IslamIdolatryProphet IbrahimProphet Muhammad
If Islam asks that we respect other religions then why did Prophet Ibrahim (as) and Prophet Muhammad (s) break idols?
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Mateen Charbonneau, Sheikh Mateen Joshua Charbonneau achieved a certificate from Harvard University in Islamic Studies. He undertook Howza classes under esteemed scholars since 2013 and has been teaching at Imam Mahdi Howza since 2017. He has compiled and published several books, has filmed several documentaries on Islamic subjects and has also promoted Islamic propagation in US jails. 39 Questions Answered & 26 Days Average Response Time.
Saleem Bhimji, Shaykh Saleem Bhimji was born and raised in Canada. After completing his post-secondary education at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), he moved to Medina, New York, to study at the Imam al-Asr Theological Seminary. He later continued his religious studies at the Hawza of Qum. To date he has translated over 40 full-length books into English that have been printed worldwide. 15 Questions Answered
Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour is lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies, London, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Oriental Studies. He was raised in Iran and holds a BA and an MA in Sociology from Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran. He has also studied at Queen Mary College London and the London School of Economics. 15 Questions Answered
Abbas Jaffer, Sheikh Abbas Jaffer is an optometrist by profession and has a Master’s degree in Islamic Sciences. He is a part time lecturer at the Islamic College in London and is currently writing his doctoral thesis on the challenges faced by educators of young Muslims in modern day Britain. He has also co-authored a book on Qur’anic sciences for the Islamic College as well as translating several works from Persian into English. 14 Questions Answered
Vinay Khetia, Shaikh Vinay Khetia has studied at various traditional Islamic seminaries in London, Iraq and Syria. He has an undergraduate degree in Religious and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Religion from Concordia University. He is a PhD Candidate in the department of Religious Studies at McMaster University with a focus on the intellectual history of Islam and specifically Shi'ism. 14 Questions Answered
Seyed Ali Musawi, Seyed Ali Musawi studied religion and history at the University of California, San Diego and subsequently he studied for more than 8 years at the Islamic Seminary in Qum, Iran, focusing on Islamic history and jurisprudence. 11 Questions Answered
Masuma Jaffer, Dr Masuma Jaffer is a qualified dentist, with a Masters in Islamic Studies and has also attended Hawza in Qum. She obtained a PGCE - teaching qualification – and has taught Hawza studies at the Islamic College in London. She also has a Diploma in Counselling and is a Qualified Chaplain and worked with women prisoners at Holloway and with Hertfordshire Police advising them on Muslim matters. 10 Questions Answered
Seyed Saied Alavi, Seyed Saied Alavi is a researcher based in Qom who has studied from the Howzah of Qom and also completed a Pastoral studies program. He is currently a university lecturer in the fields of Shia Theology and the History of Religions as well as other subjects. 9 Questions Answered
Mohammed Al-Hilli, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli, originally from Iraq, has a Masters in Pharmacy from the University of London. He completed his Hawza degree from the ICAS in London under the supervision of Ayatollah Fadhil Milani, and also has an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University via the Islamic College. He is a teacher at the Hawza Programme at Islamic College in London. 8 Questions Answered
Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla, Zakira Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla is a graduate of York University in Canada from where she obtained a BA in Psychology and Sociology and a Masters in the field of Education. She lectures on Islam at mosques, universities, churches and interfaith gatherings and also recites majalises in Urdu, English and Gujarati. A published freelance writer, playwright, motivational speaker and Anti-Racist Educational Counsellor by profession, she conducts workshops on Race and Cultural sensitivity and often appears on TV program panels and radio talk shows to speak on Race Relations. 4 Questions Answered
Syed Nabi Raza Abidi, Syed Nabi Raza Abidi is based in the US and has a PhD in Theology and Philosophy having attended Howzah in Iran for several years. His research was conducted under the guidance of Ayatollah Ja'far Subhani. He has also taught various subjects such as Usul, Fiqh, Philosophy, and Tafseer in different Islamic schools. 3 Questions Answered
Sayed Mohammad Saleh Qazwini, Sayed Mohammad Saleh Qazwini has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MA from Wayne State University. He is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran. 3 Questions Answered
