Islamic Center Hamburg
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NewsID : 63154
Date of publication : 11/20/2014 7:12:39 PM
Visit Count : 275

The Fellowship of Faiths

Mohamad Ali Shomafi is author of Self Knowledge (2006), Ethical Relativism: An Analysis of the Foun dations of Morality (200 I)

As a teenager I used to attend a local mosque in Tehran for congregational prayers, called "al-Anbiyaa" (the Prophets). As recommended in Islamic narrations, the last two verses of the second chap­ter of the Qur'an were frequently recited in our mosque and for many days I lis­tened and reflected on them. The first verse reads as follows: 'The Messenger believes in that which has been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in God and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers." 'We make no distinction between any of His messengers" - and they say: 'We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Your forgiveness, our Lord. Unto You is the journeying". (Qur'an 2:285)

This verse like many other verses of the Qur'an puts great emphasis on the uni­formity and continuity of the prophets, their scriptures, and their missions. It makes one believe that he is part of a great community of faith that includes all believers throughout the history of mankind who have followed the same path. Later I realized that this idea of the uniformity of all religions is a very profound aspect of the Islamic concep­tion of monotheism. Islam like other Abrahamic faiths believes in the unity of God. God is ONE; He has no part­ner or children and there is nothing like Him. God is SIMPLE; He has no parts or constituents. He is the only Creator and He is the only object of worship. The ob­vious result of this conception of God is that the universe must be harmonious and consistent; indeed one of the signs of the unity of God is the fact that there is no separation or isolation of any part of creation. The Qur'an says: `glad there been in them (the heavens and the earth) gods other than God, they both had been in disorder."(2 1:22)

This harmony and consistency in the divine creation extends to God's revelations, Divine messages communicated in order to show them the path towards perfection and happiness it follows that they must be similar in nature and iden­tical in essence. Of course, depending on varying conditions and factors some details may change over time, and also the depth and the extent of the ideas expressed in the scriptures may increase in accordance with developments in hu­man understanding.

Thus, Muslims believe in the mutual conformity of all divine revelations and prophecies. They confirm and believe in all the Prophets and consider all believ­ers in God to be members of the same community of faith: "Say; 'We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes and in (Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between one and another among them and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)". (3:83)

Unity of God manifests itself in the unity of His revelations and must be echoed in the unity of all believers in God. Particu­larly during its early years Islam brought unity and solidarity for those who suf­fered a great deal from enmity and hos­tility (3:103).

This act of unifying people is highly es­teemed as a divine act (8:63). On the con­trary, the aim of tyrants and disbelievers such as Pharaoh was to divide people (28:4). The Qur'an warns believers that if they start disputing with each other they will become weak and be defeated (8:46). It should be noted that the call for unity is not limited to Muslims. The Qur'an invites all people of faith such as Christians and Jews to unify their ef­forts and concentrate on their common ground (3:64). One of the best means of achieving this unity and brotherhood is to know each other, to overcome histori­cal prejudices that prevent objective un­derstanding between each other and to build upon commonalities. According to what Imam Ali (9, the first Imam of the Shia Muslims and the fourth Caliph of all Muslims has said, 'People are ene­mies of what they do not know". Thus, as a Muslim, I have no need to compromise my faith in order to enter into a genu­ine, sustainable and productive dialogue with those who believe in God. Entering into such a dialogue and building upon commonalities is rooted in the Qur'an, and is not just a fashion or formality.

It was in this spirit and because the UK is a majority Christian nation that I start­ed to establish relations with Christians. Our aim is to look for practicing Chris­tians who can help us discover our com­monalities, and exchange our experienc­es in facing the challenges of living a life of faith in this modem or post-modern world. Through our acquaintances with such people we have been impressed by the many similarities we have noticed between Islam and Christianity. We have also seen how a sincere love for God and fellow humans can give a new spirit to life and a new life to modern society.

I have now come to the conclusion that the Qur'anic description and praise of the Christians of the time of the Prophet Muhammad (') is still in effect. There are sincere, truth-seeking, humble and sym­pathetic Christians who have devoted their lives to God. I see no reason why one cannot accept these people as real representatives of Christianity, instead of those who call for separation, enmity and fighting between believers and are a long way from implementing the Chris­tian commandment of love.

Unfortunately today it is very easy to be deceived. There are "Muslims", 'Chris­tians" or `sews" whose faith can by no means be determined by their behavior. And this gets worse if there is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent reli­gious life in general and certain religions in particular.

Let us hope and pray that soon we will be able to witness the unity of God ech­oed in the unity of mankind and that all the wounds of hostility and injustice will be healed by the return of global society to God.


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