First Response: I just wanted to say that your "scholarly" and "theological" argument about inter-faith marriage is a joke. You mention only a single verse and call it "problematic". If the Qur'an is problematic (in the way it was addressed to a tribal context), then why be a Muslim? This is not the True Islam - this is your Islam.

The topic of inter-faith marriage is a scholarly topic. Many traditional scholars have written on the topic extensively. To completely annihilate and put aside the years of scholarship of these early and later Muslims (of the mainstream Sunni Muslim scholarship) and just say we have to reinterpret it to suit the modern context is nothing short of a joke.

1. First of all, notice that you quoted verse 5:5 and called it 5:6! Is this the extent of your scholarship? You can't even get your numbers right, forget about your fatwas.

2. The verse 5:5 speaks ONLY about marriage to the Jews and Christians. If a Muslim woman falls in love with a Hindu, will she be allowed to marry him? The Qur'an says: "And marry not the polytheist women unless they believe; and truly a believing slave girl is better than a polytheist woman though she may astound you. And marry (your subjects) not to polytheist men unless they believe; and truly a believing slave is better than a polytheist male though he may astound you. They call to the Fire and Allah calls to the Garden and forgiveness by His leave. And He explains His signs to man so they may ponder."(2:221) Does it get any clearer than this? The Qur'an says men and women cannot marry polytheists (i.e. non-Jews and Christians and Muslims). There is no ambiguity. Therefore, either accept the Qur'an or do not profess to be a Muslim.

3. A woman cannot marry a non-Muslim. Needless to say, the verse 5:5 only gives permission for men to marry one of the People of the Book. Also the Qur'an states: "They (the female Muslims) are not permitted (in marriage) for them (the male non-Muslims) and they are not permitted for them"(60:10).

First Rebuttal: I fear, gentle sir, that you have misunderstood my statements. The Qur'an was certainly not problematic for the people to whom it was primarily addressed -- but I do hold that it was and continues to be problematic for those who try to read it as a manifesto for some universal world order, without due consideration of its sitz im leben. Scholars of Islam have always held that one has to be careful about particularities and generalities, about taking statements out of context -- but then you seek to imply that you are a scholar, so I will not further bother you by pointing out that which I ought to assume you already know.

Regarding the views of the scholars of yore, I hold that they were men of their time, limited by their culture and androcentrism, in much the same way I (perhaps you may be exempt), too am limited by my time and place -- for I hold that developments over the next few decades and centuries will make the mores that we accept as normal seem backward. I would propound -- as a trained scholar -- that Muslims would have to be able to think in that mode, and perhaps abandon my ideas, for those which are more modern. You seem to deny or imply any mantle of infallibility to the scholars of the past, yet the Qur'an mentions: "And if it is said to them, follow what God has revealed, they say "Rather we would have that which we found our forefathers doing. Is it to be so even though their fathers did not think and were not rightly guided?" I am truly sorry to have to refute your position with a verse from the Qur'an, but I see it as my duty to point out -- and do please forgive me for daring to read the Qu'ran for what it is -- that in Islam there is room for people who think, not people who worship the ideas of the ancients.

Allow me also to point out that for many -- and I am one of them -- the Bismillah of every sura counts as an independent verse. This means that I am right in viewing the verse I quoted as 5:6. I am rather surprised that you did not realize this. Again, my apologies for holding a view that differs from yours.

If you read Fazlur Rahman's book "Major Themes of the Qur'an", you will see that he points out "ahl al kitab" is a generic term for peoples of any revealed scriptures. The Arabs of Muhammad's time knew only of the Jews, Christians, and Magians. Since the Qur'an was never meant to be an encyclopedia of world religions, there was no way the Prophet's contemporaries could have envisaged the various other religions -- as it was not important to them. Certainly, if there were Hindus with their shrutis (revelations to rishis passed on to later generations), and they were a pervasive presence in the Arab peninsula, the Qur'an would have referred to them. Many of the earlier scholars (whom you hold in such great esteem) allowed the intermarriage of Muslims and Hindus based on this idea of "kitab".

