THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK
By: Aftab Ahmad Khan
“Say: "O people of the Book! Let us get together on what is common between us and you:..” (Qur'an;3:64).“Surely the people who have the best claim to Abraham are those who follow him as does this Prophet and all who believe (in him) – and God is near unto the believers.”(Qur’an;3:68)
More than half of the world population comprise of Christians, Muslims and tiny minority of Jews, who claim to be the followers of faith of great monotheist Abraham, who had totally submitted to the obedience and worship of One God Alone. They continue to play a dominating role in the world affairs from last seventeen centuries. However despite the common origin there exist a state of mistrust and hostility among them. The Jews after prolong persecution and oppression by the Christians, lastly by Hitler, have been able to influence the Christian West, specially USA to gain favours. The Christian and Muslim world however remain suspicious of each other. This rift has created a permanent state of instability towards the world peace with no end in sight. Islam has a special place for the Jews and Christians, by giving them the honorary title of the “People of the Book”. They are the fellow believers in the same One Supreme God: Moses (peace be upon him) said: “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad ”[“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”] (Deuteronomy;6:4, Isaiah;43:11, 45:5,46:9). Jesus (peace be upon him)said: “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad ”[“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”](Mark;12:29) and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked by God to say: “qul huwa 'Allah 'ahad” “Say, He is the One God” (Qura’n;112:1),“wa- 'ilaah -kum 'ilaah waahid laa 'ilaah 'illaa huwa ar- Rahmaan ar- Rahem”; “Your God is one God; there is no one worthy of worship except Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.(Qur’an;2:163). The “People of the Book” are the recipients of scriptures from Him, the Torah and the Gospel to Prophet Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) respectively. They share the belief in the line of prophethood, as the messengers and prophets mentioned in Bible are also the messengers and prophets of Islam. A Muslim can not be called a Muslim unless he believes in all the messengers of God and His scriptures. The three religions share a common moral code. The Qur’an says: "Say we believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and the revelation given to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) the prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another of them, and to Him we are submitters." (Qur’an;2:136). Hence a more appropriate description of common current civilization would have been “Judeo-Christian-Islamic” seeing that the three religions are rooted in the Abrahamic tradition and knowing that the civilization of the Islamic era furnished the foundation for the present civilization. It was the Islamic civilization where Muslims, Jews, and Christians, and others lived in safety and justice under a system based upon tolerance and cooperation. An effort has been made here to identify the misconceptions about Islam and to find common grounds to contribute towards the world peace and stability.
THE MISCONCEPTIONS :
Many misconceptions exist in the West (representing Christianity) about Islam and Muslims, which were deliberately created by their clergy and medieval rulers to disguise the true message of Islam to justify their hostility towards Islam. Allah says: “Surely the only (true) religion in the sight of God is (man’s) self surrender unto Him (Islam): Those who (formerly) received the Scripture differed only after knowledge came unto them, through transgression among themselves. They should know that God is swift in calling to account those who deny His revelations.”(Qur’an;3:19). W. Montgomery Watt, a Western scholar observed : ‘Among the world’s major religions it is certainly Islam that the West has the most difficulty in approaching objectively. The reason for this are rooted in past history. Because of the crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries many people in the West wanted the religion of Islam to be better known. But the image they portrayed of Islam can quite accurately be qualified as ‘distorted’. Western opinion about Islam and Muslims was based for centuries on the distorted image’. The major misconceptions created in the minds of westerners against Islam and Muslims may be summed up as: (1) The God of Islam is different to the God of Jews and Christians, (2) He is a ruthless God, urging Muslims to kill any one not believing in their faith; (3) Muslims are pagans who worship a black cubical structure at Makkah, (4) The Prophet of Islam was a warrior and conqueror who did not believe in the human rights and preached violence; (5) Islam was spread with the sword; (6) The scripture of Islam is based on the Old and New Testaments; (7) The women are treated as subhuman by the Muslims; polygamy and veil are to exploit the women, they have no human rights; (8) The Islamic Law (Shari’a) is very harsh, is based on strict punishment without meeting the requirements of justice; it awards flogging, cutting of hand and stoning to death, all primitive laws of ancient times. (9) Muslims hate the Western values, considering them as thereat, hence they have resorted to terrorism as a means to undermine and destroy Western values so that they can enforce their values on the West.
Causes of Growth of Delusions: The events which contributed towards growth of these delusions are numerous, however most prominent are: (1) The fall of territories of Christendom around Arabia, (2) The Crusaders; (3) The fall of remnants of Byzantine Empire at the hand of Muslims; (4) The conquest of Spain and Muslim rule for eight centuries; (5) The westward expansion of Ottoman Empire, (6) The besiege of Vienna twice; (7) Colonization of most of Muslim world by the Western powers and resistance by Muslims to gain independence; (8) The resurgence of Islam, specially the militancy against Western negative attitude, unjust creation and support of Israel, oppression of Muslims at Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Muslims with in their societies and other countries. (9) To control the large natural resources specially oil, gas and strategically important centers of population, zones and trade routes held by Muslims, a bogy has to be created to subdue them. (10) The materialism has eroded Western values, the Islamic values and culture based on the eternal truth is attracting the Westerns in great numbers, hence Islam is perceived as a threat. (11) After demise of communism with the help of Muslims, Western gigantic military industrial complex need an enemy and market for their military hardware, so a new battle ground have been created against Muslims. The old spirit of snobbery and prejudice, the hatred of Islam, displays it self in writings, in electronic and print media attacks, internet chat rooms, private conversations and in public speeches. The spirit of persecution is not dead in Christianity, after lying dormant for some time it is out fully ablaze.
