“Say: “O people of the Book! Let us get together on what is common between us and you...” (Qur’an; 3:64).
Islam, Judaism and Christianity are having common roots through their ancestor Prophet Abraham. Hence there are many beliefs and traditions, which Islam shares with them. Although generally the Christian believe in Judeo-Christian traditions, but in most of cases, the Western culture conflicts with the Biblical traditions, specially in application of Commandments, Law, the dietary prohibitions, status of women, homosexuality and other moral values which have been heavily influenced by Greco-Roman pagan traditions and social changes. The commonalities of Islam, with Judaism and Christianity are enormous (according to scriptures, leaving apart from what is practiced by them) but the common perceptions in the West are totally different due to lack of knowledge.
The doctrinal differences between Islam, Christendom and Judaism are neither trivial nor ignorable, yet it would be imprudent and counterproductive to fight one another or hate one another over them. The debate over them should be within the confines of highest standards of ethics, for God says in the Qur’an: “And dispute you not with the People of the Book except in the most kindly manner -unless it be those of them who wronged- but say: “We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; our God and your God is one, and it is to Him we submit (in Islam)” (Qur’an; 29:46), “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is best aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.” (Qur’an; 16:125). Abraham, the common ancestor of Jews, Christians and Muslims provides the common point: “Abraham was neither a “Jew” nor a “Christian”, but was one who turned away form all that is false, having surrendered himself unto God; and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.” (Qur’an; 3:67). Those Jews and Christians who embrace Islam are promised for a double reward by Allah in Qur’an: “Those unto whom We gave the Scripture before it (Jews & Christians), they (some) believe in it, And when it is recited unto them, they say: We believe in it. Lo! it is the Truth from our Lord. Lo! even before it we were of those who surrender (unto Him).These will be given their reward twice over, because they are steadfast and repel evil with good, and spend of that wherewith We have provided them” (Qur’an; 28:52-54).
The Islamic society was a pluralistic society ever since its inception. As per Charter of Medina, there was religious freedom, equal rights and responsibilities for Jews and others. Islam is not an exclusive religion, Qur’an says about the People of Book: “Not all of them are alike: of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the signs of God all night long and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; and they (hasten in emulation) in (all) good works; they are in the ranks of the righteous. Whatever good they do, its reward will not be denied to them; Allah knows the righteous.” (Qur’an; 3:113-115). “Rest assured that Believers (Muslims), Jews, Christians and Sabians (followers of John the Baptist -Yahya), – whoever believes in Allah and the last day and perform good deeds – will be rewarded by their God; they will have nothing to fear or to regret.” (Qur’an; 2:62).They may be persuaded to accept the final message, as per Qur’an: “O people of the Scripture! Now hath Our messenger come unto you to make things plain after an interval (of cessation) of the messengers, lest ye should say: There came not unto us a messenger of cheer nor any warner. Now hath a messenger of cheer and a warner come unto you. Allah is Able to do all things”. (Qur’an; 5:19). “Say: “O People of the Book! do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah and the revelation that hath come to us and that which came before (us) and (perhaps) that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?” (Qur’an; 5:59).
FOCUS ON COMMONALTIES:
Despite the divergent perceptions among Muslims and the ‘People of the Book’, Qur’an invites them towards the commonalties: “Say: “O people of the Book! Let us get together on what is common between us and you: that we shall worship none but God; that we shall not associate any partners with Him and that we shall not take human beings for our lords besides God;” If they turn away then tell them: “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves un to Him (in Islam).” (Qur’an; 3:64). The focus on common aspects will help in developing batter understanding of each other and can become basis for dialogue than confrontation. Some commonalties between Islam and People of The Book as per their sacred scriptures and other traditions are considered to find common ground for dialogue and peace.
Purpose: Creation of Universe & Humanity: The purpose of creation is clearly mentioned in Qur’an: “Our creation of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them is not a play” (Qur’an; 21:16). “We have not created jinns and mankind except to worship Me” (Qur’an; 51:56). “The One Who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.” (Qur’an; 67:2, 18:7, 21:30). There are many narratives in Qur’an about creation (some not in Bible) which have been recently proved to be scientifically correct: Initially there was gaseous mass before creation of galaxies: (Qur’an; 41:11). The Sun Rotates (Qur’an; 21:33, 36:40).The sun will extinguish; (Qur’an; 36:38, 13:2). The expanding nature of universe; (Qur’an; 51:47). Atoms can be divided; (Qur’an; 10:61). The water cycle; (Qur’an; 39:21, 30:24,23:18). Mountains are like tent pegs firmly fixed providing stability; (78:6-7), (21:31), (79:32). Darkness in depths of ocean; (Qur’an; 24:40). Creation of man from water; (Qur’an; 25:54). Plants & Fruits have male and female; (Qur’an; 20:53, 13:3). The bee and its skills; (Qur’an; 16:68-69). Lifestyle and communication of ants; (Qur’an; 27:17-18). Honey has healing for humankind; (Qur’an; 16:69). Sex determination factor for child; (Qur’an; 53:45-46, 75:37-39). Embryological stages; (Qur’an; 23:12-14, 75:37-39, 82:7-8). Embryo partly formed and partly unformed; (Qur’an; 22:5). First sense of hearing developed then sense of sight; (Qur’an; 32:9, 23:78). Importance of fingerprints: (Qur’an; 75:3-4). The existence of pain receptors in the skin: (Qur’an; 4:56). The process of Creation of universe, Adam& Eve, their fall and development of humanity has been mentioned at Genesis chapter 1, 2, 3 and later chapters respectively.
Narrative of Adam: The narration of creation of Adam in Bible and Qur’an is almost similar: “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis; 2:7). Allah says in Qur’an:“We created man from sounding clay, black mud moulded into shape; (Qur’an; 15:26), “then He fashioned him in due proportion and breathed into him of His spirit. He gave you ears, eyes and mind; yet you are seldom thankful.” (Qur’an; 32:9). “It is He Who has made you (human) vicegerent on the earth. Whoever disbelieves, bears the burden of his disbelief; ..” (Qur’an; 35:39). “Accordingly (obedience to Command of God) all the angels prostrated themselves, (before Adam)” (Qur’an; 38:72), “except Iblees (Satan); he acted arrogantly and became one of the disbelievers.)” (Qur’an; 38:74). God granted respite to Satan (Iblis) till final day, and he swore to misguide human. (Qur’an; 38:76-85). The creation process of human in Qur’an may be summarized by: First, He brings the man into being. Secondly, He endows him with forms and faculties exactly suited to what is expected of him, and to the environments in which his life will be cast, giving due order and proportion to everything. Thirdly, He has ordained laws and decrees, by which human can develop themselves and fit into His whole scheme of evolution for all His Creation. He has measured exactly the needs of all, and given instincts and physical predispositions which fit into His decrees. Fourthly, He gives guidance, so that human are not the sport of mechanical laws, they use their intellect for reason and exercise their will, such that may reach the higher destiny of man. Fifthly, the reward for those who made right choice and punishment for those who fell pray to Satan (evil). Other related reference in Qur’an are: 38:27, 36:82), 50:38, 41:11, 21:30, 87:2, 2:30, 33:72, 2:34, 7:12, 7:14-18), 20:117-124, 5:91, 87:3), 2:39, 40.
Iblis (Satan): In Judaism and Christianity, the devil is viewed as a fallen angel who in pride has tried to usurp the position of the one and only God, known as Satan. In the Old Testament, Satan is viewed as the prosecutor of Yahweh’s court, as in Job, chapters 1 and 2. In post biblical Judaism and in Christianity, however, Satan became known as the “prince of devils” and assumed various names: Beelzebub (”Lord of Flies”) in Matthew 12:24-27, often cited as Beelzebul (”Lord of Dung”), and Lucifer (the fallen angel of Light). In Christian theology the devil’s main task is that of tempting man to reject the way of life and redemption and to accept the way of death and destruction. The Satan seduced Adam and Eve to disobey the instructions of God, hence they fell to earth as part of His Great Plan and Wisdom for the test and trial of humanity. The Satanic jinns have been persistently trying to mislead man, but they do not have the power to overwhelm and make do something forcibly. God warns the believers to be aware of Satan: “O ye children of Adam! let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden stripping them of their raiment to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position where ye cannot see them: We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without faith.” (Qur’an; 7:27). On the Day of Judgement those who worshiped Satan will be punished (obedience of Satan is like worshiping him), Allah says in Qur’an: “While to the sinners He will say: “Get aside today, O you guilty! Did I not enjoin you, O children of Adam, not to worship Satan, who is your open enemy, and that you should worship Me which is the Right Way? Yet, inspite of this, he (Satan) has led a great number of you astray. Could you not then use your reason? This is the hell, of which you were repeatedly warned. Now! Enter in it this Day because you persistently rejected the truth.” (Qur’an; 36:59-64)
Guidance: Beside granting rational thinking and wisdom to human, He display His signs and further sent messenger in every nation for their guidance (Qur’an; 6:36). Many messengers of God sent different nations like Noah, Jonah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). The narratives of some of the messengers have been mentioned by name in Qur’an and Bible. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last and final Messenger of God as prophesied in Bible at: Deuteronomy; 18:18 & 19, John; 16:12-14, 14:16, 16:7, 15:26, 16:7 and Song of Solomon; 5:16.