In reference to your letter, you seem to feel that if one is a non-Jew, non-Muslim, or non-Christian, then such a person is "lost." Perhaps you are right -- but my view of the Divine and His/Her boundless compassion, and the fact that God has sent a prophet unto every nation, forces me to differ with you. In the same manner that the Qur'an asks the Jews and Christians to prove that only they are rightly guided, so I also ask you to prove (please note that by "prove" I mean to provide material that is beyond the shadow of any doubt) your position.

As far as accepting the Qur'an OR not professing to be a Muslim, I must say that I am surprised. I had thought that based on the countless hadith we have, and based on several verses of the Qur'an, we do not attribute heresy to people so lightly. I think I have provided material to show that even in the most stringent of extremist interpretations, there are circumstances under which Muslims may marry polytheists. Since you imply scholarship, I shall not seek to further displease you by citing the verse with a number -- for I may err -- but please do read the Qur'an carefully. Incidentally, I am almost sure you know that the concept of verse numbering is a relatively late development in Islam.

I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the interpretation of the word "Muslim" is a truly difficult one as scholars now differentiate between a general form of Islam, and a reified Islam. In leaving, I extend the courtesy of the Islamic greeting of wa alaykum as salaam. For in our response, we never seek to excommunicate anyone nor force our views on an unwilling readership (you are invited to read our disclaimer on the front page). Our views are there for perusal and analysis. When there is a truly scholarly rebuttal and debunking, we will be the first to abandon a proven erroneous view. May God guide us to that which leads to universal harmony.

Follow-up Response: First, I would like to thank you for your response. I follow the mainstream Sunni Islam, orthodox Islam -- some contemporary examples would be Shaykh Muhammad al-Ya'qubi, Shaykh Habib Jifri, Shaykh Habib Umar, Shaykh Habib Kadhim (I'm a big fan of the Habaib), Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad aka Timothy Winter (being based in Cambridge I have the privilege of listening to his talks/sermons regularly), Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, and the generality of the Berelwi/Deobandi/Sufi (not extreme) scholars. This I believe is the majority of the Muslims and I feel comfortable in identifying myself as part of the majority, as the Prophet (pbuh) said: "My nation will gather not on deviance", and verses of the Qur'an testify to the steadfastness of this nation on the truth. It is the Way of the Scholars that is the Truth, not the way of the forefathers -- but more of that when we get to it.

I agree on the principle of time and culture being a factor in deriving verdicts. Scholars have coined terms such as "istihsan" to show certain rulings take precedence in cases more suitable though they may be weaker in evidence. However, the degree to which you are applying this principle is laughable. It must remembered that, despite the principle of istihsan and other such notions, the Islamic Message is a universal and eternal message. The Qur'an itself claims this. The finality of the Message as embodied in the perfect example of Muhammad has been completed, perfected and accepted by God (see Qur'an 5:3).

Yes, the context and place/time of revelation is important. But it has to be remembered scholars have taken this into consideration. My main objective here is to show that if the Qur'an were a book to be interpreted and acted upon as one pleases, then every man can carve out his own religion. However, Islam has been preserved through its people. Anybody can interpret and reapply the Qur'an as they wish but is this the way that the generality of the scholars would understand the Qur'an? Sure, legitimate differences of opinion is valid. But when the clear bulk are in agreement on a thing, and agree that differences are not valid in that area, then farfetched interpretations are unacceptable.

Remember, the purpose of scholarly exegesis is not to find all the possible meanings of a certain verse and choose the one which is best for oneself, rather it is to try to understand what Allah actually meant by that verse. This is why integrity is a necessary qualification for any individual seeking to interpret the Qur'an.

Regarding your closing remarks in the above paragraph, I am not a scholar and nor do I profess to be. I am privileged to be a student and servant of the scholars. And it is through their godly and highly intellectual minds that I seek to understand what God requires of me. By leaving aside those who know better, you are being arrogant in that you feel your understanding excels theirs -- and they are not only individually more apt but a collective consensus.

I am not following "scholars of yore". As I said, every age has its common rules (that cannot be changed) and the flexibility rules are dependent on the context. All mainstream scholars today are in agreement that a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man. There is no scholarly difference in this, neither from the salaf (early scholars) nor khalaf (later scholars). Scholars who live in our times denounce this. Regarding following forefathers, this was said to the pagan Arab polytheists of Makkah. Sure it can apply to those who stubbornly hold to their beliefs BECAUSE it was said by their forefathers though it is against the truth. But it cannot be applied to people who follow their predecessors because it is they who understood what is truly better. By following them we are following the Qur'an.

