Ahl al-Kitab

As a follow up to my previous post — what is 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.”   

Islam accepts Old Testament (the Tanakh) as the Word of God.  Muslims believe the Quran is considered to be the completion of these Scriptures.  Since Jews, Christians and Muslims all derive from Abraham, “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 offers tolerance toward the Ahl al-Kitab — e.g. 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.” 

Every religious tradition has its own interpretation of Biblical text.   The Old and New Testaments and the Quran have been selectively interpreted over the centuries to justify various faith traditions and practices.  And to trivialize (or demonize) others.  It would be nice if we could recognize the shared heritage of our respective faiths so as to foster cooperative and ecumenical headway into some of the world’s most pressing, agonizing – and dangerous – problems.

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