Posts Tagged ‘christian’

This section groups all the discourses appearing in Al-Mizan that provides an intellectual challenge to the Christian doctrines. The aim is not to attack these beliefs but to invite the Christians and other readers in kind exhortation to understand each other better.

Intellectual Challenge to the Christian Beliefs (3)

It is not meet for a man that Allah should give him the Book and the Judgment and Prophethood, then he should say to men: “Be my servants rather than Allah’s;” but rather (he would say): “Be worshippers of the Lord because of your teaching the Book and your reading (it yourselves)”. Or that he should enjoin you that you should take the angels and the prophets for lords; what! would he enjoin you with unbelief after you are Muslims (Submitting Ones)? (Qur’an, 3:79-80)

The Qur’an says that ‘Isa (Jesus) was Allah’s servant and messenger; and that he did not claim for himself what the Christians ascribe to him, nor did he tell them anything other than conveying the Divine Message. Allah says:

And when Allah will say: “O ‘Isa (Jesus) son of Mary! Did you say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two Allahs besides Allah’ “, he will say: “Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind; surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things. I did not say to them aught save what Thou didst enjoin me with: That worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord, and I was a witness of them so long as I was among them, but when Thou didst take me completely, Thou wert the watcher over them, and Thou art witness of all things. If Thou shouldst chastise them, then surely they are Thy servants; and if Thou shouldst forgive them, then surely Thou art the Mighty, the Wise.” Allah will say: “This is the day when their truth shall benefit the truthful ones” (5:116-119).

This wonderful reply contains the essence of servitude and shows outstanding manner; it is a mirror of ‘Isa (Jesus)’ attitude and behavior towards his Lord; it shows how he looked at himself in relation to his Creator and what he thought of the people and their deeds. He says that he looked himself just as a servant of his Lord, who had nothing to do other than obeying the Lord; he does not proceed except when directed to, and does not stop unless told to. And he was not ordered except to call people to the worship of Allah and he did not tell them except what he was enjoined with: That worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.

And as far as his relationship with his people is concerned he shall be the witness for their deeds, and that is that; it is none of his business what Allah does with them about them – whether He forgives them or chastises them.

Question: If so, then how would you justify what you had written in the topic of intercession, that ‘Isa (Jesus) shall be among the intercessors on the Day of Resurrection, he shall intercede and his intercession shall be honored and accepted?

Answer: The Qur’an says expressly – or almost expressly – that he is an intercessor. Allah says: And those whom they call upon besides Him have no authority for intercession, but he who bears witness of the truth and they know (43:86); and on the Day of Resurrection he (‘Isa (Jesus)) shall be a witness against them (4:159); and when I taught you the Book and the Wisdom and Torah and the Gospel (5:110).

This intercession is something quite different from the atonement which the Christians believe in. The theory of atonement invalidates the system of reward and punishment, and consequently negates the absolute sovereignty of Allah – as we shall explain later on. It is the idea of atonement which the above mentioned talk of ‘Isa (Jesus) refutes. But this verse has nothing to do with intercession – it neither confirms it nor rejects it. Had it wanted to confirm it – inspite of its inconsistency (because the situation demands self-abasement, not relaxedness) with context – it should have said: If Thou shouldst forgive them, then surely Thou art the Forgiving, the Merciful. And if it wanted to refute it, it should not have mentioned his being a witness for the people.

Looking at what the people have said about ‘Isa (Jesus), we find that they are divided after him into various sects, and disintegrated to perhaps more than seventy denominations. This number looks at fundamental and major divisions only, because minor differences are too numerous to count.

Nevertheless, The Qur’an concerns itself only with what they say about ‘Isa (Jesus) and his mother, because it affects the foundation of monotheism which is the only goal to which the Qur’an calls and the natural straight religion leads. The Book of Allah is not concerned with other relatively minor points, e.g., the problem of alteration of the Book and that of atonement.

