Explaining Islam to Non-Muslims

How can we justify our belief system to them? Like the Hijab and the beard etcetera?

First of all, we don’t really have a good understanding of it ourselves. So we are dealing with it and what happens, any time you have a problem yourself, you are very defensive and self-conscious and defensive about it. For instance the beard. Do men in Islam grow beards? Are they suppose to? So I get a question, he comes to me and say, “sheik, do Muslims have to grow the beard?” I tell them, “No. Not the women,”. They don't have to grown the beard. Can a woman grow a beard? No. That's silly, isn't it? So we say, Okay; Do Muslim men have to grow the beard? No. As a matter of fact they can't. If a woman can’t grow her beard a man can't grow his either, can he? Can you? Go ahead, let's watch. Now you got the idea, didn't you? Allah is the one who grows your beard, yes or no? Yes. And it’s Allah who told you to follow Mohammad (Peace and blessings be upon him). And Mohammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) told you don't cut it off. Now there is the subject, isn’t it. It's not growing it, it's cutting it off. You don't grow it. He (Peace and blessings be upon him) said leave the beard. He didn't say grow it, he said leave it. Because if you leave it alone and it doesn’t grow, you’re not in trouble with Allah, are you? No. But if you cut it, then you disobey the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). These people who shave everything off and leave one little tiny street down the side, like the stripes on a racing car, that’s a racing beard, or a little hanging down at the bottom, like a billy goat. You've seen this? You think it’s cool? I don’t know. I hope Allah doesn’t throw us in the fire for stuff like this, but it is not right to disobey the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him).

Now that you understand that, if somebody asks you about the beard, we can simply say, “you don’t have to grow your beard in Islam. Why? Because Allah grows it. So it's not an issue. Why do some people cut it? Who knows. Maybe they have a skin condition.” Really, you can have serious acne, and this aggravates it, then he should shave it, makes sense, if you have something wrong with your body, then you are allowed to do things like this to take care of your body. If you need to, there's nothing wrong with it. One brother came to me and said, “sheik my wife, she doesn’t like me to have a beard, she likes it to be smooth.” I said “you got to really wonder about a woman who wants her husband look like another woman.” They never invited me back to that community, and I don’t know why.

What about Hijab? They could ask the same question. Do Muslims have to wear Hijab? Not the boys. See? Same answer. What about the women, do women have to wear Hijab? No they don’t. Nuns have to wear their Hijab called the "habit." They have to or else they are in big, serious trouble. They put it on in the morning and they keep it on until they go to bed at night or take a bath. Those are the only two times they can take it off and that's even in a convent. A convent is a place where women live all alone. Just with other women. They never go out. But they still wear their Hijab. Did you know that? Now, a Muslim sister: when your mom is at home working, doing house work, does she wear Hijab? No, of course not. When she is doing stuff in the house, taking care of the kids, sitting there - enjoying, maybe reading Quran, does she have to wear Hijab? No, of course not. The only thing is, if she goes outside where men can see her, then she wears the Hijab true or false?

So women don’t have to wear it, as long as they don’t expose themselves to some men. So, know what’s the limit before you open your mouth. Stop and think. We are the ones on the truth. They are the ones with the problem. If a Catholic is asking you and you say, “do you believe in a Catholic church?” “Oh yes.” “And they are right?” “Yes.” “Why do you accept that women can’t even get married and has to wear Hijab all the time. Why do you accept that? But you can’t accept Islam when she only has to wear the Hijab when they are out in public so men won’t stare at them or do something bad to them?”

There are many other things that Muslims are confused about and when these people come to you, they try to open that up as a subject just like the Hijab. They try to open this up as a subject and try to ask you: “well what do you say about suicide bombers?” That's easy.

Does Islam allow us to commit suicide? Yes or no? No. Anybody who commits suicide goes to hell forever, true or false? Absolutely true. Whether it’s from a bomb or a knife or whatever. The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever kills himself with a knife, he will be in the hell fire stabbing himself with a knife, over and over and over.” So anybody that’s a suicide person is going to go to hell. So get that in your mind. Then they say, “yes, what about in Palestine?” Ok, this means you have conditions in the question. Have you ever been to Palestine? And the person will say, “well no.” I haven’t either. So what do you want me to talk about? Something I don’t know about. I’m not a journalist, I’m not allowed to do that!

