Hard Questions

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Islam Views on Salvation: A Fine Balance

with 7 comments

Dear Bill,

You are wrong in assuming that righteous deeds are but bribes we offer to our Creator. We understand that doing good deeds does NOT benefit God, nor do our sins harm Him. This is a fundamental part of any Muslim’s creed and is clearly stated in the Quran:

Quran 3:176] And let not those grieve you who fall into unbelief hastily; surely they can do no harm to Allah at all; Allah intends that He should not give them any portion in the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement,

What then, is the purpose of doing righteous deeds ? you may ask, well, it is the sense of personal responsibility for one’s deeds that derives a man to try.
Every human has a personal account. In this account, righteous deeds are rewarded with credits whilst sins are debited. obviously, certain deeds have higher rewards than others and likewise for sins.

If you commit a crime against another person, you are also required to compensate that person, either in this world or in the hereafter. So, in the case you mentioned, of a criminal harming someone you love, if that criminal is caught and the Law applied to him, that is his punishment. If the victim forgives him, she gets credits for that, if his crime goes undetected, he will face his victim in the hereafter and pay for his crime from his personal account. If he does not have enough credits to pay, then he takes debits from the victim’s account. There is an accurate Balance, and nothing is unaccounted for. There is Absolute Justice.

This why we need to do righteous deeds. It is the only currency acceptable in the hereafter, it constitutes your most important ‘pension fund’.

Certain sins can never be redeemed: Idolatry and Association of partners to God. If you leave this world whilst not recognizing the One True, Eternal God, then you are beyond saving. You had your chance but did not take it.

God says in the the Quran:

Surah (chapter) 21:

And We set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul is wronged in aught. Though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed, We bring it. And We suffice for reckoners. [21:47]

Surah 11:

Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill-deeds. This is reminder for the mindful [11:114] .

and in Surah 17:

[17:13] And We have made every man’s actions to cling to his neck, and We will bring forth to him on the resurrection day a book which he will find wide open: [17:14] Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day.

and Surah 42:

And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust [42:40]. And whoever defends himself after his being oppressed, these it is against whom there is no way (to blame) [42:41]. The way (to blame) is only against those who oppress mankind and transgress on earth unjustly; these shall have a painful punishment [42:42].
And whoever is patient and forgiving, verily, is (of) the steadfast heart of things [42:42].

Where then, are the Grace, Mercy and Compassion of God ?

God is Merciful to the believers in the hereafter. He is Merciful and Generous to all in this life.

God says in the Quran:
Surah 7:

(O mankind!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loves not aggressors [ 7:55]. Work not mischief on earth after the fair ordering (thereof). and call on Him in fear and hope. Lo! the mercy of Allah is near unto the good [7:56].

The believer should tread humbly on earth, try to save for your hereafter and please your Lord, for He rewards you with credits, that you will need. Do not transgress on other people, for you will, no doubt, pay them back.

The rules for Salvation in Islam are:

  • Avoid unforgivable sins by adopting the true faith, and Invoke God to help you,
  • Do your best to please God, and accumulate credits and to avoid debits,
  • Always remember that your ultimate fate is in the hands of God.
  • This is what Islam is all about: submit yourself to God.

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Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm

My difficulties with the trinity concept

with 35 comments

Dear Don,

I have been thinking on how best to carry this conversation forward. Bill was right about the futility of arguing over the validity and authority of different Scriptures. I accept that we do not regard each other’s scripture’ as wholly authoritative. So we have to find a way to discuss Scriptures and doctrine, whilst taking into account our disagreements.

I always try not to judge the authenticity and reliability of Bible passages on the basis of my own convictions, however, I think it is reasonable to draw on the opinion of learned, non-Muslim, prominent Biblical scholars. So, If I say a passage is probably not authentic, this would not be based on my perspective as a Muslim, but rather, on the judgement of some prominent Biblical scholars.