THE REALITY :
Muslims Worship Same One Supreme God and Believe in All Biblical Messengers of God:
It is contemplated that a careful in-depth study may help in removing most of the ideological misunderstandings and misconceptions: It is well known fact that the God of Muslims is the same God, the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus , Jews , Christians, the God of all the people and the universe (Qura’n;112:1, Deuteronomy;6:4, Isaiah;43:11, 45:5, 46:9, Mark;12:29). Muslims believe in all these messengers, prophets and the scriptures revealed to them. Allah says: “To you, (O Muhammad), We have revealed this Book (Qur’an) with the truth. It confirms whatever has remained intact in the scriptures which came before it (Torah, Psalms, Gospel and others) and also to safeguard it. Therefore, judge between people according to Allah's revelations and do not yield to their vain desires diverging from the truth which has come to you. We have ordained a law and a Way of life for each of you. If Allah wanted He could have made all of you a single nation. But He willed otherwise in order to test you in what He has given you; therefore try to excel one another in good deeds. Ultimately you all shall return to Allah; then He will show you the truth of those matters in which you dispute.”(Qur’an;5:48); “Do not argue with the People of the Book except in good taste - except with those who are wicked among them - and say: "We believe in that which is sent down to us and that which is sent down to you; Our God and your God is the same One God, and unto Him we surrender.”(Qur’an;29:46). Due to common root of faith, that is the faith of Abraham, there are obvious commonalities in the revealed scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Bible and Qur’an) as their source is the same God. The perversion of their scriptures was condemned by God:” And , behold , there are indeed some among them who distort the Scripture with their tongues, so as to make you think that (what they say) is from Scripture, the while it is not from the Scripture; and who say,” This is form God," the while its not from God: and thus do they tell a lie about God, being ell aware(that it is a lie) (Qur’an;3:78).“O People of the Book! Why do you confound the truth with falsehood and knowingly conceal the truth?”(Qur’an;3:71).
The Christian and Jewish scholars changed the world of God in contravention to the commandment of God, in the same Bible: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I (God) command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy; 4:2). “It is not possible for a man whom Allah has given the Book, the Wisdom and the Prophethood, that he would say to the people: "Worship me instead of Allah." On the contrary he would say: "Be devoted worshippers of your God in accordance with the Holy Book you have been teaching and reading." He would never ask you to take angels and prophets as your lords. Would he ask you to become unbelievers after you have become Muslims (believers)?” (Qur’an;3:79-80). While the Old and New Testaments are not in its original form, Qur’an the last scripture is available in its original form even today because Allah has Himself taken responsibility to guard it against corruption: “Surely We have revealed the reminder (Qur'an) and We will most certainly guard it (from corruption).”(Qur’an;15:9).. The Islamic law is based on Qur’an and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), some punishment of Law of Moses have been retained while others were relaxed, they provide the best form of justice where ever put in to practice. Muslims worship only One God, they face towards Qibla (the direction) the Ka’bah for unity. Islam accords much batter position to women than mentioned in Bible. The women are highly respected in Islam while they have been made a show piece in the West on the name of equality and freedom.
Allah-The Merciful, Sustainer and Cherisher of All: Allah is the Most Merciful, kind and Gracious, towards all His creatures. He accepts of repentance of believers due to the ‘Mercy’, which He has decreed upon Himself, He says: “When those who believe in Our revelations come to you, say: "Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself. If anyone among you commits evil because of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways; you will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:54); “Yet your Lord is forgiving and merciful towards those who do something wrong through ignorance, but later repent and mend their ways.”(Qur’an;16:119); “He is the Forgiving, the Loving, (Qur’an;85:14). He is Sustainer of humanity whether believers or non believers and other creatures, as can be observed all around the world, He says: “We bestowed on all - these as well those - out of the bounties of your Lord; the bounties of your Sustainer are not confined.”(Qur’an;17:20) “Surely it is Allah Who is the giver of all sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Invincible.”( Qur’an;51:58). He helps all with justices and fairness: “The fact is that Allah is your Protector and He is the best of all helpers.”( Qur’an;3:150); “Rest assured that Allah does not wrong anyone even by an atom's weight. If someone does a good deed He increases it many fold and also gives an extra great reward on His own.”( Qur’an;4:40). The Mercy of Allah is the one of the grandest themes of the Qur’an. To contemplate these boundless gifts of God, the formula: "In the name of God Most Gracious, Most Merciful": is placed before every Chapter (Sura) of the Qur’an (except the ninth), and repeated at the beginning of every act (even of routine nature like eating, reading, working) by the Muslim who dedicates his life to God, and whose hope is in His Mercy. The Arabic words "Rahman" and "Rahim" translated as; "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" are both intensive forms referring to different aspects of God's attribute of Mercy. The Arabic intensive is more suited to express God's attributes than the superlative degree in English. The latter implies a comparison with other beings, or with other times or places, while there is no being like unto God, and He is independent of Time and Place. Mercy may imply pity, long-suffering, patience, and forgiveness, all of which the sinner needs and God Most Merciful bestows in abundant measure. But there is a Mercy that goes before even the need arises, the Grace which is ever watchful, and flows from God Most Gracious to all His creatures, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to clearer light and higher life. For this reason the attribute Rahman (Most Gracious) is not applied to any one but God, but the attribute Rahim (Merciful), is a general term, and may also be applied to Men. It is part of His Mercy that He has permitted the believers to use force in self defence and to remove oppression for the betterment of humanity, which need not be taken as harsh as He knows His creatures the best.
