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  Jesus (peace be upon him): A Prophet In Islam

Presentation by

Mark Hamza Dougherty

Blacksburg, VA  -  Dzul-Qa'idah 1420 A.H. - February 2000 C.E.


In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful -  Peace be upon him who is rightly guided.

I have been given a topic of some importance to both Christians and Muslims, namely, the teachings of Islam regarding the life, mission, and death of Jesus (peace be upon him). Before entering the topic, I would like to address the doctrines of Christianity against the backdrop of modern Western thought. My perspective is one who was brought up as a Christian in the US.  I am not a scholar of either Islam or Christianity.  In fact, my only qualification for standing in front of you is that I was once a Christian and now I am a Muslim.  I would like to share selected passages from another Westerner, the former Leopold Weiss, statesman, journalist, and author, an Austrian Jew who converted to Islam. He wrote a book called "Islam at the Crossroads" under his adopted Muslim name, Muhammad Asad. Although the book was originally written in 1934, Mr. Asad's comments regarding the historical background of Christian thought within the Western framework are insightful.

Muhammad Asad (from "Islam at the Crossroads"):
"Perhaps the most important intellectual factor which prevented Europe's religious regeneration was the current conception of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Philosophically-minded Christians, of course, never took this idea of sonship in its literal sense; they understood by it a manifestation of God's Mercy in human form. For the overwhelming majority of Christians [however] the expression "son" had and has a very direct meaning, although there was always a mystical flavor attached to it. …This belief naturally led to an anthropomorphisation of God Himself who assumed the shape of a benignant old man with a white flowing beard…this shape, perpetrated by innumerable paintings….remained impressed upon European's subconscious mind. …With the intellectual shackles of the Middle Ages….broken, the thinking among the Europeans could not reconcile themselves to a humanized God/Father.….After a period of enlightenment [at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century], European thinkers instinctively shrunk back from the conception of God as presented in the teachings of the Church; and as this was the only conception to which they had been accustomed, they began to reject the very idea of God, and with it, religion."

I would now like to move from Europe to America. Thomas Jefferson, the great proponent of religious freedom, was a child of this period (late 18th and early 19th century), having ties to enlightened European thinking through France. According to the 1983 book, "Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels," which is the second in a published series called "The Papers of Thomas Jefferson," Jefferson reached a religious crisis at some point during the 1760's, and came to denounce the Anglican doctrine of his heritage. His personal views on religion were kept strictly private, except for members of his immediate family and close correspondents, for the most part, until after his death in 1826. According to the book's 39-page introduction, written by Eugene Sheridan, foremost among Jefferson's reasons for denouncing the Christian doctrine of his upbringing was the concept of the Trinity, which he found non-compatible with reason. A letter written by Jefferson in 1788 recounts his inability "from a very early part of my life" to accept the Christian doctrine of the Trinity owing to the "difficulty of reconciling the ideas of Unity and Trinity."

Based on Jefferson's correspondence and personal compilation of the four Gospels in an attempt to demythologize the man, Jesus, the following outline is offered by the authors about his religious beliefs. (And of course only God knows what is in men's hearts). Thomas Jefferson was, according to his writings, an unwavering monotheist, who believed that God created the universe and all that is in it, sustaining it with mathematically precise natural laws. He also believed that God benefited man with an innate moral sense, as well as the intellectual capacity to rationally explain and deduce all that he needed for successful life on earth and hopefully in the next life. Jefferson did not accept the divinity of Jesus (pbuh), nor did he accept the belief that revelation from God to man is a part of God's plan. Rather, he believed that God revealed Himself through the natural and majestic wonders of the universe. He accepted Jesus (pbuh) as the greatest of moral reformers, and devoted a great deal of time to critical examination of the four Gospels. At the end of his life, in retirement, after two terms as President of the United States, he produced a critical analysis of the Gospels by cutting and pasting together, in Greek, Latin, French, and English, a concise compilation called the "Life and Morals of Jesus." A copy of Jefferson's little book is presently housed in the Smithsonian Institute.

