Ok, this is Mohammad Arab I love this opportunity that you have given me to speak to your listeners.
Altogether, I have experienced a different lifestyle in the West for thirty_ five years. And at first, as you know I lived in a lifestyle that contains whatever happens, whatever that a young person experiences in the West or the majority of young persons experience in the West. I lived that lifestyle basically.
Till I was able to have this opportunity to read and contemplate on some of the issues and one of the most important issues at that time for me at the age of twenty six happened to be learning about this book, the QURAN, something that I would thought happened to me. It was out of my imagination at the time when it happened and you know people ask me like how your family felt when you came to Islam? They were neither supportive of idea of practicing Islamic values neither they were against it and supportive of it. You know they were just neutral in that matter and that helped me a lot because it gave me some room to grow and I think that’s something that could happen to anyone if families support them. They might be encouraged for sometime and then disheartened for something that happens or the support is not there. If they get disheartened mainly from the family, they might feel negative about the path but if neutral, it actually is beneficial. I think because it allows you to decide, allows you to grow at your own paste.
When people repent, however they return back to their old lifestyle. How did you keep yourself firm on the path of Islam?
As I explained, I took the QURAN for the first time and there I realized that there’s a claim on this book. At the beginning, second chapter, BAQARAH, source BAQARAH, where is 23, 24. It explains that if they have any doubt this book is not written or given by ALLAH or it has been written by man, so then, therefor they should be able to create one chapter similar to this book. If they can’t understand that this book has been sent down by their creator or your, our creator, there is no doubt in it.
Perhaps this way of resetting the book caught my attention, it got no attention at the time. This sentence that has always been there. None of my parents, friends or relatives, none of the people that knew during my lifetime has ever mentioned this to me that of the reasons that you can understand that this book is not sent, it’s not written by man but sent down by a superior power is the fact that this book can not be duplicated not even one chapter of this book can be duplicated. The smallest chapter of this book I realize it was on the ten words. Yeah! That was the beginning of my journey I start questioning this book and perhaps searching for answers. I start trusting in it.
The trust came at the time when I realized this book is a miracle and it’s not something that I can easily put aside. If it was someone’s written or someone’s idea, then perhaps I had my idea, too. I would never submit to something that is someone’s else idea. But since it was proven to me that this is not someone else’s idea, this is something that my lord, my creator wanted me to pay attention to that allowed me to submit myself, too. Because I had this feeling of trust that whoever created this knows exactly what I need. He would know my needs more than anyone else. So by trusting in it, by coming close to it and trying to implement it in my life. As I mentioned before, it took me to this journey. I guess anyone who had this experience would agree me that the living in any faith, having faith or believing any religion, let’s call it organized religion, believing any organized religion gives you a journey in life because now you have to start living a lifestyle that you didn’t care before.
Now, you have to submit to certain practices and certain rituals and things you ever did for example praying or fasting or something I never experienced before or going to HAJ. There was another experience I had after learning about Islam and QURAN. But all these practices, all these rituals allow me practicing my power and have time to concentrate to understand the world that I’m experiencing. I can say fasting allowed me to for example understand the people who are hungry more than ever and especially when the time you have to break your fast, you have that feeling of thirst and hunger. Feel weak.
So it allowed me to help poor people feel. So a lot of these practices that came with this book helped me to grow to become a better person. But your question, if I have read any other book, I can go through the list of books that I held in my hand and I start research about QURAN. But one of the books that was really the main source of my information was QURAN itself because as I said I was fascinated about this book offer I realized that these verses had been sent down by my lord. I was fascinated by it but I didn’t know how to go about learning about these things that are mentioned in this book because the AYAT or the verse has a surface and had also a deeper meaning.
How would I get to the deeper meaning of these verses. So it was quite difficult but helped me. At the end was reading the book over and over and of anything I had a question I would write my questions down and most of my questions were answered by multiple time that I read the QURAN and some of my questions like at the beginning were also answer to some other questions. It’s kind of strange like a question would be in my head and I would have that question sometime and Then that question would become a piece of a puzzle somewhere down the line as I read the QURAN over and over and these pieces of puzzle set next to each other and created a better picture or a bigger picture or a small piece of a bigger picture. So that would help me reading the QURAN over and over that helped me a lot.