The beliefs which the Qur’an ascribes to them (or quotes them) are as follows:

and the Christian say: “The Messiah is the son of Allah” (9:30); And they

say: “The Beneficent Allah has taken to Himself a son” (21:26);

Certainly they disbelieve who say: “Surely Allah, is the Messiah, son of

Mary” (5:72);

Certainly they disbelieve who say: “Surely Allah is the third of the three”

(5:73);

and say not, Three (4:171). (4:171).

Apparently, these verses contain different phrases, describe different beliefs. (That is why some people* apply various verses to various sects, for example, the Melkites** who believe in real sonship; the Nestorians*** who explain descendence and sonship as radiance of light on a transparent body like crystal; and the Jacobites**** who explain it in terms of change and transformation, that is, the Allah was transformed into flesh and blood.)

But evidently the Qur’an does not look at the peculiarities of their diverse sects. It is concerned only with one belief which is common between all of them – that ‘Isa (Jesus) is the son of Allah and of one substance with Allah, with the resulting belief of trinity – although they differ very much in its explanation (which has led to extreme conflicts and discords). That this explanation is correct is supported by the fact that the Qur’an brings one and the same argument to refute the views of all of them.

It may be explained as follows:

The present Torah and Gospels all together clearly mention the Oneness of Allah; on the other hand the Gospel clearly mentions the sonship declaring that the Son is the Father and none else.

They do not interpret the postulated sonship in the terms of distinction, honor and excellence, although many verses of the Gospels clearly give this meaning. For example:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and prosecute you. That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect , even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew, 5:44 – 48)*****

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew, 5:16)

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which art in heaven.” (Matthew, 6:1)

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.” (Matthew, 6:9)

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matthew, 6:14)

“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke, 6:36)

Also, he said to Mary Magdalene: “go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God.” (John, 20:17)

These and other similar sentences of the Gospels refer to Allah as the Father of ‘Isa (Jesus) as well as others, all in the sense of distinction and honor.

There are some sayings in the Gospels which allude to the union of the Son with the Father. For example:

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” (John, 17:1)

Then he went on praying for his disciples and finally said:

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also, which shall believe on me through their word. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John, 17:20 – 23)

However, there are other verses which apparently cannot be explained in the terms of distinction and honor. For example:

“Thomas saith unto him (i.e. Jesus), Lord, we know not whither thou goest ; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and ye hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us thy Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” (John, 5:11)

“For I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” (John, 8:42)

“I and my Father are one.” (John, 10:30)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew, 28:19)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John, 1:1 – 4)

These and other similar statements of the Gospels have led the Christians to the belief of trinity in unity. The belief of trinity is an attempt to reconcile the belief that the Christ is the Son of God with the belief in one God which the Christ himself had taught. For example, Mark, 12:29 quotes him as saying: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.”

The believers in the trinity say (although it does not impart any intelligible meaning): God is one substance with three Persons. The word person denotes an attribute with which a thing appears to others; and the attribute is none other than the thing itself. The three Persons are: The Person of existence, the Person of knowledge, i.e. the Word, and the Person of life, i.e. the Spirit.

These three Persons are the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The first is the Person of existence; the second, the Person of knowledge (the Word); and the third, the Person of Life. The Son who is the Word and the Person of Knowledge descended from his Father (i.e. the Person of existence) accompanied by the Holy Ghost (i.e. the Person of Life) that gives light to all things.

Then they differ among themselves in explanation of this vague statement; and ever-occurring conflicts have divided them to more than seventy sects and denominations. We shall mention some of them to the extent that is necessary in the framework of this book.

Think over the above description; then look at what the Qur’an ascribes to the Christians, or quotes them as saying: and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah” (9:30); Certainly they disbelieve who say: “Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Maryam: (5:72): Certainly they disbelieve who say: “Surely Allah is the third (Person) of the three” (5:73); and say not, “three”; Desist (4:171). Then you will realize that all these statements point to a single idea, i.e. the trinity in unity which is the common factor of all the sects which sprang up in the Christianity (as we have said above).

