Question:  Salam.I have been interested in Islam as a whole and also in its main branches Sunni and Shiite, though I find some things that I cannot stop thinking about, and it prevents me from the true worship of God and following one branch of Islam.My questions make a long list.

I will try my best to break the list down, but, please, I am in dire need for sufficient answers.Questions:How do we make sure that the Qur'an is complete in all aspects? And if it's a guidance for all humankind, then why do we need Sunnah?1. Couldn't God just make it easier, instead of using words such as "beat, marry up to four wives, and slay the unbelievers wherever you see them, etc."? Aren't these words just arousing tension among Muslims and non-Muslims?2. If Sunni Islam considers the mut`ah marriage (temporary marriage) haram and not a part of Islam, then why do some Sunni countries practice misyar marriage?3. What do verses 149–154 in Surat As-Saffat mean? Does that mean if God ever (I seek forgiveness from God) had a son or a daughter, He would rather take the son? Or am I misinterpreting it because I don't know Arabic?4. If Muslims consider the Prophet to be the perfect example of everything he taught, then why do they say that it was him who frowned at the poor man in Surat `Abasa? How can that be possible if the Prophet was so merciful to the poor?5. Why does Islam have such cruel punishments, such as cutting off hands, flogging, and lashing? I mean, wouldn't these things just make the person hateful toward God and Islam?6. If the Prophet was a social reformer, then why didn't he change the ways that people married? (I know that Islam limited it to four wives, but why couldn't a man marry only one?) You may say for certain reasons such as peace treaties, but then why use women as peace treaties between tribes?7. There's a question that's been bothering me for a long time now: I want to see if we, Muslims, were all present on the Battle of Jamal (Camel), which side the Ummah will choose: the accused or the accuser?

