Discussions: High Thoughts on Religious Issues – Part I

This discussion was extracted from awate.com forum. I put it here as I found it interesting and many of my thoughts on religion issues are put there. It is good therefore to compile my thoughts and share it with people. Discussions was held between 08/03/2017 – 11/03/2017.

Comments were written under article titled by “The New Wave of Muslim Preachers”


Dear Saleh,

Thank you for this highly needed topic.

I would like to ask though three questions.

1. Is there a clear distiniction between a Moslem as a believer and Islam as a religion?

2. I understand that Islam, as a religion, is complete by itself in the guiding principle of life. This implies that it is also a guiding principle of a Moslem’s Politics. How can then a Moslem who is enshrined under the guidance of Islamic teachings be free from Islamic politics?

3. There is a strong connotation that links Islam and Peace. My question is:
3.1 Is Islam a religion of peace OR
3.2 Islam is Peace

All the great minds of Awate family are welcome to give me answers in my quest of identifying problems associated with Modern Islamic views of life.



Hello Tes,

1. Muslim is a person and Islam a religion = Christian, is a person and Christianity, a religion

2.For Q 2 my best answer is to make it simple and I am not preaching here. It is about interpretations. Interpretations happened to Christianity too, that is why we have Catholics, Orthodox,Protestant. And Tes I believe you are an Eritrean, I am assuming you are either Tesfay or Tesfalem, so in Eritrea we have a Mufti who blessed women to go to the notorious SAWA based on his interpretation to his knowledge of the religion.

3. Islam is an Arabic word meaning submission: submission to one creator. The word peace in Arabic is same as the Tigrinya one: Selam. Is Islam a religion of peace, as a religion I can say yes because the most significant relevance is that the Koran says there is no compulsion in religion. But if you take the historical and political approach you will find the religion has been abused by many persons who sought power.

I hope i gave you some answers.




Dear Brhan,

Thank you for the response. I do have some follow-up questions after giving my opinion.

Lets start with N°. 1

I think Christianity is not a religion but a faith. This implies Catholics is a religion that is established on Christian Beliefs. Hence there is a clear distinction beteween religion and faith.

From this perspective, which is based on my understanding, is there any difference between Islam as a faith and Islam as a religion?

Or can we say that the different sects of Islam are what we call religions, like Shia, Sunni, Wahabi, etc.

N°. 2)

First, I am Tesfabirhan, I am neither Tesfay nor Tesfalem. Just kidding.

Coming back to the point,

Is there any universal interpretation of Islam then?

N°. 3)

I think there is some a never ending discourse of Islamic teachings. I have met quite a dozen of Moslems(among the thousands throughout my everyday journey) who never hesitate to tell me that Islam is the only true religion and everyone in this world will be converted into Islam. How far does it affect Moslems this kind of belief?

Not ignoring that every religion preaches like that what makes Islam unique is that those who adherestick to this belief are always active warriors to take all possible actions to make it happen. I do not know if it is individuals’ interpretat


Saleh Johar

Hi Tes,

I think Brhan answered them, but I will give you mine:

1. Islam is a faith–not physical–, a Muslim is one who adheres to Islam and carries that identity.

2, All humans are a product of their culture (including religion and experience) and their worldview is shaped by that. I don’t know of specific “Islamic politics” but politics that is practiced by individuals, groups, parties, etc. For example, the Vatican is a Catholic state–would its statesmen be considered politicians or Catholic politicians. The same with Saudi Arabia, an Islamic State. Now compare them to Canada. Recently they appointed a Muslim minister–is he a Muslim politician or Canadian Politician. Their defense Minister is a Siekh, originally from India–is he a Siekh politician or Canadian politician. If you get involved full time in political, will you be free from “your fath’s politics”?

3. All religions are for peace but the confusion is that some people think peace means submission to aggression and oppression. Though Islam means Peace, and the central message is peace, it teaches its adherents to never oppress others or condone oppression.



Dear Saleh Johar,

Thank you for such insight responses.

I think some definitions might help us to go a little bit deeper.

On N°. 1

Belief – a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing

Faith – firm belief in something for which there is no proof

Religion – a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

Islam – the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet.

