Sep 18, 2012

What You Need to Know About Islam: 7 Essential Teachings of the Qur’an

Christopher ConeBy Dr. Christopher Cone
Tyndale Theological Seminary

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Whereas some belief systems are shrouded in mystery and sometimes difficult to understand, the Qur’an is forthright regarding core tenets of Islam. As Islam re-emerges as a central world influence, it is very important for all to understand its foundational teachings. While there are many weighty Quranic teachings, there are a few passages that are particularly enlightening. A few of the most distinctive are considered here.

Traditionally, Islam is most identifiable by its Five Pillars:

  1. Shahada (belief or creed, from Surah 3:18, etc.)
  2. Salat (daily ritual prayer, from Surah 2:3-5, etc.)
  3. Zakat (ritual almsgiving, from Surah 21:73, etc.), divided between eight specific causes (from Surah 9:60):
    1. the Masakeen (destitute)
    2. Fugaraa (poor)
    3. Amil Zakah (alms collectors)
    4. Fi sai Lillah (the Cause of Allah, those involved in Jihad)
    5. Gharimun (debtors)
    6. Ibn as’Sabil (wayfarers)
    7. Riqab (those in bondage)
    8. Mu’Allaf (those inclined to Islam)
  4. Sawm (fasting during Ramadan, from Surah 1:183-185, etc.)
  5. Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca, from Surah 22:27-28, etc.)

While these Pillars are central in Islamic piety, there are other distinctive teachings that are equally as profound; teachings on Christ (no more than a created apostle), on the future (Islam will reign supreme), on Jihad ( perhaps a sixth pillar, and the mechanism for fulfilling the eschatology of Islam), and on women (inferior to men). Let’s consider Islam’s teaching on these topics in the words of the Qur’an. All quotes of the Qur’an are from Translation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language, by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Madinah, KSA: King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an).

1. Islam Is the One True Religion

Surah 3:84-85:

“Say: “We believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and Al-Asbat (the offspring of the 12 sons of Ya’qub) and what was given to Musa, ‘Isa and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allah) we have submitted (in Islam). And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”

2. Jihad Is the Mechanism for Eliminating Idolatry

Surah 2:193:

“And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and all and every kind of worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers).”

Surah 9:5:

“Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun [polytheists and idolaters] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and ever ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat [ritual prayer], and give Zakat [ritual giving, one seventh of which goes to financing Jihad], then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Surah 9:29:

“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e., Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah [submission tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

3. Men Are Superior to Women and May Beat Them When Necessary

Surah 4:34:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g., their chastity, their husband’s property). As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.”

4. Jihad Is Not Optional, and There Are Superior Blessings for Those Who Fight in Jihad

Surah 9:38-39:

“O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allah (i.e., Jihad) you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared to the Hereafter. If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment…”

Surah 9:41:

“March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), and strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allah [Jihad]. This is better for you, if you but knew.” (also, Surah 9:73, 123; 66:9)

Surah 4:95:

“Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives…”

5. Salvation Requires Both Faith and Works—Especially Fighting in Jihad

Surah 61:10-12:

“O you who believe! Shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah [Jihad] with your wealth and your lives: that will be better for you, if you but know! (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwellings in ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise; that is indeed the great success.”

Surah 4:122:

“But those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah—Islamic Monotheism) and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit them to the Gardens under which rivers flow (i.e., in Paradise) to dwell therein forever…” (also, Surah 7:41-42; 16:30; 36:45-58; 52:17-24)

6. Jesus Is Not the Son of God, but Is a Created Apostle. There Is No Trinity.

Surah 4:171:

“O People of the Scripture (Christians)! Do not exceed the limits of your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, (“Be!”—and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: “Three (trinity)!” Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One Ilah (God), glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son…” (also, Surah 5:75; 10:68; 19:34-38)

7. Friendship with Jews and Christians Prohibited

Surah 5:51:

“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Auliya’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliya’), then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers and unjust).”

Surah 48:29:

“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves…”

Surah 98:6-7:

“Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures. Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah, and in His Messenger (Muhammad) including all obligations ordered by Islam] and do righteous good deeds, they are the best of creatures.”

So Which Is It?

While these passages represent only a small sampling of Quranic teachings, they are foundational in their representations. In light of these passages, it is evident that the teachings of Biblical Christianity and those of Quranic Islam are mutually exclusive on many points. The Bible and the Qur’an can’t both be true, because they are so essentially incongruous. The two systems contrast especially regarding the nature of God, the identity of Jesus, how a person gains favor with God, the essential identity and equality of women and men, how to deal with religious pluralism, and the implications of the future for every individual. In fact, it is difficult to find a topic in which the two systems are not in doctrinal conflict.

Even regarding how one should respond to such differences, the two systems differ. For followers of Muhammad, Jihad must play a prominent role on the world stage until Islam reigns supreme (Surah 2:193), when all must come to believe that Islam is the one true religion. None should underestimate Islamic commitment to that principle, as it is the guiding and most central tenet of Islam, as represented in the Qur’an.

The Bible, on the other hand never permits followers of Jesus to kill anyone for holding to different beliefs. Christians aren’t the judges, rather, the Bible describes Jesus as the Judge who will one day make an end of sin (Rev 19:11), and who, in the meantime, “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). The Bible records a message of grace and hope for all who would call upon the name of Christ (“…the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” Jn 6:37.)

So, where does that leave you?

There’s much, much more than mere politics at stake…