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Jews and Muslims

Jews and Muslims, Different Creed?
Some Questions, Answers & Comments
 
1.    There is a lot of controversy between the Islamic society and the Judaic society, why?
2.    Is there some kind of doctrinal battle?
3.    Everyone keeps citing the verse 2:96, but it is out of context. What is the context surrounding the statement made there, and didn’t Muhammad treat the Jews like brothers?
4.    Muhammad believed that we were all children of God, and that this was more important than nationality or tribal heredity. So why is it that so many Muslims have such a problem with the Israelites, and why do so many Jews seem to hate the Muslims?
5.    Will there be peace between Muslims, Jews, and Christians?
6.    Will Jews go to hell like pagans and other unbelievers?
[Question by Conner – United States:]
Response by, JD Morgan with Comments by AftabKhan:
From the point of view of Islam, Jews deserve special consideration and affection as members of Ahl Al-Kitab, that is, people who received scriptures from God. Both religions emphasize faith in the One and Only Creator and Sustainer of the universe. And both religions teach the need for establishing the Law of God on earth, so that there will be peace and harmony flourishing everywhere.
As we have a Shari’a (Law) to live by, the Jews too have the Law, comparable to ours. The Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is our prophet too. And all the other prophets mentioned in the Jewish scripture are our prophets too. Particularly we consider Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) as our Patriarch too. The Qur’an calls him an “Ummah” or a nation by himself. To Muslims, he is an eternal model, who received a special blessing of God.
And you may know there is no Qur’anic story that is mentioned so many times, with so much of emphasis as Moses’ story. The places the Jews hold holy are holy for Muslims too.
To Muslims, the first and the foremost article of faith is the belief in the One and Only God, and this belief is called, Tawheed (monotheism) which emphasizes not only the Oneness of God, but also the oneness of the universe and the oneness of humanity, or the brotherhood of man. The Oneness of God is basic to Judaism too. But the Jews also hold the view that they are the “chosen people” of God, and so they are superior to all other human beings. From this angle, they do not approve of the brotherhood of man.
The key issue of Palestine is closely related to this idea of the Chosen-ness of the Children of Israel. In fact the Torah speaks of God’s gift of Palestine to the Children of Abraham. But the Jews believe that since they are the “chosen people” of God, the other children of Abraham have no right to the land.
[Comments:  Islam does not subscribe to the existence of the concept of a chosen race for all times, which is well understood form the following verse of Qur’an: “Remember that when Abraham was tested by his Lord with certain commands, he fulfilled them. God said: “Surely, I will make you the leader of mankind.” “What about my offspring?” Asked Abraham. “My Covenant,” said Allah, “will not apply to the evil doers.”(Qur’an;2:124). Here the claim of the children of Israel as “Chosen People of God” by only virtue of their decent from Abraham, who was made “a leader of mankind” by God, has been negated. It is conditional to the obedience of God. This is also affirmed by the Bible: Jesus said: “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”(Matthew;3:9);“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”(Exodus;19:5), “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyed before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.”(Deuteronomy;8:19-20). They became unfaithful to covenant engagements (Jeremiah;3:6-8, 31:32; Ezekiel;16:59), became rebellious against God (Deuteronomy;32:15;9:7; Isaiah;1:2,Exodus;32:9); often displeased God by their sins (Numbers;25:3; Deutreronomy;32:16; 1Kings;16:2; Isaiah;1:4; 5:24-25). They were punished by God for; Idolatry (Psalms;78:58-64; Isaiah;65:3-7), Unbelief (Romans;11:20), Breaking covenant (Isaiah;24:5; Jeremiah; 11:10), Transgressing the law (Isaiah;1:4; 24:5-6), Changing the ordinances (Isaiah;24:5), Killing the prophets (Mathew;23:37-38, 27:25). They were scattered among the nations (Deuteronomy; 28:64; Ezekiel; 6:8; 36:19), Despised by the nations (Ezekiel;36:3), their country trodden under foot by the Gentiles (Deuteronomy;28:49-52; Luke;21:24).Their house left desolate (Mathew;24:38) and were deprived of civil and religious privileges (Hosea;3:4). Finally God sent Jesus: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:”(Acts;2:22), “But he (Jesus) answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”.(Matthew;15:24), “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew;4:17).“These twelve (disciples) Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”(Matthew;10:5-7). Jews rejected Jesus and arranged to kill him on false charges (Luke 22:63-71, 23:1-56, John;19-42), though his innocence was also acknowledged by Pilate, the Roman ruler (John;19:4). Thus the Children of Israel as a community, did not adhere to the Covenant, though there were some exception.