I will not argue the point on verse numbering as I agree that there is legitimate differences as regards to the verse numbers. Your sarcasm in the last sentence wasn’t helpful. I wrote what I did hastily and errors may occur.

Name me one reliable scholar who allowed that a Muslim woman is allowed to marry a Hindu man. I'll make it easier -- that a Muslim man can marry a Hindu woman. The People of the Book are the Jews and the Christians, and perhaps a few smaller groups who believed in KNOWN scriptures. Hindus worship idols just as the pagan Arabs did. God forbids marriage to polytheists in the Qur'an (see my previous response). If Hinduism is not polytheism, then what is? The pagan Arabs did not believe the idols to be true gods but "gods" in that they were His daughters and intermediaries to Him, just as Hindus believe idols are His image. Worship is directed only to Allah and worshipping any other is the essence of polytheism.

If you are implying the theory of universal truth, this is rationally absurd to any sane mind. If I'm correct, you, like many Hindus, believe that all religions are correct and true in their own way. However, I beg to differ. It is a basic rule that contradictory beliefs cannot be correct at the same time. God cannot be One (Judeo-Islam) and Many (Hindus) at the same time. God cannot exist (Abrahamic and other faiths) and not exist (Buddhism) at the same time. God cannot be supernatural (Judeo-Islam) and incarnated (Christian/Hindus) at the same time. To accept all religions as true is absurd. There is only one ultimate truth. The religions before had their time and place but it is God's will that Islam be His final eternal and universal message to all.

Other than coercion, show one example disproving the prohibition of marriage to polytheists as expressly stated in the Qur'an(2:221). Your views are isolated and your approach to Islamic texts is highly selective (i.e., you will only quote lone/unexplained passages from scholars which aid your case). This is not the way of Submission -- this is what Islam literally means.

Come to the way of Truth -- the way of true Islam -- the way of the scholars, the way of mainstream orthodox Islam. Peace to those who follow true guidance. Thank you again for your response.

Follow-up Rebuttal: I find it laughable that you do not know that in early Muslim India, the scholars allowed the intermarriage of Muslim men to Hindu women. You admit you are not a scholar but you are now questioning me as if you are a scholar. You impute to me arrogance, but yourself manifest it. I feel that the Barelwi and Deobandis make several nonsensical mistakes. And please, I do know that the ancients were the pagans, but we have mimicked them to the point of taking our scholars as gods. As Abdul Aziz Sachedina has said, when we took Islam (reified) as a god, we went astray. So you like certain scholars, I am happy for you. I quoted Fazlur Rahman and you countered by asking for names. I am a scholar of religion and KNOW that the concept of Brahma is inherently monotheistic, later expressed in attribute form that took the aspect of incarnation.

I do not expect you to know this or share the idea as bigotry clouds the judgment. I therefore do not expect any benefit to come from this correspondence. The Qur'an asks, "are those who know equal to those who don't know?" Perhaps you know and I don't. Or perhaps it is the other way around. In either case, I am happy with my view of the other, with my view of permissiveness and inclusiveness. I am happy to respond to questions that seek to find true human harmony among sharers of God's wonderful cosmos. You seem bent on finding out who is correct and who is not. Perhaps you should consult with the shaykhs you mentioned as I happen to respect most of them despite our differences of opinion on issues of fiqh. They will provide the names of scholars who justified intermarriage with Hindus and Zoroastrians among others.

I notice you talk of consensus, a truly imaginative word, given that in our day and age we have such diversity. Just for your information, in November 2006, I attended a conference of scholars in Washington DC, "The Moderation Conference" sponsored by the Ministry of Awqaf in Kuwait. There, I found many "orthodox" scholars who agreed with intermarriage. Is that not truly amazing? But they perhaps did not rely on the "older" scholars" and are therefore to be shunned. I pray that somehow in your search for truth, you see the non-Muslim as a human, perhaps doing things differently, but nonetheless that which MAY get him/her into heaven. Ibn Taimiyyah said that when we hear something, we should be careful to understand it properly before rendering judgment. I would counsel you to study all religions carefully before arrogating to yourself the power of judgment -- something not given to you by the God that I worship.

