I understand completely your need for proof. God created our hearts and our minds, and it is irrational and unjust to think that He would want us to be satisfied emotionally but not intellectually with His truth. Too often we see the former, but not the latter. When we search for the truth, we should engage our minds first so that we can evaluate the evidence using our God-given intellects, and engage our emotions once we have found that truth, so that we can be fully committed to it with all of our being. Throughout all stages however, we should begin by asking God - the One True God on whom all things depend - to guide us to be be closer to Him. Ultimately, guidance is from Him alone.

We should not accept blind faith. If something is the truth, why would it require blind faith ? Why should a doctrine be unclear, contradictory, or confusing ? These are attributes of doctrines created by men, not of those pure beliefs that God has instilled in our hearts naturally, and those He wishes us to develop.

For example, all human beings are born with a predisposition to recognize and worship the One True God. This is part of the reason many of us find it impossible to deny God. Even if we are not sure of where His message might be, we know He exists. The true religion is, and always has been, a confirmation of this inborn instinct - to worship none other than God, in other words, pure monotheism, and to follow His guidance for the betterment of our life and afterlife. This has been the central message of all of the prophets, including Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad the final messenger, peace be upon them all. Some of the laws they were commanded with differed according to the requirements of the particular nation to whom they were sent, but the core teachings were always the same. This common religion is, quite literally, "Islam" - a word which means, "submission to the will of God". One who submits to the will of God is a "Muslim".

The revelation from God should be clear. God does not want to confuse us, He wants us to follow Him. If it is really is from God, it should be perfect, free of internal and external (historical, scientific) contradictions, and it should be preserved without error. The Gospels present a big problem. They are not the direct speech of God, or even of his Messenger, Jesus, peace be upon him. They are biographies written after Jesus ascended to God by men whose identities we cannot be certain of, written with specific theological agendas in mind. Where are the true words of Jesus ? Why is there so little that is reportedly said by him, not even in his original language, and much said by other men, supposedly inspired ? (Although a quick read of the opening of Luke, or III John would indicate deliberate, intentioned writing, not a revelatory or inspired experience). And why is Paul, a man who never met Jesus but claimed to see him in a vision, important enough to be able to articulate key doctrines that Jesus never taught, and to cancel laws that Jesus himself followed ?

The evidence unearthed so far for the historical Jesus is much closer to the Islamic position than the Christian one. A picture of a righteous man emerges, who followed the tradition and laws of Moses, but concentrated on reviving the true spirit of God's message amongst the Children of Israel, who for the most part had become obsessed with formal and legalistic issues whilst losing the mercy, love and gentleness that the guidance of God should develop. We know that the doctrines of the trinity, incarnation, the sacrificed savior, divine sonship and others all have parellels in the pagan cultures (Roman, Greek, Persian) prevelant at the time these doctrines were being formulated. The idea of God fathering offspring, or of God-men walking amongst us owes much more to the influence of these pagan ideas than to pure monotheism - the belief in and worship of the One, Unseen, Transcendent God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. Despite the corruption of the Bible, there remain explicit statements in support of real monotheism (whilst there is no explicit support for trinity - except perhaps 1 John5 -7, thrown out in the RSV and most modern bibles as an interpolation, but which remains in the KJV..), and in support of the humanity of Jesus and his subserviance to God (whereas verses alleged to indicate his divinity are obscure and rely upon a lot of interpretation).

Our belief in Jesus is not that he is just a righteous man, but that he is one of the greatest messengers of God, like Moses before him, and Muhammad after him, peace be upon them all. We believe in his virgin birth, and his miracles like raising the dead, healing the sick, and so on. We believe that God saved him from his enemies and did not allow him to be crucified, and that he will return to earth near the end of time to complete his mission.

Muslims believe they are the true followers of Jesus. Jesus worshipped only God - a strict monotheist, as Muslims are today. He "fell on his face and prayed" - the characteristic of Muslim prayer. He fasted, just as we do. He didn't eat pork, and neither do we. He greeted his disciples with "peace be to you" - and this is the universal Islamic greeting - in Arabic "Assalamu'alaikum". "Isa" - which is the Arabic form of "Jesus" is even a common name for Muslim boys. Moreover, we love him deeply, and believe in him completely. When he returns to earth, it is the Muslims, not the Christians who he will recognize as the true followers of all of the prophets, including himself.

