Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra
Question: I was recently speaking to a Christian neighbor of mine about the Deen and he cited something from the Bible which says, “But even if we, or an angel from the heaven, preach any other gospel to you other than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:10, New Testament) This is the first time I have come across this from a Christian (I am surrounded by them, being that me and my family are the only Muslims in the area). He basically cited this to discredit the revelation of the Qur’an by Jibr’il (as) to Sayyiduna Muhammad (saaws). I did not know how to properly reply to this statement. Can you guide me to how to properly reply to this, because I am constantly being bombarded by Ahl ul Kitab trying to convert me to their beliefs?
Answer: Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you very much for your question. Firstly, I want to commend you for your concern to speak the Truth in a way that it will be received best. Secondly, I want to commend your entire family for upholding the Deen although you are the only Muslims in your area- may Allah Ta’ala make you all a light and an example for your neighbors.
Your question touches on a few different points, so it is important to treat the answer in parts. The general answer to all of this is that if you are surrounded by practicing Christian neighbors, it is not productive to engage in tit-for-tat debate on every little religious point. It wastes your time from more beneficial pursuits, creates an atmosphere of competition, and spoils relations between neighbors.
Know Your Own Beliefs Well
A non-expert Muslim cannot be expected to respond to every single verse thrown at them – our piety does not lie in argumentation at any rate – so it is best to study our own ‘aqeedah very well, and understand the Islamic narrative of Jesus and Mary (peace be upon them) and the concern and respect that the Qur’an has for Christians. Know that the true message of each prophet of God was the same. After becoming well-grounded in that, teach it to your family as well.
Get to the Heart of the Matter: Allah and His Oneness
Almost all of Muslim-Christian debate these days is stuck in secondary issues of scriptural critique, verse-slinging, history and controversial issues that will never end, when the heart of the matter, namely God and His exalted nature, is all that really needs to be discussed. The rest would solve itself once it becomes clear whose view of the Divine is the necessarily correct one.
Traditional Muslim scholarship explained long ago that it is impossible, not just inappropriate, for God to violate His Divine Perfection by taking a son or incarnating Himself as a created being. Although the later scholars wrote complex treatises rooted in the Qur’an and hadeeth to address theological challenges in their day, Divine Oneness was the real essential point of da’wah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself made to those who claimed to follow Christ (peace be upon him). To learn about this, I highly recommend the ‘Aqeedah course at Seekers Guidance being offered this semester – I am still benefitting from this.
Beautify Your Character
The other important aspect is to actively work to purify yourself from bad inner traits and adorn your character with beautiful qualities, for Allah’s sake. By pursuing Islamic spirituality, you improve your inner condition, and the fruit of that is manifest in beautiful behavior and actions which reflect the pristine sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). As one of our beloved shaykhs said, one reason why good character is so heavy on the scales with Allah is because it is the best da’wah – it attracts people to the Truth sometimes without a single word.
Don’t Feel the Need to Argue or Debate
If you want to respond with something though, unless you plan on devoting years to the field of apologetics, respond by giving your neighbor well-written articles or books on the subject of Christian-Muslim debate that are not pushy or offensive. Do not feel obligated to continue the argument if you can’t respond yourself, or you feel that the listener doesn’t truly want to benefit – we cannot open people’s minds or change their hearts unless they are sincere, and unless Allah Ta’ala wants to guide them.
You mentioned being overwhelmed by proselytization- you should only live in communities where you feel secure in your faith without undue pressure, otherwise, if you feel that you or your family’s faith or well-being is at risk from constant proselytizing, if possible, relocate to another neighborhood where you feel more comfortable and where you can live well alongside your neighbors. That won’t be running away; it would be a hijrah for Allah’s sake to preserve your faith.
However, if you have established your practice as Muslims, can actually serve Allah fully, are happy with your neighbors, and your remaining there is as a beacon of truth, make your intention to contribute to your community for Allah’s sake, and make your home one of solace and peace for all, a dar-al-islam.
Live the Message
Learn about how Muslims are supposed to treat their neighbors, read about how accommodating the Prophet (peace be upon him) was with people of Christian faith, and fill yourself with a loving concern for your neighbors’ well-being, both in this life and the next.
Study and know the Truth well for your own self first, and learn and do what is right and good, because the tongue of one’s inner state is more eloquent than the tongue of speech, and more convincing than any rebuttal we can make.
Abdullah Anik Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani