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Bashing Other Religions

Shaykh Farid Dingle is asked about the permissibility of “bashing” other religions in discussion and the best way to call to Islam.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

The other day in school I was having a conversation in school with a Hindu girl about religion. During this conversation, a Muslim boy in my class came up to us and joined the conversation.

He told the girl that her religion is wrong and that she is a kafir. My question is, is it wrong in Islam to bash a non-believer and call them a kafir?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Allah Most High has taught us in the Qur’an how to deal with non-Muslims and their beliefs; He has said, “And do not insult those that invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge.” (Sura al An‘am 6: 108)

The only time to “slam” or “bash” false actions or beliefs, with Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is when the case against their beliefs (or actions) is very clear, and when we can see that such ostensible “harshness” would be the best way to convince them of their erroneous ways.

This is how we see the Prophet Ibrahim, upon whom be peace, deal with false beliefs of his time: he orchestrates a very clear proof against the idol worshipers such that they confess to themselves of their own folly, and then he rebukes them:

They said, ‘Have you come to us with truth, or are you of those who jest?’
He said, ‘[No], rather, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth who created them, and I, to that, am of those who testify.
And [I swear] by Allah, I will surely plan against your idols after you have turned and gone away.’
So he made them into fragments, except a large one among them, that they might return to it [and question].
They said, ‘Who has done this to our gods? Indeed, he is of the wrongdoers.’
They said, ‘We heard a young man mention them who is called Ibrahim.’
They said, ‘Then bring him before the eyes of the people that they may testify.’
They said, ‘Have you done this to our gods, O Ibrahim?’
He said, ‘Rather, this – the largest of them – did it, so ask them, if they should [be able to] speak.’
So they returned to [blaming] themselves and said [to each other], ‘Indeed, you are the wrongdoers.’
Then they reversed themselves, [saying], ‘You already know that these do not speak!’
He said, ‘Then do you worship instead of Allah that which does not benefit you at all or harm you?
Fie on you and to what you worship instead of Allah! Then will you not use reason?’ (Sura al Anbiya 21:55-67)

So it is clear from this Qur’anic example that there is a place for “bashing’ other religions, since they are indeed false, but only when we have discussed and explained everything, and only when it is clear to both sides that the other person is in denial, or following mere caprice. And even when this is the case, we have be observe proper decorum and manners, and not attack anyone or try to pontificate: our desire should be that the truth be manifest, even if it against us, and that the other person should attain to salvation by following.

It’s well worth noting that people often need time to ”breathe.” They need to be given the chance to digest the facts and the emotional and spiritual consequences of what has just been explained to them. Repeating facts again and again, or forcing them to verbally acknowledge that they are wrong is not necessarily the best way of doing this.

We also need to make sure that we lead by example. For more detail, please see How to Bring Someone to Islam.

On a personal note, I did a lot of calling others to Islam (dawa) at school myself. It is my conviction that the best way to convince people, fellow students and teachers alike, is by being a nice person and by showing how happy you are as a slave of Allah on the true religion. Debate is often only needed with adults, and, even then, only in very specific settings.

It is also very important that we all learn more about our religion, because we might find ourselves trying to invite people to Islam while saying things about Islam that just aren’t true. (I sometimes fell into that mistake when inviting people to Islam in my days at school!)

May Allah give you success.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Can Truth Be Found in Every Religion?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: (a) If perennialism has no place in Islam, should one believe that all people of the book who were given the message of Islam and didn’t accept it, are therefore, not following truth?

(b) Could you please clarify where one draws the line at believing good of all religions and perennialism.

(c) I think every good person will be saved or doomed as per God’s judgement. Is this a perennial belief?

(d) Is it improper to call to Islam by saying every religion contains truth?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

I pray you are well.

(a) The idea that other religious traditions may contain certain elements of truth does not necessarily equate to perennialism.

Perennialism: A Definition

Perennialism is a particular philosophy that views all the major religious traditions of the world as sharing a transcendent truth. Although these traditions differ in a myriad of ways, such as in their rituals or the manner in which they articulate the divine, they are united by a common transcendent core. Consequently, many perennialists argue that all religions possess validity in the eyes of God (although it should be noted that some versions of perennialism identify ‘false’ or ‘aberrant’ versions of certain religious traditions).

