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Jews and Christians in the Qur'an

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Fethullah Gülen's Speeches and Interviews on Interfaith Dialogue

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Some assert that expressions in the Qur'an regarding Christianity and Judaism are very sharp. Great care should be taken when approaching this subject. There is a rule in tafsir (Qur'anic commentary): In order to conclude that a verse refers to a particular people, it must be established both clear and historically that the verse in question refers to them exclusively.

Approaching the matter from this angle, the verses condemning and rebuking the Jews and Christians are either about some Jews and Christians who lived in the time of the Prophet Muhammad or their own Prophets, such as Moses and Jesus, or those who deserved such condemnation because of their wrong beliefs or practices. For example, at the beginning of Surat al-Baqara, after praising the believers for some of their praiseworthy attributes and acts, the Qur'an says: Surely, the unbelievers: it is the same whether you warn them or not, they will not believe. God put a seal on their hearts and ears, and over their sight is a veil. For them is a mighty torment. (2:6) This verse is about, first of all, stubborn unbelievers who lived during the Prophet's lifetime and insisted on unbelief. The Prophet, the Companions, and the unbelievers themselves knew who was meant. In the second degree, it includes all unbelievers, regardless of time or place, who show the same type of resistance against the enlightening rays of the Qur'an. So, the sharp criticism of the Jews and Christians is, first of all, about those whom the relevant verses refer to directly, and others of the same attitude. It is not definite that they pertain to all Jews and Christians from that time until now.

Second, that style is due to the incorrect interpretation of Judaism and Christianity and its implementation in the lives of some self-proclaimed Jews and Christians. More precisely, that style was used in the Qur'an because they used religious thought and belief as a cause and material for hostility. Rather than individual Christian and Jews, the Qur'an goes after wrong behavior, incorrect thought, resistance to the truth, creation of hostility, and non-commendable characteristics. The Bible contains even stronger statements against the same attributes. Even if the expression seem sharp to some, immediately after appropriate warnings and threats come very gentle words to awaken hearts to the truth and to plant hope in them. In addition, the Qur'an's criticism and warning regarding some of these attitudes and behaviors of non-Muslims also were made about Muslims whose faith did not prevent them from engaging in the same behavior. Both the Companions and expounders of the Qur'an agree on this matter.

First of all, religions are meant to unite people separated by misunderstandings. Islam and Orthodox Christianity have many common aspects and few differences. Both believe in God, Prophets, angels, the afterlife, and holy books. All Muslims believe in Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Many moral and legal principles are the same. Thus, any conflict between these two religions is due to misunderstanding or exploitation for political or other purposes. The Qur'an states: Come, let's unite on a common word: worshipping God, not assign Him any partners. Abandoning Him, some of us should not make Lords some among us over others. In this call, a matter that causes division is mentioned and a warning is given: Don't leave God due to misunderstandings or other reasons, and be wary of those who use religion to divide people. When there are hundreds of common bridges between us, it is a mistake to emphasize a few differences. When people really understand such things, Islam and Orthodox Christianity will contribute positively to relations between these two countries. 05/24-25/1996