The Teaching Of Islam
No-one can be a Muslim without having a specified Faith, Iman, and adhering to certain Practices, Deen.
Deen: The Practice of Islam
The basic essentials in "The Practice of Islam" are summed up in the five pillars of faith.
- The confession of faith (Shaháda), i.e. the recitation of the 'Kalima' (= word). "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger (apostle) of Allah".
- Prayer (Salat) [in arab. the 't' at the end is not pronounced]. This is the duty of every Muslim (able to do so). The prescribed ritual prayers five times daily, at prescribed times, with the prescribed posture, have to be observed. During these five prayers a fixed prayer-text must be recited seventeen times altogether (twice in the morning; four times at noon; four times in the afternoon; three times in the evening and four times at night). This is called by many Persian and Indian Muslims 'namaz'. The wording of this prayer is found in the appendix.
- The giving of alms (Zakat) [again the 't' is not pronounced] is a religious duty and should amount to not less than 2.5% of the income above ones needs.
- Keeping the Fast during the month of Ramadaan (Sawm) is a duty for all, except the sick, travellers, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children. The fast is to last from the rising of the sun until sunset.
- Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is required once in a lifetime during the month of Zu'l-Hijjah, if the means allow this. There is also a minor pilgrimage (Umra), which is performed at other times. We ought to realize that very considerable cost is involved in a pilgrimage, quite apart from the travel fare.
(6.) Some add to this the Holy War (Jihaad). Today in the West this concept is often interpreted as 'the spreading of your faith'.
Another word used for the propagation of the Islamic faith is "dawah". A scholar who tries to find this word in currently used Dictionaries of Islam does not find it, at least not with today's meaning. 'Da'wah' means invocation, to call on or simply to call. The DICTIONARY OF ISLAM by T.P. Hughes explains that this invocation or calling is directed to spirits and by that of an occult nature and involves the use of spells. One is only allowed to call on "good angels or jinns", however. (See Folk Islam). Today Muslims understand the term to mean the call on non-Muslims to accept Islam. And that is the current meaning of Da'wah. From the beginning of the "Islamic Revolution" Da'wah movements have mushroomed. All over the world great numbers of Muslim missionaries propagate Islam, more often than not by sharply attacking the Christian faith.
Let us now inspect these pillars from closer range by considerung the Islamic view as presented in M.A. Quraishy, TEXTBOOK OF ISLAM BOOK II, The Islamic Foundation, Nairobi 1992 (TBI).
CONFESSION OF FAITH
The first part is recited to confess that there is no God worthy of worship and obedience than the one and only living God.
The second part affirms that Muhammad is the final and last prophet and messenger of Allah. It is believed that his teachings are for all mankind and for all time. All former prophets have been appointed for one nation only and for a specific time only. Their teaching is no longer valid. Muhammad replaced it with the word from Allah, the Quran. Muslims believe that, although the prophets preached about the same, only Muhammads words and actions are preserved correctly up to today.
The declaration of the Crees is the entrance to Islam. By virtue of reciting it in Arabic a person becomes a Muslim. Therefore some Muslims try to make a learner of Arabic, or a Christian who knows some Arabic, recite it. "This is a solemn affirmation, declaration, pledge or a formal agreement that is legally binding to a Muslim who claims to be a member of the Islamic Brotherhood." (=ummah) (TBI, p. 63)
From the early childhood a Muslim will confess the unity of Allah and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad. With these statements he is immunised against all other religious influences from outside Islam. It is indeed difficult to break through this barrier of indoctrination. Every Muslim has to believe in the creed, otherwise he is not regarded a Muslim (= submitted to God). Therefore, a Muslim who is suspected to have become a Christian will often be asked to recite the Kalima.
As Christians we observe:
Muslims may be astonished by our strong conviction that the teachings of the Bible are true. It may make them wonder why Christians are so convinced provided we know the reasons for it ourselves.
Although the Bible (and the history of the early church) provide us with a number of creedal statements (Nicean Creed, Phil. 2:5-11, 1. Tim. 2:5+6 etc) we do not consider someone a Christian just because he recites any of these.
With the Salat Islam wants to give spiritual guidance to Muslims. It is an act of worship and is meant to provide disciplinary practice, spiritual nourishment and true motivation (TBI, p. 64).
Prayer is described by both the Quran (Surah 9:5, 30:31, 2:3) as well as the Hadith. Muhammad said: "Between a man and apostasy (the act of turning away from ones religion) there is only the giving up of AS-Salat." (TBI, p. 65) So, every Muslim who gives up prayer is considered an unbeliever.
Muslims believe that the prayers
- strengthen the belief in Allah and create the willingness to submit to him
- help to focus on good elements in life
- are a means of cleanliness, purity and punctuality
- bring up good qualities (patience, hope, confidence, gratitude, good manners)
- proof the unity of the Islamic brotherhood
The Call to Prayer (Azan)
The call to prayer signals that the time for prayer has arrived. Formerly, this was sounded by the Muezzin from the Minaret (tower) of a mosque but nowadays this is done with loudspeakers. All over the globe, even in a predominantly Christian setting, the five prayer times impress the Islamic challenge from the mosque on the community.
The caller faces the Qiblah (direction to Meccah) and raises both hands to his ears, shouting: "Allahu Akbar".
"On hearing the azan, a Muslims heart is filled with the splendour of the call and the glory of Allah. Both the crier and the hearer of azan should make a private petition to God to give all the honour to Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) on the Day of Judgement and to allow him to intercede on their behalf for their sins."
TBI, p. 79
The second call announces that the prayer is about to start. The muezzin proclaims the same words as before but faster and with normal voice, adding one verse indicating that the prayer is ready to be performed. Then the Imam starts performing the prayer and all Muslims in that mosque join him.
Women are called to pray too. Usually they will do so at home or in a specific place (room or balcony or even behind the men in the same room). They are not allowed to raise their hands as high as the men in order not to expose parts of their bodies. Men should wait a little to leave their place until the women have left. This is done to keep the men from being distracted in their worship.
The Performance of Prayer
The recitation of the five daily prayers is accompanied by precisely regulated units of ritual. These units are called Rakah.
A Rakah is a devotional act consisting of standing, bowing down, standing up, then going down in prostration to the ground, sitting and prostrating again. A full prayer cycle consists of 2, 3 or 4 Rakahs. In total each day, the Fardh (prescribed) prayers comprise seventeen Rakahs. Muslims believe that the performance of these prayers will be justly rewarded by Allah. To neglect them is to incur his displeasure. (TBI, p. 81).
The Types of Prayers
Salat (the five daily prayer times)
- Fardh Ayn (obligatory): the five daily prayers performed by every Muslim individually or as a community in the mosque.
- Fardh Kifayah (collective obligation): specific rites for the Muslim community of a town or village. (Folk Islam?)
- Sunnah (optional, but following Muhammads example): they are highly recommended and seen as meritorious (e.g. (tahjjud) prayer after midnight). (see TBI, p. 81 f.)
- Nafilah (supererogatory=done above normal duty): in addition to what is required.
These prayers are conducted to earn Gods pleasure by drawing closer to Him (TBI, p. 82).
Dua (supplication=a humble and earnest prayer in worship): private prayers when calling God personally either in Arabic or the native language. Muslims raise their hands heavenwards in a sitting position.
The Du'a prayer is more related to our form of prayer. It still is subjected to certain rules, but is voluntary and concerns itself with personal wishes. It may best be described as supplication or invocation, or, more correctly, a blessing. In Surah 14:40 mention is made to both Salat and Du'a:
"O my Lord, make me one who establishes regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring, O our Lord! And accept Thou my prayer".
And your Lord says: Call on Me: I will answer your prayer. (Surah 40:60) There is no intermediation necessary (not like in Christianity, they claim). Allah listens and will answer them.
But only lawful prayers and the ones uttered with conviction will be accepted. At specific times there is a greater chance for dua prayers to be accepted:
- immediately after a formal prayer
- during the latter part of the night
- during Ramadaan
- at a time of a good act
- during a journey with religious purpose
- at the time of prostration of Salat
As Christians we observe:
Many Christians will be tempted to assume that Muslims pray to God in much the same way as we do. But this is a completely false perception.
Honest Muslims (along with many converts from Islam) freely admit that the constant rezitation of a prescribed prayer-formula and rite often performed in a language foreign to them can never meet the lofty ideals as stated above in the words of our religious idealistic author. The Salat prayer frequently degenerates into a dead observance of a religious duty where thoughts about the personal concerns of the praying Muslim occupy his mind far more than "the glory of Allah".
As Christians we rejoice in a personal relationship with our heavenly Father:
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Luke 11: 9.10.13
Prayer is much more a personal communication between a Christian and his Father in heaven than just a ritual, or a statement of needs and personal requests. Prayer is for the sake of our relationship with God rather than for receiving things we need, for our God knows already what we need before we ask Him (Mat. 6:30-32).
