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Islam as seen through the eyes of a non-Muslim
Satbir Singh Bedi | 09 Aug 2013

I am a non-Muslim.  However, I have high regards for
the Prophets of various religions who tried to reform
society according to the needs of their times. 
Therefore, I have high regards for Prophet Mohammad
Sahib also.  In fact, after Lord Christ, he has the
most followers in the world.  So, he must be having
such a charisma that even today so many people follow
what has been told to him by God which is written in
Koran, the holy book of the Muslims.
 
Prophet Mohammad Sahib, who was born in Saudi Arabia,
did not believe in idol worship which was practiced by
the Arabs in those days.  So, he wanted to change this
method of worship and spread the message of one and
only one  God which was the creator of the whole
universe.  He was not the only Prophet who believed in
the unity of God and an egalitarian society.  The
Prophets of Jews and  Lord Christ before him, whom he
acknowledged in Koran to be Prophets of Islam also and
the Ten Sikh Gurus as well as the Arya Samaj founder
Dayanand Saraswati also did not believe in idol
worship and believed in the unity of God and an
egalitarian society so that if the message of Prophet
Mohammad Sahib, the Ten Sikh Gurus and the Arya Samaj
founder was followed in toto then there should not
have been any casteism amongst Muslims, Sikhs and Arya
Samajis of India. However, this was not to be and so
there is still casteism among Muslims, Sikhs and Arya
Samajis of Indo-Pak sub-continent. However, that is a
separate issue. 
 
The Arabia of Prophet Mohammad Sahib's days was not so
civilized and there were frequent wars and so, Prophet
Mohammad Sahib also had to wage many wars against his
enemies who did not agree with his thinking.  Since,
in those days, only men fought the wars and ladies
stayed at home, many men used to lose their lives and
therefore, the number of men was less than the number
of women and people used to marry as many woman as
they wanted.  However, Prophet Mohammad Sahib took a
kind view and restricted the figure of women that a
man could marry to four only.  He did not restrict it
to one as he knew that wars between his followers and
his enemies would continue to be fought and so the
number of men would always be less than the number of
women and therefore, restricting the figure of women
which a man could marry to four, would ensure that at
least every woman would have a husband.
 
Now polygamy is not disliked by women because then a
woman can at least share a husband with other women
and if the husband is rich, she is pleased with him
because it is much better to share a rich man with
other woman than to have a poor husband. So, women are
not against polygamy.  On the other hand, it is men
who are against polygamy because they may not get a
wife in these days when the populations of men and
women are nearly same.
 
On the other hand, men are not opposed to polyandry
because they can then at least have a woman though
they have to share her with others.  Polyandry is not
liked by women because then they may not get a
husband.
 
Prophet Mohammad Sahib made marriage a contract
between a man and a woman rather than a bond for the
whole life because he was against prostitution and
knew that his warriors who would be away from their
homes, would have to satisfy their natural urges.  So,
he allowed his warrior followers to have a contract
for a woman in the distant land for a few days but
ensured that if the woman bore the child of the man,
he would be responsible for their maintenance.  
 
These days all the religions are changing due to the
changed circumstances.  Sikhism and Hinduism which
allowed polygamy earlier, had been subject to Hindu
Code Bill so that they have necessarily to be
monogamous.  This is also necessary because the number
of men and women in the world are nearly the same and
hence monogamy suits them both.  Similarly, I have
seen that many Sikhs are not keeping long hair and
they are also trimming their beard.  Similarly, Hindus
are also changing.  Laws have been passed against the
practice of Sati and caste system has been done away
with in so far as nobody is untouchable now.  Muslims
too are fast changing.  While Muslims traditionally
were told to keep beard and shave their mustache, many
of Muslims like President Musharraf of Pakistan and
late Saddam Hussain when he was President of Iraq,
have/had their beard shaven and kept mustaches.  Islam
urges woman to wear veils but many prominent Muslim
ladies like Khaleda Zia, Sheikh Hasina and Benazir
Bhutto are no longer covering themselves with veils. 
In fact, most of the Muslim states have become quite
modern.  However, the Western attacks on Iraq and
Afghanistan and its continued threats to Iran perhaps
for getting monopoly over oil of mid-east, has
hardened the stance of many Muslims so that Muslims
are becoming more fundamentalist and radical now.  In
my opinion, West should abandon its imperialist
approach over getting hold of oil and quit Iraq and
Afghanistan and stop threatening Iran.  That would
enable moderate Muslims to modernize Islam. (This is
not a write up on Islam by a theologian but by a
layman and is based on his personal observations).