In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
And (I have come) to confirm that which has already been sent down of the Torah and to make lawful to you some of the things which were forbidden you. I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; so remain conscious of Allah and obey me. Allah is indeed my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him alone. That is the straight path.
The House of Imran, “Aal Imran: 3;50-51
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb, Translated by A.A. Salahi & S.A. Shamsi.
This is the final part of the address delivered by Jesus (Peace be on him) to the children of Israel. In this part certain basic facts are revealed which concern the nature of divine religion as outlined in the messages preached by all Prophets and Messengers (Peace be on them all). These facts acquire an even greater importance when stated by Jesus himself, considering all the mistaken notions which have been formulated about this birth and his nature. All these mistaken notions are the result of deviation from the basic truth of divine faith which has been the same with all messengers.
When Jesus says, “And I have come to confirm that which has already been sent down of the Torah and to make lawful to you some of the things which were forbidden you”, he highlights the nature of true Christianity. The Torah which was revealed to Moses (Pbuh) and contained the legislation to be implemented in the life of the community, according to the needs of the particular period of time and the special circumstances of the life of the children of Israel since it is a religion given to a particular group of people in a particular period of time is endorsed by Jesus. Indeed, his message was a confirmation of the Torah with some modifications making lawful to the Israelites certain things which had been forbidden them. The prohibition of these things was originally a punishment inflicted on them by Allah for certain acts of disobedience and deviation they had committed. It was now Allah’s will to grant them His mercy through Jesus and to make lawful again to them what they were forbidden for a time.
This shows that it is in the nature of any religion to include legislation to organize the life of the community, and not to be confined to providing moral standards or restricting them to the realm of feelings and conscience or worship and rituals. Religion is the complete way of life, Allah lays down for people to implement and a social order which ensures that implementation.
The element of faith and beliefs cannot be isolated from worship or morals or general laws in any religion which aims at organizing human life according to Allah’s constitution. All these elements constitute a complete whole and any dichotomy between them is bound to nullify the effect of religion on the life of people and is contrary to the concept and the nature of faith as Allah defines it.
This is what has happened to Christianity. Due to certain historical circumstances on the one hand, and to the fact that although it has been intended for a certain period, until the last message is revealed, it continued to be upheld after its time has passed on the other hand, a split has taken place between its legislative aspect and its spiritual and moral one. Mutual hostility came to be deeply rooted between the Jews and the followers of Jesus which led to a split between the Torah which contained the legal code and the gospel with the great emphasis it laid on spiritual revival and moral refinement. Moreover, that legal code was intended for a limited period and a particular group of people. It was the will of Allah that the permanent and comprehensive legal code for all humanity would be revealed later, at its appointed time.
Whatever might be the reasons, the net result was that Christianity was reduced to a creed which lacked a legal code. As such, it was unable to regulate the social life of the nations which embraced it. Such a regulation of social life requires an ideological concept with a clear interpretation of the existence of the universe and of human life as well as the position of man in the universe. It also requires a system of worship, a moral code and, inevitably, a set of legislation derived from all these to put the life of the community on a sound basis. This is the proper structure of religion which ensures the establishment of a social system with clear and sound basis and effective safeguards. When Christianity suffered that dichotomy to which we had referred. It was unable to provide a comprehensive system for human life. Hence, its followers were forced to split their moral and spiritual values from their practical values in all aspects of their lives, including their social system. This led to the establishment of social systems in the Christian world on bases other than their only natural basis. They had, therefore, lame systems.
This was not a simple incident or a trifling matter in human history. It was a far-reaching catastrophe which generated all the misery, confusion, perversion and immorality which haunt the present material civilization, in all the countries which still profess Christianity but have not introduced any great change in their practical lifestyle which remains similar to that of the communities which still maintain to be a Christian.
As preached by Jesus Christ himself, Christianity, like every religion worthy of the name, is the legal code which regulates human life on the basis of a clear ideological concept of faith in Allah and sound moral values derived from that concept. Without such a wholesome structure there can be no Christianity, and indeed no faith. Without such a structure there can be no social system which satisfies the needs of man, whether spiritual or practical, and elevates human life so that it comes in direct contact with Allah.
This essential fact is one of the concepts which we can deduce from Jesus’ statement, ‘And I have come to confirm that which has already been sent down of the Torah and to make lawful to you some of the things which were forbidden to you’.
When he addresses this fact to people, he relies on the paramount fact of the Oneness of Allah which is stated in the clearest of terms, “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; so remain conscious of Allah and obey me. Allah is indeed my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him alone. That is the straight path.”
He thus declares the essence of the ideological concept which is basic to the divine religion in all its forms. The miracles he performed were not of his own doing. As a human being, he had no power to accomplish them. There were given to him by Allah. His message is based first and foremost on the need to fear Allah and remain conscious of Him and to obey His messenger. He also stresses that Allah is his Lord and the Lord of all people. Jesus himself was not the Lord, for He alone is worthy of worship. He concludes with a comprehensive statement of fact; to believe in Allah alone and worship Him alone, and to obey His messenger and implement the system He laid down. All this is “the straight path”. Everything else is deviation and cannot be part of the true faith.