This legally fixed charity is to be paid annually by a Muslim towards the support of the poor and other categories of deserving persons according to the Islamic Law. (TBI, p. 105)
Every Muslim who does not want to pay this contribution is warned severely in Surah 9, a chapter originally referring to the Jihad but today used as a general statement:
"Those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of Allah: announce unto them a most grievous penalty ... On the Day when it (Wealth) will be heated in the fire of Hell and with it will be branded with their foreheads, their flanks and their backs... This is the (treasure) which you hoarded for yourselves: taste ye, then, the treasures ye stored up!"
"O ye who believe! spend out of (the bounties) We have provided for you, before the Day comes when no bargaining (will avail), nor friendship, nor intercession".
There is a detailed law on Zakat. Not everything is subject to it and not on the same rate. Jewellery worn by women, precious stones not used in trade, machinery in a factory and other personal belongings such as a car or a house not used to earn money are excempted from Zakat. Some products are liable with 5% (fruits not watered naturally), others with 10% (fruits watered naturally). But an overall 2.5 % of the total net wealth is rated.
Apart from Zakat (the obligatory charity) there is also the Sadaqah, the voluntary charity. It is regarded as a meritorious act and is recommended by both Quran and Hadith:
"God will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity; for He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked".
This concept has been expanded in Islam to include all kinds of help, e.g. a kind word, feeding the hungry or teaching poor children.
Other types of Sadaqah are done to earn Gods favour:
- digging a well
- building an orphanage or madrasa for poor children
- building mosques
The Muslim ideal is expressed by Quraishy like this:
"Indeed if the Muslims all around the world try to practice this charity regularly and honestly, there can remain no hungry and naked among them. Those among them who try to evade Zakat and keep themselves aloof from the misery of the needy are indeed committing sin".
TBI, p. 117
As Christians we observe:
But what about the slum areas in Cairo? Or the thousands who were starving and dying in Afghanistan, with hardly any food supplies from Islamic countries. Instead weapons were provided. Why do Christians still need to enter Islamic countries to help with food and clothes while rich Muslim neighbours are using their oil money for extravagant buildings? In Somalia hardly any Islamic relief agency were working but Christians were there to help!
Muslims may help their fellow Muslims but they will rarely assist people from a different religion purely out of love. They may use their money from Zakat to attract people (Christians included) to convert them to Islam. Or their motivation may be to please God to earn them paradise.
The Bible speaks about almsgiving in a different way:
Giving is practiced out of love and to honour God who has compassion with his creation. There should be no selfish reason or motivation behind it (Proverb 3:9; Matth. 6:3). Christians give according to what God has given them with a joyful heart (Acts 11:29; 2. Cor. 9:7). God knows the intention of the heart and will not accept almsgiving that is intended to earn salvation (Matth. 6: 2-3). Whereas Islam is limiting its use for Muslims only, the Bible includes the stranger also (Lev. 25:35; Luke 10:33-35).
A good Muslim will fast during the month of Ramadan (9th month of Islamic lunar calendar). During these 30 days a Muslim will restrain from eating, drinking, sexual and other practices during daylight. This fasting is obligatory for every Muslim in the community and it may well be, that "religious police" will watch over the execution of it. Muslims who are not keeping the fast are being harassed and often physically persecuted. (But one should keep in mind that there are also more secular communities where fasting is hardly observed.) Group pressure may at times lead to extreme behaviour: even to the extend of spitting out one's saliva during the day, but indulging in food during night hours. In fact, many Muslims admit to spend more money on food during the month of Ramadan than in any other month. During Ramadan the whole Quran is to be recited in the mosque (this is why in many Qur'an editions the text is divided into 30 sections).
Fasting was borrowed from other religions which Muhammad could observe such as Judaism and Christianity.
"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may guard against evil".
People who are obliged to keep the fast during Ramadan:
- all Muslims, male and female
- children from adolescence onwards, e.g. with seven years encouraged, with ten years obliged.
- mentally and physically fit people
People exempted from fasting:
- sick people
- those on a long journey
- pregnant or menstruating women
- breast-feeding women
As Christians we observe:
These facts about fasting show again that Islam is a law-based religion: Muslims want to please God by good deeds and meritorious acts. The command for fasting stands higher than their use for human beings. There are reported cases where Muslims died because they kept this unreasonably strict way of fasting even after an operation despite of the expressed exception as noted above.
For a Christian fasting is a very personal matter and should not be displayed openly. Scripture warns us against hypocrisy (Matth. 6:16-18). Fasting in the Bible is a sign for true repentance. It shows that the fasting person is serious in his intention to come right with God. (Joel 2:12) Moses (Exod. 34:28), Israel (1. Sam. 7:6), Esra (Esra 10:6), Daniel (Dan. 10:3), Jesus (Luke 4:1-2; 18:12), the church in Antioch (Acts 13:2-3) are good examples of Biblical fasting.
Why do Muslims fast during the day and partake in food during the night? Are they really serious about it or is it just a community pressure?
The pilgrimage to the 'Bait'allah', the house of Allah, or Ka'ba, once in a lifetime is an obligation Muslims have to follow, if they have the means to do so. This has to be done at a certain time in the year, the month of 'Zu'l-Hijjah (the Islamic calendar is moon orientated and about ten days shorter than ours, causing the times of pilgrimages, feasts etc. to shift year by year). A visit to the holy place outside this time is called "Umrah" or minor pilgrimage, which is not considered a substitute for the Hajj but a merit to add to it.
Ironically, practically all religious rites performed are of pre-Islamic origin, i.e. there has been a compromise with heathendom - although Muhammad violently renounced this at first. Consequently, all mention of the Hajj in the Qur'an was of a late date.
When a pilgrim arrives at the "holy city", it is incumbent upon him to change his normal clothes for the 'Ihram', a white garment which is worn specially for this purpose. The pilgrimage rites include a walk to the Zamzam well, which according to Islamic legend provided the water to save Ishmael and Hagar from death. Muslims will not only want to drink from it but often take jerrycans full of holy water with them as popular belief attributes to it a cure for all kind of sicknesses. This is followed by walking seven times around the Ka'ba, and kissing the black stone at one of the corners. After this the pilgrim must run seven times between the two hills Safa and Marwa (a remnant of pagan days, when on each hill stood an idol, today all is under one roof). On the eighth day he goes to Mina, a valley near Mecca, to meditate and pray. The ninth day he progresses to Arafat (where Adam is said to have been seeking God's mercy). At this place up to two million pilgrims will "stand before Allah" in prayer and listen to a sermon on the site where Muhammad preached his famous farewell sermon before his death. Back at Mina the following day, the pilgrims gather pebbles to throw at a stone pillar which is symbolizing the devil. Here also the men have their head shaven (and women cut off a symbolic lock of their hair).
Then Eid ul-Adha, the Great Feast, is celebrated with the slaughter of sacrifices (see also "The Feasts of Islam" and "Sacrifices"). Concluding the Hajj, the pilgrim may want to visit Medina, but this is no obligation to him.
Muslims hope to win Allah's favour by performing the Hajj. In popular thinking it will bring purity by wiping away their past sins. The heavens are believed to be open directly above the Kaba and prayers there will go unhindered to Allah who will certainly answer them. A Hajji (= one who has completed the Hajj) who just comes back from his pilgrimage will be considered a source of blessing to his relatives who are eager to gather in honour of the Hajji and to receive these blessings. The Zamzam water adds to this.
As Christians we observe:
Looking at these rites and beliefs from a Christian perspective brings us to the conclusion that they are pure pagan acts and shows that they are based on wrong perception of a distant god who is not interested in man, and who thus needs to be attracted to answer mans wishes by human sacrifices of time, money and devotion. This is certainly contrary to the Biblical view. Christians are pilgrims on earth, stating that their home is in heaven. (Ps. 39:19; 1. Pet. 2:11; Hebr. 11:13; 13:14).
In Islam the emphasis is on doing things, even though these days it is stressed that the intention is just as important. The practice denies that. The best biblical parallel are the Pharisees.
Islam fails to provide adequate resources to perform successfully before God. Christians have received the Holy Spirit who dwells in them. This leads to a change of heart and mind, which in turn activates them to perform good deeds (Eph. 2:10). Thus it is no longer their own strength but Christ's which enables them to please God with their lives (Rom. 8:26; 1. Pet. 1:2; Gal. 2:20). Islam fails to recognize the depravity of man and does not provide the possibility of reconciliation with God. Thus it fails to meet God's standard of righteousness since our human effort is totally inadequate. Salvation is not earned by human effort but is provided by God in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
The practices of Islam may be compared to Jesus' words in Matth. 6:1-18: "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your father in heaven." Even though this is spoken to Jesus disciples, it is mentioned in contrast to the false practices of the Pharisees.
Christianity does not neglect forms of worship but it puts the priorities right: First the matter of the heart, i.e. intention and faith, and then the actual performance out of a sincere heart. (see under Hadith, p. *)Without Gods help nothing positive would come out. But because Gods Spirit is living in the heart of a Christian he will bring forth fruit that pleases God, as long as he remains closely connected to this source (Gal. 5:22-25).