Muslims Believe in All Previous Scriptures Messengers & Prophets:
It is part of articles of faith of a Muslims to believe in all the previous messengers of God and the scriptures; in the form they were revealed upon them. (Qur’an; 2:136, 3:3-4, 57:26, 4:163, 2:79). Although Muslims believe in all the previous messengers and scriptures, the Jews and Christians don’t believe in Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as messenger of God, although he was prophesied in Bible at; Deuteronomy; 18:18 & 19, John; 16:12-14, 14:16, 16:7, 15:26, 16:7 and Song of Solomon; 5:16. All the divine revelations (scriptures) except Qur’an are extinct. The Bible; which besides Torah, Psalm and Gospel also contain other scriptures, books and commentaries by mostly unknown scribes attributing to known messengers and personalities. The Torah, Psalm and Gospel as available in the Bible may contain the original revelations in some form which pass the test of Qur’an; the criterion to distinguish right from wrong: (Qur’an; 25:1, 17:81). The authenticity, accuracy and originality of Torah, Psalm and Gospel as revealed scriptures is doubtful, which is also evident from the long history and complex process of compilation and canonization. The current religion of “Christianity” is based more on the doctrines and writings of Paul than anything else. Jesus (peace be upon him) said: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mathew; 15:7). “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).
The Pure Faith of Abraham:
Jesus said: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did.” (Gospel of Jhon; 8:39). Qur’an expressly asks Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to follow the religion of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him): “Follow the religion of Abraham, the true in faith, and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God; ” (Qur’an; 16:123). “Abraham was neither a “Jew” nor a “Christian”, but was one who turned away form all that is false, having surrendered himself unto God; and he was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him.” (Qur’an; 3:67, 4:125, 12:38). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him said): …You (Muslims) are an heir to the heritage of Abraham. (Sunan of Abu Dawood:770)
All messengers of God including Abraham based the faith on the strict adherence to monotheism (The doctrine or belief that there is only one God). Muslims worship Allah (one God), the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus and all other messengers. The Muslims prefer calling Allah with His name ‘Allah’, instead of the English word ‘God’. The Arabic word Allah is pure and unique, unlike the English word God which can be played around with. Jesus is reported to have addressed the God with the same name: “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” (Mark; 15:34, Mathew; 27:46). Monotheism has been declared in Bible, the verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (peace be upon him):”Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad”. It is a Hebrew quotation which means: “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) also said: “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad ”[“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”] (Mark; 12:29), “..There is none good but one, that is, God...” (Mathew; 19:17). Qur’an says: “Your God is one God; there is no one worthy of worship except Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” (Qur’an; 2:163). The monotheism in Islam is called Tawhid in Arabic; Allah, the One and Only God. Allah says:, “Say: He is Allah the One and Only; God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being ; He begets not, and neither is He begotten; And there is nothing that can be compared with Him.” (Qur’an; 112:1-4). Attributes of Allah has been mentioned at many places in Qur’an some references are Qur’an; 2:255, 59:22-24, 42:11-12, 11:6, 6:59, 31:34, 4:164, 7:143, 31:27, 6:115, 4:87, 2:133). Similarly according to Bible, God says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:” “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” (Exodus; 20:3-5, Deuteronomy 5:7-9), Exodus; 3:15, 1Timothy; 2:5).)
Moses kept alight the Abrahamic monotheism and gave it new impetus as a messenger of God. Qur’an extensively speaks about Moses (peace be upon him) at: 25:35, 2:53, 17:101, 14:164, 5:20-21. The punishment of the rebellion of these stiff-necked people, rebellion that was repeated “these ten times” (Numbers; 14:22). That generation was not to see the Holy Land. All those that were twenty years old and upwards were to die in the wilderness: “your carcasses shall fail in this wilderness.” (Numbers; 14:29). (Qura’n; 5:24-26).
The Father and Son:
The use of the terminology’ Father’ (for God) ‘and Son of God’ need to be understood as per its use among Hebrews and Bible. The Hebrews believed that God is One, and had neither wife nor children in any literal sense, hence it is obvious that the expression “Son of God” merely meant to them “Servant of God”; one who, because of his faithful service, was close and dear to God, as a son is to a father. Christians who came from a Greek and Roman background, later distorted this term. In the Greek and Roman heritage, “Son of God” signified an incarnation of a god or someone born of a physical union between male and female gods. When the Church cast aside its Hebrew foundations, it adopted the pagan concept of “Son of God”, which was entirely different from the Hebrew usage. Consequently, the use of the term “Son of God” should only be understood from the Semitic symbolic sense of a “servant of God”, and not in the pagan sense of a literal offspring of God. In the four Gospels, Jesus is recorded as saying: “Blessed are the peace-makers; they will be called sons of God.” (Mathew; 5:9, Romans; 8:14).The terminology ‘Son of God’ has been used extensively in the Old & New Testaments in the symbolic sense as “servant of God”,: Hosea; 1:10, Jeremiah; 31:9, Job; 2:1,38:4-7, Genesis; 6:2, Deuteronomy; 14:1, Luke; 3:38, Exodus; 4:22-23,2Samuel; 8:13-14, Psalms; 2:7, Book of Job; 1:6, Luke; 9:22 & 4:41. The word ‘BEGOTTEN SON’ is used in verse 16, chapter 3 in the Gospel according to John of King James Version of 1611 C.E: (John; 3:16) has been expunged in the Revised Standard Version of Bible, being wrongly added because word ‘BEGOTTEN’ does not exist in the original Greek script. Likewise use of the term ‘abba’ “dear father” by Jesus’ should be understood similarly: (Romans; 8:15). The word ‘Father’ is used for the ‘God’ or the ‘Lord’ not as biological father but in the spiritual sense as The Creator & Sustainer at many places in the Bible: (Romans; 8:14, Psalms; 89:26, Mathew; 6:1, 5:48, 6:6,8,9, 32, John; 5: 30, 37, 14:16, 20:17, Genesis; 45:8, 17:5, Job; 29:16 and 1Timothy, 2:5).
JESUS THE SON OF MARY:
Muslims believe that Jesus (peace be upon him), the son of Mary was the Messenger of God and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit proceeding from Him. He came to guide the Israelites, was revealed Gospel, performed miracles and was raised alive up to God. He will return to this world before end of the world and rule as a just ruler and will die natural death.
Muslims and Christians believe that Jesus was miraculously born to pious and chaste virgin Marry without father in 6 B.C in Bethlehem in Judea. (Qur’an; 19:16-40), (Matthew; 1:18-25 & Luke; 1:28-35). According to the Jewish law he was circumcised and taken for presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke; 2:21-24). He is called Jesus of Nazareth, the place of his abode.
The tradition of circumcision is part of Sunnah of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) as mentioned in Genesus; 17:10-13,24-27, Joshua; 5:2-9, Judges; 14:3, 15:18; 1Samuel; 14:6; 17:26; 2Samuel; 1:20, Ezekhiel; 31:18, Acts; 7:8 & John; 7:22. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was also circumcised (Luke; 2:21). The Christians have abandoned it, Muslims being the true faithful followers of Abraham, strictly adhere to the practice of circumcision like Jesus. (Sahih Bukhari Hadith; 7.777).
Miracles Performed by Jesus:
Jesus continued preaching and performed numerous miracles, particularly the raising of Lazarus in Bethany (John; 11:1-44). The miracles performed by Jesus have been mentioned in Acts; 2:22. Muslims believe in the miracles performed by Jesus granted by God to him (Qura’n; 3:49). Also at Mathew; 4:23, 9:35, Luke; 4:22, 9:11, 3:8 and Acts:4:16.
