Dear Community Members,
“Challenges and Opportunities for Muslims in America”
When: Sunday October 29, 2017 at 2:00 PM
Where: Charleston Central Mosque– 1082 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
Featuring: Mark Berkson, PhD, Director of Religious Studies, Hamline University
Dr. Mark Berkson is Professor of Religion at Hamline University. He earned a B.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, an M.A. from Stanford University in East Asian Studies, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Religious Studies and Humanities. His scholarly work has addressed topics such as comparative religious thought, religious ethics, death and dying, and interfaith dialogue. In addition, Mark Berkson has created two 24-hour lecture DVD & book series with great courses on “Cultural Literacy for Religion and Death”, “Dying and the Afterlife: Lessons from the World Cultures”.
The Christian Jewish Council of Greater Charleston is an organization that seeks to build bridges of understanding to promote sensitivity, tolerance, respect and fellowship among all faith groups.
This lecture is free and open to the public.
Co-sponsored by Roper/ St. Francis Mission Department and the College of Charleston Religious Studies Department.
Assalamualaikum Wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
The Voters is a series of articles exploring the demographic groups of Americans who will choose the next president.
Our very own Sr. Ruby is featured in it.
Filed under The Voters
Published Oct 11, 2016
Greetings of Peace !!
CMC welcomes all to the Congregational Friday Prayers at 1.30 pm and/or the 5 daily prayers. The Masjid (Mosque) is open daily for prayers. Jumm’ah / Friday Prayer starts at 1.30 pm sharp, every Friday, all year round. All are welcome to join in or observe.The prayer commences with an obligatory sermon followed by the short congregational prayer. Doors open early! Usually lasts 45 mins to one hour. Additional Parking is available under Romney street bridge.
Dress Info: Modest outfit with long pants or skirt / dresses. Ladies typically wear long sleeves and a head scarf.
Dress code contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
ALL WELCOME. MEET YOUR MUSLIM NEIGHBORS! COME ONE COME ALL with Friends & Family!
Help Each Other
“…Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancour: fear Allah…” (The Holy Quran, 5:2)
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (The Holy Quran, 49:13)
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) said: ‘O people, listen carefully, your Lord is one Lord, there is no doubt about it. Your ancestor, is one ancestor, there is no doubt about it. Listen well to my words: no Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, and no non-Arab is superior to an Arab. No black is superior to a brown or red, and no red superior to any black. If there is any superiority in anyone it is due to his God–fearing qualities. (Al-Jamili Ahkam al-Qur’an, 16:342)
No Compulsion in Religion
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things. (The Holy Quran, 2.256)
Murder and suicide
…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people….(The Holy Quran, 5.32)
O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily God has been to you Most Merciful! (The Holy Quran, 4:29)
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (The Holy Quran, 4:135 )
“Do not let your hatred of a people incite you to aggression.” (The Holy Quran 5:2)
“And do not let ill-will towards any folk incite you so that you swerve from dealing justly. Be just; that is nearest to heedfulness.” (The Holy Quran 5:8)
Peace with Superior Good
Good and evil are not equal. Repel (evil) with that which is good, and you will see that he, between whom and you there was enmity, shall become as if he were a bosom friend (of yours). (The Quran: 41:34)
A man asked the prophet (peace and blessings be on him), “what in Islam is the best?” He answered, “To feed people and to say salam (greetings of peace) to everyone whether you know them or not.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Do no mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of God is (always) near to those who do good. (The Quran, 7:56)
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) said:”Those who show mercy have God’s mercy shown to them. Have mercy on those here on earth, and the One there in Heaven will have mercy on you.” (Imam Ahmad)
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) said:”A believer is not the one who eats his fil while his next door neighbor goes hungry.” (Al-Bukhari)
Jihad is an on-Going Struggle against Evil
For Muslims and in fact all of mankind, the struggle between good and evil began with eating from the forbidden tree and it will continue at personal, family, community, national and international levels till the end. The real and ultimate success in this life-long struggle is for those who are good in their hearts and good in their works, and God is good. Let us help and cooperate in piety and God-fearing with our hearts and with our works and distance ourselves from sin and rancor with our hearts and with our works, for the sake of God and for the love of God.
