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Interfaith Dialogue ( 27 Oct 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Holy Quran Grants the People of the Book Religious Rights and Asks Muslims to Engage With Them in a Dialogue to Resolve Issues

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam

28 October 2021

The Quran Not Only Confirms the Messages Contained In the Earlier Divine Books, but Also Updates Them

Main Points:

1.    The Quran is not hostile to the People of the Book collectively.

2.    The Quran allows the People of the Book to lead their lives according to their own scriptures.

3.    Muslims are advised to engage with the People of the Book in dialogue.

4.    The Quran envisages a society in which people of all the religions live peacefully.

5.    There is no community or nation on earth that has not received a Prophet and no Prophet who has not received a book.

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The holy Quran is the last of the divine books revealed to the prophets by God. The Psalms, The Torah, The Bible and the Quran are the other four known holy books revealed by God, among many others around the world not fully recognised by or known to Muslims. The Quran is the last divine book which is a reminder of messages contained in earlier books. According to Quran there is no community or nation on earth that has not received a Prophet and no Prophet who has not received a book. According to a Hadith narration there have been 1, 24,000 prophets sent to all corners of the planet. That’s why the Quran is also called Zikr (reminder). The Quran not only confirms the messages contained in the earlier divine books but also corrects the deviations in the belief of the followers of the People of the Book.

Quran considers the followers of the People of the Book members of the same family of Monotheistic religions and so has a pragmatic approach while mentioning and dealing with the People of the Book.

 The Quran is not hostile to the People of the Book collectively but only chides those among the People of the Book who have gone astray and have deviated from the right path. It appreciates those members of the People of the Book who are upright and believe in God and the Day of Judgment, do good and abstain from evil, pay zakat and offer prayers.

Again from the verses of the Quran, it becomes evident that Allah grants the rights of the People of the Book in a pluralist society. Christians and Jews can live peacefully with their own personal laws as long as they commit mischief.

” Say, ˹O Prophet, ˺ O People of the Book! You have nothing to stand on unless you observe the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord.(Al Ma’idah: 68)

The Quran mentions the wrong practices and sins the Jews committed but at the same time, it acknowledges the fact that all the Jews are not sinful or wrongdoers. A section of them are upright and have faith.

“We forbade the Jews certain foods that had been lawful to them for their wrongdoing, and for hindering many from the Way of Allah taking interest despite its prohibition, and consuming people’s wealth unjustly. We have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. But those of them well-grounded in knowledge, the faithful ˹who˺ believe in what has been revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ and what was revealed before you˹especially˺ those who establish prayerand those who pay alms-tax and believe in Allah and the Last Day, to these ˹people˺ We will grant a great reward.(Al Nisa:160-162).

The above quoted verses make it clear that the Quran does not consider the whole community of Jews or any other religious group disbelievers. Only the disbelievers among them will be given a painful punishment. But the faithful among them who pay Zakat, offer prayers and have firm belief in the Oneness of God and the Last Day will be rewarded in the Hereafter.

Other verses of the Quran confirm that not all of the Jews are rebellious. A section of them are faithful in the eye of God.

“Had the People of the Book believed, it would have been better for them. Some of them are faithful, but most are rebellious”. (Aal-e-Imran: 110)

“Yet they are not all alike: there are some among the People of the Book who are upright, who recite Allah’s revelations throughout the night, prostrating ˹in prayerThey believe in Allah and the Last Day, encourage good and forbid evil, and race with one another in doing good. They are ˹truly˺ among the righteous”.( Aal-e-Imran:113-114)

The Quran clearly remarks that all the People of the Book are not alike and that a section of them are upright. So bracketing the whole community of the People of the Book as disbelievers is not according to the principle of the Quran.

“Indeed, there are some among the People of the Book who truly believe in Allah and what has been revealed to you ˹believers˺ and what was revealed to them (Aal-e-Imran: 199).

The Quran rejects the doctrine of Trinity which even a section of the Christians believe in and this doctrine was the cause of rift among the Christians in the Middle Ages causing bloodshed among the Christian community. The Quran says that many Christians believe in the Unity of God, offer prayers and believe in the Day of Judgment.



“O People of the Book! Do not go to extremes regarding your faith; say nothing about Allah except the truth.1 The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was no more than a messenger of Allah and the fulfilment of His Word through Mary and a spirit ˹created by a command˺ from Him.2 So believe in Allah and His messengers and do not say, Trinity. Stop!for your own good. Allah is only One God. Glory be to Him! He is far above having a son! To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And Allah is sufficient as a Trustee of Affairs.

Therefore, the Quran advises Muslims not to have confrontation with Christians and the Jews on some issue of difference and advises them to engage with the People of the Book in dialogue concentrating on the points of agreement, ignoring the points of difference.

“Do not argue with the People of the Book but gracefully, except with those of them who act wrongfully. And say, “We believe in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to you. Our God and your God is ˹only˺ One. And to Him we ˹fully˺ submit.(Al Ankabut: 46)

It is clear from the verses quoted above that the Quran has a tolerant approach towards the People of the Book, corrects their religious deviations and advises Muslims to grant the People of the Book their religious rights in their state where the People of the Book are in a minority.  The Muslims are advised to deal with the People of the Book peacefully. The whole community should not be considered disbelievers as not all members of a community are wrong. Even many members of the Muslim community have deviant practices.

Therefore, the Quran envisages a society where the followers of the Quran and the followers of the Torah, the Gospel and other scriptures will live peacefully, where every religion will enjoy their religious rights and will be allowed to lead their communal life according to their own scriptures.

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S. Arshad is a columnist with NewAgeIslam.com.

URL:    https://www.newageislam.com/interfaith-dialogue/religious-rights-muslims-dialogue-quran-book/d/125660


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