Where does one who lives in the UK begin with regards to identifying the essence of Islam (submission)?
Well, one will have to embark on a journey of seeking answers to our questions from those who call themselves Muslim (submitter to the will of Allah), or better still Allah (God), if one appreciates some of His attributes already.
Note that taking into consideration that all those who call themselves Muslims will not all share the same definition of Islam or the same understanding of the Scripture (Quran), and the implementation of tradition (Abrahamic faith). This journey leads one to identify what all Muslims have in common.
The answer being the Quran, since for example Sunni and Shia communities do not share the same implementation of traditions, but both accept the Quran as a authoritative source of divine law and guidance.
But wait, Sunni, Shia and other Muslim communities don’t all share the same interpretation of the Qur’an, so how can one identify who has the correct interpretation?
This journey leads one to distinguish the various Muslim persuasions that exist, and compare them sincerely and discover which of them appeal to good logic, or better still the attributes of God appreciated before now.
What are the facts?
Well, one will easily come to recognise that even the English translations of the Qur’an are influenced by the persuasion of its author or authors.
So what is consistent with regard to all these English translations of the Qur’an?
The undeniable answers are the attributes of God and Qur’an. Note that these alone are glaring enough to shape the context of our understanding of the Qur’an.
For example, according to the Qur’an, God is the most merciful, so why would the reader of the Quran not read the chapters and verses bearing this in mind?
However, one cannot deny the struggles the mind may have to go through while reflecting on this attribute, which is for example, if God is so merciful, why does such and such occur?
Well, the Qur’an is there to enlighten us to just how God is so merciful, if we open our minds to the context that the Qur’an sets using the attributes of God.
Note that the whole point of this journey is about identifying the essence of Islam, so if one is not prepared to accept the context the Qur’an sets, then how sincere is the quest?
Anyway, you may not have realised it yet, but we have gradually come to the essence of Islam.
To recap, we have discovered how the Qur’an is the common denominator and authoritative source of law and guidance amongst those who call themselves Muslims. Also, careful study, sincerity and open-mindedness allows one to spot and distinguish the persuasions of Muslims, then the next lower level of commonality which are the attributes of God and Qur’an. Now if one bears in mind this commonality when reading and reflecting upon the verses, one is now empowered to decide for oneself how Islam (submission to the will of God) is put in to practice.
Ironically, many a journey made by those who call themselves Muslims leads them to communities where they cannot decide for themselves.
Nevertheless, I have found a community where I can read and reflect on the Qur’an and decide for myself, as well as put in to practice what I have grasped, namely the UK Community of Submitters. Note that I too am one of those who call myself a Muslim.