ISLAM —THE RELIGION and way of life which the Prophet Muhammad came with– is that Islam the only path to God? Does the Quran extend the validity of religions beyond Islam; to any who believe in God and act rightly?

Or does the Quran insist that Islam is the exclusive and only path to God? And what of the idea that some have culled from their personal reading of the Quran that at the heart of the world’s major religions and faiths, there is an essential unity of truth?

This, Islam and the idea of salvic exclusivity, is our topic for discussion.

Our discussion concerning the above delicate and, in our current time, controversial questions are addressed through the following points:

  1. The Quran is categorical when it says:He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers. [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:85]Elsewhere it states:The [true] religion in Allah’s sight is Islam. [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:19]Whatever other verses may be marshalled in this issue, these two must surely lie at its heart.
  1. Turning to the words of the Prophet ﷺ, we find him informing us:By Him in whose Hand is the life of Muhammad! Anyone from this nation, be they a Jew or a Christian, who hears of me and dies without believing in what I have come with, shall be among the inhabitants of Hell. (Muslim)Fleshing out the hadith’s theological implications, Imam Al-Nawawi said:It contains [a proof] that all religions have now been abrogated by the prophethood of our Prophet. Also, in its explicit meaning is a proof that those to whom the call of Islam does not reach, are excused.[1]
  1. Not only has the religion of Islam, that the Prophet ﷺ was sent with, superseded all previously revealed heavenly teachings, but furthermore this last dispensation or “version” of Islam is a universal one too. The Quran says:Say: ‘O Mankind! Truly I am the Messenger of Allah to you all.’ [Sûrat Al-Aʿrâf, 7:158]Al-Ghazali said in his magisterial Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din – “Revival of the Religious Sciences”:Allah sent the Qurayshi unlettered Prophet Muhammad ﷺ with His divinely-inspired Message to the entire world: to Arabs and non-Arabs, jinn and mankind. The Prophet’s Sacred Law has abrogated and superseded all earlier revealed laws, except those provisions in them that the [new] Sacred Law has reconfirmed.’[2]
  1. Over the past eight decades or so a view has arisen which alleges that Islam affirms the validity of other religions, denying or failing to mention that they have long since been abrogated. Recourse has been taken to the following passage to justify the claim:Those who believe [in the Quran], the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabaeans; whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right, shall be rewarded by their Lord; no fear will come upon them, nor shall they grieve. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:62]This verse, it’s claimed, extends the validity of religions beyond just Islam, and the possibility of salvation beyond just Muslims, to whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day. The error of such a claim can be gauged from the next three points:
  1. Apart from ignoring the above proof-texts to the contrary, this view stands against Islamic orthodoxy which states, as per Imam Al-Nawawi:One who does not consider a person who follows a religion besides Islam – like a Christian – to be a disbeliever, or doubts that such a person is a disbeliever, or deems their religion to still be valid, is himself a disbeliever – even if, along with this, he manifests Islam and believes in it.[3]Such, then, is the enormity of the error and the magnitude of its misguidance. Qadi ‘Iyad affirmed a consensus about this, saying that:There is a consensus (ijma‘) about the disbelief of one who does not consider as disbelievers the Christians, Jews and all those who part from the religion of the Muslims; or hesitates about their disbelief, or doubts it.[4]
  1. How then should the above verse [2:62] be read? Scholars of tafsir, along with their belief that the Quran’s message now supersedes all previous heavenly teachings, offer these interpretations for the above verse:[i] It is said to refer to those seekers of truth who believed in the imminent arrival of the final Prophet – like Habib al-Najjar, Qays b. Saʿadah, Waraqah b. Nawfal, Zayd b. ʿAmr b. Nufayl, Bahirah the Monk, Salman al-Farsi and Abu Dharr al-Ghiffari. Some of them reached the Prophet ﷺ and accepted Islam at his hand. Others didn’t reach him, but are nonetheless included among those who believe in Allah and the Last Day.[ii] It refers to the believers of previous nations, following the prophets of their respective times.[iii] It’s claimed to refer to those Jews and Christians who, prior to accepting Islam in the time of the Prophet , followed the unaltered teachings of Moses and Jesus; peace be upon them both.[iv] A few say it refers to the hypocrites; which is somewhat odd.[5]Whatever the correct intent of this passage is, the view which extends salvation unrestrictedly, to include even those who deny the Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood, is conspicuous by its absence in the classical tafsir literature.
  1. Ibn Kathir helps put the above verse into context with his customary hermeneutics; he explains:The faith of the Jews was that of those who adhered to the Torah and the way of Moses until the arrival of Jesus. With the advent of Jesus, those who followed the Torah and the Mosaic Laws, not leaving them to follow Jesus, were doomed. The faith of the Christians was that of whoever adhered to the Gospel and to the teaching of Jesus. They were believers and their faith valid till the advent of Muhammad . Those who rejected Muhammad , by not leaving the Gospel and Jesus’ way are doomed … This doesn’t conflict with what ʿAli b. Abi Talha relates from Ibn ʿAbbas that: ‘Those who believe [in the Quran], the Jews, the Christians, and Sabaeans; whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day’ was followed by Allah revealing: ‘He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and in the Afterlife he will be among the losers.’ For what Ibn ʿAbbas is simply informing us is that no path is acceptable from anyone, nor any deed, unless it conforms to the Shari‘ah of Muhammad ﷺ, now that he has been sent. Prior to this, anyone who followed the particular prophet of his time was upon right guidance and the path of salvation.[6]
  1. In the above light, philosophies that speak of the “Essential Unity of Religions,” or “Perennialism,” are disbelief (kufr). The metaphysics of these philosophies is such that they insist that the world’s major faiths: Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity, like Islam, all contain at their heart a core set of esoteric truths, despite them differing immensely in their external appearance, forms and practices – and even in many of their beliefs.They also believe that these major religions, again like Islam, still retain their validity even today. The metaphor used to describe the Unity of Religions is that of a bicycle wheel. The spokes represent the different religions; the hub symbolizes God, the Supreme Being, the Transcendent Reality. Just as the spokes come closer to each other as they near the hub, so too, as each path comes closer to the One Reality, it comes closer to all other paths.Now as appealing as it sounds to some, it can never pass for authoritative, orthodox Quranic teachings – as has been shown.
