Dear Muslim Readers,
Some of you may be asking the question, “Are you trying to convert Muslims into “Christians” through this blog?” (That is, “Are you trying to convert me?”)
Now that is a big question. No, that is a HUGE question and a very legitmate one!
Let me answer your question beginning with a question of my own:
What does the word “Christian” mean to you as a Muslim?
I know that to some Muslims around the world, the words “Christian” or “Christianity” can mean a lot of things. Things such as words from the list below:
American television preachers who blindly and unconditionally support Israel at the expense of the Palestinians
American foreign policy
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Movies that blaspheme Muhammad or the Qur’an.
If the list above comes to your mind when you hear the words “Christian” or “Christianity,” we have a lot of misunderstandings to clear up – a lot of misunderstandings. (Maybe we can’t clear up these misunderstandings. Maybe we have to use different terms.)
But. . .back to the original question: “Am I trying to convert Muslims into “Christians”? If you define “Christian” and “Christianity” by the list above, the answer is an emphatic and unequivocal “NO!”
What I do want for you – my Muslim reader – is what I want for everyone (I truly mean EVERYONE). I want every person walking on the earth to follow Jesus. Much more importantly, that is what Jesus wants. That is what he said over and over as he walked the earth.
I may get in trouble with some of my non-Muslim readers, but let me make a strong statement to you – my Muslim readers – here:
I don’t see anywhere in the words of Jesus in the Injeel – in the New Testament of the Bible – that you have to be or become a “Christian” to go to Heaven (Paradise). What I do see very clearly and very strongly in Jesus’ words is that you have to follow him. You have to give him your life – completely, unreservedly, wholeheartedly. You have to love him more than any person, goal, or dream.
You have to believe in him (his uniqueness) and his sacrifice for your sins (his work on your behalf).
“. . .unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24 in the Injeel)
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9 in the Injeel)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 in the Injeel)
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26 in the Injeel)
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 in the Injeel)
I believe with all my heart that your relationship – or lack of relationship – with Jesus will determine your eternal destiny.
So no, I am not trying to convert you to a religion.
I just want for you what I want for myself. What I want for everyone.
I just want you to follow Jesus so you can be changed from the inside out by Jesus himself living in you instead from the outside in by trying to perfectly obey endless rules and rituals (something none of us can do).
I want you to follow Jesus so you can be forgiven of all your sins.
So you won’t have to fear Hellfire.
So you can live with Jesus forever in Heaven.
It’s not about conversion to a religion.
Not at all. That’s not what this blog is about. It’s not what I am about.
It’s about Jesus.
Just. . .following. . .Jesus.
Hey Mark! I like this blog. It is so crucial to differentiate between Jesus and Christianity. You did a good job. One thing I would have added: by calling “Christians” to love Muslims I believe you are trying to convert Christians into true followers of Jesus! Right?
How I thank you for reading and responding! I look up to you as a peacemaker between Muslims and Christians and your opinion matters a great deal to me.
I want to promote your website and blog here for both Muslims and Christians: http://ricklove.net/?page_id=2.
Yes, I want so called “Christians” to be true followers of Jesus!!! Like all of us, they need to hear Jesus’ call to full commitment of their lives vs. being simply religious. The label doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. It is the heart. God knows those who are His.
hii my friend mark all the thing that you write its amazing like your smiling i still pray fore the god to meet you another time because one person like you he should be become the king of the world because if we found that king in the world be-lave me no problem no war only peace and love and freedom
best regarding to you
your brother ameen
Ameen – habibi – what a joy and a surprise to hear from you! I too pray for another time to meet in Palestine!
Ameen, if you saw something in my smile, it was just Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (Injeel, Good News of John, chapter 8, verse 12). It is all my hope and prayer that he shines through me to everyone I see and meet.
King of the world?! Only Jesus can be the Malek of the world because he is the only sinless man who ever lived. Both the Quran (Surat Maryam, 19:19) and the Bible (Hebrews 4:15) say this.
“. . .we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15)
He alone can bring the peace and freedom your land of Palestine needs so desperately. Come quickly, King Jesus!
I ran across this last week – along the theme of your post:
“The most interesting thing about the Great Commission is that it does not command us to make converts to Christianity. Instead, we are to make disciples of Jesus. The difference between convert making and disciple making is crucial. Converts change religions. Disciples change masters. Converts follow a system. Disciples follow a Person. Converts build Christendom. Disciples build the Kingdom of God. Converts embrace rituals. Disciples embrace a way of life.”
