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Back You are here: Home Library Islam Religious Pluralism What will be discussed here is the second issue

What will be discussed here is the second issue

What will be discussed here is the second issue

 With respect to the first issue, we can say briefly that there is only one true religion in each era, and all are obligated to believe in it.

The idea that has recently become common among some so-called intellectuals to the effect that all Divine religions have equal validity in all eras is a fallacious one.

 Of course, it is true that there is no disagreement or contradiction among the prophets of God.  All of the prophets of God call towards a single goal and the same God.  They have not come to create mutually contradicting groups and sects among humanity.

 But this doesn’t mean that in every era there are several true religions, and thus people in each era can then choose whichever religion they want.  To the contrary, it means that a person must believe in all of the Prophets and affirm that each Prophet would give tidings of the Prophet to come, especially the final and greatest of them; and likewise, each Prophet would affirm the previous one.  Thus, the necessary consequence of believing in all of the Prophets is to submit in every era to the religion of the Prophet of the time.  And of course, it is necessary that in the final era we act on the final commands that have been revealed by God to the final Prophet.  And this is what necessarily follows from Islām, that is, submission to God and acceptance of the missions of His Messengers.

 Many people in our day have subscribed to the view that it is sufficient for a person to worship God and be affiliated with and practice one of the Divine religions that was revealed by God; the form of the commandments is not that important.  `Isa (Jesus) (as) was a Prophet, Muhammad (S) was also a Prophet; if we follow the religion of `Isa (as) and go to church once a week, that is fine, and if we follow the religion of the final Messenger (S) and pray five times a day, that is also correct.  These people say that what is important is for a person to believe in God and practice one of the Divine religions.

 George Jordac, author of the book, Imām `AlÄ«; Gibrān KhalÄ«l Gibrān, the well-known Lebanese Christian author; and others like them have such a view.[28]  These two individuals speak of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and AmÄ«rul Mo’minÄ«n `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťālib (as) – and especially AmÄ«rul Mo’minÄ«n (as) – just as a Muslim would.

 Some people ask how these people, in spite of their belief in AmÄ«rul Mo’minÄ«n `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) and the Prophet Muhammad (S), are still Christian.  If they were truthful, they would have become Muslims, and since they haven’t done so, it is clear there is something behind the curtain.  They are being deceptive, and they aren’t sincere in their expression of love and belief in the Prophet Muhammad (S) and `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťālib (as).

 The answer is that they are not without sincerity in their expression of love and belief in the Prophet Muhammad (S) and AmÄ«rul Mo’minÄ«n `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as).  However, they have their own way of thinking regarding practicing a religion.

 These individuals believe that human beings are not held to a particular religion; any religion is sufficient.  Thus, at the same time that they are Christians, they consider themselves admirers and friends of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as), and they even believe that he himself held their view.  George Jordac says, “`AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib declines to compel people to necessarily follow a particular religion.”

 However, we consider this idea void.  It is true that there is no compulsion in religion:

  Ù„اٌ إِكْرٌاهَ فِي الدِّينِ

 “There is no compulsion in religion.”[29]

 But this doesn’t mean that there is more than one religion in every age that is acceptable to God, and we have the right to choose any one we please.  This is not the case; in every age, there is one true religion and no more.  Whenever a Prophet was sent by God with a new religion, the people were obligated to avail themselves of his teachings and learn his laws and commandments, whether in acts of worship or otherwise, until the turn of the Seal of the Prophets came.  In this (current) age, if someone wishes to come near God, he or she must seek guidance from the precepts of the religion he brought.

The Noble Qur’ān says:

  ÙˆÙŽ مَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الإِسْلاٌمَ دِيناً فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ ÙˆÙŽ هُوَ فِي الأَخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخٌاسِرِينَ

 “And whoever desires a religion other than Islām, it shall never be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be among the losers.”[30]

 If someone were to say that the meaning of “Islām” in this verse is not our religion in particular; rather, the intent is the literal meaning of the word, or submission to God, the answer would be that without doubt Islām means submission and the religion of Islām is the religion of submission, but the reality of submission has a particular form in each age.  And in this age, its form is the same cherished religion that was brought by the Seal of the Prophets.  So it follows that the word Islām (submission) necessarily applies to it alone.

 In other words, the necessary consequence of submission to God is to accept His commandments, and it is clear that one must always act on the final Divine commandments.  And the final commandment of God is what His final messenger has brought.

 

Notes:

[24] Usd al-Ghāba, under `Uthmān ibn Maz`ūn

[25] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Ahqāf (46), Verse 9

[26] The objection may come to mind that the purport of this verse is contrary to what is accepted by Muslims as established fact, meaning that the Prophet (S) was informed of his praiseworthy place on the Day of Judgement and of his intercession for various sinners, and is rather contrary to the purport of various verses, like “And verily your Lord will grant you until you are pleased” (SÅ«ratul Duhā (39), Verse 5) and “For God to forgive that which has passed of your mistake and that which is to come.” (SÅ«ratul FatÄ¥ (49), Verse 2)

The answer is that the purport of the verse, as is also understood from the preceding tradition, is that the end result of a person’s actions are not known with certainty by anyone; only God has certain knowledge of the final result, and if others come to know, it is only by Divine revelation.  So the verse that negates knowledge of the final end relates to the Prophet Muhammad (S) or someone else making a forecast relying on his or her own actions; and the verses that indicate that the Prophet Muhammad (S) has knowledge of his own or other people’s final end are through Divine revelation.

[27] Bihārul Anwār, Volume 3, Page 165

[28] George Jordac’s words about the Prophet Muhmmad (S) indicate he believed in his prophecy and receiving Divine revelation, and he also believed firmly that `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as) was a man of God and regarded him as being like `Īsā (as), but at the same time he did not abandon Christianity.  Gibrān KhalÄ«l Gibrān says of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Ťalib (as)

 

وَ في عقيدتـي أن علي بن أبـي طالب أول عربي جاو وَ الروح الكلية وَ سمارها

“In my view, `AlÄ« was the first Arab to have contact with and converse with the universal soul [of the world].”

 

He expresses greater love for `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Tālib (as) than even the Prophet Muhammad (S).  He has unusual statements about `AlÄ«; for example, he says:

 

  مٌاتَ ÙˆÙŽ الصَّلاٌةَ بَيْنَ شَفَتَيهِ

“He died while prayer was between his two lips.”

 

And he also says of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Tālib (as), “`AlÄ« was before his time, and I don’t know the secret of why destiny sometimes brings people to the world before their time.”

 

Incidentally, this point is the meaning of one of `AlÄ« Ibn AbÄ« Tālib’s (as) own statements; he says:

 

غَداً تَرَوْنَ أَيٌّامِي وَ يَكْشِفُ لَكُمْ عَنْ سَرٌائِرِي وَ تَعْرِفُونَنِـي بَعْدَ خُلُوٍّ مَكٌانِـي وَ قِيٌامِ غَيْرِي مَقٌامِي

“Tomorrow you will see my days and my secrets will be exposed to you, and you will know me after my space has become empty and others take my place.”

[29] Al-Qur'ān, Sūratul Baqarah (2), Verse 256

[30]Al-Qur'ān, Sūrat Āli Imrān (3), Verse 85

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