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Inserts / Messages
- Basic Education
- Interesting Articles
- Religious Lectures
- Wiladat Celebrations
- Questions about Iman
- Healthy Living
Dr. Amir Parsa
Professor Emeritus of Troy University
The purpose of this paper is to prove that the Holy Quran, (the Divine Book of Muslims), allows: Multiple paths of Worshipping Allah (God Almighty). *
The methodology used in this paper quotes various verses of the Quran that prove our point beyond a shadow of a doubt.
To observe ethical neutrality, the writer wishes to inform the readers that he is a Muslim, and sincerely believes that Islam offers an excellent way of worshipping God Almighty, henceforth referred to, at times, as “Allah (swt)“ but NOT at the expense of Judaism, Christianity or other religions. It is hoped that the reader’s mental horizon would be broadened a bit after having been exposed to this article. It must be mentioned as a token of respect for the Christian and Jewish readers that the writer has a high regard for them as worshippers of God, although there are slight differences in their respective perceptions of God .
As human beings, it would be a virtue for us to allow an understanding of what the others say, without necessarily having to abandon one’s own convictions. We would all be better off to set aside selfish mental prejudices by listening to what the others say, as that can bring about further mutual respect for all of us, and better toleration of each other.* When necessary, comments shall be made to provide a better understanding of the quoted verses.
*The writer has addressed points of commonality between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity in a different paper called: A Bridge Between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism already. He is a retired professor of Finance and Economics from the Troy University System, now residing in Bethesda, Maryland. Your comments will be warmly embraced and considered.
Quotations of Verses:
Verse 62 of Surah [chapter] 2 of the Quran says:
|“Those who believe in the Quran, those who follow the Jewish scriptures and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”||إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحاً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ|
It is very clear from the quoted verse, that for one to enter paradise, one does NOT have to be just a Muslim. He can be Christian, Jew, or Sabian too. The criteria is NOT the labels we place on our own foreheads, but rather Belief in God, and in the Last day, and working right according to the moral teachings of one’s Holy Book. You can also clearly see from the quoted verse that Multiple paths of worship is allowed for human beings. In fact, another verse of the Holy Quran says, (Surah 49, verse13):
|“The Most Honored of you in the sight of God is the Most Righteous of you”||… إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ|
In yet another verse, Surah 11 (Hood), Ayah 118, Allah (swt) says:
|“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind One people: but they will not cease to dispute.”||وَلَوْ شَاء رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلاَ يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ|
In verse 48 of Surah Maida or chapter 5 of the Quran God says:
|“To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an open way. If God 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. The goal of you all is to God ; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute.”||… لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ|
It is very clear from the above-mentioned verse that Allah (swt) intended multiple paths of worshipping for people which is the reason behind sending different Prophets and Apostles to various nations and tribes throughout human history.
In verse 67 of Surah Haj (chapter 22) God Almighty says:
|“To every people have we appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow: Let them not then dispute with thee on the matter, but do thou invite them to thy Lord: for thou art assuredly on the Right way.”||لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ جَعَلْنَا مَنسَكًا هُمْ نَاسِكُوهُ فَلَا يُنَازِعُنَّكَ فِي الْأَمْرِ وَادْعُ إِلَى رَبِّكَ إِنَّكَ لَعَلَى هُدًى مُّسْتَقِيمٍ|
Please note that the verse quoted is addressing Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Such verses convey to an average mind not only various paths of worshipping God, but also RELIGIOUS PLURALISM which can be based on the fact that there can be constructive dialogues between followers of various religions.
Take one common point between Islam and Christianity. Both of them believe sincerely that Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was born of a virgin mother, without a man having touched her in any intercourse and that it was the Will of God Almighty for Jesus to be born as a miracle without a physical father, as the rest of us. Isn’t it true that Allah (swt) created Adam from no father and no mother? Logically, if God created Adam from no parents, can He not create Jesus without a father? There will be further references to some common values between religions of Abrahamic origin (root) at a later point. go to top of page
It would be a great mistake for Muslims to consider Timothy Mc Way as representative of faithful Christians. By the same token, it would be a grave mistake for Christians to consider Osama Bin Laden as a true representative of Muslims, while a great majority of them are not radicals but moderate peaceful Muslims. We must be ever cognizant of accusing each other with false premises, if we are to respect and tolerate each other. We must also be very careful not to look down upon each other, making mockery of others, only to serve our own purposes. We can listen to each other, criticize each other respectfully with dignity that all human beings deserve, without being prejudiced by our own selected paths of worship.
Jalaleddin Rumi, called Molavi in Iran, has a beautiful story wherein several people who all wanted grapes were fighting with each other on the use of terminology that each was using. There came a wise man who knew all their languages. He got their money and bought what they all wanted and gave it to them, while he taught them the lesson that often times we fight on the words we use to achieve our goals whereas in reality we might indeed be wanting the same thing!
We shall not be able to endure discussions of substance and essence unless we learn to be tolerant and respectful of other people’s views first.
