Essence and Perception: Changing the Perception of Islam in the West - Dr. Robert D. Crane, The American Muslim, May 30, 2010
Introduction: The biased perception of Islam, common especially in America, results not only because extremist Muslims resort to reactionary violence and claim that this is Islamic, but because other Muslims fail to explain the essence of Islam in ways that Americans can understand.
Biased perceptions about Islam and Muslims result also, especially in Europe, from bias against all religion, because in European history religion has usually been a cause rather than a cure for conflict.
Changing the perception of Islam in the West requires education about the essence of all religions, as well as credible demonstration of this essence in practice. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and others must join in solidarity to rehabilitate the role of religion in the world, in both essence and practice, by providing a new paradigm of faith-based, compassionate justice for public policy guidance.
The following four questions must be asked and answered.
I. Do Faith and Religion Have a Future?
In a secular world, many people ask whether there is a future for faith and religion. One should distinguish between the two. Faith is belief in the unseen, in transcendent reality, in the ghaiba. This is part of human nature and has provided purpose to human life since the first appearance of sentient life on earth. Faith is universal and eternal and therefore has a future. Faith is the essence of religion.
Religion is the response to faith in both individual and community life. Religion is the pursuit of knowledge about higher truth and the translation of knowledge into moral practice.
There are many religious paths in the search for absolute truth, and there are many forms of practice, but all are designed for the same purpose, which is to worship the Absolute in thought, word and deed, whether we call it God or Gott or Dios or Allah
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