Let me start by defining some areas where I think there are fundamental differences, and allow each other to explain, robustly, why we think one position is more valid than the other.

The first such point is our knowledge about GOD. Leaving aside arguments about His name, Muslims understand GOD to be The One, Eternal, Living, indivisible Creator of everything. We do not accept the idea of a triune Godhead, whether it being as defined by the Nicaean Creed or your definition of distinct Persons in the Trinity.

The concept of the trinity, is an interpretation, and was developed/articulated -depending on you theological stance- a long time after Christ ministry. One of the problems I am finding with the concept, is that I think it raises so many questions and possibilities, that can not be answed except by applying a certain amount of “guesswork“.

The concept of The Father and The Son, somehow imply a chronological order, for its inconceivable for a father not to have existed Before his a son. If this is the case, then they can not be equal. If, as you say, the Son is subordinate to the Father, than that will will also negate his status as god, for a god is Omnipotent and can not be a subordinate. Frankly, I find the believe in a hierarchy of distinct persons that form a Godhead, closer to the beliefs of polytheists than what we know of the faith of Abraham and the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

To illustrate my point about the need of “guesswork” to explain the Trinity, I list of some of various understandings of the Trinity. All these thoughts were advocated by learned Christians in the first 7 centuries AD:

from : Synopsis of Ancient Heretics

  • Monarchianism were people who overly stressed the unity of God in opposition to the teaching that the One God had three distinct personalities.
  • Paul of Samosata. He taught Christ was not divine, but a good man, who achieved divinity at his baptism along with saviorhood.
  • Sabellianism came to us from a man named Sabellius. He taught what is called Modal Monarchianism. To him the One God manifested Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, but were in reality just One God. God assumed various modes but was not really three-in-one
  • Arianism Arius denied the full deity of the preexistent Son of God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. He held that the Son, while divine and like God (“of like substance”), was created by God as the agent through whom he created the universe
  • Nestorianism A 5th-century Christological heresy, Nestorianism takes its name from Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople (428-31), who argued against the Alexandrian use of the title Theotokos, meaning “God bearer,” or “Mother of God,” for the Virgin Mary. Nestorius believed Mary was the mother of Christ only in his humanity. Nestorius taught that Christ had two natures adivine and human nature. Nestorius was condemned by the Council of Ephesus (431; see EPHESUS, COUNCIL OF), which was convened specifically to settle the dispute.
  • Monothelitism was a 7th-century Byzantine doctrine that accepted the teaching of two natures in JESUS CHRIST, as defined (451) at the Council of CHALCEDON, but declared that he had only one will or mode of activity (energeia). The Monothelitic formula was adopted (624) by Byzantine Emperor HERACLIUS as a compromise that might be acceptable to the Monophysites (see MONOPHYSITISM) of Egypt and Syria
  • Adoptionism, was a theological doctrine propounded in the 8th century by a Spanish bishop, Elipandus of Toledo. Concerned to distinguish between the divine and human natures of Christ, Elipandus held that in his divinity Christ was the son of God by nature

This state of affairs is eloquently described in the Quran, where Allah says in Chapter 19 “Mary”:

[19:34] Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.
[19:35] It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
[19:36] And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. That is the right path.
[19:37] The sects among them differ: but woe unto the disbelievers from the meeting of an awful Day.

I acknowledge the fact that religious factions exist within Islam and Judaism too, but in both of these religions, there is near unanimity on their understanding of GOD, I do not know of any noticeable Muslim sect that disagreed on their understanding of Unity of God or his attributes. The major differences were between those who understood God’s attributes as literal and those who insisted they are figurative. Other disputes arose between sects who believed The Quran was created by God (Mu’tazilah) and others who insisted it was His Words.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 15, 2008 at 9:43 pm

Testimony of a Victim of Intolerance: Macarius, The Patriarch of Antioch

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Anyone who is interested in the history of religious tolerance/ persecution and the history of the spread of Islam should read the excellent book published in 1913 : “The Preaching of Islam“, by Sir T W Arnold, Professor of Arabic at University College London.

having studied thousands of books, letters, papers etc, in 10 different languages, Prof. Arnold produced a mass of evidence that discredited the myth that Islam was spread by the sword. He argued that Muslims, in general, have been very tolerant towards people of other faith. The author did not shy away from citing the few occasions where some Muslims have in fact persecuted their subjects .

