Falling Awake

Just Darts Since 2009

Islam and the “People of the Book”

Robert Spencer’s latest “Blogging the Qur’an” post went up Sunday.  He continues his discussion of Sura 2 with verses 40-75.

These verses are important to understand because they include a verse often cited by people who claim that Islam is very tolerant of the “People of the Book:”

Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:62)

Spencer’s commentary makes it clear that, however Mohammed meant these words, they have historically been interpreted to mean that those Christians and Jews who convert to Islam have no reason to fear:

It may seem jarring that immediately following this comes one of the Qur’an’s “tolerance verses,” verse 62, which seems to promise a place in Paradise to “those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians.” Muhammad Asad exults: “With a breadth of vision unparalleled in any other religious faith, the idea of ‘salvation’ is here made conditional upon three elements only: belief in God, belief in the Day of Judgment, and righteous action in life.” Not, apparently, acceptance of Islam. But he contradicts himself by adding “in this divine writ” after the words “those who have attained to faith” in his translation of verse 62 – that is, to be saved, one must believe in the Qur’an as well as the earlier revelations. And indeed, Muslim commentators are not inclined to see this as an indication of divine pluralism. The translators Ali and Pickthall, as well as Asad, all feel it necessary to add parenthetical glosses that make the passage mean that Jews and Christians (as well as Sabians, whose identity is disputed) will be saved only if they become Muslims. And according to Ibn Abbas, this verse was abrogated by Qur’an 3:85: “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).” Qutb opines that 2:62 applied only before Muhammad brought Islam to the world, a view supported by a saying of Muhammad recorded by Tabari, in which the Prophet of Islam says that Christians who died before his coming will be saved, but those who have heard of him and yet rejected his prophetic claim will not be.

There’s more to Spencer’s post, including the origin of the reference to the Jews as “decendents of apes and pigs.”

Here’s the kind of Christian that need not fear the wrath of Islam, from the Seattle Times:

I am both Muslim and Christian

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she’s Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she’s ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she’s also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

Her announcement has provoked surprise and bewilderment in many, raising an obvious question: How can someone be both a Christian and a Muslim?

A good question, seeing as Christianity requires one to believe that Jesus “…was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures…”  (From the Nicene Creed.)  Whereas Mohammed taught that, “[The Jews] said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah”; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.” (Qur’an Sura 4: 157)

Those two beliefs are hard to reconcile, no?

Sadly, not only does this Episcopalian priest have a tenuous grasp of theology,  but her bishop is of no help to her, or to the faithful who look to him for guidance:

Officials at the national Episcopal Church headquarters said they are not aware of any other instance in which a priest has also been a believer in another faith. They said it’s up to the local bishop to decide whether such a priest could continue in that role.

Redding’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting.

Which just goes to show that without a central teaching authority, there can be no unity of faith.


2 responses to “Islam and the “People of the Book”

  1. allat June 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Well, let’s get down to the nittus grittus.

    This woman is black, it’s obvious the history of slavery, effects her deeply, it’s been internalized, and resently of the AMerican society has surfaced.

    She looks back at Africa – at the past with regret – and would rather be African moslem than christian.

    It’s unfortunate, because:

    -as they say “You can’t go ‘home’ again.” A few American Blacks have traced their ancestry, and tried to go back to Africa and live there, but cannot. For various reasons.

    – the American society today, is NOT responsible for what happened in the past.
    -the Americans today, are themselves DESCENDANTS of abused peoples – bond slaves or peasant farmers under the boot of TPTB.
    -the Black Africans were enslaved by the Arab islamics – THEN and NOW.
    ONE CANNOT HAVE TWO MASTERS. The religions islam and christianity are NOT compatible. christianity according to the New Testament, has the philosophy of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and love. islam according to the koran, is for hatred, violence and killing.

    The woman is terribly confused.

    I hope for her sake, her own well being, love wins out.

  2. Pingback: An update on the Muslim Episcopalian priest « Falling Awake

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