Wow, great quote by this guy, Joey Shaw.
I don’t want Muslims – or anyone else – to think I am trying to get them to “change religions.” That is not the heart of the issue! No, I am simply striving to see people everywhere – including so called “Christians” – embrace Jesus as master of their lives. That is his clear teaching. I hope it will be mine.
I am a Muslim
If it is not about conversion—then you can celebrate because Muslims believe we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ (pbuh)—in fact we follow his teachings better than Christians do.
Forgiveness of Sins—Muslims don’t need Jesus Christ(pbuh) for that—the Quran says God forgives the sins of those who ask for forgiveness—it is as simple as that.
To strive against injustice, inequality, poverty, oppression and to strive for compassion, mercy, tolerance and happiness are the teachings of both jesus Christ(pbuh) and the Quran.
So do you follow his teachings….or do you follow Church dogma?
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
First of all, thanks so much for reading! I am thrilled that you did. (By the way, how did you find my blog?)
Second, I won’t try to compete with you or any Muslim over who follows Jesus’ teachings better. I don’t think that will benefit either of us. I can say that I know that I fail in following Jesus’ teachings every day. But please allow me to ask, for you as a Muslim, where exactly do you find Jesus’ teachings? That is, what is your chief source for them?
I know Jesus is mentioned prominently in the Qur’an (over 90 verses I believe), but how many of those verses are supposed to be his actual words or teachings as opposed to things he did or what Allah said about him? My main point here is that if we are to follow Jesus’ teachings – whether we call ourselves Muslims or Christians or followers of Jesus (a term I prefer) – we have to have a source for those teachings. We have to have a record, a text. You say that “To strive against injustice, inequality, poverty, oppression and to strive for compassion, mercy, tolerance and happiness are the teachings of both jesus Christ(pbuh) and the Quran.” Can you give specific examples of these teachings – where they are found? And what would be your favorite teaching of Jesus?
Third (I am not trying to give you a hard time at all), but where does it say in the Qur’an that one receives forgiveness of sins by simply asking? Don’t you need to live out the 5 pillars, follow the example of Muhammad, etc.? Won’t Paradise depend on good works, the scale, and the final decision of Allah (as opposed to simply asking for forgiveness)?
I know this is a lot to think about but I hope you will take it in the spirit I intend it – one of respect.
And. . .I hope you will come back to this blog and respond! I welcome you here! My prayer is that we can have sincere dialogue and ask each other serious questions. . .and also remain kind, humble, and honest.
God bless you!
Dear “I am Muslim,”
You are correct that many Christians do not follow Jesus teaching as we should. But each day I wake up and I ask Jesus to help me live as He would and love others as he did. On my own I cannot but through His teaching and help I can. I fail daily but at the end of the day I know I can run to him and that I am loved. I wake up each day knowing He will continue to love and help me succeed in being His disciple.
May God help you to find the straight path.
I cannot answer for “I am Muslim,” but I really appreciate your loving and kind words to him/her. This blog is about love – hence the name of it. That does not mean we cannot ask some hard questions of each other. We just need to follow the command of 1 Peter 3:15 – to do it with gentleness and respect!
I LOVE this blog. It’s so well written and right on! Seriously, let’s just lift up the name of Jesus and let him do the rest!
I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to read it and respond. Your encouragement means the world to me. Your love for Muslim people inspires me greatly.
I want to promote your blog here: http://www.carlmedearis.com/blog/. I hope people will check it out.
Lifting up Jesus and letting him do the rest: yes, I am trying to learn that and you have been one of my teachers.
I found your blog by accident—I had actually been about to shut my computer.
………didn’t think I would be back—it was so random—but found your blog again today.
Teachings of Jesus Christ (pbuh)—-I find them in the Quran. The arabic word “muslim’ means “one who submits” and we Muslims believe Jesus Christ (pbuh) was a “muslim” as in “one who submits to God”.
One God—As Muslims we believe there is only ONE God in existence and all humanity worships this ONE God irrespective of what we call God in our languages or how our cultural concepts of God might differ. Therefore, the ONE God that Jesus Christ (pbuh) worshiped is the same God that gave his teaching to the 7th century Arabs.