For a Christian, love should always take the dominant place:
"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
1. Cor. 13:3
Iman: The Faith of Islam
(THE ARTICLES OF FAITH)
A Muslim must believe in
- Allah. He is one; his qualities, nature and essence are chiefly revealed in his "99 Most Beautiful Names".
- Angels. These include 4 archangels (Gabriel is named) and an indefinite number of ordinary angels. Muslims believe also in 'jinns', spirits, some good and some bad.
- All revealed Books. According to Islam scriptures were revealed to Adam, Seth, Enoch, Abraham and many others. These are considered lost. The scriptures referred to as being in existence are:
- The Torah (Taurat)
- The Psalms (Zabur)
- The Gospel (Injil)
- The Qur'an
- All prophets. Muslims believe in 124 000 prophets who lived in times past among all nations, but who are not named. Prophets are called 'Nabi' (pl. Ambija) or 'Rasul' (pl. Rasul). A Rasul was given a book by an angel, a Nabi received inspiration.
In addition there are 315 'special messengers'. Nine of these are entitled Ulu'l-Azm (= Possessors of Constancy). Namely: Noah, Abraham, David, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
- The Last Day. This is the Day of Judgment when all men are to be judged according to their deeds / according to the predetermination of Allah, and admitted to Paradise or Hell.
(6.) Others have added Predestination. It is, in fact, essential for a Muslim to believe in predestination (see under this heading).
These articles are based on the Qur'an:
"It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness - to believe in Allah, and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for him; for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practise regular charity."
In Arabic the words 'qadar' or 'taqdir' (same root) are used for Predestination, or as it should better be formulated, Pre-decree.
In a Commentary of Islamic tradition (Hadith) we have this definition:
"Taqdir means in the popular sense pre-destination, fate or destiny. It means literally to make manifest the measure of a thing or simply to determine a measure. Another word which comes in this connection is Qaza meaning pre-decree or pre-decision".
Mishkat III, p. 93
Pre-decree is based on the Qur'an:
"Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us."
"He is the Irresistible (watching) from above over His worshippers, and He sets guardians over you. At length, when death approaches one of you, our angels take his soul and they never fail in their duty."
When we assume that Allah is irresistible, the possibility of choice is taken away from man. The application of this doctrine is best described in the Hadith:
"Sahl b.Sa'd reported it from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) that a person performs deeds like the deeds of the people of Paradise apparently before people but he would be amongst the dwellers of Hell. And a person acts apparently like the people of Hell, but (in fact) he would be among the dwellers of Paradise. There was argument between Adam and Moses. Moses said to Adam: You are our father. You did us harm and caused us to get out of Paradise. Adam said to him: You are Moses. Allah selected you (for direct conversation with you) and wrote with His own Hand the Book (Torah) for you. Despite this you blame me for an act which Allah had ordained for me forty years before He created me. Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: This is how Adam came the better of Moses".
"Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily Allah has fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in, and which he of necessity must commit. The adultery of the eye is the lustful look, and the adultery of the tongue is the licentious speech, the heart desires and yearns, which the parts may or may not put into effect.
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah fixed the very portion of adultery which a man will indulge in. There would be no escape from it. The adultery of the eye is the lustful look and the adultery of the ears is listening to voluptuous (song or talk) and the adultery of the tongue is licentious speech and the adultery of the hand is the lustful grip (embrace) and the adultery of the feet is to walk (to the place) where he intends to commit adultery and the heart yearns and desires which he may or may not put into effect".
Sahih Muslim IV, p. 1396-1398
The 'interpretation' of this in the footnote is somewhat strange:
"Most of the persons have committed grave error in the proper understanding of this hadith. They argue that if one has of necessity to commit adultery, then why an extremely severe punishment has been prescribed by Islam for his offense? This argument exposes the lack of understanding on their part. The simple and straight meaning of this hadith is that just as each person is created as a separate entity having distinct qualities - physical, intellectual - of his own, in spite of his being a member of the human race, in the same way each person is endowed with a sexual lust of a certain measure, according to which he has his sexual yearnings from which he cannot find an escape".
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Apostle of Allah said: Verily Allah pre-ordained for the son of Adam his share of fornication. That will overtake him without doubt".
Mishkat III, p. 103
Should we not differentiate between adultery and natural sexual yearning?
Predestination, as the Qur'an and the Hadith teach it, has been a topic marked by much dispute among Muslims. The commentator of the 'Mishkat' gives us some insight:
"Much intellectual blood has been spent over the question of pre-destination. The strong Muslim solidarity which the Prophet had once so laboriously cemented has been greatly weakened on account of bitter controversies over this question. This is because there are apparent conflicting views on the subject in the Qur'an and Hadis. On the one hand, the scriptures uphold the doctrine of freedom of will and the consequent responsibility for actions, and on the other they emphasis that it is only God who guides and misguides as He pleases and that the fate of man and everything was pre-determined before their creation. Among the former Muslims, there were two extreme schools of thought - the Zabariyas and the Qadriyas. The former school holds that God is the Creator of man's deeds whether good or bad and that man is entirely powerless and without responsibility in the matter. They contend that man has got no power to go beyond his destiny or decree of God before his creation. They cite the following Qur'anic verses in their support - "And whomsoever Allah guides, there in none that can misguide him" (Surah 39:37). "And if Allah afflict [sic] you with harm, then there is none to remove it but He and if He intends good to you, there is none to repel His grace" (Surah 10:107). and "with Him are the measures of the unseen - none knows them but He, and He knows what is in the land and in the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything green or dry but it is all in a clear book" (Surah 6:39). "No evil befalls on the earth, nor on your own souls but it is in a book before We bring it into existence" (Surah 57:22).
"The Qadriyas and later on the Mutazilas hold that man has got absolute freedom of will and the consequence [sic] responsibility of [sic] actions, and that if the former view is accepted, the rewards for various acts and punishments for sins cannot at all be explained. They cite the following verse in support of their case. "And whatever affliction befalls on you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought" (Surah 42:30).
"The two views as above noted are diametrically opposite to each other, and none could find out a satisfactory solition of [sic] the problem. We have therefore no other alternative but to believe in predestination as well as in freedom of will with consequence of actions. Let us, however, try to harmonise the apparent conflict to some extent leaving the rest to God.This complexity of human character leads us to absolute faith both in predestination and human freedom of will. The next point is that the right view according to the majority of the Muslim jurists to our opinion is the mean [middle] between the two extreme views. In other words, man is neither absolutely compelled, nor absolutely free".
Mishkat III, p. 93-95
We consider this to be a very strange 'solution'. (Think about this!)
The following verses of the Qur'an imply that man is responsible and will be punished or rewarded according to his deeds:
"We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgement, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least."
"The balance that day will be true (to the nicety). Those whose scale (of good) will be heavy, will prosper. Those whose scale will be light, will find their souls in perdition, for that they wrongfully treated our signs."
The following verse implies justification by faith:
"And if anyone believes in Allah, (Allah) guides his heart (aright): for Allah knows all things."
And here the criterium is neither works nor faith, but Allah's decision apart from these:
"Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth."
PREDESTINATION AS TAUGHT IN THE QUR'AN
"But better far than all argument, the orthodox say, is the testimony of the Book. 'All things have we created under a fixed decree' (Surah 54:49). 'God created you and that ye make' (Surah 37:96). 'Some of them there were whom God guided and there were others decreed to err'(Surah 16:36)
"Dictionary of Islam", p. 473
These passages are quoted from an older Qur'an translation. More recent translators have been very keen to 'interpret' these problematic verses. Please compare:
The modern 'translation' by Yusuf Ali camouflages the meaning:
"Verily, all things have we created in proportion and measur".
"But Allah has created you and your handiwork!"
"Of the people were some whom Allah guided, and some on whom error became inevitably (established)."
Consequently the will of man is totally subjected to Allah's will.
"This is an admonition: whosoever will, let him take a (straight) path to the Lord. But ye will not, except as Allah wills; for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom."
Allah is the creator of both good and evil (again observe the modern camouflage!):
"He intimated to it [i.e. the soul] by inspiration its deviation from truth and its piety".
as quoted in the Mishkat III, p. 104
"By the soul and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right".
as translated by Yusuf Ali
"I take refuge in the Lord of the dawn from the evil He hath created".
Allah may or may not guide. He also leads astray. He forgives or refuses to forgive as he pleases.
"If We had so willed, we could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance. But the word from me will come true, 'I will fill Hell with Jinns and men all together."
"Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise."
Surah 14:4 - translation by Marmaduke Pickthall
"He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and He punisheth whom He pleaseth."
Whom Allah misleads cannot be guided by anyone.
"Seek ye to guide him whom Allah hath sent astray? He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him thou (O Muhammad) canst not find a road."
Surah 4:88 - translation by Marmaduke Pickthall
"As to those who rejected faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe. Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur)."
