An Interesting Read...
Disclaimer: This article is intended for individuals who have watched the StarWars movies. If you haven't, you might not get everything, but you will still benefit, so read on!
I grew up watching StarWars. My dad had bought the first trilogy boxset and I would often pop it in the VCR on rainy days and get blown away by all the special effects and the intense plot and the funny character chemistry between Han Solo and well, everyone else. At first, my relationship with StarWars was pretty shallow. I thought the Jedi were pretty cool with their deadly glow sticks and their mind powers, but I never really gave it much thought.
Of course, I always had a love affair with heroism and the epic, but I never delved deep into the story line or the character development of the movies at that age.
It wasn't until I was about 12-13 years old that I began to read StarWars books. Many good writers had inspired themselves from the StarWars universe and wrote pretty good novels which revolved more around the life and adventures of my favourite characters. Personally, my all-time favourite character in all of the StarWars universe was Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Yes, OK, I did have a total crush on Ewan McGregor who played him in "Phantom Menace" *tehee* but, as I read the books and got sucked into the thrilling adventures of Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, I really got to appreciate Obi-Wan's character better and started to understand what him and the Jedi Order stood for.
I grew up in a Muslim household and I like to think I acquired a pretty good basic education and understanding of my religion while I grew up. I went to a private Islamic school where I was daily reminded of the values and moral codes that Muslims stand for. The more I read about Obi- Wan Kenobi's adventures, the more I noticed parallels between the moral codes of the Jedi and the one of the Muslims.
I noticed that we had many things in common...
#1 : Peace be with you
When Muslims meet each other and part from each other, it is highly recommended for them to great each other with, 'As Salaamu Aleikum' which means 'Peace be with you'. Many people have claimed that George Lucas inspired himself from the Islamic greeting to create the famous 'May the Force be with you'.
Modesty is a very important virtue in Islam and covers more than one aspect of a Muslim's life. Young Muslims are taught to be modest as it is conducive to good character and discourages boastfulness. Boastfulness is highly discouraged in Islam because it brings down others and breeds arrogance. Modesty also creates an atmosphere of humbleness and respect towards others and towards a Higher Power.
Muslims are also modest in the way they dress. Both Muslim men and women are obligated to wear loose fitting and humble clothes.
Likewise, humbleness and modesty is very important to the Jedi Order. Arrogance is a severely disliked and discouraged character trait amongst the Jedi and Muslims alike. In many instances, you will find that Jedi Masters often chastise their Padawans for being boastful or arrogant about their skills. .
You will also notice that most Jedis wear similar types of loose fitting yet functional clothes that allow them to be dexterous while effectively hiding their bodies. Although Jedis are undoubtedly fit, they rarely wear tight muscle shirts that show off their abs! They do this out of humbleness and humility. You will rarely see a scantily clad Jedi Knight in the StarWars movies.
Islam is based on five pillars of worship. The second most important pillar of Islam is the five daily prayers. Muslims are obligated to pray at least five times a day - in the early morning, at noon, late afternoon, sunset and at night. The main purpose for prayer is for the Muslims to strengthen their bond and connection with The Higher Being (God). Prayer is beneficial in other ways as it relaxes the body and frees the mind of any material troubles.
Being successfully concentrated and focused in prayer takes much practice and power of the mind and is very similar to mediation.
Likewise, meditation is a very important part of a Jedi's daily ritual. Jedis meditate several times a day in order to strengthen their bond with their Higher Power (The Force). Like the Muslim prayer, Jedi meditation requires a lot of concentration, focus and determination in order to be successful and beneficial. Like the Muslims prayer, Jedi mediation is also aimed at detaching oneself from the material World.
In Islam, it is forbidden to have relations outside of marriage. Muslims can not have girlfriends or boyfriends and fornication is a great sin for Muslims.
Ideally, a Muslim marries once in their life and their spouse is their lifetime partner and companion.
Muslims must also be chaste, modest and respectful when interacting with members of the opposite sex.
Likewise, the Jedi Order is very strict regarding relationships and goes even as far as to forbid any kind of attraction or relation as it distracts a Jedi Knight from his or her obligations as defender of the Galaxy.
If you remember, the marriage between Anakin Skywalker and Padme had to be kept secret from the Jedi Order!
#5: Chivalry and the Internal Struggle
Muslims believe in the betterment of themselves for the betterment of mankind because they believed they were told to do so by God. Every Muslim constantly struggles with his or her inner desires and weaknesses, not only to help themselves but also help others around them. Muslims are supposed to defend the weak and the poor and are to strive for justice and peace around the World in anyway they can.