  1. Asserting that such Perennialist philosophy is clear disbelief (kufr) does not amount to an accusation that each specific individual who holds such a belief is necessarily an unbeliever (kafir) – as is well attested to in mainstream Sunni theology. The maxim in this matter runs as follows: laysa kullu man waqa‘a fi’l-kufr sara kafir – ‘Not everyone who falls into disbelief, becomes a disbeliever.’ The shariʿah upholds the distinction between a general charge of disbelief (takfir ʿamm), and the charge of disbelief upon a specific individual (takfir muʿayyan).Ibn Taymiyyah said:They have not given proper consideration that making takfir has conditions (shurut) and impediments (mawani‘) that must be actualized if it is to be applied to a specific individual. Because a general declaration of takfir doesn’t imply takfir on a specific individual – until conditions are fulfilled and impediments lifted.[7]
  1. The Perennialist Philosophy (religio perennis) was first propagated in the late 1930s. It was Frithjof Schuon who would bring this idea to its fruition. Among those who came under Schuon’s influence were those like Martin Lings, Gai Eaton and Seyyed Hossein Nasr (the first two also being converts to Islam).Such Muslims who, through a hugely errant ta’wîl or interpretation that misled them into perennialism, are part of a highly learned body of authors and academics who offer some of the finest critiques of modernity from a traditional perspective, and profoundest spiritual expositions of Islam to modern beleaguered hearts and minds. That their writings have, by Allah’s grace, brought so many Westerners into the fold of Islam is beyond doubt.Perennial beliefs aside, their writings are a reminder that to hold to a simple faith without much intellectual and spiritual content is no longer possible in our modern world. For the spirit of our times asks questions, questions for the most part hostile to faith, which demands answers. And those answers can only come from informed and thoughtful faith; from adequate familiarity with modernity’s philosophical underpinnings; and from reflective study, introspection and meditation.
  1. Interestingly, the late Martin Lings wrote in The Eleventh Hour about the theory of man’s evolution that if it is indeed true, why didn’t God tell believers about it to begin with, or at least gradually bring them into it? Why did He allow religion after religion to repeat the same old ways of thinking, and prevent prophet after prophet from ever divulging its true nature? Yet He allowed a mere non-prophet to discern its reality and propagate it in defiance of all spiritual authorities of the time.[8]And yet a similar line of argument can equally apply to the belief in perennialism. For using the same rhyme and reason one could ask: Why didn’t Allah tell believers about this to begin with, or wean them steadily onto it? Why did Allah allow prophet after prophet to repeat the same ways of thinking, or prevent them from disclosing its true nature? And yet, we are to believe, He allowed a mere non-prophet to arrive at this great existential truth, propagating it in disregard to a scholarly consensus of the past sages and present-day spiritual authorities.The point being is that if Islam’s religious authorities all deemed the belief to be kufr, on what basis should Perennialism be accepted?
  1. What of those to whom the message of Islam has not been conveyed, or they have heard about Islam and the Prophet, but in a distorted form? Here the Quran presents a far wider, ecumenical scope:Nor do We punish until We have sent a Messenger. [Sûrat Al-Isrâ’, 17:15]Also:Whenever a fresh host is cast into it [Hell], its keepers ask them: ‘Did a warner never come to you?’ They will say: ‘Yes, a warner came to us; but we denied.’ [Sûrat Al-Mulk, 67:8-9]The idea of bulugh al-daʿwah, “conveyance of the message,” therefore, is vital in this issue; again, this is typified by the words of Imam al-Nawawi (point 2) that ‘those to whom the call of Islam does not reach are excused.’
  1. Some to whom the message of Islam is communicated refuse to believe in it out of willful rejection (juhud) of it or because of belying (takdhib) it. Others, however, choose not to hear the message, but instead turn away from it (aʿradû ʿanha) out of arrogance or prejudice against it, or hostility towards it – in some cases doing so knowing that it is the truth:And they rejected them [Allah’s signs], although they inwardly recognized them, through injustice and arrogance. [Sûrat Al-Naml, 27:14]Now it’s quite possible that many non-Muslims today fall into this predicament, in that some of them are capable of discerning the revealed truths of Islam. But whether out of not desiring to forsake familiar habits; or losing their standing among people; having contempt for Muslims; arrogant prejudice against them; or just out of sheer folly and misguidance, many turn away from even considering the Quran. Unless there are other factors to mitigate this kufr of theirs, such people will have no excuse on Judgement Day.[9]
  1. As for those who have heard about Islam, but in a distorted form, it will suffice what Imam al-Ghazali wrote about the matter:In fact, I would say that, Allah willing, most of the Byzantine Christians and the Turks of this age will be included in Allah’s mercy. I’m referring here to those who live in the farthest regions of Byzantium and Anatolia who have not come into contact with the message.These people are of three groups:[i] A party who have never so much as heard the name ‘Muhammad’ ﷺ. They are excused.[ii] A party who knew his name, character and the miracles he wrought; who lived in lands adjacent to the lands of Islam and thus came into contact with Muslims. These are blaspheming unbelievers.[iii] A third party who fall between the two. These people knew the name ‘Muhammad’ , but nothing of his character or his qualities. Instead, all they heard since childhood is that a liar and imposter called ‘Muhammad’ claimed to be a prophet; just as our children have heard that an arch-liar and deceiver called al-Muqaffa‘ claimed Allah sent him [as a prophet] and then challenged people to disprove his claim. This party, in my opinion, is like the first party. For even though they’ve heard his name, they heard the opposite of what his true qualities were. And this does not provide enough incentive for them to investigate [his true status].[10]
  1. That some non-Muslims will be excused for their disbelief in the Hereafter doesn’t mean that they are not judged as disbelievers in this world. All who have not declared the Two Testimonies of Faith, the shahada, are non-Muslims; disbelievers. Some are actively hostile against Islam and Muslims; most are not. While it behooves a believer to wisely and sincerely seek to guide into faith those who disbelieve, it does not befit a believer to blur the distinction between faith (în) and disbelief (kufr).Al-Ghazali gives us this rule of thumb:Disbelief is to reject the Prophet ﷺ in whatever he came with, while faith is to affirm as true all that he came with. Therefore the Jew and the Christian are disbelievers due to their rejection of the Prophet.[11]
  1. As for the honorific distinctions given to the Jews and Christians in the Quran, in that they are referred to as People of the Book (Ahl Al-Kitab), their chaste womenfolk are lawful to marry, and their ritually-slaughtered meat may be eaten, then this in no way excludes them from being a category of disbelievers. Al-Fakhr Al-Din al-Razi wrote, citing Al-Qaffal, that ‘although the Ahl Al-Kitab have acquired the virtue in this world of [us] being able to marry their women and eat their slaughtered meat, yet this does not set them apart from the idolaters in matters of the Afterlife, in terms of rewards and chastisements.’[12]