Why did the Qur’an concentrate on this common factor? It was because the same objections apply to all their beliefs regarding ‘Isa (Jesus) – in spite of their diversity and numerousness. The arguments put by the Qur’an are applicable to all their interpretations with equal force, as will be explained later.

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This section groups all the discourses appearing in Al-Mizan that provides an intellectual challenge to the Christian doctrines. The aim is not to attack these beliefs but to invite the Christians and other readers in kind exhortation to understand each other better.

The story of ‘Isa (Jesus) and his mother Mary in the Qur’an

It is not meet for a man that Allah should give him the Book and the Judgment and Prophethood, then he should say to men: “Be my servants rather than Allah’s;” but rather (he would say): “Be worshippers of the Lord because of your teaching the Book and your reading (it yourselves)”. Or that he should enjoin you that you should take the angels and the prophets for lords; what! would he enjoin you with unbelief after you are Muslims (Submitting Ones)? (Qur’an, 3:79-80)

Mary, daughter of Imran was the mother of the Messiah (‘Isa (Jesus)). When her mother was pregnant with her, she made a vow that she would release what was in her womb to be devoted to the service of the Temple. She believed that she was pregnant with a male child; but when she brought it forth and came to know that it was a female, she was disappointed and dejected. Then she named her Mary, that is, servant. Her father, Imran, had died before she was born; so the mother brought her to the Temple for handing her over to the priests – Zakariyya was one of them. They contended with one another to get the privilege of her custody; then they agreed to decide it by lot, in which Zakariyya’s name was drawn; and he became her guardian. When she reached the age of puberty, Zakariyya made for her a partition to protect her from men’s eyes. She used to worship Allah therein and nobody entered that sanctuary except Zakariyya. Whenever Zakariyya entered the sanctuary to see her, he found her with food. He said: “O Mary! Whence comes this to you?” She said: “It is from Allah, and surely Allah gives sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure.

Mary was a truthful woman and was sinless by Allah’s protection; purified, chosen and spoken to; the angels spoke to her and purified her. She was obedient to the Lord and a sign of Allah for the worlds. (vide 3:35-44; 19:16; 21:91; 66:12 in the Qur’an)

Then Allah sent to her His spirit when she had hidden herself behind a curtain, and he appeared to her as a well-made man. He said to her that he was a messenger of her Lord so that he should give her, by permission of Allah, a pure boy without a father. He also gave her the good news of the manifest miracles which were to happen on the hand of her son; and informed her that Allah would surely strengthen him by the Holy Spirit, and would teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel. He also told her that her son would be the messenger to the Children of Israel and would have clear signs. After informing her of the boy’s status and story, he breathed into her the spirit and she became pregnant with ‘Isa (Jesus) (peace be on him), as a woman conceives her child. (vide 3:33-50 in the Qur’an)

Then she withdrew herself with him to a remote place. And the throes of childbirth compelled her to betake herself to the trunk of a palm-tree. She said: “Oh, would that I have died before this, and had been a thing quite forgotten!” Then the child called out to her from beneath her: “Grieve not; surely your Lord made a stream to flow beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palm-tree; it will drop on you fresh ripe dates: So eat and drink and refresh the eye. Then if you see my man, say: ‘Surely I have vowed a fast to the Beneficent Allah, so I shall not speak to any man today.’” And she came to her people with him, carrying him (with her). (vide 19:20-27;) His conception, birth, talk and all related affairs were similar to those of other men.

When her people saw her in such a condition, they were enraged, and blamed and taunted her – as was natural in case of an unmarried woman conceiving and bringing forth a child. They said: “O Mary, surely you have done a strange thing. O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.” But she pointed to him. They said: “How should we speak to one who is a child in the cradle?” He (‘Isa (Jesus)) said: “Surely I am a servant of Allah; He has given me the book and made me a prophet: And he has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity so long as I live: And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed: And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life.” (vide 19:27-33)

This talk of ‘Isa (Jesus) was a sort of prologue which pointed to his future mission – that he would rise against oppression and injustice, revive and reform the laws of Moses (peace be on him), renovate what was obliterated from the revealed knowledge and make clear to them what they had differed in.