Allah could have made all mankind one people (ummah). He leads astray - but the misled must bear the consequences.
"Had Allah willed He could have made you (all) one nation, but He sendeth whom He will astray and guideth whom He will, and ye will indeed be asked of what ye used to do."
Surah 16:93 - translation by Marmaduke Pickthall
"If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people; but they will not cease to dispute. Except those on whom He hath bestowed His Mercy. And for this did He create them: and the Word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled: 'I will fill Hell with jinns and men together'."
Allah decrees error - though he could have guided all rightly.
"For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle (with the command), 'Serve Allah and eschew Evil'. Of the people were some whom Allah guided, and some on whom error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).
Why should it be necessary? Because of their disobedience? The context gives the explanation:
"Allah guideth not such as He leads astray, and there is none to help them."
"Say: 'With Allah is the argument that reaches home: if it had been his will, he could indeed have guided you all."
"Whom Allah doth guide - he is one the right path; whom He rejects from His guidance - such are the persons who perish.
Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell; they have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle - nay more misguided."
Another translation says:
"He whom Allah leadeth, he indeed is led aright, while he whom Allah sendeth astray - they indeed are losers.
Already have We urged unto hell many of the Jinns and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle - nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful."
Surah 7:178+179 - translation by Marmaduke Pickthall
"Not only can he do anything, he actually is the only one who does anything. When a man writes, it is Allah who has created in his mind the will to write. Allah at the same time gives the power to write, then brings about the motion of the hand and the pen and the appearance upon paper. All other things are passive, Allah alone is active".
PREDESTINATION AS TAUGHT IN THE HADITH
Created for paradise or hell
"Muslim b-Yasar reported that Omar-b-al-Khattab was asked about this verse: And when your Lord created from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants - the verse. Omar said: I heard that the Messenger of Allah was asked about it. He replied: Verily Allah created Adam and then rubbed his back with His right hand and took out a progeny from him and said: I created these for Paradise and with the actions of the inmates of Paradise which they will do. Afterwards He rubbed his back with His hand and took out a progeny from him and said: I created these for Hell and with the actions of the inmates of Hell which they will do. Aman asked: O Messenger of Allah! for what actions? The Messenger of Allah said: When Allah creates a servant for Paradise, he keeps him engaged in the actions of the inmates of Paradise, till he dies upon an action out of the actions of the inmates of paradise and then He will admit him therefore in Paradise; and when He creates a servant for Hell, He keeps him engaged in the actions of the inmates of Hell till he dies".
Mishkat III, p. 107
This is confirmed by al-Bukhari:
"Narrated 'Abdullah Allah's Apostle, the truthful and truly-inspired, said, 'Each one of you collected in the womb of his mother for forty days, and then turns into a clot of an equal period (of forty days) and then Allah sends an angel and orders him to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed (in the Hereafter). Then the soul is breathed into him. And by Allah, a person among you (or a man) may do deeds of the people of the Fire till there is only a cubit or an arm-breadth distance between him and the Fire, but then that writing (which Allah has ordered the angel to write) precedes, and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters it; and a man may do the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and Paradise, and then that writing preceeds and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it".
Al-Bukhari - "Al-Qadr" vs. 593
White race created for paradise, black race for hell
"Abu Darda's reported that the Holy Prophet said: Allah created Adam when He created him. Then he stroke his right shoulder and took out a white race as if they were seeds, and He stroke his left shoulder and took out a black race as if they were coals. Then He said to those who were in his right side: Towards Paradise and I don't care. He said to those who were on his left shoulder: Towards Hell and I don't care".
Mishkat III, p. 117
The will of man and his actions are fixed
"Verily the Almighty and Glorious Allah finished five things for every man of His creation: his fixed term, his action, his resting place, his movement and his provision".
Mishkat III, p. 117
Pre-decree is not the result of good or bad deeds
"Imran-b-Hussain reported that two men of Muzainah tribe asked: O Apostle of Allah! inform about what the people do to-day and labour therein. Is it a thing which has been pre-ordained over them and which has gone among them from measurement that has been pre-ordained, or about what will occur in future out of what their Prophets gave them and so proof has been established among them? He said: No, rather a thing which has been pre-decreed for them and which has passed among them; and the corroboration of that is in the Book of Allah, the Glorious and Almighty: And by the soul and by Him who made it perfect. Then He intimated to it by inspiration its deviating from truth and its piety".
Mishkat III, p. 104
It is impossible for man to change against pre-decree
"The Holy Prophet said: When you hear about a mountain that it has shifted itself from its place, believe it, but when you hear about a man, that he has changed his nature don't believe it as it will return to what it was created upon".
Mishkat III, p. 121
We are tempted to quote from the Bible:
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed, the new has come!"
2. Cor. 5:17
There is no assurance of forgiveness nor of eternal destiny
"I heard the Messenger of Allah say - Verily the Almighty and Glorious Allah caught one hold with His right hand and another with another hand, and said: This is for this, and this is for this, and I don't care. I don't know in which of the two holds I am".
Mishkat III, p. 118
"Anas reported that the Apostle of Allah used often to say: O Changer of hearts! make my heart firm upon Thy religion. I said: O Prophet of Allah! I believe in you and in what you have come with. Do you still fear for us? 'Yes' said he, the hearts are between the two fingers [sic] Allah. He changes them as He likes".
Mishkat III, p. 111
"'Say: Nothing shall ever befall upon to us except what Allah has ordained for us'[sic].Mujahid said 'Bifatanin, Bimudillin': You cannot make anyone go astray except that whom Allah has written for to go to Hell [sic]".
Al-Bukhari - "Al-Qadr", Chapt. 14
"'Never could we have found guidance, were it not that Allah had guided us'.
'If only Allah had guided me, I should indeed have been among the pious'".
Al-Bukhari - "Al-Qadr", Chapt. 15
Jahweh has committed himself to His Word. This cannot be said of Allah.Many of his promises are negated again. Allah must be seen as capricious and arbitrary. He is the absolute sovereign. He orders as he wills.
Eschatology is the teaching on "the last things", meaning in general the understanding of the Resurrection, Last Judgment, Heaven and Hell, and concerns itself here also with death and life after death.
Although the same words are used for these terms as in the Christian context, the content is very different indeed.
As we shall see, Muslims have more than enough reason to fear the terrors of death, the grave, judgment and punishment.
This is one of the intimidating factors which hold every Muslim terrorized and mesmerized, since he fears more than anything else the punishment which he is taught to expect should he leave Islam.
Until the point of death, even to the Resurrection and Last Judgment, a Muslim has no knowledge of his destiny. Consequently he has no assurance of salvation. Islam offers no salvation the way the Bible does. Islam is a religion of fear, and intimidation faces those who consider to leave Islam to become Christians.
The fear of death in Islam and the glory which awaits those who die as believers in Christ - having been forgiven, having peace with God and having been reconciled to God, offers such enormous contrast, that a Christian witness would be foolish not to share this with his Muslim friend.
DEATH AND PUNISHMENT IN THE GRAVE
We look at some Hadiths taken from the popular book WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH? by Hazrat Maulana Ahmed Saeed Dehlwi and other traditions of the best accepted collection, the Mishkat.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT LIKE?
"The dead man will continue to feel the pangs of death so long as he is in the grave. For the believers, this pain is more than all other pains but for the non-believers it is very light as his trouble will come in the form of ever-lasting punishment after death". (Abu Naim)
"What Happens After Death?", p. 52
"Hazrat Umar asked Hazrat Ka'ab to narrate the conditions of death. He told that a tree of thorns was thrust in his stomach and every thorn of it was entangled with a vein and in that state a very powerful man was pulling out that tree with all his force and with [sic] thorns all the veins were coming out". (Ibn Abi Shaiba, Ibn Abiddumya)
"What Happens After Death?", p. 54
"Hazrat Ata Bin Yasaar has quoted the Holy Prophet to have stated that the grip of the Angel of Death is harder than thousand strikes of a sword. The believer, who dies, feels pain in every vein separately. At the time of death, Satan, the enemy of Allah, is very near to the dying man". (Masnad Haaris)
"What Happens After Death?", p. 55
"That is the hour at death-bed. At that time the eyes are taken out, the veins are snatched away, the backbone is crushed and the whole physical frame is put to agonies which no human language can express. If there is a wound in the body, the whole body suffers endless pain. Imagine the condition of the body when the entire bodily limbs [sic] will be snatched away one by one. This is the turning hour of a man from one stage to another, from a life of flesh to a life of spirit".
Mishkat IV, p. 83 - Commentary
"When a man is buried, two black and blue-coloured angels will come to him. One of them is called Mankir and another Nakir. They will ask: What did you use to say about this man? If he was a believer, he will reply: He is the servant of Allah and his Messenger. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger. They will then say: We knew that you would reply thus. Afterwards, his grave will be made spacious up to seventy cubits in (every) seventy, and then there will be light for him therein and it will be said to him 'Sleep'. He will say: I shall return to my family and inform them. They will say: Sleep like the sleep of a bridegroom whom nobody can make awake except the dear ones of the family, till Allah will raise him up from that bed of his".