In support of this thesis, I will reproduce several testimonies, written mostly by prominent  Christians, at different stages of history starting by an example from the not too distant past:

Writing in the 17th. century, at the height of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, Macarius, the Patriarch of Antioch wrote a moving piece, describing the suffering of Russians of the Orthodox Eastern Church. He was cursing the infidel oppressors, and invoking God to help those who delivered the Orthodox Christians in the East from the tyranny that befell their brethren. But the oppressors he referred to where not the Muslims or their agents. They were in fact Christians: Catholic Poles. He wrote:

We all wept much over the thousands of martyrs who were killed by those impious wretches, the enemies of faith, in these forty or fifty years. The number probably amounted to seventy or eighty thousands souls. O you infidels! O you monsters of impurity ! O you hearts of stone ! What had the nuns and women done ? What the girls and boys and infant children, that you should murder them ? … and why do I pronounce them accursed ? … Because they have shown themselves more debased and wicked than the corrupt worshippers of idols, by their cruel treatment of Christians, thinking to abolish the very name of Orthodox. God perpetuate the empire of the Turks for ever and ever ! For thy take their impost and enter into no account of religion, be their subjects Christians or Nazarenes, Jews or Samaritans: whereas these accursed Poles were not content with taxes and tithes from the brethren of Christ, though willing to serve them; but they subjected them to the authority of the enemies of Christ, the tyrannical Jews, who did not permit them to build churches, nor leave them any priests that knew the mysteries of their religion.

Source: The Preaching of Islam by Professor T W Arnold, University College London- published 1913.

The Patriarch clearly acknowledged the tolerance of the Muslim Ottomans, which, he said, was extended to all Christians and Jews. He also betrayed his anti-Semitic feelings in the last paragraph whilst exonerating Muslims of the same.

This tale of Islamic tolerance, highlights a long period of history, when the Islamic world was a real beacon of hope for the oppressed everywhere. It is hard to imagine now but hopefully, by highlighting some of the brighter aspects of Islamic history, we can move towards achieving certain objectives:

  1. Remind Muslims of the tolerant attitude of Islam towards other faiths. This can enhance our experience as Muslims living in the West, brings us closer to other communities that form, with us, the increasingly diverse countries we live in.
  2. Expose the lies of the war mongers and Islamophobes who portray our religion in the worst possible light, and continually try to frighten everyone from Islam and Muslims, thus fostering an atmosphere of mutual mistrust and suspicion.
  3. Respond to elements within the Muslim communities that advocate an isolationist agenda, by teaching young Muslims that we have a long tradition of co-existing peacefully with people of different faiths.

The following verse from the Quran was said by Abdullah, son of Masood, a companion of the Prophet (ص), to sum up what Islam is about (Tabarani 8659):

[Quran 16:90] Lo! Allah enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed.

Below you will find another book by a harsh critic of Islam who could not but acknowledge the tolerance Muslims afforded their subjects.

Further Reading: Online Book: The Heresy of Muhammad – annotated page

Related Posts:

Muslim Christian Dialogue: Where do we start ?

The Ebionites: True followers of Jesus who converted to Islam

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Burning of heretics Books by Papal Mandate

Burning of heretics' books by Papal mandate

We look today at the Jesus movement in Jerusalem formed by early followers of Christ, and headed by the disciple James. Their understanding of Christianity differed fundamentally from the religion later formulated by Paul, whom they considered to be a false teacher. They had a gospel written in Aramaic which is now lost to us . Modern scholars have described their theology in terms that closely resembles the religion preached by Muhammad (ص).

