The concepts of right and wrong that show us the way in our lives mostly come from values that are universal to all mankind. Everyone knows, for example, that marriage is sacred or that killing a person is wrong. Being kind to people, helping the poor and elderly are all accepted norms in societies.
The reason why these principles that constitute the standard moral values in societies are familiar to all of us is that they come from religions. There are major religions in the world that have shaped humanity’s understanding of good and bad, even though one may not be religious or have no detailed knowledge of a religion. Religion brings the most beautiful forms of life for people and hence offers peace, tranquility, order and freedom to societies. The Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, together constitute about 56% of the world’s population: Everyone, in one way or another, is acquainted with the ethics these religions put forth.
A single passage from the Gospels is the summary of these values that are in common with both Islam and Judaism.
“You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” (Mark, 10:19)
In today’s world even though various tensions occur, the original nature of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is firmly against war, conflict, terror and anarchy. This is because the essential elements of all these three religions come from their relative Divine books that are all built on love, respect, understanding and cooperation. The Abrahamic religions do not discriminate between nationality, race, gender, one’s level of education and amount of wealth. Believer or not, they respect and look out for everyone.
Jesus is an example in the Gospel of how people should love one another: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John, 13:34)
Our Lord commands Muslims in the Qur’an not to discriminate among the Prophets and what was revealed to them:
Say: “We believe in God and what has been sent down to us, what was sent down to Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes; what Moses and Jesus were given; and what all of the Prophets were given by their Lord. We do not differentiate between any of them. We are Muslims submitted to Him.” (Qur’an, 2:136)
Another notable fact in the Qur’an is that believing Jews and Christians are praised and given glad tidings for the hereafter:
Those with faith, those who are Jews, and the Christians and Sabaeans, all who have faith in God and the Last Day and act rightly, will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Qur’an, 2:62)
It is widely known that the People of the Book, Christians and Jews, have lived peacefully under Islamic administrations both in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and later under Ottoman rule. So much so that those fleeing persecution have always sought shelter in Islamic lands and found security among Muslims.
Indeed, the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) was the finest example of the character God advised. In addition to countless examples of his gentle approach towards the People of the Book, his letters addressed to Christian and Jewish kings and tribes at the time are still kept in Topkapi Palace, Istanbul to serve as undeniable testaments to his respect and love for them.
History has proved numerous times that members of these Divine faiths have united against perils that threaten humanity such as atheistic and materialistic philosophies, perverse ideologies, moral corruption and degeneration.
What is not generally acknowledged is that there is no hostility against Christians or Jews in the Qur’an. The radicals and some opponents of Islam misinterpret some verses of the Qur’an and use some fabricated hadith to incite animosity between members of these religions.
For instance, the verse below is used by some as a supposed evidence for not taking Christians and Jews as friends.
You who have faith! Do not take the Jews and Christians as your friends [patrons]; they are the friends of one another. Any of you who takes them as friends is one of them. God does not guide wrongdoing people. (Qur’an, 5:51)
In truth, the word translated as ‘friends’ is ‘patrons’, or ‘awliyao’ in Arabic. The real meaning of this word is “guardians, those responsible under the law, saints, lords, owners or rulers.” What is forbidden for Muslims in this verse is for them to come under the rule and management of Jews and Christians; not for them to be friends with them.
As a matter of fact, Almighty God commands Muslims to have friendly ties with the People of the Book in every aspect of social life such as marriage, dining and trade. According to the Qur’an, a Muslim man is allowed to marry a woman of the People of the Book; this is a significant permission because marriage brings two people even closer than kinship, it is a desire to start a family, to spend an entire life and eternity together, to look after one another when they are ill and trust one another. The Qur’an urges such a powerful bond of love between people of these faiths.
The same principle is true for social life. According to the Qur’an, Muslims are allowed to eat food prepared by Jews and Christians, which clearly shows that they are to be trusted. In a similar manner, the way that Muslims are allowed to dine with Jews and Christians under the same roof, as each other’s guests or hosts and enjoying each other’s company is clearly another description of love, friendship and brotherhood.
In a world afflicted by constant war, conflict, moral decline and hunger, all of which result from a lack of faith in God, we, the followers of Abrahamic faiths, cannot accept being responsible for more friction. “Blessed are the peacemakers! For they will be called servants of God..”, states the Gospels [Matthew, 5:9]. Instead of focusing on the differences, we should join forces on the basis of commonalities. It is crucial that Muslims and Christians act together in the intellectual struggle against materialism and atheism.
Let’s not forget: Unity and cooperation bring success, whereas disputes and conflict brings nothing but weakness. The current situation of the world demands the immediate formation of such an alliance between the pious people of the three faiths.