Divine Punishment for Rejecting Direct Invitation by Apostle : The faith of Islam due to its inherent strength of reality infuses the sprit among its followers to extend the influence allover the world. According to the traditional procedure of Allah, the rejection of Message by the direct recipient form the Apostle (Rasool) are entitled to Divine punishment through the messenger and his followers. Since Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon) is universal messenger, he invited the neighboring rulers including Roman and Persians to Islam, they rejected his invitation hence entitled to divine punishment. “Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings.”(Qur’an;98:6). Divine punishment was accomplished in case of Arabs in the life time of Apostle and for the neighboring powers through his companions. If the companions of Apostle are not strong enough, then God punishes the disbelievers in His own way, like the people of Noah, Lut, drowning of Pharaoh and his forces; “This same principle was applied to the people of Pharaoh and those who have gone before them, they rejected the revelations of their Lord so We destroyed them for their sins, and We drowned the people of Pharaoh ; they were all wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;8:54). The Children of Israel who worshiped the calf were punished through their brethren (Qur’an;2:54) also mentioned in Bible: “then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me. "And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, `Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.' And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.”(Exodos;32:26-28).
Freedom of Choice - No Coercion in Matters of Faith: The freedom of choice of faith was not available to the people as it is now. The rulers did not allow their people to accept any new or different faith, so they had to be subdued to provide freedom of choice of faith to the people. Qur’an forbids forced conversions: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). “An so (O Prophet) exhort them, thy task is only to exhort: Thou canst not compel them to (believe). As for those who turn their backs and disbelieve, Allah will punish them with the mighty punishment.”(Qur’an;88:21-24); “.. You (O Muhammad) are not there to compel them to believe. So admonish with this Qur'an every such person who fears My warning.”(Qur’an;45;50); “So (O’ prophet) exhort them, for your task is only to exhort, you can not compel them (to believe).”(Qur’an;88:21-22); “to you be your religion (Din), and to me mine.”(Qur’an;109:6). Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and (that) it is He who lays the loathsome evil (of disbelief) upon those who will not use their reason? (Qur’an;10:100). Those who used their intellect understood the true faith of Islam and freely reverted to Islam (every human is born by nature as servant of God- Muslim), while others continued to follow their faith and lived peacefully in the Muslim rule.
No Forced Conversions During Muslim Rule in Spain, Greece, Part of Europe & India: The example of Spain, India, part of Europe with majority non Muslim populations despite Muslim rule for centuries is an un deniable fact of history. No war was fought in Far East and East Africa; Indonesia is the larges Muslim country of the World, while East Africa has predominantly Muslim population. Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America and Europe, not by sword but due to preaching of Islam by the Muslims. The truthfulness of Islamic faith has attracted the ignorant common Christian, Jews, atheists and non Muslims who, through the media and internet are learning and embracing Islam after comparative studies of religions.
Islam No Threat to West but Threatened by The West : Islam is not threat to the West, it has always helped West, who owes it renaissance and scientific developments to the Islamic scholarship, gained through Muslim Spain. Rather it is the Muslim world which is threatened by the West, who want to control them by controlling their natural resources through power and hegemony. If West abandons its hegemonic designs, stop oppression of Muslims and exploitation of economic resources of Islamic world the militancy will end. The Muslims are cautioned about seeking protection of People of the Book, (Qur’an; 5:57, 3:28) through moral alliance due to difference in beliefs, however normal friendship and working relationship is not forbidden: “It may well be that Allah will put love between you and those with whom you are now at odds because of the order which is given to you, for Allah is All-Powerful, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who had neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact Allah loves the equitable. Allah only forbids you to make friendship with those who fought you on account of your faith and drove you out of your homes and backed up others in your expulsion. Those who will take them for friends are indeed the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an; 60:7-8).
Special Status of People of The Book in Islam : In an Islamic state the legal dictum about the People of the Book is; "They have our rights and owe our duties." They are equally eligible to social security and other benefits the state provides. Muslims were warned against acts of bigotry or prejudice towards the People of the Book, and prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him ) himself said, "Whoever hurts a person from the People of the Book it will be as though he hurt me personally." Muslims are prohibited to eat the food of non believers and to marry their women but there is a special exception for the People of the Book.(Qura’n;5:5).
The Last Messenger : The lastMessenger of God,Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most kind and humane one can think of, his life is recorded in detail in the form of Hadith, volumes of books have been written on this greatest man of the human history. Born as an orphan, he lost mother as an infant and was raised by his uncle. As he grew up, he was known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, earning the title of al-Sadiq (the truthful) and al-Amin (the trustworthy). Muhammad (peace be upon him) was frequently called upon to arbitrate disputes and counsel his fellow Makkan. He has been widely praised by his followers and opponents alike. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most kind and humble, the best human being ever lived on this earth, who used force only as a last resort for the cause of Allah and not for his personal glory or gains. At the fall of Makkah, he pardoned all his arch enemies by granted them amnesty instead of taking revenge for the worst atrocities committed against him and his followers. Arabia was made the abode of Islam, the last reveled faith till eternity which was accomplished in his life time.
THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL :
The Torch Bearers of Monotheism :
Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was a Muslim in literal sense (being totally surrendered to the Will of God). The faith of Abraham (worship and obedience to On God-Islam) was followed by his decedents i.e. Children of Israel (Jacob) and Children of Ishmael (Arabs). According to the Jewish traditions, initially the children of Israel (Jacob) were called as Hebrews. The word "Hebrew" (in Hebrew, "Ivri") is first used in the Torah to describe Abraham (Genesis;14:13). The word is apparently derived from the name Eber, one of Abraham's ancestors. Another tradition teaches that the word comes from the word "eyver," which means "the other side," referring to the fact that Abraham came from the other side of the Euphrates, or referring to the fact Abraham was separated from the other nations morally and spiritually. Subsequently the Children of Israel came to be known as Jews, as their religious peculiarities and traditions were developed. The 19th-century biblical scholars moved the decisive division back into the period of the Babylonian Exile and restoration of the Jews to Judah (6th-5th centuries BCE). They asserted that after the first fall of Jerusalem (586 BC) the ancient "Israelitic" religion gave way to a new form of the "Jewish" faith, or Judaism, as formulated by Ezra the Scribe and his school (5th century BCE). A German historian, Eduard Meyer, in 1896 published Die Entstehung des Judentums ("The Origin of Judaism"), in which he placed the origins of Judaism in the Persian period or the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (5th century BCE) and actually attributed to Persian imperialism an important role in shaping the new emergent Judaism. Cyrus the Great the king of Persia (559-530 BC), is highly respected by Jews. He conquered Asia Minor, Babylonia, Syria, Palestine, and most of the Iranian plateau. He is known to have ruled his empire with wisdom and moderation, maintaining good relations with the Jews, whom he freed from the Babylonian Captivity. Some scholars consider him to be the Two Horned (Zulqarnain) conqueror mentioned in Qur’an.