This group of early Christians, known as The Ebionites (the poor) and sometimes Nazarenes (Some scholars believe the Nazarenes to be a different group from the Ebionites, others maintain they are the same)- were labelled ‘heretics’ and persecuted by the Orthodox church which adopted the teachings and interpretations of their arch rival Paul of Taurus.

According to Biblical scholar Barrie Wilson, the main features of the Ebionite’s theology can be summerised in the following:

  1. Jesus was a created human and not divine
  2. Jesus was a teacher
  3. Jesus was the expected Messiah
  4. The Law of the Torah must be observed
  5. Theirs was the earliest congregation of followers to Jesus, starting from around 30 AD

Several church fathers described how Ebionites rejected The Divinity of Jesus and The Atoning Death of Jesus. According to those church fathers, the Ebionites emphasized the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus. They considered Paul an apostate of the law who corrupted Jesus’ message.

Church father Irenaeus, wrote in “Against Heresy”:

Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practise circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.

What is really significant, from the Muslim point of view, is Dr. Barry Wilson suggestion that, the Ebionites survived until the Muslims’ conquest of the Middle East, when they [the Ebionites] were absorbed in Islam.

This can help explain why the Christians of Syria and Egypt were converting to Islam en-mass in the 7th. century AD. It is possible that, people who were in contact with Ebionites or, were Ebionites themselves, recognised as truthful, the revelation of the Quran.

The Quran, with its uncompromising monotheism, its insistence on humanity of Jesus, and rejection of the trinity closely echoed the Ebionites beliefs, and was in complete harmony with what they new about God and Jesus [The only exception is the virgin birth which the Quran confirms and the Ebionites were said -by their opponents -to reject] . They probably recognised Islam as a continuation of the same message of God delivered by Jesus, Moses, Abraham, and the prophets.

Allah describes the reaction of some Christians and Jews in the Quran, chapter 28:

[Quran 28:51] And now verily We have caused the word to reach them, that haply they may give heed.
[28:52] Those unto whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it,
[28:53] And when it is recited unto them, they say: We believe in it. Lo! it is the Truth from our Lord. Lo! even before it we were of those who surrender (unto Him).
[28:54] These will be given their reward twice over, because they are steadfast and repel evil with good, and spend of that wherewith We have provided them,
[28:55] And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant.

There is little doubt that the church in Jerusalem pre-dated the churches established by Paul in Roman cities. There is no doubt that the church members in Jerusalem were the ones who actually saw and heard Jesus directly, unlike Paul, who never met Jesus.

I, therefore, have no doubt that the teachings of the Ebionites on Jesus are closer to the truth.

Related Posts: On Jewish Christianity, Islam and The Gentiles

Atonement: Can You Really Be Certain of Salvation?

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I often hear my Christian friends say that one of the chief attractions of Christianity is the guaranteed salvation and atonement of sins offered to Christians. The Christian Doctrine of Salvation stipulates that the death of Christ on the cross was a sacrifice that atoned the sins of believers in Jesus divinity and crucifixion for their sake. Some have suggested that the absence of assured salvation in Islam is a serious handicap and a clear proof of the superiority of Christianity over Islam and of Jesus over Muhammad. Does Islam offer a solution to the problem of sin? Do we have an answer to the Doctrine of Atonement? How can a Muslim be sure of Salvation? they ask.

I will start by saying the belief that one will be saved is NOT in itself sufficient to guarantee salvation. The doctrine itself must be true before it can be used as a blank cheque and a season ticket to Paradise. It is, therefore important that the doctrine of salvation is scrutinised to determine its legitimacy and authenticity.

There will be nothing worse than a person indulging himself sure in the knowledge that he will be saved, only to discover that he was deluded and that he will have to answer for his deeds.

