By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
11 August 2017
Jesus teaches us to love our neighbours. Now, in this globalized, electronic age, who is our neighbour? Not just the person living next door. In our age, our neighbour is everyone everywhere on the planet—in Africa, in Europe, throughout the whole world! This electronic age has made everyone our neighbour!
I was a seeker. I wanted to know what the meaning of life is, the purpose of life. Why am I here in this world? What is life? What is death? I read a lot—different traditions, different systems, so many books! Then, I found the answer in a Quranic verse that says, “All things in the end shall return to God.” (53:42)
I discovered then that God Almighty is my goal. He is my Creator and my Sustainer. He is the Super-Giver. The Quran says: “those who believe love God most.” (2:165)
This is the only response that God Almighty wants from me. I have to love Him, to have strong affection for Him, because everything that I have is given by God. I surrendered to God Almighty. I adopted a God-oriented life. By birth I wasn’t a materialistic person. I have no interest in comforts, in luxuries, in material things. I was a seeker of the Truth. When I discovered the Truth in the form of God Almighty, I became His devotee.
When one sees the sun, one is reminded of God. When one sees the rain, one is reminded of God. When one sees a tree, one is reminded God. When one sees a bird flying, one is reminded God. All these things are signs of God. All these things are created by God, and all of them can lead you to remember God.
Then, from the Quran I discovered that if I am surrendered to God, I will receive Paradise in return. From man it is required that he surrender to God; and for God, Paradise is a reward to man for man’s surrender to Him.
It is said in the Bible that Jesus taught us to pray thus: “Give us this day our daily bread”(Matthew 6:11). The same is mentioned in the Quran in these words: “Give us our sustenance, for You are the best of sustainers.” (5:114). I discovered that the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of Muhammad was one and the same. What is this ‘daily bread’, this daily food? It is spiritual food. We need two kinds of food—physical food, that gives health to our physical body, and spiritual food, food for our soul, for our mind, for our heart.
So, what is required for Paradise is that we develop ourselves as a spiritual personality: a person who loves all humankind. Jesus very rightly teaches us to love our enemy. It means love all, including your enemy. Love is the source of all kinds of betterment. If you inculcate love, you become a positive person. You become a hate-free person. You have a healthy spirit. This is the condition for entry into Paradise. The Quran says: “And God calls man to the home of peace.” (10:25) It means that Paradise is a peaceful society. Only that person will find entry into Paradise who is a peaceful person, who has positive thinking, who has hate-free thinking. It is the purpose of my life that I develop in such a way that I may be able to find entry into Paradise, to become a deserving candidate for Paradise.
So, according to my discovery, God is my Creator, my Lord, and Paradise is my goal.
Then I discovered that the concept of ‘right here, right now’ is a wrong concept because man is born as an eternal being. We live in this world for, say, 70-80 years, and then we die. But death isn’t the end of life. Rather, it opens into eternity. So, in this present world I have to develop myself as a deserving candidate for Paradise so that after my death I may get entry into Paradise. This is also something that I discovered.
I discovered that the greatest quality a person can have is to be a hate-free person, to have no hate for anyone, and to have love for everyone.
Here, I’d like to narrate an incident from the life of the Prophet Muhammad. One day, when he was in Madinah, he saw the funeral procession of a Jewish person passing by. He was seated at that time. When he saw the procession, he stood up in respect. One of his Companions said to him that it was the funeral procession of a Jew [and not a Muslim]. And the Prophet replied: Alaysat Nafsan, meaning, “Was he not a human being?” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
This incident shows how the heart of the Prophet was. His response shows that a believer is a positive person. In his heart there is nothing but love for everyone. This is true spirituality. This is the true condition for Paradise.
Once, a person came to the Prophet and requested him for a master-advice by which he might be able to manage all the affairs of his life. And the Prophet said to him: La Taghzab, that is, “Don’t be angry.”(Sahih al-Bukhari) It means don’t be angry even when provoked.
This is the secret of a believer’s life.
The Quran describes the Prophet as Rahmat un Lil-Alameen, which means ‘a mercy to all mankind” (21:107). This is also a Sunnah of the Prophet. And so, everyone must live in this same spirit, as a blessing for others, loving all mankind, following the Sunnah of the Prophet in this regard.
What is Paradise? It is the neighbourhood of God. There is a verse in the Quran in the form of a Dua or supplication: “My Lord, build me a house in nearness to You in Paradise.” (66:11) This is Paradise. Paradise is a very refined colony in the neighbourhood of God. The greatest ambition of a person is to find a place in that neighbourhood.
