Ahl al-Kitab

A question was raised about the status that Jews and Christians hold — according to the Muslim faith.  We (Christians and Jews) are considered Ahl al-Kitab — “People of the Book.”  This term is referenced in my last post “It’s never ‘Just a Ride.'” 

As I understand it, Islam accepts — and reveres — the Psalms and the Torah and the Old Testament (the Tanakh) to a lesser extent.  The Quran is considered to be the completion of these Scriptures.  Since Jews, Christians and Muslims all derive from the sons of Abraham (Isaac begat Christianity and Judaism and Ishmael begat Islam), “People of the Book” refers to those who share Abrahamic Scripture and believe in one God.  Sabians (who are mentioned three times in the Quran) are also considered Al al-Kitab

The Quran instructs tolerance toward the Ahl al-Kitab — especially in Surra 3 (“The Family of Imran”).  In Surra 5:69, the faithful are advised “Verily!  Those who believe and those who are Jews, Christians and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward . . . .”    Then there is Surra 5:82 “. . . you will find the nearest in friendship to be those who say ‘we are Christians.’  This is because there are priests and monks among them and they do not behave proudly.” 

I am not sure where today’s lack of tolerance comes from other than man’s selective (sometimes fallible) interpretation of text (much like the Old and New Testaments have been selectively interpreted over the centuries to justify this or that).  It would be nice if we could put aside perceived differences and recognize the shared heritage of our respective Faiths so as to make headway into some of the world’s most pressing, agonizing – and dangerous – problems.      

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