Mission of Jesus:
Jesus has been mentioned in Bilbe as a human and Messenger of God, who came for the people of Israel for their guidance. 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 & 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; Mark; 14:32, Luke 5:16. “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). Jesus said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mathew; 10:5-6, 15:24 & Qur’an; 3:49), “These twelve (disciples) Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mathew; 10:5-6). Jesus is mentioned as saying: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. . . . Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;” (Mathew; 5:17-20). The same mission of Jesus has been confirmed 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 (Law); 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). “And (I come) confirming that which was before me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey me. Lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path. (Qur’an; 3:50, 51). Thus Gospel and Qur’an are unanimous on the apostolic mission of Jesus (peace be upon him):” “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).
A study of the Christian scriptures reveals that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) himself says, “I AM GOD” or where he says, “WORSHIP ME”. In fact the Bible contains statements attributed to Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) in which he preached quite the contrary: (John; 14:28, John; 10:29,Mathew; 12:28,Luke; 1:20, John; 5:30, Mathew; 19:16-17, Luke; 24:39-43. Allah says in Qur’an: “O people of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an Apostle of Allah and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Apostles. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: glory be to him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son. To him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. (Qur’an; 4:171). The concepts evolved after Jesus by different persons against the clearly stated mission and teachings of Jesus are considered as concoction, interpolation and misinterpretations by many Christians and Muslims.
Ministry of Jesus and Rising up to God:
Using Capernaum as a base, Jesus, accompanied by his 12 chosen disciples, traveled to neighboring towns and villages, proclaiming the advent of the kingdom of God, as had many of the Hebrew prophets before him. When the sick and infirm asked help from him, he sought to heal them by divine power. He stressed the infinite love of God for the humble and weak, and he promised pardon and eternal life in heaven to the most hardened sinners, provided their repentance was sincere. Jesus continued preaching and performed numerous miracles, particularly the raising of Lazarus in Bethany (John; 11:1-44). The most significant moment in Jesus’ public ministry, however, was Simon Peter’s realization at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew; 16:16; Mark; 8:29 & Luke; 9:20). The last events and conspiracy against him is mentioned at John 11:48, Luke; 22:2, John; 11:47-53). It is mentioned in Qur’an: “And (then Children of Israel) plotted and planned and Allah too planned and the best of planners is Allah. Behold! Allah said: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject Faith to the Day of Resurrection; then shall ye all return unto Me and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute. (Qur’an; 3:54-55). “That they said (in boast) “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary the Apostle of Allah”; but they killed him not nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts with no (certain) knowledge but only conjecture to follow for of a surety they killed him not. Nay Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power Wise. And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death (As only as a Messenger of Allah and a human being); and on the Day of Judgment He (Jesus) will be a witness against them (Qur’an; 4:157,158,159).
Second Coming of Jesus: Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus will return before end of the world. He will prove that he was only a messenger of God and a human being, nothing more. He will then establish the Kingdom of God, all submitting to the will of God (Islam). (Sunan of Abu-Dawud, Hadith. 4310).
Jesus and Islam:
Muslim is a person who SUBMITS HIS WILL TO GOD. Jesus (peace be upon him) said; “I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I SEEK NOT MINE OWN WILL, BUT THE WILL OF HIM THAT SENT ME.” (John; 5:30), “Thy will be done”. (Mathew; 6:10,26:42). Hence Jesus is a Muslim as per this definition. Muslims worship the same one God, worshiped by Jesus, they are required to offer obligatory prayes (salah), keep fast (saum) and spend on charity (zakah) practice humility which was also practiced and preached by Jesus (Mathew; 17:21, 23:23-24, 26:36, 1 Peter; 4:8). Muslims are circumcised as was the Jesus (Luke; 2:21-24), they greet in the same manner as Jesus (peace be upon him) greeted in Hebrew ‘Sholam alay kum’ (Luke; 24:36), the Islamic greeting in Arabic: “Assalaamu alai kum” both meaning ‘Peace be on you’. Muslims also do not eat pork nor indulge in intoxicants. Attire and appearance of Jesus with a beard is same as of faithful Muslim. Mary, the mother of Jesus is highly respected by Muslims. Qur’an accords her a high status:“We made her and her son a sign for the whole world.” (Qura’n; 21:91). While she is cursorily mention in Bible, Qur’an names Chapter Number 19 after her and mentions her by name at least thirty three times. She is seen modestly dressed with her head covered, the Muslim women are also dressed modestly like Mary. Jesus was the last Hebrew prophet, who was sent by God to preached the implantation of the Law of Moses to the Jews (Mathew; 5:17-20) and make lawful some of that which was forbidden to them (Qur’an; 3:49,50). Muslims believe in Jesus as messenger of God (Bible; Acts; 2:22), his miraculous birth without father (Qur’an; 19:16-40, Matthew; 1:18-25 & Luke; 1:28-35), the miracles performed by the will of God (Qur’an; 3:49, Mathew; 4:23, 9:35, Luke; 4:22, 9:11, 3:8 and Acts: 4:16). They further believe in the revelations (scripture) he received form God, who saved him and raised him up to Himself, to be sent back to this world before end of time. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) prophesised the advent of Muhammad, peace be upon him. (John; 14:16, 15:26,16:7,12-14, Qur’an; 6:20). If Christian is the one who follows the teachings of Jesus, them Muslims are more Christians than those who call themselves Christian.
The commandments (part of the Law) given by God to Moses have been narrated in Bible in Old Testament, book of Exodus, chapter: 20 & Deuteronomy, chapter: 5. Jesus declared that he came to implement the Commandments, he said: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill 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 then relaxes 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.” (Mathew; 5:17-19). Instructions analogous to the Commandments have also been mentioned in Qur’an and made applicable to Muslims except Sabbath, the stringent restriction from which Muslims have been relieved, it was not the traditions of Abraham. The revelation to Moses has been described in Qur’an at many places: 17:2, 4:154, 7:145 & 7:154.
Monotheism: “I am the LORD your God,… You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, …. but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments..” (Deuteronomy; 5:6-11 & Exodus; Chapter: 20). 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), “..There is none good but one, that is, God..” (Mathew; 19:17). Allah says in Qur’an: “Remember, We took a covenant (firm commitment) 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, establish ‘Prayer’ and pay ‘Charity’” But you broke the covenant, except a few of you, and you paid no heed. (Qur’an; 2:83), “Say; He is the one God. The Eternal God, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none comparable to Him.” (Qur’an; 112:1-4).
Sabbath-Law: The strict observance of the Sabbath day, was enjoined to the children of Israel at Deuteronomy; 5:12-15, Exodus; Chapter: 20 and Qura’n; 4:154, 16:123-124. However the Muslims have been exonerated from this restriction applicable to the followers of Moses it has nothing to do with the traditions of Abraham. Muslims only break for the duration of Friday prayers (Qur’an; 62:9-10).
Honor and Respect of Parents: The treatment of parents with respect and honor has been prescribed at Deuteronomy; 5:16 & Exodus; Chapter: 20, Mathew; 15:4 and Qura’n; 31:14
Commandments Forbidding Killing, Adultery, Theft and False Witness: The killing of innocent people, adultery, theft and false witness are serious offenses strictly forbidden by God in Qur’an and Bible. “You shall not kill.” (Deuteronomy; 5:17 & Exodus; Chapter: 20, Qura’an; 5:32). “Neither shall you commit adultery.” (Deuteronomy; 5:18 & Exodus; Chapter: 20 also at Qur’an; 17:32. “Neither shall you steal.” (Deuteronomy; 5:19 & Exodus; Chapter: 20 and Qur’an; 60:12. “Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Deuteronomy; 5:20 & Exodus; Chapter: 20 and Qura’n; 25:72). The neighbors are to be respected and treated nicely. (Deuteronomy; 5:21 & Exodus; Chapter: 20 and Qura’an; 4:36, Sahih Bukhari Hadith:6.4 & 8.45). Abu Huraira narrated that the Prophet said that while committing adultery, drinking alcoholic, stealing or committing robbery a believer ceases to be a believer. (Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith; 3.655)
Individual Responsibility: Qur’an and Bible are synonymous on the individual responsibility of man. Inheritance of sin of ancestor by the descendants is against the explicit pronouncement of God in Bible: “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffers for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.” (Ezekiel; 18:20-21). Qur’an has repeatedly emphasized the personal responsibility and individual accountability: “No bearer of a burden will bear another’s burden, and if a heavy laden person cries out for help, none will come forward to share the least of his burden, even though he be a close relative. O Prophet! You can only admonish those who fear their Sustainer – though they cannot see Him – and establish Prayer (Salah). He that purifies himself does so for his own good. To Allah is the destination of all.” (Qur’an; 35:18), also at Qur’an; 17:15 & 6:164.
