(When) they say, “Be a Jew or a Christian, and you will be on the right guidance,” say, “Why not (be on) the path of Abraham, who was always inclined to righteousness and did not ascribe divinity to anyone?” Say, “We believe in (1) God, (2) what has been revealed to us, (3) what has been revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes (their descendents), (4) what was given to Moses and Jesus, (5) and what was given to (all) prophets by their Sustainer, (6) we make no comparison among the prophets, and (7) we surrender to Him (God) with sincere submission (as true Muslims).”
Hence if they believe as you (Mohammad) believe, only then are they on the right guidance; and if they refuse, then they are in opposition (to what you believe), and God will protect you against them. He is ever Hearing and Knowing. (Let’s take) on God’s color (essence), and who is better than God to give us His essence, and we are His worshippers.”
Tell them, “Do you dispute with us about God while He is our Sustainer and He is your Sustainer as well? We are responsible for our actions and you are responsible for your actions. We are sincere to Him (but are you?).” Or, do you mean to say that Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes were Jews or Christians? Do you know better than God? Who is more irresponsible than he who hides a testimony that came from God? God is not indifferent to what you do.
In Islam, God defines the true guidance as a universal guidance given to all mankind through the cumulative teachings of the prophets of all times. It cannot be confined to claims by followers of one prophet to the exclusion of another. Mutual respect for and equality of all prophets is a cornerstone of Islamic teaching.
Throughout the Qur’an and throughout the Prophet’s life, God consistently assured the Prophet that he would come out the winner in the end and that God would always protect him if he followed the right guidance. This commitment of God is also true for believers who serve humanity with their righteous actions and have firm faith in God.
This is a reminder for us as well that we should not deviate from the true teachings of Islam and that we should be witnesses for all of humanity to truth in religion and the importance of righteous actions and the consciousness of our purpose.
These verses make the universal case for Islam as the religion of all the prophets, confirming the unified theme of Islam to bring all people of all ages to the same way of life. As prophets came throughout time and propagated the same guidance, so should people of all times and ages continue on the same path.
We ought to make a commitment as Muslims not to degrade other religions or other prophets while being confident that ours is the best guidance because it conforms to the teachings of all the prophets. We have a responsibility to be the role model for humanity. Unfortunately, we are farthest from it. When are we going to make the proper assessment of our conditions and act to fill up the gap between our teachings and our actions? As the Qur’an states several times, our true identification is based on demonstrated faith and good deeds and not on the particular label (Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, for example) that we claim. Sometimes these labels give a false sense of security and lead to arrogance, violence, and disunity among mankind.
Key Arabic Terms:
**Definitions can be found in the Glossary**