Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Islam is Not About Minarets

It is without doubt that the voting to ban minarets in Switzerland is a provocative action. One could think that The far-right, anti-immigrants, anti-Muslim Swiss People’s Party (SVP) either aimed to anger Muslims worldwide in order to use the angry reaction to strengthen their vision of violent Islam, or... actually I can't think of a reasonable alternative. Either way, the voting has shocked many people and made others critical of Switzerland’s neutralism.

To many Muslims, minarets are a sign of peace; signalling – as they call to prayers or merely by looking at them on their way to the mosque – that they can practice their religion openly without feeling threatened. To me, minarets are an architectural symbol of religion that were borrowed from the Christian church after Muslims conquered Christian lands in Syria and north Africa in 2nd Century after Hijra – around 9th century AD.

These ‘imported’ architectural symbols of Islam (the minaret, the domes, and even the crescent) as well as many other foreign rituals (celebrating prophet Muhammad’s birthday, building shrines over tombs, honour-killing and many others) are a worry to me and anyone who is concerned in purifying Islam, in terms of understanding and practice, from all new things that were added to it, whether by culture or from other religions.

Islam strongly emphasizes its ‘universality’; that it is a religion that connects people through beliefs and practices regardless of sex, race, ethnicities or culture. Although it does teach to respect different traditions of people, it does not discourage nor embrace any of them; not even the traditions of Arabia.

The reason why these things are a worry to me is because many people, including Muslims and non-Muslims, mix these imported symbols and rituals with the original teachings of the Quran and the prophet – may peace and blessings be upon him and his family; the teachings which he described in a hadeeth ‘Verily, I have been sent to (teach) the most perfect of morals.’ Some of these imported rituals are nonsensical or harmful, and therefore people are led to believe that it Islam that promoted such unacceptable behaviour.

There are about 160 mosques in Switzerland; only four of which have minarets. If the minaret voting becomes a law, new mosques will be built without minarets, and hopefully without domes and crescents too, just like how the mosques were built by the prophet and his companions, in the times when the purity and greatness of this religion prevailed.

Islam did not become the fastest growing religion on earth because of minarets, domes and crescent symbols, but with its truth, clarity and simplicity that touched even the hardest hearts, convinced even the most sophisticated minds and moved the souls to their original pure instinct of answering the call of their Creator.