Application of Islamic Faith And Practices And Bible:
To be a Muslims, one has to believe in the six roots of affirmation: (1) Believe in One God- Allah, (2) Believe in all His angels, (3) Believe in His all Messengers, (4) Believe in His all revealed Books, (5) Believe in the Day of Resurrection and Judgement, (6) Believe in Al-Qadar (Divine Preordainments i.e. whatever Allah has ordained must come to pass). A Muslim should practice the five principles (pillars) of Islam, which are also the forms of worship; the first two, Confession & Prayers (Shahada & Salah) are daily, next two Charity & Fasting (Zakat & Saum) are annual and the last Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) is once in life. (Narrated by Ibn Umar in the Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 1 Hadtih No.7). There are a similarities in the faith of The People of the Book and are also mentioned in the Bible.
Prophesies about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in Bible:
The advent of the last Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been prophesized the Old Testament as well as in New Testament which may be connected: (Deuteronomy; 18:18,19, Mathew; 1:18, Luke; 1:35, Qur’an; 3:42-47 linked with John; 18:36, 1:11 & Mathew; 5:17-18). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is mentioned by name in the Old Testament: “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely (Muhammadim). This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.” (Song of Solomon; 5:16).:”Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem.”" In the Hebrew language im is added for respect. Similarly im is added after the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to make it Muhammadim. In English translation they have even translated the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as “altogether lovely”, but in the Old Testament in Hebrew, the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is present till now. In 610 C.E when archangel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad (peace be upon him) and asked him to ‘Proclaim’ (recite, read-Iqra) (Qur’an; 96:1). The Prophet replied, “I do not know how to read.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, 1.3, Narrated by Aisha). This incidence was also mentioned in Old Testament: “And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”” (Isaiah: 29:12).
Prophet Jesus (peace be upon his) says: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth (referring to Muhammad) is come, he will guide you unto all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me” (John; 16:12-14). “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” (John; 14:16).”But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” (John; 15:26). “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John; 16:7). Ahmed” or “Muhammad” meaning “the one who praises” or “the praised one” is almost the translation of the Greek word Periclytos. In the Gospel of John; 14:16, 15:26, and 16:7, Jesus (peace be upon him) actually prophesized “Ahmed” by name, word ‘Comforter’ in Greek Paracletos, Periclytos refers to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says in Qur’an: “Those to whom We have given the Scripture (their scholars) recognize this (Muhammad) as they know their own sons. Those who have lost their own souls refuse therefore to believe.”.” (Qur’an; 6:20), “And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said, ‘O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed.’ But when he came to them with clear signs, they said, ‘This is evident sorcery!” (Qur’an; 61:6). Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while ye have knowledge?” (Qur’an; 3:71).
It is mentioned in the Bible, Jesus said: “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did.” (Jhon; 8:39). “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. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Mathew; 3:9-10). Ultimately God sent His last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) as mercy for the mankind and revealed Qur’an upon him for the guidance for all humanity for all times, He says”: Alif Lam Ra. O Muhammad! This (Qur’an) is a Book which We have revealed to you so that you may bring mankind out of utter darkness (ways of ignorance) to the light; by the leave of their Sustainer, to the Way of the Mighty, the Praiseworthy (God).” (Qur’an; 14:1). “…This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL-ISLAM….” (Qur’an; 5:3). “Surely, the true religion in Allah’s sight is Islam” (Qur’an; 3:19) and “Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from Him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers” (Qur’an; 3:85).
Articles of Faith in Islam:
The Islamic faith is based on sound philosophy, doctrines and practices, successfully practiced the world over for centuries. The root of affirmation of in Islam is based on the conviction upon Allah’s unity. In order to be a Muslim, one has to affirm his belief in Allah (One God), His angels, His books (Qur’an and all scriptures previously revealed to His Messengers which also include the original Torah, Psalms and Gospel), His messengers (include all Biblical prophets, from Adam to Jesus, 25 mentioned by name in Qur’an), and Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be His Last Messenger, Resurrection after death on the Day of Judgement, accounting and the scales, hell and paradise and that the good and evil of Destiny are from Allah Most High.
Belief in Angels: Angels are the unseen spiritual creatures mentioned in Biblical and Islamic traditions. In Islam, the angels do not have free will or choice to disobey Allah, they only obey His commands and worship Allah. Belief in angels is an article faith in Islam. The primary function of angels is to praise and serve Allah and do His Will, this is the concept of angels in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Judaism and Christianity some angels are believed to have fallen from a position of proximity to God, because of pride or for attempts to usurp the position of the Supreme Being such as Lucifer (after his fall called Satan by early Church Fathers). According to Qur’an: “The angels are but His honored servants. They do not precede Him in speaking and they act according to His commandment.” (Qur’an:21:26-27). Gabriel, Michael Israfil (Raphael) are well known angels in Bible. The angels are mentioned as ordinary messenger (Job; 1:14; 1Samuel; 11:3; Luke; 7:24; 9:52), messengers of prophets (Isaiah; 42:19; Haggai; 1:13), of priests (Malachi; 2:7), and ministers of the New Testament (Revelation; 1:20). They are created by God and they worship Him: (Nehemiah; 9:6). Their personal existence is plainly implied in such passages as Genesis ; 16:7,10-11; Judges; 13:1-21; Mathew; 28:2-5; Hebrews; 1:4, etc. These superior beings are very numerous. “Thousand thousands,” etc. (Daniel; 7:10; Mathew; 26:53; Luke: 2:13; Hebrews; 12:22-23). As to their nature, they are spirits (Hebrews; 1:14), like the soul of man, but not incorporeal. Imperfection is ascribed to them as creatures (Job; 4:18; Mathew; 24:36; 1Peter; 1:12). Angels never die (Luke; 20:36). They are possessed of superhuman intelligence and power (Mark; 13:32; 2Timothy; 1:7; Psalms; 103:20). They are called “holy” (Luke: 9:26), “elect” (1Timothy; 5:21). The functions of angels are manifold. They obey the will of God (Psalms; 103:20; Mathew; 6:10), execute the purposes of God (Numbers; 22:22; Psalms; 103:21), execute the judgments of God (2Samuel; 24:16; 2Ki 19:35; Psalms; 35:5-6), celebrate the praises of God (Job 38:7; Psalms; 148:2; Isaiah; 6:3). In the widest sense they are agents of God’s providence (Ex 12:23; Psalms; 104:4; Hebrews; 11:28; 1 Corinthians; 10:10; 2 Samuel; 24:16; 1 Chronicles; 21:16; 2Kings; 19:35; Acts; 12:23).
The Day of Judgement & Resurrection: The Day of Judgment is one of the cardinal beliefs in Islamic Faith. Allah says: “The Day whereon they will (all) come forth: Not a single thing concerning them is hidden from Allah. Whose will be the dominion that Day? That of Allah the One the Irresistible!. That Day will every soul be requited for what it earned; no injustice will there be that Day for Allah is Swift in taking account.” (Qur’an; 40:16-17). The Bible also mentions about Resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgement: The dead will be resurrected: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel; 12:2). “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Corinthians 15:51-52); “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” (Isaiah; 26:19); “The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.” (Psalms; 7:8). “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark; 13:32).
Paradise& Hell: Paradise is the abode of enjoyment which Allah, the Exalted, prepared for the righteous. No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard of, and no human being has ever thought of the blessings that they will enjoy there (Qur’an; 32:17). It is mentioned in Bible: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke; 23:43), “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis; 2:8). The Hell is the abode of punishment that Allah has prepared for the sinners and unbelievers: “Surely, We have prepared for the evildoers a fire, whose pavilion encompasses them. If they call for help, they will be helped with water like molten copper which will scald their faces. How dreadful a drink and how evil a resting place!” (Qur’an; 18:29). According to Bible: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalms; 9:17), “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Psalms; 16:10),“For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.” (Psalms; 86:13). “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew; 23:33).
Five Pillars of Faith in Islam: Islam is based on the following five pillars (principles), which are also the forms of worship; the first two (Shahada & Salah) are daily, next two (Zakat & Saum) are annual and the last (Hajj) is once in life:-
The First Pillar of Islam: Confession: The Muslims believe in One God- Allah, the God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus , Muhammad and all the universe. The Creed of Confession (Shahada) is the verbal commitment and pledge to testify: “La ilaha Illallah , Muhammad-ur- Rasul-Allah” (None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad, peace be upon him is the Messenger of Allah). This is the first step towards the spiritual form of worship. Belief in One God is repeatedly mentioned in Bible at: Isaiah; 45:21-22, also at Hosea; 13:4, 1Timothy, 2:5 also in Qur’an; 7:158. The Jewish creed is embodied in a single prayer recited at every prayer service: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”, also translated as “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is unique, alone.”In Hebrew this is pronounced phonetically: “ Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.” (Deuteronomy; 6:4, & Mark 12:29-30 also Deuteronomy; 5:7-9 and 6:13-15, John; 5:30.
