The Quran is often symbolized as a Book of preaching love, tolerance, and peace, particularly among the Islamic believers. However, issues of the attitude of the Quran towards the People of the Book should be addressed to enable peaceful coexistence. Although there are similarities between the books mentioned in Quran and the scriptures of the Jews or Christians, there are distinctions in theology between the Quran and the Bible, which have led to controversy over scriptural identity between Christianity and Islam. Muslims have received a certain level of rejection from the people of the book due to their teachings that create a spotlight on the Quran as the primary reference book. Such consideration has enabled the development of misunderstanding between the People of the Book and the Quran adherents. Nevertheless, the perception of the Muslims towards the Jews and Christians is quite welcoming and forbearing. This essay seeks to shed light on the attitude of the Quran towards People of the Book.
The attitude of Quran towards the People of the Book can be traced to the birth of Islam. During the period, Islam was regarded as a young religion with the simple minority who were dedicated to protecting their faith. Muslims experienced various difficulties, torture, and oppression in advocating for their religion, especially from the pagans living in the present-day city of Mecca. For example, some of the Muslims that fled Mecca heeded to the advice of Prophet Muhammad to take refuge in Ethiopia, which was ruled by a Christian king. The values embraced by King Negus of Ethiopia were based on the Christian values of modesty, mercy, and compassion among other allowing Muslims to live freely as pointed out in the Quran. In the Quran, Islam believers will move from their regions of persecution and find affectionate people who will welcome them not for their ignorance, but the love, tolerance, and peace showed by their monks and prinks. Such a description depicts on the reception of the Islam believers in Ethiopia by King Negus after running from the struggles and harshness in Mecca, that is; .you will find the people most affectionate to those who believe are those who say, 'We are Christians.' That is because some of them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 82). From this Quranic verse, Christians and Muslims seem to have shared values and beliefs making them comparable. For instance, true adherents of the monotheistic religion believe that God created human beings and all living things on earth in a way that they could only imagine. The same goes for the existence of the universe, which was pronounced out of a thing into being. Such a consideration makes the contexts of the Quran similar to the spiritual writings used by the People of the Book, and God is perceived as omnipotent since he dominates them all. Similarly, Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses are received and loved by the three religious groups because they are believed to have been sent or chosen by God. The dialogue between Christians and Muslims is commonly misunderstood when they compare Quran to the Bible and Muhammad to Christ. Christians believe that Christ reveals himself through the Bible as the eternal son of God or the word of God. However, Muslims believe that Mohammad reveals the Quran, a revelation that would help Muslims walk the straight path of obedience. Thus, Mohammad life was the Quran making it not the same as the Bible but as a means of salvation. Therefore, Quran allows Muslims to live in accord with Gods will as demonstrated by Mohammad just as Christians believe the spirit of Christ enable them to submit their lives to God. The instructions of Quran to Muslims say, The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet (Surah: 2. Baqara Ayah: 135). This shows why Muslims looks at the Bible based on the nature of Quran making it difficult to consider the Bible as true scripture.
Another vital attitude of Muslims towards the people of the book is the Unity among prophets. In the Quran, it is written that Abraham was neither a Christian nor a Jews but a Muslim (Surah Al-i-Imran 3:67). Thus, Muhammad is seen as an Abrahamic apostle, leading to the claim that all prophets were Muslims each with similar messages. Muhammad is seen as a seal of the prophets and a prototype of the last prophet. Since all prophets had similar messages, it means all the scriptures should be the same, and all divine revelation should be uniform. But when Muslims discover contradicting information in the Bible, in their mind they would believe that Christians and Jews changed the scriptures. Muslims believe that what Muhammad preached is similar to what Jesus, Moses and Abraham proclaimed. Thus, there should never be differences in what they preached.
The idea that Jesus is God himself or was the son of God contradicts Quran. The Quran denies such an assertion, and it also shows that Jesus was never depicted in the New Testament. This idea began when the Christian delegation from Najran visited Muhammad. The Christian delegation informed Muhammad that Jesus was the son of God or God himself and based on the Christian doctrines, Jesus was the third person of the Trinity. The delegation also said that Jesus had no human father, and spoke by saying We have commanded or We have done. If Jesus was one person, He could have said I have commanded or I have done. Therefore, Muslims believes that the Quran was brought to answer such assertions.
The Quran well declares jihad or the Holy war and enjoyed by both the Gospel and the Law. The wars in the Old Testament is analogous to this concept, but the in the New Testament the idea of sacred physical violence is not there. The idea of Crusaders is the New Testament is not seen, and it is indeed forbidden. This makes the concept of Holy War in Christianity to be particularly spiritual and not against humans. But the Quran states that at the time of Prophet Muhammad, Jihad was prophesized in all the Holy books. Thus most Muslims claim that Jews and Christians know the truth about Jihadism as a Holy War and they changed the Bible to hide Muhammad predictions. According to Muslims, this is one of the glaring omissions made in the Bible intentionally by Christians.
The Quranic references to the books of Jesus, David and Moses believe that ahl-i-kitab had all the original revelation. Muslims do not believe that the People of the Book were able to read the scripture right unless they had uncorrupted text. To them, it is clear that ahl-i-kitab had the original revelations from God (Bible). According to the commentary of Yusuf Ali, The Jews, who pretended to be so superior to the people without Faith the Gentiles should have been the first to recognize the new Truth or the Truth renewed which it was Muhammads mission to bring because it was so similar in form and language to what they had already received. But they had more arrogance than faith. It is this want of faith that brings on the curse, i.e., deprives us (if we adopt such an attitude) of the blessings of God (Surah 2 Baqara Ayah 87/89). Muslims should look into their scriptures sincerely and honestly to find the truth because they believe to have the original true scriptures through ahl-i-kitab.
Muslims believe in the revelations of God and that Injil and Taurat existed during the time of Muhammad and they are still used by Jews or Christians. It is written that the Torah was good enough to be used during judgment and not the Quran and it was the same texts in Torah that the prophets and Israel officials judged their people. This contemporary holy book is similar to that used during the Biblical times. Thus, for Christians to judge in the same way they must have in possession of the true Gospel and Injil must be the book that Christians call the New Testament. However, Surah 5:69 talks about the failure of Christians to stick to the laws of the Bible. The texts in Torah such as Deuteronomy 28, and Leviticus 26 attack the people of the Book for failing to obey the laws of their revelations. The Christians and Jews are worn by the texts because they have no ground unless they obey the laws of the Gospel and Torah. This gives modern Muslims the authority to attack every tenet of the Bible and argues that the texts in the Bible are corrupted and falsified. However, in Surah 16 and Nahl Ayah 43 supports the integrity of the Bible by saying, If the Pagan Arabs, who were ignorant of religious and another history, wondered how a man from among themselves could receive inspiration and bring a Message from Allah, let them ask the Jews, who had also received Allahs Message earlier through Moses, whether Moses was a man, or an angel, or a god. They would learn that Moses was a man like themselves, but inspired by Allah Thus, several Sura in the Quran accuses the people of the Book of falsifying and concealing the truth about the Bible.
From the discussion, it is clear that the attitude promulgated by some Muslims towards the people of the book is just an inferential prejudice. The Quran defend the sincerity of the Bible especially to the books known as Injil, Zabur and Tawrat, which refer to both the New Testament and the Old Testament. However, most Muslims still consider Christian scriptures as false because they conspired to alter the texts in their scriptures. Christians, on the other hand, have failed to respond to criticisms of their sacred texts by Muslims because they do not understand the role and nature of Quran in Islam. It is recommended that Christian scholars should read and understand the Muslim concept of the Bible to enable them to defend the truth about the revelation of the Bible.
Albayrak, I. (2008). The People of the Book in the Qur'an. Islamic Studies, 301-325.
Coruh, H. (2012). The Friendship between Muslims and the People of the Book in the Qur'an with particular reference to Q 5.51. Islam and ChristianMuslim Relations, 23(4), 505-513.
Ali, M. M. (2011). Holy Quran. Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore USA.
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