By the way, the word for submission is actually "istislaam". Certainly in the word Islam there is the facet of submission to the Divine, but the word actually means "completeness or fullness." This is the more appropriate connotation of the word. When one describes a word in Arabic as "mudhakkar saalim", it means that it is in the masculine gender, and that it follows all the rules of declension. It is free from blemish; it is complete. This makes the word the perfect cognate of "shalom". I point this out to express my final thought; it is our collective duty to seek perfection. No one of us has the right to claim it for himself or herself. Muhammad (s.a.w) did not claim it for himself only and despite the warped interpretation of certain verses of the Qur'an, neither did that document, unless Islam is understood in a general sense. No one in his right mind would assume Abraham was a Muslim in the way contemporary follows of the Muhammadan message are, otherwise his sons would be Muslim and consequently Isaac would be Muslim too. That patently nonsensical view never seemed to dawn upon the medieval philosophers who conceived of some of the most infantile arguments to show the superiority of reified Islam. That the Qur'an tells us not to differentiate between the prophets is lost on many Muslims; that such prophets may include those not mentioned in the Qur'an is lost on others.

To therefore invite me to submission is to claim correctness for yourself and judge me as being wrong. Again, perhaps I am wrong, but I do what I do for God's love and based on my knowledge. As Shafi is reputed to have said, "I hold that I am right with the possibility that I am wrong, and that the others are wrong with the possibility of being right." At least even in my alleged arrogance, I can grant the possibility of doubt. Your problem is that (1) I am a scholar, Western, and Islamically trained whether you like it or not, (2) I leave judgment to God and not to you, and (3) you are not a scholar.

I see no point in continuing this discussion as I like scholarly discourse, not discussing the attributes of scholars to whom are imputed the nimbus of infallibility. Additionally, I will not harshly seek to judge you and follow your mistake: I will simply reiterate a line from the Qur'an: to you your religion, and to me mine.


Another Response:

Answer: It is not permissible for a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man. In the Qur'an, Allah has said: "And give not (your daughters) in marriage to Al-Mushrikoon till they believe (in Allah alone)" [al-Baqarah 2:221] 

The man who does not believe in Islam can in no way be legally married to a Muslim woman, according to Islamic law. This rule has been made very clear in the Qur'an. Since this type of marriage is unacceptable in Islam, to go ahead and marry a non-Muslim man is considered fornication.

And Allah has said in the Qur'aan: "It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error" [al-Ahzaab 33:36]

Since Allah is the One who has revealed Islam, we know that whatever He orders, there is benefit in it. Surely, the All-Knowing One who created us knows better what is good for His creation:

"Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything)" [al-Mulk 67:14]

Sometimes the wisdom behind an order from Allah is beyond our understanding and only Allah knows the wisdom behind it. As believers, we accept that we humans do not know everything and that Allah -- the One deserving of all praise -- has sent down the Qur'an and the Sunnah as a guidance for all of mankind. However, the wisdom behind the prohibition of marrying a non-Muslim man is readily apparent.

In a marriage, the husband has more authority over his family. Islam teaches that the wife must obey her husband in all matters that do not involve disobedience to Allah -- but when the husband is not even Muslim, he would not be concerned with telling his wife to do good. Being married to a non-Muslim, a Muslim wife would not be able to practice her religion as well. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) said: "When a person marries, he has completed half of his eemaan (faith). Let him then have taqwa in regard to the other half". [at-Tabaraanee] 

The meaning of the above hadith is that as a married woman, your faith would be half-completed because your husband would encourage you in righteousness and God-consciousness during the time you spend together. And you would do the same for him. So, marriage is a way for two people to increase in their faith and mutually encourage each other in the religion. This is not possible if a Muslim woman has a disbelieving husband. And therefore, the wife would be losing out on much good by remaining in this marriage. Marrying a non-Muslim man would also be very dangerous for any children they have. As the father, a non-Muslim man would naturally influence the children greatly and raise them according to his own ideals -- which are not in accordance with Islam. It is clear by now that marrying a non-Muslim man would not be wise as this move would greatly endanger the religion of the woman and any children she has with this man.

