Islamic Or un-Islamic: Three Litmus Tests

Today Islam is at the front and center of US and international politics. President Trump calls terrorists who profess Islam ‘Islamic terrorists.’ Some Muslim countries use Islam in their country name and others profess Islam as their national religion. Muslim Kings and clerics resort to Islam for legitimacy. But who is Islamic and who is un-Islamic? Without resorting to chapter and verse from the Quran, here are three simple litmus tests.

1. Freedom

God gave humanity the gift of freedom, a gift that no rule-abiding (aka ‘Islamic’) Muslim ruler or cleric can take away. So what does this mean for a Muslim community or country that claims the ‘Islamic’ mantle? People should be free, with no oppression, to choose their religion and their rulers who, in turn, should be the most rule-abiding members of their community. There should be respect for God’s creation—human rights and preservation of the world and its resources for future generations. Which countries, communities and groups convey these attributes (namely, are Islamic)?

2. Progress

The Quran and the prophet Mohammad have emphasized the importance of progress (education, healthcare and science). Everyone must have access to high quality education and healthcare. Communities should embrace science, discover the Almighty’s hidden gifts and improve human living conditions through technological progress. Progress can be best achieved in a peaceful world and in the absence of conflict and war. Which countries, communities and groups convey these attributes (namely, are Islamic)?

3. Economic Prosperity

The Quran and the life of the prophet Mohammad convey the importance of economic prosperity and its sharing. The roadmap for its achievement is a market economy with enforced rules, regulations and supervision that embraces risk sharing (equity contracts or stocks) and prohibits risk shifting (debt). It is a system that encourages hard work, modest lifestyles, the sharing of prosperity and limited income and wealth inequalities. Islam mandates poverty eradication and the provision of the necessities for a dignified life for all those who cannot take care of themselves. Which countries, communities and groups convey these attributes (namely, are Islamic)?

Summary: Islamic or un-Islamic?

When President Trump refers to violent terrorists as ‘Islamic,’ is he correct? When reporters refer to kings and clerics of Muslim countries as Islamic, are they accurate? When kings and clerics claim Islam for legitimacy, are they truthful? You be the judge. Perhaps the label ‘un-Islamic’ would more accurately describe these claims and entities? We believe that this simple recognition might be a small step in bridging the inter-faith turmoil that is causing so much suspicion, hatred and conflict in our time.