I have a few problems with this doctrine that I would like to discuss:

  1. Can we trace the doctrine reliably to Jesus himself? In other words, has Jesus himself ever said he was going to be crucified to atone for the sins of his followers?
  2. What is the fate of the righteous followers of previous prophets, like the older generations of Israel who lived and died without knowing Jesus? Why are they denied salvation? What about the Patriarchs themselves? They have never professed the trinity nor the doctrine of atonement.
  3. This doctrine in particular is very alien to natural justice and the universal virtue of individual responsibility. I mean, what would you say of a justice system that punishes the innocent and reward the guilty?
  4. What, according to the Gospels, are we to be saved from? Many New Testament passages speak of the saved entering the kingdom of God, so what is the fate of the non-saved? It appears to me that, there is a distinct lack of clarity with regard to the unsaved.

The real teaching of Jesus on Salvation is in full agreement with the teaching of Islam, both advocate personal responsibility and obedience to God. According to the synoptic Gospels, when a man asked Jesus saying Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus replied … You know the commandments.. Mark 10: 17-25, Mt 19: 16-24, Lk 18: 18-25

Why didn’t Jesus say to the man Just have faith in me as your lord and Savior, and rest assured that I will die for you to be saved?

The renowned biblical scholar and Dead Sea Scrolls expert Geza Vermes wrote in his excellent book “The Resurrection”:

In sum, whilst the idea of the resurrection lay in the periphery of the preaching of Jesus, based on the idea of the kingdom of God, St. Paul turned it into the centrepiece of his mystical and theological vision, which was soon to become the essence of the Christian message.

I believe what Vermes said here to be accurate. This doctrine was invented by Paul who was attempting to make sense of the perceived crucifixion and ascension of Jesus. Because of its human origin, it was liable to have holes in its integrity. Paul convinced his early followers that the risen Christ will return during their lifetime and they will all join him in the kingdom. When some of the faithful died without realising their hope of joining Christ, it became a problem that needed the doctrine to be fine tuned. So Paul made amendments and included the dead early Christians in the proposed salvation. Later, when the question of what will happen the righteous of older generation including the Patriarchs, another fine tuning was necessary, and a passage in 1 Peter suggested that during his stay in the tomb, the dead Jesus went and saved the prisoners of sheol ‘The domain of the Dead’.

Islam has a very simple and logical doctrine: Everyone will be raised from the dead to be judged according to his own deeds. Those who believed in The One God, and believed his messenger and were righteous will be saved. Others will be punished in proportion to their “balance sheet”. Forgiveness of sin is subject to the Will of God alone, and is only possible, though not guaranteed, for those who did not worship other gods besides The One God.

These principles are universal, and they apply to all human past and present, fairly and justly.

There is an incentive for people to act righteously and a deterrent for those who indulge in evil.

Related Posts:
On Jewish Christianity, Islam and the Gentiles
Thoughts on The Crucifixion

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm

The Dead Sea Scrolls: On The Prophet and His Detractors ….

with 38 comments

I am going to discuss two fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls in response to the latest media frenzy surrounding the release of a Dutch film, claiming to be anti-Quran, but before I begin, I have a simple message to Muslims around the world: Do NOT grieve, or lose your composure, for attacks on our faith and our Prophet have been the norm rather than the exception for most of the past 14 centuries. They have failed in the past and they WILL fail again. As far as I am concerned, these vicious and deliberately misleading attacks are the clearest Sign of the Truth of Islam.

Ironically, these actions are squarely condemned and predicted to fail by none other than the oldest Jewish texts known to exist: The Dead Sea Scrolls, written more than 2000 years ago. I will introduce here, two fragments from the scrolls that I believe demonstrate my point.

