Europe owes it awakening form the dark ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment by the transfer of knowledge including lost Greek heritage through the Muslim scholars and centers of learning at Spain and their contact with the Muslim world through Crusades. As long as Muslims continued the pursuit of all branches of useful worldly knowledge of physical science, technology along with the religious sciences, the Islamic Civilization was at its zenith. Read more >pdf … >>
It is part of articles of faith of a Muslims to believe in all the previous messengers of God and the scriptures; in the original form in which they were revealed upon them. God says: “(Qur’an is a guide for those) who believe in this Revelation (The Qur’an) which is sent to you (O Muhammad) and the Revelations which were sent before you (Torah, Psalms, Gospel…) and firmly believe in the Hereafter.”(Qur’an;2:4); “And We verily sent Noah and Abraham and placed the Prophethood and the Scripture among their seed, and among them there is he who goeth right, but many of them are evil-livers.”(Qur’an;57:26). “Lo! We inspire thee as We inspired Noah and the prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as we imparted unto David the Psalms;(Qur’an;4:163). “Surely, We sent down the Torah (to Moses), wherein is guidance and light; by its laws the Jews have been judged by the prophets who surrendered themselves to Allah, the rabbis and the doctors of law, because they were entrusted the protection of Allah’s book and were witnesses thereto”.(Qur’an;5:44). “And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those (earlier prophets), confirming the truth of what ever there still remained of the Torah; and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein there was guidance and a light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God conscious.” (Qur’an;5:46).
The scriptures revealed to the earlier prophets were meant for specific period and nation which, with the passage of time got distorted, because the Rabbis and Doctors of Law, entrusted with the responsibility of their protection failed to do so. These scriptures underwent distortion, addition, and omission: “- – Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings-” (Qur’an;4:46). “So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may sell it for a little price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings”(Qur’an;2:79). “To you, O Muhammad, We have revealed this Book (Qur’an) with the truth. It confirms whatever has remained intact in the scriptures which came before it and determining what is true therein. Therefore, judge between people of earlier revelations according what Allah has bestowed from high, and do not follow their errant views, forsaking the truth has come unto thee. We have ordained (different) law and Way of life for each of you. If Allah wanted He could have made all of you a single nation. But He willed otherwise in order to test you in what He has given you; therefore try to excel one another in good deeds. Ultimately you all shall return to Allah; then He will show you the truth of those matters in which you dispute.”(Qur’an;5:48).
All the divine revelations (scriptures) except Qur’an are extinct. The Bible; which besides Torah, Psalm and Gospel also contain other scriptures, books and commentaries by mostly unknown scribes attributing to known messengers and personalities. The Torah, Psalm and Gospel as available in the Bible may contain the original revelations in some form which pass the test of Qur’an; the criterion to distinguish right from wrong: “Blessed is the One Who has revealed Al-Furqan (the criterion to distinguish right from wrong: The Qur’an) to His servant, that he may be a Warner to the worlds;” (Qur’an;25:1). “And say: “Truth has come and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.”(Qur’an;17:81). The authenticity, accuracy and originality of Torah, Psalm and Gospel as revealed scriptures is doubtful, which is also evident from the long history and complex process of compilation and canonization.
Initial Impact of Islam on Christianity:
The light of Islam (attainment of peace through submission to the Will of One God, preached by all messengers of God from Adam- Noah-Moses to Jesus) was illuminating the world from 610-632 C.E through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the descendent of Prophet Ishmael (eldest son of Abraham) as prophesied in the previous scriptures [Deuteronomy;18:18,19, Song of Solomon;5:16; John;16:12-14; 15:26; 16:7 also affirmed in Qur’an;6:20; 61:6; 3:71; 3:42-47. ‘Gospel of Jesus’ according to Branbas, Chapter:124, 136,220. Also in the Zoroaster, Buddhist and Hindu Scriptures: ‘Bhavishya Purana in the Prati Sarag Parv III Khand 3 Adhay 3 Shloka 5 to 8’; Bhavishya Purana in the Pratisarag Parv III Khand 3 Adhay 3 Shloka 10 to 27; Bhavishya Purana, Parv – III Khand 1 Adhay 3 Shloka 21-23; and Samveda Book II Hymn 6 verse 8.]
Emperor Heraclius Invited to Islam:
After successfully establishing the Islamic state at Medina Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) invited the rulers and people of neighboring areas, to Islam including Eastern Roman emperor Heraclius (610-641 C.E). The letter and details are recorded in Sahih Bukhari Hadith Number:6, Volume:1, narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas. According to this Tradition (Hadith) the letter addressed to Heraclius reads:
“In the name of God the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and God will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin (peasants). (And I recite to you Allah’s Statement:) ‘O people of the scripture! (Jews and Chritians) Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside God (Allah). Then, if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (those who have surrendered to God).’ (Qur’an;3:64).