The word "Jew" (in Hebrew, "Yehudi") is derived from the name Judah, which was the name of one of Jacob's twelve sons. Judah was the ancestor of one of the tribes of Israel, which was named after him. Likewise, the word Judaism literally means "Judah-ism," that is, the religion of the Yehudim. Originally, the term Yehudi referred specifically to members of the tribe of Judah, as distinguished from the other tribes of Israel. However, after the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel (I Kings 12; II Chronicles 10). After that time, the word Yehudi could properly be used to describe anyone from the kingdom of Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, as well as scattered settlements from other tribes. The most obvious biblical example of this usage is in Esther;2:5, where Mordecai is referred to as both a Yehudi and a member of the tribe of Benjamin. The ten tribes were exiled from the land (II Kings;17), in the 6th century B.C, once the kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria leaving only the tribes in the kingdom of Judah remaining to carry on Abraham's heritage. These people of the kingdom of Judah were generally known to themselves and to other nations as Yehudim (Jews), and that name continues to be used today. The words, ‘Hebrews’, ‘Children of Israel’ or ‘Jews’ have racial connotations, where as ‘Islam’ does not. Due consideration should be given to the fact that despite some exceptions, for a long period the Children of Israel, were the only torch bearers of monotheism in a world that was pagan or idolatrous. It is a credit that the Qur’an fully acknowledges, but with the arrival of Christianity and later revival of Islam, the original faith of Abraham, the claim of the Jews to have sole monopoly of monotheism lost its ground, and with it the concept of the chosen race that they cling to until today.
The Chosen Race & The Covenant :
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).
Allah says: “Remember Allah's favor to you and the covenant by which He bound you to Himself when you said: "We hear and we obey." Have fear of God; surely God knows the secrets of your hearts.”(Qur’an;5:7). “God accepted a covenant form the Children of Israel and appointed twelve chieftains from among them and said: "I am with you; if you establish Prayers (Salah) pay Alms (Zakah), believe in My Apostles, support them and give a generous loan to Allah (spend in charity), I will certainly forgive you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which the rivers flow. However, if any one of you, after this, violates this covenant, he will indeed go astray from the Right Way. Even after that, they broke their covenant; as a result, We laid on them Our curse and hardened their hearts. They tempered with words out of their context and neglected much of what they were enjoined. You will always find most of them deceitful except for a few of them. Yet forgive them and overlook their misdeeds. Allah loves those who are kind to others. Likewise We also made a covenant with those who call themselves Christians, but they too have neglected much of what they were enjoined. As a result, We stirred among them enmity and hatred, which will last till the Day of Resurrection and soon God will inform them all of what they have done. O people of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Now Our Messenger (Muhammad) has come to you to reveal much of what you have concealed from the Holy Books and to pass over much which is no longer necessary. There has come to you from God a new Light and a clear Book (Qur’an), with which God will guide to the ways of peace all those who seek His good pleasure and bring them out of the depth of darkness into the light of His grace and guide them to the Right Way.” (Qur’an;5:12-15).
Allah says: “The Jews and the Christians say: "We are the children of God and His beloved ones." Ask them, "Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay! In fact you are human beings like others which He has created. He forgives whom He pleases and He punishes whom He pleases. To Allah belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, and to Him is the final refuge.”(Qur’an;5:18). God says: “The Jews say: "The fire shall not touch us except for a few days." O Muhammad, say: "Have you obtained such a promise from Allah which He would not break ? Or do you assert against Allah what you do not know?”(Qur’an;2:80), “This is because they say: "The fire of Hell shall not touch us; even if it does, it will be for a few days." In their religion they are deceived by their own self-invented beliefs. What will they do when We will gather them together on the Day which is sure to come, when every soul will be given what it has earned and there shall be no injustice? “(Qur’an;3:24-25).
Special Favours and Non Fulfillment of The Covenant : God addresses the children of Israel: “O children of Israel! Remember My favors to you; fulfil your covenant (firm Commitment) with Me and I will fulfil My covenant with you, that you should fear none but Me. Believe in My revelations, which are confirming your scriptures; do not be the first one to deny My revelations, and do not sell them for a petty price, fear Me and Me alone. Do not mix the Truth with falsehood, or knowingly conceal the truth. Establish prayers; give charity; and bow down with those who bow down in worship. Would you ask others to be righteous and forget to practice it yourselves? Even though you read your Holy Book? Have you no sense? Would you ask others to be righteous and forget to practice it yourselves? Even though you read your Holy Book? Have you no sense? Seek Allah's help with patience and Prayer (Salah): it is indeed hard to be patient and to be punctual in offering Prayer (Salah) except for those who fear Allah, who are certain in their mind that they are going to meet their Sustainer and that they are going to return to Him for final judgement. O' Children of Israel! Remember the special favor which I bestowed upon You; that I exalted you above all other nations. Guard yourselves against the day on which one soul shall not avail another, no intercession shall be accepted, no ransom shall be taken and no help shall be given.”(Qur’an;2:40-48). “…Do you believe in a part of your Holy Book and reject the rest? So what other punishment do such people among you, who behave like this, deserve, than disgrace in this world and to be driven to grievous punishment on the Day of Judgment? Allah is not unaware of what you do.” (Qur’an;2:86). “As for those who break their covenant with Allah after confirming it and cut asunder what Allah has commanded to be joined and create mischief in the land, they are the ones on whom there shall be a curse and they are the ones who will have a terrible home.”(Qur’an;13:25). “Tell them: "O people of the Book! Do not transgress the bounds of truth in your religion, and do not yield to the fancies of those people who went astray before you, They misled many others and have themselves strayed away from The Right Way.”(Qur’an;5:77).
