Muslims can achieve global recognition through honesty and integrity, says American scholar

In this highly materialistic world, spirituality could play an important role in steering the Muslim faithful through the right path following the teachings of God in all walks of their lives, says Dr. Eric Winkel, a senior American researcher at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “If we can keep our integrity and honesty, we can still achieve world recognition,” Winkel, who embraced Islam, told Muslims. Winkel emphasized the need to balance between spirituality and material life. “We have to achieve some kind of a balance between spirituality and material life. We have to restore this balance to be strong. We have to be always in the middle that is the beauty of Islam,” he told Arab News. He stressed the significance of spirituality. “Scholars of Islam had given great importance to spirituality. They tried to be closer to God by giving less importance to materialism. Through spirituality people try to improve their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Sufis will be very cautious while doing things. They think about every aspect of their lives whether it is correct or acceptable according to Islamic teachings and values,” he explained. Winkel called upon Muslims to uphold their great Islamic values. “These values are our gift to the world. We have to uphold those values and traditions, no matter how difficult it is. Many people were attracted to Islam as a result of the trustworthiness and good qualities of Muslim traders.” He called upon non- Muslims including Americans and Europeans to understand the divine teachings and cultural values of Islam, before taking a stand. He believes that Islamic economics can solve the present global economic crises through its interest-free finance system. The global economic system, based on interest has been found to be a disaster. It promotes a kind of consumerism that is harmful to not only humans but also environment. People everywhere have realized that there is a serious problem. We need a new system to address these problems. French Embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur came to our institute and said they want to learn more about the Islamic economic system. All Abrahamic religions including Judaism and Christianity are against riba or interest.” Winkel converted to Islam in 1986. He was in South Carolina at that time. He was impressed by the unity and brotherhood among Muslims as he saw them helping one another. He recalls that Ahmed Numeri, who was a Ph.D student in the North Carolina University was one of the persons who inspired him to embrace Islam. He has studied Arabic to learn the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and practice it in his life. The American scholar denounced the smear campaigns against Islam and Muslims, especially in the Western world. In the 1970s and 1980s Westerners were not talking about Islam but about Socialism and Communism. Somewhere in 1980s some people in the far right began thinking we need an enemy after the fall of Communism and chose Islam as their enemy No. 1. because they found Muslims could not be changed according to their whims and fancies. This is a very deliberate attempt and it began from 1980s onward.” Winkel however is very optimistic about the prospects of spreading the message of Islam in the West, especially in the United States but pointed out that it should be done in a proper way. “Many people had embraced Islam after 9/11 incidents in the US, which encouraged many Americans to read about Islam and its reality. They found Islam quite different from what the media projected. This is the beauty and specialty of Islam. Despite these massive smear campaigns across the world, people are coming forward to learn and embrace Islam. Americans are very open-minded. If we are able to propagate the message of Islam in a nice manner they will accept it.” Winkel joined IAIS as a principal research fellow in May 2010. After earning his Ph.D. in Government and International Studies from the University of South Carolina, he worked with IIIT in Herndon, Virginia and then at the International Islamic University Malaysia. His current projects focus on bridging this world of the new sciences to civilizational renewal-with projects on Islamic Affinities with New Science, and Finding Islam in Math. His publications include: Mysteries of Purity and Islam and the Living Law (Oxford University Press, 1997) and his novel Damascus Steel.

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Muslims can achieve global recognition through honesty and integrity, says American scholar

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