Qur’an in view of Qur’an
Today we will continue discussing the ideological differences of the People of the Book and Muslims.
In a general look, the holy Qur’an divides the People of the Book in two groups. The first are those who honestly believed in the Qur’an and the Prophet. The holy Qur’an describes them in ayahs 52 and 53 of surah Qasas, “Those to whom We gave the Book before it are the ones who believe in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, ‘We believe in it. It is indeed the truth from our Lord. Indeed we had submitted even before it.”
Another group of the People of the Book not only doesn’t believe in the divine signs but they prevent others from believing in them. Almighty God addressing the Prophet says in ayahs 98 and 99 of surah Ale Imran, “Say, ‘O People of the Book! Why do you defy the signs of Allah, while Allah is witness to what you do?’ Say, ‘O People of the Book! Why do you bar the faithful from the way of Allah, seeking to make it crooked, while you are witness? And Allah is not oblivious of what you do?”
In spite of all hostilities and turning their back to the divine signs in a bid to deviate others from the right path, God asks the true followers of Islam to adopt logical methods in debating with the People of the Book. Ayah 46 of surah Ankabut notes this issue clearly, “Do not dispute with the People of the Book except in a manner which is best, barring such of them as are wrongdoers, and say, ‘We believe in that which has been sent down to us and has been sent down to you; Our God and your God is one and to Him do we submit.”
This ayah, in addition to proposing the best way of debate for reaching mutual understanding with the People of the Book, reminds them of common principles. The holy Qur’an here seeks to urge Muslims and the People of the Book to give up provocative words and deeds and converse in an amicable climate to gain the desirable conclusion.
But, as some people might resort to the time gap between the era of Prophet Jesus and the Prophethood of the Messenger of Mercy – which is approximately 600 years – as a pretext to say that no messenger had been sent to disclose realities. Nevertheless, God annuls this thought in ayah 19 of surah al-Ma’ida, “O People of the Book! Certainly Our Apostle has come to you, clarifying for you after a gap in the apostles, lest you should say, ‘There did not come to us any bearer of good news nor any warner.’ Certainly there has come to you a bearer of good news and a warner. And Allah has power over all things.”
Despite all flexibilities and friendly and logical ways by Muslims, only a small number of the People of the Book embraced the truth of Islam and most of them refused to accept this religion. Thus God told His Messenger in ayah 120 of surah Baqara, “Never will the Jews be pleased with you, nor the Christians, unless you followed their creed.” But, in order to show that guidance is in the divine authority, God commands the Prophet, “Say, ‘Indeed it is the guidance of Allah which is the guidance.” Then, in order to prove that the view of the disbelievers has no logical ground, God continues, “And should you follow their desires, after what has come to you from the knowledge, you will not have against Allah any guardian nor any helper.”
If an individual maintains a principled and logical view, he will submit to rationality and logic. But most of the People of the Book insist on illogical views so that God says in ayah 145 of surah Baqara, “Even if you bring those who were given the Book every sign, they will not follow your qibla.”
The People of the Book not only didn’t submit to the logical arguments and guidelines of the Prophet; they rather tried to attract Muslims to their creed with various tricks. This trend has continued and intensified till this day. The holy Qur’an elaborates this bitter reality in ayah 109 of surah Baqara, “Many of the People of the Book are eager to turn you into unbelievers after your faith, out of their inner envy, after the truth had become manifest to them.”
However, God shows forbearance against these adamant people and says in continuation of the ayah, “Yet, excuse them and forbear.”