In the Name of God, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful
On many occasions, I have written that I am blessed to be a Muslim. I have thanked God in my writings for being a Muslim. And I do feel blessed for being a Muslim, just like devout Christians feel blessed for being Christian, and devout Jews feel blessed for being Jewish. Yet, I received an email from someone – whom I deeply thank for doing so – asking me about non-Muslims. If I feel so blessed for being a Muslim, does that mean that I condemn non-Muslims?
Absolutely not. I believe Islam to be the self-same message sent to all the Prophets (peace be upon them) from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to Jesus, and culminating in the ministry of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Thus, I am happy and blessed to be walking (as best I can) the spiritual path of the Prophets and Messengers of God. Yet, that does not mean that I demean those who choose a different spiritual path than me. The Qur’an formulates for me this worldview.
Indeed, the Qur’an is firm in its rejection of the concept of the Trinity: “O People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in God and His messengers. Say not ‘Trinity’ : desist: it will be better for you: for God is one God: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs” (4:171). The Qur’an calls it blasphemy: “They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them” (5:73).
Yet, that does not mean that I have the right to condemn to Hell all those who follow the Christian faith. Yes, there are quite a few Muslims who condemn all non-Muslims as “infidels” destined for the Fire. I am not one of them. In the end, God will judge each of us, and it is the Lord – Exalted Be He – who will be the final Arbiter of salvation. In fact, it is part of God’s plan that there are many faiths. How do I know this? From the Qur’an: “To each is a goal to which God turns him; then strive together (as in a race) Towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, God will bring you Together. For God has power over all things” (2:148). (emphasis added)
Also read: “To thee (O Muhammad) We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what God hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute” (5:48). (emphasis added)
These verses show that – had God wanted – the whole world would have been following one religion. Yet, that is not the case, and this is God’s Will. For me, I have chosen the path of Islam, and I am very happy because of that. If others choose a different path, that is their choice. If God is not threatened by that choice, why should I be? Whatever a person’s faith, he or she is a human being – created by the very Hands of God and Whose Spirit was breathed into him or her. He or she has a dignity that must be maintained and respected. It is not becoming of a Muslim that he or she condemns others. Therefore, I refrain from doing so, and I call on everyone – Muslim or otherwise – to do the same.
So, when I say I am blessed to be a Muslim, please do not take that to mean you are a “debased animal” for not choosing Islam as your path. I believe Islam to be the true path to God – the path of the Prophets (peace be upon them) – and therefore I have chosen it. Whatever path you choose is between you and God. God’s plan includes the existence of many faiths.
Yet, verses 2:148 and 5:48 go even further than that. Both verses issue a command to all human beings: fastabiqul khairat, literally meaning, “race each other in all things that are good.” What God is saying – and this never ceases to amaze me – is that all human beings, of whatever faith tradition, should work together for the common good. In fact, they should compete (i.e., strive as in a race), not for converts, but for doing the common good. If more people of faith – both here in America and across the world – started listening to what God says, the world would be a much better place.