The first fragment is the The Self Glorification Hymn, 4Q491c , from the Dead Sea Scrolls cave 4 collection. This fragment speaks of a future Prophetical figure, a Messenger of God that is abused and insulted like no other:

Who shall [experience] troubles like me? And who is like me [in bearing] evil? I have not been taught, but no teaching compares i7[ with my teaching]. Who then shall attack me when [I] ope[n my mouth]? Who can endure the utterance of my lips? Who shall arraign me and compare with my judgment i3[ . . . Fo]r I am reck[oned] with the gods, [and] my glory with that of the sons of the King. Neither [refined go]ld, nor the gold of Ophir 19[ . . . ] (4Q491C -Dead Sea Scrolls – cave 4)
[source: Mystical Texts By Philip Alexander ]

The second fragment, [Levi Apocryphon, Fragment 4Q451.9- cave 4 Dead Sea Scrolls], is even more explicit. You may be forgiven for thinking it was written by a contemporary writer:

He will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of his people. His word is like a word of heaven, and his teaching is in accordance with the will of Elohim. His eternal sun will shine, and his light will be kindled in all corners of the earth, and it will shine on the darkness. Then the darkness will pass away from the earth and thick darkness from the dry land. They will speak many words against him, and they will invent many lies and fictions against him and shameful things about him. Evil will overthrow his generation…His situation will be one of lying and violence and the people will go astray in his days, and be confounded (4Q451.9 Dead Sea Scrolls)
[source: King, Priest and Prophet By Geza G. Xeravits- pages 111-112]

Fragment 4Q491c describe the Prophet as ‘someone who has not been taught’, a well documented attribute of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]. It also alludes to the background of the Prophet, who came from an un-learned nation. The second fragment [4Q451.9], tells how the teachings of the Prophet will cause “darkness to disappear from ‘DRY LAND’“, which can also be translated ‘The Desert’. Both Fragments indicate that the main strength of the Prophet are ‘his words‘, described as ‘ like the words of heaven ‘. This is one more feature that can only apply to Prophet Muhammad (ص). Unlike Moses and Jesus who performed physical miracles to their audiences, Muhammad’s (ص) main miracles is The Quran, The words of God.

Now, if you think about it calmly, no individual in history has been subjected to a barrage of insults or a sustained campaign of hate as did the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, the Messenger of God, (ص). From the dawn of Islam, when the prophet (ص) declared to the Arab polytheists that he was sent to them by God to end idolatry, the prophet was faced with unprecedented enmity from his own people. He endured 13 years of hostility, ridicule and sanctions in Mecca before being forced to leave his birthplace when the Meccans plotted to murder him, and he emigrated to Madina.

This emigration known as ‘Hijra’ was such an important event, it has been designated the base year of the Muslim Calendar. For the next 10 years, the Prophet was surrounded by enemies bent on extinguishing the new religion, but God delivered his promise to the prophet (ص), and he prevailed over his enemies, conquering Mecca in the 9th year AH. When the prophet (ص) performed the Farewell Pilgrimage in year 10 AH, he was joined by 100,000 Muslims.

The religion that started with one person 23 years earlier, has entered all the corners of Arabia, and was primed to spread to the world. Today, there are about 1.5 billions Muslims in the world.

One thing has never changed: The hostility shown to the prophet (ص). His enemies have always been extreme in their animosity.

The latest manifestation of this hatred and hostility can be seen right now: Danish Cartoons, Fitna, the Dutch Anti- Islam film, numerous articles in the printed press as well as hundreds of Websites and blogs dedicated to viciously attacking the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (ص).

In the middle ages, stories were invented in Europe about the prophet that described how he burnt children alive and ate them. The teaching of Islam were sometimes portrayed as borrowed material that Muhammad learned from Christians and Jews. The same prophet was accused by the same people, of reviving a pagan religion that he developed from old legends in Arabia. You can often find conflicting and contradictory statements about the prophet in the same page.