Supplication For Peace
O God! You are the Peace. The everlasting peace is from You. O Glorious and Bounteous One! You are blessed and majestic. (Sahih Muslim)
Dr. Ishaq Zahid
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
“There was a king who lived long ago, and today my teacher will tell us all about him,” my granddaughter, a kindergartner, recently informed me.
The king she referred to was Dr. Martin Luther King, and though forty years may seem a long time for a small child, we must remember that it was just forty odd years ago that racial prejudice and hatred was codified in laws all across this country and ingrained in every institution of society. Through the struggle of Dr. King and so many others, America has made progress in reducing the injustice of racism.
During Dr.King’s life, racism against African-pAmericans was America’s greatest sin, and since then we have come a long way in making amends. But as Muslims, we are aware that the struggle against injustice must be taken up in every generation, and as Dr. King put it, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
At the time of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, Americans accepted segregation, and found it acceptable that a whole class of people would be permanently regarded with hatred and live in poverty. Dr. King and the activists in the Civil Rights Movement did not remain silent about this injustice. The ugly face of racism at that time was on display in every public place in America. Through the struggles of Dr. King and his contemporaries, it is now expected by law and cultural standards that people of every color must be treated with a modicum of dignity in American society. Because of their struggles, a sister wearing hijab, or a brother wearing a beard may not be discriminated against on the basis of their faith or skin color.
But the challenge of racism has not been eliminated. Laws codify the values which society agrees upon, but they do not change the behavior of people. Dr. King said, “All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” Dr. King’s dream has been realized to the extent that an African-American and a woman are respected candidates for president. On the other hand, presidential candidates speak with open hatred and derision regarding Muslims, Hispanics, and advocate policies which promote economic inequity and place restrictions on basic civil rights and human rights.
Today, Islamophobia is the acceptable form of racism in America, to such a degree that Rudy Giuliani, a Presidential hopeful, could call one-fifth of humankind, “a people perverted” with impunity. Thirty-nine percent of respondents to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll said they favored requiring Muslims, including U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID. In addition, 500,000 have been interviewed by the FBI and tens of thousands have been deported summarily and a similarly high number left voluntarily because of hostility towards Muslims. Muslims are routinely subjected to racial profiling which has become an acceptable norm in today’s America. As a result of this Islamophobic public policy and public opinion, Muslim wages in America have gone down by 10%, according to the University of Illinois and Columbia University. Seventy-six percent of all young Arab-Americans surveyed in July 2007 by Zogby International say they have been personally discriminated against. Fifty percent of Arab-Americans surveyed in a Yale University study were found to have clinical symptoms of depression. (Please see Islamophobia Statistics USA for references.)
Similarly we are closing our minds and hearts towards Latinos. While all political leaders agree that 12 million undocumented workers cannot be deported, we are treating them very inhumanely, forgetting that they are the creation of God as well. As Europe removes its borders, we fortify ours.
America needs another movement to restore America to its moral height of civil rights and human dignity to remove secret evidence, secret prisons, torture, and other forms of injustice which lower our country in our own eyes. Just as Dr. King and oppressed Americans demanded freedom in the Civil Rights movement, American Muslims and Latinos must join African-Americans in demanding their constitutional freedoms and human rights. And just as Dr. King’s struggle allowed America to rise out of racial blindness and move towards an open society, a country livable for all people, the struggle of American Muslims against Islamophobia and Latinos against xenophobia will redirect America to redirect its energies towards living in harmony with all people of the world, rather than engaging in never-ending war.
In the meantime, I plan to tell my granddaughter the story of Dr. King, who was indeed a king, but one different from those found in fairy tales. He lived just forty years ago. He was a king with vision, dreams and courage. He was a king because he led his people, and America, in shedding the oppressive weight of racism and looking forward to a future of harmony and peaceful coexistence. I will also share with her how he was stoned on the streets of Chicago for his struggle and why today, all of Chicago celebrates his birthday.
