A New Perspective on Islam

I’ve been ruminating on my waning connection with mainstream Islam. Ever since we came to the United States, I’ve been slipping away from ritual practice. The events of 9/11 pushed me to the brink of apostasy. I’ve been sitting on that prickly fence ever since.

Islam keeps pulling me back, in unexpected ways. Last week, as I put my grandson bed, his mom said, “Read Qur’an on him. He likes it,” so I read a few suras, surprising myself that I remembered how to do so with tajweed.

The child lay quietly, and a little smile settled over his face as he gazed into my eyes. I kissed him, said I love you, and good-night. He was asleep almost before I closed the door to his bedroom.

I do not call myself a moderate Muslim. I dislike the word “moderate” because it calls up the notion of immoderate Islam, or extreme, thus giving legitimacy to what is often called extremism, or fundamentalism.

I also dislike the word “fundamentalism” because it implies that its followers observe the fundamentals of their religious beliefs, and that’s far from the truth.

I’m not a “progressive” Muslim, either. That word implies that those who came before were not civilized enough to develop the religion to meet the needs of modern life, as if Islam needs to grow  from a state of immaturity.

So what kind of Muslim am I? I don’t know anymore.

Am I a “reformist” Muslim? What’s that? Did you know that there is now a Reformist Qur’an available?


Did you know that the number 19 has been analyzed and found to reveal a code of some sort that lends credence to Islam’s claim of authenticity of the Qur’an?


I keep these ideas at arm’s length for now, but they are interesting. What do you think? I’ll study them; perhaps they will resonate with me, and I’ll feel secured in faith once again.



About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
This entry was posted in "Muslim reform", Islam, Progressive Islam, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to A New Perspective on Islam

  1. susanne430 says:

    I hear people talk about numbers referring to stuff in the Bible as well and it makes me always wonder “how do they know these things?” Apparently some people love numbers and codes and how numbers prove things to us. I wonder if I can fall in love with the significance of numbers one day. I tend to prefer words, but maybe that’s because I’m not as good with numbers.

    I enjoyed reading what kind of Muslim you are … 🙂

  2. Salam Marahm,

    I’m glad Allah keeps showing you the light so you don’t slip into confusion and darkness.
    You’ve always been one of my fav bloggers though i dont get over here often.

    This Christian preacher came into my work one day and we had a 3 yes THREE hour conversation on this whole 19, theory.
    Basically they are playing around with numerology and adding it to segments of christianity.

    BUT it is said in the Qur’an (I’ll have to look up the surah again), that they’ve been given this number (19) to test them and to guide them.

    Basically Allah set up 19 angels to guard hell fire and 19 for Jannah (I believe, if it’s not 19 for both), In Maryam 19 it discusses this, and in other parts of Qur’an. and those parts corrispond with the Torah’s parts of 19 and the Bible’s parts of 19. SOoooo you’d think it would lead them to Islam right? Nope, leading them to Numerology….. May Allah guide them.
    Also in our conversations with this man he was going on about how Allah is really 4 parts in one, Father, Mother, Son, and Daughter, and 19 proves that and such, which authubillah I would not agree with him there, no matter how nice i had to be to him as a customer.
    Also while thinking about all this Numerology stuff I asked what is Allah’s 19th name? It is “THE LAST” which is the ultimate of their theory.
    But in the end does it bring one closer to Allah? If so good, if not what is the point? They are just finite numbers.
    It’s your deeds and beleif that gets you into Jannah.

    Marahm do you get to meet with GOOD sisters? The ones that just make your heart melt with goodness when you’re with them, and they encourage you gently to keep strong.
    That really helps you faith stay strong, while if you keep friends with hypocrite sisters or sisters who are mean it has negitave effect.

    Also there ARE so many labels, I just stick to Muslim, ….Slave of Allah if they ask for further clarification.
    It’s said in Hadiths if the time comes when you cannot find reliable scholors or Ummah to keep with, then keep to yourself, following Islam and keeping yourself from Fitna.
    INsha’Allah we will be strong in these trying times

  3. Marahm says:

    Thank you, Brandy, for this inspiring comment.

    “BUT it is said in the Qur’an (I’ll have to look up the surah again), that they’ve been given this number (19) to test them and to guide them.”

    These words, “to test them and to guide them” suggest that the nineteen theory can be regarded in both ways. The truth of it, with respect to numbers theories, can be acknowledged as a sort of authenticity, but the warning in it is implicit— that we are not to stretch such a thing. How elegant!

    No, I do not associate with sisters of the same caliber as my friends in Riyadh. In fact, I do not have friends here at all. I work, spend time with my mom, kids and grandkids, and I read and write. My most satisfying relationships with respect to personal enrichment and spiritual support are located right here– on-line. Thanks for being one of them.