****

To wrap up the discussion: The Quran insists that every prophet came with a core set of universal truths centered on Allah’s Oneness (tawid). The Quran says:

We have sent to every nation a Messenger [proclaiming]: ‘Worship Allah and shun false gods.’ [Sûrat Al-Naḥl, 16:36]

It is possible, therefore, for Buddhism and Hinduism to have been, in the ancient past, divinely-revealed. Yet it is equally true that the Quran insists of previously-revealed religions and their scriptures that they have long suffered alteration and corruption at the hands of men, and that whatever revealed truths were once present in them have long since been forgotten, changed, compromised or overshadowed by corrupted and idolatrous beliefs and practices.

So while the world’s major faiths do show similarities with Islam, this does not prove their essential unity with it as they currently exist. For they haven’t only been altered, but have also been abrogated and superseded by what was revealed to the final Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. This is why:

He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. [Sûrat Âl ʿImrân, 3:85]

Now whether such an explanation is passionate or dispassionate, narrow and ecumenical, or born of a “madrasah mentality,” it is the unanimous belief of Islam’s eminent sages, jurists and theologians. It is, in other words, the Quranic truth.

That said, I think it befitting to close with these words from Shaykh Bin Bayyah, one of contemporary Islam’s most revered and learned jurists:

Of course, a devotional life in this world should be lived in peaceful co-existence with others.[13]

O Allah! Bless us with iman and aman – with faith and security; and make us of benefit to Islam and to humanity, and not a harm or a hindrance to them. Amin.

————————————-

[1] Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995), 2:162.

[2] Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, 2004), 1:120.

[3] Rawdat al-Talibin (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2003), 7:290. It’s like is seen in Al-Buhuti, Kashshaf al-Qina‘ (Beirut: ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1983), 6:170.

[4] Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa’ (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 2002), 450.

[5] Cf. al-Baghawi, Maʿalim al-Tanzil (Riyadh: Dar Taybah, 2010), 1:57; Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 2002), 65.

[6] Tafsir Quran al-‘Azim (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1986), 1:107.

[7] Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 12:487-8. Also see the article on this blog: Takfir: Its Dangers & Rules.

[8] Lings, The Eleventh Hour (Cambridge: Archetype, 2002), 28.

[9] See: Bin Bayyah, What of Those to Whom Islam Does Not Reach?

[10] Al-Ghazali, Faysal al-Tafriqah (Damascus: 1993), 84.

[11] ibid, 25.

[12] Al-Razi, Mafatih al-Ghayb (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1981), 11:151, on Quran 5:5.

[13] Bin Bayyah, What of Those to Whom Islam Does Not Reach?

68 Comments

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

    January 14, 2016 - - 3:57 am

    Before I start reading it better be yes.

    • Ann Marie Lambert Stock

      January 14, 2016 - - 5:04 am

      Alhamdullilah the article did not disappoint. Jazak Allahu Khairan…. it took me many years to surrender to this fact because of how it affects my family (l was always hoping to find a loop hole) but the truth must be known and accepted as such. Jazak Allahu Khairan

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 5:15 am

    Although, the writer expressed his views coherently, some questions remain. To begin with, I have no affinity with perennial philosophy because of the simple reason that two contradictory belief systems cannot be same. The article succeeded in conveying this. However, it failed to convey a clandestine problem, namely, the smugness of a religious group who presumes to be rightly guided. To remind you, the Jews are criticised severely in the Quran for the same belief that Muslims today hold: ‘We are rightly guided and others are not. Anyone who holds a belief other than what we hold is destined for hellfire’. To me, the Quranic dictum, ‘ Your God knows who is rightly guided’ is enough to address this problem, because whatever explanation we offer to the alleged perennial verses, there is no absolute answer. Also, the writer failed miserably in addressing the problem of marriage with ahl al kitab. If they are disbelievers, as the author wants us to believe, why would a Wise God allow ‘righteous Muslim men’ to marry disbelievers and live all their life in distress, accepting that their wives are party to hellfire? I do not think a wise and Merciful God would want his party of believers to live their life in such agony.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 5:15 am

    Although, the writer expressed his views coherently, some questions remain. To begin with, I have no affinity with perennial philosophy because of the simple reason that two contradictory belief systems cannot be same. The article succeeded in conveying this. However, it failed to convey a clandestine problem, namely, the smugness of a religious group who presumes to be rightly guided. To remind you, the Jews are criticised severely in the Quran for the same belief that Muslims today hold: ‘We are rightly guided and others are not. Anyone who holds a belief other than what we hold is destined for hellfire’. To me, the Quranic dictum, ‘ Your God knows who is rightly guided’ is enough to address this problem, because whatever explanation we offer to the alleged perennial verses, there is no absolute answer. Also, the writer failed miserably in addressing the problem of marriage with ahl al kitab. If they are disbelievers, as the author wants us to believe, why would a Wise God allow ‘righteous Muslim men’ to marry disbelievers and live all their life in distress, accepting that their wives are party to hellfire? I do not think a wise and Merciful God would want his party of believers to live their life in such agony.

    • Jasmine Carriker

      January 14, 2016 - - 10:32 am

      I felt the smugness too.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 14, 2016 - - 11:51 am

      Salaam alaykum Shoaib,

      Regarding the first issue, the problem was not that they presumed correctness, but rather, that they presumed it while rejecting further Prophets of God that had been sent to them, knowing who they were and why they were sent (eg Iesa and Muhammad). During the time of Musa, many of them had issues with him and he with them even after all the miracles they witnessed, and this recounted by Allah in both the Quran and the Bible / Torah.

      Regarding the second question, it’s important to ask what type of Christian or Jewish woman would marry a Muslim man, given that he is considered a heathen? One who is likely more open-minded and less held down to her faith and likely to convert if she’s with a decent muslim husband. The manners and treatment of women required in Islam were a millenia and a half ahead of their time. Today, I can’t tell you the number of times nonmuslim women have a Muslim boyfriend and want to convert to marry the guy, or decide on their own to convert after having a good life with the husband. Repeated exposure to pure tawhid has an effect on the fitrah and when it comes from a just authority figure, there is, in my view, a strong likelihood of becoming Muslim.

      What makes the ahlul kitab unique is that they are most of the way there already – same God, same Prophets, a couple of belief tweaks is all that is required to bring them over (one group from rejecting two Prophets, one from making him divine).

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 14, 2016 - - 1:26 pm

      WalaikumAssalam.

      They say, ‘The Fire will only touch us for a few days.’ Say to them, ‘Have you received a promise from God––for God never breaks His promise––or are you saying things about Him of which you have no real knowledge?’ ( 2:80).

      Muslims boldly assert that only they are the heirs of Paradise and those Muslims who will unfortunately be thrown in the hellfire will eventually be expelled out from it and then welcomed graciously in the paradise. Similar to the Jews’ belief criticised by God in the above verse? No wonder why prophet predicted our similarity with the Jews during the end of times. It was this attitude which I wanted the author to criticise while criticising perennial philosophy at the same time. I do not endorse perennial philosophy but I also do not endorse the self righteous attitude of the Muslim community either. Compare this attitude with the prophet’s warning to his daughter Fatima, may God have mercy on her, that Muhammad would not rescue her in the hereafter.

      The question is not whether a women is open minded or narrow minded or someone who would eventually become Muslim. The question is, ‘ Is it conceivable that a Merciful God permits Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women, while acknowledging their disbelief, only to jettison them later on in hellfire after their death and thus putting the life of countless Muslim men in jeopardy? Is that our opinion about God? Moreover, the argument that the women would eventually come to accept Islam is a flawed one simply because Islam does not base its doctrines on would be and could be.

      Also, how could someone classify the ahl al kitab as disbelievers when God has honoured them with the title ‘ People of the book ‘. And at various other instances, the Quran commands Muslims to treat them with respect. Is it commendable to use a derogatory term such as kuffars to the ahl al kitab while God has restrained Himself from using such invective language?

