Christians

What should be the Muslim attitude toward the Bible?

Salam Alaykum. By reading books and listening to informative lectures, I’ve come across quiet many bible verses. There are a few verses like the story about the tower of Babel & Noah’s Ark that are used for general research, which can be useful. There are also stories I’ve never heard of as a muslim. So, how should a muslim really react to biblical studies, and know which verses is to believe?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

We can read the Bible as an interesting historical artifact, but we cannot take any religious guidance from it unless it is strongly confirmed by the Quran. Our attitude is that while the Bible contains many important truths, 1. we can never be sure which parts are really true and which parts are later additions, and 2. the Quran contains everything beneficial that is contained in the Bible, so a person who only relies on the Quran is not missing out on anything they need.

Islam’s view is that the Quran is the “Final Testament”. Similar to the way a new version of a software program replaces an older version, the Quran replaces the Bible. The Bible, in the Islamic view, holds the corrupted version of God’s religion. The Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) were given to the Jews as God’s guidance to them. Many prophets were sent afterwards to correct their errors and guide them back to God’s path, the sayings of some of these prophets make up some of the other books of the Old Testament, such the Book of Isaiah by the Prophet Isaiah who lived in the 8th century BC.

Jesus was the final Jewish Prophet who came to reform Judaism and ease some of their religion’s difficult laws.

47. She said, “My Lord, how can I have a child, when no man has touched me?” He said, “It will be so. God creates whatever He wills. To have anything done, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.”

48. And He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel.

49. A messenger to the Children of Israel: “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I make for you out of clay the figure of a bird; then I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind and the leprous, and I revive the dead, by God’s leave. And I inform you concerning what you eat, and what you store in your homes. In that is a sign for you, if you are believers.”

50. “And verifying what lies before me of the Torah, and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; so fear God, and obey me.”

51. “God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.”

52. When Jesus sensed disbelief on their part, he said, “Who are my allies towards God?” The disciples said, “We are God’s allies; we have believed in God, and bear witness that we submit.”

53. “Our Lord, we have believed in what You have revealed, and we have followed the Messenger, so count us among the witnesses.”

54. They planned, and God planned; but God is the Best of planners.

55. God said, “O Jesus, I am terminating your life, and raising you to Me, and clearing you of those who disbelieve. And I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return; then I will judge between you regarding what you were disputing. (The Quran, verses 3:47-55)

According to the Islamic view, Jesus was meant as a reformer of Judaism rather than the founder of a new religion. The Christians were meant to follow Jewish law as reformed by Jesus, and there are theories that the early Christians did follow Jewish law until Paul’s anti-law attitude (antinomianism) took over. There was a Jewish sect known as the Essenes which may have been the remnants of Jesus’s original followers. In the Dead Sea Scrolls we have documentation of this group’s beliefs; they continued to follow parts of Jewish law and continually referred to a false teacher who was corrupting Christianity (probably Paul).

While Jesus was a Jewish Prophet sent specifically to the Jews, Prophet Muhammad was a gentile (non-Jew) sent to all of humanity as God’s final prophet. Muhammad is descended from Abraham just like the Jews, but while the Jews are descendants of Isaac son of Abraham, Muhammad is a descendant of Ishmael son of Abraham (in Jewish literature Muslims are sometimes called Ishmaelites for this reason).

Just like Jesus, Muhammad was not meant to found a new religion exactly, he was meant as a reformer who brings back God’s true teachings as taught originally to Abraham:

67. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a Monotheist, a “Muslim” (”one who submits”). And he was not of the Polytheists.

68. The people most deserving to be associated with Abraham are those who followed him, and this prophet [Muhammad], and those who believe. God is the Guardian of the believers. (The Quran, verses 3:67-68)

In chapter, after narrating the stories of the Biblical prophets, the Quran tells us that we Muslims and those prophets are all part of the same community:

89. And Zechariah, when he called out to his Lord, “My Lord, do not leave me alone, even though you are the Best of heirs.”