The God makes it clear that the exalted status of Abraham was not something that would automatically confer a comparable status on this physical descendants, and definitely not on the sinners among them. God also took solemn pledge form the Children of Israel and those call themselves as Christians, but they broke it, God says: “Remember, We accepted covenant from the children of Israel: “You shall worship none but Allah; be good to your parents, relatives, orphans and destitute, speak fair to the people, be constant in Prayer, and spend on charity. But you broke the covenant, except a few of you, and you paid no heed. Also remember another covenant which We took from you: That you shall not shed blood among yourselves and you shall not expel your own people from your homes; you confirmed it and you are witness to it.” (Qur’an;2:83-84).]
Particularly, they argue that the children of the firstborn of Abraham have no right to this land, since their mother happened to be a slave. [Comments: Leah’s maidservant, Zilpah, bore to Jacob, Gad and Asher, and Rachel’s maidservant, Bilhah, bore him Dan and Naphtali. The children born through maidservants of wives of Jacob are not dealt with contempt in line with the prevalent custom of that era, where as in case of Ishmael, born from Hager, the prejudice and dichotomy of Israelites is too palpable.].
That is to say, Judaism as it is practiced now insists on the birth of a person to determine his identity as a Jew, as is evident from Jewish writings which explain who a Jew is:
It is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do. A person born to non-Jewish parents who believes everything that Jews believe and observes every law and custom of Judaism is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal reformists of Judaism. And a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship. (Who Is A Jew?, last accessed April 16, 2008)
The Jewishness of a person, according to this view, is determined by birth and not by belief and practice. For this reason, a Jew is claimed to be a very special person in the world; and this so-called special nationality of the Jews based on birth amounts to racism.
In fact, Islam acknowledges the idea of the chosen-ness of the Children of Israel, but in a different sense. Allah chose the Children of Israel to be the carriers of His Message, by appointing a large number of His prophets from among them. But as a people, the Children of Israel were not grateful to God for His special blessings — blessings like their miraculous rescue from the tyranny of the Pharaoh. They continued committing transgressions and devising ingenious ways of circumventing God’s commands. This was mainly because of their belief that as the Chosen People they had an exclusive right to get God’s reward despite their excesses.
They had been taking undue advantage of the special blessings they had received. Indeed they were squandering the grace of God. They misinterpreted the grace of God as their own exclusive right denied to other humans. But God is Just and Merciful; He does not prefer one race of people over others based on birth. He looks into the beliefs and actions of people. And He does not leave in the lurch any of His sincere devotees, irrespective of the tribal or social status they possess in this world.
In fact, it is the exclusive claim of the Jews that is referred to in verse 2:96 of the Qur’an. To understand its full meaning, we should read the previous verses too: *{Say (to the Children of Israel): “If an afterlife with God is to be for you alone, to the exclusion of all other people, then you should long for death-if what you say is true. But never will they long for it, because [they are aware] of what their hands have sent ahead in this world: and God has full knowledge of evildoers. And you wilt most certainly find that they cling to life more eagerly than any other people, even more than those who are bent on ascribing divinity to other beings beside God: every one of them would love to live a thousand years, although the grant of long life could not save him from suffering [in the Hereafter]: for God sees all that they do.}* (Al-Baqarah 2:94-96)
Because of the continued defiance of God’s commandments by the Children of Israel, God dispersed them throughout the earth. But the Qur’an teaches that Allah is Merciful and He turns in kindness to those of His servants who repent and return to the good path:
“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Qur’an;2:62)
This verse underscores the benevolence and compassion of the All-Merciful God. Allah’s mercy is open to all His servants, and all forms of racism and tribalism are rejected: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (Qur’an;49:13)
The foregoing means the following:
1.    Muslims hold the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) as their own brothers; and they honor Moses and Jesus as their own prophets. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet.