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 14, 2016 - - 2:16 pm

      We as Muslims have to ask ourselves where the source of our beliefs are? Is it from within ourselves, or is it sourced from the Quran and the statements of the Prophet, or somewhere else?

      3:85 of the Quran is unambiguous as it gets on that count as it relates to singling out Islam as the only religion Allah accepts. In the Quran, Allah states the Christians are closest to us, but review Maryam towards the end, from ayah 70 onwards where Allah describes how horrible a crime it is to attribute a son to him. Review al-baqarah where Allah honors the Israelites and at the same time castigates them for what they did in the past and how the present day madinite Jews rejected Prophet Muhammad knowing who he was, only because he wasn’t ethnically Jewish but Arab.

      As for the mercy question, if you believe Islam is the truth and the others lead to Hellfire, then it is mercy – living with a Muslim daily, understanding their belief, having a close intimate relationship with them, and them having an interest in protecting you from Hellfire is both the best dawah and means to help them. I see that as Merciful, and a doorway to guidance that’s been opened.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 14, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

      Why is it difficult for us to accept that we, as a Muslim community, have a problem with this ego centric attitude? Although, I have accepted many times in my previous comments that I do not believe in perennial philosophy, you seem to beat around the bush and come back to the question of perennialism, without addressing a much deeper problem that I have tried to raise, namely that of worshipping our egos individually and collectively. I was only pointing to the complexity of our relation with the ahl al kitab and to categorically classify them as disbelievers is something which even the Quran hesitates to. Regarding criticism, yes Jews and Christians have been criticised in the Qur’an and so have Muslims. That does not mean Allah does not honour them. Remember, ‘Every son of Adam is honoured?

      Suggesting Muslim men not to marry Jews and Christians for the fear that their wives might end up in hellfire is a logical fallacy. I based my argument on the premise that, ‘ God permits Muslim men to marry Jews and Christians, which is also unambiguous, and suggested that it would not have been the case had God classified them as disbelievers to rot forever in the hellfire. What you did instead was base your argument on the assumption that they are heirs of hellfire, which is ambiguous; and discouraged, if not prohibited, Muslim men from marrying them, something which even the Quran encourages. In doing so, I believe, with all due respect, you have taken a long stride to feed the collective Muslim ego to the point that you have ignored the Quranic injunction which to me is as clear as 3:85.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 1:39 pm

      I understand your point on perennialism and am not addressing it – I’m addressing the idea the idea they are not disbelievers, referred to as kaafiroon. For example:

      “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.” [5:72]

      “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.” [5:73]

      In the original Arabic, everywhere the word “disbeliever” is translated is kafarallaadheena and kafaruu, respectively.

      I don’t see any hesitation whatsoever. That they are called as such doesn’t mean that Allah doesn’t point out their good, that there those among them who have real belief in Allah and the last day, who pray and so on – that doesn’t change that they’ve rejected a messenger and placed themselves in disbelief as a result – there’s no in-between ambiguous state.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 2:38 pm

      Am I the only one who see in these verses an hesitation on the part of the Quran to classify the Jews and the Christians as disbelievers? Note how the Quran refrains from using the generic terms (Jews and Christians) and points certain traits which could make them disbelievers? Much like associating partners with God and other such traits which makes one a disbeliever. No? Moreover, looked from the subsequent verses, the Quran seems to be supporting the argument I made above. The verse 77 reads, ‘ People of the book( and not disbelievers), do not go overboard in *Your religion*.

      Even if the above pointers are ignored, my question remains: Why did God allow Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women if they are disbelievers?

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 2:38 pm

      Am I the only one who see in these verses an hesitation on the part of the Quran to classify the Jews and the Christians as disbelievers? Note how the Quran refrains from using the generic terms (Jews and Christians) and points certain traits which could make them disbelievers? Much like associating partners with God and other such traits which makes one a disbeliever. No? Moreover, looked from the subsequent verses, the Quran seems to be supporting the argument I made above. The verse 77 reads, ‘ People of the book( and not disbelievers), do not go overboard in *Your religion*.

      Even if the above pointers are ignored, my question remains: Why did God allow Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women if they are disbelievers?

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 3:43 pm

      Yes, it says that…and more before that, as well as after. Let’s read it in context:

      “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

      Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?”

      Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”

      They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”

      There are two types of disbelief discussed here – the first is the kind perpetrated by the Christians – making Jesus a divine partner of some sort. The second is openly defying the law or changing it – this is what the Jews did, and its also what Iblis did (note that he also “believes”, but he’s not a Believer).

      Rejecting a Prophet, a Scripture, a new message from God is disbelief. It’s why we have to say, as said in the Quran, we believe in all of them.

      I answered your question above – they are more inclined to change and it affords them the opportunity to learn and change. They are closest to us in faith and need to change very little of their beliefs except to either add two Prophets or subtract Jesus divinity.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 3:43 pm

      Yes, it says that…and more before that, as well as after. Let’s read it in context:

      “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

      Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?”

      Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”

      They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”

      There are two types of disbelief discussed here – the first is the kind perpetrated by the Christians – making Jesus a divine partner of some sort. The second is openly defying the law or changing it – this is what the Jews did, and its also what Iblis did (note that he also “believes”, but he’s not a Believer).

      Rejecting a Prophet, a Scripture, a new message from God is disbelief. It’s why we have to say, as said in the Quran, we believe in all of them.

      I answered your question above – they are more inclined to change and it affords them the opportunity to learn and change. They are closest to us in faith and need to change very little of their beliefs except to either add two Prophets or subtract Jesus divinity.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 8:36 pm

      On the issue of disbelief I beg to disagree. I do not think the above answer was satisfactory, but may be it is in the nature of Facebook to leave our understanding facile. All said, I thank you for trying to provide an explanation.

      On the issue of marriage, I agree the point you make that they are close to Islam in terms of beliefs and there is every possibility of them coming in the fold of Islam. But, there is also a possibility of rejection. And there are countless such examples too. Now, if someone marries a Jew or a Christian hoping that she would accept Islam one day ( and not just because God permits him to ) and he realises that after all these years his wife still remained obdurate in her (dis)belief, will it not put his life in misery? The marriage which was supposed to bring tranquility in his life (Taskunu feeha) has brought, much to his chagrin, agony and misery, and it seems God has played an active role in fueling this misery by allowing him to marry a disbeliever. Is that our opinion about God? To quote the Quran, ‘ Wa ma qadarulllaha haqqa qadrihi’. The sharia is supposed to make our lives better, I don’t see that happening here.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

      Ibrahim’s father died a disbeliever, the Prophet’s uncle died one, Nuh’s son died one, and so did Lut’s wife. Every convert to Islam lives with the knowledge their whole family is in that predicament.