Jerrmein Abu Shahba, Jerrmein Abu Shahba is originally from Egypt and has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a masters in Chemistry from Rutgers State University in the US. She is actively involved in many Islamic projects that include organizing annual youth camps, teaching Islamic subjects, writing articles and translating texts from Arabic. 2 Questions Answered
Hamid Waqar, Shaykh Hamid Waqar was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and converted to Islam at the age of sixteen. He started his Islamic studies in the year 2001 in Beirut and, a year later, moved to Qum where he has been studying since. He currently studies at the highest levels of Islamic jurisprudence, translates many books and runs the Muntazar website. 2 Questions Answered
Shahid Pradhan, Shahid Pradhan is a graduate of Al-Mustafa International University, Qum. He is an activist and interested in Indian and international political and social issues. 1 Question Answered
Sayed Mohammedhassan Alsheraa, Sayed MohammedHassan Alsheraa attended the Hawzah in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. Thereafter he continued his Islamic studies in the Hawza of Karbala, Iraq. Alongside his Hawza studies, he is also a student of political science at the University of Michigan, USA. 1 Question Answered
Mohammad Zakaria, Mohammad Zakaria is a senior lecturer at the Islamic College where he specialises in Research methodology and Islam's Education Philosophy and Teacher Training. His doctoral work focused on the intersection between Race, Human Rights and Education. 1 Question Answered
Berak Hussain, Berak Hussain is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP) in Canada. She has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Educational Counseling from the University of Ottawa. She speaks on a variety of Islamic and psychological issues bridging the connection and misconceptions around Islam and mental health and Islam and women. She has worked locally and internationally on a variety of mental health initiatives working tirelessly to break the stigma around the topic within the community. 1 Question Answered
Faiyaz Jaffer, Shaykh Faiyaz Jaffer is the Associate Chaplain and Research Scholar at the Islamic Center at New York University. He attained an MA degree in Islamic Studies (UK), with a concentration on early Islamic history, after his undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook University in Political Science and Religious Studies. In pursuing the classical course of Islamic education, Faiyaz has studied in the Seminary of Karbala, Iraq. 1 Question Answered
Hassanain Govani, Hassanain Govani is based in Sweden and has an MA in History of Religion from Uppsala University and an MA in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College of London, and has also studied Arabic in Damascus. He has a position as project secretary at SST, the committee for state support for religious communities. 1 Question Answered
Nasim Walji Pirmohamed, Nasim Walji Pirmohamed is a religious lecturer and a teacher in Islamic Religious Education, Holy Qur'an and Arabic language. She has translated works from Persian to English, and has been very active in working for the improvement of women’s condition and their mental health across many countries. 1 Question Answered
Ayub Rashid, Shaykh Ayub Rashid is a graduate of the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran. He has a BA in Islamic law and MA in Islam and Community Studies from the UK and is also a qualified Muslim Chaplain from the Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Leicester.No Questions Answered
Anwar Jaffer, Born and raised in London, Sheikh Anwar Jaffer has a Bsc in Economics and Finance from Queen Mary University of London. In 2010 he began his religious studies in Najaf and transferred to Qom in 2015 where he currently resides with his family. No Questions Answered
Greg Sowden, Ali Mahdi Greg Sowden studied world history at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Since then he has been a student at Al-Mustafa International University in Qom, in the Islamic Republic of Iran.No Questions Answered
Amir De Martino, Amir De Martino is of Italian origin and has an MA in Islamic Studies from the Islamic College and a combined BA degree in Persian Language and Studies of Religion from SOAS in London. He has also obtained a PGCE in Social Research Methods from the Department of Education at Roehampton University as part of his preparation for doctoral studies, and is a member of Westminster’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.No Questions Answered
Jaffer Ali Ladak, Shaykh Jaffer Ali Ladak is from Milton Keynes in the UK and has studied at Jami'a Imam as-Sadiq (a) Hawza Imam al-Jawad (a) in Karbala and at Al Mahdi Institute in Birmingham. He is currently completing his Masters Degree in Islamic Law at the Islamic College in London. He has also authored a book on Lady Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Imam Ali (a).No Questions Answered
Amina Inloes,

Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the Islamic College in London and also the Managing Editor of the Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies.

344 Answers
Mahmood Abu Maryam,

Trying to make sense of it all...

46 Answers
Zeinab Donati,

Zeinab Donati has been studying books about various Islamic subjects for more than 19 years. She is deeply interested in history and politics as well as social issues in particular those pertaining to women.

25 Answers
Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi,

Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to religious questions. In the past, he has also spent significant time in India guiding the community.

1537 Answers
Rebecca Masterton,

Dr Rebecca Masterton graduated with a BA in Japanese Language and Literature; an MA in Comparative East Asian and African Literature and a PhD in Islamic literature of West Africa. She has been teaching for seventeen years through different media, and has also worked in media for ten years, producing and presenting programs for several TV channels.

78 Answers
Zoheir Ali Esmail,

Shaykh Zoheir Ali Esmail has a Bsc in Accounting and Finance from the LSE in London, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University. He studied Arabic at Damascus University and holds a PhD from the University of Exeter in the philosophical and mystical readings of Mulla Sadra in the context of the schools of Tehran and Qum.

279 Answers
Nour Tessie Jørgensen,

Nour Tessie Jørgensen has an MA in Islamic studies from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and a degree in Philosophy of Ethics at Al Mustafa International University in Qum, Iran. She works as an Islamic Studies teacher and a counselor in spiritual and female-related issues.

18 Answers
Abbas Di Palma,

Shaykh Abbas Di Palma holds a BA and an MA degree in Islamic Studies, and certifications from the Language Institute of Damascus University. He has also studied traditional Islamic sciences in London, Damascus and Qom and taught for different institutions in Italy and UK.

206 Answers
Abolfazl Sabouri,

Abolfazl Sabouri is based in New Zealand and has an MA in Jurisprudence and Islamic Studies. He is a graduate of Elmiyeh seminary in Qom with more than 15 years of study and research where he has also taught Tafsir, Theology and Jurisprudence.

39 Answers
Sayyed Muhammad Husaini Ragheb,

Sayyed Muhammad Husaini Ragheb has a BA in Law from Guilan University, Iran and has also undertaken Hawzah studies in Qom. He is a Cultural Affairs director of Ethics Group of Al-Mustafa Open University and has also taught Arabic conversation at Masoomieh school.

55 Answers
Zaid Alsalami,

Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from ANU, Canberra. He has written and translated several Islamic texts and also prepared educational videos on Islamic rulings and practices.

244 Answers
Seyed Ali Shobayri,

Seyed Ali Shobayri is of mixed Iranian and Scottish descent who found the path of the Ahlul Bayt (a) by his own research. He holds a BA in Islamic Studies from Middlesex University through the Islamic College of London. He also studied at the Hawza Ilmiyya of England and continues Hawza and Islamic studies with private teachers.

97 Answers
Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 2 months ago

Short answer: The Qur'an and hadith teach us to respect other people, regardless of what they believe. However, they do not give an equal place to all beliefs or practices.

Long answer: While the Qur'an and hadith recognize several different religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism, they do not recognize the custom of worshipping idols in Mecca or Medina as a distinct religion.

As for whether the Arabs who worshipped idols in Mecca and Medina saw their customs as a distinct religion, it is difficult to say for sure, but there is no indication in the texts that they saw themselves as united as a single faith community or a single religion; appealing to idols was simply customary practice. They focused on tribal and ancestral identity, not religious identity. I am fairly sure that the term "wathaniyyah" was adopted after their time. In contrast, the Qur'an encourages replacing ancestral/tribal identity with a faith-based identity.

