Islam - The True Religion of God


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1 Sahil Badruddin = ""Certainly, Muhammad understood that there were distinct theological differences between Islam and the other Peoples of the Book. But he saw these differences as part of the divine plan of God, who could have created a single Ummah if he had wanted to but instead preferred that “every Ummah have its own Messenger” (10:47). Thus, to the Jews, God sent the Torah, “which contains guidance and light”; to the Christians, God sent Jesus, who “confirms the Torah”; and finally, to the Arabs, God sent the Quran, which “confirms the earlier revelations.” In this way, the ideological differences among the Peoples of the Book is explained by the Quran as indicating God’s desire to give each people its own “law and path and way of life” (5:42–48). That being said, there were some theological differences that Muhammad considered intolerably heretical innovations created by ignorance and error. Chief among these was the concept of the Trinity. “God is one,” the Quran states definitively. “God is eternal. He has neither begotten anyone, nor is he begotten of anyone” (112:1–3). Yet this verse, and the many others like it in the Quran, is in no way a condemnation of Christianity per se but of Imperial Byzantine (Trinitarian) Orthodoxy, which, as noted, was neither the sole nor the dominant Christian position in the Hijaz. From the beginning of his ministry, Muhammad revered Jesus as the greatest of God’s messengers. Much of the Gospel narrative is recounted in the Quran, though in a somewhat abridged version, including Jesus’ virgin birth (3:47), his miracles (3:49), his identity as Messiah (3:45), and the expectation of his judgment over humanity at the end of time (4:159). What the Quran does not accept, however, is the belief of those Orthodox Trinitarians who argued that Jesus was himself God. These Christians Muhammad did not even consider to be Peoples of the Book: “It is the unbeliever who says, ‘God is the third of three,’ ” the Quran declares. “There is only God the One!” (5:73). It was Muhammad’s belief that Orthodox Christians had corrupted the original message of Jesus, who the Quran contends never claimed divinity and never asked to be worshipped (5:116–18), but rather commanded his disciples to “worship God, who is my Lord and your Lord” (5:72). At the same time, Muhammad lashed out at those Jews in Arabia who had “forsaken the community of Abraham” (2:130) and “who were trusted with the laws of the Torah, but who fail to observe them” (62:5). Again, this was not a condemnation of Judaism. The respect and reverence that Muhammad had for the great Jewish patriarchs is evidenced by the fact that almost every biblical prophet is mentioned in the Quran (Moses nearly one hundred and forty times!). Rather, Muhammad was addressing those Jews in the Arabian Peninsula—and only in the Arabian Peninsula—who had in both belief and practice “breached their covenant with God” (5:13). And, if the Jewish clans in Medina were any indication, there were many of them. Muhammad’s complaints in the Quran were not directed against the religions of Judaism and Christianity, which he considered to be nearly identical to Islam: “We believe in what has been revealed to us, just as we believe in what has been revealed to you [Jews and Christians],” the Quran says. “Our God and your God are the same; and it is to Him we submit” (29:46). His complaint was against those Jews and Christians he had encountered in Arabia who, in his opinion, had forsaken their covenant with God and perverted the teachings of the Torah and Gospels. These were not believers but apostates with whom the Quran warns Muslims not to ally themselves: “O believers, do not make friends with those who mock you and make fun of your faith. . . . Instead say to them: ‘O People of the Book, why do you dislike us? Is it because we believe in God and in what has been sent down to us [the Quran], and what was sent down before that [the Torah and Gospels], while most of you are disobedient?’ ” (5:57–59). The point is that when Muhammad reminded the Jews of Arabia of the “favors [God] bestowed on you, making you the most exalted nation in the world” (2:47), when he raged against the Christians for abandoning their faith and confounding the truth of their scriptures, when he complained that both groups “no longer follow the teachings of the Torah and the Gospel, and what has been revealed to them by their Lord” (5:66), he was merely following in the footsteps of the prophets who had come before him. He was, in other words, Isaiah calling his fellow Jews “a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers” (Isaiah 1:4); he was John the Baptist lashing out against “the brood of vipers” who assumed that their status as “sons of Abraham” would keep them safe from judgment (Luke 3:7–8); he was Jesus promising damnation for the hypocrites who “for the sake of tradition, have made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6). After all, isn’t this exactly the message a prophet is supposed to deliver?"-No god but God, Reza Aslan "