Now, I just need to figure out how to explain racism to a kindergartner!
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On October 13th 2006, one month to the day after Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding. In theirOpen Letter to the Pope, for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam.
Exactly one year after that letter, on October 13th 2007 Muslims expanded their message. In A Common Word Between Us and You, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet r to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam. Like the Open Letter, the signatories to this message come from every denomination and school of thought in Islam. Every major Islamic country or region in the world is represented in this message, which is addressed to the leaders of all the world’s churches, and indeed to all Christians everywhere.
Read more at: http://www.acommonword.com
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
(Summary and Abridgement)
Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.
The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:
Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High enjoins Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture):
Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran3:64)
The words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God, and the words: worship none but God, relate to being totally devoted to God. Hence they all relate to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries on the Holy Qur’an the words: that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, mean ‘that none of us should obey the other in disobedience to what God has commanded’. This relates to the Second Commandment because justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbour.
Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
And may peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and contend with them in the fairest way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright.
(The Holy Qur’an, Al-Nahl, 16:125)
The Testimonies of Faith
The central creed of Islam consists of the two testimonies of faith orShahadahsi, which state that: There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God. These Two Testimonies are the sine qua non of Islam. He or she who testifies to them is a Muslim; he or she who denies them is not a Muslim. Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) said: The best remembrance is: ‘There is no god but God’….ii
The Best that All the Prophets have Said
Expanding on the best remembrance, the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم )also said: The best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me—is: ‘There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things’iii. The phrases which follow the First Testimony of faith are all from the Holy Qur’an; each describe a mode of love of God, and devotion to Him.
The words: He Alone, remind Muslims that their heartsiv must be devoted to God Alone, since God says in the Holy Qur’an: God hath not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body (Al-Ahzab, 33:4). God is Absolute and therefore devotion to Him must be totally sincere.
The words: He hath no associate, remind Muslims that they must love God uniquely, without rivals within their souls, since God says in the Holy Qur’an:Yet there are men who take rivals unto God: they love them as they should love God. But those of faith are more intense in their love for God …. (Al-Baqarah, 2:165). Indeed, [T]heir flesh and their hearts soften unto the remembrance of God …. (Al-Zumar, 39:23).
The words: His is the sovereignty, remind Muslims that their minds or their understandings must be totally devoted to God, for the sovereignty is precisely everything in creation or existence and everything that the mind can know. And all is in God’s Hand, since God says in the Holy Qur’an: Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things (Al-Mulk, 67:1).
The words: His is the praise remind Muslims that they must be grateful to God and trust Him with all their sentiments and emotions. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
And if thou wert to ask them: Who created the heavens and the earth, and constrained the sun and the moon (to their appointed work)? they would say: God. How then are they turned away ? / God maketh the provision wide for whom He will of His servants, and straiteneth it for whom (He will). Lo! God is Aware of all things. / And if thou wert to ask them: Who causeth water to come down from the sky, and therewith reviveth the earth after its death ? they verily would say: God. Say: Praise be to God! But most of them have no sense. (Al-’Ankabut, 29:61-63)v
For all these bounties and more, human beings must always be truly grateful:
God is He Who created the heavens and the earth, and causeth water to descend from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you, and maketh the ships to be of service unto you, that they may run upon the sea at His command, and hath made of service unto you the rivers; / And maketh the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, and hath made of service unto you the night and the day./ And He giveth you of all ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the graces of God ye cannot reckon them. Lo! man is verily a wrong-doer, an ingrate. (Ibrahim, 14:32-34)vi
In the Name of God, the Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful. /
Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds. /
The Infinitely Good, the All-Merciful. /
Owner of the Day of Judgement. /
Thee we worship, and Thee we ask for help. /
Guide us upon the straight path. /
The path of those on whom is Thy Grace, not those who deserve anger nor those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah, 1:1-7)
The Fatihah, recited at least seventeen times daily by Muslims in the canonical prayers, reminds us of the praise and gratitude due to God for His Attributes of Infinite Goodness and All-Mercifulness, not merely for His Goodness and Mercy to us in this life but ultimately, on the Day of Judgementviii when it matters the most and when we hope to be forgiven for our sins. It thus ends with prayers for grace and guidance, so that we might attain—through what begins with praise and gratitude— salvation and love, for God says in the Holy Qur’an: Lo! those who believe and do good works, the Infinitely Good will appoint for them love. (Maryam, 19:96)
… [A]nd fear God, and know that God is with the God-fearing. / Spend your wealth for the cause of God, and be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. Lo! God loveth the virtuous. / …. (Al-Baqarah, 2:194-5)…
[A]nd fear God, and know that God is severe in punishment. (Al-Baqarah, 2:196)
Through fear of God, the actions, might and strength of Muslims should be totally devoted to God. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
…[A]nd know that God is with those who fear Him. (Al-Tawbah, 9:36) ….