First rebuttal: Thanks for your attempt to answer the question that you posed. My opinions are based on the learning that I received from both traditional and secular institutions, and I hold to them. I do not for a minute deny that your responses are more in concordance with the traditional, medieval world view -- which is just one of the reasons I reject them. The medieval Muslim world view was based on the thought processes of men of that time, and to employ them now, when circumstances and interpretations have changed, when we purportedly understand each other more, would be wrong. For example, you cite as the first proof of our answer the Qur'anic prohibition against marrying polytheists. Somehow, you extend "mushrikoon" to encompass ALL non-Muslims. That is faulty logic at its most dangerous.

I am of the opinion that verse 33:36 is only in relation to that which is in the Qur'an, brought to us by the Prophet, and explicitly applicable to all times and climes. That the Muslim jurists -- including Umar -- changed the application of some verses shows that the early Muslims never saw the Qur'an as being permanent in terms of its minutiae. The Qur'an says that for every nation there was a prophet -- and we know that NOT all nations are under the categories of Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Does that mean then -- that the prophets we are supposed to believe went to other places that did not know of these three religions until recently -- were not true prophets? My take is that the Qur'an was for reference and meaning to the Arabs only. To be sure, we can see it being a source of guidance in terms of its general philosophy, but not in terms of its details and minutiae. We cannot see its legislation being permanent either, which is why the great scholar Fazlur Rahman said that the Muslims erred by confusing INIMITABILITY and IMMUTABILITY.

If you believe that a wife is supposed to listen and obey her husband simply because he has appendages that she does not have, then you are certainly entitled to your opinion, no matter how misogynistic other human beings and I might perceive it to be. But please do not quote hadith to support your point, because it is in clear contrast to the message of the Qur'an. I do not know why you suppose that a non-Muslim man must necessarily not exhort his wife to good deeds -- even though God, in the Qur'an, has made the criteria for entry into bliss the seeking of God and the doing of good deeds. In the same way we are told to ask the Jews and Christians for their proof that God's guidance is for them only, so too I now ask of you to provide me proof of this regarding the Muslims.

You sought to explain a hadith to me and I thank you for that sharh. My problem, however, is that you do not seem to know our stance regarding hadith that conflict with the Qur'an. Another problem is that you seem to assume that women are inherently inferior in intellect and religion to men. Another problem is that, as mentioned earlier, you assume every non-Muslim is a polytheist. Is it possible that by ascribing the power that some Muslims do to hadith, they are committing shirk in that they are taking as their source of guidance that which may have been forged by fallible men?

Do ALL Muslim men raise their children in concert with God's rules? Is it possible that some non-Muslim men are more righteous than professed Muslim men? Is it possible that our human society has reached the level where a woman can be an equal with a man in terms of the issues that really matter for a fully functioning society? Whatever your answers are, they are what you must use for your personal conclusions. For we do NOT force our opinions upon anyone. The nature of the ifta is to simply issue a religious opinion. Such issuance is not a hukm or binding decree. To you then your view in your wish to remain a righteous Muslim, and to us be ours in our desire to do that which we view as righteousness.

Follow-up Response: I also thank you for your quick attempt to answer my answer. I personally do not see any division from any school of thought within Islam regarding who is Al-mushrikoon (the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, idolaters, polytheists, pagans, etc.) Regardless of secular or traditional thought, there is a vast amount of verses in the Qur’an that are very straight forward that do not need any learned Imam or Mufti to understand. These verses that I am quoting are just those kind of verses. This is not a faulty logic. Its simple and honestly common sense. I have studied in Western schools and I have studied Islam under non-Muslim and Muslim professors. There is nothing medieval about my understanding. I also do not see anywhere in the Qur’an that states or implies that the Qur’an or Islam was for Arabs only, example: “O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious - see 2:2). 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #21)

I don't think my take or your take matters, since the only importance to this topic, is what the Qur’an says. Most of the Qur’an is straightforward and very clear and we do not need scholars to explain every detail of the Qur’an. Example: (And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? 

