The Sharing Group Discussion: The Prophet's (s.a.w.) Warning to the Ahl al-Kitab

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Brother William Voller posted, on The Sharing group, on the 12th March 2016: “The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, ‘By Him in whose Hand is the life of Muhammad!  Anyone from this nation, be they a Jew or a Christian, who hears of me and dies without believing in what I have come with, shall be among the inhabitants of Hell.’  What do people understand by this famous hadits?”

Brother William Voller: I was thinking “hadzi ummati”, translated above as “this nation”, is specifically referencing the community of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) Madina, the application to all of humanity or the Muslims generally seems a later development.

The mention of Jews or Christians is interesting because, clearly, it is in reference to a commonly held belief of the time; perhaps either Muslims believed themselves believers “with” Jews and Christian and, or, it is more in reference that Islam is for all people, not just the pagan Arabs

Telling also is “wa laa yumin”, and absolutely does not believe, giving a great sense of rejection.  It does not say become Muslim to avoid the flames, suggesting that “islam” as formal religion is not what is meant, but rather some deeper element, which is explained as what the Prophet (s.a.w.) has come with.

Sister Colleen Dunn: I am no scholar, but I wonder if the reference to Jews and Christians is there because the message from all the prophets is consistent.  So, even if you do not follow the message from Muhammad (s.a.w.) per se, if you are being true to your faith, you should be following the same message but from ‘Isa (a.s.), Musa (a.s.), Ibrahim (a.s.), and so forth.

Brother William Voller: One Western Qur’anic academic talks of “Qur’anic Christians”, and, by extension, to Jews, in reference to the positive verses about those who are from another “line” but also accept the Prophetic message.  It need not necessarily be so triflingly formal, as she rather negatively presumes, of course.

Brother Sri Nahar: The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) came with the message of monotheism.  I have heard of him, and I believe in the message of monotheism.  So, I guess I pass?

Sister Annee See: If one was to take the literal meaning then anyone who has heard Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) name and does not convert to Islam will be in the Fire.  But in today’s sense, with ISIS around and idiotic Muslims around preaching their version of cultural Islam, who has truly heard the message of the Prophet (s.a.w.)?

Brother William Voller: It is an interesting question, Brother Sri Nahar.  There are some doctrines which are criticised in the Qur’an, of course, plus it would mean recognition of Muhammad (s.a.w.) as a prophet; communities that suffered the Wrath of God were those who rejected and apposed God’s prophets, which is what I think the hadits is really getting at.  So, providing one is within those broad parameters, then it could not be said that one was not a believer, to do so would be to presume too much.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: This hadits is not a general statement for all time.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) was speaking of the community in Madina.  After all the miracles and signs, it is an extreme act of kufr to deny that he is the Final Prophet, more so when we consider that the People of Scripture were in Madina awaiting his advent.  They did not doubt he was Rasulullah (s.a.w.), so why did they not follow him?  There are many reasons and none of them good enough.  There are people who take it to apply to all the Christians and Jews, which is illogical since the Prophet (s.a.w.) specifically spoke of those who knew of him, meaning those who understood the message and had no reason to doubt.

Brother William Voller: Brother Terence, agreed.  I was reading Shaykh Nuh’s Universal Validity of Religions again and this hadits seemed to be central to the argument, as well as for explaining verse 3:85:

سُوۡرَةُ آل عِمرَان
وَمَن يَبۡتَغِ غَيۡرَ ٱلۡإِسۡلَـٰمِ دِينً۬ا فَلَن يُقۡبَلَ مِنۡهُ وَهُوَ فِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلۡخَـٰسِرِينَ (٨٥)

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost. (all spiritual good). (Surah Ali ‘Imran:85)

I was musing upon the article and actually now think it a little wanting, with no disrespect to my shaykh.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I read that as well, and the contention is weak, which is surprising.  I think that, in this case, the argument is more polemic than reason.  And this is the case with the wider community regarding this issue.  There is a hadits, after al-Fath al-Makkah, where the Prophet (s.a.w.) spoke of how Allah (s.w.t.) Kept 99 parts of Mercy to Himself.  And there are many more on this theme.  Does it then square with this particular view of a limited Salvation?  I think not.

