Salam dear Maya,
Thank you very much for your questions and for contacting Ask About Islam.
Please consider the following points about Islam:
- From the beginning of mankind, God has been sending His messengers to give mankind true guidance from God. Thus, Islam believes in all the prophets of God, before Muhammad (including Abraham, Moses and Jesus); and all the Books of God, before the Quran (including the Torah, the Psalms of David and the Gospel of Christ). No other religion does this.
- Islam categorically states the existence of the One and Only God, Who is the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe. This fact is stated in the Torah, the Gospel and in the Quran. Yet, the Christians of today follow the pagan idea of Trinity, introduced into Christianity by Paul of Tarsus. The unequivocal statements of all the Old Testament prophets, as well as Christ, about God, completely square with the idea of God presented by Islam.
- If you consider the prophecies about a prophet-like-Moses, given in Deuteronomy 18: 18, Isaiah 42: 1-17, and about the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth or the Paraclete, in the Gospel, according to John 14 and 16, you can see clearly that this prophet could be none other than the last prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
- A study of the progressive guidance of God, through Judaism, Christianity and Islam, will clearly prove that Islam, as taught by Muhammad, is the culmination of that progression.
- Consider the teachings of Islam: one god, one human race, one religion; belief in all the prophets of God, which is the ground of its tolerance; belief in the accountability of man in the hereafter. Besides, one can see the emphasis it lays on justice, equity and brotherhood in social life; and on purity, sincerity and the spirit of sacrifice in individual life.
- Consider the intense practicality of Islamic teachings, its compatibility with science and technology and with modern times.
- Also see that it is the fastest growing religion now, in spite of all the adverse conditions and the most hostile propaganda against it.
As for the difference in the teachings of Christ and the teachings of Muhammad:
The mission of Jesus was limited to the Children of Israel, as the Gospels themselves state it. For example in Matthew chapter 15, verse 24: Christ told his disciples: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Christ’s mission was mainly to teach the Children of Israel of the meaninglessness of their literalism in their adherence to the letter of the Law if they ignored its spirit.
The Jews had become a very harsh people; for that was what they could learn from the strict teachings of the Law as taught by Moses. Jesus came to teach them compassion, love and mercy. Muhammad came to strike a balance between the two ways; his mission was to complete the religion of Islam, as he was the last prophet. So in Muhammad’s teachings, you can find a blend of the Mosaic Law’s strictness and Jesus’s mercy, as well.
That is the “middle path”. Muslims are described as “ummatan wasatan”, a balanced society. This is part of the perfecting of religion, since the complete religion would not be only mercy and sacrifice. It is practical and viable; it is a way of life, a complete way of life.
Jesus is reported to have said:
[… but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.] (Matthew 5: 39)
[But I say unto you, Love your enemies…] (Matthew 5: 44)
These are beautiful ideals, but hardly practicable. How many Christians can turn the other cheek? Or love their enemies? They use cluster bombs to destroy innocent people who might, one day, possibly become their enemies. This is why Voltaire said: “There was only one Christian, and he was crucified.”
Muslims are not just directed to fight. It becomes their duty to fight in certain contexts; like when your sister is sexually attacked in front of you! “Resist not evil!!!” Think of it: not resisting evil, will be the greatest encouragement for evil in this wicked world.
Well, as I said, Islam is a practical religion. It enjoins upon its followers piety and devotion; prayer and fasting, charity and sacrifice; purity and sincerity; love and mercy.
On the other hand, it asks its followers to stand out firmly for justice, even if it is against their own kith and kin. Justice should be done to all, whether they are friends or foes. To ask us to love the enemy is to ask us to do something impractical. Still, we are commanded to do justice to them, to all.
This in a nutshell is Islam. And Allah knows best.
I hope the foregoing answers your questions, and of course, further queries are welcome.
Mr. Lamaan Ball, former editor of Ask About Islam, adds:
I think it is important, to note a couple of things:
Firstly, we should distinguish as you mention in your question between the original teachings of both Jesus and Moses and what has become established thinking and practice in both Christianity and Judaism respectively. The teachings of all the prophets were the same and were the religion of submission to the will of God.
What happened over time however is that Judaic law became very rigid and strict due to people trying to find ways to avoid practicing it. The core of Jesus' message was to bring the Jews back towards having pure intentions of obedience to God's law rather than holding to it only reluctantly by being pushed on with very strict rules. A sincere believer seeks the best way to do their acts of obedience to God – they don't need to be told to do it in the best way.
What happened with what became established Christianity however, was that this focus on the spirit of the law became exaggerated and Christianity fell into the opposite extreme, where all that matters is the doctrine of faith in your heart, and the law itself could be ignored or re-invented freely.
Muhammad's message re-balanced the teachings of the true religion of Islam. The importance of the spirit of the law and of the law itself were established clearly. Muslims can look towards both the excesses of Christian monasticism and Jewish materialism and seek to find a balance.
Taking your specific example: Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his early followers in Mecca were persecuted and Muhammad made it very clear that in these circumstances, fighting back was not allowed. This is close to the situation of Jesus (peace be upon him) when he was preaching in his society. The reason for the apparent difference in teachings is only because Jesus' mission didn't reach the phase where Jesus was in control of a state, as was the case with Muhammad (peace be upon him).
And Allah knows best!
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