However the Christians today use the ‘Nicene Creed’ most widely, followed by the ‘Apostles Creed’, reflecting the concerns of the First Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E, and have their chief purpose, the rejection of Arianism doctrines which deny that Jesus was of the same SUBSTANCE as God and held the view instead that Jesus was only the highest of created beings. The commonalities with Islamic belief only are mentioned in an extract here: “We believe in one God, – - – - the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord,- – - -He will – - – - judge – - -, and his kingdom will have no end – - – He has spoken through the Prophets – - – We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. “The second part of Islamic Confession about the prophet hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is mentioned in the Bible. 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 Second Pillar of Islam: Prayer –Salah: Muslims are required to offer five times the daily prayers (salah), to Allah. Prayer is the physical, spiritual and social form of worship in congregation. It is general misconception that the five prayers in a day are only practiced in the present day Islam which is the revived faith of Abraham. Prayers have been part of faith right from the beginning, Qur’an refers them at: 2:43, 14:37, 14:40, 11:87, 3:39, 19:31, and 3:113. The Prayer of a Muslim is not complete without recitation of The Opening Chapter (Surah Fateha) of (Qur’an; 1:1-7) in Bible prayer is at Exodus; 34:6-7,.Mathew; 6:9-13, also in Psalms; 7:1-17 and 8:1-9. Offering the prayers (Salah) has been repeatedly mentioned in Bible: “And Abram fell on his face:” (Genesis; 17:3-5, prayer also mentioned at Genesis; 18:22, 22:5, 26:25, 12:8, Exodus; 4:31, 5:3, 5:7, 5:8 & 34:8-9, Psalms; 86:9, 95:5, 5:7, 55:16, 55:17, 95:6, 138:2, 1 Kings; 8:33, 34, Jeremiah; 7:2, Daniel; 6:10, 9:3, Joshua; 7:6, Mathew; 14:23 & 17:21. “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and said unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder”. (Mathew; 26:36, 26:39). “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour”. (Acts; 3:1, 10:9, 12:12, 16:13, 16:25, 20:36, Luke; 22: 44-46, Mark; 1:35 & 9:29.
Ablution: Cleanliness, purity and ablution has always been obligatory for prayer for Muslims. Ablution before prayer is also mentioned in Bible: “And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet there at:” (Exodus; 40:31). “Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them”. (Acts; 21:26).
The Third Pillar of Islam: Obligatory Alms -Zakat: Obligatory Charity (Zatak) involves annual payment of a certain percentage of a Muslim’s assets which is distributed among the poor or other rightful beneficiaries. This is a financial, social and spiritual form of worship. Zakat has always been part of previous divine scriptures and the massagers of God had been emphasizing its payment, which is mentioned in Qur’an at 2:83, 70:24, 5:121, 9:55, 19:31 & 21; 73. This has also been emphasized in Bible at:Numbers; 18:25-26, Leviticus; 27:30-32, Deuteronomy; 14:22, 14:28-29, 26:12, 1 Peter; 4:8, Mathew; 23:23-24.
The Fourth Pillar of Islam: Fasting: Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from early morning till sunset, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations (with wife). Fasting is combination of physical and spiritual form of worship. This is very old form of worship which existed in very old societies. (Qur’an; 2:183). Prophet Jonah (Younas, peace be upon him) was sent to one of the nations in the area of the old civilizations of Nineveh and Babylon. His people initially denied him but later followed him. It is mentioned in the Bible: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, (Jonah; 3:5-8). Fasting is mentioned at: Exodus; 34:27-28, Leviticus; 16:29-30, 2 Samuel; 1:12, 2 Samuel; 12:16, Numbers; 9:1-3, Psalms; 35:13, Jeremiah; 36:6, Joel; 2:12-13, Zechariah; 8:18, Acts; 13:2-3, Mark; 9:29 & Mathew; 17:21. “And he (Jesus) said unto them (disciples), This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark; 9:29).
The Fifth Pillar of Islam: The Pilgrimage -Ha The Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makka) is performed by once in life time if one can afford financially and physically. Hajj is the special form of worship, in which the physical, financial, social and spiritual aspects. Hajj revive the memory of pronouncement of Islamic monotheism (Tawheed) by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his son Prophet Isma’il (peace be upon him) while building Ka’ba at Makka over three millenniums ago. The birth of Ishmael through, Hager, the second wife of Abraham is narrated in Bible (Genisis; 16:3,16:15). Allah says in Qur’an. “Verily, the first house (of worship) appointed for mankind was that in Baca (Mecca), full of blessing, and guidance for all people.” (Qur’an; 3:96). The Bible also mentions about Baca: “As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.” (Psalms; 84:6). Baca; in the ancient dialect is synonymous with Makkah. The spring is known as the Zamzam. Some of the Hajj rituals (Qur’an; 5:27 & Fiqh-us-Sunnah: 5.85) , are identical as given at Genesis; 22:2, 22:4-5, Exodus; 29:26, Genesis; 4:1-5, Numbers; 8:10-16, Numbers; 6:5, 6:13, & 6:18).
Strenuous Efforts (Jihad) made sincerely for advancement of the cause of Allah, though not part of five pillars of Islam but is part of the Faith. Jihad does not necessarily mean armed struggle against oppression only, but it also implies that man should preach the Divine message using all means and sacrificing his wealth or self being for the cause of God. The true believers may expect reward for their good deeds in the form of salvation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is striving (Jihad) in the way of Allah.” (Fiqh As-Sunnah: 1.75). Jihad is a life-long mission for the Muslim as a community to struggle against all evils, socio-economic, cultural, educational and political dogmas; superstitious and mythological concepts; and directing the Muslims towards obedience to Allah, enlightenment, refinement, scientific progress, dignified character and honest actions. Its top and most noble form is to fight the enemies of Islam in battle in order to foil their attempts to suppress the Muslims and the invitation to Islam. According to Qur’an, Jihad with sword was also permissible in the Bible (Qur’an:9:111, 2:54, 5:21-22, 5:26, 2:251). It is mentioned in Bible: “And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus; 26:7-8)also at Psalm; 149:6-9, Luke; 9:27, Hebrews; 11:32-34, Numbers; 31:17-18, 31:35, Joshua; 6:21, 10:28.
Social And Political Aspects:
Democracy and Respect of Legitimate Authority: Islam is a complete way of life, encompassing religious, social, economic, legal, political and all other aspects of life. Islam makes no sharp division between spiritual and secular affairs, it expects governments to be imbued with righteousness. The system of government is based on consultation (shura), the democratic way spelled out by Qur’an fourteen centuries ago: “ who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; ” (Qur’an; 42:38 & 3:159). As per Qur’an: “O believers! Obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you. Should you have a dispute in anything, refer it to Allah and His Messenger” (Qur’an; 4:59). The people charged with authority (Ulu-l-amr), running the government are to be respected and obeyed by the Muslims otherwise there can be no order or discipline resulting in to anarchy, however not on the matters which are in conflict with the faith and fundamentals of Islam. Similar instructions are also found in Bible at Romans; 13:1-4.
