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question for Muslim worshippers? ? Help me defend, educate ...?

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
Not sure how to ask this .. . I don't want to offend anyone ... so please be patient or PM if I'm not clear and you do want to help me.

I am interested in learning about religions. I am seeking my own spiritual path. I am not baptized and I was raised in secular Canadian culture by non-practising Protestants. I'm really enjoying educating myself about Islam and using some of the book suggestions MDC Muslims have recommended.

So I currently attend a somewhat liberal off-shoot of a Christian Reformed church. I like the music and the community. I thought they were pretty liberal minded. But today - they were discussing how people might improve how they act as Christians.

And I heard the pastor talk about Christianity being the one True religion. My stomach started to churn as I can't stand that sort of talk. My truth in my soul is not necessarily anyone else's truth.

Several other people (most of the people at this church are cradle Christians) were nodding and talking about how it was important to share the gospel but not offend people - even if "we" all know it is the only salvation. The only truth - to Heaven and to God - is through Jesus.

That viewpoint bothers me. Does Islam teach that Islam is the only True Religion?

I ask because then the pastor started talking a bit about Islam. I listened intently because I've been doing so much reading about Islam. He said a few derogatory comments which I took to understand that he was either only knowledgable about terrorists who say they are Muslim or he was completely ignorant of Islam.

I didn't have nerve to stand up and say something. I have decided to quietly watch and wait to see how the church members reveal themselves.

I just wondered - does Mohammed teach that the only way to God is through him?

I'm not sure what I'm saying or asking and I'm certainly not a religious or philosophy scholar - so I'm vulnerable here.

I guess I was kind of disgusted because I don't agree that Christianity is
the only way to God. And as I'm educating myself about the Islamic religion and culture, I'm quite fascinated by what I am discovering.

I live in Canada in southern Ontario and do find, a lot of people who are not Muslim or have that heritage - they do not seem to have a clear picture of Islamic thought and culture.

If you can decipher what I am asking, I thank you for your patience. Please educate me if you can! Thanks.
post #2 of 84
I know this isn't your question, but I have to say that, as a non-Christian, I have been offended by each and every single conversion attempt lobbed my way. I really don't think there's a way to "share the gospel" without offending people, largely because of that mentality. I'd love to discuss comparative religion with people, but with no ulterior motive. I have yet to find a Christian without that ulterior motive.
post #3 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflwrmoonbeam View Post
I know this isn't your question, but I have to say that, as a non-Christian, I have been offended by each and every single conversion attempt lobbed my way. I really don't think there's a way to "share the gospel" without offending people, largely because of that mentality. I'd love to discuss comparative religion with people, but with no ulterior motive. I have yet to find a Christian without that ulterior motive.
: Except I actually have met Christians with out ulterior motives
(that I know of anyway, though I doubt these people would be in to converting others anyway).
post #4 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflwrmoonbeam View Post
I know this isn't your question, but I have to say that, as a non-Christian, I have been offended by each and every single conversion attempt lobbed my way. I really don't think there's a way to "share the gospel" without offending people, largely because of that mentality. I'd love to discuss comparative religion with people, but with no ulterior motive. I have yet to find a Christian without that ulterior motive.


Thanks for both of your replies. As you can tell with my OP, I'm not really sure of what I"m asking. I guess I had a negative emotional response to certain ignorant comments the pastor made and also the statement about Christianity being the only true religion. I can understand that a Christian will say they believe Jesus is their only salvation but I've never understood how a person can imply that someone who is Non-Christian is following the wrong path.

But I'm unsure - does the Islamic religion teach that it's path is the "only religion"? Or is it more accepting of other religious paths. I thought it was the latter.

Thanks for your patience.
post #5 of 84
Hi Tuesday, I'm a Christian myself, but I have some background in comparative religion, so I thought I might be able to offer some help.

The answer is that yes, in general, Muslims think that their religion is true in the same way that Christians do. There is a bit of variety in what both groups mean when they say that, and also some pretty extreme views on both sides.

You probably know that Christianity, Judaism and Islam are closely related, "the people of the Book." As well, both Christianity and Islam are universal, in that they believe God intends to invite all people to be members. Buddhism is also concidered to be a religion with a universal approach, and that is why those three together have traditionally been missionary religions.