I have read an article which implied that Muhammad copied stories from old scriptures and books and included them in the Quran. The list comprised Old Jewish writing, apocrypha, Greek legends, the Hebrew Bible, The Talmud amongst others. What is striking about this claim is that the list is so extensive, it is absolutely impossible for an illiterate person living in Mecca in the sixth century to have found and seen all of them, let alone study and extract stories from them. The author conveniently ignore the fact the Quranic narration is almost always substantially different from the alleged sources. Even today, with the all the advances in communication and the availability of resources like the internet, libraries, and printing it would still be extremely difficult for someone to go through half of these books. Remember that the prophet (ص), was leading an emerging state, he was the preident, the supreme cour, the leader of the army, and the teacher. Where did he find the time to read those books that are written in different languages, and that are hard to come by even today!!

Of course I acknowledge that other Prophets have suffered too, but none like Muhammad (ص), and none has suffered for such a long period. The Prophet has continued to be the target of ‘vicious things said about him’ to this very moment.

Allah told the Prophet (and us ) in the Quran – Chapter 3:

[Quran 3:186] Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.

FITNA: Is It Worth a Protest?

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After all the hype, briefings, threats and counter threats, the film that was meant to persuade the world to ditch the Quran is out.

Having watched, full of anticipation, the documentary made by Dutch parliamentarian and leader of the ‘Freedom’ Party, Geert Wilders, my feeling afterwards were a strange mixture of disappointment and relief.

The film, full of the usual tired misinterpretation of verses of the Quran, lacked originality, quality and substance. It betrayed its makers’ lack of knowledge of the Arabic language, the Quran and the way Muslims interpret their scriptures.

Fitna starts with an image from the Danish Cartoons, the sole purpose of its inclusion appears to be and attempt to provoke a backlash from Muslims. It then follows a pattern of quoting verses or partial verses from the Quran, misinterpreting them or take them out of context, and then recycle some old footage from scenes of carnage from Iraq/ Afghanistan.

Take as an example of the deliberate misinterpretation of the film maker: the verse from Chapter 3:

Wilders quotes (partially) verse (3:85: ‘And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him’.
Wilders’s intention here is to use the verse as proof that Islam does not tolerate other faiths and refuse to coexist peacefully with other systems of belief.

The deceit is evident here because the film only quote half of the verse. The full verse reads:

[Quran 3:85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

Only when you read the full verse, then you realise that it is God who is saying that Those who refuse to submit to Him, will not be accepted in the Hereafter, The Day of judgement and will become losers.

The verse does not, in any way, reject the coexistence of different faiths in this life, except for in the imagination of the makers of Fitna.

The second example I will discuss demonstrate the lack of knowledge of the Arabic language and its uses by the film makers. They refer to a verse from Chapter 47:

[Quran 47:4] Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers , smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens.

Here the order to the believer is to smite the necks of the unbelievers when they meet them, or so would the film want us to understand. However the Arabic phrase ‘when you meet’ , in the context of fighting, has the specific meaning of ‘meeting the enemy in the battle field‘. There are numerous illustration of this meaning from Arabic speech and poetry. To expel any misunderstanding, the verse finishes by specifying the circumstances under which this command from God ceases to be valid: ‘ Until the war lays down its burdens.’

I could go on discussing the film and the shallow arguments contained in it, but I truly believe that it does not deserve more of my or your time at the moment. This film is prime contender for the worst documentary of the year.My advise to all Muslims who are planning to protest against the film: Please calm down and watch the film for yourself for only then will you realise that the film is a testimony to the truth of Islam. I mean, how else can you describe such a feeble counter argument by your religion’s critics.

Please do not fall in a trap that has been prepared for you. There is absolutely no need for demonstrations, talk of boycott or threats to sever diplomatic relations with the Netherlands over this film.

One last point: Greet Wilders is not a spokesman for Christianity, I am sure that his views do not represent the views and understanding of the majority of Christians in the world.

Related Post: On Prophet And His Detractors

Written by Rasheed Gadir

April 1, 2008 at 2:45 am