The reason I am relating this information about Thomas Jefferson is not to expose his religious views. God Alone knows what resides in any man or woman's heart. I am relating this information, ostensibly from verified sources of Jefferson's own writing, because it provides to me an example of a man who had the courage to disavow himself of doctrines that he found incompatible with the reason he believed his Creator had endowed him with. He rejected the religious doctrines of his upbringing, yet at the same time rejected the so-called enlightened rationalist's outright denial of God. I personally see Thomas Jefferson as a man who struck his own path, trying to seek the truth somewhere between two extremes. In the end, according to the authors of the book "Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels," Jefferson probably best described his own faith when he observed, somewhat somberly in my opinion, "I am a sect by myself, as far as I know."

Although I see Jefferson as a man of strong faith and principle, it appears to me from what I have read that he didn't hold a belief in Jesus (pbuh) that was wholly satisfying. What do I mean by this? In Jefferson's day, I believe, much as in our day, two choices were offered to many people concerning Jesus (pbuh);
 

  1. he was who he said he was, (according to the words attached to him in the Bible) God, and son of God, human, yet divine, sent to save the world from sin, or
  2. he was, (God forbid), a madman or worse, a liar.

  3.  

Thomas Jefferson refused both choices. In the end, he concluded that Jesus (pbuh) as a young person was the greatest moral teacher in history, a man who believed he was divinely inspired by God, but who never himself claimed to be God. Because of Jefferson's twin beliefs that Jesus was merely a man, and that God does not speak to man through inspiration, Jefferson felt obliged to excuse Jesus' claim to divine inspiration as the inevitable result of his having been brought up among superstitious people who regarded "fumes of the most disordered imaginations…as special communications of the deity." May God protect all of us from this type of error. I only relate this story as an example of how one man, and only God knows, appears to have reconciled himself to one of the most passionately debated personalities in the history of religion, the one we are discussing tonight, Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him.

     

I was presented with the two above choices concerning Jesus (pbuh) some 20 ago when I read the book "Mere Christianity," by C.S. Lewis. My response, unlike Thomas Jefferson, was to accept the whole of the Christian doctrine (choice number 1). How could I do otherwise given the alternative that Jesus was, (God forbid), a madman, or worse, a liar? The point I would like to make is that many people it seems simply aren't presented with any other choice but these two rather stark "all-or-nothing" alternatives regarding the person of Jesus (pbuh). We who have taken part in discussing these issues have tried to present a third choice regarding the life and mission of Jesus (pbuh). This is the Islamic alternative. As the Qur'an tells us in the 75th verse of Surah Al-Maidah ("The Table Spread"):
 

    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    "The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother (Mary) was a believer. They both used to eat food (as any other human being). Look, how We make the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, etc.) clear to them, yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth)."

In one sense, this verse from the Qur'an is really all that need to be said concerning the Islamic belief regarding the person of Jesus (pbuh).

Dr. Maneh Al-Johani (from his article "The Truth About Jesus (pbuh)"), which is available on the internet, states: "The controversy about the personality of Jesus Christ is the major difference between Islam and Christianity. This difference keeps the followers of the two religions apart. Muslims look at Jesus Christ as a great Prophet of God and love and respect him as much as they love and respect Abraham, Moses and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Christians on the other hand consider Jesus (pbuh) as God or son of God, a concept that Muslims cannot accept. Islam teaches that Jesus (pbuh) never made such a claim for himself. As a matter of fact all the cardinal doctrines of Christianity that are rejected by Islam center around the personality of Jesus (pbuh). Specifically these are:

     
    1. The Trinity
    2. The Divinity of Jesus
    3. The Divine Sonship of Christ
    4. Original Sin, and
    5. Atonement

Dr. Al-Johani continues, "Unfortunately, the differences focusing on the personality of Jesus (pbuh) have overshadowed the many similarities between Christianity and Islam. Some examples are the emphasis on the moral system and on human principles [shared by both Islam and Christianity], Muslim beliefs affirming the Virgin Birth of Jesus (pbuh), being able to speak in the cradle, performing miracles, and [his] second coming."

     

"The Islamic view of Jesus (pbuh) lies between two extremes. The Jews, who rejected Jesus (pbuh) as a Prophet of God, called him an impostor. The Christians on the other hand, consider him to be the son of God and worship him as such. Islam [as we have stated] considers Jesus (pbuh) as one of the great Prophets of God ..."

"Although the Qur'an does not present a detailed life-account of Jesus (pbuh), it highlights the important aspects of his birth, his mission, his ascension to heaven and passes judgements on the Christian beliefs concerning him."