2.    The Qur’anic passages (as well as those in the Hadith) that criticize the People of the Book do not apply to all Jews and Christians. They apply only to the transgressors among them. The same indictment applies to the Muslims as well, when they commit excesses; this is evident to any reader of the Qur’an.
3.    The Qur’anic verses quoted above (2:62 and 49:13) clearly show that God’s judgment of humans will be perfectly just, irrespective of factors like race, nationality and such other externalities. And that is why we can say that Islam is universal and for all time.
4.    Also I would like to underscore a major aspect of Muslims as a community. Generally, they (i.e. the pious ones compared to the pious ones in other religions) are careful to spend a great deal of their waking time in prayers, fasts and other forms of worship.
5.    They attach more value to the other world, and comparatively much less importance to the matters of this world than others. One of the positive things about Muslims is their fear of Divine punishment in the other world. This, along with the hope of rewards from Allah, keeps them safe from many of the evil temptations of this world.
Will There Be Peace?
Unfortunately, in spite of it all, instead of developing mutual love and respect between Muslims and Jews as a result of all these common grounds, we find mutual animosity and hatred. The reasons must be obvious to any one who studies the formation of Israel and the systematic expulsion of the Palestinians from the land of their birth.
Even a cursory comparison between the Israelis and the Palestinians — how they live, what rights they enjoy, and so on, should enable an objective observer to find out the causes of the conflict.
You have asked, “Will there be peace between Muslims, Jews, and Christians?”
I am an optimist and therefore my answer is: Yes, there will be peace between Muslims, Jews, and Christians, though I am not sure how it becomes a reality.
As for your question, “Will Jews go to hell like pagans and other unbelievers?”, my answer is: It depends on the Jews themselves, just as it depends on the Muslims too, whether they go to Hell or to Heaven in the end. Here is a Qur’anic verse that means more or less the same as 2:62: “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians, any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no  fear, nor shall they grieve..” (Qur’an;5:69)
[Comments: Most of the traditional commentators of Qur’an think that the Qur’anic verses 5:69 & 2:62 is related with those Jews and Christians who truly believed & practiced in the actual monotheistic message of Moses and Jesus respectively before the advent of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or those even in present time or later do not receive the teachings of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), however salvation is linked with the faith and performance of good deeds and not on progeny. Who will go to hell or paradise, it is to be decided by God alone, as He is well aware of all matters: “Surely as for those who are true believers (the Muslims), the Jews, the Sabians, the Christians, the Magians (Zoroasters) and the ones who commit polytheism – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; for Allah is a witness over everything.”(Qur’an;22:17). God alone knows really what these people believed in heart or whether they received the message of last prophet and rejected it.
This is because, Allah says: “O people of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Believe in what We have now revealed (The Qur’an), confirming your own scriptures, before We obliterate your faces and turn them backward, or lay Our curse on you as We laid Our curse on the Sabbath-breakers: and remember that Allah’s command is always executed.”(Qur’an;4:47).“They also claim: “Allah has commanded us to believe in no Messenger unless he shows us a sacrifice consumed by a fire from the Heaven.” Ask them: “Other prophets before me have come to you with clear arguments and showed this miracle you are asking for. Why did you kill them if what you say is true? O Muhammad if they reject you by calling you an impostor, so did they reject other Messenger before you, although they brought them clear evidence of truth, and with books of divine wisdom, and with the enlightening revelations.”(Qur’an;3:183-184). “So if they argue with you (O Muhammad), tell them: “I have submitted myself entirely to Allah and so have those who follow me.” Then ask those who are given the Book and those who are illiterates: “Will you also submit yourselves to Allah?” If they become Muslims they shall be rightly guided but if they turn back, you need not worry, because your sole responsibility is to convey the Message. Allah is watching all His servants very closely.”(Qur’an;3:20).