(Al-Qamar, chapter #54, verse #17)

Also every known scholar, Muslim or non-Muslim, knows that the Qur’an was sent as the final message and legislation to mankind and that Muhammad (PBUH) was the final Messenger to mankind according to the Qur’an. (surah 33 verse 40). Muhammad (SAW) is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything.) As you can see, I did not quote from any hadith hence the Qur’an is very self-explanatory.

As regards to my belief on women, that is a whole other topic that we can discuss another time. Please read the following simple to understand verses regarding Al-mushrikoon (the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, idolaters, polytheists, pagans, etc.) Please take the time to read these verses, I think they will be a great help on your quest to understanding the Qur’an. Thank you.

Ayas from the Qur’an that prove that all Christians and Jews after the coming of Muhammad (PBUH) are mushriks (polytheists).

And they (Jews, Christians, and pagans) say: Allah has begotten a son (children or offspring). Glory be to Him (exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth, and all surrender with obedience (in worship) to Him. 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #116)

O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as auliya (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but auliya to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as auliya, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the zalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust). 

(Al-Maeda, chapter #5, verse #51)

And even if you were to bring to the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) all the ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their qiblah (prayer direction). And they will not follow each other’s qiblah (prayer direction). Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the zalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers, etc.). 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #145)

The likeness of those who were entrusted with the (obligation of the Taurat (Torah) (i.e., to obey its commandments and to practice its legal laws), but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of a donkey who carries huge burdens of books (but understands nothing from them). How bad is the example (or the likeness) of people who deny the ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah. And Allah guides not the people who are zalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers, etc.).

(Al-Jumua, chapter #62, verse #5)

How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) is true and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are zalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers). 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #86)

It is only Shaitan (Satan) that suggests to you the fear of his auliya (supporters and friends (polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger, Muhammad SAW)), so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are (true) believers. 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #175)

O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as auliya (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but auliya to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as auliya, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the zalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust). 

(Al-Maeda, chapter #5, verse #51)

Surely, they have disbelieved who say: "Allah is the Messiah (Isa (Jesus)), son of Maryam (Mary)." But the Messiah (Isa (Jesus)) said: "O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the zalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers) there are no helpers. 

(Al-Maeda, chapter #5, verse #72)

Say: "Tell me! If this (Quran) is from Allah, and you deny it, and a witness from among the Children of Israel (Abdullah bin Salam) testifies that this Qur’an is from Allah (like the Taurat (Torah)), so he believed (embraced Islam) while you are too proud (to believe)." Verily! Allah guides not the people who are zalimoon (polytheists, disbelievers and wrong-doing). 

(Al-Ahqaf, chapter #46, verse #10)

O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e., disbelievers and polytheists, etc.) as friends, showing affection towards them, while they have disbelieved in what has come to you of the truth (i.e. Islamic monotheism, this Qur’an, and Muhammad SAW), and have driven out the Messenger (Muhammad SAW) and yourselves (from your homeland) because you believe in Allah your Lord! If you have come forth to strive in My Cause and to seek My Good Pleasure, (then take not these disbelievers and polytheists, etc., as your friends). You show friendship to them in secret, while I am All-Aware of what you conceal and what you reveal. And whosoever of you (Muslims) does that, then indeed he has gone (far) astray, (away) from the Straight Path . 

(Al-Mumtahina, chapter #60, verse #1)

Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him ) till you follow their religion. Say: "Verily, the Guidance of Allah (i.e., Islamic monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e., the Qur’an), then you would have against Allah neither any walee (protector or guardian) nor any helper. 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #120)

And they say, "Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided." Say (to them, O Muhammad Peace be upon him), "Nay, (We follow) only the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham), Hanifa (Islamic monotheism, i.e. to worship none but Allah (Alone)), and he was not of Al-Mushrikoon (those who worshipped others along with Allah -- see 2:105)." 

(Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, verse #135)

Or say you that Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Yaqoob (Jacob) and Al-Asbat (the twelve sons of Yaqoob (Jacob)) were Jews or Christians? Say, "Do you know better or does Allah (know better that they all were Muslims)? And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony (i.e., to believe in Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him when he comes, written in their Books. (see 7:157)) he has from Allah? And Allah is not unaware of what you do." 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #140)

Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad’s SAW) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- al-Haram (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scriptures (i.e. Jews and Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Kabah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do.

