There is an accompanying interactive CD with comparative information on the three faiths. Islam is portrayed as just like the other two religions. – same prophets, same benign message. (source )
- To introduce a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim to the students, and to show the three panellists interacting respectfully and harmoniously
- To increase understanding of similarities and to encourage respect for difference and diversity amongst staff, students and parents. (source )
The Arabic word ‘Islam’ simply means ‘submission’ and derives from a word meaning ‘peace’
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation from God through the angel Gabriel. By the time the Prophet (PBUH) died… the message of Islam had spread as far as Spain in the West and China in the east.
Islam permits fighting in self-defence and in defence of religion. War is the last resort and is subject to rigorous conditions. The term “jihad” literally means ‘struggle’. It does not mean “holy war”.
So there you have it: A+ if you now believe Islam is the Religion of Peace, Muhammad was a Buddha-like prophet who inspired others to follow him, and that jihad is an inner struggle.
If you live in Victoria, and your child is in year 11 or 12, they might like to take a VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) subject called “Texts and Traditions”. I guess in the old days we would have called the subject comparative religion, but in post-modern times where comparing cultures is verboten lest it lead to the realisation that our Judeo-Christian tradition trumps Islamic barbarism, this title accords with the ethos that all cultures are of equal weight and all narratives equally valid. (reference )
The prescribed texts for 2007 allow students to choose to study from one of four written traditions:
The Gospel According to John
The Books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah
The Gospel According to Luke
Using either Taqiudin or the English Translation of the meaning
of Al-Quran by Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik
Passages for Special Study: Surah 4:1–25, 24, 68
So what resources are recommended for the study of Islam?
1. Towards Understanding Islam
Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi (trans. and ed. Khurshid Ahmad, 12th edition) Islamic Publications, Lahore 1967
Maududi was (he died in 1979) a colourful and significant character in contemporary Islamic history. He was a
leader of the contemporary Islamic resurgence, authoring over one hundred scholarly and popular works on
Islam and in 1941 founding Jama'at Islami, one of the most important and prominent Islamic movements today.
His biography in Pakistan exhibits the same manner of political controversy as that of the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb.
2. The Islamic Way of Life
Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (trans. and ed. Khurshid Ahmad & Khurram Murad)
The Islamic Foundation, Leicester 1992
This book is based on a series of five short talks given by Mawdudi in Urdu on Radio Pakistan in 1948, in which he dealt with the basic principles of moral, political, economic, social and spiritual life according to the teachings of Islam. The style is extremely succinct yet personable. Mawdudi's charm is that his text exudes a sense of humility at the same time as it is definite in its statements of what is correct according to Islam and, equally, what is not correct.
3. Islam and Universal Peace
Sayed Qutb, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis 1977
Qutb is one of the most famous political figures of modern Islamic history. As an Islamic scholar of Egyptian
village upbringing but of University of Cairo and Stanford University education, and as an official of the Egyptian Ministry of Education, Qutb formulated a unique approach to his chosen vocation of disseminating the message
of Islam for the social good. For his subsequent political affiliations, which vehemently opposed imperialist
Britain and its pact with the Egyptian government, Qutb was imprisoned in1954. Despite suffering torture and
other indignities, he refused the Egyptian government's several offers for clemency on the grounds that he could
not seek pardon for the fact of his living justly and in good faith. Hence, he remained in prison until his execution
in 1966. He wrote In the Shades of the Qur'an (which is also on the VCE booklist) during this period.
For his biography alone, Qutb is an essential inclusion on any list of sources for the serious student of Islam, its
message, its history, politics, and its challenge in the modern era.
Ismail R. Al Faruqi
Amana Publications, Beltsville Maryland USA 1995
5. Islam The Straight Path
John Esposito, Oxford University Press, 1988
Esposito wrote this book explicitly as an introduction to Islam that serves the purposes of undergraduate study
across the disciplines of politics, history, anthropology and comparative religion. (source )
Well, it seems at least in the senior years, there’s no pussyfooting about with what Islam’s message is, not if Qutb and his like are the role models.
So I guess that’s an improvement of sorts!