Can this gives us some clue to differentiate between religion and faith?

On N°. 2

If I am clear I think I am not saying Islamic Politics or Muslim Politician. My point is on the influence of Islamic teachings on a Muslem’s political views. I think there is a distinction between these two terms

Muslem Politician Vs. A Muslim’s Politics

A Muslim Politician can be any politician, for example a Marxist, Socialist, Maoist, etc. The case you brought about Canadian politician is therefore irrelevant to what I am talking about.

When I say a Muslim’s Politics, which can be equated as an Ideology drived or that makes a reference from islamic teachings, is a politics influenced or based on the teachings of Islam. For example, ISIS’s political ideology is extracted from Quranic teachings(as they claim so though manipulated for their own mission).

My question is therefore ditto again;

N°. 3

I do agree on your well stated responses. However I have this question.

Some people think that the cause of their unstability is because of other religious effects – for example, Trump has used an aggressive labeling on terrorism, “Radical Islamic Terrorism” as his strategy to counter act what he claimed to be the source of terrorism in the United States. And his policies to combat is based on this definition. And what he[Trump] refers for often is the Bible, hence Christianity.

Can we call his approach “Radical Christy Acts” – by not forgetting the terms Jihad and Crusade? If so, isn’t those who promote such acts are for creating peace by counter-acting the other? Just curious



Selam Emma,

As you have aptly put it, the issue at hand ultimately revolves around subjective medium where one can not put it in a petri-dish or under a microscope or examine it in a controlled environment either to nullify or accept it. That said, in my opinion the question ought to be if faith is essential in our quest to find a meaning in this otherwise seemingly zero-sum-game grand cosmic play. My interest in religious studies came about when I was exposed in my collage years to the works of Catholic-nun-turned-agnostic Karen Armstrong. I was fascinated by her sense of scholarship and sense of courage as well and I made an effort to read all her books including her most notable, “History of God.” As the years went by, what I collected and came to a conclusion was that, Karen and others of her ilks are confused to say the least where faith is ultimately something to be left to the person in his or her transient journey we call life.

I interjected



Selam Paulos,

You wrote, “…Karen and others of her ilks are confused to say the least where faith is ultimately something to be left to the person in his or her transient journey we call life.”

I think they were not confused. I would rather concurr with their views. Though I value religion, I consider faith is much greater to be referenced than religion is. During religious chaos, faith is the ultimate pillar that remains intact.




Selam Tes,

Great to “see” you back. You’ve been greatly missed. I think you’re losing me. When I say they seem to be confused is that, on the one hand, for whatever unpleasant experience they have had with any given religious establishment, they take it upon themselves and they attack the intellectual foundation of religion by invoking the downside of it. Moreover, they fall short in refuting the existence of God.



Selam Paulos,

Thank you for your warm welcome. I have been busy on facebook debates.

Coming to the point, I might be losing you, sorry if I do so. But the argument on the difference between faith and religion always fascinates me. In my understanding, once I developed a clear destiniction between these two I could confidently say I became peaceful within myself and started to honor and respect all other faiths and religions.

Therefore It is my curiousity that let me into the on-going discussion. And I believe if Eritreans develop some kind of consciousness on faith/religious topics we could easily avoid conflict of interest based on politics.

Forgive me therefore I lost the point. Yours is coming from much broader and concrete lines. My is a construied concept.




Selam Tes,

That is a great point. Religion is of course systematic where it can be structured into denominations with specific confessions and credos as well. But faith as you have put it, something where languages or words are off limits. Faith can not be described or explained. The closest we can come to it is when it is described as in seeing the thing that can not be seen or believing in something that is beyond human faculties.



Selam Paulos,

Very good angle.

This is my take then. So far, from my limited knowledge on this area, I can not differentiate the notion of faith and religion in Islam. I asked some questions based on this to Saleh and Burhan.

My deep contemplation on Islam is that it has embeded faith and religion as ONE. And in my naivity based projection I often see the logic of Radicalism in Islam born out of this embeded notion.

And I am trying to figure out that if politicization of Islam emerges from this mixture.

Could you help me to be enlightened please.




Selam Tes,

I wish I knew the answer. My knowledge is limited as well.




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