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #144)

And even if you were to bring to the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they would not follow your qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their qiblah (prayer direction). And they will not follow each other’s qiblah (prayer direction). Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allah), then indeed you will be one of the zalimoon (polytheists, wrong-doers, etc.). 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #145)

Those to whom We gave the Scripture (Jews and Christians) recognize him (Muhammad SAW or the Kabah at Makkah) as they recognize their sons. But verily, a party of them conceal the truth while they know it -- (i.e., the qualities of Muhammad SAW which are written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)). 

(Al-Baqara, chapter #2, verse #146)

Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam. Those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) did not differ except, out of mutual jealousy, after knowledge had come to them. And whoever disbelieves in the ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, then surely, Allah is Swift in calling to account. 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #19)

Say (O Muhammad SAW): "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: "Bear witness that we are Muslims." 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #64)

A party of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish to lead you astray. But they shall not lead astray anyone except themselves, and they perceive not. 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #69)

O people of the Scripture! (Jews and Christians): "Why do you disbelieve in the ayat of Allah, (the verses about Prophet Muhammad SAW present in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) while you (yourselves) bear witness (to their truth)." 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #70)

O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): "Why do you mix truth with falsehood and conceal the truth while you know?" 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #71)

Say: "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Why do you reject the ayat of Allah (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) while Allah is Witness to what you do?" 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #98)

Say: "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Why do you stop those who have believed, from the Path of Allah, seeking to make it seem crooked, while you (yourselves) are witnesses (to Muhammad SAW as a Messenger of Allah and Islam (Allah’s religion, i.e. to worship none but Him Alone))? And Allah is not unaware of what you do." 

(Al-e-Imran, chapter #3, verse #99)

Follow-up Rebuttal: I wonder if the verses of the Qu'ran were so simple to contemporaries and those who came in the centuries after the Prophet, why did we need to have so many tafasir. If the Qur'an says to the people: "This is a clear Arabic Qur'an so that you may understand", we can deduce certain indubitable ideas from that, not all of which are proper:

1. Its addressees are only Arabs

2. Only Arabs can think

3. The medium of Arabic is because Muhammad (s.a.w) never saw himself as more than a messenger to a certain people since other prophets had been sent to other nations.

Of course many Muslims choose to interpret "Nas" as humankind at large -- but it would seem nonsensical to address a book to a people who do not speak its language, and have to read it through translations. That would in effect create a hierarchy of intelligence which humans should accept. It would show God somehow preferred the Arabs over others. Faith-based Muslims may choose to see the Qur’an as final, as do faith-based Christians seeing the Testament as final. This is the problem of academic scholarship versus faith-based constructs. The problem becomes exacerbated when scholars take the time to go out of their tradition and learn exactly what a scripture is saying in terms of contemporaneous goings-on. Not Tabari, not Zamakhshari, nor any others took the time to do that, indeed even in his History, Tabari admits this.

You have quoted verses from the Qur'an to show that Jews and Christians are not entitled to heaven. I know of NO JEW who takes Ezra as a son of God, and the Christian concept of sonship is so deeply a philosophical construct that many do not perceive it. This does not deny that Arab Christians may have taken it literally, or that some Jews (who are no longer) may have taken Uzair as a son of God, but that is the problem of Muslim non-scholars: they apply terms generally forgetting that the Qur’an knows many Judaisms, many Christianities, etc., in the same way that there are many Islams.

Once again (and here I certainly cannot speak for all Muslims nor indeed for the maintainers of this website at large, but as a simple Muslim), I will say that I worship a Lord who does not ask me to judge, for even the Prophet will say to God on the Day of Judgment that the Muslims abandoned the Qur'an (I wonder what for). I see God as loving and encompassing every human in His/Her mercy, regardless of how that person identifies himself or herself. The world is too vast, the mysteries too many, and life too short for me to focus on who is going to heaven and who is not. To reiterate, our opinions are based on learning which may or may not accord with the whims of all. The reason for this is something that God must deal with. But I will not use this forum, or continue to indulge in correspondence that takes verses out of context, or takes verses without a thorough understanding of their particularities, and seek to foment hatred and disparagement of "the other". I close by advising you to do the same -- may God guide us all.

Posted February 18, 2007