  4. Marahm says:

    Susanne, Yes, I’ve heard about numbers theories applied to the Bible. Numbers do prove things to us; this I know for a certainty due to my scientific training. Numbers can teach us things we could not learn any other way.

    You don’t have to be “good with numbers” to appreciate their ability to teach us about our world, but I, too, prefer words. I guess that’s why I write, rather than work overtime.

  5. WM says:

    I doubt I can improve on the above (advice). As for the number 19, as far as I’m aware that thesis led its proponents to reject two ayahs of the Qur’an as not conforming to their code.

    I will add, though, that there really is nothing quite like the ‘real world’ and its friendships. It’s never a good thing for a Muslim to be alone.

  6. Marahm says:

    WM, do you know which two ayahs are rejected because they do not conform to the code?

    Yes, it’s not good to be alone too much. Islam is best practiced in community. I admit I was happier when I lived in Riyadh, and my daily activities were structured around prayer time, which was supported by the community at large.

  7. WM says:

    I never found which two ayahs they were. But they weren’t rejected on the basis of content: they just didn’t fit the pattern, so to speak. That’s as much as I remember.

    Maybe you should make some friends in your community…? My tentative suggestion.

  8. Marahm says:

    When one works and takes care of family, friendships get pushed to the side. It’s a matter of priorities. It’s also a matter of age. As one gets older, one becomes more secure in self, more of a companion to self.

    My foray into the inquiry of religious current affairs is an inner, personal activity, having no impact upon my daily life, nor causing me the distress I might feel if I were young.

    Oh, I’d prefer to quit my job, devote myself one hundred percent to my family, my writing, and spiritual development, but as I said, it’s a matter of priorities. One can’t do a thing without money, and money comes from work, at least in my life.

  9. WM says:

    lol, I had a feeling you might take that badly. It wasn’t meant as a criticism or anything, and now you explain things, it all makes sense. Come to think of it, I’m not really in a position to tell anyone to go out and socialise…

    Hope everything goes well insha Allah.

  10. djd says:

    I have been enjoying reading your blog.

    Fortunately God tires not of speaking to us; unfortunately we do not go far enough in listening so as to accomplish His Word. Can you feel a sort of undercurrent that I think must be His Breath when you read the Qur’an?

    I started reading it after I discovered The Revelation of Arès where God refers to Muhammad as His messenger. Islam is like a missing chapter for me and so I am interested in learning about it, although I know religion is not the answer, only personal change, changing to be and do good.

  11. Marahm says:

    Welcome, djd, and thank you for this nice comment.

    Yes, I do feel a “sort of undercurrent” when I read the Qur’an. I’m not so concerned with it’s technical authenticity, actually, because there is much truth in it, truth and beauty.

    Please continue to explore Islam with the sincere and open heart I sense inhabits your mind and body– “… a missing chapter…” is a lovely expression. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we discovered that every religion offered “a missing chapter”?

  12. Marahm says:

    WM, I know you do not set the example for anyone to go out and socialize! Sometimes, however, a person need not live up to his own good advice. I look forward to your comments.

  13. Issam says:

    God bless you and be with you.

  14. Issam says:

    Regarding Code 19, I believe there are 2 kinds of Code 19 in the Quran.

    The first Code I think is actually an arbitrary Code. It is based on some mathematical patterns in the Holy Quran. This is the Code that they had to remove the last two verses of Sura 9 in order to make the Holy Quran conform to it.

    The Second Code is actually, I believe, a stronger and legitimate Code. It concerns the Basmallah, the first statement that begins every Sura, with the exception of Sura 9, in the Holy Quran.Here it is http://www.submission.org/beyond.html

    I believe it is a genuine and credible Code.

  15. Marahm says:

    God bless you, too, Issam. Thank you for reading and commenting sincerely.

    This business of numeric codes is interesting. The link you shared is quite detailed; it will need some time to read and contemplate.

    Regarding the last two verses of Sura 9, which I do not know offhand, I wonder whether its inability to conform to the arbitrary code is related to its lack of bismillah at the beginning?

  16. Issam says:

    You are welcome sister Marahm. Take your time in reading and fully grasping that link.

    As for the last two verses of Sura 9, their removal have nothing to do with its lack of the Basmalla at the beginning. Rather it has to do with the number the attributes of God have been mentioned in the Quran. The last 2 verses of Sura 9 say that Prophet Muhammad was a Compassionate and Merciful Prophet. The proponents of the first version of Code 19 say that this cannot be true because such attributes can only be attributed to God alone. But this is not true. Describing others, especially Prophets, as Merciful and Compassionate is very normal and is not polytheism of any kind.

    As I said, this version of the Code is arbitrary, but the Code about the Basmalla is indeed genuine and really challenging.


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