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The Outlook of Islam on the People of the Book

taken from

Another important topic that has been on the agenda with the acts of terrorism against the United States is the relation between the Western and Islamic worlds. As is known, by the 90s, some intellectuals were suggesting that the world was due for a struggle that would take place between the West and Islam. This is the basic theme of Samuel Huntington´s well-known thesis ´The Clash of Civilisations´. However, this thesis - better called as ´Clash of Ignorance´ by Edward W. Said - rests on an imaginary scenario generated by the exaggeration of the influence of some radical and ignorant factions to be found in these two civilisations. Actually, there can be no clash between the Western civilisation and the Islamic civilisation, because the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity, the tenets upon which Western civilisation is based, are in perfect harmony with Islam.

In the Qur´an, Jews and Christians are called the ´People of the Book´. This is because the members of these two religions abide by the Divine Books revealed by God. The outlook of Islam on the People of the Book is extremely just and compassionate.

This attitude towards the People of the Book developed during the years of the birth of Islam. At that time, Muslims were a minority, struggling to protect their faith and suffering oppression and torture from the pagans of the city of Mecca. Due to this persecution, some Muslims decided to flee Mecca and shelter in a safe country with a just ruler. The Prophet Muhammad told them to take refuge the Christian king of Ethiopia. The Muslims who went to Ethiopia found a very fair administration that embraced them with love and respect. The King refused the demands of the pagan messengers who had travelled to Ethiopia and asked him to surrender the Muslims to them, and announced that Muslims could live freely in his country.

These Christian attitudes of compassion, mercy, and justice, are referred to in a verse of the Qur´an which states:

… You will find the people most affectionate to those who believe are those who say, ´We are Christians.´ That is because some of them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant. (Qur´an, 5:82)

Common Beliefs and Values Shared by Muslims and the People of the Book

Christian and Muslim beliefs have many aspects in common. Judaism too shares many beliefs with Islam. In the Qur´an, God relates that Muslims share the same faith with the People of the Book and that they say to them ´We have faith in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him.´ (Qur´an, 29:46)

In the Qur´an, Christians and Jews are defined as the People of the Book, and there is a command to show respect, mercy and kindness to them. Both Christians and Jews believe in God and share the same moral values as Muslims.

All true adherents of these three great religions:

believe that God has created the entire universe out of nothing and that He dominates all that exists with His omnipotence.

believe that God has created man and living things in a miraculous way and that man possesses a soul granted him by God.

believe in resurrection, Heaven and Hell and angels, and that God has created our lives with a certain destiny.

believe that besides Jesus, Moses or Muhammad, God sent many prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Joseph throughout history, and they love all these prophets.

In one verse, that Muslims make no distinction among prophets is related as follows:

The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him by his Lord, and so do the believers. Each one believes in God and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. We do not differentiate between any of His Messengers. They say, ´We hear and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord! You are our journey´s end.´ (Qur´an, 2:285)

The beliefs of the People of the Book are in harmony with Muslims, not only in terms of faith-related issues, but also of moral values. Today, in a world where such immoralities as adultery, homosexuality, drug addiction and a model of egoism and self-seeking cruelty have grown widespread, the People of the Book and Muslims share the same virtues: Honour, chastity, humility, self-sacrifice, honesty, compassion, mercy and unconditional love.

The Common Forces against Faith

Another important fact that draws Christianity, Judaism and Islam together is the atheist philosophies that are so influential in our time.

Among the best-known and most harmful philosophies of our age can be cited materialism, communism, fascism, anarchism, racism, nihilism and existentialism. Many people who believed in the false diagnoses, deceptive descriptions and explanations of these ideas on the universe, society and man, have lost their faith or doubted it. What is more, these ideologies have dragged people, societies and nations into great crises, conflicts and wars. Their share of the blame for the pain and troubles that humanity suffers from today is immense.

Today both the Muslims and the People of the Book are engaged in a broadening struggle against immoralities such as sexual perversions or drug addiction. Each of these three religions accepts chastity, honesty and self-sacrifice as the greatest virtues.

While they deny God and creation, all the above-mentioned ideologies are based on a common framework, a so-called scientific basis; Charles Darwin´s theory of evolution. Darwinism constitutes the basis of atheist philosophies. This theory claims that living beings have evolved as a result of coincidences and by means of a struggle for life. Therefore, Darwinism sends this deceptive message to people:

´You are not responsible to anyone, you owe your life to coincidences, you need to struggle, and if necessary to oppress others to succeed. This world is one of conflict and self-interest´.

The social messages put across by Darwinist concepts such as ´Natural selection´, ´struggle for life´, ´survival of the fittest´ are a means of indoctrination. This evil morality advises people to be egoistical, self-seeking, cruel and oppressive. It destroys such virtues as mercy, compassion, self-sacrifice and humility, the moral values of the three great monotheistic religions and presents this as a necessity of ´the rules of life.´

Godless ideologies such as fascism, communism, racism and anarchism have brought destruction upon humanity and have encouraged hatred within societies.

This Darwinist indoctrination is just the opposite of the beliefs of the People of the Book and the message of the Qur´an. Consequently, the Darwinist indoctrination constitutes the foundation of a world which inherently opposes all the three divine religions.

This being the case, it is necessary for the People of the Book and Muslims to co-operate, since they believe in God and accept the morality that He teaches. The followers of these three religions should expose to the world the fallacy of Darwinism, which has no scientific basis, but which people are trying to preserve for the sake of materialist philosophy. They should co-operatively carry out an intellectual struggle against all other deceptive ideas (communism, fascism, racism) that serve atheism. Once this is realized, the world will, in a very short time, embrace peace, tranquillity and justice.

Darwinism proposes a society in which conflict and violence are seen as means of development. But a study of its effects on society reveals that the Social Darwinist project has only brought pain and destruction.

Antisemitism is a Racism Totally Contrary to Islam

In our times, antisemitism is an ideology which threatens world peace and targets the well-being and security of innocent people. This is racist hatred felt by some for the Jews.

In the 20th century, antisemitism signed its name to great disasters, one of the most horrible being the cruelty and murder inflicted on the Jews by the Nazis. In addition to this, in many countries authoritarian regimes have targeted Jews and subjected them to cruel treatment. Fascist organisations have harassed Jews and carried out bloody attacks against them.

So how should a Muslim regard antisemitism?

The answer is obvious. Every Muslim must oppose antisemitism as he would oppose every other racist ideology. Although Muslims justly condemn the cruel and aggressive policies of the State of Israel together with their occupation of adjacent territory, to blanket condemn innocent Jews is not acceptable to Muslims: this would be a symptom of antisemitism. However, criticising official Zionist ideology has nothing to do with antisemitism, since to object to Zionism is to object to an intense form of racism. There are many Jews who also criticise the racist policies of Zionism, and to label them as being antisemetic would be absurd.

The persecution of Jews throughout history was basically a consequence of racist prejudices, which are definitely contrary to Islam. It is right to oppose and criticize the brutality of Israel, but no Muslim should condone unjust or cruel treatment of innocent Jewish people.

Never subjecting a community to a blanket criticism is a command stressed in the Qur´an, there is a need to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, the cruel ones and the innocent. After referring to some Jews and Christians, who violated God´s commands, God also mentions some other Jews and Christians who displayed moral perfection:

[However] They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book there is an upright community who recite the revelation of God during the night and fall prostrate before Him. They believe in God and the Last Day, enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil, and vie with one another in good works. They are of the righteous. And whatever good they do, its reward will not be denied them. God knows those who fear [Him]. (Qur´an, 3:113-115)

Antisemitism is an anti-religion ideology that has its roots in neo-paganism. Therefore, it is unthinkable that a Muslim would espouse antisemitism or feel sympathy for this ideology. Anti-Semites have no respect for Abraham, Moses or David who were blessed prophets chosen by God to be examples for humanity.

Antisemitism and other kinds of racism (eg. prejudice against blacks) have no place in true religion; they are perversions arising from various ideologies and superstitions.

Furthermore, when we examine antisemitism and other forms of racism, we see clearly that they promote ideas and a model of society that is totally contrary to the moral teachings of the Qur´an, for example, at the root of antisemitism lie hatred, violence, and lack of compassion. An anti-Semite may be so cruel as to support the murder of Jewish people, men, women, children and the aged, and condone their being subjected to torture. However, the moral teaching of the Qur´an enjoins love, compassion and mercy for all people. It also commands Muslims to show justice and be forgiving even to their enemies.

Muslims want Jews, Christians and themselves to live in peace and contentment, treating each other with tolerance, friendship, respect ...
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