      If that person doesn’t accept Islam, that’s Allah’s Decree. If you choose to enter the relationship, then you know ahead of time its a possibility.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 10:08 pm

      Yes, but the obvious point you are missing in the second case is the active role of God in allowing the marriage to consummate in the first place. Given that, in your opinion, the hereafter is not to be considered in a marriage ( in your assumption that God permitted a would be inhabitant of hellfire to marry a could be inhabitant of paradise ) it shouldn’t have been impermissible to marry an idolater too, but (un)fortunately that is not the case.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 5:15 am

    Although, the writer expressed his views coherently, some questions remain. To begin with, I have no affinity with perennial philosophy because of the simple reason that two contradictory belief systems cannot be same. The article succeeded in conveying this. However, it failed to convey a clandestine problem, namely, the smugness of a religious group who presumes to be rightly guided. To remind you, the Jews are criticised severely in the Quran for the same belief that Muslims today hold: ‘We are rightly guided and others are not. Anyone who holds a belief other than what we hold is destined for hellfire’. To me, the Quranic dictum, ‘ Your God knows who is better guided’ is enough to address this problem, because whatever explanation we offer to the alleged perennial verses, there is no absolute answer. Also, the writer failed miserably in addressing the problem of marriage with ahl al kitab. If they are disbelievers, as the author wants us to believe, why would a Wise God allow ‘righteous Muslim men’ to marry disbelievers and live all their life in distress, accepting that their wives are party to hellfire? I do not think a wise and Merciful God would want his party of believers to live their life in such agony.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 3:43 pm

      Yes, it says that…and more before that, as well as after. Let’s read it in context:

      “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

      Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?”

      Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”

      They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”

      There are two types of disbelief discussed here – the first is the kind perpetrated by the Christians – making Jesus a divine partner of some sort. The second is openly defying the law or changing it – this is what the Jews did, and its also what Iblis did (note that he also “believes”, but he’s not a Believer).

      Rejecting a Prophet, a Scripture, a new message from God is disbelief. It’s why we have to say, as said in the Quran, we believe in all of them.

      I answered your question above – they are more inclined to change and it affords them the opportunity to learn and change. They are closest to us in faith and need to change very little of their beliefs except to either add two Prophets or subtract Jesus divinity.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 5:15 am

    Although, the writer expressed his views coherently, some questions remain. To begin with, I have no affinity with perennial philosophy because of the simple reason that two contradictory belief systems cannot be same. The article succeeded in conveying this. However, it failed to convey a clandestine problem, namely, the smugness of a religious group who presumes to be rightly guided. To remind you, the Jews are criticised severely in the Quran for the same belief that Muslims today hold: ‘We are rightly guided and others are not. Anyone who holds a belief other than what we hold is destined for hellfire’. To me, the Quranic dictum, ‘ Your God knows who is better guided’ is enough to address this problem, because whatever explanation we offer to the alleged perennial verses, there is no absolute answer. Also, the writer failed miserably in addressing the problem of marriage with ahl al kitab. If they are disbelievers, as the author wants us to believe, why would a Wise God allow ‘righteous Muslim men’ to marry disbelievers and live all their life in distress, accepting that their wives are party to hellfire? I do not think a wise and Merciful God would want his party of believers to live their life in such agony.

    • Jasmine Carriker

      January 14, 2016 - - 10:32 am

      I felt the smugness too.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 5:15 am

    Although, the writer expressed his views coherently, some questions remain. To begin with, I have no affinity with perennial philosophy because of the simple reason that two contradictory belief systems cannot be same. The article succeeded in conveying this. However, it failed to convey a clandestine problem, namely, the smugness of a religious group who presumes to be rightly guided. To remind you, the Jews are criticised severely in the Quran for the same belief that Muslims today hold: ‘We are rightly guided and others are not. Anyone who holds a belief other than what we hold is destined for hellfire’. To me, the Quranic dictum, ‘ Your God knows who is better guided’ is enough to address this problem, because whatever explanation we offer to the alleged perennial verses, there is no absolute answer. Also, the writer failed miserably in addressing the problem of marriage with ahl al kitab. If they are disbelievers, as the author wants us to believe, why would a Wise God allow ‘righteous Muslim men’ to marry disbelievers and live all their life in distress, accepting that their wives are party to hellfire? I do not think a wise and Merciful God would want his party of believers to live their life in such agony.

    • Jasmine Carriker

      January 14, 2016 - - 10:32 am

      I felt the smugness too.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 14, 2016 - - 11:51 am

      Salaam alaykum Shoaib,

      Regarding the first issue, the problem was not that they presumed correctness, but rather, that they presumed it while rejecting further Prophets of God that had been sent to them, knowing who they were and why they were sent (eg Iesa and Muhammad). During the time of Musa, many of them had issues with him and he with them even after all the miracles they witnessed, and this recounted by Allah in both the Quran and the Bible / Torah.

      Regarding the second question, it’s important to ask what type of Christian or Jewish woman would marry a Muslim man, given that he is considered a heathen? One who is likely more open-minded and less held down to her faith and likely to convert if she’s with a decent muslim husband. The manners and treatment of women required in Islam were a millenia and a half ahead of their time. Today, I can’t tell you the number of times nonmuslim women have a Muslim boyfriend and want to convert to marry the guy, or decide on their own to convert after having a good life with the husband. Repeated exposure to pure tawhid has an effect on the fitrah and when it comes from a just authority figure, there is, in my view, a strong likelihood of becoming Muslim.

      What makes the ahlul kitab unique is that they are most of the way there already – same God, same Prophets, a couple of belief tweaks is all that is required to bring them over (one group from rejecting two Prophets, one from making him divine).

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 14, 2016 - - 1:26 pm

      WalaikumAssalam.

      They say, ‘The Fire will only touch us for a few days.’ Say to them, ‘Have you received a promise from God––for God never breaks His promise––or are you saying things about Him of which you have no real knowledge?’ ( 2:80).

      Muslims boldly assert that only they are the heirs of Paradise and those Muslims who will unfortunately be thrown in the hellfire will eventually be expelled out from it and then welcomed graciously in the paradise. Similar to the Jews’ belief criticised by God in the above verse? No wonder why prophet predicted our similarity with the Jews during the end of times. It was this attitude which I wanted the author to criticise while criticising perennial philosophy at the same time. I do not endorse perennial philosophy but I also do not endorse the self righteous attitude of the Muslim community either. Compare this attitude with the prophet’s warning to his daughter Fatima, may God have mercy on her, that Muhammad would not rescue her in the hereafter.

      The question is not whether a women is open minded or narrow minded or someone who would eventually become Muslim. The question is, ‘ Is it conceivable that a Merciful God permits Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women, while acknowledging their disbelief, only to jettison them later on in hellfire after their death and thus putting the life of countless Muslim men in jeopardy? Is that our opinion about God? Moreover, the argument that the women would eventually come to accept Islam is a flawed one simply because Islam does not base its doctrines on would be and could be.

      Also, how could someone classify the ahl al kitab as disbelievers when God has honoured them with the title ‘ People of the book ‘. And at various other instances, the Quran commands Muslims to treat them with respect. Is it commendable to use a derogatory term such as kuffars to the ahl al kitab while God has restrained Himself from using such invective language?

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 14, 2016 - - 2:16 pm

      We as Muslims have to ask ourselves where the source of our beliefs are? Is it from within ourselves, or is it sourced from the Quran and the statements of the Prophet, or somewhere else?