Strive Against Ignorance, Oppression and Selfish Desires- Jihad:
The term “Jihad” has much wider significance than a military campaign and open warfare as commonly perceived and misunderstood. Jihad could be with “the heart” (intentions or feelings), or “with tongue” (expression through speech or writing etc). This may require speaking out in public, for extending invitation of Islam to non believers (Dawah, preaching), against ignoring Islamic principles, and writing articles or publishing books to promote Islam. Since Islam is the faith of “Peace”, the early Muslim community was urged to conduct the Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira), through Qur’an, i.e. preaching of Allah’s message. Allah says in Qur’an: “therefore, do not yield to the unbelievers, and make Jihad (strive) against them with this Qur’an, a mighty Jihad (strenuous striving).” (Qur’an; 25:52). The aim of making Strenuous Efforts (Jihad) is three fold: The first and foremost is to; ‘Strive Against Selfish Desires’ (Nafs ammarah), to purify the heart, so that the faith (Eman) of Islam is deeply rooted in the heart, to become fully subservient to the commands of God and His Apostle. Secondly, making strenuous efforts (Jihad) to convey the Last message of God (Islam) to the humanity (Dawah).This is a great responsibility so Muslims have to gain knowledge of Islam, practice it and then convey to the humanity. It was only after the first two stages which lasted for over thirteen years of the Prophetic mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that after migration to Median the third stage came. Hence Jihad is made permissible to provide protection to Muslims and non Muslims against oppression. Allah says: “ “And what reason do you (Muslims) have not to fight in the cause of God, to rescue the helpless oppressed old men, women, and children who are crying: “Our Lord! Deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors; send us a protector by Your grace and send us a helper from Your presence?” (Qur’an; 4:75). All out efforts are to be made to preserve Islam, and to create conducive environments for freely conveying the message of Islam to all the people, without any coercion. So that they may ponder and accept or reject it by their free choice using their reason and intellect in line with the teachings of Qur’an. Hence like any other struggle, Jihad also has defensive as well as offensive implications depending upon social, geopolitical, socioeconomic, military, religious and other considerations. 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. This Divine punishment was accomplished in case of Arabs in the life time of Apostle and for the neighboring powers through his companions. It is no more applicable now. Creating mischief on earth on the pretext of Jihad is against the sprit of Jihad. Allah says: “Eat and drink of what Allah has provided and do not create mischief in the land.” (Qur’an; 2:60), “those who break their bond with God after it has been established (in their nature), and who cut aside what Allah has ordered to be united and cause mischief on earth. It is they who are the losers. (Qur’an; 2:27).
Jihad is a life-long mission for the Muslim as a community to struggle against all evils, socio-economic, cultural, educational and political dogmas; superstitious and mythological concepts; and directing the Muslims towards obedience to Allah, enlightenment, refinement, scientific progress, dignified character and honest actions. Its top and most noble form is to fight the enemies of Islam in battle in order to foil their attempts to suppress the Muslims and the invitation to Islam. According to Qur’an, Jihad with sword was also permissible in the Bible (Qur’an:9:111, 2:54, 5:21-22, 5:26,2:251). It is mentioned in Bible: “And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus; 26:7-8)also at Psalm; 149:6-9, Luke; 9:27, Hebrews; 11:32-34, Numbers; 31:17-18, 31:35, Joshua; 6:21, 10:28.
Respect of Women:
Although the women are considered inferior and lower to men in Bible, but presently in the Western culture they are considered equal to men. Islam has granted equal status (not identical) t0 women fourteen centuries ago. The women are required to be dressed modestly according to Bible as well as in Qur’an. The status of women in Islam is often the target of attacks in the West. The Muslim women are dressed up modestly which enhances their status to a respectable position. It may be kept in view that modest dress for women has always been a part of Judeo-Christian scriptures, according to Bible: “but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven.” (1 Corinthians; 11:5-9). “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy; 22:5), “also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire.” (1Timothy; 2:9).
Right of Inheritance to Women: The Biblical rules of inheritance are outlined in Book of Numbers; 27:1-11. A wife is given no share in her husband’s estate, while he is her first heir, even before her sons. A daughter can inherit only if no male heirs exist. A mother is not an heir at all while the father is. Widows and daughters, in case male children remained, were at the mercy of the male heirs for provision. The Qur’an gave all the female relatives inheritance shares: In Islam, the Man and woman have been given the right to inherit from the parents and the near relatives. (Qur’an; 4:7, 11). However in certain cases the woman gets half of what a man in her position would get. The cause of this variation is the financial responsibilities and liabilities with which man has been burdened, not woman. The widows and divorcees have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. There is no stigma attached with divorce or widowhood in Islam. (Qur’an; 2:231,232, 234, 240).
Polygyny: If a man marries more than one woman at a time it is called Polygyny, which has been practiced since ages. In none of the other religious scriptures, there is any restriction on the number of wives a man may possess. According to these scriptures one can marry as many women as one wishes. It was only later, that the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one. The Bible did not condemn polygyny. To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the legality of polygyny. Prophet & King Solomon (peace be upon him) is said to have 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings; 11:3) Also, Prophet & King David (peace be upon him) is said to have had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel; 5:13). The Old Testament does have some injunctions on how to distribute the property of a man among his sons from different wives (Deutronomy; 22:7). The only restriction on polygyny is a ban on taking a wife’s sister as a rival wife (Leviticus; 18:18). The Talmud advises a maximum of four wives. The Qur’an is the only religious book, that contains the phrase ‘MARRY ONLY ONE’ with instructions of justice. Polygyny is permissible to cater for different situations like more number of women in particular society or particular time due to famine, war etc, but it is not a religious obligation. The Western culture does not allow polygyny but living without marriage and extramarital affairs by spouses have been accepted as a norm.
Evidence by Women: Islam grants the right of witness to women, however in financial transaction since in Islamic society a women is not required to be intimately involved in financial matters, two women are required as witness so that if one forgets the other reminds. Women were not allowed to bear witness in early Jewish society citing Genesis; 18:9-16. In the Christian West, both ecclesiastical and civil law debarred women from giving testimony until late last century.
Abolition of Slavery:
Islam does not approve of slavery. Superiority of one over an other person is on the basis of righteous and good conduct, (Qur’an; 49:13). When the message of Islam was preached, slavery was a very common practice in all-human societies, it was an international system. Slavery is sanctioned in Bible at Leviticus 25:44-46. Islam abolished slavery gradually by various measures (Qur’an; 9:60, 24:33, 24:32).
Prohibition of Riba (Usury): In modern law usury, is the practice of charging an illegal rate of interest for the loan of money. Interest is however prohibited in Bible at Leviticus; 25:39-37. Riba (literally ‘usury’ or ‘interest’) is also prohibited by Qura’n; 2:278-279, 2:275, 2:276, 30:39.
Muslims are allowed to eat everything which is good for the health and permissible (Qur’an; 2:168). Muslims are also allowed to consume permissible (Hilal) food from the people of the book (Jews and Christians). The dietary instructions are almost similar in Bible, teachings and practice of Jesus, and Qur’an. The permissible (Hilal) animals are to be slaughtered in Islamic way by reciting the name of Allah. (Qur’an; 5:5). “He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. but if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is He guiltless. for Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.” (Qur’an;:173). Similar prohibitions are also mentioned in Bible: “ (Acts; 15:29), “ (Deuteronomy; 14:21),” (Genesis; 9:4) Leviticus 17:14-15, Deuteronomy 12:16, 1Samuel 14:33 and Acts 15:29 also at Revelation 2:14. Pork is also prohibited in Bible: “And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you.” (Leviticus; 11:7-8) also Deuteronomy 14:8 & Isaiah 65:2-5. Consumption of alcohol and gambling is prohibited in Qur’an; 5:90). (Proverbs; 20:1),“ (Ephesians; 5:18).
The responsibilities toward other human beings are indeed given a very strong emphasis in Islam. Obligations towards fellow humans have been emphasized in Bible at ‘Romans; chapter 12: “love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans; 12:10), more at Romans; 12:12, 18-21). The Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him) is the role model for the Muslims. The virtues like justice, truthfulness, kind and courteous behaviour with fellow humans, fairness in trade, dealings, respect of life and property of others, helping underprivileged, oppressed and weak, Muslim or non Muslims alike are hall mark of Islam, the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is full of practical examples. Even the animals have rights; Narrated Sahl ibn al-Hanzaliyyah: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) came upon an emaciated camel and said: “Fear Allah regarding these dumb animals. Ride them when they are in good condition and feed them when they are in good condition.” (Sunnah Abu Dawood, Hadith.1065).
In Judaism, the rabbis believed all Jewish law (Talmudic Law and Jurisprudence) to be of ‘divine. Thus, for example, unfairness in labour relations was considered a religious sin and caring for the sick a religious obligation. Jesus declared that: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. . . . Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; ” (Mathew; 5:17-20). Later the people claiming to be followers of Jesus deviated. Since Islam is a complete code of life covering all aspects including social, economic, political, military and other aspects of human life, hence the Islamic law (Shari’ah) based on Qur’an and traditions of Prophet (peace be upon him) spells out the moral goals of the community, where state and religion are not separate entity. In Islamic society, therefore, the term law has a wider significance than it does in the modern secular West, because Islamic law includes both legal and moral imperatives. For the same reason, not all-Islamic laws can be stated as formal legal rules or enforced by the courts. Much of it depends on conscience alone. The Shari’ah duties are broadly divided into those that an individual owes to Allah (the ritual practices or ‘ibadat) and those that he owes to his fellow men (mu’amalat).