How can we understand the holy QURAN better?
As far as repent, I can say that when I repent, I got on my knees and I said,” I would never do this again.” It happened so naturally to me. As if like you’re going through a journey and you change your path. It’s not important. Instead of going right you went left or instead of going left you went right. It was very natural and that feeling of wanted to go to places like Las Vegas that I used to go, all the clubs and all the concerts I used to go. That feeling never came. Actually never had that feeling.
I don’t remember feeling like oh, God! I wish I could go to Las Vegas right now. That feeling never came but it happens. For me it happens naturally. It was like I knew this is not right, is not what ALLAH wants. ALLAH wants me to obtain certain values and certain ethics. So I’m trying to learn those ethics and I’m trying to stick to them and that was the way it happened for me. I know for some people it might be difficult.
I know some people who are smokers and they want to quit smoking and once in a while they wish that they could smoke. For me, didn’t happen like that. It wasn’t like this for me like I wish I did this or I could go to that place. Naturally, spending all those years in those environments, they didn’t do me anything but all those years away from me. One of the regrets that I had after reading the QURAN was that I regret why I didn’t read this book ten years ago earlier when I was 15 or 16 years old.
For that I appreciate because I think my Fetrat, my intuition was well awakened at the time I was reading the Quran because this feeling came naturally. Like this belonged to you but you didn’t grasp earlier but this had for you this time. It is like if you come hungry from school and your parents have prepared food for you and instead of putting it on the stove, they have actually put it in the oven. And you won’t see it and you suffer many hours of hunger and as you are trying to order pizza for yourself, you open the oven and there’s something delicious in there and it was always there. Imagine this feeling. Oh! This food is here.
I never paid attention to it. Multiply by thousand or more, I had this regret feeling. A sad feeling. Why didn’t I pick up this book earlier? This book was always there for me. The Quran has been around for over 1400 years. This was me who neglected this knowledge and kept myself away from. But after learning more about this book, experiencing the life style. I realized that this book is like jewelry or treasure I have gained but it doesn’t belong to me. It actually belongs to everyone. So I start like advertising about this treasure that I found as if people may not know the path to get to it. And within thus treasure, box that I found the Quran, let’s call it a path and I
learned there is also some treasure within this box that are important to be recognized and later on there is a program. Let’s talk about those jewels, you find within this treasure box ” the Quran”. Yeah! At the beginning, I had all this feeling that all this doesn’t belong to me. Only I need to get the word out. I need to let people know about this treasure like I didn’t know for years and I neglected this knowledge. Other people may have the same or similar experience. So it came very important to me to talk about the Quran after I grasped it or after when I accepted it.
Which aspect of Islam is do you believe more attractive to the foreigners?
Ok. The question: How we can understand the holy Quran better? It’s actually I can’t say it’s a question. It should be like a request like how can I understand this book better? One of the miracles that you find within this book within these verses is that it recognizes the level of your knowledge as you read in it. They call it "BELAGHAT”. It adjusts the level of understanding, the level of its message to the level of your understanding. It does it automatically or such a clever way that when someone with limited knowledge like me understands it.
Points that is trying to make and when someone has higher knowledge, reads this book, they understand it deeper meaning but similar to my understanding, it points out some important things to them. It is a book that can be used for anyone as a guideline. It doesn’t matter the level of knowledge or education.
It addresses everyone. Someone with no knowledge or someone with great knowledge can benefit from these verses but passively a deeper understanding. So, to me, how I can understand the Quran better. I think the Quran does that automatically.
We have to expose ourselves to the Quran just keep in mind that the verses of the Quran have been come down at the time that events took place and those historical events are very important for us to have a better understanding of the meaning of that first. You can take the verses at its face value and you have certain understanding of the Quran but if you want to have a better understanding of the Quran, it’s better for you to look the TAFSIR and also look at all the historical events. They were taken place at the time when the verse of Quran was revealed to prophet "Mohammad”, peace be upon him. That allows us to have a better understanding but more knowledge a person has I believe deep understanding of these verses will be experienced.