      3:85 of the Quran is unambiguous as it gets on that count as it relates to singling out Islam as the only religion Allah accepts. In the Quran, Allah states the Christians are closest to us, but review Maryam towards the end, from ayah 70 onwards where Allah describes how horrible a crime it is to attribute a son to him. Review al-baqarah where Allah honors the Israelites and at the same time castigates them for what they did in the past and how the present day madinite Jews rejected Prophet Muhammad knowing who he was, only because he wasn’t ethnically Jewish but Arab.

      As for the mercy question, if you believe Islam is the truth and the others lead to Hellfire, then it is mercy – living with a Muslim daily, understanding their belief, having a close intimate relationship with them, and them having an interest in protecting you from Hellfire is both the best dawah and means to help them. I see that as Merciful, and a doorway to guidance that’s been opened.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 14, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

      Why is it difficult for us to accept that we, as a Muslim community, have a problem with this ego centric attitude? Although, I have accepted many times in my previous comments that I do not believe in perennial philosophy, you seem to beat around the bush and come back to the question of perennialism, without addressing a much deeper problem that I have tried to raise, namely that of worshipping our egos individually and collectively. I was only pointing to the complexity of our relation with the ahl al kitab and to categorically classify them as disbelievers is something which even the Quran hesitates to. Regarding criticism, yes Jews and Christians have been criticised in the Qur’an and so have Muslims. That does not mean Allah does not honour them. Remember, ‘Every son of Adam is honoured?

      Suggesting Muslim men not to marry Jews and Christians for the fear that their wives might end up in hellfire is a logical fallacy. I based my argument on the premise that, ‘ God permits Muslim men to marry Jews and Christians, which is also unambiguous, and suggested that it would not have been the case had God classified them as disbelievers to rot forever in the hellfire. What you did instead was base your argument on the assumption that they are heirs of hellfire, which is ambiguous; and discouraged, if not prohibited, Muslim men from marrying them, something which even the Quran encourages. In doing so, I believe, with all due respect, you have taken a long stride to feed the collective Muslim ego to the point that you have ignored the Quranic injunction which to me is as clear as 3:85.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 1:39 pm

      I understand your point on perennialism and am not addressing it – I’m addressing the idea the idea they are not disbelievers, referred to as kaafiroon. For example:

      “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.” [5:72]

      “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.” [5:73]

      In the original Arabic, everywhere the word “disbeliever” is translated is kafarallaadheena and kafaruu, respectively.

      I don’t see any hesitation whatsoever. That they are called as such doesn’t mean that Allah doesn’t point out their good, that there those among them who have real belief in Allah and the last day, who pray and so on – that doesn’t change that they’ve rejected a messenger and placed themselves in disbelief as a result – there’s no in-between ambiguous state.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 2:38 pm

      Am I the only one who see in these verses an hesitation on the part of the Quran to classify the Jews and the Christians as disbelievers? Note how the Quran refrains from using the generic terms (Jews and Christians) and points certain traits which could make them disbelievers? Much like associating partners with God and other such traits which makes one a disbeliever. No? Moreover, looked from the subsequent verses, the Quran seems to be supporting the argument I made above. The verse 77 reads, ‘ People of the book( and not disbelievers), do not go overboard in *Your religion*.

      Even if the above pointers are ignored, my question remains: Why did God allow Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women if they are disbelievers?

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 3:43 pm

      Yes, it says that…and more before that, as well as after. Let’s read it in context:

      “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

      Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?”

      Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”

      They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”

      There are two types of disbelief discussed here – the first is the kind perpetrated by the Christians – making Jesus a divine partner of some sort. The second is openly defying the law or changing it – this is what the Jews did, and its also what Iblis did (note that he also “believes”, but he’s not a Believer).

      Rejecting a Prophet, a Scripture, a new message from God is disbelief. It’s why we have to say, as said in the Quran, we believe in all of them.

      I answered your question above – they are more inclined to change and it affords them the opportunity to learn and change. They are closest to us in faith and need to change very little of their beliefs except to either add two Prophets or subtract Jesus divinity.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 8:36 pm

      On the issue of disbelief I beg to disagree. I do not think the above answer was satisfactory, but may be it is in the nature of Facebook to leave our understanding facile. All said, I thank you for trying to provide an explanation.

      On the issue of marriage, I agree the point you make that they are close to Islam in terms of beliefs and there is every possibility of them coming in the fold of Islam. But, there is also a possibility of rejection. And there are countless such examples too. Now, if someone marries a Jew or a Christian hoping that she would accept Islam one day ( and not just because God permits him to ) and he realises that after all these years his wife still remained obdurate in her (dis)belief, will it not put his life in misery? The marriage which was supposed to bring tranquility in his life (Taskunu feeha) has brought, much to his chagrin, agony and misery, and it seems God has played an active role in fueling this misery by allowing him to marry a disbeliever. Is that our opinion about God? To quote the Quran, ‘ Wa ma qadarulllaha haqqa qadrihi’. The sharia is supposed to make our lives better, I don’t see that happening here.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

      Ibrahim’s father died a disbeliever, the Prophet’s uncle died one, Nuh’s son died one, and so did Lut’s wife. Every convert to Islam lives with the knowledge their whole family is in that predicament.

      If that person doesn’t accept Islam, that’s Allah’s Decree. If you choose to enter the relationship, then you know ahead of time its a possibility.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 10:08 pm

      Yes, but the obvious point you are missing in the second case is the active role of God in allowing the marriage to consummate in the first place. Given that, in your opinion, the hereafter is not to be considered in a marriage ( in your assumption that God permitted a would be inhabitant of hellfire to marry a could be inhabitant of paradise ) it shouldn’t have been impermissible to marry an idolater too, but (un)fortunately that is not the case.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 17, 2016 - - 2:36 pm

      Yes, I do believe (based on the overwhelming consensus of Muslim scholars across time, culture, and theological schools, not my opinion) that we’re permitted to marry them despite the potential destination. If their status was different and they weren’t destined for Hell based on religious affiliation, then Muslim women would have been permitted their men, following this logic, but it’s not the case.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 5:15 am

    Although, the writer expressed his views coherently, some questions remain. To begin with, I have no affinity with perennial philosophy because of the simple reason that two contradictory belief systems cannot be same. The article succeeded in conveying this. However, it failed to convey a clandestine problem, namely, the smugness of a religious group who presumes to be rightly guided. To remind you, the Jews are criticised severely in the Quran for the same belief that Muslims today hold: ‘We are rightly guided and others are not. Anyone who holds a belief other than what we hold is destined for hellfire’. To me, the Quranic dictum, ‘ Your God knows who is better guided’ is enough to address this problem, because whatever explanation we offer to the alleged perennial verses, there is no absolute answer. Also, the writer failed miserably in addressing the problem of marriage with ahl al kitab. If they are disbelievers, as the author wants us to believe, why would a Wise God allow ‘righteous Muslim men’ to marry disbelievers and live all their life in distress, accepting that their wives are party to hellfire? I do not think a wise and Merciful God would want his party of believers to live their life in such agony.