Now, most teachers in these groups would not say that other religions are completely wrong. They would claim that those groups had some real insights into the nature of the human con condition, God, and so on. But they would also claim that their understanding is not complete.

In Islam, they believe God's revelation to Mohommed was a real revelation. If that is in fact the case, presumably God said what he really means and so non-Muslims are missing that information.

Similarly, Christians believe God not only gave a revelation to a prophet, but himself came and took on a human body as part of himself, in order to save all people from sin and death. So, Christians believe that this was an actual act of God for all people, even for non-believers, but that those people are missing an important part of God's truth.

So, Islam and Christianity are fairly similar in many ways. As for what happens to non-believers after death, both Islam and Christianity have groups within them that would claim that non-believers all go go hell. However, most mainstream Christians and I think also Muslims would say that it is impossible to say how God will deal with non-believers, only that they are possibly missing some aids that believers have access to.
post #6 of 84
Thread Starter 
Thank you Bluegoat. Your response was very thoughtful and helpful. Thank you. I appreciate the time you took to think through and post your post.
post #7 of 84
Muslim views on the subject are about as diverse as Christian. MDC mamas are (I think) maybe a little disproportionately inclined towards a pretty purely pluralist view; other resources I've encountered are disproportionately the opposite.

What can be fairly said is that:

- There is no likeness between faith in Jesus in Christianity and faith in Muhammad in Islam -- there is no salvation through belief in Muhammad's prophetic status. Judgement is said to rest primarily upon deeds, period. One can believe completely, choose to act wrongly, and be harshly judged; one can believe wrongly, act rightly, and be judged more gently.

- Judgement belongs to god, & belongs in the category of things that can not be known to mankind. A lot of very mainstream Muslims are very sensitive to the matter of avoiding indicating any knowledge of final judgement upon anyone ... saying "so-and-so WILL be condemned" isn't all that common ... categories of people, as we are able to quote from the Quran or sometimes hadith, sure, but not "that guy over there," kwim?

- Islam is inherently a little more pluralistic, I think. While our religion is very comfortable saying certain beliefs are completely wrong -- polytheism, trinitarianism -- there are few beliefs that are said to be so wrong as to condemn one eternally. Pretty much just intentionally assigning partners to God. The trinitarianism example is an interesting one to me, for example, because the Quran repeatedly says both that it is wrong, it is an offense before god, and that Christians broadly are more or less right with god and will be so rewarded for their faith. *** There are clear ways out of favor with god, and clear ways in to favor with god, but those two points don't eliminate the existence of grey areas in between.

- Because our view is that the Quran is both literally from god and preserved in its original form, we do believe that ours is the safest route, so to speak, but because it is also a part of our theology that all communities throughout all time have had access to reasonably, if not purely, uncorrupted revelation from god through -- in practical terms -- countless prophets, it is really impossible to say that ours is the only and ever was. Most correct available here and now, but not only.

(ETA: *** The harsher view -- that Christians, Jews, believers in one god -- do not have any rightful status before god if they do not convert -- comes mostly from the of the Quran's progressive revelation over a period of about twenty-three years. There is a belief that some later verses nullify some earlier ones. A few people deny this idea entirely, most take it to various moderate degrees, and some take it to an extreme such that any later verse nullifies any earlier verse of a similar subject matter -- this issue accounts for a tremendous amount of the controversies of belief within Islam. In general earlier verses tended to support a more pluralist view better than later ones.)
post #8 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by kapatasana View Post
: Except I actually have met Christians with out ulterior motives
(that I know of anyway, though I doubt these people would be in to converting others anyway).
Ah, I mis-spoke. I've met Christians without ulterior motives, but not one that was trying to teach me about their religion without ulterior motives. Many of my friends are Christian, and we get along great, but none of my friends have ever said "So, let me tell you about Jesus" or "Have you been saved?" or some other such nonsense.
post #9 of 84
Liquesce put it all very succinctly and very well. Keep in mind, also, that there is not one monolithic Islam. Muslims are as diverse as the different sects of Christianity. We have Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi, Ahmadiya, Ismaili, etc. The Five Pillars of Islam are what unite us as one faith:
1. Shahadah: proclamation of belief in one, true God and that Mohammed was his messenger.
2. Salah/salat: five daily prayers
3. Zakat: charitable tax based on accumulated wealth
4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan
5. Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca

Sounds like your pastor could use The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam, as well as Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think.
post #10 of 84
Thread Starter 
Turkish Kate - I agree with your thoughts - all of them.