"The Unitarian concept and the humanness of Jesus (pbuh) is not only held by Muslims but also by Jews and by some early groups of Christianity such as the Ebonite's, the Corinthians, the Basilidians, the Capocratians and the Hypisistarians to name several early sects. The Aryans, Paulicians and Goths also accepted Jesus (pbuh) as a prophet of God. Even in the modern age there are churches in Asia, in Africa, the Unitarian church, and others who do not worship Jesus (pbuh) as God."

In present Christianity, Dr. Al-Johani continues, "the personality of Jesus (pbuh) … is completely misunderstood. Jesus' (pbuh) nature, mission and claimed death and resurrection, have all been challenged by studies in the field. One of those is a book entitled "The Myth of God Incarnate," which appeared in 1977 (edited by John Hick) and written by seven theological scholars in England. Their conclusion is that Jesus (pbuh) was "a man approved by God, for a special role within the divine purpose, and … the later conception of him as God incarnate … is a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us."

Continuing to read from Al-Johani's article, "The best George Carey could say in his attempt to refute the findings of those theologians is that unless one takes Jesus (pbuh) as God Incarnate one won't be able to understand Jesus' (pbuh) mission or explain its impact on people. This definitely is a very weak argument because all great prophets such as Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad have had a tremendous impact on people and none of them claimed that he was God or a son of God."

Dr. Al-Johani cites a January 5, 1978 article in the Washington Post, reporting that Dr. Robert Alley lost his post as the chairman of the Department of Religion at University of Richmond because of his view that Jesus (pbuh) never claimed to be the son of God. Reportedly, Dr. Alley's conclusions were that: "The (Bible) passages where Jesus (pbuh) talks about the son of God are later additions.... what the church said about him. Such a claim of deity for himself would not have been consistent with his entire lifestyle as we can reconstruct. For the first three decades after Jesus' (pbuh) death Christianity continued as a sect within Judaism. The first three decades of its existence of the church were within the synagogue. That would have been beyond belief if they (the followers) had boldly proclaimed the deity of Jesus (pbuh)."
 

    The Mission of Jesus (pbuh) in Islam

Suzanne Haneef ("What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims," 1985) offers an introduction to the Muslim concept of the life and mission of Jesus (pbuh):
"In Islam, Isa Maseeh – Jesus the Messiah, God's peace and blessings be on him – is one of the greatest of the prophets whom Muslims hold in very deep love and respect. The Qur'an confirms that Jesus (pbuh) was born of a virgin mother (Maryam) through the same Power which brought Adam into being without a father, and that by God's permission during his prophethood he wrought many compelling miracles among his people. He was given the power to speak coherently in infancy, to heal the sick, to raise the dead, and to reach the hearts of men by the words which God revealed to him."

     
    Qur'an 3:48-51 ("Family of Imran"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And He (God) will teach him (Jesus (pbuh)) the Book and Al-Hikmah (i.e. the Sunna, the faultless speech of the Prophets, wisdom etc.), (and) the Torah and the Evangel.

    And will make him a Messenger to the Children of Israel (saying): "I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's permission; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by God's permission. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe.

    And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Torah, and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear God and obey me.

    Truly! God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him (Alone). This is the Straight Path.

Worship the One True God

    Qur'an 43:63-65 ("The Gold Adornments"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And when Jesus (pbuh) came with (Our) clear Proofs, he said: "I have come to you with Al-Hikmah (Prophethood), and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) in which you differ, therefore fear God and obey me, "Verily, God! He is my Lord (God) and your Lord (God). So worship Him (Alone). This is the (only) Straight Path ". But the sects from among themselves differed. So woe to those who do wrong (by ascribing things to Jesus (pbuh) that are not true) from the torment of a painful Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)!

       

Dr. Al-Johani, in his article, "The Truth About Jesus (pbuh)" states:
"Jesus (pbuh) was a link in a long chain of prophets and messengers sent by God to various societies and nations whenever they needed guidance or deviated from the teachings of God. Jesus (pbuh) was especially prepared by God to be sent to the Jews who had deviated from the teachings of Moses and other Messengers. As he was miraculously supported by God in conception, birth and childhood, he was also supported by numerous miracles to prove that he was a messenger from God. However, the majority of the Jews rejected his ministry. The Qur'an tells us more about Jesus' (pbuh) mission in the following "

       

    Qur'an 5:116-118 ("The Table Spread"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And (remember) when God will say (on the Day of Resurrection): "O Jesus (pbuh), son of Mary! Did you say unto men: "Worship me and my mother as two gods besides God?" He will say: "Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.

