Monday, July 04, 2011

Qur'an Surah III: 75-76 Argument for Religious Unity

Whereas in the New Testament Jesus tells his disciples to go forth and preach (Mathew 24:15), setting in motion an entire millennium of missions (and all the atrocities that followed in the wake of the Church's attempt to conquer with the cross and sword), the Qur'an presents a corrective note. There is no reason to convert others to your faith. True exoteric Islam is not one of dogma, but one of deeds.

In popular Christianity one cannot be saved unless one converts. Thus, millions and millions of heathen are condemned, despite that "God is Love," to eternal hell fire.

The Qur'an tells us:

"Among the People of the Book are some who, if entrusted with a hoard of gold, will quickly pay it back while others, given only a single silver coin will hoard it unless you stand over them and demand repayment. They will say, 'There is no duty for us to faith with the ignorant.' But they tell a lie against the Light."

The verse begins with an allegory similar to Jesus' story of the steward. However, the text quickly makes sure that we, the hearers, know that this concerns the question of religious unity. Is there a duty on us to practice faith together?

When we perform good deeds we repay that which has been entrusted to us. But we cannot do this only within our own religious traditions. We must do it united with all Peoples of the Book. Verse 75 is a call for all people of all faiths to practice their faith together. In case there is any doubt about the meaning, verse 76 tells us:

"Nay - Those that keep their plighted faith and perform meritorious deeds - verily, Allah loves those who act aright."

By "plighted faith" the Qur'an points us back to our perspective of the Other. We believe the Other's faith is plighted. We believe we are right and their beliefs are wrong. In the moment the dark spot in our heart wishes to condemn the "ignorant" and demand that he or she converts, the Qur'an turns it back onto us. Perhaps we are the one with the silver coin refusing to repay Allah for we have lost sight of our calling to act aright, performing charity, taking care of the poor, being good stewards of the earth.

Let us put conversion and missions behind us. Let us serve the poor and the suffering without thought of converting them. Let us practice faith together. Let us repay the silver and gold we have been given as one.


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