Which aspect of Islam did you find the most attractive?
What part of Quran do I believe is more attractive toward foreigners or people not familiar with Islam not familiar with our culture? If the question is not familiar with Islam. The answer that I will give is TOHID. TOHID is I think the most interesting part of Quran for a lot of people, a lot if foreigners that I expect not familiar with Islam. Recently I had a guest from America in Iran and he was a scientist and he has actually written a book about his perspective and the name of his book is GOD EXISTS. He had searched God in different religions and he had come with his own understanding but when I talk about TOHID and the fact that God doesn’t think, God, KON FA YAKON, what ever he says to be, it will be. This was the most attractive thing for him and I think it’s true for a lot of people.
From one of our listeners I have heard non-Muslim says that Islam is not a friendly and kind religion because the ALLAH(swt) has told the Moslems to kill others and …. What would you say to the non- Muslims about this and what is your perspective on this point?
I don’t know how many of the audience in this program read novel but I myself because of field that I was in and a kind of work when I had engaged with, I had less time to read novel, read books and stories but when I read the Quran over and over, everything I felt was like I’m reading 3,4,5 novels at the same time. It was never tiring like I would read the same verse over and over but every time I read this verse, it allowed me to concentrate and think about things that it’s mentioning to me and it would take me to the different level of understanding. So I think that is the most interesting part of the Quran that it never becomes old. Every time you read it, it takes you into a new journey, a different journey this time. It shows you from a different perspective, it opens your mind, allows you to grow. I think people can take benefit from reading this book even they don’t believe in this book.
Even if they don’t believe in any religion. They don’t want to believe in any religion. Just reading the Quran, it allows them to grow, allows them to become a better person. I would think that if they don’t have anything against this book, if not against it, if they are not a bad person, ALLAH will allow them to grow even if they don’t accept Islam because it has that potential. That was the most interesting part for me that never gets old. Every time, I read it as if it is for the first time. That’s interesting in the Quran that ALLAH says that this book that I have revealed to you prophet Mohammad if you look into it, there’s no, without any doubt, you would not find a mistake in it. It also mentions a similar vocabulary about a family are a family of Mohammad "peace be upon them”. This family, I wanted to keep them pure. I think that in the chapter 33, verse 33, ALLAH mentions this; I wanted to keep this family away from any wrong doing. Sometimes it’s to put it together.
And there’s a book that doesn’t have any false or any mistakes in it. And here is a family that you can use as the best role models that they have no false because ALLAH keeps them pure and the family of ALEBEIT. You know now we have entered Moharram and we are experiencing in different part of the world people come out and experience their feelings toward historical event of KARBALA on the day of ASHOURA and this is really significant because in the Quran we read that no prophet asked for anything in return for hardship that they experienced to try to deliver the message to their people but here we see prophet MOHAMMAD peace be upon him is exception of that.
He does have a request in return of the message that has brought for us and that request is to be kind to his family and during MOHARRAM we can see only a few years after he passed away how the Muslims treated his family, the family of AHLEBEIT and these are the things I think we should look into when we are reading the QURAN. We should look into the history and all the historical events that took place and try to find the most knowledge about a person about the Quran to gain the true knowledge about the verses and things are mentioned are in this book.
Thank you very much for being with us tonight Mr. Mohammad Arab. Is anything else that you would like to add?
That’s very good point. One thing that people can do. They can do that with any writing is to take things out of its context. If the verse of the context of the Quran is peace but establishment of peace is encouraging to fight with the aggressive or aggression but today we see like groups of like Daesh. They are killing anyone. For them killing is the easiest thing they can do and they’re training their young people to live the sale lifestyle. I can see videos that are posted. Young people that are 6,7,8,9 years old, boys standing next to someone older and they’re beheading people making all this aggression against humanity and all these acts. The Quran specifically mentions this within the context if establishment of peace. I don’t mean like your goal or your intention justifies whatever you do.