       

The verses continue….

    "Never did I say to them aught except what You (God) did command me to say: 'Worship God, my Lord and your Lord', And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a Witness to all things.

    "If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, Verily You, only You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise".

Confirm Torah & give glad tidings of a Messenger to come after him

Dr. Al-Johani states that "In another verse of the Qur'an, Jesus (pbuh) confirmed the validity of the Torah which was revealed to Moses and he also brought the glad tidings of the coming of a final messenger after him. This is clearly indicated in the following verse:

     
    Qur'an 61:6 ("The Ranks"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And (remember) when Jesus, son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of God unto you confirming the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed. But when he (Ahmed, i.e. Muhammad, pbuh) came to them with clear proofs, they said: "This is plain magic."

Ahmed, we find in the meaning of the word, is another of the names of Muhammad (pbuh), which means "one who is praised".

Closeness of Muhammad to Jesus (peace be upon them both)

    According to a hadith from the collection of Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 651: Narrated Abu Huraira, r.a.: I heard Allah's Messenger (pbuh) saying, "I am the nearest of all people to the son of Mary, and all the Prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no Prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus (pbuh)."

    The Death and Ascension of Jesus (pbuh) in Islam

Dr. Al-Johani (from his article, "The Truth About Jesus (pbuh)") writes:
"It is a sad fact of history that not many follow "the straight path"….. called by Jesus (pbuh). He was followed by a few disciples who were inspired by God to support him. Not only that, but the non-believers plotted (as they did to Muhammad six centuries later) to kill Jesus (pbuh), but God had a better plan for him and his followers."

Suzanne Haneef, in her book "What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims" states:
"Finally, when he (Jesus) was in danger of being killed by his own people, God raised him up to himself without his experiencing death. As the Qur'an tells us in the English meaning of the following verses:"
 

    Qur'an 4:155-158 ("The Women"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    155. (They have incurred divine
    Displeasure): in that they
    Broke their Covenant;
    That they rejected the Signs
    Of God; that they slew
    The Messengers in defiance
    Of right; that they said,
    "Our hearts are wrappings
    (Which preserve God's Word;
    We need no more)" – nay,
    God hath set the seal on their hearts
    For their blasphemy,
    And little is it they believe-

    156. That they (Jews) rejected Faith;
    That they uttered against Mary
    A grave false charge (that she was unchaste);

    157. That they said (in boast),
    "We killed Christ Jesus
    The son of Mary,
    The Messenger of God" –
    But they killed him not,
    Nor crucified him,
    But so it was made
    To appear to them,
    And those who differ
    Therein are full of doubts,
    With no (certain) knowledge,
    But only conjecture to follow,
    For of a surety
    They killed him not-

    158. Nay, God raised him up
    Unto Himself; and God
    Is Exalted in Power, Wise –
     

The momentous impact of the words, specifically verse 157, are perhaps difficult for a non-Christian to appreciate.

Footnotes by the translator, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, on the above verses 4:157-158.

"The end of the life of Jesus (pbuh) on earth is as much involved in mystery as his birth, and indeed the greater part of his private life, except the three main years of his ministry. It is not profitable to discuss the many doubts and conjectures among the early Christian sects and among Muslim theologians. The Orthodox Christian Churches make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that his life was taken at the Cross, that he died and was buried, that on the third day he rose in the body with his wounds intact, and walked about and conversed, and ate with his disciples, and was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. This is necessary for the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and vicarious atonement of sins, which is rejected by Islam. But some of the early Christian sects did not believe Jesus (pbuh) was killed on the Cross. The Basilidans believed that someone else was substituted for him. The Docetae held that Christ never had a real physical or natural body, but only an apparent or phantom body, and that his Crucifixion was only apparent, not real. The Marcionite Gospel (about A.C. 138) denied that Jesus (pbuh) was born, and merely said he appeared in human form. The Gospel of St. Barnabas supported the theory of substitution at the Cross. The Qur'anic teaching is that Christ was not crucified nor killed by the Jews, notwithstanding certain apparent circumstances which produced the illusion in the minds of his enemies; that disputations, doubts, and conjectures on such matters are vain; and that he was taken up to God."