Life For a Life, Eye For Eye: Allah mentions in Qur’an: “Indeed We revealed the Torah to Moses, in which there is guidance and light: By its laws, all the Prophets, who had surrendered themselves up to God, judged those who call themselves Jews and so did the rabbis and jurists of law. They were entrusted the protection of Allah’s Book and they themselves were witnesses. Have no fear of people; fear Me, and do not sell My revelations for a petty price: those who do not judge by the law which Allah has revealed, are indeed unbelievers. We ordained in Torah for them: “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth and for a wound an equal retaliation.” But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity it will be an act of atonement for him; those who do not judge by the law which Allah has revealed, they are the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an; 5:44-45). The retaliation has also been allowed by Qur’an at verse 2:178, Allah says: “There is security of life for you in the law of retaliation, so that you may learn self-restraint. (Qur’an; 2:179). The retaliation is prescribed in three places in the Exodus; 21:23-25: Leviticus; 24: 18-21, and Deuteronomy; 19:21. The wording in the three quotations is different, but in none of them is found the additional rider for mercy, as in Qur’an. In Mathew Jesus quotes the Old Law “eye for eye,” etc, and modifies it in the direction of forgiveness: “You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; ” (Mattew; 5:38-39).
Death for Killer: The killing of innocent is major crime in Bible and Qur’an: “He who kills a man shall be put to death.” (Leviticus; 24:17). Allah says in Qur’an: “You shall not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.” (Qur’an; 17:33).
Sexual Crimes- Death by Stoning:
Punishment of death by stoning was already prevalent: “But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman,: then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.” (Deuterinomy; 22:20-21). Death by stoning is also prescribed for blasphemy (Lectivis; 24:16). Adultery is prohibited, according to Qur’an; 17:32 and Mathew; 5:28. In Islam death by stoning is prescribed for unmarried adulterer and adulteress only if four eye witness are produced or self confession by the accused takes place. (Al-Muwatta Hadith, 41.2). Death is prescribed for adultery in Bible at Leviticus; 20:10-12, Leviticus; 20:14-16). Homosexuality is strictly forbidden,Qur’an; 7:81. Bible prescribe death is as the punishment for homosexuality: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus; 20:13).
Theft/Robbery: This is a serious crime, strictly forbidden by Qur’an and Bible at Deuteronomy; 5:19 & Exodus; Chapter: 20, 11; Leviticus; 19, Qur’an; 60:12, 29:29, 7:86. Amputation of hand of thief is the punishment prescribed in Qur’an; 5:38, Matthew; 18:8. Apparently in the age of Jesus thieves were crucified, Matthew; 27:38.
Eschatology is the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind. In Abrahamic faiths it is related with the beliefs or a doctrine concerning the ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, paradise and hell etc, which are the matters of the unseen world (alam-al-ghaib): “To Him you shall all return. Allah’s promise is true. He is the One who originates the process of Creation and repeats it (will bring it back to life) so that He may justly reward (hereafter) those who believed in Him and did righteous deeds. As for those who disbelieved, they shall have boiling fluids to drink and shall undergo a painful punishment because they rejected the truth.” (Qur’an; 10:4). Historical eschatology is basic to the Old Testament and Qur’an, it is part of the structure of faith of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, wherein the death, resurrection on the Day of Judgement, paradise and hell exist with some variations.
Period Between Death and Resurrection: After death, souls are in what is called “the life in the Barzakh (Barrier)”, which is a status in between this life and the second life that begins on the Day of Judgement; (Qura’n; 23:99-100, 14:27). It is known that the faithfuls who have done well in this life, being devout and doing what God requires them to do will be in a happy state, while determined sinners will suffer what is termed as the “torment in the grave.” According to Bible: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel; 12:2). The delay of the imminent expectation brought about the question of the fate of the dead person in the period between the death of the individual Christian and the resurrection. One view is that of an individual judgment, which takes place immediately after death and brings the individual to an interim state, from which he enters into the realm of bliss or that of perdition (eternal damnation, Hell). A second view, therefore, also prevailed: the sleep of the soul–i.e., the soul of the dead person enters into a sleeping state that continues until the Last Judgment, which will occur after the general resurrection. At the Last Judgment the resurrected will be assigned either to eternal life or eternal damnation. The presupposition of the doctrine of purgatory is that there is a special judgment for each individual at once after death.
Events Preceding The End of the World: Generally there are many similarities in the predicted events preceding the end of the world. One of these is that of strange creature (Qura’n; 27:82) in Old Testament at Daniel; 7:8, 24, 25, I John; 2:18, 22; II John; 7. Jesus is attributed to have said: “Then if any one says to you, `Lo, here is the Christ!’ or `There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” (Mathew; 24:23-24), also at John; 5:43, IJohn; 2:18, 22, 4:3; IIJohn; 7. In the Book of Revelation the Antichrist is seen as a worker of wonders and a seducer.
Gog and Magog: According to the Bible, Gog is a hostile power that is ruled by Satan and will manifest itself immediately before the end of the world: (Revelation; 20:8). (Ezekiel; 38; Genesis; 10:2). Qur’an has mentions about the release of Yajuj & Majuj (Gog and Magog) after the collapse of the barrier (wall) which separates them from known world: (Qura’n; 21:96). The rightly guided one (Mahdi), will fill the Earth with justice and equity, restore true religion of Islam, and usher in a short golden age lasting seven, eight, or nine years before the end of the world. The Qur’an does not mention him, and almost no reliable Hadith concerning the Mahdi can be adduced. He will strive hard to put an end to the Impostor who would have wreaked havoc and spread corruption. He would fight that Imposter with those who believe in the right faith. He appears before the Second Coming of Jesus and when Jesus comes, he hands over the leadership of the believers to him.
Second Coming of Jesus: According to Islamic traditions, at the second coming of the Prophet Jesus Christ, he will break the cross and kill pigs. He would gather around him some believers who would be dedicated to the cause of the divine faith. He will fight the Impostor and kill him to establish a world order. Then there will be abundance of money and nobody will accept charitable gifts. (Narrated by Abu Huraira: Shaih Al Bukhari Hadith.3.425). He will rule the world according to law of Qur’an (Shari’ah) and establish peace and Islamic rule in world. All Jews and Christians will believe him as ‘Messenger of Allah and a human being’, they will follow him. Jesus will die his natural death. The Second Coming of Jesus is also called Second Advent, or Parousia, in Christianity, it is the future return of Jesus Christ in glory, when it is understood that he will set up his kingdom, judge his enemies, and reward the faithful, living and dead. Believers find evidence for the Second Coming in the Gospels (Matthew; 24,25; Mark; 13; Luke; 21:5-26; John; 14:25-29), in the Book of Revelations, and in other biblical and traditional sources.
Resurrection on the Day of Judgement: Resurrection and the Day of Judgement are emphasized in Bile and Qur’an: (Qura’n; 36:12, 36:52, 2:281). According to Bible: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel; 12:2).However the time of The Hour (Day of Judgement) is only known to God: Qura’n; 7:187, 43:66, 6:31, 40:16-17 & Mark; 13:32. Everyone will be judged on the same basis, by the same criterion, and his or her destiny will be known. God may pardon whomever He wills, and He certainly forgives a countless number of people much of their sins. Whoever is so forgiven will end up in Heaven, while those who are not, will end up in Hell. The basic element that earns forgiveness is belief in God. The concept of paradise for the blessed and hell for the sinners or non believers is part of eschatology in the three Abrahamic faiths. (Qura’n; 32:17, 18:29, 65-11).
The Blessed Land:
Palestine which has Jerusalem is called blessed land because here Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other great prophets of God had lived: “Thus we made that nation which was oppressed, the inheritors of the eastern and western lands which We had blessed…” (Qura’n; 7:137). According to the Islamic traditions, the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque at Jerusalem is the second place built in the history of mankind for the worship One God, the first being Ka’ba at Makka. It is highly revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians. This is the blessed place of sojourn of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as he ascended into heaven. (Qura’n; 17:1). Initially this remained the direction of prayer for Muslims. Hence it is one of three most holiest sites of Islam other being Ka’ba and Mosque of the Prophet at Medina. Jews revere it as it the same place where Temple of Solomon was constructed to house the Ark of Covenant and for the worship of One God, the God of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Ishmael. The temple has long history of destruction and rebuilding and its final destruction by Romans in 70 C.E. All that remained of the Second Temple was a portion of the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall), which continues to be the focus of Jewish aspirations and pilgrimage. During 7th century, Jerusalem was a sacred place to both Jews and Christians, but the Christians had the upper hand after conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity (306-337 C.E), as it was included in the Byzantine Empire, which maintained a Patriarch at Jerusalem. Jerusalem fell to Muslims (638 C.E). In 691 C.E Muslims rebuilt a Mosque (also called Dome of the Rock). The Jews were allowed to return by Muslims after their expulsion over 500 years. It changed hands between Christians and Muslims during Crusades till final eviction by Salhud-din-Ayoubi in 1187 C.E, Jerusalem remained under Muslim rule till 1917, after the retreat of the Turks it was ruled under the British Mandate till 1948, and then made part of Jordan. Israel captured it in 1967. Israel has declared Jerusalem as its indivisible capital against UN Resolutions, which is not internationally recognized. The Palestine have declared it as the capital of their state as and when it is established.