Rebellion and Disbelief in Scriptures:
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).
Allah Commands to Believe in The Last Scripture : Allah says to the People of the Book: “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).
The Believers and Non Believers: Allah says 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).“Rest assured that the believers (Muslims), the Jews, the Sabians and the Christians - whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous deeds - will have nothing to fear or to regret”.(Qur’an;5:69).“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).
Suppression of Prophesy of Advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): The prophesy of advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was predicted in both the Old Testament and New Testament, but they 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).
ISLAM AND JUDAISM -FLUCTUATING HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIP :
Historically, the relation between Muslims and Jews had oscillations but not that Islam harbored animosity to Judaism as a faith but in their failure to practice the commandments of God in true spirit under the notion of their racial superiority as a chosen race, the honour God ultimately shifted to the Children of Isma’il by appointing Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the last messenger for the humanity. Thus they became entitled to divine punishment to be subdued as in the past. Allah says: “(And) Fight against those who – despite having been vouchsafed revelation (aforetime) do not (truly) believe either in God nor the Last Day, and do not consider forbidden that which God and His Apostle have forbidden and do not follow the religion of truth (which God has enjoined upon them), till they (agree) to pay the exemption tax (Jazya) with a willing hand, after having been humbled (in war)”(Qur’an;9:29). The medieval period thus saw the practice of theological controversy to refute errors of doctrine directed against each other. Nonetheless, Islam, too, was understood to contribute to the fulfillment of the divine purpose. From the late medieval period onward, the intellectual engagement between the two religions diminished with the general decline in the Turkish Ottoman Empire that represented the Muslim world to the West. In modern times it has not yet been renewed for many reasons. Once the political problems in the Middle East between the State of Israel and the Arab world have been resolved, the contiguity of the two communities suggests an inevitable renewal of dialogue on the religious as well as other fields.
Political and Social Aspects: The confrontation between Judaism and Islam, as that with Christianity, was colored by political and social considerations both before and after Islam spread from Arabia to build a world wide community of its followers. During the subsequent period, the intellectual development of the Islamic world and the emergence of theologians and philosophers of the highest order challenged Judaism and had considerable influence on the rise of similar thinkers within that community. Given the strong monotheism and the anti-iconic attitude of Islam, many of the questions that arose between Judaism and Trinitarian and iconic Christianity were not an issue between Judaism and Islam. The crucial point of dispute here was the nature of prophecy, given Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) claim concerning his culminating role in the prophetic tradition. The Jewish reluctance to accept the progeny of Ishmael (Isma’il) i.e. the Arabs, as coinheritors of the legacy of Abraham. Conflict was situational whenever it had its justifiable reasons. The Jewish tribes at Medina during initial days of Islam had to face the consequences due to their breach of agreement with the Muslim government. However, one would be far from claiming that the history of Muslims has always been a true representation of the teachings of Islam. Particularly under tyrant rulers, Jews and Christians had their share of maltreatment, but this was not to the exclusion of the Muslim subjects who always were even the most to suffer. In the Muslim world Jews never suffered anything like the atrocities inflicted upon them byChristian Europe over the centuries, including the holocaust in last century. It was in Christendom that the Jews were branded as ‘Killers of God’ and were made to pay for it through one pogrom after another. Even when the enemy was the Muslims, Europe always included the Jews as "collateral damage." The first Crusade was launched by the massacre of thousands of Jews in Europe, with the mischievous rationalization: "We have set out to march a long way to fight the enemies of God in the East, and behold before our very eyes are His worst foes, the Jews; they must be dealt with first".
Settlement of Jews in Islamic World : In 1492, the Jews along with Muslims were expelled from Spain, they were welcomed and settled in the Ottoman empire. In his book My People (also produced as a TV series), Mr. Aba Eban, Israeli scholar, historian and former foreign secretary, stated the Jews in two episodes during their history were treated justly, once in Muslim Spain and the second, currently, in the United States of America. The great Maimonides was the student of the Islamic philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroës) of Cordova, and later, when he moved to Egypt, he was the personal physician of Salahuddin (Saladin, of Crusades' ). Revival of this era of mutual peace and cooperation can again be mutually beneficial.
Jewish Power and Oppression of Palestinians:
The Jews, though a very small group among the community of nations (Total: 14 Millions, 0.2 % of world population) enjoy disproportionate high status due to their strong hold at the international economy, financial system and media specially of USA and Europe. They have worked hard to remain abreast with the latest knowledge, scientific development and have positively contributed in the scientific discoveries and development of host countries. Their full control over international media which acts as a tool to mould the national and international public opinion in their favour with impunity. Through superior diplomacy they have been able to create conditions where by the American and Europeans fully support the Israeli cause employing all means including use of force. They are getting lot of support from the Evangelicals. [Evangelicals are basically Protestants who believe that each individual has a need for spiritual rebirth and personal commitment to Jesus Christ as savior, through faith in his atoning death on the cross (commonly, although not necessarily, through a specific conversion experience). They emphasize strict orthodoxy on cardinal doctrines, morals, and especially on the authority of the Bible. They reject the official interpretation of dogma by the Roman Catholic church. Many Evangelicals follow a traditional, pre-critical interpretation of the Bible and insist on its inerrancy (freedom from error in history as well as in faith and morals). They may be considered as Christian Fundamentalists.] The evangelist Christians believe that the second coming of Christ and establishment of Kingdom of God can not materialize till Jews are establish in Holy Land, the Neocons have also been lured in, so this politically powerful lobby in USA has been made to serve the Jewish cause well. The Jews have used their power and influence not only to establish the state of Israel but the continuous suppression of Palestinians, the main threat to the world peace.
ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY :
Islam is the only faith other than Christianity which regards Jesus and Mary in very high esteem. One is astounded to find the notable Christian intellectuals, politicians, scholars and most painfully, the Christian clergy portraying Islam and Muslims as the enemies of Christ, infidels and pagans. Conversely, many uninformed and misinformed Christians are astonished when they are told about the respect and love Muslims have for Jesus and Mary despite the doctrinal differences. The Qur’an mentions "Jesus" by name twenty five times, as the "Messiah" eleven times. He is also addresses as Jesus the son of Mary: “And We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign for mankind,..”(Qur’an;23:50). Chapter number nineteen in Qur’an has been named after ‘Mary’, where as it is not the case in the New Testament. Qur’an grants special status by considering Christians nearest in affection to the Muslims: “You will find the most violent in enmity to the believers are the Jews and the idolaters (pagan Arabs); and nearest in affection to the believers are those who say: "We are Christians." That is because among them there are men that are priests and monks, who do not behave arrogantly.”(Qur’an;5:82).
Doctrinal Differences :
Islam believes in strict Abrahamic monotheism, individual responsibility and accountability, where the concept of Original Sin, Son of God and Trinity does not fit in strict Islamic monotheism (Tawhid), which is even refuted by many Christians thought out its history. The history of attempts to define the mysterious concept of Trinity has been traced by Encyclopedia Britannica: By the 3rd century it was already apparent that all attempts to systematize the mystery of the divine Trinity with the theories of Neoplatonic hypostases metaphysics were unsatisfying and led to a constant series of new conflicts. The high point, upon which the basic difficulties underwent their most forceful theological and ecclesiastically political actualization, was the so-called Arian controversy. Arius belonged to the Antiochene school of theology, which placed strong emphasis upon the historicity of the man Jesus Christ. In his theological interpretation of the idea of God, Arius was interested in maintaining a formal understanding of the oneness of God. In defense of the oneness of God, he was obliged to dispute the sameness of essence of the Son and the Holy Spirit with God the Father, as stressed by the theologians of the Neoplatonically influenced Alexandrian school. From the outset, the controversy between both parties took place upon the common basis of the Neoplatonic concept of substance, which was foreign to the New Testament itself. It is no wonder that the continuation of the dispute on the basis of the metaphysics of substance likewise led to concepts that have no foundation in the New Testament--such as the question of the sameness of essence (homoousia) or similarity of essence (homoiousia) of the divine persons.
The basic concern of Arius was and remained disputing the oneness of essence of the Son and the Holy Spirit with God the Father, in order to preserve the oneness of God. The Son, thus, became a "second God, under God the Father" i.e., he is God only in a figurative sense, for he belongs on the side of the creatures, even if at their highest summit. Here Arius joined an older tradition of Christology, which had already played a role in Rome in the early 2nd century--namely, the so-called angel-Christology. The descent of the Son to Earth was understood as the descent to Earth of the highest prince of the angels, who became man in Jesus Christ; he is to some extent identified with the angel prince Michael. In the old angel-Christology the concern is already expressed to preserve the oneness of God, the inviolable distinguishing mark of the Jewish and Christian faiths over against all paganism. The Son is not himself God, but as the highest of the created spiritual beings he is moved as close as possible to God. Arius joined this tradition with the same aim--i.e., defending the idea of the oneness of the Christian concept of God against all reproaches that Christianity introduces a new, more sublime form of polytheism.
This attempt to save the oneness of God led, however, to an awkward consequence. For Jesus Christ, as the divine Logos become human, moves thereby to the side of the creatures--i.e., to the side of the created world that needs redemption. How, then, should such a Christ, himself a part of the creation, be able to achieve the redemption of the world? On the whole, the Christian Church rejected, as an unhappy attack upon the reality of redemption, such a formal attempt at saving the oneness of God as was undertaken by Arius. The main speaker for church orthodoxy was Athanasius of Alexandria, for whom the point of departure was not a philosophical-speculative principle but rather the reality of redemption, the certainty of salvation. The redemption of humanity from sin and death is only then guaranteed if Christ is total God and total human being, if the complete essence of God penetrates human nature right into the deepest layer of its carnal corporeality. Only if God in the full meaning of divine essence became human in Jesus Christ is deification of man in terms of overcoming sin and death guaranteed as the resurrection of the flesh.
Augustine, of decisive importance for the Western development of the Trinitarian doctrine in theology and metaphysics, coupled the doctrine of the Trinity with anthropology. Proceeding from the idea that humans are created by God according to the divine image, he attempted to explain the mystery of the Trinity by uncovering traces of the Trinity in the human personality. He went from analysis of the Trinitarian structure of the simple act of cognition to ascertainment of the Trinitarian structure both of human self-consciousness and of the act of religious contemplation in which people recognize themselves as the image of God.