Mishkat III, p. 85
"A virtuous man will live in a semi-conscious state of happiness in his grave as if he is in dream in the midst of the sweet company of a beautiful girl. When he will be awake, he will exclaim: O woe to us! who has raised us from our sleeping place? The sinner will also live likewise in the midst of huge snakes, tigers and lions as if he is in dream. He will continue to have such punishment in proportion to his evil deeds".
Mishkat III, p. 78+79
HOW LONG IS THE SUFFERING TO LAST?
"What does grave mean? Grave means the period from the time of death up to the Resurrection Day when judgment will take place".
Mishkat III, p. 78
"Hazrat Ibn Abbas said that the Holy Prophet said that while ordering to take out the soul of the sinful believers Allah asks the Angel of Death to give him the glad tiding of Paradise, although on account of sin, they will be given punishment of fire for a certain period. It means that the followers of Muhammad would certainly get Paradise although after completing their term of punishment for the sins".
"What Happens After Death?", p. 92
Contrary to that the Bible clearly states:
"Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
While punishment in the grave is temporary, i.e. until the resurrection and final judgement, hell is eternal.
"If We had willed, We could certainly have brought every soul its true guidance. But the Word from Me will come true: 'I will fill Hell with Jinns and men all together.Taste ye then - for ye forgot the Meeting of this Day of yours, and We too will forget you - taste ye the penalty of Eternity for your (evil) deeds!"
"The Sinners will be in the punishment of Hell, to dwell therein (for ever).
Nowise will the (punishment) be lightened for them, and in despair will they be there overwhelmed.
Nowise shall We be unjust to them: But it is they who have been unjust themselves.They will cry: 'O Malik! Would that thy Lord put an end to us!' He will say: 'Nay, but ye shall abide!'."
"Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: there will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs.
They will dwell therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as thy Lord willeth: for thy Lord is the (sure) Accomplisher of what he planneth."
"Their wish will be to get out of the fire, but never will they get out therefrom. Their penalty will be one that endures."
Most Muslims believe that they will have to go to hell for a period of time to suffer for the sins which they have committed while on earth. But they equally hope to enter Paradise thereafter.
This raises some questions:
- If hell is forever - how do they hope to come out?
- Where does forgiveness come in?
- Why should Allah let those people out of hell into Paradise who sinned against better knowledge (i.e. the believers) and leave the ignorant for eternal punishment?
- In all mentioned Qur'an references we read of sinners and those who guard against evil (see below). The former will go to and stay in hell, the latter shall be saved from it (see below). There is no mention of saving faith:
"So, by the Lord, without doubt, We shall gather them together, and also the Evil Ones (with them). Then shall We bring them forth on their knees round about Hell.And certainly We know best those who are most worthy of being burned therein.Not one of you but will pass over it: this is with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished.
But we shall save those who guarded against evil, and We shall leave the wrong-doers therein (humbled) to their knees."
Surah 19:68, 70-72a
WHICH SINS WILL BE PUNISHED?
"Hazrat Ibn Umar retired for night halt to a house which belonged to an aged woman. There was a grave at short distance from the house. During the night he heard a voice from the grave, shouting:
'Urine that urine - water container that water container'.
When he inquired of the woman about the grave she said that it belonged to her husband who was suffering from tribulation of the grave for two reasons - first he did not take care in urinating and secondly he pointed to an empty water container when a very thirsty man asked for water to quench his thirst. As a result the man did not find water therein and died of the thirst".
"What Happens After Death?", p. 190
"Sheikh Ibn Hajar Makki narrates that the Traditions mentioning carelessness in urinating causing tribulation of the grave are a proof that carelessness in urinating is a grave sin (Kubair) and so also fault finding and back biting". (Kitabe Zawajir)
"What Happens After Death?", p. 195
For considering the prescribed prayers (Salat) a burden and for neglecting the prescribed almsgiving:
"It is narrated by Abu Huaira that during the Night of Miraj the Holy Prophet passed by a group whose heads were being crushed with the stones, they were those who performed salat like unburdening a load from their heads or treated the salat as a burden. Then there was a group which had covered their sexparts with a piece of rag only and was grazing hot stones and cactus, they did not pay Zakat and Sadaqat."
"What Happens After Death?", p. 203
"The snake says: 'I have been appointed over you by my Lord in order to bite you till sunrise for having missed your morning prayers, and I am appointed to bite you till afternoon for missing the noon prayer, and then I am to bit you till sunset for having missed the afternoon prayers; and I am to bite you till night-prayer's time for missing the evening prayers and missing the night prayers. I am appointed to bite you continuously till morning. When the snake bites him but once the corpse sinks into the earth to the depth measuring the length of seventy hands. And in the same manner he will continue to suffer this torment till Doomsday".
"What Happens After Death?", Part II
For those whose actions differ from their words, who try to hear and see illegitimate things, who refused to suckle their babies, and who broke the fast (Sawm) before the time:
"According to Hazrat Abu Imama the Holy Prophet Sal'am described a dream to his Companions. He found women and men whose mouth corners were ripped, they were those whose actions were different from their words. Going onward certain women and men were seen in whose ears and eyes nails were thrust, they were those who always tried to hear and see the illegitimate things. The certain [sic] women were hanging upside down and there [sic] breasts were bitten by snakes, they were those who refused to suckle their babies. A little ahead, many men and women were found hanging upside down and licking mud, they were those fast observers who broke their fasts before the appointed time".
"What Happens After Death?", p. 204
For those who were liars:
"In the fourth grave the dead was seen burning in the fire and the Angels of Tribulation were thrashing him which had made him cry loudly. In the same manner it was said that the dead used to take false oaths and was a liar".
"What Happens After Death?", p. 210
And for those who played chess:
"In the fifth grave the dead was being beaten with the pillars of fire and he was crying very loudly. It was said about him in the same manner that he was an amateur player of chess etc. although such things are prohibited by the Apostle of Allah".
"What Happens After Death?", p. 210
Is this not desperately sad? Yes, indeed. Muhammad found this too:
"It is said by Hazrat Burra that he accompanied the Holy Prophet Sal'am in a funeral and the latter wept near a grave so excessively that the soil was moistened and upon their inquiry he told the Companions to be prepared for the grave which was so terrifying". (Ibn Maja)
"What Happens After Death?", p. 169
THE TIME OF THE END
Jesus the Messiah Will Come and Kill Al-Dajjal
The Mahdi will come followed by Jesus, who will kill the Antichrist:
Towards the End of Times a descendant of Muhammad will appear as the Mahdi (pronounced Machadi). He will move from Medina to Mecca, be the Imam there and teach and guide all faithful Muslims. He is not mentioned in the Qur'an and scarcely in the Hadith - not at all by the best accepted Hadith collectors (Bukhari and Muslim). In the Mishkat we read:
"Abdullah b-Masud reported that the Prophet said: the world shall not pass away till a man of my house rules over the Arabs. His name will be similar to my name". Umme Salamah reported: I heard the Prophet of Allah say: The Mahdi will appear from my stock, from the descendants of Fatima".Abu Sayeed-al-Khodri reported that the Prophet said: The Mahdi will appear from me with broad forehead, prominent of nose [sic]. He will fill up the world with justice and equity as it was filled up with oppression and tyranny. He will rule for seven years".
Mishkat IV, p. 44+45
Shiáh Muslims believe the Mahdi has already come in the person of the 12th Khalif Muhammad Abu'l-Qasim, who is believed to be hiding (in a deep well) until the end of time.
Al-Dajjal is the Islamic version of the Anti-Christ:
"It appears from many traditions that Dajjal was living or at least born at the time of the Holy Prophet. He will not die till he will be killed by Jesus. In the mean time, he has been kept in strong iron chains. The Holy Prophet has given his physical description. He will be squint of right eye, floating of the left eye, curly and coarse haired, having biting teeth, big and fat so much so that there will be a distance of 70 cubits between his two eyes. His father will be long statured with long nose like a beak, and his mother will be fat and long of two hands".
Mishkat IV, p. 51 - Commentary
Jesus will defeat Al-Dajjal:
"When Dajjal representing the embodiment of evils will let flow his poisonous teachings attended with general oppression and sham miracles, Jesus will come down from heaven placing his two palms upon the wings of angels and descend in [sic] the white minaret to the east of Damascus. He will pray behind Imam Mehdi thereby showing that he will establish the Shariat of the Holy Prophet of Arabia. He will destroy the Cross which represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ because it is a gross misrepresentation. He will establish the kingdom of god on earth in which there will remain no mutual hatred, jealousy, enmity and rancour. The world will be filled up for a time with the melodious names of Allah. He will be nearly of square size, red, extremely beautiful, having hanging hairs. He will take wife and issues will be born to him. He will search for Dajjal and find him out at Lud, a town in Syria and he will kill him there with his own hand. Thereafter almost all including the Jewsandthe Christians will accept Islam thus proving the truth of the Qur'anic verse: 'He it is who sent his Apostle with guidance and true religion in order that He may cause it to prevail over all other religions'. During his khalifat, two mighty tribes known as Gog and Magog will appear from the hilly countries between Turkisthan and Transoxania and will devastate the land carrying pillage and murders. through the invocation of Jesus, they will be destroyed. Then there will be heavy shower of rain which will enrich the world with food stuffs and vegetables. Thereafter a pleasant wind will carry all the believers to death leaving the unbelievers to suffer. After this Jesus will die and he will be buried at the Prophet's sepulcher just by the side".