What we want to focus on is the real thing about Islam. You asked the question about how to give them Dawah or how to justify the belief system. Islam teaches us to use what’s called the rational argument. You cannot have a rational argument with an irrational person. If somebody is stupid, can you tell him anything? You can warn him, “be careful, you're going to get hurt,” and he'll say, “I don’t care.” You can’t really talk to this guy. Because he’s not going to listen. “Don’t walk in the rain, you're going to get wet.” “Why?”“ Because water is going to land on you.” “Why?” “Because gravity is going to pull it down.” “Why?!” Two more “whys” like this, and we’re done with you, right? This doesn’t make any sense. So you talk with a rational person. What's a rational person? Which way am I pointing? Up, and this way is down. Now in our argument, if I change my mind and say this is down, and this is up, that's irrational. It doesn't work. No matter how you try argue. Some people will say, “well yeah but if I was on the other side of the earth and that would be up, wouldn’t it?” OK, have a nice day.

One time I was talking with a Christian, just as I entered Islam, somebody I did business with. I was telling him about Islam and about the Quran. He wasn't even a religious person. The next time I came through that area I found that he was not in his business, his wife said he was out at his church. I said, “oh he went to church.” She said “no, he has his own church.” I said “how did get a church and he is not even religious and he doesn’t know anything.” He didn’t even know the Old from the New Testament. He didn’t even know one of the 10 commandments. She said “he found the Lord.” I didn't even know He was lost!

So next time I came through, here he is and he is wearing his suit. He was saying things like “praise Jesus.” I said, “well OK what happen to you?” He said, “I got the Lord.” I said, “OK. Tell me about this.”“ The Lord is telling me to do this and the Lord has moved me to do so and so. I have my own church now.” I said, “but the last time I talked to you, you didn't know anything about the Bible at all. In fact we talked about the Bible and I showed you some of the mistakes in the New Testament in the English,” etcetera. He said, “Oh, I don’t read the Bible.” I said “you don't?” He said “no, I got the holy ghost.”

OK, now how will I have a rational argument with this man? Because no matter what I say he will say, “no the spirit leads me and I follow the spirit.” What can I do with this guy? Nothing. So I’ll leave him in his spirit. What do they call it in Arabic? Jinn. It could be spelled either way, because it could be some other spirits. I don't know. So in this case, what can you say?

But the rational arguments; let's look at some of the rational arguments for the belief system in Islam that Allah presents to you in the Quran. Who created this? And the people will say “Allah.” And who created so and so? Allah. Who created that? Allah. So if you already know that, why don't you worship Him? Why don't you believe in Allah?

Let's take the example that we gave earlier about Ibrahim (Peace and blessings be upon him). Remember what happened when he had that incident with his people? He broke all the statues.

How about another incident which is mentioned in the Quran? When Ibrahim (Peace and blessings be upon him) went to the leader of those people and he said to them, that Allah is the one who gives life and death. This leader said, “oh watch me” and he brought some people and he ordered kill some and let some go free. He said, “see I give life and death.” So Ibrahim said to him, “my Lord is the one who makes the sun come up in east. Why don't you make it come in the west?”

So those are logical arguments and this is the way we present Islam. Allah said it in the Quran; how can there be more than one God? Wouldn't they be in competition with each other? It doesn't make any sense.

And people say that God has a son. I heard a real good one on that one. OK so if God has a son, does he also have a father? Because how could Jesus have a father, which is God, but God doesn’t have a father? Where did he come from? And would he had to have a wife and get married to her or whatever? And if they said they didn't get married, that's even worse. You are saying something really sick. Why don't you just say Jesus is a prophet. That's what we believe. A miracle birth, yes. “But if he has no father doesn't that make him God?” What? He had a mother, didn't he? I mean, she is really doing the bigger miracle than him. Why don't you worship Mary?

Then what about Eve? Wasn't Eve created out of a bone from Adam? You ever heard of anybody worshipping Eve? Then what about Adam? Adam didn't have a mother or a father, he didn't come out of anybody, he came out of dirt, yes or no? So why don't you worship Adam? And when you realize that, all of that is a mistake in thinking.

So these are rational arguments. That's what you do, and you stay away from a subject of what's going on in Kashmir, Palestine, or Iraq, because number one, you’re not going to change peoples mind about the stuff they see on the news everyday.

Don't come out here and start talking about the conspiracy theories of 9/11. You say, “I don't believe Muslims had anything to do with it. How did they find Mohammad and his passport at the bottom of those towers and it wasn’t even dirty. Yet those planes blew up everything and it was so hot that the building collapsed but it couldn't burn the passport?” Don't do that. Because that won’t help your case. You need to tell people about one thing: "La ilaha illal-Lah." When the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) sent Mu’adth Ibn Jabal down to Yemen he said, “I’m sending you to the land of Ahlul-Kitab. Teach them Tawhid.” I’m sending you to the people of the book (people of the Bible), Jews and Christians, and when you get there teach them about monotheism (One God). That's what we need to do.

Sheikh Yusuf Estes