Jamadi Awwal 1424 H
Volume 16-07 No : 199
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In the last two issues, we had stated that it is only through belief in one unique God, can there be Universal Brotherhood. Only when one believes in and acknowledges the Uniqueness and Oneness of God can he/she truly practice Universal Brotherhood. All major religions that prescribe belief in the concept of God have at a higher level the belief in the Oneness and Uniqueness of the Almighty Creator. In the last issue, we examined the concept of God in Hinduism. In this issue, we shall study the concept of God in other major religions of the world and the impact it has on the concept of universal brotherhood. Concept Of God in Judaism:
(i) The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (pbuh): “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad” It is a Hebrew quotation which means:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” [The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4] The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah:
(ii) “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour.” [The Bible, Isaiah 43:11]
(iii) “I am Lord, and there is none else There is no God besides me.” [The Bible, Isaiah 45 : 5]
(iv) “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.” [The Bible, Isaiah 46:9]
(v) Judaism condemns idol worship in the following verses: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” [The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5]
(vi) A similar message is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 5, verses 7-9.
In Judaism too, we find the same thread of monotheism, which is seen in other religions.
Position of Jesus (pbuh) in Islam:
Before we examine the concept of God in Christianity, let us clarify at the outset that:
One may ask, if both Muslims and Christians love and respect Jesus (pbuh), where exactly is the parting of ways? The major difference between Islam and Christianity is the Christians’ insistence on the supposed divinity of Christ (pbuh). A study of the Christian scriptures reveals that Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (pbuh) himself says, “I am God” or where he says, “worship me”. In fact the Bible contains statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in which he preached quite the contrary. The following statements in the Bible are attributed to Jesus Christ (pbuh):
Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity for himself. He clearly announced the nature of his mission. Jesus (pbuh) was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law. This is clearly evident in the following statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in the Gospel of Mathew:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [The Bible, Mathew 5:17-20]
The Bible mentions the prophetic nature of Jesus (pbuh) mission in the following verses:
1. “... and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” [The Bible, John 14:24]
2. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” [The Bible, John 17:3]
Consider the following incident mentioned in the Bible:
“And behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’
And he said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ “ [The Bible, Mathew 19:16-17]
Jesus (pbuh) did not say that to have the eternal life of paradise, man should believe in him as Almighty God or worship him as God, or believe that Jesus (pbuh) would die for his sins. On the contrary he said that the path to salvation was through keeping the commandments. It is indeed striking to note the difference between the words of Jesus Christ (pbuh) and the Christian dogma of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus (pbuh).
5. Jesus (pbuh) of Nazareth - a Man Approved of God
The following statement from the Bible supports the Islamic belief that Jesus (pbuh) was a prophet of God.
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.” [The Bible, Acts 2:22]
6. The First Commandment is that God is One
The Bible does not support the Christian belief in trinity at all. One of the scribes once asked Jesus (pbuh) as to which was the first commandment of all, to which Jesus (pbuh) merely repeated what Moses (pbuh) had said earlier: “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adonai Ikhad.” This is a Hebrew quotation, which means: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” [The Bible, Mark 12:29]
It is striking that the basic teachings of the Church such as Trinity and vicarious atonement find no mention in the Bible. In fact, various verses of the Bible point to Jesus’ (pbuh) actual mission, which was to fulfill the law revealed to Prophet Moses (pbuh). Indeed Jesus (pbuh) rejected any suggestions that attributed divinity to him, and explained his miracles as the power of the One True God. Jesus (pbuh) thus reiterated the message of monotheism that was given by all earlier prophets of Almighty God.
In this manner we find that the concept of God in Judaism and Christianity, as prescribed by their srciptures, is that of One Unique God who is the Creator of all. Arising out of this concept we have equality of all humans since all are created by the same God. Next month we shall InshaAllah study the concept of God in Islam and the impact it has on implementing and practice of Universal Brotherhood.
Note: All quotations of the Bible are taken from the King James Version.
(The author, Dr. Zakir Naik, is a well-known orator and scholar of Comparative Religion; He is the President of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation; he may be reached at email@example.com)