There are a number of reasons to take the Qur'an as a reliable account of who Jesus is, what he said, and what he did. First of all, the Qur'an does not claim to be the words of men (or a man), whether inspired or not. It claims to be the literal, word for word speech of God Himself, and offers evidence for it's claims. Secondly, it is perfectly preserved, through massive parallel chains of memmorization passed on from generation to generation (a practice alive and well today - with tens or hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world who have memmorized the entire book), and in writing, since the time it was revealed.

Those who doubt the Qur'an claim it was written by Muhammad, but it is well known that he was illiterate, like the vast majority of people of Arabia at that time. What we do know about him is that he was known for his honesty and good conduct, to the extent that he was nicknamed 'Al-Amin' - the trustworthy, and called upon to arbitrate in the bitter disputes between the Arabs. We know that he kept away from idolatry, adultery and all the other evils of his time, and chose to worship only the God of Abraham, his forefather. Besides, how does an illiterate man compose what is acknowledged as the most beautiful work ever produced in the Arabic language ? Actually it goes further - the Qur'an challenges anyone to produce a chapter like it. The Arabs were excellent poets and knew how to use their language well, but none were able to match the depth, power and beauty of the Qur'an. This is not a subjective evaluation. Arabic is divided into 16 forms (called "bihar") - one for speech, one for poetry, and so on. The Qur'an fit into none of these forms. In other words, it was a completely new pattern, it defied linguistic classification, and at the same time moved men to tears, and sometimes to embrace Islam, merely upon hearing it's sublime words. This is just one aspect of the miracle of the Qur'an. It also contains explicit, precise prophecies which have come to pass, and information about scientific and natural phenomena, such as the development of the human embryo, which have only recently come to be known in the light of modern instrumentation and techniques.

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Comment by Ali Afifi on January 11, 2011 at 7:43pm

The foregoing discussion provides ample evidence that the normative relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is that of peace, justice, mercy, and mutual respect. Some may ask, however, how building and mainstreaming peace can be reconciled with the concept of “holy war.”

The Qur’anic Arabic term jihad has been commonly mistranslated as “holy war.” The Qur’an was revealed in Arabic, not in English. The Arabic equivalent of the English expression “holy war” is harb muqadasah, an expression that is not found anywhere in the Qur’an or in the authentic sayings of the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him). Even when the Qur’an speaks about defensive war, it never glorifies it or calls it “holy”; rather, it is described as something which is inherently hated (Al-Baqarah 2:216-217). However, as a last resort, it may be better than doing nothing in the face of aggression or oppression.

Furthermore, the term holy war means, lexically, a fight on behalf of one religion against the other(s). There is no verse in the Qur’an that condones fighting any peaceful non-Muslim on the sole ground that he or she is a non-Muslim. The Qur’an prohibits compulsion in religion (Al-Baqarah 2:256) and even allows one form of interfaith marriage. For example, a Muslim male may marry a Jewish or Christian woman (Al-Ma’idah 5:5).

It may be argued, from a religious perspective, that the expression holy war is a contradiction in terms, as there is nothing “holy” about war and its results—bloodshed, destruction and human suffering. It may be a lesser evil in some instances, but it may not be holy in itself. It may be useful to discuss the meaning of jihad in both its literal and religious meanings.

Jihad is an Arabic term derived from the root J-H-D, which means, literally, “to strive or exert effort.” It is the same root from which the legal term ijtihad is derived, as ijtihad refers to the exertion of intellectual effort by scholars so as to come up with an informed religious opinion on a new issue or problem. The term jihad and similar terms derived from the same root are used in the Qur’an and Hadith.

First, it is used in the context of prayers, doing righteous deeds, and self-purification; inward jihad or struggle against evil inclinations within oneself (Al-Hajj 22:77-78; and Al-`Ankabut 29:4-7).

Second, it is used in the context of social jihad, or striving for truth, justice, and goodness in one’s relationship with other humans. Examples of this usage include the payment of charity to the needy (Al-Hujurat 49:15) and striving to persuade those who reject God’s message by referring to the arguments presented in the Qur’an (Al-Furqan 25:52).