consultant:  Jasser Auda

Thank you for your questions. They raise very important issues, especially in today's world.
However, I would like to state clearly that the core of Islam is not about any of the issues you raised in your questions. These are details that are not part of the Islamic faith, except for the questions about the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Otherwise, you could be a Muslim and have whatever views you wish to have on any of the above issues and questions.
What makes someone Muslim is to believe in One God, all Prophets (including Jesus and Muhammad), life after death, God's Angels, God's books (including the Qur'an, Torah, and Gospel), and the fact that God created everything that had existed and He will create everything that will exist. That is all it takes to be a believer (or a Muslim, if you wish).
Sunnis and Shiites: Nothing But Politics
Next, I will give you my opinion regarding the Sunni-Shiite issue, which seems to be a real concern for you. I know that this opinion is different from what some Muslims might be telling you. However, I can assure you that I personally know many Muslim scholars who hold the same opinion as mine.
You do not have to choose between becoming Sunni or becoming Shiite when you become Muslim. In fact, you do not have to be Sunni or Shiite or belong to any other Islamic school or group. To cut a long story short, I would say that the difference between Sunnis and Shiites is something that belongs to "politics" and not to "faith."
Historic differences started with politics, and today's differences are also differences between groups of Muslims over some political views from the past and the present.
Many politicians and media people, especially in powerful countries, prefer to perceive this current division between Muslims as a "sectarian division," for various motives and political agendas. Therefore, they like to call these categories "sects" rather than "schools of thought" or simply "political groups," as I prefer to call them.
Some Muslims, too, insist on seeing the minor differences between Sunnis and Shiites as "faith-related;" hence the unholy fights occur.
The whole story started with the difference of opinion among the Companions of the Prophet after his passing away as to who should follow the Prophet as the political leader of the Muslim nation.
All the events that followed and what we could call the civil war of the Battle of the Camel were related to that difference of opinion over that matter.
As I said, many Sunnis and Shiites insist on making the Battle of the Camel a pillar of faith. The fact is that it is not.
In any case, 14 centuries after these sad events, all Muslims should now refrain from making them a central issue or a reason behind division, don't you think so?
On the level of law and rulings, every Muslim knows that there could be more than one way of understanding and practicing Islam and that they could all be right. I am not trying to water down the differences. However, as you pointed out, for every opinion in the Shiite school that Sunnis do not accept (such as mut`ah), there are other equally wrong Sunni opinions (such as the Sunni "marriage with an intention of divorce").
So, I think that what matters is the group of basic moral principles of Islam. Follow those principles, regardless of the names and labels that people give to their immoral actions.
Now, I will try to address some of your specific questions.
Is the Qur'an Complete?
The Qur'an is "complete" in the sense of being a book of guidance that directs people to their Lord and Creator and acknowledges all prophets and moral deeds.
The problem is not with the Qur'an. It is with those who interpret, or rather misinterpret, the Qur'an to mean things that are against the Qur'an's own principles of morality, kindness, equality, mercy, forgiveness, and so on. Any interpretation that goes against these principles is a misinterpretation.
But we need the Sunnah (the tradition of the Prophet) to illustrate the Qur'an. This is the whole mission of the Prophet: to be the human illustration of what God has revealed to people. God says what means,
*{And We revealed the Scripture [Qur'an] unto you as an exposition of all things, and a guidance and a mercy and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to God).}* (An-Nahl 16:89)
For example, God in the Qur'an asks us to wash before we pray, pray regularly, and give charity. But the Prophet illustrated how we should wash before Prayers, the details and timings of Prayers, and who and when charity should reach, etc.
Interpretations or Divine Words?
As for your question about some commands in the Qur'an, one can say that the expressions "beat," "marry up to four," and "slay" are interpretations rather than divine orders.
First, "beat" is a translation that some people give of the Arabic word daraba, which could mean a number of things: turning your face away, saying harsh words of advice, "separating" a married couple, and a non-abusive, physical rebuke.
This is the nature of the Arabic language: It is a language of synonyms, and every Arabic word could mean a number of things. A native speaker of Arabic deals with synonyms by choosing the right meaning based on the context.
So, those who translate daraba to mean "beat" in English, only reflect their own views, and in fact they contradict the whole Islamic context or moral values of kindness.
They also go against the example of the Prophet who had never beaten a woman or a child in his life, as is well known and well documented about him.
Regarding "marry up to four," it is mentioned in the Qur'an in a certain context, but it is not something that Muslims have to do or apply in their personal life. What they need to do is to accept that this is an option open to Muslims, only when certain conditions are met. You mentioned some of these historical circumstances for polygamy that might have made sense at that time in history and might even make sense today to some people in some parts of this world.
However, this does not mean that every Muslim has to apply polygamy or is allowed to practice it unless certain conditions are met. There is no way I would personally accept a man to marry my daughter as a "cowife," and I know that the Prophet himself did not accept that Imam `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) marry another woman with Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter.
To give you another example, Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) is said in the Bible to have married 700 wives. But for some priest to come today and say that 700 is the limit for the number of wives a Jewish or a Christian man could have (some people say that, anyway) is a matter of misinterpretation, rather than a divine order.
Next, the statement "slay the unbelievers" is in the Qur'an, but, again, the context addresses a war that Muslims had with a number of nations at that time, all of which, by the way, had initiated those wars against Muslims.
There is nothing wrong in telling a soldier to slay the enemy, but what is wrong is to take this military order and make it a way of life for Muslims or make it the order that defines the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims at all times and in all places.
If someone today takes the verse "slay" and use it against a specific nation (Americans, Iraqis, Saudis, or whatever), then it is obvious that it is this person's specific twisted misinterpretation, not what God actually wants people to do in order to be good people.
Has God Chosen Daughters in Preference to Sons?
As for verses 149–154 of Surat As-Saffat, I see where the problem is. The Qur'anic Arabic does not have question marks like modern Arabic. When you read the Qur'an, you know that a sentence is a question from the way it is written. That is what you missed in verse 153 of Surat As-Saffat. The verse says in Arabic: Astafa albanati `ala albaneen.
There are no question marks, but the very first letter "a" in "astafa" means the question "are you saying?"
One translation goes:
 "He [God] has chosen daughters in preference to sons"?!
Notice the double quotes and the question and exclamation marks at the end. An even clearer translation would be:
Are you saying that "He [God] chose daughters in preference to sons"?!
This means that God is blaming them for accusing Him of differentiating between sons and daughters, not that He Himself makes this differentiation.
You ask, "if Muslims consider the Prophet to be the perfect example of everything he taught, then why do they say that it was him who frowned at the poor man in Surat `Abasa? How can that be possible if he was so merciful to the poor?"
It is possible because he is a human being not an angel; he frowned because he was having a long discussion with all the leaders of Makkah at that time and he was very hopeful that they accept Islam in that meeting.
When this poor, blind man came and insisted that the Prophet leave his meeting in order to answer some questions, the Prophet frowned because he was so keen to continue the discussion with the leaders of Makkah.
The moral of the story, then, is that God teaches the Prophet that a poor man who is keen to believe and learn is better than all those important politicians who are not keen to listen, to start with. It is a lesson to the Prophet and to us as well. The Prophet is the perfect example, but the verse teaches us that he is human, too.
May God bless you. I hope this answers your questions. Please keep in touch.


Source: — Ask about Islam — Jasser Auda.