‘Isa (Jesus) grew up and became a young man. He and his mother used to eat and drink in normal way with all the necessary concomitants and accidents of human life up to the end.

Then ‘Isa (Jesus) was made a messenger to the Children of Israel. He stood up calling them to the religion of monotheism and told them: “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I create for you out of dust like the form of a bird, and I breathe into it and it and becomes a bird, with Allah’s permission, and I heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead to life, with Allah’s permission, and I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your homes. Most surely there is a sign in this for you. Surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore, worship Him only.”

He called them to his new Law, which verified the Law of Moses; But he abrogated some parts of it, allowing them some things which were forbidden in the Torah as a punishment to the Jews. ‘Isa (Jesus) used to say: “Surely I have come to you with wisdom, so that I make clear to you a part of what you differ in. O Children of Israel! Surely I am the messenger of Allah to you, verifying that which is before me of the Torah and giving the good news of a messenger who will come after me, his name being Ahmad.”

He showed the miracles which he had mentioned, e.g. creation of a bird, raising the dead to life, healing the blind and leper, and giving the news of the unseen – all by Allah’s permission.

He continued like that calling them to monotheism and his new Law until he was convinced that they would not believe in him. Seeing their insolence, enmity and hatred, and the arrogance of their priests and rabbis, he turned away from them and selected his apostles (from the small band that had believed in him) to be his helpers to Allah.

Then the Jews rose against him with the intention to kill him. But Allah took him away completely and raised him. The Jews were put in confusion; some thought that they had killed him, others that they had crucified him; but in fact it was made to appear to them like that. (vide 3:45-58; 4:157-158; 5:110-111; 43:63-65; 61:6-14).

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ON THE PATH OF RELIGION

In a class at the Jaffery Primary School of Mombasa, it was time for religious instruction. The subject was: The meaning and benefits of following a religion. This is how the lesson went.

Pupil: Please, Sir, tell us the meaning of religion.

Teacher: Religion is a collection of beliefs. It lays down the rules of character, how to deal with your family members as well as with other people, It also teaches us rules concerning money matters. They have been taught to us by the Prophets who were messengers of God, sent for the guidance of Mankind.

Pupil: May I know what benefit do we get from following a religion?

Teacher: By following the teachings of true religion, a person becomes happy in this world as well as in the next one.

Pupil: Please, Sir, tell us what religion teaches us.

Teacher: The teachings of religion mainly consist of:

1) Beliefs: To believe in One God, who created this world, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and other planets and everything in them. Because of his kindness, he did not leave human beings without guidance. He sent Prophets to guide them to the right path so that they may fulfill the duties he has laid down. Those who follow the teachings of the Prophets would be successful and happy in this as well as the next world.

2) Character: Religion teaches us to be good and kind to everyone, to love everyone, to respect parents and teachers, to seek useful knowledge, to protect our rights and those of others and to live moderately.

3) Social and Economic Guidance: A perfect religion lays down rules about how to behave and deal with people when they do wrong. It also teaches us rules about money matters, how one should earn one’s living, how one should take care of the poor and needy relatives, what type of business is allowed.

4) Worship: Religion teaches us that we pray to God and fast, so that by such actions we remember God and purify our Body and Mind.

We should obey God only and not follow people. God has created all of us. Therefore he knows better what is good for us. He has laid down a code of life for our benefit. Therefore, it is in our interest to follow it.

Pupil: May I know, Sir, how belief in a religion affects our lives?

Teacher: Belief in religion not only affects a person’s spirit or soul but also his body and action.

A person who believes in one God, acts differently from a person who does not believe in God. He who believes in God cannot at any time become proud, because he knows that whatever he has acquired has been given to him by God and God can take it back whenever he wishes.

He does not look down upon other people as he knows that all of them have been created by God in the same way as he was created.