Mishkat IV, p. 80 - Commentary
Jesus will destroy all crosses:
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: By One in whose hand there is my life, it is certainly near that the son of Mary will bring down to you justice and administration, that he will destroy the Cross, kill swines and abolish Jizya that wealth will increase so much so that nobody will accept it, so much so that one prostration will be better than the world and what will be therein. Afterwards Abu Hurairah said: Read if you like: And there will be none from among the People of the Book who will not believe in him before his death".
Mishkat IV, p. 81
Jesus will marry, have children, die and be buried next to Muhammad:
"Abdullah-b-Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Jesus, son of Mary, will come down to the world. He will marry and there will be his issue, and he will live for forty five years and then die. He will be buried with me in my grave. Then I and Jesus, son of Mary, will stand up in one grave between Abu Bakr and Omar".
Mishkat IV, p. 82
THE RESURRECTION DAY
"The resurrection is spoken of under various names, the most important of which is given below: the day of Resurrection, [occurring seventy times in the Qur'an], the day of requittal, the next world, [occurring over one hundred times], the day of trial, [occurring five times], The Hour [occurring forty times in the Qur'an] does not properly apply to the Day of Resurrection as it is the hour of Destruction (Doomsday), while the Resurrection is the hour of Construction. With the first blowing of the Trumpet, the Hour of Destruction will come to pass, and then after a lapse of forty years in Barzakh the Resurrection will take place.
Then it shall be blown again, when lo they shall stand up awaiting. And the earth shall shine with the light of its Lord and the book shall be laid down and the prophets and the witnesses shall be brought up (Surah 39:69). And the whole earth shall be in His grip on the Resurrection Day and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand (Surah 39:67). And the Trumpet shall be blown when lo from their graves they shall hasten on to their Lord. They shall say: O woe to us! who has raised us from our sleeping-place ... There shall be nought but a single cry when lo they shall be all brought before Us (Surah 36:51). The day on which the Trumpet shall be blown, so that you shall all come forth in hosts and the heavens shall be opened, so that it shall be all openings (Surah 78:19). The earth will be red-white plane without trees, plants, mountains and rivers. The sun will shine just above the head from a little distance. The people will rise up naked, barefooted and uncircumcised. There will be no place for concealment and no shade except the shade of the Throne of the Almighty which the righteous only shall enjoy. There will be no sin or bloodshed or evil-doing as everybody will be engaged in the thoughts of salvation. The Qur'an says: For every man out of them there will be an affair on it that day which will keep him engaged (Surah 80:37). The first to rise from his grave will be the Prophet Muhammad and then the other prophets and pious men will follow him".
Mishkat IV, p. 94+95 - Commentary
"Much intellectual blood is being spent on the question whether man will rise with body or without body. The old theory of dogmatic religion upholds the doctrine of only physical resurrection, while the new school of thought inclines to adopt only the spiritual resurrection. We cannot definitely answer either of the two questions as our vision of comprehension does not extend so far. The Qur'an and Hadith give us some clue by upholding the doctrine of spiritual resurrection combined with a physique made out of the good and evil deeds of a man".
Mishkat IV, p. 97 - Commentary
"Meqdad reported: I heard the Apostle of Allah say: The sun will be brought near creation on the Resurrection Day so much so that it will be from them like the distance of a mile. People will remain in perspiration in proportion to their deeds. Of them, there will be one who will remain up to his heels, and of them will be one who will remain up to his joints, of them will be one who will remain up to his knees, of them will be those whom perspiration will drown a drowning; and the Messenger of Allah pointed out to his mouth with his hand".
Mishkat IV, p. 102 - Commentary
"Ayesha reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah say in one of his prayers: O Allah! take easy account of me. I asked: O Prophet of Allah! what is easy account? He replied: To look to his record (of deeds) and to forgive him. O Ayesha! he whose account will be strictly taken on that day will be destroyed".
Mishkat IV, p. 106 - Commentary
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
"There will be none left who will not be asked these four things - his age, in what way he spent it; his actions, with what object he did them; his body, how he had worn it out; and his wealth, wherefrom he acquired it and how he spent it. All these questions will be put to him in presence of all the creatures from the beginning of the world up to its end".
There is a Book of Deeds
"Then the Book of Deeds will be placed in his hands, such a book as had omitted nothing, small or great from being written. The Qur'an says: And the Book shall be placed, then you will see the guilty fearing from what is in it, and will say: Ah! woe to us! what a book is this? It has not omitted any great one but numbers them all [sic]. And they shall find what they done, and your Lord does not deal unjustly with any man (Surah 18:49).We made everyman's actions to cling to his neck, and will We bring forth to him on the Resurrection Day a book which he will find wide open (Surah 17:13). Whoever has done an atom's weight of good shall see it, and whoever has done an atom's weight of evil shall see it (Surah 99:7). The Almighty Allah will then ask: Read thy book, thy own soul is a reckoner against thee this day (Surah 17:14). The virtuous will receive it by the right hand and the sinner by the left and the unbelievers by the back (Surah 69:19)".
Sinners are chained
"For the sinners in general, the Lord will pass order to the angels: Lay hold on him, then put a chain on him, then thrust him into a chain the length of which is seventy cubits (Surah 69:30). At this time, the heavens and earth will weep for him at his disaster".
The balance decides in case of doubt
"After those that will enter Paradise without account and those that will enter the Fire, there will remain a class of too numerous people who mixed good with evil and thus committed both virtues and sins. the virtues and sins of only these people will be weighed in the Balance. The Qur'an says: We will not set up a balance for them [unbelievers] on the Day of Resurrection (Surah 18:105). The first class will be the people who spent their nights by standing in prayer and whom neither the commodities of this world, nor its riches could have diverted from the remembrance of Allah (Surah 24:37). The second class will be the polytheists and unbelievers - those that set up partnership with God and disbelieved the Prophet and the simple articles of religion. The trial at the Balance will be very severe and there will be none left who will not be overwhelmed with fear, bewilderment and crushing anxiety".
Saved when good deeds outweigh bad ones
"If his virtues outweigh, the man will be fortunate and will enter Paradise; if his sins outweigh, the man will be unfortunate and enter Hell. It is to this fact that the Qur'an says: Then as for one whose measure of good deeds is heavy, he shall have a pleasant life, and as one whose measure is light, his abode shall be the abyss. And what will make you know what it is? A burning fire (Surah 101:6)".
Observing the Law causes spirituality
"And as for those whose balances are heavy, these are successful, and as for those whose balances are light, these are they who caused damage to their souls (Surah 23:102). Thus spiritual deterioration is caused by the neglect of the Balance of Shariat injunctions and prohibitions. Again the Qur'an says: We sent our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that men may conduct themselves with equity (Surah 57:25)".
Resurrection Day is a day of recompense
"At that time, Allah will proclaim: Today every soul will be recompensed for what he did. There's no oppression today. And thus the verse will come out to be true. And don't think that Allah is heedless of what the oppressors do (Surah 14:42). He whose rights were infringed will get the virtue of the wrongdoer to the extent of the injury done, and if the virtues fall short of compensation, the sins of the wronged will fall on the wrong-doer. Thus the wrong-doer will be bereft of virtues and become empty handed when virtues will be urgently required. He will be truly poor.
After the measurement is over, the people will be driven towards the Great Path which runs over a bridge extended over the back of the Hell-fire. The bridge is sharper than knife and thinner than hair. There will be the fire of which the flames will be rising high just below the bridge and there will be thorny plants raising their heads above in the fire. Only those who were steadfast to the straight path of Islam will be able to cross it safe by virtue of their good deeds, and those who went astray and made their backs heavy will slip down unto Hell at the first step they will take on the Path. The Path will be enveloped in darkness and only those that will have light of good deeds will be able to pass it, some in the twinkling of an eye, some like the passing of air, some galloping, some walking, some crawling and falling down. This will occur according to the light of good deeds".
"The Holy Prophet will be the first to cross the Path with his pious followers. None would speak except one whom the Beneficent God permits (Surah 78:38). Nothing but pious deeds will be true friends at the great crisis".
All previous quotes from Mishkat IV, pp. 109-112 - Commentary
"Ayesha reported that the Holy Prophet said: There is no-body whose account will be taken on the Resurrection Day but will not be destroyed. I asked: Has not Allah said: Soon there will be easy account (Surah 84:8)? He said: That is certainly a general remark, but he whose account will strictly be taken will perish".