Rebelliousness of Jews has also been mentioned in Bible: “And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people: (Exodus; 32:9)”, “Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people. Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD. Also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.” (Deuteronomy; 9:6-8), “Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice. Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.” (Deuteronomy; 9:23-24), “Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin”: (Deuteronomy; 9:27).
Allah says:“(O’ Muhammad) Tell them: O people of the Book! You have no ground to stand on unless you observe the Torah, Gospel and other revelations that have come to you from your God. This revelation (The Qur’an) which has come to you from your God will surely increase the rebellion and disbelief of many of them but you should not grieve for the disbelievers”(Qur’an;5:68) “If they would have observed the Laws of Torah and the Gospel and other Revelations which were sent to them from their God, they would have certainly enjoyed abundance from above and from beneath. Though there are some among them on the moderate course; but most of them do nothing but evil”.(Qur’an;5:66). “Over shadowed by ignominy are they wherever they may be, save (when they bind themselves again) in a bond with God and a bond with men; for they have earned the burden of God’s condemnation, and are over shadowed by humiliation: for all this (has befallen them)” because they persisted in denying the truth of God’s message and in slaying the prophets against all right: transgressing the bounds of what is right”(Qur’an;3:112).
The difference between believers and non believers has been clarified in Qur’an: “There are some among the people of the Book who truly believe in Allah and what has been revealed to you, O Muhammad, and what has been revealed to them before you. They humble themselves before Allah and do not sell the revelations of Allah for a petty price. For them, there will be a reward from their God. Surely Allah is very swift in settling the accounts.(Qur’an;3:199).“If they would have believed (accepted Islam) and kept themselves away from evil, there would have been a better reward from Allah, if they could understand it!”(Qur’an;2:103). “Those who disbelieved from among the Children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus the son of Mary: because they disobeyed and committed excesses”.(Qur’an;5:78). “If instead of this rebellious attitude the people of the Book had believed and become God fearing, We would certainly have removed their iniquities and admitted them to the gardens of Bliss (Paradise).”(Qur’an;5:65).
The prophesy of advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was predicted in both the Old Testament and New Testament, but they denied and also concealed it: “Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while ye have knowledge?”(Qur’an; 3:71). In Old Testament it is mentioned at: Deuteronomy; 18:18,19, Song of Solomon5:16 ; as well as in New Testament at: John; 16:12-14, John; 14:16, John; 15:26, John: 16:7, John 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7. The Jews and Christians were called upon to spread this prophecy and not as they actually have done to conceal and suppress it. This has been indicated in Qur’an: “When Allah made the covenant with those who were given the Book (Bible) , they were asked to spread the teachings of the Book to mankind and not to conceal them; but they cast it behind their backs and sold them for a petty price. What a bad bargain they made!”(Qur’an; 3:187). Denying the prophesy of advent of Muhammad in Old and New Testament is negation of clear message hence nothing but disobedience of the scripture they themselves believe in. Despite these differences, no one should compel the any one to change his/her faith as there is no coercion in matters of faith. The Muslims, Jews and Christians can come to common terms through dialogue and rational arguments, as Allah says:
“Say: O People of the Scripture. Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).O People of the Scripture! Why will ye argue about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have ye then no sense?Lo! ye are those who argue about that whereof ye have some knowledge: Why then argue ye concerning that whereof ye have no knowledge? Allah knoweth. Ye know not.Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters.Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe (with him); and Allah is the Protecting Friend of the believers. (Qur’an;3:64-68)
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[By: JD Morgan: http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.pakistan/browse_thread/thread/afd13477c280a11f?hl=en&tvc=2 
http://www.readingislam.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1121601592958&pagen…  With Comments, by AftabKhan]
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