of false beliefs” which they mistakenly believe to be Islam.
A Muslim in the third sense of the word Islam is just a person who by virtue of his birth belongs to an ethnic group originating from a country which at some time in its history was ruled by Muslims (in the second sense of that word). Such person might have no knowledge of Islam whatsoever, but would have an Arabic derived name, which could be his only connection with Islam. Example of such people would be the Muslims of the former Soviet Union, who for a few generations were deprived of their religion and culture1. After the demise of Communism the ethnic Muslims of the former Soviet Union re‐established Islam as their religion, and became practicing Muslims (sense 2). Also some people of Muslim origin do not follow Islamic religious practices, but became non‐believers or adopted other religions. But they are still called Muslims. Such people do not belong to either of the two previous categories — they are “ethnic Muslims”. Thus a person of Pakistani origin is seen as a Muslim, regardless of whether he follows Islam or not. Such “ethnic Muslim” might even be a bishop in the Church of England, or a “gay” member of the British House of Lords.
All the present day conflicts, like the one in Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc, are not conflicts about Islam in sense 1, or sense 2. They are geo‐political conflicts, the origins of which go back to attempts of the European empires to conquer other people. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are the result of the American invasion of these countries. These areas are Islamic in sense 3.
Thus it is obvious that when one uses words “Islam” or “Muslim” one has to be clear in which sense one uses these words to prevent misunderstandings, because what is true about Muslims in one sense, can be false about those in the other senses. A common example of such false conclusions about Islam, as a religion (sense 2), by people who made some effort to learn about it is a statement as follows:
“Islam makes sense in theory, but look at it in practice: Muslim countries are poor, Muslims are fighting each other — this is not a good religion in practice!”
Here we have an example of mixing the different senses of the word “Islam”. “Muslim countries” and “Muslims fighting each other” are used in sense 3, and the conclusion is applied to “Islam” in sense 2. But they are different things.
So, now that we know that the word “Islam” is commonly used in at least the above 3 senses, we can seek to answer the question: “How to Stop Islam?”
It is clearly impossible to stop Islam in the sense of “sincere belief in One God”. This is a logical conclusion that some people happen to arrive at in the course of their lives. Sincere, honest people who reflect upon human life and the events around them tend to come to such logical conclusion. Also, when such people make attempts to learn about Islam, they end up by accepting it and becoming sincere Muslims. More and more people in Europe and the Americas are accepting Islam as they learn about it. This is an unstoppable process.
Islam as a religion practiced by people can be forbidden as it was done in the former Soviet Union. But it was the Soviet Union that ceased to exist, and with its demise Islam came to life again. So, the success of attempts to forbid practice of Islam can be only temporary.
Attempts to eradicate Islam as culture and ethnicity yield similar results to attempts to forbid its practice. Attempts to eradicate Islamic culture and ethnicity in Turkey, had only a temporary success. The Turkish people are turning back to Islam.
But who would want to “stop Islam”? And why?
The Hebrew Prophets had given the World the fundamental values, without which Mankind would slip into chaos. But the Jews wanted to keep these values to themselves. Then came Jesus and spread the values of the Hebrew Prophets among the non‐Jews. The Christians have greatly benefited from the values of the Hebrew Prophets, but they wrapped them up into myths of a man‐shaped God, who has a wife and a son. And to reconcile this myth with the concept of One God of the Hebrew Prophets, they invented the myth of the Trinity (“One in Three and Three in One”).
Then came the Prophet Muhammad. He accepted the values of the Hebrew Prophets and Jesus, but rejected the Trinitarian Doctrine and re‐affirmed the Oneness of God. But the Jews still wanted to keep the teachings of their ancient prophets all to themselves. And the Christians still wanted to keep their Trinitarian Doctrine.
But as their knowledge of the world grew, the Christians could no longer believe in a man‐shaped God sitting on a cloud in the company of his wife and child. So they abandoned their beliefs, and with them the values of the Hebrew Prophets. And the result is spread of crimes against person and property, alcohol, drugs, and sexual depravity — just as it was in the times before the Prophet Abraham declared his belief in One God.
So, now it is only Islam that can bring Mankind back to the values of the Prophets and away from crime, lawlessness, alcohol, drugs, and sexual depravity.
So, who would want to stop Islam? And why?
1) Even the names of the Muslims of the former Muslim countries which became part of the former Soviet Union had been Russified by adding the Russian possessive suffix “ov” at the end of the name, as in “Ahmadov”. “Ahmad” is an Arabic name, “ov” is a Russian suffix. This has the same effect as to change the name “Ahmad” (usually “bin Ahmad”) into “Ahmadson”. This is why Chechen names usually end in “ov”.