Vatican and Muslims:
One of the significant developments in recent times, however, was some shift of the views of the Holy See on Muslims that should hopefully work as a catalyst for better understanding between Muslims and Christians. Whereas in 1095 C.E Pope Urban II, who was the first to call for the Crusades, characterized Muslims as “Godless people, idolaters, enemies of Christ, dogs, chaff destined for eternal fire” etc., the Nostra Estate of 1965 under Pope Paul VI sees Muslims in an entirely different light. “Upon Muslims, too, the Church looks with esteem”, the document says, and proceeds to expound that Muslims adore the One God, the God of Abraham with whom the Islamic faith is happy to associate itself, and how they worship, pray and give alms, and revere Jesus and his virgin mother and consider him the prophet and messenger of God. The efforts made by late Pope John Paul II for interfaith dialogue are commendable. He invited all the parties to a conference at Assisist in Turkey to thrash out the differences and reach a consensus on the major conflicting issues. His purpose was to bring down the barriers and create new avenues of understanding. This dialogue process can only proceed if Pope Benedict XVI also follows the footsteps of his predecessor. His unwarranted comments on spread of Islam by sword instead of ‘reason’ created strong reaction from Islamic world, it would require much more than mere apology to undo the damage done. Beyond that, relations should remain peaceful and friendly. The Muslim expansion in the Christendom and later, the Crusaders and colonization of most of the Muslim world by western Christian powers created the bitterness. Hence it was the geo-political conflict between Muslims and Christendom that left it scars. The contribution of Islamic civilization in the emergence of westerns civilization is a historic fact. Concerted efforts are required to open the gates of reconciliation between two blocks of humanity comprising around 3.5 billion people and perhaps helping to prevent similar evils from camouflaging a pseudo-religious aura, in the world.
Peace and Harmony:
It will not be appropriated to put all the blame the West only, for the present pathetic state of Muslims. Once the Muslims lost interest in practice of tenets of Islam, they also lagged behind in the pursuit of knowledge and modernization, which resulted in their decline and ultimately subjugation by the Western powers. Allah says: “O ye who believe! What is the matter with you then when ye are asked to go forth (Tanfiru) in the cause of Allah ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life as compared with the hereafter. Unless ye go forth He will punish you with a grievous penalty and put others in your place...” (Qur’an; 9:39). To go forth (March forward), the believers have to be ready to strive and suffer, because this is the condition of all progress in the spiritual and moral, as well as in the physical world. According to the famous English proverb, ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Inactivity and lethargy are fatal. No one can rest on his oars. If a nation receives favours and fails to deserve them, it will be replaced by another: as has so often happened in history. Muslims need to remember: “Say: He is able to send punishment upon you from above you or from beneath your feet, or to bewilder you with dissension and make you taste the tyranny one of another…” (Qur’an; 6:65). “..If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His Plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues…” (Qur’an; 5:48). “…It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns…” (Qur’an; 2:286). “Let not the vicissitude (of the success) of those who disbelieve, in the land, deceive thee. It is but a brief comfort. And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode..” (Qur’an; 3:196-197). “If it were His will He could destroy you O mankind and create another race: for He hath power this to do.” (Qur’an; 4:133). “Why should Allah punish you if you are grateful and a true believer? Allah knows the grateful.” (Qur’an; 4:147). “That is because Allah has never changed the blessings which He has bestowed on a people until they themselves changed the condition of their souls; verily Allah hears all and knows all.” (Qur’an; 8:53). “..The fact is that Allah never changes the condition of a people until they intend to change it themselves…” (Qur’an; 13:11).The Muslims have to excel in the scientific developments so as to built up their economic, social, political and military strength. This will enable them to speak from the position of strength in a dialogue with the Christians, Jews and the other powers of the world to convey the last Message and amicable coexistence. The commonalties will help to bridge the gap.
Qur’an urges Muslims to invite the ‘People of the Book’ towards the commonalties: “Say: “O people of the Book! LET US GET TOGETHER on what IS COMMON BETWEEN US AND YOU: that we shall WORSHIP NONE BUT GOD; that we shall not associate any partners with Him and that we shall not take human beings for our lords besides God; ” If they turn away then tell them: “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves un to Him (in Islam).” (Qur’an; 3:64). The Jews, Christians and Muslims claim to be the followers of Abraham, who preached the pure monotheism. Moses and Jesus 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 & Mathew; 19:17). Qur’an says: “Your God is one God; there is no one worthy of worship except Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” (Qur’an; 2:163). The focus on common aspects will help in developing batter understanding of each other and can become basis for dialogue. The faith in Islam is based upon belief in Allah (One God), His angels, His Scriptures (like Torah, Psalms, Gospel), His messengers, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be His Last Messenger, Resurrection after death, Destiny, Trial, Hell and Paradise. A Muslims should practice the five pillars of Islam (worship); the first two; Declaration & Prayers (Shahada & Salah) are daily, next two Charity & Fasting (Zakat & Saum) are annual while Hajj is once in life. These are based on Abrahamic traditions, also mentioned in Bible.
The narratives of creation of universe, Adam and humanity are quite similar. The guidance of humanity through messengers and prophets like Noah, Lut, Jonah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon Jesus and scriptures has been mentioned in Bible and Qur’an. Muslims believe in miraculous birth of Jesus without father, miracles performed by him, his accession to heaven and second coming before end of the world. Jesus (peace be upon him), the son of Mary was the Messenger of God: “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). Jesus himself said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mathew; 10:5-6, 15:24 & Qur’an; 3:49), “Think not that I (Jesus) have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. . . . Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;” (Mathew; 5:17-20). The instructions analogous to the COMMANDMENTS have also been mentioned in Qur’an and made applicable to Muslims except Sabbath, the stringent restriction from which Muslims have been relieved, it was not the tradition of Abraham. The tradition of circumcision is linked with Abraham (Genisis; 17:10-12, Acts; 7:8, John; 7:22) accordingly Jesus was also circumcised (Luke; 2:21), while Christians have abandoned this tradition, Muslims being the faithful true followers of Abraham, strictly adhere to this practice. Moses is revered as a messenger of God with scripture, mentioned in Qur’an at numerous verses; 17:2, 4:154, 7:145 & 7:154. Qur’an and Bible are synonymous on the individual responsibility of man; (Qur’an; 35:18, 17:15, 6:164 and Bible; Ezekiel; 18:20-21). The advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been prophesized the Old Testament as well as in New Testament; (Deuteronomy; 18:18, 19, Mathew; 1:18, Luke; 1:35, Qur’an; 3:42-47 linked with John; 18:36, 1:11 & Mathew; 5:17-18).
Islam places women at respectable and dignified position. Taking ‘Interest’ is prohibited in Bible at Leviticus; 25:37. Riba (literally ‘usury’ or ‘interest’) is also prohibited by Qur’an at 2:278-279, 2:275, 2:276 & 30:39. The dietary prohibitions of Old Testament are almost similarly applicable to Muslims with some relaxations. The pig and alcohol are also prohibited for Muslims. Muslims are also allowed to consume permissible (Hilal) food from the People of the Book. The punishments through retaliation; like Life for a Life, Eye for Eye are mentioned in Bible and Qur’an. In Eschatology; Resurrection on the Day of Judgement, reward and punishment after trial, paradise and hell, bear some similarities. Humanitarian obligations have been emphasized in Bible and Qur’an. One of the significant developments in recent times, however, was some shift of the views of the Holy See on Muslims, it should hopefully work as a catalyst for better understanding between Muslims and Christians. The previous Pope, John Paul II was instrumental in developing new approach of Vatican towards Muslims. It is important that for the sake of world peace and freedom of humanity, the Christian West and Zionist Jews should treat the Muslims with fairness, justice, respect and dignity which they deserve and stop oppression and exploitation, the common roots should form the basis of friendship and dialogue not confrontation.