Mishkat IV, p. 113
The character of Allah shown here is that of a potentate sitting at court. Compassion as we see it in the Father does not appear.
The concept of sin and virtue is unlike that of the Bible. We find as the basis the strict observance of the Shariat Law. This determines:
What must be done, i.e. what is commandedWhat may be done, i.e. what is permitted
What may not be done, i.e. what if forbidden
- Those who perform the religious rituals and practice the right way at the right time are virtuous.
- In the Bible we find that the motive of action is primarily considered. Sin is so offensive to the holiness and righteousness of God, that it is repulsive and utterly rejected by God. Nothing unclean shall ever enter His presence (Eph. 5:5). Sin is not just the breaking of laws (although this is considered sin!), but rebellion against the very nature and character of God.
- Therefore God does not make a relatively "small" amount of sin (less than 50%) compatible with His holiness. A sinner must be cleansed first. This is possible only by atonement and sacrifice which is offered to people with a broken heart (repentence). Christ is the sacrifice. The very heart of God, His eternal love even for the lost, makes Him condescend in compassion to save. This is totally foreign to the cold calculations rendered at the Balance (Mizan) or the Path (Sirat).
An illustration may help us to understand this: When is a sausage not halaal?
When it is made of pork!
But if only a small part of it is pork?
Or if only the skin is from a pig?
The obvious answer is: none of these sausages are halaal. All are haraam. The same can be applied to man. When is a man not acceptable to God?
When he is a mass murderer?
When he is an occasional adulterer?
When he occasionally has an evil thought?
At any time - unless the sin, however big or small, is atoned for! And that happens by justification, when the judgement of God is actually executed to punish my sin; when God Himself in Jesus takes our place of punishment to save us from it.
We must realize that a law cannot save. It only shows what is wrong or right. Fear of punishment may improve behaviour. But it cannot change a person's attitude, character and relationship to God. One may keep all the laws with an untouched heart, the motive being: I want to be in Paradise.
"Abu Hurairah reported that the Apostle of Allah said: The Almighty Allah said: I have prepared for My righteous servants which no eye hath seen, and no ear hath heard, and no heart of man hath conceived. And read if you like: So no soul knows what is hidden from them which will refresh the eyes (Surah 32:17)".
Mishkat IV, p. 161
The general accepted translation by Yusuf Ali renders it in a rather different way and is more camouflaged.
"Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them - as a reward for their (good) deeds."
Let us compare this with the Bible, from which this text seems to originate:
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
1. Cor. 1:9 - quoting Isa. 64:4
Paradise in the Qur'an is reward for good deeds. In the Bible heaven is for those who love God and were reconciled to Him by grace which came to us through Christ.
The dramatically different kind of mentality and attitude in the Bible and in the Qur'an cannot be overlooked.
This is very apparent in the description of Paradise (al-Jannah) and Hell (al-Jahannam).
W.H.T. Gairdner observes in his book THE REPROACH OF ISLAM:
"On earth His name is ever on their (i.e. the Muslim's) lips, yet in Paradise itself, it is not He who is the object of their hearts delight".
Let us read what the Qur'an has to say about Hell and Paradise:
"When the Event inevitable cometh to pass,then will no (soul) entertain falsehood concerning its coming.(Many) will it bring low, (many) will it exalt;when the earth shall be shaken to its depth,and the mountains shall be crumbled to atoms,becoming dust scattered abroad.And ye shall be sorted out into three classes.Then (there will be) the companions of the Right Hand; what will be the companions of the Right Hand?And the companions of the Left Hand;what will be the companions of the Left Hand?And those foremost (in faith) will be foremost (in the Hereafter).These will be those nearest to Allah;in Gardens of bliss.A number of people from those of old,and a few from those of later times.(They will be) on thrones encrusted (with gold and precious stones). Reclining on them, facing each other.Round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness), ith goblets (shining) beakers,and cups out of clear-flowing fountains.No after-ache will they receive therefrom,nor will they suffer intoxication.And with fruits, and that they may select;and the flesh of fowls, any that they may desire.And (there will be companions) with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes -like unto pearls well-guarded.A reward for the deed of their past (life).No frivolity will they hear therein, nor any taint of ill -only the saying, 'Peace! Peace!'.The companions of the Right Hand;what will be the companions of the Right Hand?(They will be) among Lote-trees without thorns,among Tall trees with flowers (or fruits) piled one above another -in shade long-extended,by water flowing constantly.And the fruit in abundance,whose season is not limited, nor (supply) forbidden.And on thrones (of dignity) raised high,We have created (their companions) of special creation,and made them virgin-pure (and undefiled) -Beloved (by nature) equal in age - for the companions of the Right Hand.A (goodly) number from those of old,and a (goodly) number from those of later times."
The preceding Surah (55:47-76) gives a similar description, which we might better read in a translation more comprehensible:
"For those who feared the presence of their Lord, two gardens are designated ... decorated with trees having spreading branches ... in both are murmuring streams, in both are two kinds of fruit ... They shall rest on cushions of silk embroidered with gold ... and the fruits of both gardens shall be close to hand ... in both gardens are black-eyed virgins with cast down eyes whom neither man nor jinns have touched. They are beautiful like rubies and pearls ... Should the reward for good works be other than good? ... Besides the two gardens are two more gardens prepared ... shaded by dark green ... In these are two wells which always yield water ... In both gardens is fruit: dates and pomegranates ... also most glorious and most beautiful maidens ... with big black eyes, kept in tents for you ... never touched by men or jinns ... there you rest on green cushions and glorious carpets".
In equally depictive words hell is vividly portrayed:
"The companions of the Left Hand;what will be the companions of the Left Hand?(They will be) in the midst of a fierce blast of fire and in boiling water;and in the shades of black smoke.Nothing will there be to refresh, nor to please.All will certainly begathered together for the meetingappointed for a Day well-known.Then will ye trulyO ye that go wrong,and treat (truth) as falsehood!Ye will surely taste of the Tree of Zaqqum.Then will ye fill your insides therewith,and drink boiling water on top of it.Indeed ye shall drink like diseased camelsraging with thirst!Such will be their entertainmenton the Day of Requital!"
Surah 56:41-44, 50-56
"Has the story reached theeof the overwhelming (event)?Some faces, that Day,will be humiliated,labouring (hard), weary;the while they enter the blazing Fire;the while they are givento drink of a boiling hot spring.No food will there befor them but a bitter Dhari,which will neither nourishnor satisfy hunger.But if any turn away and reject Allah,Allah will punish himwith a mighty punishment.For to Us will be their return;then it will be for Usto call them to account."
Surah 88:1-7, 23-26
The Hadiths illustrate this even further. All this is, no doubt, a very strong tool to frighten Muslims to do what Islam prescribes - but also to resist, even looking, at the other exceedingly attractive alternative: the faith in Christ.
In the Qur'an hell is the reward for evil deeds. In the Bible it is the abode of all who died unforgiven.
The Islamic Teaching on Salvation
In the Bible we find well defined teaching about salvation, i.e. the way whereby a person can clearly perceive and understand how, after having been separated from God through sin (and by that being lost, 'dead in sin', Eph. 2:1), he/she may obtain forgivenss and be reconciled to God (2. Cor. 5:18+19). Every person with a fair knowledge of God's Word and not confused by certain church dogmas, is able to judge in what position he/she stands before God: forgiven or not forgiven, saved or lost.
No Muslim may justifyably conclude that his/her sins are forgiven, that he/she is saved from the consequences of sin, and has by that token peace with God and the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
Islam presents actually three 'ways of salvation', if one may call them by this name:
SALVATION BY RIGHT ACTION
"The balance that day will be true (to a nicety). Those whose scale (of good) will be heavy, will prosper.
Those whose scale will be light, will find their souls in perdition, for that they wrongfully treated our signs."
SALVATION THROUGH MERCY AND FORGIVENESS
"Say: If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you, and forgive you your sins. For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
SALVATION BY PREDETERMINATION
"Say: Why then doth He punish you for your sins? Nay, ye are but men - of the men He hath created. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and He punishes whom He pleaseth. And to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between."
"He leads astray whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions."
So we may ask: can a Muslim never know for sure whether he will be accepted by Allah? Muslims may give us three sure conditions for reaching paradise :
- through death in the Holy war
- reciting the whole Qur'an
- eating part of a believers body
The word 'salvation', which is 'najat' in Arabic, only appears once in the Qur'an: It lets a believing subject of Pharaoh say:
"O, my people! How (strange) it is for me to call you to salvation while ye call me to the fire (i.e. hell)".
Yusuf Ali translates the word 'fauz' with 'salvation':
"Allah will say: 'This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth. Theirs are the Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath, - their eternal home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah. That is the great salvation (the fulfillment of all desires)."