Our present life in this world is only for us to be tested. This world is a testing-ground. We are here for only one purpose—and that is, to qualify ourselves for Paradise. Life is divided into two parts—the pre-death period and the post-death period. The pre-death period is for us to be tested, while the post-death period is for reward. I discovered this from the Quran.
I have read the Bible and the Quran and have found that the teachings of Jesus and of Muhammad are one and the same. I don’t know any difference between the two. I love Muhammad, and at the same time I also love Jesus. Once, while on a visit to the USA, I was invited to speak at a church. After the lecture, a Christian scholar asked me a question. He said that Jesus teaches us to love our enemy and he wanted to know if I could cite any such teaching in the Quran. I said yes and referred to a verse in Chapter 41 in the Quran that says: “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.” (41:34)
This verse refers to God’s Creation Plan. According to the Creation Plan of God, there is no enemy. Everyone is your friend. Some are your actual friends, while others are your potential friends. So, from this verse in the Quran you can see that the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of Muhammad are one and the same.
You must not think of anyone as your enemy. Don’t think in terms of ‘friend’ versus ‘foe’. Everyone is your friend, whether actual friend or potential friend. This is very important, because if you are a hateful person, if you are an intolerant person, you cannot develop that kind of personality that is required for Paradise. If you want to find entry into Paradise, you have to love all. You have to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ to love your enemy, because otherwise your admission into Paradise is doubtful.
So, ‘love your enemy’ is not simply an ethical teaching. It is a way of life that may lead you to Paradise. ‘Love your enemy’ is a source of all kinds of good behaviour. According to my study, this is the gist of both religions, Christianity and Islam.
You have to live in positivity. This world is a world of problems. Here, every time there are some unpleasant situations. Given this, how is it possible to love all? For that you have to develop the quality that will enable you to turn negativity into positivity. There is a verse in the Quran that says: “For the sake of your Lord, be patient.” (74:7) It means adopt the attitude of patience for the sake of God. You have to live as a hate-free person. You have to love your enemy. Why? Because then God will love you and will give you entrance into Paradise.
So, according to my discovery, this teaching—love for all—is the gist of both religions, Christianity and Islam. It is, to repeat, not simply some ethical teaching. It is actually the means to develop oneself as a positive personality, a personality that will find entry into Paradise.
According to my discovery, politics is not a part of Islam, and nor is it part of Christianity. Jesus very rightly says to give what is Caesar what is due to Caesar and to give to God what is due to God. This is the Islamic teaching also. The Prophet says: “Give to the rulers what is due to them and ask your right from God.”(Sahih al-Bukhari)
Muslims believe that at the end times, Jesus Christ will come again. Now, why would Jesus come again after the Prophet Muhammad? Why do Muslims believe that Jesus Christ will come again? Because there is no difference between the two. This is my belief. This belief gives me enormous love. I am a hate-free person. I have no hate against anyone. I have adopted this culture—love all, including your enemy. Love is positive culture. Love inculcates positive thinking. And only those people will find entry into Paradise who are positive and hate-free persons.
Peace is the external behaviour of spiritual persons, and spirituality is the inner content of peace. So, peace and spirituality are the two faces of the same coin. This is the gist of Christianity, and it is also the gist of Islam. Spirituality is the gist of all religions. The present world has great need for spirituality. We don’t need bombs. We don’t need luxuries. What we need is spirituality. What we need is peace. This is the greatest need of today’s world. Everyone is in great need of spirituality today.
Once, I checked the Internet to find out about the final days of people who are regarded as super-achievers—more than 400 people. All of them died in frustration, in tension. Why? Because material things cannot give you true and lasting peace. Bill Gates, one of the materially richest men in the world, very rightly says that once you get beyond a million dollars, it is the same hamburger. So, this materialistic culture, this money culture, is not enough for man. Jesus Christ rightly teaches us that man cannot live by bread alone. It means that material things aren’t enough for man. Man needs spiritual food, too.
I am a follower of Muhammad, and at the same time a follower of Jesus, too. The gist of Sufi teaching, according to my study, is Sulh-e Kul or love for all. It is the same teaching that we find in the New Testament.
Many Muslims claim that Europe is the enemy of Islam. But my nature was not ready to accept this concept. Then I discovered that Europe is actually a great benefactor of humanity. Europe gave us so many of the things that form what is called ‘modern civilization’. So, I love the West, even though many Muslims are living in hate for the West. I discovered that the people of the West have done a lot of good, discovering so many secrets of nature and using these for the benefit of humanity, for which we should be grateful. These Western people who made available these secrets to humankind are benefactors of humankind. So, I love the Western people, I love Europe, I love America. I have no hate against anyone.
This is a modified transcript of a lecture delivered by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan to a group of Italians on 17 July 2014.