Quran quotes—It is a bit late—and I actually wasn’t expecting to find your blog. If it is ok, I will give you quotes the next time I find your blog—— quotes about compassion, tolerance justice….etc as well as about God forgiving sins.
5 pillars—are about spiritual progress, for example, once a year, for a month, Muslims fast. This process cleanses for both the body (getting rid of toxins) and for the soul (getting rid of excess). The prayers are a time for reflection and to remember God so all our actions are good. Charity is to generate compassion, mercy and tolerance for others and complete our responsibilities towards the less fortunate and hajj brings us to the realization of the majesty of God and the Unity of humanity.
Forgiveness—for those who have fallen into error, and repent, God forgives because God is most compassionate most merciful.
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I am so glad you found this blog. . .and I don’t think it was by accident! One thing both Muslims and Christians believe is that God is in control. He rules. No accidents with Him in charge, right?!
Also, I agree with you that THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD! Yes, I believe that with all my heart. Check out these statements in the New Testament by both Jesus and the apostle Paul (martyr for Jesus) which we hold dear as followers of Jesus:
Mark 12:29-31 – “‘The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Romans 3:30 – “There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith. . .”
1 Corinthians 8:4 – “. . .we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God.”
1 Corinthians 8:6 – “But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him.”
1 Timothy 2:5 – “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus.”
—Forgiveness.(just one verse out of many)
Surah 39 verse 53
“Say: “O my servants who have transgressed against their souls,
despair not of the mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: for he is most forgiving, most merciful.
—-Justice (one of many)
Surah 16 verse 90
God commands justice, the doing of good, the giving to kith and kin, and he forbids all indecent deeds, and evil and rebellion: He instructs you that you may receive admonition.
Surah 90 (partial)
In the name of God most compassionate, most merciful.
….We created the human being into hardship(struggle)
does he think there is no power over him?
He says look at the wealth I have consumed
Does he think no one sees him?
Did we not endow him with eyes, lips and tongue?
and guide him to the two high paths?
and yet he did not climb the steep path.
What can you tell of the steep path?
to free a slave
to feed the destitute on a day of hunger
a kinsman, orphan, or a stranger out of luck in need.
be of those who keep the faith
who counsel to patience
who counsel to compassion
they are of the right
as for those who cast our signs away, they are of the left
over them a vault of fire.
What Jesus Christ (pbuh) said—
Surah 19 verses 30-32
He said “I am indeed a servant of God: He has given me revelation and made me a Prophet.”
“And he has made me blessed wherever I be, and has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live;”
“And (he has made me) kind to my mother, and not arrogant or miserable”
What I like—there are many passages of the Quran I like—but here is one that gives you hope in hard times—-
Surah 93 (partial)
In the name of God the most compassionate, the most merciful
By the morning hours
By the night when it is still
Your Lord has not abandoned you
and does not hate you
what is after will be better
then what came before
to you the Lord will be giving
you will be content
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
Thanks so much for taking the time to look up and share these verses that are meaningful to you. I really, really appreciate it. I especially like the verses from the Qur’an you mentioned about “hope in hard times”:
Surah 93 (partial)
In the name of God the most compassionate, the most merciful
By the morning hours
By the night when it is still
Your Lord has not abandoned you
and does not hate you
what is after will be better
then what came before
to you the Lord will be giving
you will be content
We have a similiar beautiful promise in the Bible about God’s loving care and constant presence:
Hebrews 13:5 – “God has said, ‘I will never leave you or abandon you.'”
can you match any of these verses with those from the Bible?
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I don’t find it helpful to try to “match” you verse for verse (though I will share some verses that are special to me below). Why? Because I don’t want this blog to be a competition between Muslims and Christians.
I don’t us to play the game, “My religion is better than your religion!” “My Book is better than your Book!”
I just think that type of back and forth fosters a spirit of pride and doesn’t really allow a genuine and respectful dialogue about truth as each of us understands it.
I want to build bridges – not walls!
But since you asked, I would like to share a few more verses from the Bible (Romans 8:38-39) about God’s unfathomable love as demonstrated by Jesus when he walked on planet earth:
“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Another version puts it this way:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Isn’t that powerful? What do you think? I recognized beauty in Sura 93. Do you recognize beauty in these Bible verses?
Again, I am not trying to compete with you. I just hope we can share what inspires us about God and what He means to us.
Though it was meant as a challenge—it was not intended as “mine is better than yours”—rather it was intended to bring out the wisdom of Jesus Christ (pbuh) from the Bible, in the same way I find his message in the Quran.