90. So We answered him, and gave him John. And We cured his wife for him. They used to vie in doing righteous deeds, and used to call on Us in love and awe, and they used to humble themselves to Us.

91. And she who guarded her virginity. We breathed into her of Our spirit, and made her and her son a sign to the world.

92. This community of yours is one community, and I am your Lord, so worship Me. (The Quran, verses 21:87-92)

According to the Quran, all of the prophets are part of the same story, and the coming of Prophet Muhammad was not something out of the ordinary, it was an answer to a prayer by Abraham and his son made 2600 years before (around 2000 BC):

127. As Abraham raises the foundations of the House [the Kaaba in Mecca], together with Ishmael, “Our Lord, accept it from us, You are the Hearer, the Knower.

128. Our Lord, and make us submissive to You, and from our descendants a community submissive to You. And show us our rites, and accept our repentance. You are the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.

129. Our Lord, and raise up among them a messenger, of themselves, who will recite to them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, the Wise.” (The Quran 2:127-129)

Some verses after the above, the Quran tells us that the Prophet was the answer to that prayer by using the same words to describe Prophet Muhammad that Abraham and Ishamel used in verse 129 in their prayer for a prophet:

151. Just as We sent to you a messenger from among you, who recites Our revelations to you, and purifies you, and teaches you the Book and wisdom, and teaches you what you did not know.

152. So remember Me, and I will remember you. And thank Me, and do not be ungrateful.

On the Shia and their fate according to Sunni Islam

What are your views on Shia and their beliefs? And are they among the 70+ sects that are doomed?

First, the notion of the “72 doomed sects” is false, as I explain here. It is based on fabricated evidence.

As for the Shia, I believe that anyone who believes in God and His Books and does their best to follow Him, sincerely and in good faith, will be rewarded by Him, as the Quran promises:

Those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day, and does what is right—they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.1

The above verse and those like it have been interpreted in various ways. The fate of ‘others’ in Islam, whether non-Muslims or Muslims belonging to sects considered non-orthodox, is a contentious issue that lends itself to many interpretations. Those interested can read professor Mohammad Hassan Khalil’s book Islam and the Fate of Others: The Salvation Question, which is a study that shows that there is sufficient room within Islam for what I mentioned above.

While it is common for Muslims to complain about Islamophobia in the West and the fact that people refuse to try to understand Islam, they themselves unfortunately act in very much the same way toward other Muslims. I have talked to some Sunni Muslims who have never met a Shia Muslim in their lives and who have the most absurd misconceptions and prejudices about the lives and thinking of the Shias. The Iranian government, in the name of Shia Islam, has committed a great deal of injustice and oppression against the Sunnis (a glaring example being that Sunni Muslims are not allowed to pray the Friday prayers in cities like Tehran, in their sectarian chauvinistic view only Shia mosques should have the right to hold Friday prayers). But many Iranian Shias do not support the actions of the government, or are simply busy making a living and not having the time to worry about what their government is doing, similar to the attitude of many Americans toward their government’s mass-murder of innocent people overseas. Among the Shia there are those who do their best to hold onto the Quran and to follow it in their lives, and God is generous and intelligent enough to understand and appreciate the efforts of such people even if they have beliefs and attitude that Sunnis would consider wrong. The Quran says the following about Jews and Christians, and I believe the same applies to the Shia:

113. They are not all alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

So my view is that God holds each soul according to the knowledge He has given it:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.3

God will not hold a Shia Muslim responsible for what Sunnis consider wrong beliefs if they really think what they believe is true, if they follow the Quran in good faith, and if they do not knowingly do evil.

By saying that, I do not mean to say that Sunni and Shia Islam are equally good religions. Religions are tools toward understanding and worshiping God, and the best tool is the one that helps the most people worship God in the best way possible. We can judge a religion by the number of pious, self-less and devout people it can produce, and I believe Sunni Islam comes out on top according to this measure.