I think I'm going to ask a few people I know at that church (I just started attending this past June) their thoughts on what the pastor said, what people think about other religions outside of theirs. I am reading "No God but god" (I might have those capital letters reversed!) and am learning so much and it bothers me to see people making judgements of what they clearly know little.

I think I'm going to even suggest those titles to the pastor, Turkish Kate.

THANKS.
post #11 of 84
Quote:
I can understand that a Christian will say they believe Jesus is their only salvation but I've never understood how a person can imply that someone who is Non-Christian is following the wrong path.
You don't understand the concept of a universal truth? That's odd.

Christianity contains exclusive truth-claims. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life; no-one comes to the Father [in context, salvation] but by me". The Bible does not claim to be true for a certain subset of people, but for everyone.

It's the same as any other exclusive truth-claim. Religious and non-religious people alike agree that 1+1=2. It is not considered arrogant or rude to believe this, nor to point out that someone who believes 1+1=3 is wrong, nor to say 1+1=2 without adding the polite suffix "for me". Christianity believes religious truth to be epistemically the same as any other truth. To look at Christianity through a pluralistic (non-Christian) lens and be offended when it does not conform to your views on epistemology is to do exactly what pluralists accuse Christians of doing. It is to say "Your worldview disagrees with mine, therefore you're wrong".

There is no logically coherent worldview in which all religions are right, and everything is fuzzy-wuzzy and happy. Sorry. Different worldviews make opposing exclusive truth-claims; that's just how it is. Making the exclusive truth-claim that "religious truth is subjective" is just another way of saying worldviews other than your own are wrong. You cannot rationally tell me that Christianity is true for me, but not true for you - that would make my worldview "Christianity is universally true, but only for me", which is nonsensical. You can accept my worldview, reject it or pretend for the sake of politeness it doesn't exist and talk only of bean dip; but you can't be offended by its exclusive truth-claims because of your exclusive truth-claims, because that's hypocrisy. And the same applies to Islam.
post #12 of 84
Very well said, Smokering! This is a misunderstanding that comes up again and again.
post #13 of 84
The one big thing that I think is missing from Liquesce's excellent post, is the concept of Grace/Mercy in Islam.

It is huge.

It cannot be under-emphasized.

It's not all about deeds and such.

There's a reason Muslims say "Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim" probably 100 times per day.. (In the name of God, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful)...

There's a hadith (story/tradition) about a prostitute who was forgiven all of her sins and granted access to heaven, simply for giving a thirsty dog a drink.

The ahadith Qudsi talk at length about God's mercy and forgiveness.

two of them on forgivenesss...


Quote:
Hadith Qudsi 33.
A servant [of Allah's] committed a sin and said: O Allah, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for them. Then he sinned again and said: O Lord, forgive me my sin. And He (glorified and exalted be He) said: My servant has committed a sin and has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for sins. Do what you wish, for I have forgiven you.
Quote:
Hadith Qudsi 34.
O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.

As regarding the exclusivity of Islam, the Qur'an says differently...in two different places! (Guess it's a really important point!) 5:69, 2:62

Quote:
Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who (1) believe in GOD and (2) believe in the Last Day, and (3) lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

You might want to buy your Pastor the book, "The Shack". It's #1 on Christian fiction lists these days.
post #14 of 84
Sort of ot...but I have to ask:

Umsami, those quotes are beautiful. I read some beautiful things about Islam here and in a recent book I just read, and now I am working my way through the Qur'an (slowly). It is beautiful.

However, my translation is sort of "King James"-like in its language. Lots of "thees" and "thous" and not reading like the quotes you posted above. Can you point me toward a good translation?

Thanks.

Back to the discussion.
post #15 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
You don't understand the concept of a universal truth? That's odd.
While I don't see anything much to disagree with in your post exactly, it does seem very much to be taking "I don't understand" in a very literal sense where it pretty plainly means "I do not myself find sense in believing as such, and disagree."

Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post
The one big thing that I think is missing from Liquesce's excellent post, is the concept of Grace/Mercy in Islam.
While by "deeds" I definitely didn't mean to imply "people of purely (or even mostly) tangibly righteous actions," I'm curious where you see grace/mercy fitting in that is neither about our actions nor about the judgment of mankind being unknowable to mankind? I mean even in stories like that of the prostitute, it's mercy bestowed upon one who shows mercy.