He does not bow down before anyone but God. He knows that everything has been created by God and he provides for all our needs. He alone is worthy of being worshipped.

He also believes in life in the next world and always tries to do good and refrains from doing bad. The better his deeds, the better will be his life in the next world.

A person who believes in God does all the good work even if he is not paid for it or appreciated by others. He continues to do good to others. He sacrifices his time, money and energy in serving people for the sake of God, as this pleases God. He does not become selfish.

Thus belief is connected with character and character with actions. They are all connected to each other.

Pupil: Now Sir can you tell us what would happen if a person did not believe in religion?

Teacher: A person who does not believe in God and life in the next world does not know who created him, why he was created and what is the purpose of his life. He is like a traveller who is lost and moves around aimlessly.

When such a person falls into trouble, he has no where to look for help. If he wants anything, he has no one from whom he can ask to fulfill his wishes.A person who believes in religion asks for help from God when he is in difficulties. He asks God to fulfill his wishes. He is sure that God will help him and will grant him his desires if they are good for him. But a person who does not believe in God has no one.

A non-believer acts according to his whims. He is most of the time selfish. He is not prepared to help others for he does not expect to get God’s reward for his sacrifices for the trouble he takes for others.

His only aim in life is to find happiness for himself at all cost. He does not know what is the purpose of his life. He does not hesitate to tell lies, steal, hurt others and do all sorts of bad things; if these actions will gain something for him. He does not know that God will punish him for his bad deeds in the next world.

A person who believes in religion is afraid of God and will not do bad things. He knows that any difficulty that comes to him in this world is meant to test his faith in God. He, therefore, faces it patiently and prays for God’s help. He knows that this will please God and he will be rewarded for it by God in the next world.

The bell rang. It was time for another lesson. When the children went home, they fully realised the need for a religion. Since then, they respected their religious teachings more and more and made every effort to follow them. In so doing they became happier and successful in life.

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The Qur’an is not only talking to the Muslims or to a particular sect of Muslim. The Qur’an is also talking to Non-Islamic societies as well as the Muslim nation as a whole. There are many references to non-believers and idol-worshippers, to the people of the Book (Jews or the Tribe of Isreal, and the Christians).

The Qur’an calls each group to Islam by providing proofs and never stipulates that they be of Arab stock. Referring to the idol-worshippers, Allah says in Sura Al-Bara’at, verse 11:

“If they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then they are your brothers in religion.”

The universal message is clear in its complexity for it develops the idea that Islam and Qur’an is the message for all human beings. Likewise, Allah talks about the people of the Book, { Jews, Christians, and Arabs (Zoroastrians) }.

“Say O people of the Book come to an agreement between us and you: That you shall worship none but God and that we shall ascribe no partners to him and that none of us shall take others for Lords beside God.” (Sura Al-e-Imran, verse 64)

In these verses we see Allah addressing different people telling them of the right path, surely this is the most gracious Book to guide us all.

From the sixth year after Hijrah, when the din of Islam was being propagated beyond the Arabian peninsula, there are references which demonstrate that the Qur’an is addressing itself to mankind in general; for example in Sura Al An’am, verse 19, it says:

“This Qur’an has been revealed to me that I may warn you and whomever it may reach.”

This warning is to none other than humans of the time. Therefore in Sura Al-Qalam, verse 52, it says:

“It is nothing but a reminder to the world.”

Surely the world is a inhabited by all creeds and race and so the book remains the source of guidance to all the people of the world. The word ‘mankind’ has been mentioned at least six times in the Qur’an. In light of this Islam has embraced by a number of leading members of other religions, including idol-worshippers of Mecca, Jews, Christians, and people from other communities, such as Salman of Persia, Suhayb from Rome, and Bilal from Ethiopia.

The Qur’an uses the word ‘people’ to address the universal message of Islam. There are 513 times that the Qur’an uses the word people in various verses. The terminology that the Qur’an uses clearly indicates that the Qur’an is not for Muslims but to the whole mankind.
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