Yusuf Ali continues in the following footnote:
"There is difference of opinion as to the exact interpretation of this verse (4:158). The words are: 'The Jews did not kill Jesus (pbuh), but God raised him up (rafa'a) to Himself. One school holds that Jesus (pbuh) did not die the usual human death, but still lives in the body in heaven, which is the generally accepted Muslim view. Another holds that he did die but not when he was supposed to be crucified, and that his being "raised up" unto God means that instead of being disgraced as a malefactor, as the Jews intended, he was on contrary honored by God as His Messenger. The same [Arabic] word rafa'a is used in association with honor in [another verse of the Qur'an] 94:4."

There are two difficulties encountered when common Muslims or non-Muslims try, by themselves, to interpret all that is contained in these verses; one is in the flawed use of a translation, which can never hope to duplicate exactly the original Arabic, and the other is the sense (which Yusuf Ali implies in his first comments) that the verses in question, so momentous to those holding the Christian faith, are devoid of exacting detail for a reason known only to the author of these words. In fact, there is from the Qur'an itself an admonition to those who dig too deeply into things which we are not given to know.
 

    Qur'anic verse "some verses in Qur'an are clear, and some are not clear"
    Qur'an 3:7 ("The Family of Imran"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    "It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad, pbuh) the Book (this Qur'an). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (trials), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save God. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord." And none will receive admonition except men of understanding."


Concerning this point, Dr. Al-Johani writes:
"Who was the person crucified instead of Jesus (pbuh)? The Qur'an does not elaborate on this point nor does it give any answer to this question. The interpreters of the Qur'an have suggested a few names. But all these are individual guesses not supported by the Qur'an or the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)."

"To sum up," in the words of Dr. Al-Johani, "Islam considers Jesus (pbuh) as one of God's great prophets. His mission was to preach the Oneness of God and to lead man to his Lord. [According to the Qur'an] he never claimed to be other than a servant and a Messenger of God…. The Muslims do believe in and are awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus (pbuh). Muslims believe he will come back not as God ..., but as Jesus (pbuh), God's servant. His coming will, according to Muslim belief, correct the misconception which people have developed about his personality and his mission."
 

    Qur'an 3:55 ("The Family of Imran"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And (remember) when God said: "O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you ( who worship none but God) superior to those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of God, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, or in His Holy Books) till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute."


As this ends our presentation regarding the life and mission, death, and ascension of Jesus, son of Mary, Christians may ask the question, "Then how are Muslims saved?"

Salvation in Islam

Islam teaches that all persons are born sinless. According to Islam, we are only responsible for the sins we commit intentionally. Recognizing our human nature, God the Most Merciful, is the One who accepts sincere repentance and forgives sins.

Forgiveness hadiths

    My mercy prevails over my wrath, (Hadith Qudsi #1)

    On the authority of Abu Huraira (may God be please with him), who said that the Messenger of God (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said: "When God decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My Mercy prevails over My Wrath."
    It was related by Muslim (also by al-Bukhari, an-Nasa'i and ibn Majah)

    O son of Adam, (Hadith Qudsi #34)

    On the authority of Anas (may God be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of God (pbuh) say: God the Almighty said: "O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it (i.e. as the earth, meaning that God will forgive in like measure to man's sins)."
    It was related by at-Tirmidhi (also by Ahmad ibn Hanbal). Its chain of authorities is sound.
     

To enhance and maintain the relationship between God and the humans, Islam prescribes various forms of worship for us to perform. Worship in Islam serves the needs of humans both spiritually and physically in a balanced yet integrated manner. And yet….

     
    Muslims are not saved by good deeds

    Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 8, Hadith No. 470:
    Narrated Abu Huraira r.a.: God's Messenger (pbuh) said, "The deeds of anyone of you will not save you [from the (Hell) Fire]." They said, "Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O God's Messenger?" He said, "No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until God bestow His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship God in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise)."
     