Third, it is used in the context of the battlefield, which is often called, more specifically, qital, which means “fighting.” That later form, the combative jihad, is allowed in the Qur’an for legitimate self-defense in the face of unprovoked aggression or in resisting severe oppression on religious or other grounds. In fact, the first verses in the Qur’an that allowed self-defense were not revealed until the early Muslim community had endured more than 13 years of suffering and aggression at the hands of the idolatrous Arabs. The wording of these verses is revealing:

        [Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged, and verily, God has indeed the power to aid them. Those who have been driven from their homelands in defiance of right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our Lord is Allah.’] (Al-Hajj 22:39-40)

The key verses in the Qur’an concerning the justification of resorting to combative jihad are the following:

        [And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression, for, verily, Allah does not love the aggressors. And slay them wherever you may come upon them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away, for oppression is even worse than killing. And fight not against them near the Sacred Mosque until they fight against you first, but if they fight against you, slay them: such is the recompense of the rejecters of truth. But if they desist (from aggression), behold, Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight against them until there is no more oppression and religion belongs to God (i.e. until people can worship Allah without fear of persecution), but if they desist, then all hostility shall cease, except against those who commit injustice.] (Al-Baqarah 2:190-194)

It is obvious from these key verses that the only two justifications of the combative-type of jihad are to stop aggression and severe oppression. The condition for ceasing hostilities is not acceptance of Islam, but halt to aggression and oppression.

Like the above verses, there are a few verses in the Qur’an which sanction fighting. These verses, however, when understood in their textual and historical context deal with war situations and should not be generalized. The description of the aggressors or oppressors as rejecters of faith or idolatrous people does not mean that they are to be fought against on account of being non-Muslims. Historically, these aggressors happened to be non-Muslims. In fact, the Qur’an allows fighting against fellow Muslims if they are aggressors and other means of restoring peace and justice have failed (Al-Hujurat 49:8-9). The issue is allowing fighting in the presence of aggression, not difference of religion.

No single verse in the Qur’an, when placed in its proper textual and historical context, permits fighting others on the basis of their faith, ethnicity, or nationality. To do so contradicts several established values and principles of Islam. Combative jihad is not only restricted in terms of what may or may not justify it; it is also strictly regulated. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us how to behave on the battlefield. As a “hated act,” war should not be resorted to if other peaceful and just means may stop aggression or oppression. Intentions must be pure and no selfish personal or nationalistic agenda should be the driving force. There must be a declaration of war by a legitimate authority after due consultation. No non-combatants should be hurt. All must refrain from looting and unnecessary destruction. Prisoners of war and the injured must be treated humanely.

It should be noted that in the long history of Muslim people, there were times when such conditions and rules were adhered to and other times where there were violations to differing degrees. There have also been some misinterpretations of the concept by some scholars, possibly influenced at least in part, by the circumstances of the time in which they lived. The fact remains, however, that Islamic teachings should not be driven either by what some Muslims did in the past or are doing today or by misinterpretations from the past or present.

Comment by Ali Afifi on January 11, 2011 at 12:35am

Dear Sister Donnelle,

 

I from my heart really appreciate your response and wise words u answered my blog. I agree completely with u that the religion must not be a cause of war because we have the same God and we all (the montheistic religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam) serve the same God. God said in Quran:

 

(45) And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islâmic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilâh (God) and your Ilâh (God) is One (i.e. Allâh), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims)." (46) (Surah 29)

 

Islam does not invite to war the people because of their religion or faith. Islam only invite to say the truth and then leave the people to their own choice without any compulsion in religion.

 

human kind that wages useless wars and the innocent are hurt and killed...God is Gracious and Merciful, a Cherisher and Sustainer...His are the first tears to fall when ever one of his creations are destroyed by wicked people."

 

U will find that in my discussions here on ipeace. Islam as the complementary religion from the God to Judaism and Christianity does not invite to kill the innocents or transgress on the others. Quran said
" (31) Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. "

 

We consider all the laws in the Quran to previous religions are also a law for us.

(255) There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Tâghût [false deities and false leaders] and believes in Allâh (God), then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (256) (Surah 2-verse 256)



God ordered the prophet Mohamed to invite with wisdom saying to him

“Invite (mankind, O Muhammad) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islâm) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur'ân) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.” (Quran, Ch 16, Verse 125)

 

And if the people reject, then the Muslim is not required to force Islam upon them. Quran said:
“But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message” (Quran Ch 3, Verse 20)

 

Islam, a religion of mercy, does not permit terrorism or transgression or compulsion. In the Quran, God has said:

God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes,that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers.  (Quran, 60:8)

 

The Prophet Muhammad said: {Whoever has killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance is found for a span of forty years.

 

He once said, He who harms a Jew or a Christian will find me his opponent on the Day of Judgment.

 

And also says "Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment." (Abu Dawud)

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