O ye who believe! What aileth you that when it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of God, ye are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Take ye pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter ? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter. / If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom, and will choose instead of you a folk other than you. Ye cannot harm Him at all. God is Able to do all things. (Al-Tawbah, 9:38-39)
The words: His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things, when taken all together, remind Muslims that just as everything in creation glorifies God, everything that is in their souls must be devoted to God:
All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorifieth God; His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things. (Al-Taghabun, 64:1)
For indeed, all that is in people’s souls is known, and accountable, to God:
He knoweth all that is in the heavens and the earth, and He knoweth what ye conceal and what ye publish. And God is Aware of what is in the breasts (of men). (Al-Taghabun, 64:4)
As we can see from all the passages quoted above, souls are depicted in the Holy Qur’an as having three main faculties: the mind or the intelligence, which is made for comprehending the truth; the will which is made for freedom of choice, and sentiment which is made for loving the good and the beautifulx. Put in another way, we could say that man’s soul knows throughunderstanding the truth, through willing the good, and through virtuous emotions and feeling love for God. Continuing in the same chapter of the Holy Qur’an (as that quoted above), God orders people to fear Him as much as possible, and to listen (and thus to understand the truth); to obey (and thus to will the good), and to spend (and thus to exercise love and virtue), which, He says, is better for our souls. By engaging everything in our souls—the faculties of knowledge, will, and love—we may come to be purified and attain ultimate success:
So fear God as best ye can, and listen, and obey, and spend; that is better for your souls. And those who are saved from the pettiness of their own souls, such are the successful. (Al-Taghabun, 64:16)
In summary then, when the entire phrase He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things is added to the testimony of faith—There is no god but God—it reminds Muslims that their hearts, their individual souls and all the faculties and powers of their souls (or simply their entire hearts and souls) must be totally devoted and attached to God. Thus God says to the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) in the Holy Qur’an:
Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the Worlds. / He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him). / Say: Shall I seek another than God for Lord, when He is Lord of all things? Each soul earneth only on its own account, nor doth any laden bear another’s load…. (Al-An’am, 6:162-164)
These verses epitomize the Prophet Muhammad’s ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) complete and utter devotion to God. Thus in the Holy Qur’an God enjoins Muslims who truly love God to follow this examplexi, in order in turn to be lovedxii by God:
Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love God, follow me; God will love you and forgive you your sins. God is Forgiving, Merciful. (Aal ‘Imran, 3:31)
Love of God in Islam is thus part of complete and total devotion to God; it is not a mere fleeting, partial emotion. As seen above, God commands in the Holy Qur’an: Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the Worlds. / He hath no partner. The call to be totally devoted and attached to God heart and soul, far from being a call for a mere emotion or for a mood, is in fact an injunction requiring all-embracing, constant and active love of God. It demands a love in which the innermost spiritual heart and the whole of the soul—with its intelligence, will and feeling—participate through devotion.