This idea of the universal validity of religions is deemed a heterodox viewpoint in Islam, which recognizes the revelation revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (God bless him) as the final message and the only one acceptable to God. This has been discussed by classical scholars throughout the centuries and their is little evidence that they accommodated a viewpoint that recognized the equal validity of other religious traditions alongside Islam. For more, please refer to: Universal Validity of Religions and the Issue of Takfir

In light of the above, believing that Christianity, for example, possesses elements of truth is not perennialism in so far as one can affirm the former while denying the latter. In fact, the primary texts of Islam clearly lend support to the idea that many past traditions were revealed traditions and, while suffering from severe doctrinal corruption, continue to maintain some elements of their original message: the existence of God, angels, prophets, belief in revelation, heaven, hell, rituals, and so forth. Indeed, it is on account of this that Muslims are permitted to marry women from the People of the Book and commanded to still show respect for the revealed scriptures, etc.

(b) In light of the above, one can believe there are some elements of truth in other religions but not that they are valid paths to follow in addition to or aside from Islam. Rather, we believe that Islam abrogated all previous traditions as the sole religion acceptable to God.

(c) There is nothing wrong with this and is in fully keeping with Islam. It is in fact similar to what our teacher, Shaykh Faraz, has mentioned from his teacher, Shaykh Adib Kallas:

We know that those who reject faith are in Hell but it is not decisively established what exactly entails rejection of faith — this is why the scholars of Sunni Islam differed. As for the details, we should concern ourselves with our own fate. Allah will ask us about ourselves, not about what He should do with others.

Consequently, the idea of consigning the knowledge of such matters to God is the way of our scholars. Thus, we affirm those who God has decisively affirmed as being in Hell, such as Abu Jahl or Abu Lahab, and we pass no specific judgment on others, which constitute the overwhelming majority of people.

Here, of course, it needs to be pointed out that there is not always a necessary correlation between soundness of ones religion and salvation. For example, people who have not explored or introduced to Islam may still attain salvation although they were not Muslims. For more on this see:

Truth, Other Religions, and Mysticism – Shaykh Nuh Keller

Overwhelmed and Confused in Trying to Understand and Practice Islam: What Can I Do?

(d) This is not a problem in da’wa contexts and is an extension of the Qur’anic command to come together on a common word and truth. (3:64)

Nonetheless, in contexts where this may cause confusion to other Muslims regarding the issue of the universal validity of religions, such statements need to be qualified. This would depend on one’s context and audience. Of course, experience shows that a majority of Muslims understand and believe in the exclusive validity of Islam and seem to naturally find the notion of perennialism questionable and contrary to the religion. However, clarity is always better than ambiguity when in doubt.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Niki Odolphie

Can I Call Others of the opposite Gender to Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Shuaib Ally

Question: As-salāmu ‘aleykum,

Can I call others of the opposite gender to Islam?

Answer: Yes, you can call others of the opposite gender to Islam.
You should at the same time keep in mind general guidelines related to what is considered appropriate interaction between the genders.

Please see this: A Reader On Gender Interaction

With that in mind, do what is good, and stay away from anything that falls outside the scope of your work, or does not sit well with you.
May Allah reward you for your effort and bless your work.

Shuaib Ally

A Reader on Calling to Allah, Giving Advice, and Commanding the Good

Guiding One’s Family Towards the Good: Advice & Tips

Changing Those Around One: Attaching One’s Self to Allah & the Prophetic Sunna

Attracting the Youth to the Religion

Calling People of Other Beliefs to Islam

How Do I Motivate Someone to Perform the Good?

Guiding One’s Family Towards the Good: Advice & Tips

Changing Those Around One: Attaching One’s Self to Allah & the Prophetic Sunna

My Husband Doesnt Pray: How Do I Advise Him?

Calling People of Other Beliefs to Islam

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.

Wasalam,
Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani