SOME READERS’ COMMENTS WITH RESPONSES



"Allah had mercy on him". This is not a prayer, but an attribution of an act to God. This is even more wrong than a prayer for forgiveness when said about a deceased mushrik, since we are presuming that God has already had mercy (and forgiveness) for the deceased.

"May Allah have mercy on him!" This is a prayer and is prohibited by the Qur`an for a person who, to the best of our knowledge, died committing shirk.

Comments 2:

The Qur'an does not in any place say that the Christians are mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, associationists).

Response:

Read 5:72 again. The Arabic word used for the belief of those who say "God is Christ" is shirk. Therefore any one who holds that belief is a mushrik, since mushrik is one who commits shirk.

It should be noted that mushrik is not equivalent to "polytheist" (one who believes/worships more than one god). Every polytheist is, of course, a mushrik, but every mushrik is not a polytheist. Thus if someone said that the sun is the only god -- as apparently the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton did – and expressed this belief in worshipping this heavenly body, then he is not a polytheist, since he believes only in one god. But he will be a mushrik.

Similarly, "mushrik" is not equivalent to "idolater", one who worships an idol. Every idolater is a mushrik but not every mushrik is an idolater. An idolater is one who directs the worship of a god to an image of that god. If someone worships a spiritual being such as the Angel Jibra`il or Shaytan or the spirit of a dead ancestor without making an image of him, then he is not an idolater. But he is certainly a mushrik.

The best way to express the Islamic understanding of a mushrik is: "one who worships as a god someone or something that is distinguishable from Allah". In the light of this definition, we can now see why someone who worships the sun would be considered a mushrik, even if he believed the sun to be the one and only god: The sun is distinguishable from Allah, since the sun is visible while Allah is not. Hence worshipping the sun is shirk.

If shirk is not equivalent to polytheism, then tawhid is not equivalent to monotheism. Tawhid means belief in the one transcendent God who is not comparable to anything that is distinguishable from him by any characteristic. In the famous surah al-Ikhlas, which is regarded as defining tawhid, we read:

Declare (O Prophet): He, Allah, is one! Allah is al-samad (self-sufficient on whom every this depends for existence and survival). He begets not, nor is he begotten. And there is nothing comparable to him.

That God is al-samad and is not begotten by anyone means that he does not depend on anything for his existence and that everything distinguishable from him is created and sustained by him. This is why he is not comparable to anything, since one who creates and is self-sufficient is not comparable to anything created and dependent. Because God is not comparable to anything, nothing is begotten by him, since what is begotten is comparable to what begets like a son is comparable to his father.

The statement that there is nothing comparable to God implies that God is never fully manifested in anything that human beings can see or imagine, although visible things can be his signs (ayat), revealing him partially. Thus those Christians who say that Jesus Christ son of Mary was fully God and fully man have departed from tawhid -- even if they say that there is only one God -- since they regard God fully manifested in one who could be seen. The Christian dogma that Jesus was the begotten son of God also takes them far from tawhid, since that makes God comparable to Jesus like father is comparable to the son.

Comment 3:

The Qur'an does condemn a specific Christian sect, present in the Arabian peninsula, when it says that they commit a grave sin who say "Allah is Christ". The Christian Church itself condemned those people as heretics and misbelievers. They are called Sabellians or Patripassionists. They believed that the eternal Godhead came to earth "disguised" as Jesus and that God himself suffered on the cross.

That is NOT the official doctrine of the Christians. Even in the paradoxical and strange doctrine of the Trinity, they do not teach that the Eternal Godhead was Jesus. It must be noted that the expression used in the Qur'an (Allah is Christ) is NOT identical to the Trinitarian expression that Christ is God. If one says, by way of analogy, "ice is H2O, it does not follow that H2O is ice, since H2O may also exist in the form of steam and water.

Response:

Recall the Qur`anic understanding of shirk explained in the response to the last comment: ascribing divinity to someone/something distinguishable from Allah. Luckily both Muslims and Christians agree that Christ is distinguishable from Allah. For Muslims, on the basis of the Qur`an, Christ is distinguishable from Allah because he was seen as a human being eating his daily bread, something that Allah does not do. For Christians he is distinguishable from Allah in the way ice is distinguishable from water and steam. And since Christ is distinguishable from Allah, saying that God is Christ or Christ is God amounts to shirk, which is punishable by eternal hellfire.

Comment 4:

To say that Christians are mushrikun shows a misunderstanding of Christian dogma. They do not teach that there is another god or other gods or demigods who share power with the Eternal God of Abraham. Their monotheism, in spite of Trinitarian confusion and error, is total. They proclaim in their creeds that they believe in one and only one God. The error of their Trinitarian doctrine is the belief that the unique God manifests himself in three hypostases (persons) while maintaining unity of substance and being.

 

Response:

This comments shows gross misunderstanding of the word mushrikun. As mentioned earlier this term is not equivalent to "polytheist" and is therefore not a complete opposite of "monotheist". You can be a monotheist and yet be a mushrik. Recall again the example of someone who says that the sun is the only god. Such a person is a believer in one god and therefore a monotheist, but in the Qur`anic understanding he is a mushrik. It should be noted that mushrik is a Qur`anic term not equivalent to any used by Christians. Therefore, before attributing misunderstanding to the Qur`an or its followers one should carefully examine the meaning of the word in the light of the Qur`an.

Christians have been accusing the Prophet and Muslims of misunderstanding the Christian doctrines of Jesus’ divinity and God’s trinity, to which I briefly referred in my article as follows:

Indeed, for the following reasons the Pope and other high-ranking Vatican clerics bear greater burden of sin for their shirk.

First, …

Second, after Jesus there came another man claiming to be the Messenger of God and clearly warning them against the deification and worship of Jesus and Mary. They should have at least examined his claim with an open mind. But instead of doing that they tried to show that he and his followers misunderstood their doctrines and their deification and worship of Jesus and Mary.

 

Comment 5:

Superficially, it appears that Christians associate the man Jesus born of the Virgin Mary with God as if they were two divine beings. In fact, they teach that Jesus has a dual nature, being at once both human and divine.

However, that divinity is not separate in being and substance from the Eternal Godhead but is a manifestation of the unique and Eternal Godhead.

Response:

In interpreting the Qur`an we are not bound by the verbal games that the Christians play with the nature of the Most Gracious God. They may say that Jesus has two natures, that Jesus and God are two different persons and yet they are still same being and substance. But at the end of all these irrational rationalizations they have to say that a person distinguishable from God is God. That, in the Qur`anic perspective, is nothing but shirk.

We should also not forget that some Christians such as the traditional Catholics not only worship Jesus but also his mother Mary and the saints. The verbal gymnastic that they use to rationalize their worship of Jesus is not applied by them to Mary and the saints. For example, they do not say that Mary "is one in being and substance with the Eternal Godhead". And yet they pray to her in a way that from the Islamic point of view is shirk, pure and simple.

Comment 6:

The Qur'an distinguishes clearly between the people of the book and the mushrikun in the following verse:

"Those who do kufr among the people of the book (ahl al-kitab) and al-mushrikin will be in hellfire." (98:8)

Response:

Indeed, this and many other verses talk about ahl al-kitab and mushrikun as two different groups. But that does not mean that some ahl kitab are not mushrikun. It is like saying that the Americans and the Jews have been committing crimes against the Palestinians and other Muslim nations. In this example Americans and Jews are two different groups, yet we know that some Americans are Jews and vice versa. The case with ahl kitab and mushrikun is the same. They are two different groups but some members of one group belong to the other.

In interpreting the Qur`an we should not go by one or two verses but take into account all the relevant verses. If we do that, then it becomes clear that the people of the book are not as a group mushrikun but those who deify and worship Jesus are.

Comment 7:

Christians are NOT the same as the polytheists and the Qur'an makes it perfectly clear that some among the Christians will be received in paradise among the righteous.

 

Response:

Many Christians do say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three distinguishable persons and each of them is God. In view of this it may not be entirely justified to say that they are not polytheists. But let us take their claim that they believe in one God at face value. Even then those among them who deify and worship Jesus are mushrikun, since as noted above you can believe in one God and yet be a mushrik. This is also shown by the verse:

Say (O Prophet)! O people of the book! Come to an equitable word between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, that we do not ascribe divinity to anything distinguishable from him (nushrik bi hi), and that some of us do not take others as lords besides God. Then if they turn away, say (O believers!) "Bear witness that we are Muslims". (3:64)

This invitation to come to tawhid would not be necessary if the people of the book were already on tawhid. The invitation becomes understandable in the background of shirk committed by many Christians by their worship of Jesus, of Mary, and of their saints and the habit of both Jews and Christians to give to their rabbis and priests absolute authority to interpret the divine teaching.

The statement that there are among Christians some who will be received in paradise is correct. But the Christians who will go to paradise are those who follow Jesus’ teaching and worship not him but the one true transcendent God who is not like unto anything.

Comment 8:

The Qur'an says:

"Yet they [people of the book] are not all alike. There are among the people of the book upright men who all night long recite the signs of Allah and worship him; who believe in Allah and the Last Day; who enjoin justice and forbid evil and hasten to do good works. These men are among the righteous; of the good that they do nothing will be rejected, for Allah acknowledges the righteous. As for those who reject faith [kafaru], neither their possessions nor their children shall in the least protect them from Allah. They are Companions of the Fire, where the shall remain [forever]." (Qur'an 3:10)

As I understand the preceding passage, God clearly says:

(1) The people of the book cannot be judged uniformly, without distinction.

(2) Some of them believe in God and worship Him fervently.

(3) That a portion of the people of the book are righteous.

(4) God will acknowledge their worship.

(5) On the other hand, other men openly reject (kafaru) faith.

(6) They will go to hell.

Response:

I agree with all of the above statements. In the light of other verses, I will simply add that those of the people of the book who deify and worship Jesus, no matter under what rationalization, are among those who openly do kufr. God has prohibited paradise for them.

Comment 9: Christians are not kafirun (unbelievers) because they do not reject the Eternal God of Abraham. They are not mushrikun (polytheists) because they do not (in spite of Trinitarian deviations) associate any other god or demigod with the Eternal God of Abraham.

Response:

Christians are not kafirun as a group but a number of them are kafirun, for, why else Allah says in 98:8: "those among the people of the book who do kufr …"? Other verses tell us who among the Christians are kafirun. Similarly, Christians are not all mushrikun, but a large number of them are. Among the Christians who are not mushrikun are most Jehovah’s Witnesses and among the Christians who are mushrikun are most believing Catholics.

In the time near Jesus, no Christians were mushrikun. Then some of them started to worship Jesus as God. Their number and/or power increased with time and they were able to control the main churches. For a long time doctrines of shirk were professed by a vast majority of Christians and those who openly disagreed with them were tortured, and if they insisted on the worship of the one true transcendent God, were put to death by burning.

In the modern times there are a large number of Christians who, despite belonging to mushrik churches, do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. They should openly and clearly dissociate themselves from these churches. But we can pray for their forgiveness when they die whether or not they disassociate from their churches.

Comment 10:

Christians, with the Jews, are people of the book, who declare the oneness of God's substance and being, who do not worship any other but the God of Abraham, who acknowledge the Torah and/or the Evangel, who recognize many of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses and (for the Christians) Jesus. Some of the people of the book will be received by God and given a place among the righteous. It is only those among the people of the book who wilfully and knowingly reject faith in God, his books, his angels, his prophets and the last day who can be called hypocrites or unbelievers (or both).

Response:

According to the Qur`an, kufr has many forms. Some forms of kufr are possible even after you profess belief in God, all the prophets, angels, and books. Thus, the Qur`an says that Jews who refuse to judge matters by the Torah, or Christians who refuse to judge by the Gospel, are kafirun, fasiqun, and zalimun (5:44, 45, 47).

For example, one of the few issues on which the Jewish and Christian scriptures are consistent and clear is that homosexuality is a sin. Those Jews and Christians who refuse to accept this clear and consistent view in the Bible are therefore among the kafirun, fasiqun, and zalimun.

Similarly, although there are some ambiguous passages that may suggest otherwise, it is fairly consistently and clearly taught in the Bible that the Messiah or Christ is a human being like David and not God. In the Gospels, Jesus himself tells people to worship God, his Lord and their Lord. He even says clearly: "Why do you call me good. There is none good but God." (Mark 10:17-22). Thus those who deify Christ and worship him are among the kafirun, fasiqun, and zalimun, especially after the evidence is presented to them and they refuse to consider it with a really open mind, which is the case with knowledgeable Catholics such as the Pope and other clerics.

The principle that those who after accepting a divine book refuse to do hukm (judging, governing) according to it are kafirun, fasiqun, and zalimun also applies to Muslims. Thus those secular Muslims who refuse to do hukm according to the Qur`anic laws are among the kafirun, fasiqun, and zalimun.

Comment 11:

The Qur'an says:

"It is not fitting, for the Prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for mushrikun, even though they be of kin, after it is clear to them that they are companions of the fire." (9:113)

 

Even for the mushrikun (pagans) the possibility of praying for their forgiveness exists unless "it is clear that they are companions of the fire." In other words, if there is any room for legitimate doubt about the status of a person, we may pray for him. God has sure knowledge and will receive or reject our prayers accordingly.

If this is so for mushrikun, it is even more so for the people of the book, who, proclaiming the One God of Abraham and no other, cannot be called kafirun (disbelievers), even if some of their teachings and actions have the nature of disbelief.

Response:

How can any one say that none of the Christians can be called kafirun, when God himself talks of those people of the book who do kufr. When will we stop talking with our own desires and ignoring the word of the Most High?

As for the words "after it has become clear to them" (min ba‘d ma tabayyana la hum), they do not refer to some special knowledge by which we personally come to know that such and such a person is a companion of the fire. Such knowledge is never given to most of us. Rather, the words refer to what the Qur`an has made clear to us, which is that shirk will never be forgiven by God and that the deification and worship of Jesus is shirk. Because of this knowledge from the Qur`an we must NOT pray for any Catholic who, to the best of our knowledge, died believing Jesus to be one of three persons of God and worshipping him. Every indication that we have suggests that the Pope was one such Catholic. Therefore it is haram for us to pray for Allah’s mercy for him.

As for the Christian proclamation of the "God of Abraham", it should be clear that the expression "God of Abraham" means "God whom Abraham worshipped". Now is there any evidence that Abraham worshipped a God who has three persons – the Father in heaven, the Son who is born as a human being, and the Holy Spirit who inspires and helps the believers like the Pope?

Comment 12:

It appears to many of us, with our limited human faculty of discernment, that Pope John Paul II was not a denier of the God of Abraham (i.e., not a kafir). Knowing the degree of his piety and works of righteousness, we certainly cannot say that it is clear to us that he can be called a "companion of the fire". That being the case, and in spite of his manifest errors of belief concerning the nature God and the manner of God's revelation to his creatures, we are not forbidden to pray that God will receive him in his divine mercy.

Response:

Precisely because of "our limited human faculty of discernment" we do not know the reality of Pope’s "piety and works of righteousness". It may be mostly public relations and show. Also, the Qur`an talks about ihbat al-a‘mal, which means that in the presence of kufr and shirk the good deeds loose their value:

This is the guidance of God with which he guides whomsoever he wills of his slaves. But if they commit shirk, all that they used to do will come to nothing (habita). (6:88, see also 5:5, 9:17)

Some of the good deeds of those who commit kufr and shirk may also be rewarded in this world. In case of the Pope, all the power and praise he received in this world may well be a reward of the good deeds he might have done in this world. But, unless before his death he repented from the worship of Jesus, it is God’s promise that he will be a companion of the fire for eternity. May Allah save us from such a fate.

Comment 13:

We can learn something about the position of Christians by studying the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). In southern Arabia, near Yemen, there was a region called Najran, which had a Christian population. In the 10th year of the Hijrah, the Prophet received the Bishop of Najran and a delegation of 60 Christians who had come to

Madinah to make a treaty with the Prophet. During their stay, the Prophet allowed them to hold their Christian prayer ritual in the Prophet's mosque.

If Christians are unbelievers (kafirun, deniers of the God of Abraham) or if they are mushrikun, is it conceivable that the Prophet Muhammad would have allowed them to hold their worship ritual in his mosque?

Response:

My article is not about Christians who are alive but those who have died. As for those who are living, we must try to guide them to the way of the Prophets Jesus and Muhammad. We can also pray for their guidance and the mercy, forgiveness and healing that comes with it. But in order for us to reject shirk in all its forms and from every part of our inner self we are commanded not to pray for them after they die.

As for the tradition that the Prophet allowed the Christians of Najran to pray in his masjid, it, like almost all traditions, is subject to some doubt. It cannot be used to modify the clear Qur`anic guidance. Moreover, in the earlier days of Islam the situation was a bit different. After all at one point the Prophet and his Companions used to pray facing the Ka‘bah when it was full of idols!

Comment 14:

If Christians are unbelievers or if they are mushrikun, is it conceivable that the Prophet's Companions would have themselves sometimes prayed in Christian churches?

Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari and ‘Umar ibn 'Abd al-‘Aziz are known to have prayed in a church. Al-Sha‘bi, ‘Ata and Ibn Sirin did not see anything wrong with praying in a church if one was nearby and the time for prayer arrived. Ibn ‘Abbas prayed in churches on some occasions, except for those with statues. The Muslims of Najran wrote to 'Umar saying that they found no place cleaner or better to pray in than a church. 'Umar wrote to them, "Sprinkle it with water and leaves and pray therein." The Hanafi and Shafi’i schools allow prayers in churches but dislike the practice.

Response:

Some Companions might have prayed in churches because there is no clear prohibition against doing so either in the Qur`an or the authentic ahadith. But the Qur`an is very clear that Jesus was a man like other prophets, that deifying and worshipping him is shirk, and that it is haram to pray for forgiveness of a person who died committing shirk. We must make haram what Allah has made haram and must not make haram what Allah has not made haram.

Comment 15:

The view that we cannot pray for the Pope is pure fabrication by Muslim scholars with no basis in the Qur’an or the Hadith. We are all human, the ones Allah created. We are all the same in Allah's sight, only those with more TAQWA are closer to HIM. TAQWA is not a monopoly of Muslims. And there is no other criterion than TAQWA. Any other criterion like shahadah, salah, sawm, hajj are all from outside sources, mostly human subjective understanding.

Response:

No response!!!

 

 

 

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