The concept of "religion" as we have it today (and as it is used in the English language) is rather modern. In fact, it is heavily rooted ins secularism. Everyone is expected to follow the same way of life (national culture, national laws), and religion is seen as a private matter. Therefore, we should respect everyone's personal decision about their religion (that is, private beliefs); however, everyone must follow the same way of life (national culture and law). So, in essence, national culture and law has taken the place of religion in modernity in most nation-states. 

In fact, many languages historically have not even had an equivalent word for "religion" as it is used in English today. 

So, talking about religions during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S) or the Prophet Ibrahim (A) should be done with the understanding that we may be accidentally projecting modern ideas onto the past, or onto other cultures, and then trying to avoid that.

The Qur'an, hadith, and classical Islamic literature tend to use words such as din, millah, and shari'ah to mean "religion". These could be translated as "way of life", "community", and "religious law". From this angle, the communities that were identified as having a specific way of life, scripture, communal identity, and law were Jews, Christians, Sabaians, or other established communities. 

For instance, in the classical model of the Islamic state, certain religious communities (in particular, the Ahl al-Kitab, including Jews, Christians, and some others) are allowed to follow their own religious law, abstain from military service in exchange for paying the jizyah, and enjoy protection of their houses of worship. [Of course this model is somewhat theoretical as what happens in practice tends to be more complicated, but this is how things were seen theoretically]

However, neither the polytheists of Arabia nor the polytheists of the time of Ibrahim are seen as having their own communal identity based on religion or what we would call a "religion"; they are simply seen as (a) deviating from the truth, and (b) following common custom. 

Conversely, neither the Prophet Muhammad (S) nor the Prophet Ibrahim (A) is presented as a prophet bringing a new or alternative religion to his people (in the same way that, for example, Christianity was seen as a distinct faith community coming from outside the Arabian Peninsula). Both prophets are seen as supporting the ancient message, not bringing a new idea.

This is why the bulk of the arguments in the Quran are not about accepting Islam as a specific religion. Rather, it focuses on why the idol-worshippers (who believed in God as well as demigods) should stop appealing to their demigods and worship only God instead. That is, the idol-worshippers tended to worship their demigods to placate them, with the belief that if they did not, a disaster might strike them. Or they would worship their demigods to appeal to them for wealth or sustenance. Or, they would worship their demigods with the belief that their demigods would appeal to God on their behalf. The Qur'an, basically, says that all of this is unnecessary and/or false since all power belongs to God and their demigods do not control matters of good and evil or sustenance, and that their demigods are not really intermediaries. 

They should also give up backwards customs and taboos which are socially harmful and which were passed on along with their customs regarding idols.

For instance, Ibrahim (A) is not telling his people to follow a new religion; rather, he is telling his people to stop supporting falsehood. 

Basically, there is a sense that these people should have known better than to be building and appealing to idols and had simply deviated from the truth. One way this is apparent is that the Qur'an does not explain everything anew; rather, there is an assumption in the text that the people hearing about the stories of the prophets are famliar with them and it is all part of a common cultural and religious context, even if some people were appealing to idols.

The Ka'bah, in particular, is seen as originally being a site of worshipping God, built (or re-built) by Ibrahim (A), but the practice in it became corrupted (for instance, through people performing the hajj in the nude, or placing false idols in it). So the job of these prophets is to remind the people of how they have gone wrong, and then to provide some new religious legislation and teachings (such as the shari'ah and Qur'an) to steer the boat in the correct direction in the future. 

This is rather different from, say, someone who grows up as a secular agnostic, has no real contact with organized religion, and then converts to Islam as a new faith.

So this is how the matter is understood in Islamic sources. 

In any case, that was then and these were prophets; today, there is no need to go around breaking people's idols. Also, most modern idols are invisible things, such as money, celebrity status, number of likes on Facebook, and so forth which cannot be broken even if one tried. 

In any case, it is a good question and good to think about.