    • Jasmine Carriker

      January 14, 2016 - - 10:32 am

      I felt the smugness too.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 14, 2016 - - 11:51 am

      Salaam alaykum Shoaib,

      Regarding the first issue, the problem was not that they presumed correctness, but rather, that they presumed it while rejecting further Prophets of God that had been sent to them, knowing who they were and why they were sent (eg Iesa and Muhammad). During the time of Musa, many of them had issues with him and he with them even after all the miracles they witnessed, and this recounted by Allah in both the Quran and the Bible / Torah.

      Regarding the second question, it’s important to ask what type of Christian or Jewish woman would marry a Muslim man, given that he is considered a heathen? One who is likely more open-minded and less held down to her faith and likely to convert if she’s with a decent muslim husband. The manners and treatment of women required in Islam were a millenia and a half ahead of their time. Today, I can’t tell you the number of times nonmuslim women have a Muslim boyfriend and want to convert to marry the guy, or decide on their own to convert after having a good life with the husband. Repeated exposure to pure tawhid has an effect on the fitrah and when it comes from a just authority figure, there is, in my view, a strong likelihood of becoming Muslim.

      What makes the ahlul kitab unique is that they are most of the way there already – same God, same Prophets, a couple of belief tweaks is all that is required to bring them over (one group from rejecting two Prophets, one from making him divine).

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 14, 2016 - - 1:26 pm

      WalaikumAssalam.

      They say, ‘The Fire will only touch us for a few days.’ Say to them, ‘Have you received a promise from God––for God never breaks His promise––or are you saying things about Him of which you have no real knowledge?’ ( 2:80).

      Muslims boldly assert that only they are the heirs of Paradise and those Muslims who will unfortunately be thrown in the hellfire will eventually be expelled out from it and then welcomed graciously in the paradise. Similar to the Jews’ belief criticised by God in the above verse? No wonder why prophet predicted our similarity with the Jews during the end of times. It was this attitude which I wanted the author to criticise while criticising perennial philosophy at the same time. I do not endorse perennial philosophy but I also do not endorse the self righteous attitude of the Muslim community either. Compare this attitude with the prophet’s warning to his daughter Fatima, may God have mercy on her, that Muhammad would not rescue her in the hereafter.

      The question is not whether a women is open minded or narrow minded or someone who would eventually become Muslim. The question is, ‘ Is it conceivable that a Merciful God permits Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women, while acknowledging their disbelief, only to jettison them later on in hellfire after their death and thus putting the life of countless Muslim men in jeopardy? Is that our opinion about God? Moreover, the argument that the women would eventually come to accept Islam is a flawed one simply because Islam does not base its doctrines on would be and could be.

      Also, how could someone classify the ahl al kitab as disbelievers when God has honoured them with the title ‘ People of the book ‘. And at various other instances, the Quran commands Muslims to treat them with respect. Is it commendable to use a derogatory term such as kuffars to the ahl al kitab while God has restrained Himself from using such invective language?

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 14, 2016 - - 2:16 pm

      We as Muslims have to ask ourselves where the source of our beliefs are? Is it from within ourselves, or is it sourced from the Quran and the statements of the Prophet, or somewhere else?

      3:85 of the Quran is unambiguous as it gets on that count as it relates to singling out Islam as the only religion Allah accepts. In the Quran, Allah states the Christians are closest to us, but review Maryam towards the end, from ayah 70 onwards where Allah describes how horrible a crime it is to attribute a son to him. Review al-baqarah where Allah honors the Israelites and at the same time castigates them for what they did in the past and how the present day madinite Jews rejected Prophet Muhammad knowing who he was, only because he wasn’t ethnically Jewish but Arab.

      As for the mercy question, if you believe Islam is the truth and the others lead to Hellfire, then it is mercy – living with a Muslim daily, understanding their belief, having a close intimate relationship with them, and them having an interest in protecting you from Hellfire is both the best dawah and means to help them. I see that as Merciful, and a doorway to guidance that’s been opened.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 14, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

      Why is it difficult for us to accept that we, as a Muslim community, have a problem with this ego centric attitude? Although, I have accepted many times in my previous comments that I do not believe in perennial philosophy, you seem to beat around the bush and come back to the question of perennialism, without addressing a much deeper problem that I have tried to raise, namely that of worshipping our egos individually and collectively. I was only pointing to the complexity of our relation with the ahl al kitab and to categorically classify them as disbelievers is something which even the Quran hesitates to. Regarding criticism, yes Jews and Christians have been criticised in the Qur’an and so have Muslims. That does not mean Allah does not honour them. Remember, ‘Every son of Adam is honoured?

      Suggesting Muslim men not to marry Jews and Christians for the fear that their wives might end up in hellfire is a logical fallacy. I based my argument on the premise that, ‘ God permits Muslim men to marry Jews and Christians, which is also unambiguous, and suggested that it would not have been the case had God classified them as disbelievers to rot forever in the hellfire. What you did instead was base your argument on the assumption that they are heirs of hellfire, which is ambiguous; and discouraged, if not prohibited, Muslim men from marrying them, something which even the Quran encourages. In doing so, I believe, with all due respect, you have taken a long stride to feed the collective Muslim ego to the point that you have ignored the Quranic injunction which to me is as clear as 3:85.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 1:39 pm

      I understand your point on perennialism and am not addressing it – I’m addressing the idea the idea they are not disbelievers, referred to as kaafiroon. For example:

      “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.” [5:72]

      “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.” [5:73]

      In the original Arabic, everywhere the word “disbeliever” is translated is kafarallaadheena and kafaruu, respectively.

      I don’t see any hesitation whatsoever. That they are called as such doesn’t mean that Allah doesn’t point out their good, that there those among them who have real belief in Allah and the last day, who pray and so on – that doesn’t change that they’ve rejected a messenger and placed themselves in disbelief as a result – there’s no in-between ambiguous state.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 2:38 pm

      Am I the only one who see in these verses an hesitation on the part of the Quran to classify the Jews and the Christians as disbelievers? Note how the Quran refrains from using the generic terms (Jews and Christians) and points certain traits which could make them disbelievers? Much like associating partners with God and other such traits which makes one a disbeliever. No? Moreover, looked from the subsequent verses, the Quran seems to be supporting the argument I made above. The verse 77 reads, ‘ People of the book( and not disbelievers), do not go overboard in *Your religion*.

      Even if the above pointers are ignored, my question remains: Why did God allow Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women if they are disbelievers?

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 3:43 pm

      Yes, it says that…and more before that, as well as after. Let’s read it in context:

      “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

      Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?”

      Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”

      They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”

      There are two types of disbelief discussed here – the first is the kind perpetrated by the Christians – making Jesus a divine partner of some sort. The second is openly defying the law or changing it – this is what the Jews did, and its also what Iblis did (note that he also “believes”, but he’s not a Believer).

      Rejecting a Prophet, a Scripture, a new message from God is disbelief. It’s why we have to say, as said in the Quran, we believe in all of them.

