The inclusive Approach of Islam towards other Religions

Dr. Abdolrahim Gavahi

Since the success of any dialogue and achieving mutual understanding depends on the corect apprehension of the views and beliefs of the other side, therefore, the purpose of the following paper is to briefly present the views of Islam towards other religions. Obviously, providing such a paper about Christianity and other traditions (by advocates of those religions) facilitates such mutual understanding and provides the very basis of a positive, constructive, and useful dialogue.

At this very stage, it seems appropriate to clarify two points:

1-     Since, according to Islamic tenets, Qur’an is the prime and supreme source of Islamic beliefs and rituals, therefore, in the following discussions, all the references are cited solely from that Holy Book. Clearly, such references may well be cited from other sources, such as the traditions (Ahādith) of the holy Prophet (ص), as well as views expressed by great Islamic scholars, though such an endeavor is beyond the purpose of the present paper.

2-     From the text of Qur’an -the sacred book of Muslims- it can well be concluded that in this Holy Book the term „Islam“ has been used in two distinctively different senses, one „general“ and the other „particular“. Any mixing up of the two will result in great confusion and misunderstanding, so widely present in many critics and polemics about Islam.

The term „Islam“ in it’s general sense

Based on many verses of Qur’an, the term Islam, in it’s general sense, denotes belief in all religious traditions starting from Adam (ع) and ending in the last Prophet (ص),[1] i.e.“khātam“. Naturally, the supreme deity of such a comprehensive religion is the same God of all religious traditions and theistic beliefs, as well as that of all prophets.

Along this line, Qur’an, in surat Al-Baqarah, states that Abraham enjoined upon his sons „Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen The faith for you; then die not except in the state of submission“[2] -i.e. Islam- ­and then asks, in a puzzling tone „were you witnesses when death appeared before Jacob and he said to his sons: what will you worship after me? They said: we shall worship thy God and the God of thy fathers Abraham, Isaac; the One (True) God; to Him do we submit“[3]. Anyhow, belief in the one common God[4], and all Holy Books[5], and divine prophets[6], is the main characteristic of Islam – in it’s general sense – in Qur’an. As in surat Al- Maidah we read: „those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians, any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve“[7].

The term „Islam“ in it’s particular sense

The term „Islam“, in it’s particular application, includes belief in Prophet Mohammad (ص), as the last Messenger of God[8], and in the holy Book of Qur’an as the last Divine Revelation[9], though Qur’an itself makes the belief in previous sacred Books (i.e. the Torah and the Gospels) a prerequisite to the belief in Islam and prophet Mohammad (ص)[10]. Thus, it can rightly be argued that, without full belief in Moses and Jesus, and Torah and Gospels, one is not truly a Muslim and his belief in Prophet Mohammad (ص), not being qualified by belief in preceding Prophets, is not considered a „perfect“ (complete) belief.

In the light of these introductory comments, let us now examine the approach or Qur’an and Islam towards other religious faiths and beliefs.

PDF: The inclusive Approach of Islam towards other Religions

[1]. Qur’an 2.4.

[2]. Qur’an 2.132.

[3]. Qur’an 2.133.

[4]. Qur’an 29.46.

[5]. Qur’an 2.3.

[6]. Qur’an 4.253.

[7]. Qur’an 5.69.

[8]. Qur’an 33.40.

[9]. Qur’an 17.9.

[10]. Qur’an 2.3.