None Comes with Anything Better
We have seen how the blessed phrase: There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things—which is the best that all the prophets have said—makes explicit what is implicit in the best remembrance (There is no god but God) by showing what it requires and entails, by way of devotion. It remains to be said that this blessed formula is also in itself a sacred invocation—a kind of extension of the First Testimony of faith (There is no god but God)—the ritual repetition of which can bring about, through God’s grace, some of the devotional attitudes it demands, namely, loving and being devoted to God with all one’s heart, all one’s soul, all one’s mind, all one’s will or strength, and all one’s sentiment. Hence the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) commended this remembrance by saying:
He who says: ‘There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things’ one hundred times in a day, it is for them equal to setting ten slaves free, and one hundred good deeds are written for them and one hundred bad deeds are effaced, and it is for them a protection from the devil for that day until the evening. And none offers anything better than that, save one who does more than that.xiii
In other words, the blessed remembrance, There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things, not only requires and implies that Muslims must be totally devoted to God and love Him with their whole hearts and their whole souls and all that is in them, but provides a way, like its beginning (the testimony of faith)—through its frequent repetitionxiv—for them to realize this love with everything they are.
God says in one of the very first revelations in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8). o
LOVE OF GOD AS THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT IN THE BIBLE
The Shema in the Book of Deuteronomy (6:4-5), a centrepiece of the Old Testament and of Jewish liturgy, says: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! / You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.xv
Likewise, in the New Testament, when Jesus Christ, the Messiah ( عليه سلام ) , is asked about the Greatest Commandment, he answers ( عليه سلام ) :
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. / Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, / “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” / Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ / This is the first and greatest commandment. / And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’/ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” / Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. / And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
The commandment to love God fully is thus the First and Greatest Commandment of the Bible. Indeed, it is to be found in a number of other places throughout the Bible including: Deuteronomy 4:29, 10:12, 11:13 (also part of the Shema), 13:3, 26:16, 30:2, 30:6, 30:10; Joshua 22:5; Mark 12:32-33 and Luke 10:27-28.
However, in various places throughout the Bible, it occurs in slightly different forms and versions. For instance, in Matthew 22:37 (You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind), the Greek word for “heart” is kardia, the word for “soul” is psyche, and the word for “mind” is dianoia. In the version from Mark 12:30 (And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength) the word “strength” is added to the aforementioned three, translating the Greek word ischus.
The words of the lawyer in Luke 10:27 (which are confirmed by Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) in Luke 10:28) contain the same four terms as Mark 12:30. The words of the scribe in Mark 12:32 (which are approved of by Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) in Mark 12:34) contain the three terms kardia (“heart”), dianoia (“mind”), andischus (“strength”).
In the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! / You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength). In Hebrew the word for “heart” is lev, the word for “soul” is nefesh, and the word for “strength” isme’od.
In Joshua 22:5, the Israelites are commanded by Joshua ( عليه سلام ) to love God and be devoted to Him as follows:
“But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)
What all these versions thus have in common—despite the language differences between the Hebrew Old Testament, the original words of Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) in Aramaic, and the actual transmitted Greek of the New Testament—is the command to love God fully with one’s heart and soul and to be fully devoted to Him. This is the First and Greatest Commandment for human beings. x
In the light of what we have seen to be necessarily implied and evoked by the Prophet Muhammad’s ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) blessed saying: ‘The best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me—is: ‘There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things’ xvi, we can now perhaps understand the words ‘The best that I have said—myself, and the prophets that came before me’ as equating the blessed formula ‘There is no god but God, He Alone, He hath no associate, His is the sovereignty and His is the praise and He hath power over all things’ precisely with the ‘First and Greatest Commandment’ to love God, with all one’s heart and soul, as found in various places in the Bible. That is to say, in other words, that the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) was perhaps, through inspiration, restating and alluding to the Bible’s First Commandment. God knows best, but certainly we have seen their effective similarity in meaning. Moreover, we also do know (as can be seen in the endnotes), that both formulas have another remarkable parallel: the way they arise in a number of slightly differing versions and forms in different contexts, all of which, nevertheless, emphasize the primacy of total love and devotion to God xvii.