The Quran specifically mentions this but it’s mention said within a context of establishment of peace. Some people take that out of context and say, "Ok. Look! Quran is advertising or it’s encouraging its followers to kill other people. I mean that if you take the Quran and take it at the surface level without deeper understanding of these verses and that the context that they’re in and the events that they were taking place at the time this verse came. Perhaps you can easily be misled and be among the aggressive but I think if someone is looking into this boon just looking into any book, any book doesn’t have a teacher can easily misled people. We don’t see in the universities today that people go to the university just take the book and read it on their own. There are many scholars and many professors in the university teaching that particular book. That us available to gain that particular knowledge that they’re seeking. So that’s the same thing with the Quran.
With the Quran, you also look for the teachers they can teach you correctly. What I understand, most of the people that they need the Quran, they don’t pay attention to these things and they can easily be misled out if their feeling takes them in a journey, they can go along with it and perhaps they can be misled but if they allow their knowledge, their logic to guide them and allow them to seek the most knowledge of a person about this book then perhaps that would be the best way to have their understanding and not to fall into this type of ignorant because this does happen to a lot of people.
It shouldn’t happen because we have access to internet, access to many websites. We can ask for questions and find out who has the most knowledge about thus verse of the Quran and what is the true meaning of the verse of the Quran. But again we have to be very careful not to take it out of its context. They can do that with anyone’s writing. So they can do that with ALLAH’s sayings so they are very careful with that.
I wanted to mention something about the different MAZHAB that we have in Islam because that’s one if the thing that was on my mind when I came to Islam. I realized that Muslims are divided into different MAZHAB or different group. After reading the Quran for so many times and learning about the history of Islam and being more familiar with different MAZHAB. I realized that Islam is like a circle that has many doors around it. One door we have seen Maleki in this circle. Other doors we see Hanafi and Shafeyi and another door we see like Jafaries or Asnaasharies, let’s call them. The one who believe in 12 Imams. There are some doors that let’s imagine like sisters who believe in Salafies or the wahhabies. The different doors that they can enter to the circle if Islam.
But then the center of this circle is AHLEBEIT. AHLEBAIT have been introduced by the Quran clearly through many verses. One of them is 33,33. If you try to approach them meaning come close to them and try to learn who they are and how they lived and how they practiced their rituals and the practices are understood and explained these verses of Quran and then that is perhaps the closest circle and the most accurate circle that you draw. If you put the center of your circle anyone except AHLEBEIT, part of your Islam would be actually outside of the circle of Islam. Part of beliefs or part of rituals, the way you do things or you understand the Quran, would be outside of the true circle of Islam.
So it doesn’t matter from what family you have come to Islam. The goal is to get close to AHLEBEIT. Learn about them. They are the center of this circle of Islam. But if you put the center of your circle anyone else except AHLEBEIT, so part of Islam would be outside of the circle of Islam. This is my understanding. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to share this with anyone else in this program but if there are any reflections let me know because this is my understanding. In this way of thinking you can’t divide Muslims. You can’t say this is Hanafi or oh! This boy is Jafari family. There is no Shia, Sunni. What is this? We are all in the same circle. Let’s drive forward with all difficulties to learn more about this family and learn more about this understanding and try to use them as a role model. By saying MAZHAB I mean the school of thought. Like we have the school of thought of Hanafi or you have school of Shafeyi or have the school of Maleki and Jafari. That’s what I meant.
We appreciate your time and words Mr. Mohammad Arab. May ALLAH(swt) keep you strong and firm on path of Islam. Thank you to our listeners tonight. May ALLAH(swt) guide us all and keep us firm on the path of Islam Inshallah.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be in this program. I hope to be able to see you face to face. This was very uncomfortable to me. I’ve never done this before but I’m so happy that you guys are very patient. You are very kind to me to go through this with me and listening to the voice that you don’t see any facial or any other expressions except a few words. To me it was very inconvenient. I think I might have a similar feeling but once again thank you for allowing me to be on this program. Thank you. Good-bye.