The fate of atheists in Islam

Are all atheists going to hell?It seems unfair to me for anyone to spend an eternity of suffering because they didn't believe in God, specially if beside that they are nice people. Its been really hard for my iman. In the past it was draining. I spent pretty much all day thinking about the billion of people and all their suffering. I couldn't even watch movies to keep my mind occupied as i would start thinking how all these people were doomed.

I try to read the quran but then i get to the part where they describe hell in details and i just cant finish reading. The only way to stop feeling the stress and anxiety was to read them in a meta a terrifying reality? Sorry for the long askphorical sense but im not sure if its permissible. If atheist are indeed all going to hell in your opinion, how to deal which such

The truth is that we do not for certain. One theory says that all humans have the power to know God and believe in Him. According to this theory, anyone who does not believe in God is automatically punishable by God.

Another theory is that God will only hold people responsible for going against their conscience, and that the only type of disbelief in God is the one where the person has acquired all of the knowledge necessary to believe in God and believes in God in his heart, but who rejects this belief and lives in a state of denial. The kufr (“disbelief”) literally means “to deny (a blessing)” or “to cover up (a truth)”. According to this latter theory, atheists are only punished if they actually believe in God but wish to deny Him for one reason or another (for example because they dislike submitting to a higher power). This means that an atheist who honestly believes that God does not exist and that religion is a human invention will not be punished for this.

What we know for certain is that God is just, and that:

God never burdens a soul beyond what He has given it.1

From the above verse we can conclude that there will be no unjust punishment of humans. God will only hold humans responsible for the knowledge and powers He has given them. A person who grows up in a secular family and who never learns much about religion may not be punishable by God.

God is the inventor of the concepts of fairness and justice. So it is extremely misguided to think that God can be unjust, that we humans can come up with a fairer system than God has created. God is kinder and more just than any human, therefore it is a falsehood to think that He can punish anyone unjustly. While we do not know the exact fate of atheists, what we do know is that their fate will be fair and just, because it is God who is in charge of them.

The people that we know for certain deserve the Hellfire are those who believe in God, who know right from wrong, yet who engage in the worst evil out of their desire for gain. An example is a rich person who pays a killer to go kill a good man because by killing him his own wealth and power will increase. The world is full of such people, and they deserve God’s punishment.

If you fear that good and innocent people will end up in the Hellfire, then you misunderstand God. God invented your brain; do you think He is incapable of understanding issues that you can understand? Read the Quran and you will never hear about an innocent person being punished (hadith narrations are a different story). If God says He will punish kāfirs, the meaning of the word is not exactly defined for us; it could mean someone who believes in God and His Scriptures but who does evil regardless of their belief. In the past it was common to think that all non-Muslims are kāfirs, but this is not at all what the Quran says. The Quran, for example, refers to “the kāfirs among Jews and Christians”, which logically means that there are Jews and Christians who are kāfirs, and there are Jews and Christians who are not kāfirs. The Quran says, when speaking of Jews and Christians:

113. They are not alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.

114. They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.

115. Whatever good they do, they will not be denied it. God knows the righteous.2

I recommend that you continue to read the Quran so that you get a better understanding of God and His thinking. God is not unjust, so if for some reason you imagine Him being unjust or someone mentions something about Him that implies He is unjust, you should think the best of Him and tell yourself that you or someone has misunderstood Him.

It is permissible for Muslims to say “Merry Christmas” to non-Muslims

Hi. So I was wondering if it's okay for us as Moslems to say "Merry christmas" to our Christian friends. There's a lot of people around me, including my parents, who told me to not say it because it's haram. If it's not okay, how do we explain it to our Christian friends without offending them?

It is perfectly fine to say “merry Christmas” to non-Muslims. The Quran does not forbid us from being kind and civil to non-Muslims, and there is no clear evidence in the Quran or the sunnah to forbid such greetings.

Source: European Council for Fatwa and Research (which includes the famous scholars Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Abdullah bin Bayyah).

