A good friend (A.S.) of mine brought this to my attention.
There is a community on Orkut.com called "International Relations" and there are having a debate about Quran and Hadith. A person named Fahd is actually defending Islam there.
The following is my input.
All of communities, societies, countries, and religions have a set of rule to govern themselves. These rules are generally based on what the majority agrees on, or what their religions says about it. If these rules are broken, a certain punishment is given to the transgresser. Some people like the punishment part and some don't. But again, the liking or disliking of these punsishments are dictated by the rules which were set in the beginning. The set of rules are designed in such a manner that no outsider can come and destroy that community or for the sake of self-protection and self-preservation.
Similarly, Islam has its own set of rules and laws. If a person is muslim and he/she drinks, he will be punished by the Islamic Law. Now, that person has the choice of either remaining a muslim or converting to someother religion. If you have to live in the Islamic society, you mush follow the rules. Otherwise, you will destroy the society and yourself. Islam has the quality of giving you the power of understanding yourself.
Islam was never meant to be preached like alot of Christian missionaries. You don't go to Non-muslims and tell them that their religion is flawed, and Prophet Jesus (PBUH) was a savior. Islam spreads through observation. If I am a good muslims, following all the tenets of Islam and try my best to be a good person, than others observing me will realize that I am doing something which is unique and perfect. And thats where you have the choice as an individual to be a muslim or not to be a muslim. You as a human being have the right to do something that you feel is right. Thats where free will comes into play.
Now, if marijuana is banned in the US but I caught using it, then I will be punished for commiting a crime. Whether I like it or not, I have commited a crime. I can argue thats its my personal life and I have the right to do anything to my body or my life. Why should be punished for that? I should be punished because it is not just harmful for me, but it is harmful for others, as I will be setting an example for others. And by punishing me, the self-enforcement authorities are setting an example out of me to deter others from doing something similar.So, I WIL BE DESTROYING THE COMMUNITY BY DOING MARIJUANA! Remember, laws of self-protection and self-preservation.
In a similar fashion, Quran and Hadith provide guidelines that tells us, what we should do and what we shouldn't do. And if I go against these Laws, then an example must be set out of me, to prevent others from doing something similar. Similar guidelines and rules can be found in the Old Testament (Torah) and the New Testament (Ingil). You must be aware of the lex talionis (the law of retribution, i.e. eye for an eye, hand for a hand, etc.) in the Bible :
1.) Exodus 21:23-24 - If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
2.) Leviticus 24:19-21 - When a man causes a disfigurement in his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured. He who kills a beast shall make it good; and he who kills a man shall be put to death.
3.) Deuteronomy 19:21 - Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
This is not to prove that Christianity or Judaism are wrong. It just shows that these laws were present in those times also and are still present today in *developed* countries like US, Denmark, etc.
Now the question of Jihad comes into play. When, why and whom are muslims suppose to fight? I will just qoute Karen Armstrong over here:
"In the Koran war is held to be abhorrent; the only just war is a war of self-defence. Sometimes it is necessary to fight in order to preserve the decent values, as Christians believed it necessary to fight against Hitler." [Karen Armstrong - A History of God - p. 156]
So when a muslim is at war, he is fighting for self-defence. But mind you, I am talking about a muslim and not someone who claims to be a muslim. I would give examples of muslims in Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, and Chechnya who are fighting for their survival.
(Sorry, the post is still incomplete. Something urgent just came up. InshaAllah, I will finish it soon!)