What do they say about Islam?
W. Montgomery Watt in his book: 'What is Islam?' said:
'Prejudice is only one
of the difficulties to be met by the European or American student of Islam. As
soon as he begins to describe Islam as 'the religion of the Quran', or 'the
religion of the four hundred million Muslims of today', he introduces a
category which does not fit, the category of 'religion'.
For what does
'religion' now mean to the occidental? At best, for the ordinary man, it means
a way of spending an hour or so on Sundays in practices which give him some
support and strength in dealing with the problems of daily life, and which
encourages him to be friendly towards other persons and to maintain the
standards of sexual propriety; it has little or nothing to do with commerce or
economics or politics or industrial relationships. At worst it fosters an
attitude of complacency in the more prosperous individuals and breeds smugness.
The European may even look at religion as an opiate developed by exploiters of
the common people in order to keep them in subjection. How different from the
connotations to the Muslim of the verse (3:19): 'the true religion with God is
Islam!' The word translated as 'religion' is Deen, which, in Arabic, commonly
refers to a whole way of life.
It is not a private matter for individuals,
touching only the periphery of their lives, but something which is both private
and public, something which permeates the whole fabric of society in a way of
which men are conscious. It is all in one theological dogma, forms of worship,
political theory, and a detailed code of conduct, including even matters which
the European would classify as hygiene or etiquette.