1) What kind of personal and societal values does this religion encourage?
2) Do the teachings of this religion support mainstream US values? How
3) How does this religion support the mental and spiritual health of its believers?
4.) What do you think are some of the major misconceptions of your religion?
5.) In what ways is your religion different or similar to others?
As Salaam Alaikum!
Am making an attempt to answer your questions 1 by 1, however, please do not take it as final as you can also add your opinion on same.
Islamic values can be divided into 3 groups:
These basic values & needs that defines the foundations for a good individual & social life, are classified into 3 levels (1) Basic necessities (2) convenience & (3) refinements. Basic human values consist of life, reason, descent, property & religion. Islam tries to protects these primary human values & prohibits any violation of them.
1. Five Basic Values for All Mankind
According to Islam there are five basic values for humanity, which are advised to be protected every time. Depending on circumstances to build up harmony and universal peace, advises to preserve the five basic values at the lowest level or the barest minimum for an acceptable level of living. These basic values therefore includes the ability to perform moral responsibilities; protection of life, securing food, clothing and shelter, education, the right to earn a living, to set up a family, etc. It is to be understood that at this level, one has enough to live but not necessarily to be in some comfort. Islam preaches that a human being cannot live without these basic values. Individuals and states are advised to protect or at least to respect these basic values.
A) Life (Physical Self): This includes basic items such as food, clothing, shelter, transport, health etc. In other words, physical self means all those that could provide a healthy body to lead a purposeful life. Islam, holds the human soul in high esteem, and considers the attack against innocent human beings a grave sin, that is emphasized in the followin Qur'anic verse # 5:32 Because of this, we decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. Our messengers went to them with clear proofs and revelations, but most of them, after all this, are still transgressing. In fact, Muslims serve for life, not for death. In Islam all men are equal, regardless of color, race, language, status or nationality.
Don't you think the above value support the mainstream of except the unwarranted wars sometimes.
B) Religion is considered as a basic value/fundamental right of every individual. One is free to practice the religion of his choice. There should not be any compulsion in choosing one's religion, nor obstruction to practice it. The religion is for providing guidance, peace, tranquillity, comfort and purpose in life. The religion is for teaching man to uphold truth, justice, and all the virtues. The religion is for teaching man to avoid the vices. There is no coercion in Islam; Islam came with the just word of our creator. In Quran 2:256. There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.
Don't you think the above value supports one of the USA's main stream 'Religious tolerance'
C) Intellect/Knowledge: Intellectual nature of man is made up of mind or intelligence or reasoning power. To this aspect Islam pays extraordinary attention & builds the intellectual structure of man on most sound foundations. Islam classifies knowledge into two, the basic or fundamental which must be secured by every individual and the specialized knowledge which would be secured by few in a society.
D) Family Life and Offspring : In a time when values tend to be turned upside down, family life as the very heart of society was attacked just as much as many other handed-down traditions. About ten years ago, when it become fashionable for young torch bearers to live in "communities", share sex and children and earnings, many people feared that this might mean the end of family life. Fortunately, this is not so. In the end, the overwhelming majority of young women still dream of having a wedding ring on their finger, living in a comfortable flat as "Mrs. So-and-so" and bringing up their children in an orderly home, just as young men prefer to introduce "her" with the words" "This is my wife". Neither socialism nor any other "isms" were able to uproot what has been implanted into human nature from time immemorial
across all the religions.
E) Wealth : Wealth is obviously a fundamental human value. White-collar crimes such as money laundering, embezzlement and corruption "transcend frontiers and have become similar everywhere" and threatening this value. Due to the globalization process, the maximum wealth of the world is now accumulated in few hands. Less than one billion people now possess 79% of the total wealth and 11.2% people are controlling 62.5% income of the world. US (4.6% population) are getting 25.7% of the world income, which is 26% of the total wealth. Unfortunately the total income of the whole Muslim world (total population 20.5%) is only 3.5% and they control only 5.3% of the world trade compared to Jews who almost controls the economy
2. Secondary Values:Conveniences comprise all activities & things that are not vital to preserve the five foundations, but rather, are needed to remove difficulties or impediments in life. EG: use of some mode of transport (a car), a carpet in winter, etc.
3. Luxury Values: Refinements includes items that are beyond those for convenience. They do not only remove difficulty but improve the comfort. eG: car is considered as an item of convenience, than a chauffeur-driven car is obviously a refinement.
However Islam is not against refinements so far the individual gives the obligatory charity & indulges in societal charity works according to one's status.
The Koran helps in improving Muslims mental & spiritual health if followed according to Koran through
literacy & not just blindly following some spiritual leaders orders.
The major misconception in most of the Muslims minds is nothing new but same like the Jews & Christians
who believes that they will go to heaven despite the clear instructions in this Qur'anic verses:
Some have said, "No one will enter Paradise except Jews or Christians!" Such is their wishful thinking.
Say, "Show us your proof, if you are right."
Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in God, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
Islam in fact is no different from any other religion that believes in oneness of the Almighty, prayers
(salat), charity, fast & pilgrimage that has come from Prophet Abraham and his creed.
May the Almighty Allah have mercy on us to forgive our sins and guide us all to the true path of Islam
as per the Koran for rest of our life.