A second model of Trinitarian doctrine - suspected of heresy from the outset - which had effects not only in theology but also in the social metaphysics of the West as well, emanated from Joachim of Fiore. He understood the course of the history of salvation as the successive realization of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in three consecutive periods of salvation. This interpretation of the Trinity became effective as a "theology of revolution," inasmuch as it was regarded as the theological justification of the endeavour to accelerate the arrival of the third state of the Holy Spirit through revolutionary initiative. The final dogmatic formulation of the Trinitarian doctrine in the so-called Athanasian Creed (c. 500), una substantia--tres personae ("one substance--three persons"), reached back to the formulation of Tertullian. In practical terms it meant a compromise in that it held fast to both basic ideas of Christian revelation--the oneness of God and divine self-revelation in the figures of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--without rationalizing the mystery itself. In the final analysis the point of view thereby remained definitive that the fundamental assumptions of the reality of salvation and redemption are to be retained and not sacrificed to the concern of a rational monotheism.
Characteristically, in all periods of the later history of Christendom in which a rationalistic philosophy was achieved and the history of salvation aspect of the Trinitarian question receded, anti-Trinitarian currents returned. Many, to some extent, consciously rejoined ties with Arius: the humanist Enlightenment of the 16th century and the so-called anti-Trinitarians of the Italian Renaissance. A direct connection exists between anti-Trinitarianismand 18th-century research into the life of Jesus. The oldest life of Jesus researchers in the 18th century, such as Hermann Reimarus and Karl Bahrdt, who portrayed Jesus as the agent of a secret enlightenment order that had set itself the goal of spreading the religion of reason in the world, were at the same time anti-Trinitarians and pioneers of the radical rationalistic criticism of dogma. The Kantian critique of the proofs of God contributed further to a devaluation of Trinitarian doctrine. In the philosophy of German Idealism, Hegel, in the framework of his attempt to raise Christian dogma into the sphere of the conceptual, took the Christian Trinitarian doctrine as the basis for his system of philosophy and, above all, for his interpretation of history as the absolute spirit's becoming self-conscious. In more recent theology, at least in the accusations of some of its critics, the school of dialectical theology in Europe and the United States tended to reduce the doctrine of the Trinity and supplant it with a Mono-Christism.
In a brief but well-publicized episode in the mid-1960s in the United States, a number of celebrated Protestant theologians engaged in cultural criticism observed or announced "The Death Of God." The theology of the death of God downplayed any notion of divine transcendence and invested its whole claim to be Christian in its accent on Jesus of Nazareth. Christian dogma was reinterpreted and reduced to norms of human sociality and freedom. Before long, however, the majority of theologians confronted this small school with the demands of classic Christian dogma, which insisted on confronting divine transcendence in any assertions about Jesus Christ.
The transcendence of God has been rediscovered by science and sociology; theology in the closing decades of the 20th century endeavoured to overcome the purely anthropological interpretation of religion and once more to discover anew its transcendent ground. Theology has consequently been confronted with the problem of Trinity in a new form, which, in view of the Christian experience of God as an experience of the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, cannot be eliminated.
Hence like many Christians, Muslims also do not subscribe to the concept of Trinity being against Monotheism (Tawhid). Allah says in Qur’an: “O Followers of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds (of the truth) in your religious beliefs, and don not say of God anything but the truth. The Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was but God’s Apostle- (the fulfillment of ) His promise which He had conveyed to Mary- and a soul created by Him. Believe, then in God and His apostles, and do not say,” (God) is a trinity”. Desist (from this assertion) for your own good. God is but one God; utterly remote is HE, in His glory, from having a son: unto him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and none is as worthy of trust as God” (Qur’an;4:171); “Well, they may have a little enjoyment in this world, but eventually they have to return to Us and then We will make them taste the severest punishment for their unbelief.”(Qur’an;10:70). The idea of vicarious sacrifice is therefore alien to Islam, and the claim that Jesus, or anyone else, had to be slain in atonement of human sins is refuted. God's forgiveness, in Islam, is to be sought through sincere repentance and doing righteousness, without need for bloodshed. Salvation is granted by the grace of God. ). To obtain salvation, a person must combine faith and action, belief and practice according to Qur’an: “As to those who believe and work righteousness verily We shall not suffer to perish the reward of any who do a (single) righteous deed.(Qur’an;18:30). "Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy they will attain salvation" (Qur’an;23:102).
Muslims Believe in Jesus Christ and his Mission :
Muslims believe in the apostolic mission of Jesus; summed up in Qur’an: “And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those (earlier prophets), confirming the truth of what ever there still remained of the Torah; and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein there was guidance and a light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God conscious.” (Qur’an; 5:46).“Surely, have sent to every nation a messenger (saying): ‘Worship Allah and avoid false gods.”( Qur’an; 16:36). Jesus (peace be upon him) clearly announced the nature of his mission that he was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law. This is clearly evident in the statements attributed to Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Gospel of Mathew: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever thenrelaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew;5:17-20).
The Bible mentions the prophetic nature of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) task:"… and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me." (John;14:24). "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Prophet Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent." (John;17:3). Thus the essence of the message of Jesus was that only God deserves to be worshipped and that the worship of anyone or anything besides God or along with God is false. Jesus said: ‘It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”(Luke; 3:8). Jesus not only called people to this message but he also practically demonstrated it for them by bowing down in prayer and worshipping God himself. In Mark;14:32, it is stated: “And they went to a place which was called Gethsemane; and he (Jesus) said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I pray.’ ” And in Luke; 5:16, “But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.” However, Paul, who claimed to be a disciple of Jesus, systematically cancelled the laws. In his letter to the Romans, he stated, “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” (Romans; 7:6). Gospel and Qur’an are unanimous on the apostolic mission of Jesus (peace be upon him): "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). The Allah says in Qur’an: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how we make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!”(Qur’an;5:75). “He was no more than a servant: We granted Our favor to him (miracles, wonders and signs) and We made him an example to the Children of Israel.” (Qur’an;43:59). Hence Muslims are very close to Jesus (peace be upon him) and revere him as one of the mightiest messenger of God.
