The Jews say, “The Christians have no basis for their faith,” and the Christians say, “The Jews have no basis for their faith,” while they both read the (same divine) Book. Even those who have no knowledge say similar things. (Let them all know that) God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection on what they (so vehemently) differ.
And who (do you think) is more unjust than he who obstructs (people) from the houses of God (to worship) and from remembering His name in these places and who actively wants to destroy places of worship, whereas it is not even proper for them to enter these places except in humility. They deserve disgrace in this world and severe punishment in the Hereafter. The East and the West belong to God, so whichever way you turn you will face God. Know that God is Generous and Knowing.
They say, “God has taken on a son.” He is above such a thing! Indeed He owns whatever is in Heaven and on the earth, and they all obey Him, the wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth, and when He intends a certain outcome, He says to it, “Be,” and it becomes.
The Qur’an maintains fundamental unity in religious beliefs, whereas the Chris- tians and Jews have propagated exclusivity in religion to themselves alone. In verse 112, God says that the right path belongs to those who have faith and do good deeds, and, here, He adds that on the Day of Judgment He will confirm where we all differed among ourselves.
The places of worship of any faith, where there is an element of faith in God, deserve special recognition in Islam, and Muslims are strictly forbidden to do any harm to such places and prevent people from worshipping in such places (see also 22:40). It is also important to note that the Prophet regularly invited others and welcomed groups of Christians into his Mosque and that they were totally free to perform their religious rights therein. In some Muslim countries, there are rules that non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Mosque, which is shameful and contrary to the teachings of the Quran. Also in some Muslim countries, for example, women are almost never welcomed to the Mosque for any reason, let alone for regular prayer.
Such cultural norms have permeated Muslim societies despite the openness that Islam allows and encourages in matters of social and religious involvement by all members of societies irrespective of gender, age, and ethnicity.
This verse and many others in the Qur’an categorically refute the assertion of the Christians that God had taken a son, namely Jesus, a prophet. God offers several counterpoints to this claim: (1) God has no need for a son (or any child, for that matter), and it is an attribute of the created being, not of the Creator; (2) As the whole world belongs to Him, why would He need to have a son, who is a mere mortal?; and, lastly, (3) Why would He take a son when He is able to create whatever He wills? It is said in the Qur’an that Jesus himself, on the Day of Judgment, will testify against the Christian doctrine of the trinity and the divinity assigned to him.
Three fundamental aspects of Islam are pointed out here in contrast to Christianity and Judaism: (1) We must maintain the purity of the divine revelations, (2) All religions should be given proper respect, and (3) We should develop solid counterarguments as opposed to emotional responses in favor of faith.
The level of education and religious understanding among Muslims is currently very low, permitting us to generate emotional responses as opposed to well-thought-out logical responses to issues we face locally and globally. Grassroots efforts are necessary for mass education in all Muslim countries where religion, science, and sociopolitical studies coexist. Muslims in Western societies have to play leadership roles. A dual system of education in which Madrassas (so-called religion-only schools in many Muslim countries) teach shallow religious doctrines without giving any practical education and secular schools (initially propagated by the colonial rulers in Muslim countries) do not harmonize religious teachings with science and other branches of human knowledge continues to exist in Muslim countries even today. Thus, we need to design and establish a unified education system with a sense of urgency. This tradition is nothing new but had flourished in the first 1000 years of Islamic civilization.
Key Arabic Terms:
3. Kun faya kun
*Definitions can be found in the Glossary*