There are numerous injunctions in Islam about the necessity and paramount importance of love for—and mercy towards—the neighbour. Love of the neighbour is an essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God because in Islam without love of the neighbour there is no true faith in God and no righteousness. The Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) said: “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”xviiiAnd: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”xix
However, empathy and sympathy for the neighbour—and even formal prayers— are not enough. They must be accompanied by generosity and self-sacrifice. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
It is not righteousness that ye turn your facesxx to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in God and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the pious. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)
Ye will not attain unto righteousness until ye expend of that which ye love. And whatsoever ye expend, God is Aware thereof. (Aal ‘Imran, 3:92)
Without giving the neighbour what we ourselves love, we do not truly love God or the neighbour. o
LOVE OF THE NEIGHBOUR IN THE BIBLE
We have already cited the words of the Messiah, Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) , about the paramount importance, second only to the love of God, of the love of the neighbour:
This is the first and greatest commandment. / And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’/ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:38-40)
And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)
It remains only to be noted that this commandment is also to be found in the Old Testament:
You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbour, and not bear sin because of him. / You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:17-18)
Thus the Second Commandment, like the First Commandment, demands generosity and self-sacrifice, and On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. x
Whilst Islam and Christianity are obviously different religions—and whilst there is no minimising some of their formal differences—it is clear that theTwo Greatest Commandments are an area of common ground and a link between the Qur’an, the Torah and the New Testament. What prefaces the Two Commandments in the Torah and the New Testament, and what they arise out of, is the Unity of God—that there is only one God. For the Shema in the Torah, starts: (Deuteronomy 6:4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! Likewise, Jesus ( عليه سلام ) said: (Mark 12:29) “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one”.Likewise, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He, God, is One. / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all. (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2). Thus the Unity of God, love of Him, and love of the neighbour form a common ground upon which Islam and Christianity (and Judaism) are founded.
This could not be otherwise since Jesus ( عليه سلام ) said: (Matthew 22:40)“On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Moreover, God confirms in the Holy Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى الله عليه وسلم )brought nothing fundamentally or essentially new:Naught is said to thee (Muhammad) but what already was said to the messengers before thee(Fussilat 41:43). And:Say (Muhammad): I am no new thing among the messengers (of God), nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that which is Revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner (Al-Ahqaf, 46:9). Thus also God in the Holy Qur’an confirms that the same eternal truths of the Unity of God, of the necessity for total love and devotion to God (and thus shunning false gods), and of the necessity for love of fellow human beings (and thus justice), underlie all true religion:
And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Worship God and shun false gods. Then some of them (there were) whom God guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error had just hold. Do but travel in the land and see the nature of the consequence for the deniers! (Al-Nahl, 16:36)
We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may stand forth in justice…. (Al-Hadid, 57:25)
In the Holy Qur’an, God Most High tells Muslims to issue the following call to Christians (and Jews—the People of the Scripture):
Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran3:64)
Clearly, the blessed words: we shall ascribe no partner unto Him relate to the Unity of God. Clearly also, worshipping none but God, relates to being totally devoted to God and hence to the First and Greatest Commandment. According to one of the oldest and most authoritative commentaries (tafsir) on the Holy Qur’an—the Jami’ Al-Bayan fi Ta’wil Al-Qur’an of Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir Al-Tabari (d. 310 A.H. / 923 C.E.)—that none of us shall take others for lords beside God, means ‘that none of us should obey in disobedience to what God has commanded, nor glorify them by prostrating to them in the same way as they prostrate to God’. In other words, that Muslims, Christians and Jews should be free to each follow what God commanded them, and not have ‘to prostrate before kings and the like’xxi; for God says elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an: Let there be no compulsion in religion…. (Al-Baqarah, 2:256). This clearly relates to the Second Commandment and to love of the neighbour of which justicexxii and freedom of religion are a crucial part. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
God forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! God loveth the just dealers. (Al-Mumtahinah, 60:8)
We thus as Muslims invite Christians to remember Jesus’s ( عليه سلام ) words in the Gospel (Mark 12:29-31):
… the LORD our God, the LORD is one. / And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.
