Sunday, November 9, 2008
'To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (His Plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.' (5:48)
This verse -- in my opinion perhaps the most difficult verse in the entire Qur’an -- tells us, in a nutshell, what belief in a Creator is and why the various believers do not come nearer to each other. The way of conduct and the open path refer to the relation between Allah swt and each individual of His creatures, but also between Allah and the entire community of men. Every person has his or her own relation with Allah. However, there also is a Scripture that not only addresses itself to the individual, but also to all other people. Except for this Scripture, Qur’an, there are other scriptures, where communities other than the Islamic umma listen to. Therefor, we may conclude: It is simple, there is only one physical truth; yet it is not simple, as man has received only a very limited view on this physical truth and has obtained the right to make his own idea of it. So there is one truth; yet, everybody has their own truth. Not is said here, who precisely is correct. Not without reason, Islam means peaceful surrender to God and man has received the needed tools from the Prophet, but also the option of choice. Precisely because we have only a limited view on the truth, there can never be compulsion in religion. The last Scripture, Qur’an, contains the truth. Yet, it may be true, that other paths to the truth may be acceptable. And truly acceptable, not just second best. Allah knows best.
Then, second aspect is, that discussions between believers, non-believers or otherwise-believers, usually don’t lead to much result in the sense of convincing others of who's right. Islam has said: Allah decides whether a person believes or disbelieves, and if so, in what precisely. The separation of minds leads to different religious communities, but also to different individual religious views, and those usually strongly persist within firm outlines. Discussions on faith, therefore, are not always and everywhere possible or desirable. People don’t come nearer to each other, and it is better to respect that and find a common ground in earthly matters that are nearer every day’s experience.