      I answered your question above – they are more inclined to change and it affords them the opportunity to learn and change. They are closest to us in faith and need to change very little of their beliefs except to either add two Prophets or subtract Jesus divinity.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 8:36 pm

      On the issue of disbelief I beg to disagree. I do not think the above answer was satisfactory, but may be it is in the nature of Facebook to leave our understanding facile. All said, I thank you for trying to provide an explanation.

      On the issue of marriage, I agree the point you make that they are close to Islam in terms of beliefs and there is every possibility of them coming in the fold of Islam. But, there is also a possibility of rejection. And there are countless such examples too. Now, if someone marries a Jew or a Christian hoping that she would accept Islam one day ( and not just because God permits him to ) and he realises that after all these years his wife still remained obdurate in her (dis)belief, will it not put his life in misery? The marriage which was supposed to bring tranquility in his life (Taskunu feeha) has brought, much to his chagrin, agony and misery, and it seems God has played an active role in fueling this misery by allowing him to marry a disbeliever. Is that our opinion about God? To quote the Quran, ‘ Wa ma qadarulllaha haqqa qadrihi’. The sharia is supposed to make our lives better, I don’t see that happening here.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 15, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

      Ibrahim’s father died a disbeliever, the Prophet’s uncle died one, Nuh’s son died one, and so did Lut’s wife. Every convert to Islam lives with the knowledge their whole family is in that predicament.

      If that person doesn’t accept Islam, that’s Allah’s Decree. If you choose to enter the relationship, then you know ahead of time its a possibility.

    • Shoaib Faizan

      January 15, 2016 - - 10:08 pm

      Yes, but the obvious point you are missing in the second case is the active role of God in allowing the marriage to consummate in the first place. Given that, in your opinion, the hereafter is not to be considered in a marriage ( in your assumption that God permitted a would be inhabitant of hellfire to marry a could be inhabitant of paradise ) it shouldn’t have been impermissible to marry an idolater too, but (un)fortunately that is not the case.

    • Siraaj Muhammad

      January 17, 2016 - - 2:36 pm

      Yes, I do believe (based on the overwhelming consensus of Muslim scholars across time, culture, and theological schools, not my opinion) that we’re permitted to marry them despite the potential destination. If their status was different and they weren’t destined for Hell based on religious affiliation, then Muslim women would have been permitted their men, following this logic, but it’s not the case.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 14, 2016 - - 1:26 pm

    WalaikumAssalam.

    They say, ‘The Fire will only touch us for a few days.’ Say to them, ‘Have you received a promise from God––for God never breaks His promise––or are you saying things about Him of which you have no real knowledge?’ ( 2:80).

    Muslims boldly assert that only they are the heirs of Paradise and those Muslims who will unfortunately be thrown in the hellfire will eventually be expelled out from it and then welcomed graciously in the paradise. Similar to the Jews’ belief criticised by God in the above verse? No wonder why prophet predicted our similarity with the Jews during the end of times. It was this attitude which I wanted the author to criticise while criticising perennial philosophy at the same time. I do not endorse perennial philosophy but I also do not endorse the self righteous attitude of the Muslim community either. Compare this attitude with the prophet’s warning to his daughter Fatima, may God have mercy on her, that Muhammad would not rescue her in the hereafter.

    The question is not whether a women is open minded or narrow minded or someone who would eventually become Muslim. The question is, ‘ Is it conceivable that a Merciful God permits Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women, while acknowledging their disbelief, only to jettison them later on in hellfire after their death and thus putting the life of countless Muslim men in jeopardy? Is that our opinion about God? Moreover, the argument that the women would eventually come to accept Islam is a flawed one simply because Islam does not base its doctrines on would be and could be.

    Also, how could someone classify the ahl al kitab as disbelievers when God has honoured them with the title ‘ People of the book ‘. And at various other instances, the Quran commands Muslims to treat them with respect. Is it commendable to use a derogatory term such as kuffars to the ahl al kitab while God has restrained Himself from using such invective language?

  • Siraaj Muhammad

    January 15, 2016 - - 1:39 pm

    I understand your point on perennialism and am not addressing it – I’m addressing the idea the idea they are not disbelievers, referred to as kaafiroon. For example:

    “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.” [5:72]

    “They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.” [5:73]

    In the original Arabic, everywhere the word “disbeliever” is translated is kafarallaadheena and kafaruu, respectively.

    I don’t see any hesitation whatsoever. That they are called as such doesn’t mean that Allah doesn’t point out their good, that there those among them who have real belief in Allah and the last day, who pray and so on – that doesn’t change that they’ve rejected a messenger and placed themselves in disbelief as a result – there’s no in-between ambiguous state.

  • Shoaib Faizan

    January 15, 2016 - - 2:38 pm

    Am I the only one who see in these verses an hesitation on the part of the Quran to classify the Jews and the Christians as disbelievers? Note how the Quran refrains from using the generic terms (Jews and Christians) and points certain traits which could make them disbelievers? Much like associating partners with God and other such traits which makes one a disbeliever. No? Moreover, looked from the subsequent verses, the Quran seems to be supporting the argument I made above. The verse 77 reads, ‘ People of the book( and not disbelievers), do not go overboard in *Your religion*.

    Even if the above pointers are ignored, my question remains: Why did God allow Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women if they are disbelievers?

  • Siraaj Muhammad

    January 15, 2016 - - 3:43 pm

    Yes, it says that…and more before that, as well as after. Let’s read it in context:

    “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

    Say, “Do you worship besides Allah that which holds for you no [power of] harm or benefit while it is Allah who is the Hearing, the Knowing?”

    Say, “O People of the Scripture, do not exceed limits in your religion beyond the truth and do not follow the inclinations of a people who had gone astray before and misled many and have strayed from the soundness of the way.”

    They used not to prevent one another from wrongdoing that they did. How wretched was that which they were doing.”

    There are two types of disbelief discussed here – the first is the kind perpetrated by the Christians – making Jesus a divine partner of some sort. The second is openly defying the law or changing it – this is what the Jews did, and its also what Iblis did (note that he also “believes”, but he’s not a Believer).

    Rejecting a Prophet, a Scripture, a new message from God is disbelief. It’s why we have to say, as said in the Quran, we believe in all of them.

    I answered your question above – they are more inclined to change and it affords them the opportunity to learn and change. They are closest to us in faith and need to change very little of their beliefs except to either add two Prophets or subtract Jesus divinity.

  • Siraaj Muhammad

    January 15, 2016 - - 9:13 pm

    Ibrahim’s father died a disbeliever, the Prophet’s uncle died one, Nuh’s son died one, and so did Lut’s wife. Every convert to Islam lives with the knowledge their whole family is in that predicament.

    If that person doesn’t accept Islam, that’s Allah’s Decree. If you choose to enter the relationship, then you know ahead of time its a possibility.

  • Siraaj Muhammad

    January 17, 2016 - - 2:36 pm

    Yes, I do believe (based on the overwhelming consensus of Muslim scholars across time, culture, and theological schools, not my opinion) that we’re permitted to marry them despite the potential destination. If their status was different and they weren’t destined for Hell based on religious affiliation, then Muslim women would have been permitted their men, following this logic, but it’s not the case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.