Contribution of Islamic Civilization Towards Western Civilization :
The Influence of Islamic Learning on the Western Civilization: The phenomenal influence of Islamic learning on the West has been summarized in Encyclopedia Britannica: “The decline of Muslim scholarship coincided with the early phases of the European intellectual awakening that these translations were partly instrumental in bringing about. The translation into Latin of most Islamic works during the 12th and 13th centuries had a great impact upon the European Renaissance. As Islam was declining in scholarship and Europe was absorbing the fruits of Islam's centuries of creative productivity, signs of Latin Christian awakening were evident throughout the European continent. The 12th century was one of intensified traffic of Muslim learning into the Western world through many hundreds of translations of Muslim works, which helped Europe seize the initiative from Islam when political conditions in Islam brought about a decline in Muslim scholarship. By 1300 C.E when all that was worthwhile in Muslim scientific, philosophical, and social learning had been transmitted to European schoolmen through Latin translations, European scholars stood once again on the solid ground of Hellenistic thought, enriched or modified through Muslim and Byzantine efforts.” Quotations of some Western scholars further highlight the contribution of Islam, Will Durant states; “For five centuries , from 700 to 1200 (C.E), Islam led the world in power, order and extent of government, in refinement of manners, scholarship and philosophy”. According to Professor Gibb, “No other society has such a record of success in uniting in equality of status f opportunity and of enduring so many and o various races of humanity.”
Contribution Towards Enlightenment and Renaissance: The Christians out number followers of any single faith, they are around two Billion, predominantly developed Western Civilization controlling the world. It is not due to superiority of their faith, (Church was separated form the state, faith is now considered as a personnel matter) but on account of advancement in science and technology as well as social sciences through ‘Enlightenment’: The philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions. The roots of ‘Enlightenment’ are also linked with the Muslim Spain (Moorish) trough Renaissance. Europe was plunged in the dark at medieval time (476 to 1453 C.E) while Knowledge in science and technology, social sciences, philosophy and medicine was at its zenith in the Islamic world including the Muslim Spain. Thus Europe got the basic modern scientific, philosophical and sociological treasure of knowledge through Muslims scholar and universities of Spain(which also included the lost knowledge of Greek philosophers & scholars), contact with the Muslim world during Crusades (1095-1291 C.E) and thereafter. According to Encyclopedia Britannica; “The entire structure of European society changed during the 12th and 13th centuries, and there was a time when this change was attributed largely to the Crusades. Historians now, however, tend to view the Crusades as only one, albeit a significant, factor in Europe's development. The sectors acquired by burgeoning Italian cities in the crusader states enabled them to extend their trade with the Muslim world and led to the establishment of trade depots beyond the Crusade frontiers, some of which lasted well beyond 1291.” Keeping in view the social and economic benefits, the Crusades brought to the West, the scars of war and antagonism against Muslims also came in.
Protection and Fair Treatment:
Islam, while upholding balanced views in general, enjoins the most solicitous care for the weak and oppressed. The minorities, specially ‘The People of The Book’ are to be treated with justice in every way-in rights of property, in social rights, and in the right to opportunities of development. The non-Muslim living under the protection of a Muslim state is referred as Dhimmi, a free non-Muslim subject. They are exempt from duties of Islam like military service and zakat, instead they are required to pay jizyah (poll-tax). Historically some Islamic governments paid this poll tax for poor non-Muslim subjects or reduced it to mere symbolic tax. If the State cannot protect those who paid jizyah, then the amount they paid is returned to them. Islam guarantees full protection and security of the State including freedom of religion to all. The killing of innocent people is strictly prohibited, according to Qur’an: “..if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the life of all mankind: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear Signs yet even after that many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”(Qur’an;5:32). Narrated Abdullah bin Amr : The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling)."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.49).
Islam has a special place for the Juedo-Christian civilisations, due to common ancestor –Abraham. In the Islamic world the Jews, and Christians, and others lived in safety and justice under a system based upon tolerance and cooperation. The misconceptions about Islam have been created to justify their hostility towards Islam. Islam is not a threat to the West, which owes it renaissance and scientific developments to the Islamic scholarship, gained through Muslim Spain. However the Muslim world feel threatened by the West, who want to control their natural resources. Historically, the relation between Muslims and Jews had its fluctuations but not that Islam harbored animosity to Judaism as a faith but in their failure to practice the commandments of God in true spirit under the notion of their racial superiority as a chosen race, the honour God ultimately shifted to the Children of Isma’il by appointing Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the last messenger for the humanity. The Advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been prophesied in the Bible, but they concealed it. They are commanded to believe in the last scripture Qur’an and the last Prophet. The confrontation between Judaism and Islam, as that with Christianity, was colored by political and social considerations both before and after Islam spread from Arabia to build a world wide community of its followers. In 1492, the Jews along with Muslims were expelled from Spain, they were welcomed and settled in the Ottoman empire. Jewish have gained power and influence through USA and the West, which they are using to oppress the Palestinians, the main cause of conflict and threat to peace. Islam is the only faith other than Christianity which regards Jesus in very high esteem. Muslims believe in Jesus and his Mission as he himself attributed to have declared in Mathew;5:17-20. Islamic civilization has significant contribution in the development of West through the Influence of Islamic learning. Keeping the commonalities in Abrahamic faith, as worshipers of same one God, a dialogue can bring them closer for world peace and mutual benefit. In the words of Duncan Greenless, the renowned Western scholar, “The nobility and broad minded tolerance of this creed (Islam) which accepted as God inspire all the real religions of the world will always s be glorious heritage of mankind”.
Aftab Ahmad Khan MBA,MA,LADSC(USA)
Aftab Ahmad Khan MBA,MA,LADSC(USA)
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