Verse 135 of chapter 2 of the Quran reminds us of the fact that Jews and Christians at times said to each other: become Jews or Christians if you want to be guided to salvation. Then we are told:
|They say: “Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation).” Say thou: “Nay! I would rather follow the true religion of Abraham who joined not gods with God.”||وَقَالُواْ كُونُواْ هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى تَهْتَدُواْ قُلْ بَلْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ|
Note please with the verse quoted below from the Holy Quran how beautifully and respectfully it acknowledges the true nature of other religions, Surah 2, verse 136:
|“Say ye, ‘We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes and that given to Moses, and Jesus, and that given to all prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God in submission”||قُولُواْ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ|
The same concept is repeated in Surah 2,verse 285 and Surah 3, verse 84. The Holy Quran provides other verses referring to the validity of other religions such as verse 52 of Surah 23,verse 7 of Surah 5, and verse 40 of Surah 22, just to mention a few( These will not be brought here for the sake of economizing on time). Thus
ISLAMIC PLURALISM is based not only on recognition of other religions such as Christianity, and Judaism, but also on an acknowledgement of their emphasis on spirituality and righteousness that they bring about for their followers. go to top of page
In fact, the Holy Quran goes far beyond simple references to the People of the Book (a reference to those before Islam who received Books of guidance from Allah (swt) before the mission of Prophet Muhammad, (pbuh). Consider, as an example, verses 113 and 114 of chapter 3 of the Holy Quran:
|“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, they prostrate themselves in adoration;
They believe in God 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 rank of righteous”
|لَيْسُواْ سَوَاء مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أُمَّةٌ قَآئِمَةٌ يَتْلُونَ آيَاتِ اللّهِ آنَاء اللَّيْلِ وَهُمْ يَسْجُدُونَ
يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينََ
We are also told in verse 115 of the same chapter 3 of the Quran that”
|“Of the good that they (Jews and Christians) do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knows well those that do right.”||وَمَا يَفْعَلُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلَن يُكْفَرُوْهُ وَاللّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالْمُتَّقِينَ|
Verse 7 of Chapter 13 of the Glorious Quran addresses Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as follows:
|And the Unbelievers say: “Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide.||وَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَوْلا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ إِنَّمَا أَنتَ مُنذِرٌ وَلِكُلِّ قَوْمٍ هَادٍ|
This same notion is repeated in 16: 36 and 35: 24. verse 47 of Chapter 10 of the Quran also says:
|“To every people was sent an apostle: when their Apostle comes ( before them), the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged.”||وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولٌ فَإِذَا جَاء رَسُولُهُمْ قُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْقِسْطِ وَهُمْ لاَ يُظْلَمُونَ|
There is room to ask ourselves as to what a true educated Muslim believes with respect to other religions. We are given this answer in the most precise, informative, inclusive, and comprehensive manner in verse 285 of the second chapter:
|“The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one of them believes in God, His angles, His books, and His apostles. We make no distinction, they say, between one and another of His apostles. And they say: We hear and we obey, we seek thy forgiveness Our Lord, and to thee is the end of all journeys.”||آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَمَلآئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ وَقَالُواْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ|
You cannot find a truly well-educated Muslim who would be following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, without him having great respect for Jesus, Moses, and other Apostles/prophets of God Almighty, while he is indeed following the teachings of Muhammad (pbuh). Simultaneously, the followers of Muhammad (pbuh), believe in the sacred life of Mary, the mother of Jesus; they also easily admit miracles given to both Jesus and Moses. And they do NOT refuse the role that The Holy Spirit played in the birth of Jesus and giving of the good news of Mary’s pregnancy to her as a good tiding from God Almighty. Muslims also place God over and above everything else
Thinking that He is far above everything else, including angels, and all of His creation. Indeed every Muslim considers Jesus as only a great blessing for humanity. Isn’t this wonderful?
Verse 13 of chapter 49 of the Holy Quran is also informative and helpful for our discussion:
|“O Mankind ! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into Nations and Tribes, that ye may know each other (Not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”||يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ|
Verse 15 of the same chapter tells us:
|“Only those are Believers who have believed in God and His Apostle, and have never since doubted, but have striven with their belongings and their persons in the cause of God: such are the sincere ones.”||إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ|
Please note that there is no mentioning of any religion’s name, and believers of all religions are talked about, with some of their characteristics given, that can ostensibly cover Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike.
Some common Values:
When you read the Bible and the Quran, you would find in them condemnation of adultery, fornication, gambling, drinking alcohol, greed, lewdness and lust, stealing, slander, manslaughter, hypocrisy, backbiting, arrogance coupled with pride, oppression and many other values . On the other hand, in them you would find encouragement towards giving, charity, prayer, trust in God, fasting, alms-giving, helping the poor and the needy, brotherhood of believers, cleanliness of mind, body, and spirit, cleanliness of one’s place of living and garments, sanctity of family life, proper marriage between males and females, piety, righteousness, thinking and pondering about God’s creation and blessings and the wonders of the world, the natural environment, the galaxies, the stars, the sun and the moon and many other things. Admittedly, these are HUMAN VALUES with their origins in our scriptures.