Dear Anonymous Muslim,
Thank you for your gracious response. And challenging me to “bring out the wisdom of Jesus Christ from the Bible” is much appreciated. Let us continue to dialogue!
Anonymous Muslim, I don’t recognize the sayings of Jesus you shared from the Quran, but the first one reminds me of some sayings recorded in the account written by his disciple, John. He recorded these sayings of Jesus:
“He who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
“I no longer call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know his master’s business. Instead I call you friends, because everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
It also has a lot in common with this prophetic passage from the Hebrew Scriptures, which Jesus quoted in reference to himself:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
Thank you for sharing those Quran passages. You are right; the last one is quite lovely and encouraging. I recognize in it the heart of God as I have experienced him through Jesus.
Martha, thanks for engaging in our dialogue with our Muslim friend! And for doing it in a kind and respectful manner.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. . .” (1 Peter 3:15)
Thankyou for your response. I can understand that the death/resurrection aspect is important for Christians—but for us Muslims, it is his life and teachings that are important.
I think it is in the Gospel of John (?) there is a story about a woman and stoning and how Jesus Christ(pbuh) stops it. Here Jesus Christ(pbuh) teaches about compassion and mercy—but also about empathy—he puts them in the place of the woman who has sinned by reminding them of their sins. The essence of empathy is to recognize the humanity of the other. That “us” and “them” are the same human beings. (Unity of Humanity) By doing this, Jesus Christ (pbuh) saved the souls of the accusers from hate and by turning them towards compassion and mercy, he strengthened their souls towards love and thus towards God.
Islam also teaches this idea of Unity. We are all equal creations of God most compassionate, most merciful and when we understand this and learn to respect the humanity in others—by treating each other with love, compassion and mercy—we can come closer to achieving peace (salam/shalom) in the world. (Tawheed=Unity, Shirk=Division)
To me, it is not his death, but the wisdom and deep spirituality in his teachings that are important.
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I continue to appreciate your comments on this blog. Thank you so much!
Yes, you mentioned the incredible story about the woman caught in adultery in the Injeel. It is found in The Gospel (the Good News) of John, Chapter 8-11. Here it is:
“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?’ They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.'”
I love what you said: there is really no “us” and “them.” We are, as you say, “the same human beings.” We have a verse like this (Romans 3:23):
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
You are right. Jesus helped the woman’s accusers see this. They were sinners too (he probably wrote their sins on the dust of the ground) – just like us – and in need of the same mercy!
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I wanted to add a comment about what you said in the beginning and end of your last response about Jesus:
“To me, it is not his death, but the wisdom and deep spirituality in his teachings that are important.”
Please let me respond to that with one key verse and then a series of teachings in the Bible. Each of them are major, major tenets.
Here is the critical, essential verse about forgiveness:
“. . .WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS OF SINS” (Hebrews 9:22).
Here are the sequential flow of principles in the Bible related to how we can be forgiven by God of our sins and be with Him for eternity in Heaven:
#1) GOD IS HOLY – He is totally without sin in His thoughts or actions.
#2) SIN IS SERIOUS TO GOD – it offends Him greatly (beyond our comprehension, beyond our imagination).
#3) GOD CANNOT ALLOW SIN IN HEAVEN (IN HIS PRESENCE) – He is too holy to have something so repulsive there.
#4) FOR SIN TO BE FORGIVEN, THERE HAS TO BE A SACRIFICE – someone has to pay for sin through their death (that is how serious, repugnant, and repulsive sin is to God). This is the punishment decreed by God, the Judge. This is the justice He requires.
#5) GOD IS NOT ONLY HOLY, HE IS EQUALLY LOVING – He desires that all people repent, that all go to Heaven to be with Him for eternity! He does not want anyone to go to the Hellfire! His love for us is also beyond our comprehension, beyond our imagination.
#6) TO SATISFY BOTH HIS HOLY JUSTICE & HIS LOVE, GOD SENT JESUS TO BE THE SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS – Jesus voluntarily gave up his life for each and every sinner who has ever lived. He took their sins upon himself, paid their debt to God, and satisfied God’s wrath and hatred for sin through the shedding of his precious blood.
#7) GOD INVITES US TO ACCEPT THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS IN OUR PLACE (BY FAITH) AND FOLLOW HIM (IN GRATITUDE) – God knows that none of us can obey all His righteous commands. None of us can live a perfect, sinless life. None of us can be good enough to go to heaven on our own. We have to have a way to be cleansed. To be made totally clean before God – every sin washed away. We have to have a way to be rescued from the penalty of our sins – the hellfire. That is what the death of Jesus accomplished for those who accept it, repent of their sins, and follow him with their whole hearts. Complete cleansing. Complete deliverance from hell. Welcome access to heaven.
Yes, my friend, the life of Jesus – as you rightly said – exhibited “wisdom and deep spirituality.”
But it was his death that exhibited his unfathomable love for us and made the only way for us to be totally forgiven.
Thankyou for outlining your beliefs—there are so many types of Christianities—it can get a little confusing.
As mentioned before—for us Muslims, forgiveness by God is a pretty simple matter, we just ask for it and He, who is most compassionate, most merciful—forgives us.
As to your points—-here is the Muslim perspective…..
#1–God is beyond “is” and “is not”.
Muslims do not define God as doing so is to limit “God”. That is why we have the 99 names of God.
#2–Sin (mistakes) is a learning process in life and as we exercise our free-will, we will occasionally fall into error . The important thing is to strive to be better (Jihad)
#3–free-will is a responsibility only in our life on earth. We determine our destination of paradise or hell through our choices—so there is no sin in paradise anyway………..
#4–For sin to be forgiven only repentance and reform are necessary—God is most compassionate, most merciful.
#5—God, most compassionate, most merciful, is also most just and those who refuse repentance and reform must be held accountable for the damage and destruction their actions have caused to others. Free-will is not just a right but a responsibility and comes with the burden of accountability. Those who have striven to be better (Jihad) to promote right belief that leads to right intentions that produces right actions for the benefit of all of God’s creations are the ones who love / “worship” God.
#6—God sent Guidance and wisdom teachers / messengers to all of humanity throughout time for the benefit of humanity.
#7.—God created us inherently good with a predisposition towards Tawheed (Shema=Judaism) so that we are capable of fulfilling his purpose for us, that of being a Khalifa (Trustee) on earth—-God’s will=Right belief that promotes right intentions that lead to right actions for the benefit of all of God’s creations.
For us Muslims—what is important is what we (humanity) can do for God—because what God does for humanity is so self-evident………………
Dear Anonymous Muslim Friend,
I greatly appeciate your thorough answer to each of my 7 points about sin, judgment, and forgiveness. And I appreciate the courteous nature of your discourse. I hope my responses always come across to you in the respectful manner that I intend!
One thing that immediately stands out to me is our difference on what “sin” is (point #2). You define sin as “mistakes” whereby a person merely “falls into error.”
The Bible agrees with you. . .but only to a certain extent. There are several words in the Bible from the original languages that are translated as “sin” in English. One such word in Hebrew and one such word in Greek are very similar to what you have expressed. They mean “to make a mistake, to miss the mark, to err in ignorance.”
But other words in the original languages of the Bible – translated as “sin,” “iniquity,” “offense,” “transgression,” etc. in English – have a much more serious definition:
to break away (from just authority)
stepping over a known boundary; disregarding, violating the law; the breach of a definite, ratified law
something that is morally wrong
that which is evil, wicked
being perverse, crooked or twisted
hostililty toward God
Don’t these words for sin sound extremely serious? Don’t they speak of actions – or attitudes – that might greatly offend a holy God and require His justice and wrath to be satisfied?
R.C. Sproul writes,
“In the least transgression I set myself above the authority of God, doing insult to His majesty, His holiness,and His sovereign right to govern me. Sin is a revolutionary act in which the sinner seeks to depose God from His throne. Sin is a presumption of supreme arrogance in that the creature vaunts his own wisdom above that of the Creator, challenges divine omnipotence with human impotence, and seeks to usurp the rightful authority of the cosmic Lord.”
I have to respectfully ask. . .“If sin is merely a “mistake” that we can – kind of innocently – “fall into,” why would Allah send a person to the Hellfire?”
“Why such a devastating punishment just for “mistakes”?
What do you think?
Thankyou for your explanations of the Christian concept of sin. It was very interesting reading….and thankyou also for asking such an interesting question!!