I kind of get where you're going with that I think -- the contents of our hearts, intentions, and all that -- but still that seems very much about us and what we do, not about any kind of random divine kindnesses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hopefulfaith View Post
Sort of ot...but I have to ask:

Umsami, those quotes are beautiful. I read some beautiful things about Islam here and in a recent book I just read, and now I am working my way through the Qur'an (slowly). It is beautiful.

However, my translation is sort of "King James"-like in its language. Lots of "thees" and "thous" and not reading like the quotes you posted above. Can you point me toward a good translation?
Not umsami (obviously), but I always direct people to this one, which is good all around in multiple respects, but in particular if you're finding the old english a little dry. On that front I would also suggest this one, although as mentioned in another thread the utter lack of footnotes kind of put a damper on an otherwise very nice translation, for me.
post #16 of 84
[QUOTE=hopefulfaith;12930841]However, my translation is sort of "King James"-like in its language. Lots of "thees" and "thous" and not reading like the quotes you posted above. Can you point me toward a good translation?
[QUOTE]

I have to agree. Many translations can get rather Medieval!

I like this translation... Oxford World Classics...
http://www.amazon.com/Quran-Oxford-W...rdr_bb_product

I also like Muhammad Asad's translation.

I've read a lot about this translation by an American woman, but haven't picked up a copy yet.

http://www.sublimequran.org/

The good thing is you can often find many of the translations online for free. If you go to http://quran-online.net/ and then in the left-hand nav, click on Multiple Translations... you can choose from a ton!
post #17 of 84
Thread Starter 
Smokering - I appreciate your reply. I'm not sure I made myself clear in my OP. As I said - I am not a philosophical debator nor am I capable of the sort of debate or reasoning that you obviously can apply to an argument. I understand what you're saying - I think! Some of the words and terms in your reply - I'm not sure I even understood. I'm not trying to make this into a philosophical debate. I do see what you're saying I think. I just - regardless of whether it seems logical or nonsensical to anyone else - do not believe there is one correct religious path. There is no logical reason for that thought - I just believe it in my heart. So when I hear other people speak out against another person's beliefs, I find it offensive - even if that may seem illogical to some.

I just had an earnest question so I"m not trying to turn this into a debate - it is not how I approach my spiritual beliefs. I appreciate your reply but I don't believe things I've felt are "nonsensical" even, if you say, they may seem illogical to you.
post #18 of 84
Thread Starter 
Umsami - thanks for the Quran translation link - I've been wondering which one I should read. Thanks!
post #19 of 84
Thank you for the Qur'an translation links, umsami & Liquesce. Much appreciated.
post #20 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

There is no logically coherent worldview in which all religions are right, and everything is fuzzy-wuzzy and happy. Sorry. Different worldviews make opposing exclusive truth-claims; that's just how it is. Making the exclusive truth-claim that "religious truth is subjective" is just another way of saying worldviews other than your own are wrong. You cannot rationally tell me that Christianity is true for me, but not true for you - that would make my worldview "Christianity is universally true, but only for me", which is nonsensical. You can accept my worldview, reject it or pretend for the sake of politeness it doesn't exist and talk only of bean dip; but you can't be offended by its exclusive truth-claims because of your exclusive truth-claims, because that's hypocrisy. And the same applies to Islam.

Well, although as a rationalist by nature, I have some real sympathy for your view, I don't agree that it is the whole picture. The problem, to my mind, is that it makes no room for the reality of subjectivity. (The objectivity of subjectivity))

Yes, I think, and most not all) of the major religions would say, that there is an objective reality, all of those would also say that we as individuals have only a partial understanding of it and of God. We see through a glass darkly, so to speak.

Which is why a religion like Hinduism does say that all religions are valid approaches to the divine. Perhaps with different emphases, but all have a handle on truth. That is also, incidentally, why they have some many gods; they are all aspects of the one reality which appeal to different types of individuals under different circumstances.

Now, Christians, Muslims and Jews do not have this perspective to the same extent, as they believe that God has entered history and made special revelations. (This is also related to the fact that unlike Hinduism and Buddhism, they believe that the material world is real and good. ) But still all three make it very clear that God is something much bigger than we can comprehend, that we do not have the whole, objective truth.
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