AN accepted principle for evaluating a system or ideology is to differentiate between its declared principles, on one hand, and the actual practice of the people who claim to stand for or represent it, on the other. For example, let us consider that you want to evaluate the role of the United Nations which was formed in 1945.
Every student of international politics knows that in order to understand the role of the UN, he/she has to study the Charter of the UN. It is this Charter which will serve as the authentic source of reference for understanding the UN. The student will not form his/her opinion about the UN by seeing the practices of the 193 member states of the UN.
The value of the UN can be judged by its ideology rather than the practices of its member countries. To understand Islam, one needs to study the Quran and Sunnah, rather than the actual behaviour of the people who claim to be its followers. So, too, is the case with Islam. To understand what Islam really is, you need to study the authentic texts which contain its principles. These are the Quran and Sunnah (practice of the Prophet of Islam). There are more than one billion people in the world who claim to be Muslims. To understand Islam, one needs to study the Quran and Sunnah, rather than the actual behaviour of these people who claim to be its followers. The right method of studying Islam is to differentiate between Islam, on one hand, and Muslims, on the other.
Muslims have to be judged in the light of Islamic teachings, and not vice versa. The central Islamic teaching is the discovery of God and the understanding of God's creation plan for mankind. Prophets were sent by God with the mission to make man aware of this creation plan. The Quran clearly tells us that the mission of the Prophet is peaceful dissemination of the divine message. [O Prophet] remind them: your task is only to remind, you are not a master over them. THE QURAN 88: 21
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