Sin—I do not find as much difference in the definition of sin between our faiths—only the emphasis is different.
there are different types of sin(mistakes) mentioned in the Quran for example—
Kaffir—one who rejects belief (after knowing it) out of ungratefulness
Munafiqueen—one who says he believes but only follows (intentions/actions) when convenient—-a hypocrite
Mushrikeen—one who follows polytheism (they may be ignorant of monotheism)
Fasiq—one who breaks the law (sharia)
Shirk(Division)—Dividing the Unity of God.
injustice, oppression, killing, causing harm on earth, ….and so on………….
There are 2 parts to sin (mistake)…1) intention 2) action.
a) to have malicious intentions that result in harmful actions/consequences
b) to have malicious intentions that result in good actions/consequences
c) to have good intentions that result in harmful actions/consequences
In Divine justice, the intention behind the action is important in judging its degree.
In human justice, it is the action that is the criteria for judgement because the intentions cannot be seen—only speculated upon.
Also—human will is limited—and human beings have different degrees of (God-given) free-will depending on circumstances. For example, in some circumstances in our lives—we have many choices but in other circumstances our choices our constrained. The degree of free-will determines the degree of accountability. Our degree of free-will is determined by God and may fluctuate during our lifespan.
In our lifespan on earth, both blessings and trails are a test. We may fail the test now and then,—- if we realize our mistakes and repent, God is most forgiving most merciful—but if we persist in our mistakes knowingly and maliciously—then justice will be done.
Why hell?—because deliberate and unrepentant “wrongdoing” not only harms our souls (makes them rotten) but it also causes harm to others (God’s creations) and so the wrongdoer must be held accountable for the harm caused to himself and others. Justice requires it.
Very, very informative! What are you – an imam? A sheikh?
We definitely have some beliefs in common. Great bridges for quality conversation about faith issues.
I will have to study more about “intentions” from a Biblical view. I hear my Muslim friends and Muslim speakers in the mosque refer to it quite a lot. No doubt, God looks upon the heart:
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 in the Bible).
Regarding Hell, do you believe most people will spend at least some amount of time there but that many will receive mercy from Allah and will ultimately be released and enter into Paradise? If so, may I ask, do you yourself fear Hell?
Yr question—-God, most compassionate, most merciful has created us (all humanity) capable of achieving paradise. Yet, some of us will rebel against this capacity of inherent /natural goodness that God has created us with and insist on wrongdoing—such humanity must be held accountable.
However, the Quran is very clear that it is not upto humanity to decide who goes where at Judgement—this is a sole and exclusive responsibility of God. Any assumptions on these matters are only speculation…..for God knows best.
My speculations—I feel that “time” in the Quran is not “earth-based”—that is, it is not always related to our experience or measure of time as we understand it living on earth. The Quran uses 2 (vague) measures of (non-earth) time—1) a fixed period of time as God wills (Youm) and 2) a long period of time as God wills.
Our souls will “reside” in hell or paradise for a long period of time as God wills and our final destination (and that of all creation) is to God.
fear hell ?—Yes I do….yet, I also have a strong trust in God’s compassion and mercy. However, I hope to achieve a higher level of spirituality someday—here is a poem that reflects that hope—–it is by Rabia al Basri (a sufi)
if I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell!
If I adore you out of desire for Paradise,
Lock me out of Paradise.
But if I adore you for Yourself alone,
Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.
I sincerely hope when I express what I believe the Bible teaches that you will not think I am entering into a cold debate of theological views. That I am trying to “win” an argument or “beat” you. I just want to make sure that you – and any of my readers – know what the position of the Bible is on such vital, crucial, eternal matters such as forgiveness, heaven, and hell. And I hope you feel the same way. I just want to hear what you believe from a Muslim perspective. And I want you to hear what I believe from a Biblical perspective (as best I understand it).
Having said this, may I express a difference regarding your statement, “the Quran is very clear that it is not up to humanity to decide who goes where at Judgment — this is a sole and exclusive responsibility of God.” The Bible leaves ultimate Judgment to God also. He is “sovereign” in all things, including salvation. As the Prophet Jonah said, “salvation comes from the Lord alone” (Jonah 2:9).
However. . .the Bible over and over again calls on humans to make a genuine decision regarding their salvation through Jesus – a decision which God promises to honor!
The Bible does not say exactly how God can be totally sovereign in the eternal destiny of humans and also how humans must make a decision to repent and follow Jesus to experience Paradise. It is a mystery. What we do know is that:
“. . .he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
and that. . .
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
Therefore. . .I don’t believe you. . .or anyone. . .needs to fear hell – not even for a second. God has provided a way of assurance. Confidence, but not self-confidence. No, confidence in a completely dependable bridge – Jesus – that will carry you safely across the chasm between sinful humanity and the one and only holy God on the Day of Judgment.
Finally, the Sufi poem is quite amazing. Thank you for it. Are you a Sufi? I would definitely like to learn more about the Sufi faith and practices. They seem to have an incredible desire to experience God – not just know intellectual facts about Him.
RC Sproul—-“In the least transgression I set myself above the authority of God”.
It is a strange notion that any creation can be above God—-however, if the idea here is re-interpreted that human beings can rebel against God’s will then this would be somewhat correct—however, this authority to rebel (limited free-will) IS God-given. God could have created us without free-will if he so chose……..
(God’s will = right belief (Tawheed/Unity) that promotes right intentions (Taqwa/love of God) that leads to right actions (Ibadah/worship) for the benefit of all of God’s creations.)
Therefore rebellion consists of wrong belief (Shirk/division) promoting wrong intentions that lead to wrong actions to the detriment/harm of God’s creations.
Since I am unaware of how much you know about Islamic “salvation” I have tried to simplify—if I have been unclear, please ask questions……………….
Sproul doesn’t mean that any human can be above God in reality. No way. He just means that our rebellious hearts can resist his rightful rule over us by the sinful choices that we make.
Regarding salvation, I believe there are really only 2 religious belief systems in the world. Sounds crazy, right? No, I believe there are just 2.
In the first religious belief system, we can use the illustration of a ladder extending from earth to Heaven. Humanity attempts to “climb the ladder” to Heaven by right beliefs, good intentions, obedience to all kinds of rules, and the faithful practice of all kinds of endless rituals. The adherent of this system believes if he/she can just do enough, he/she can tip the divine scales and God will let them into Heaven. This religious system is called “good works.” They might call themselves “Buddhists” (using the 8-fold path of enlightenment) or “Hindus” (reincarnation – coming back over an over again in some form to finally achieve oneness with the One), or something else. They might even call themselves “Muslims” (5 pillars, etc.) or “Christians” (going faithfully to “church,” practicing the “Golden Rule,” singing in the choir, knowing the Bible). The question about all of these people is, “What – or who – are they counting on to gain Paradise?” Essentially, if they are trying to “climb the ladder by their good deeds, they are counting upon themselves. They are counting on their own righteousness.
In the second religious belief system, we can also use the illustration of a ladder between earth and Heaven. But in this faith system, God in Heaven looks down upon humanity and sees that they cannot “climb the ladder” and get to Him. No one can. All are helpless, all are hoplessly lost, and all are in need of rescue. So. . .God – purely because of His great love – comes down the ladder by/through sending Jesus. Jesus – spotless and sinless – takes upon himself the sins and resulting punishment for the whole world. But there is a big IF. Mankind must believe in Jesus – who he is and what he has done – and follow him to the end. This religious system is not called “Christianity.” It is called “grace.” Grace is simply a gift that cannot be earned. In this case it is the gift of righteousness before God and the resulting gift of Heaven.
2 religious systems: good works and grace.
What do you think?!
The Quran is highly nuanced and sophisticated and most of its concepts do not fit into a neatly drawn either/or, black/white type of dichotomy.
Both good works and grace play a part in attaining Paradise. Human beings are empowered by God, through his gift of (limited) free-will to “own” our choices—and therefore be held accountable. Repentence/reform is also a choice and opens the way for God’s mercy and compassion. God forgives whom he pleases.
“God puts into hellfire only those who refuse to go anywhere else”—Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)
to use your metaphor of a boat and the sea—the Islamic understanding would be that God has provided safe-passage for all of humanity—but some will refuse to take it and instead, foolishly, jump into the sea……………..
Good works & grace. What a topic!
The Bible teaches that we are saved from our sins by grace alone but. . .the grace that saves is not alone.
That is, a person who is truly saved will have a changed heart that will naturally do good works. Good works will follow their decision to follow Jesus because of a heart of gratitude for his indescribable gift.
Finally, the Bible teaches that we are all in the same “sea.” We are all drowning helplessly and hopelessly in our sins. Jesus is reaching out his hand to save us but we must take his outstretched hand of mercy. His voice of compassion is crying out to us!
my definition of “grace” = unmerited mercy.
what this means is that God’s Justice is tempered with Compassion and Mercy.