    Salvation hadith

    Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 644:
    Narrated Ubada r.a.: The Prophet (pbuh) said, "If anyone testifies that La ilaha ill Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but God Alone) Who has no partners, and that Muhammad (pbuh) is His slave and His Messenger, and that Jesus (pbuh) is God's slave and His Messenger and His Word ("Be!" – and he was) which He bestowed on Mary and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him, and that Paradise is the truth, and Hell is the truth, God will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few." (Junada, the sub-narrator said, "Ubada added, 'Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.' ")
     

Therefore, from the above hadith, we conclude that it is the correct belief that can save a person.  Not just words, but correct belief.  And God knows best.

    Forgiveness in the Qur'an

    "Do not ascribe purity to yourselves"

    Qur'an 53:32 ("The Star"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    Those who avoid great sins and illegal sexual intercourse except the small faults, - verily, your Lord is of vast forgiveness. He knows you well when He created you from the earth (Adam), and when you were fetuses in your mother's wombs. So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears God and keeps his duty to Him.

    "If Allah were to punish mankind for his sins, there would not be a living creature left on the face of the earth"

    Qur'an 35:45 ("The Originator of Creation"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving (living) creature on the surface of the earth, but He gives them respite to an appointed term, and when their term comes, then verily, Allah is Ever All-Seer of His slaves.

    Qur'an 16:61 ("The Bee"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    And if Allah were to seize mankind for their wrong-doing, He would not leave on it (the earth) a single moving (living) creature, but He postpones them for an appointed term and when their term comes, neither can they delay it nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment).

    "Do not give up of the Mercy of your Lord"

    Qur'an 39:53 ("The Groups"):
    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    Say: "O 'Ibadi" (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

       

Conclusion: "Come to a word that is just between us"

In closing, I would like to offer a verse from the Qur'an that speaks to the people of the Scripture (the Jews and Christians). The verse is from the 3rd chapter of the Qur'an, Al-Imran ("The Family of Imran"), the 64th verse:
 

    In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    Say (O Muhammad, pbuh): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but God, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah. Then, if they turn away, say; "Bear witness that we are Muslims."

Afterword:  I ask Allah to forgive any mistakes in this writing, which are my own; and I thank Allah for any good in this writing, which is from Him Alone, and from His Wisdom and Mercy, with which He guides men.
 
 

SOURCES CITED

The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, New Translation and Commentary. Robert W. Funk; Roy W. Hoover and The Jesus Seminar. Polebridge Press. 1993. 553 pages.

Forty Hadith Qudsi. An-Nawawi. The Holy Koran Publishing House, Beirut, Lebanon. Selected and translated by Ezzedin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies. 1980. 151 pages.

Interpretation of the Meanings of The Noble Qur'an in the English Language. Muhammad Taqi-ud Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan. A summarized version of At-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Kathir with comments from Sahih Al-Bukhari. Maktaba Dar-Us-Salam, Saudi Arabia. 1993. 955 pages.

Islam at the Crossroads. Muhammad Asad. Arafat Publications. 1975 reprint. 160 pages.

Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels "The Philosophy of Jesus" and "The Life and Morals of Jesus." Adams, Dickenson W. (Ed.). Princeton University Press. Princeton, NJ. 1983. 438 pages.

The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an. Abdullah Yusuf Ali. Amana Corporaton, Maryland. 1989. 1758 pages.

Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis. A revised and enlarged edition, with a new introduction, of the three books, The case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality. Phoenix Press, N.Y. 1987. 349 pages.

The Myth of God Incarnate. Written by seven theological scholars in England. Edited by John Hick. Westminster Press, Philadelphia. 1977. 211 pages.

The Reliance of the Traveller – A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri. In Arabic with facing English text, commentary and appendices edited and translated by Noah Ha Mim Keller. Sunna Books. 1991.

The Translation of the Meanings of Summarized Sahih Al-Bukhari. Al-Imam Zain-ud-Din Ahmad bin Abdul-Lateef Az-Zubaidi. Translated by Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan. Maktaba Dar-us-Salam. 1994.

"The Truth About Jesus." Maneh Al-Johani. From the Sunnah Islamic page at website http://www.al-sunnah.com/truth_aboutjesus.htm (current as of February 2000)

What Everyone Should Know About Islam and Muslims. Suzanne Haneef. Library of Islam, Des Plaines, Illinois. 1985. 202 pages.

 


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