The footnote in the Qur'an explains:
"Fauz = felicity, happiness, achievement, salvation, the attainment or fulfilment of desires. What a beautiful definition of salvation or the end of life! - that we should win God's good pleasure and that we should reach the stage at which His good pleasure is all-in-all to us".
In an additional note (app. XII, p. 1469) we read:
"This, then, is the Muslim idea of salvation. It consists, not in being saved from the consequences of our sins by the suffering or the merits of others, nor in Nirvana, or annihilation or absorption - but in the achievment, the attainment of all desires, the felicity in excelsis.
This is our idea of salvation: the negative avoidance of all the consequences of evil, and the positive attainment of all - and more than all - that our hearts could possibly desire. For God's bounty outstrips anything that our eyes have seen, or our ears have heard of, or our imagination can conceive".
To any person who knows and believes the Bible, this is an atrocious blasphemy of God and a total misjudgment of God, man and sin!
a false concept of God
a false concept of man
a false concept of sin
Because of the misunderstood holiness and righteousness of God, sin is minimized. This leads to the wrong understanding that man can deal with his sin or that God will eliminate it because of man's sincerity, which ultimately is also his own effort.
Consequently a Muslim sees no need for atonement, justification and reconciliation or, for that matter, grace.
The Law of Islam
The Shariah (Shariat) is the common law of Islam, meaning the way or 'road in the religion of Islam', established for the guidance of Muslims, both for the worship of Allah and for the duties of life. It is the religious evaluation and regulation of all affairs of life. The 'Science of Law' is called 'Fikh'. The term 'ash-Shariah' occurs only a couple of times in the Qur'an.
In the Traditions and theological works, the word 'ash-Shar' is generally used to express the Law of Muhammad.
A most interesting phenomenon must be mentioned here. As the Qur'an, the Shariah is "ta'abbudi", i.e. it must be accepted without critique. It cannot be penetrated by intelligence, despite its apparent inconsistencies. This concept has been adopted for the whole of Islam. Muslims are to submit to it, and do not probe into its truth and trustworthiness. This is probably the single most tragic bondage in Islam. It excludes critical analysis and comparison with the Christian faith, and this is the very thing the Qur'an promotes:
"To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety; so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth, that hath come to thee."
Muslims are to judge between the scripture revealed to Muhammad and the scriptures that came before it! It is imperative for the Christian witness to challenge Muslims to abide by what the Qur'an teaches and to persuade them to think for themselves and to critically analyze the reasons and evidences for their faith and ours.
The claim that the biblical Scripture has been corrupted, is contradicted by this very verse which is quoted above.
The actual word Shariah is found in the following verses:
"To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah has 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."
Surah 5:48 - continued
"Then We put thee on the (right) Way of Religion: so follow thou that (way), and follow not the desires of those who know not."
Isn't this interesting: Allah could have made all a single people, but he made them different people (i.e. Muslims, Christians and Jews), so that they should strive like in a race for the best virtues! Goal: to show them the truth about which they dispute! In these verses there is Moses or any other Scripture which no word of condemnation of the Law of came before (the Qur'an),states that Allah willed neither of the Christians. Indeed it different religions to show the Truth!
According to learned Muslims 'ash-Shar' or 'the Law', may be divided into five sections:
- 'Itiqadat', embraces all that is contained in the six articles of the Muslim faith, namely, belief in:
- His Angels
- His Books
- His Prophets
- The Day of Judgment
- The Decrees of God
- 'Adab', embraces the consideration of all those 'moral excellences' which are enjoined in the Qur'an and the Hadith as:
- Sincerity, confidence in God, humility, resignation, keeping down one's expectations, renunciation of the world, giving good counsel and advice, contentment, liberality, love of God and man, patience.
- 'Ibadat' includes all acts of devotion to God, such as are included in the Five Pillars of Practice:
- 'Shaháda', the recitation of the Creed
- 'Salat', the ritual prayer
- 'Zakat', the legal alms giving
- 'Sawm', the fasting
- 'Hajj', the pilgrimage to Mecca
It will also embrace such religious duties as 'Jihad' or warfare for the propagation of the religion of Islam.
- 'Mu'amalat' includes such duties as are required between man and man. This covers the various sections of civil jurisprudence such as trade and business, theft, marriage, divorce, dower, partnership, claims, etc.
- 'Uqubat' denotes the punishment instituted in the Qur'an and Traditions, such as: retaliation, punishment for theft (by the loss of a hand), punishment for fornication and adultery (by stoning for a married person and one hundred lashes for an unmarried person), punishment of eighty lashes for slander, punishment by death for apostasy, and punishment with eighty lashes for wine-drinking.
Muslim law strongly distinguishes between 'lawful' (halaal) and 'unlawful' (haraam).
That which is lawful is graded into five classes:
- 'Farz', that which is proved beyond all doubt to be taught by the Qur'an or in a tradition of undoubted authority. The denial or disobedience of such is considered positive infidelity.
- 'Wijib', that which is obligatory, but of which there is some doubt whether or not it was practised in the Qur'an or in a tradition of undoubted authority.
- 'Sunnah', that which was practised by Muhammad.
- 'Mustahabb', that which Muhammad and his companions sometimes omitted.
- 'Mubah', that which is desirable, but which may be omitted without fear of sin.
Lawful and unlawful are graded:
- 'Sunnatu'l-Fili', that which Muhammad himself did.
- 'Sunnatu'l-Quali', that which Muhammad said should be practised.
- 'Sunnatu'l-Taqriti', that which was done in the presence of Muhammad, and which he appears to have sanctioned.
(All the above is based on the DICTIONARY OF ISLAM under "Law".)
This has resulted in a concept of sin which differs fundamentally from the Christian Scriptures. (See also p. *)
The words for sin in Arabic are 'khati'a, 'ithm', which is seen as a severe sin being intended, but also the word 'dhanb' is used, which in the colloquial means a kind of wrong done without necessarily going against any of God's commandments. It is, likewise, a 'horizontal' sin, not a 'vertical' one. In the Arabic-English Lexicon, by E.W.Lane, however, 'dhanb' means 'sin, a crime, a fault, a transgression or an act of disobedience'. Since this word is used in the Qur'an against Muhammad, its meaning has been modified by Muslims to mean 'shortcoming, results from inattention, incapacity, imperfection'.
The true origin and fountain of all Islamic law is the Qur'an and the Hadith. No Muslim school of theology has ever rejected them, i.e. they are binding upon Sunnis and Shi'ah, the only difference between the Sunni and Shi'áh being that they use different collections of Traditions.
In addition to the Qur'an, and the Sunnah as derived from the Hadith, Islamic Law has accepted two further bases:
|IJMA||If a case cannot be deducted from the Qur'an or Hadith, the consensus (= 'ijma') of the jurists may be, and often is, applied.|
|QIYAS||is "an analogical extension of a recognized text to include another situation which would legitimately be held to be covered by the principle ('illa) which that text enunciated" (= stated clearly).|
Sunnis are divided into 4 Law Schools. These are based on the teachings of
|ABU-HANIFA born 80 AH in Kufah||(today practised in Central Asia, India and somewhat in Egypt)|
|MALIK born 96 AH in Medina||(today practised in West Africa and North Africa, excepting Egypt)|
|ASH-SHAFI'I born 150 AH in Gaza||(today practised in South Arabia, East Africa, Malaysia, Egypt and Central Asia)|
|IBN-HANBAL born 164 AH in Baghdad||(today practised in parts of the Arabian peninsula)|
These different schools of jurisprudence of Sunnis do not differ in fundamentals or religious belief, but in rules of practice, and in certain legal interpretations.
The difference amongst these four Sunni schools are based either upon different traditions or upon different interpretations of the same tradition. Consequently the number of works which have appeared on the subjects of scholastic science and jurisprudence (Fikh) have been very great indeed.
Recommended Literature for Chapter 6:
Ishmael, my Brother, compiled by Anne Cooper, MARC, Evangelical Missionary Alliance, 1993, pp. 113-140.
Islam and Christianity, A Muslim and a Christian in dialogue, Badru Kateregga and David Schenk, Uzima Press1988, 179 pages.
- a dialogue book presenting the Muslim and Christian witness about God, creation, Satan, the church, worship, ethical behaviour and mission. Unfortunately the excellent disposition of the book falls short of an uncompromising loyality to the Scriptures.
Sin and Atonement in Islam and Christianity, Iskander Jadeed, Light of Life, 57 pages.
- compares the subject in the light of Qur'an and Bible. The study leads to the realization of the necessity of redemption for the forgiveness of sin by the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Textbook of Islam II, M.A. Quraishy, 1989, The Islamic Foundation, P.O.Box 30611, Nairobi, Kenya.
The Prayer of the Lost, Abd Al-Masih, Light of Life 1993, 120 pages.
- compares the opening Sura Al-Fatiha with the Lord's Prayer and thus demonstrates the differencies in prayer between Islam and the Christian faith. The different spirit portrayed in these prayers alerts us to recognize the true nature of Islam.
Free handout: A comparison of some teachings of Islam and Christianity, LCA.