I have heard “mercy” descibed as God not giving us what we deserve: hellfire.
I have heard “grace” described as God giving us what we don’t deserve: heaven.
Thankyou for your explanations on Christian doctrine—they were very informative.
……..But I find Christian Salvation intellectually unappealing.
Repentence—It is not a mystery to me. Our limited free-will is God-given. The purpose of it is to do God’s will (God’s will = Right belief that promotes right intentions that lead to right actions for the benefit of all of God’s creation—-the concept is called “Khalifa” in the Quran) In order that human beings can accomplish this responsiblity, God allocates limited authority (free-will) to humanity. But with this also comes accountability. The Quran says that God does not change the condition of a people unless they first change what is in themselves (Quran 13:11)—this is the responsibility that comes with the gift of free-will (liberty).
If God were to take away our free-will after having given it—it would be an oppression and oppression is injustice. God is not unjust.
Hell—Justice demands accountability—without it—it is NOT Justice—in other words, Hell exists for a reason as does Paradise.
If all of the undeserving go to Paradise—it is not Justice.
If all humanity deserves hell—then there is no need for Justice or Paradise.
—–Without accountability—there is NO Justice.
Grace—Can be understood within the framework of Justice—that is, Justice that is tempered with Compassion and Mercy—or it can be abused…that is—those who are undeserving will achieve paradise because of some arbitrary and or mysterious “process”.—-That is INJUSTICE.
therefore—the Christian concept of salvation is unjust.
“Christian concept of salvation is unjust.”—I might be misunderstood—this was meant as an invitation to explore christian salvation—and not ‘mine is better than yours’ type of statement………………….
I am sorry you find Christian salvation “intellectually unappealing.” That may be partially my fault as a sometimes very poor messenger of the Gospel (Good News). No doubt I am not too much of an intellectual!
I guess I am like the blind man in the Injeel that Jesus healed. He did not have a brilliant explanation about why he believed in Jesus. He simply said:
“. . .one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (The Injeel, the Good News of John, chapter 9, verse 25)
Your response is interesting—did you not previously state that the intellectual faculties must be used in faith?—Are you now saying that there are some things in Christianity that cannot be understood and therefore must be taken “in blind faith”?
I will answer with 2 sayings of Jesus – Isa Al Masih:
“. . .you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your MIND, and all your strength.” (The Injeel, The Good News of Mark, chapter 12, verse 30)
Loving God with our intellect is an essential part of our worship of Him as He deserves.
But there are some things about God and His ways that we will never understand in this world. Our brains are way too small. At those times – with good reason – we must choose to trust God. Based on what we do know about Him, this is not “blind faith” at all. Is is simply. . .faith. Trust. Like a child trusting a parent.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” (The Injeel, The Good News of Mark, chapter 10, verses 13-16).
Thankyou once again for an interesting explanation.
I agree that there are many things that humanity cannot fathom.
Children trust parents as a default—that is, parents nurture them, protect them, care for them….unless the parent does something to break that trust, it will continue. In other words, though trust starts off as a default—it is ultimately earned.
Since religion (Guidance) is for mankind—it must make sense—it is of no use if it goes against the intellect.
Words can say anything—both truth and falsehood are said in words.
Friend, does everything about your faith – Islam – make sense to you intellectually? Every single thing? Where does faith come in?
The child we both used as an example does not intellectually understand everything about their father or mother. How could they? Their little brains cannot comprehend so many things: why their parents tell them to do or not do certain things. Likewise, our litte brains – our intellects – cannot comprehend the majesty of God. Some things about Who He is are not gained through our intellects – through reason. They are gained through revelation to our spirits. Sometimes our brains catch up to those revelations and sometimes they don’t.
The Prophet Jesus spoke of this more than once. Here is one instance after he had sent out 72 followers to preach his message to people in Palestine with authority over Iblis – over Shaytan. Please notice what Jesus said about the need for revelation from God (i.e. knowledge we cannot gain with our intellects):
“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’
He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.'”
(The Injeel, the Good News of Luke, chapter 10, verses 17-23)
By the way—I am not a sufi—I am a mainstream, average Muslim. I am incapable of achieving the level of spirituality of the mystic sufi’s but God willing, I hope to improve——Inshallah.