As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them—so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes, (in accordance with the verse of the Holy Qur’an [Al-Mumtahinah, 60:8] quoted above). Moreover, God says in the Holy Qur’an:
They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of God in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him). / They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. These are of the righteous. / And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them. God is Aware of those who ward off (evil). (Aal-’Imran, 3:113-115)
Is Christianity necessarily against Muslims? In the Gospel Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) says:
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters abroad. (Matthew 12:30)
For he who is not against us is on our side. (Mark 9:40)
… for he who is not against us is on our side. (Luke 9:50)
According to the Blessed Theophylact’sxxiii Explanation of the New Testament, these statements are not contradictions because the first statement (in the actual Greek text of the New Testament) refers to demons, whereas the second and third statements refer to people who recognised Jesus, but were not Christians. Muslims recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, not in the same way Christians do (but Christians themselves anyway have never all agreed with each other on Jesus Christ’s ( عليه سلام )nature), but in the following way: …. the Messiah Jesus son of Mary is a Messenger of God and His Word which he cast unto Mary and a Spirit from Him…. (Al-Nisa’, 4:171). We therefore invite Christians to consider Muslimsnot against and thus with them, in accordance with Jesus Christ’s ( عليه سلام )words here.
Finally, as Muslims, and in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we ask Christians to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions … that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God … (Aal ‘Imran, 3:64).
Let this common ground be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us, for our common ground is that on which hangs all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:40). God says in the Holy Qur’an:
Say (O Muslims): We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. / And if they believe in the like of that which ye believe, then are they rightly guided. But if they turn away, then are they in schism, and God will suffice thee against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower. (Al-Baqarah, 2:136-137)
Between Us and You
Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders. Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history. Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55% of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.
And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony. God says in the Holy Qur’an: Lo! God enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed(Al Nahl, 16:90). Jesus Christ ( عليه سلام ) said:Blessed are the peacemakers ….(Matthew 5:9), and also: For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? (Matthew 16:26).
So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works. Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill. God says in the Holy Qur’an:
And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which God hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee. For each We have appointed a law and a way. Had God willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works. Unto God ye will all return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ.(Al-Ma’idah, 5:48)
© 2007 C.E., 1428 A.H.,
The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan.
God has one hundred mercies. He has sent down one of them between genii and human beings and beasts and animals and because of it they feel with each other; and through it they have mercy on each other; and through it, the wild animal feels for its offspring. And God has delayed ninety-nine mercies through which he will have mercy on his servants on the Day of Judgement.(Sahih Muslm, Kitab Al-Tawbah; 2109/4; no. 2752; see also Sahih Bukhari, Kitab Al-Riqaq, no. 6469).
By the fig and the olive / By Mount Sinai, / And by this land made safe / Surely We created man of the best stature / Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, / Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing. / So who henceforth will give the lie to the about the judgment? / Is not God the wisest of all judges? (Al-Tin, 95:1-8)
God it is Who appointed for you the earth for a dwelling-place and the sky for a canopy, and fashioned you and perfected your shapes, and hath provided you with good things. Such is God, your Lord. Then blessed be God, the Lord of the Worlds! (Al-Ghafir, 40:64)
Nay, but those who do wrong follow their own lusts without knowledge. Who is able to guide him whom God hath sent astray ? For such there are no helpers. / So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright – the nature (framed) of God, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) God’s creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not—/ (Al-Rum, 30:29-30)
And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate, (Sad, 38:72)
And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee ? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not. / And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful ./ They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise. / He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth ? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide. / And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever… / And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely (of the fruits) thereof where ye will; but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers. (Al-Baqarah, 2:30-35)