Answer from a reader:

“Congratulating (on Christmas) is worse of a sin than congratulating drinking alcohol, killing, zina etc.” Ibn al Qayyim| Al Ahkaam Ahl Al Dimmah (1/441)

We worship God, not Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Taymiyyah (who are the main inspiration for today’s Wahhabis). To Wahhabis, non-Muslims are not really humans, so all of our interactions with them should be done through the lens of power and politics. Any kindness shown to non-Muslims (and to Muslims who disagree with Wahhabism) is a way of “supporting the enemy”.

Thankfully only a tiny minority of Muslims follow that way of thinking. The way of thinking of ordinary Muslims, who number in the hundreds of millions, is that all humans are worthy, and that it is perfectly possible to have a close relationship with a non-Muslim. We are humans guided by Islam, we are not robots programmed to view everything through some dim-witted and hateful ideology that considers all humans enemies until proven otherwise.

Wishing a Christian a merry Christmas is a way of saying that despite our differences, we recognize worth in these people and wish that they have a good time. This is of course unacceptable to Wahhabis, since to them Christians are “infidels” who are worthless. Wahhabis, exactly like Marxists, neo-Marxists and radical feminists, do not believe in the transcendent worth of human life, to them if you disagree with them, you are a non-human who deserves to die. I explain this in detail in my essay The Psychology of Radical Leftists: GamerGate, SJWs and the War on Post-Modernism.

As for those of us with some common sense and conscience, we read the Quran and are guided by its ethics, and we see that it leaves the door wide open for us to act according to the intellect and conscience in most scenarios, so that we have a million choices in how we interact with non-Muslims as long as no evil is involved.

So the difference is not about whether we follow Islam or not. It is about whether we see the world through the lens of a rigid and inhuman ideology that has zero empathy for fellow humans, or through a Quran-guided humanism that is kind and understanding toward everyone. I do not go out of my way to say “merry Christmas”, but if a situation requires it, then I have no problem with saying it. It is a very small act of respect that barely matters in the big scheme of things–if you have an intelligent understanding of Islam.

As for a Wahhabi, being a normal human with common sense and conscience is unacceptable, since one is instead always required to follow the Wahhabi party line on everything (the same is expected of Marxists and neo-Marxists).

To me and many other Muslims the acceptability of saying “merry Christmas” when needed is so obvious as to not be worth talking about. If the Quran allows it, if there is no clear command of the Prophet ﷺ forbidding it, and if my intellect and conscience have no problem with it, then it is not your business or the business of any cleric to tell me I cannot say it.

Question from a reader:

is it fine if muslims give christmas presents to christian friends with the intention of giving them a little treat of kindness (not exchanging gifts)?

According to Dr. Abdul Sattar Fathullah Saeed (professor of tafseer and the Quranic sciences at al-Azhar University) it is acceptable to give presents when congratulating Christians on their holidays, since there is nothing in the Islamic texts to prohibit this.

What is prohibited is taking part in the celebrations as if you yourself are a Christian, such as attending church on Christmas Eve.

Source: Islamonline.net

Question from a reader:

I don't want to come of as rude but wishing someone a merry Christmas while knowing its based on a pagan belief that has been bent to fit the Christian standards as a Muslim that knows that its illogical to say them to have a lot of fun sinning.If someone tells you happy holidays and you reply with you too or something is another thing. But in my opinion you shouldn't start it. Not congratulating a celebration we don't celebrate isn't rude. Its not our religion,so we should act as every other day

It very much depends on context. A Muslim convert to Islam who still lives with his or her non-Muslim family can set a good tone on Christmas day by saying “merry Christmas” to his/her family. There are circumstances where a Muslim is moved by some feeling to say “merry Christmas” to a non-Muslim, Wahhabis will say that is a sin since to them the personal is always political, I am saying that it is not a sin and that it is a matter of personal choice.

If for you it would be strange to say “merry Christmas” because you do not live in such a context, then it is perfectly fine for you not to say it. The point is that instead of holding to a rigid “it is haram” line, a Muslim can instead use their own judgment to decide if it is appropriate to say it.

I agree with you that in most cases a Muslim can simply say “you too” and that would be the end of it.