Brother William Voller: The article in question can be found here, should anyone not have read it): Universal Validity of Religions.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: We have addressed the hadits.  On the ayat, in question, we have to consider the entire passage:

سُوۡرَةُ آل عِمرَان
وَإِذۡ أَخَذَ ٱللَّهُ مِيثَـٰقَ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ لَمَآ ءَاتَيۡتُڪُم مِّن ڪِتَـٰبٍ۬ وَحِكۡمَةٍ۬ ثُمَّ جَآءَڪُمۡ رَسُولٌ۬ مُّصَدِّقٌ۬ لِّمَا مَعَكُمۡ لَتُؤۡمِنُنَّ بِهِۦ وَلَتَنصُرُنَّهُ ۥ‌ۚ قَالَ ءَأَقۡرَرۡتُمۡ وَأَخَذۡتُمۡ عَلَىٰ ذَٲلِكُمۡ إِصۡرِى‌ۖ قَالُوٓاْ أَقۡرَرۡنَا‌ۚ قَالَ فَٱشۡہَدُواْ وَأَنَا۟ مَعَكُم مِّنَ ٱلشَّـٰهِدِينَ (٨١) فَمَن تَوَلَّىٰ بَعۡدَ ذَٲلِكَ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ (٨٢) أَفَغَيۡرَ دِينِ ٱللَّهِ يَبۡغُونَ وَلَهُ ۥۤ أَسۡلَمَ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ طَوۡعً۬ا وَڪَرۡهً۬ا وَإِلَيۡهِ يُرۡجَعُونَ (٨٣) قُلۡ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَيۡنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَىٰٓ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَإِسۡمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّنۡهُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُ ۥ مُسۡلِمُونَ (٨٤) وَمَن يَبۡتَغِ غَيۡرَ ٱلۡإِسۡلَـٰمِ دِينً۬ا فَلَن يُقۡبَلَ مِنۡهُ وَهُوَ فِى ٱلۡأَخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلۡخَـٰسِرِينَ (٨٥)

Behold!  Allah Took the Covenant of the prophets, Saying, “I Give you a Book and wisdom; then comes to you a Messenger, confirming what is with you; do ye believe him and render him help.”  Allah Said, "Do ye agree, and take this, My Covenant, as binding on you?”  They said, “We agree.”  He Said, “Then bear witness and I am with you among the Witnesses.”  If any turn back after this, they are perverted transgressors.  Do they seek for other than the Religion of Allah? ― While all creatures in the heavens and on earth have willing, or unwilling, bowed to His Will (accepted Islam), and to Him shall they all be Brought Back.  Say: “We believe in Allah, and in what has been Revealed to us and what was Revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) Given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord; we make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam).”  If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost. (all spiritual good). (Surah Ali ‘Imran:81-85)

Islam” here does not mean the formalised religion we call Islam.  Islam” here refers to submission to Divine Will and adherence to Revelation in general, and not specifically the Qur’an.  The ayat Addresses prophethood, not just Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  So, whoever turns away from Revelation after encountering it is amongst the losers.  But then, there are the Ahl al-Kitab, who are also recipients of Revelation, the followers of other prophets.  They are not considered those who have turned away.

And people who have not encountered Revelation and recognised it are not considered here since they are not responsible for what they do not know.

Brother William Voller: Agreed.  The use of “islam” here is not formal religion, as you say, in fact I would argue the Qur’anic Usage of the word is never in that sense.  I was also interested in “yabtaghi” translated as “desires”; it is from the root “ba-gha-ya” which relates to corruption and base desires.  Perhaps 3:85 could be understood as whoever chooses themselves over God are the losers and it will not be accepted from them?

Brother Terence, what do you think of Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) fatwa?  I was thinking, in this book of fiqh, that it was more related to the body politic “kuffar” as opposed to actual “kafir”, although one may, be of course.  Since a political, fiqhi defined Muslim is not necessarily a believer or not a kafir.  In fact, it could be on legal cases that such people are to be legally understood as “kafir”.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Imam an-Nawawi’s (r.a.) fatwa should be understood in the context of a times where the world was divided into Dar al-Islam, Dar as-Salaam, and Dar al-Harb.  As you say, there is an underlying political reality that no longer applies.

Brother William Voller: It is good he let Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.) speak for himself; Dr. Chittick may have over interpreted him.  However, Shaykh Nuh’s explanation of naskh is a bit wanting, I think.  I do not think these separate laws abrogated in this sense of replaced, as Shaykh ibn al-‘Arabi (q.s.) seems to say, but rather Muhammadan Law contains it all.  So, turning the other cheek has always been the morally correct thing, but legal cases use fair retaliation.  Jesus (a.s.) did not correct but rather prioritised and contextualised the law for which Muhammad (s.a.w.) concurred.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: If we consider the context of every fatwa and the underlying dala’il, it is a stretch to them say that Islam is the pre-requisite to Salvation.  Rather islam is, not Islam.  The former is inherent, whereas the latter is an interpretation of the inherent.


Popular posts from this blog

The Benefits of the Verse of 1,000 Dananir

Singapore Wahhabi Spotlight: Celebrating National Day, Killing Apostates & Interfaith Dialogue

The Du'a of the Blind Man