By S. Abdullah Tariq
Which is the True and Correct Religion?
Q. I am very scared and confused. I was brought up Christian believing Jesus is the saviour and we will all go to hell if we do not believe in Jesus. I personally do not know what to believe. Muslims on the other hand believe that Jesus is not the saviour and you should read the Quran and follow it and if you don't, you won't be saved. Both religions say they are the true and correct religion. I have prayed and prayed. I would hope that both are wrong and God will have mercy on all of us and save us all. What am I to believe??? About a year and 1/2 ago I began to be drawn to Islam and have done some research and the Bible is put down a lot. I do not know if it is right for Muslims to put down Christians and for Christians to put Muslims down. I am lost. Sometimes I begin to think that someone just made up the Bible and another made up the Quran. Can you offer any kind of suggestions or help on this? My friends and family say that the only reason that I was drawn to Islam was because I was abused as a child and Islamic women are abused. What in the world am I suppose to do or believe in????
(Crystal L. Parks ; email@example.com)
A: You have said so many things and expressed so many doubts that it will be better to split your different confusions and give reply for each part separately instead of one long answer that may lose the threads.
1. The confusion: I am very scared and confused. I was brought up Christian believing Jesus is the saviour and we will all go to hell if we do not believe in Jesus. I personally do not know what to believe. Muslims on the other hand believe that Jesus is not the Saviour and you should read the Quran and follow it and if you don’t, you wont be saved.
The solution: Jesus surely was a saviour when he was on earth. The Quran relates: “When Isa (Jesus) peace be upon him, came with clear signs, he stated: I have brought you wisdom, and to clarify some of those things about which you have disputes: so fear Allah and obey me. Surely it is Allah Who is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is the Right Way.”(43:63,64). It is not different from what Jesus reported to have said in the Bible. He said: “…Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mat. 10: 28),
“…Get thee hence Satan for it is written, Thou shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only shall thy serve”. (Mat. 4:10) “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love even as I have kept my father’s commandments and abide in His love”. (Jn. 15:10).
As you have rationally thought over and studied religion you must be aware that Father-son relationship of Jesus with God was not a physical relationship. It was an allegory as he made clear on numerous occasions. When he was being ascended unto God, he declared: “…go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father and to my God and to your God”. (Jn. 20:17).
So, Jesus was a Saviour. There is no dispute in this. There also is no dispute amongst a large majority of both Muslims and the Christians about his being a saviour on his second coming. He will be a savior and will lead people to the right path and salvation. Whoever will not follow him will go astray.
We may also say that he is a savior. Though he is not among us to lead us, his teachings are with us and we shall succeed by following them. Now what are his teachings for the present time?
Remember what he said before his ascension. He declared: “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter (Saviour), that he may abide with you forever”. (Jn. 14:15,16). That is, Jesus declared that another Savior who will come to the world, his teachings will remain relevant and applicable till the Last Day. He said: These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name (i.e. to fulfill the same mission), he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your rememberance, whatsoever I have said unto you”. (Jn 14:25,26). “And now I have told you before it has come to pass that when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the Prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me”.(Jn 14:29,30). “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me. And ye also shall bear witness because ye have been with me from the beginning”. (Jn. 15:26,27)
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you: but if I depart, I will send him unto you”. (Jn. 16:7). These announcements of Jesus clearly imply that another comforter or Saviour was to come after his departure. His arrival was important, so Jesus had to depart. The new Saviour was to be the Prince of the World and the Spirit of Truth, proceeding from God to fulfill the same mission of which Jesus was a part. He was to testify of and verify that Jesus and his teachings will remain valid till the end of the world and thus he will be the last of the great Saviours who proceeded from God in the sense that no new Saviour will come after him. The followers of Jesus were required to believe in him.
The next and the Last Saviour came, testified of Jesus, asked his followers to believe in Jesus and gave guiding instructions to be followed till the end of the world. Jesus will come in his second coming and implement the teachings of the Last Saviour as they will be the teachings from the same God who sent Jesus and him. He will be the Prince of the world (Rahmatul-Lil-Aalameen i.e. Mercy unto all the worlds) and The Spirit of Truth (As-Saadiq, The Truthful). His name was Muhammad (Pbuh). Bear in mind that no other man in history claimed to be the same Saviour whom Jesus had foretold about and both, ‘The Message’ he brought from God and his own life stand witness to his being from God. So Jesus is a present Saviour also in the sense that the salvation is in obeying his order to obey the next and the Last Saviour.
The present day Christianity may require you to believe in Jesus only but Quran asks all its followers to believe in both Jesus and Muhammad and all the earlier prophets, being the Saviours of mankind. It proclaimed: “Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and (all) His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; Such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom”. (4:150,151)
Indeed there is difference between Islam and the present Christianity in the nature of belief on Jesus. The present Christianity says that Jesus was a Son of God and His equal while Islam teaches that God has no (actual or physical) son. He is One without equal or parallel. One must bow to Him only and Muhammad and Jesus like all His earlier messengers (peace be upon them all) were His bondsmen and apostles to carry His message to the humanity. A messenger does not come on his own. He is sent by God. That who sends is greater than those who are sent. A messenger does not teach by his own will. He teaches what God has willed him to teach. He does not have power to show miracles. He shows miracles by the Will and help of God. He asks people to obey him, but not worship him. He himself obeys the commandments of God and prays to Him. Jesus declared and did exactly the same. “…The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord”. (Mk. 12:29). “Thou shall worship the Lord thy God and Him only shall thy serve”. (Mat. 4:10).
“And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good save one, that is, God”. (Lk. 18:19). In his own context Jesus declared, “But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house”. (Mk. 6:4). Praying to God, Jesus said, “And this is life eternal that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent”. (Jn. 17:3). “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send me”. (Jn. 17:8). “Verily verily I say unto you, the servant (the slave in R.S.V. footnote) is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him”. (Jn 13:16). Jesus loudly prayed God while bringing Lazarus to life so that people could listen and have correct belief that Jesus had no power of his own to bring dead to life. “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest me always; but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent me”.
It must be clear to you by now that the Quran verifies Jesus. They are in conformity. Islam asks its followers to believe in all the prophets including Jesus and Muhammad (Pbuh). Whoever, be he called a Christian or a Muslim, does not believe in any one of Allah’s prophets is a disbeliever in Allah’s word preached by the prophets. Such a person should not expect Allah’s Mercy.
2. The confusion: Both religions say they are the true and correct religion. I have prayed and prayed. I would hope that both are wrong and God will have mercy on all of us and save us all. What am I to believe???
The solution: Islam says that the Straight Path, the True Religion has always been one. When God is one, the Religion would be one and all the prophets of Allah preached the same religion. In Arabic it is called Islam, meaning submission before God. The Quran proclaimed: “He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. ... And they (the people) were not divided until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves; and had it not been for a Word that had already gone forth from thy Lord for an appointed term, it surely had been judged between them. And those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them (the prophets) are verily in hopeless doubt concerning it”. (42:13,14). The religion preached by all the prophets was the same i.e. Islam or submission to God’s Will. Believe in Jesus and what he preached and foretold.
There is one good tiding for you in spite of your confusions. When you have prayed and prayed sincerely and surely you have strived hard to find out the Truth instead of just praying, you will without doubt be guided towards the Right Path by God. He Himself has assured of this in His Last Word: “As for those who strive in Our cause, We will surely guide them to Our ways; rest assured that Allah is with the righteous”. If you have strived hard besides praying, God will surely have Mercy on you about those should not expect of His Mercy who have made no sincere effort to find the Truth.
Judge each Religion Judiciously
3. The confusion: About a year and 1/2 ago I began to be drawn to Islam and have done some research and the Bible is put down a lot. I do not know if it is right for Muslims to put down Christians and for Christians to put Muslims down. I am lost. Sometimes I begin to think that someone just made up the Bible and another made up the Quran. Can you offer any kind of suggestions or help on this?
The solution: Quran asks its believers to believe in all the scriptures of God. One cannot remain a Muslim unless he believes in Injeel (the gospel) preached by Jesus. Quran poses a question to the earlier people who received the scriptures: “Ask them: O people of the Book! What makes you against us other than that we believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed before (i.e. Injeel, Torah etc.)? The fact is that most of you are rebellious transgressors.” (5:59). We contest the Christian brethren because they believe in different gospels written at least 250 years after Jesus’ departure by different writers who were not even impartial narrators. Even Christian pastors accept this. In quest of truth you might have come across many a criticism by Christian researchers. Following are just a few brief references by a Bangalore (a south Indian city) based professor of scriptures: “For the N.T. we have some 5000 manuscripts some of them going back to the 2nd. Century. The first complete edition of the New Testament is only (!) 250 or 300 years later than the originals”. (Fr. Zacharias Mattam S.D.B., Opening the Bible, K.J.C. Publication, Bangalore, India, p.128). “Biblical authors are not detached observers whose aim is to present the facts exactly as they happened. They are ardent believers and when they write they give also the significance of events with the purpose of leading the reader to faith.”
The same holds good for the Gospels in the New Testament. The evangelists of course do not, invent anything, but they felt free to make modifications based on doctrinal, apologetical and liturgical considerations”. (ibid 91). “Clearly the Gospels are not some sort of photographic presentation of the life of Jesus Christ. The evangelists rearrange the Gospel material according to their plan and in presenting them freely make changes and adaptations”. (ibid 74). I must not forget to mention that the author of the above book, Fr. Zacharias, besides teaching in the seminary, is actively involved in pastoral ministry and in Biblical Apostolate.
Above is the condition of most recent books of the Bible. The condition of O.T. is worse. How can Muslims accept it as an unadulterated Word of God? In comparison, Quran is the Word of God in the purest form. Adulteration can only be sorted out with the help of unadulterated word of God. Only the Quran can become the touchstone while sorting the truth from the interpolation. It is not putting down the Christians. It is putting the cards face up. As for true teaching of Injeel, they are still there but mixed with human interpolations. The Quran asks the Christians to believe in those parts of the Gospels which it verifies, being the touchstone. It says: “Then in the footsteps of those Prophets, We sent Isa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary) confirming whatever remained (intact) from the Taurat in his time, and gave him the Injeel (Gospel) wherein was guidance and light, corroborating what was revealed in the Taurat; a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. Therefore, let the people who follow the Injeel (Gospel) judge by the Law which Allah has revealed therein; those who do not judge by the Law which Allah has revealed, they are the transgressors. To you, We have revealed this Book with the truth. It confirms whatever has remained (intact) in the scriptures which came before it and also to safeguard it. Therefore, judge between people according to Allah’s revelations and do not yield to their vain desires diverging from the truth which has come to you…” (5:46-48)
If two ideologies are contesting each other it does not mean that both are necessarily false. Judge each of them judiciously. One of them may be true.
Status of Muslim Women
4. The confusion: My friends and family say that the only reason that I was drawn to Islam was because I was abused as a child and Muslim Women are abused. What in the world am I suppose to do or believe in????
The solution: Islam stands against all sort of abuse and exploitation. There is abuse of women in some Muslims as there is in every community. Islam is not to be blamed if some so-called Muslims do not adhere to it. Islam grants to her protection and her rightful and respectable place. It does not approve of her exploitation in the name of liberation. You have to meet Muslim women and see for yourself the contentment and sense of security they have in contrast with the harassment of women in other societies. The Prophet (Pbuh) instructed to protect and take special care of fairer sex from her birth. Following are a few of his saying (Hadith): “Whoever faces hardship for these daughters while treating them nice, they will be barrier for them from the Fire (of hell).” (Bukhari, Muslim); “Who ever takes good care of two female children till they attain the age of taking their own care, he will be close to me on the Day of Resurrection like this. (He showed his two adjacent fingers). (Muslim). “On one occasion he declared: Whoever takes good care of three female children or three of his sisters who are (dependant for any reason) like them and train them in good manners and be compassionate with them, Allah will consider him worthy for paradise. A companion enquired about two girls or sisters. The Prophet (Pbuh) replied that the same (reward) is for two. The narrator (Ibne Abbas) observes that (it seemed) if anyone had asked about one, the Prophet (Pbuh) would have replied the same.”(Sharah-us-Sunnah)
Following is his famous Hadith about the status of mother: “A person asked, ‘O Prophet of God, who merits most of my good behavior’? He replied: ‘Your mother’. He asked, ‘Who comes next’? The Prophet (Pbuh) said, ‘Your mother’? ‘Who is next?’ He asked (for the third time)? ‘Your mother’, he answered. The man persisted, ‘Who is next’? The Prophet (Pbuh) then said, ‘Your father”.
In the 19th century none had heard of woman’s right of inheritance except in Islam which had conferred her this right in 7th century. The Prophet (Pbuh) gave specific instruction to husbands against beating them 14 centuries ago.
There is propaganda of abuse of Muslim women and few cases of bad Muslims are blown out of proportion. I advise you of a comprehensive study of rights of women in Islam. If you send me your postal address, I might arrange some good authentic books on the subject to be delivered to you.