The time has come to stop attacking followers of other religions and allow individuals to pursue their own happiness with free selection of their religious values, without any coercion. Those who are clever enough would recognize for themselves that the points of commonality and resemblance between various religions are so many,, so frequent, and so prevailing that we really DO NOT need to fight each other, on the contents of our selected paths of worshipping God. Rather, the common values are so overwhelming that one intuitively arrives at the conclusion that they have all come from the same Eternal Divine source. And that, acceptance of a given path, does not necessarily mean condemnation of others. Those who create divisions and promote disputes between religious and God-fearing people may only serve their own Devilish whims. As believing fellows we all have a responsibility to promote peace, harmony, friendship, spiritual growth, civility, respect, and tenderness. Let us join hands together for the furtherance of success, peace, achievement, and salvation, in this life, even though our desired path of worshipping God might look different, on the surface. It is only with this that the human potentials for further growth can be materialized, just as Jesus, PBUH, emphasized the kingdom of God.
Perceptions of a Muslim with regard to Jesus (pbuh):
A Muslim believes that Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was :
- A Prophet or Messenger of God (Chapter 19 of the Quran)
- He was the word of God (Verse 171,of Surah 4)
- He did NOT have a physical father (verse 20 and 21 of chapter 19 of the Quran)
- His mother, Mary, was a virgin (verse 20 of chapter 19)
- Mary conceived Jesus only after the Holy Spirit gave her the good tidings that she is to have a son who will be a mercy and a blessing for humanity wherever he is (Verse 22 of Surah 19).
- God placed mercy, compassion, and kindness in the hearts of his followers (Verse 27 of Surah 57).
- That among Christians there are some really righteous people (Verses 113 & 114 of Surah 3).
- Jesus (pbuh) performed miracles during his life-time here on planet earth (Verse 45 of Surah 3)
- His death and birth appear to be mysterious.
- He always spoke the truth and preached only what God had revealed to him, and nothing but that.
- A Muslim would not only approve of the UNALTERED teachings of Jesus Christ, but would also have great love and respect for him, in his heart, all based on the strength of his own scripture the Holy Quran.
- And that there are various scriptures given to God’s prophets and Apostles by the Ever-lasting, Self Sufficient, Merciful, compassionate, Evolver/Cherisher/ Creator/Sustainer that we call God Almighty.
With these in mind, is there any room for Christians to adopt Muslims as their respectable brothers, rather than as “terrorists”? The Honorable Rev. John Peterson of the National Cathedral of Washington, D.C. admitted that the Muslims have been subjected to discrimination and prejudice in the U.S. during his speech addressed at the Islamic Educational Center of Potomac, Maryland on Saturday the sixth of January 2007. By the same token, one must ask Muslims if they yet have an open heart to embrace Christians as their God-fearing brothers, in their hearts, as The Honorable Rev. Peterson rightly and courageously referred to in his Speech at the said Center.
Implications of this Article:
If the writer is right in his understanding of the religious Pluralism of the Holy Quran, welcoming all human beings in their arms of love and compassion, as the residents of the same planet earth created by the same God, breathing the same air, and enjoying many similar values, then the following implications would follow:
- There are not one, but multiple paths of success, achievement and religious prosperity/salvation/success. These are all various ways and means of promotion of one’s internal attunement/shining and growth.
- There is no need for one to be radical. The proper mode of action is, rather, to be a good listener, an embracing attitude, and an open heart to understand, reach, and follow the truth, with a loving character.
- A fundamentalist/aggressive approach to force people to follow a certain path of religious growth is NOT truly needed. Individuals should be left free, but guided, to freely choose and follow their desired path of worshipping God.
- In the final analysis, we are all children, or better said: creation of the same Lord, God Almighty. Thus we must be ultra careful NOT to offend others by imposing our own values upon them; rather we should try our best to engage in constructive, tolerant, and respectful dialogues with each other. The Quran says talk to the People of the Book in a nice, respectful, and compassionate manner.
- While choosing a path of spiritual growth is good and a virtue for us all , we should always avoid promoting one path of salvation at the expense of the others. The Human choice must be made freely, without coercion. In the diversity of our spiritual paths , there are secrets of prosperity and tolerance for each other.
- Those who recognize the richness of their spiritual attunement, freely chosen, would always cherish them without any need for advertising, promotion and pushes. It is at that time that their chosen path of worshipping God becomes inwardly & truly enjoyable.
- Shouting and hating stuff passed to others on religious grounds is not only short-sighted, but also immature, wrong, and biased.
- Finally, with a little spiritual growth on our chosen paths of worship, without disrespect for others, we can make life more of a joy, understanding, peaceful coexistence, and compassion. May God help us in that direction, Amen.