Islam also has strict rules when it comes to the battlefield.
"We should never raise our hands to anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, unless in self-defense or a legitimate struggle for the defense of a country; if living in a Muslim country, one may fight only when a (war) is declared by legitimate state authority and does not involve any vigilantism, which is prohibited by consensus. Even in war, Muslims are prohibited from assaulting or killing women, children, old people, and noncombatants. Furthermore, we should certainly not use our hands to sow any corruption in the earth."
- Taken from "Agenda to Change our Condition" by Sheikhs Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir
Likewise, the Jedi Knights' purpose is to defend and maintain peace and justice throughout the Galaxy. The first step in doing so is the purification of the inner self and the control of personal desires and emotions.
The Jedi Knight first uses negotiation to solve an issue, but is allowed to resort to violence (hence the lightsabers) in situations of self defense. Vigilantism is also forbidden by the Jedi Order which also follows strict rules regarding battle. No Jedi is allowed to take on a mission without it being approved by the Jedi Council first.
#6 Respecting Diversity
Muslims believe that all of God's creation deserves respect, even plants and animals.True Muslims believe in the freedom of choice and the freedom of religion and belief.
The Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "There is no compulsion in religion."
Muslims are not supposed to force or coerce others into Islam and are obliged to respect all other religions and traditions.
Likewise, young Jedi are taught to respect all other traditions around the Galaxy. Jedis are often sent to other planets and galactic systems to help resolve issues and they are taught to respect all cultures and religions they encounter during their missions.
Like Muslims, Jedis are not to impose the Jedi Order and its rules on non-Jedis.
#7 The Higher Power
The first and most important pillar of Islam is the belief in One and Only God. In order to be a Muslim, one must believe in a unique Higher Power who has no limits. According to Islamic belief, God is not limited by time or space. No one knows what He looks like, what he sounds like and no gender is associated to Him. God is a being all powerful, capable of doing anything and everything.
"He begets not, nor is he begotten." (Qur'an, 112:3)
In the Qur'an (holy book of Islam), God says that He was not born and He does not give birth, yet he is the Originator of everything that exists.
Likewise, the Jedi believe in a supreme creative power which binds all living things called , "The Force". Like the Islamic interpretation of God, the Force can not be seen, smelt or physically touched but the Jedi draw their spiritual and physical power from it through meditation. Like a Muslim's entire life revolves around his or her relationship with God, a Jedi's life revolves entirely around their relationship with the Force aswell.
Islam is not only a religion but a way of life, a moral code and a complete set of values which revolves around the concept of peace through submission to God. Unfortunately, some misguided Muslims mis-understand the true message of Islam and use verses and scriptures out of context to justify their wrong doings, evil intentions and desires.
These individual's hearts are diseased with many negative emotions and traits such as anger, hate, arrogance and fear. If left unchecked, these diseases can grown like a tumor and engulf the heart in darkness. Thus, these persons ,often blinded by their emotions, result to violence and injustice to fulfill their goals, whatever these may be. More often than not, these goals prove to be materialistic or political in nature and do not benefit anyone except maybe the perpetrators themselves. Sometimes, these misguided people will hide their true intentions with illusions of righteousness and 'greater good'.
These sorts of people are often referred to as 'extremists' or 'terrorists'.
Likewise, Jedis who have been corrupted by anger, hate, arrogance and fear use their knowledge of the Force for evil and are referred to as having 'turned to the Dark Side'. These are called the Sith.
Like modern day extremists, the Sith believe that their interpretation of the Force is the right one and they believe that the Jedi are misguided and weak.
The Sith spread hate and fear through the universe, and since they are from the same religion as the Jedi and since they also look like the Jedi, many inhabitants of the galaxy put Sith and Jedi in the same basket.
"Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." - Yoda
In conclusion, I personally find that there are many parallels between the world of an observant Muslim and the one of a dedicated Jedi Knight. Both individuals lead a balanced and spiritual life, aimed at controlling their mind, body and soul in order to maintain a strong bond with a Higher Being and serve humankind (and alienkind).
Being a young Muslim, sci-fi enthusiast, I found this connection very interesting and I thought it would help more people understand the true message of Islam and real mission of Muslims around the World.
I hope this article has served as a reminder for my fellow Muslims and has served as a guide of understanding for non-Muslims.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, and remember that the greatest weapon is light.