Heaculius called for the visiting Arab taders, Abu Sufyan (uncle of the Propeht, then a nonbeliever and his enemy) was on a buisness trip, he was produced in the court of the Emperor. After asking many questions about the Propeht and his message, Heaculius was convinced that Muhmmmad (peace be upon him) was a true messenger of God. Heraclius then wrote a letter to his friend in Rome who was as good as Heraclius in knowledge. Heraclius then left for Homs (a town in Syria) and stayed there till he received the reply of his letter from his friend (from Rome) who agreed with him in his opinion about the emergence of the Prophet and the fact that he was a Prophet.[Contemporary Pope Honorius I (Pope from 625 to 638 C.E) favoured Monothelitism; a formula proposed by the Byzantine emperor Heraclius.]
Then Heraclius invited all the heads of the Byzantines to assemble in his palace at Homs. When they assembled, he ordered that all the doors of his palace be closed. Then he came out and said, ‘O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give a pledge of allegiance to this Prophet (i.e. embrace Islam).’ (On hearing the views of Heraclius) the people ran towards the gates of the palace like onagers but found the doors closed. Heraclius realized their hatred towards Islam and when he lost the hope of their embracing Islam, he ordered that they should be brought back in audience. (When they returned) he said, ‘What already said was just to test the strength of your conviction and I have seen it.’ The people prostrated before him and became pleased with him, and this was the end of Heraclius’s story (in connection with his faith).
However Heraclius had sought in 638 C.E to placate Monophysite by promulgating the doctrine of Monothelitism. The victorious Muslims granted religious freedom to the Christian community in Alexandria, and the Alexandrians quickly recalled their exiled Monophysite patriarch to rule over them, subject only to the ultimate political authority of the conquerors. In such a fashion the city persisted as religious community under Arab Muslim domination more welcome and more tolerant than that of Byzantium.
The Monotheist Pope Honorius (625-638 C.E):
The Doctrine of One Mind-One God:
Pope Honorius (pope 625-638 C.E) was contemporary of Prophet Mohammed (peace be on him, preaching period: 610-632). He grasped the truthfulness of message of Islam [most likely through Emperor Heraclius] whose tenets he observed, were very much resembled those of Arius (monotheism preached by Jesus Christ). Thus he found the linkage between Islam and Christianity. In his letters he began to support the doctrine of ‘One Mind‘, because if God has three independent minds the result would be chaos. The logical conclusion pointed to the belief in the existence of one God. This doctrine was not officially challenged for about half a century. In October 638C.E Pope Honorius died. In 680 C.E, i.e. 42 years after his death, a council was held in Constantinople where Pope Honorius was anathematized (cursed, condemned). This event is unique in the history of Papacy when a Pope was denounced by a succeeding Pope and the Church.
Emperor Leo Abolished Image-Worship (726)
The Byzantine Emperor Leo-III (717-741) surnamed Isauricus, undertook, in the face o! so many difficulties, to purify the church of its detestable idols. Probably the creed of Islam and the success of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) greatly influenced Leo. Besides, there was a very general feeling among Christians in the East, that it was the increasing idolatry of the church that had brought down upon them the chastisement of God by the invasion of Muslims. The Christians were constantly hearing from both Jews and Muslims the odious name of idolaters. The great Iconoclastic Controversy evidently arose out of these circumstances.
L. F. M. Sozzini (1525-1565 ) Challenged Trinity:
The next two personalities of this faith that deserve mention were members of the same family. L. F. M. Sozzini (1525-1565 C.E) was native of Siena. In 1547 C.E. he came under the influence of Camillo a Sicilian mystic. His fame spread in Switzerland. He challenged Calvin on the doctrine of Trinity. He amplified the doctrine of Arius, denied the divinity of Christ and repudiated the doctrine of original sin and atonement. The object of adoration according to him could only be the one and only one God.
Sozzini was followed by his nephew F. P. Sozzini (1539-1604 C.E). In 1562 C.E he published a work on St. John’s Gospel denying the divinity of Jesus. In 1578 C.E he went to Klausenburg in Transylvania whose ruler John Sigisumud, was against the doctrine of Trinity. Here Bishop Francis David (1510-1579 C.E) was fiercely anti-Trinitarian. This led to the formation of a sect known as ‘Racovian Catechism’. It derives its name from Racow in Poland. This city became the stronghold of the faith of Arius.
Central to Socinus’ teaching was the attainment of eternal life through the study of divinely revealed Scripture. He saw Christ as a real man, though without sin, who by his suffering taught men how to bear their own sufferings. In his view, faith is more than the belief that the teaching of Christ is true; it also results in repentance for sins and in an obedience that leads to eternal life.
A rationalist Christian group was formed in the 16th century that embraced the thought of the Italian-born lay theologian Faustus Socinus hence named Socinian. The Socinians taught a rationalist interpretation of the Scriptures, and they accepted Jesus as God’s revelation but a mere man, divine by office rather than by nature; Socinians thus rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. One of the Socinians’ central doctrines was that the soul dies with the body, but that the souls of those who have persevered in obeying Jesus’ commandments will be resurrected. The Socinians also advocated the separation of church and state.
John Biddle (1615-62), an English Socinian, whose knowledge of the Greek text of the New Testament convinced him that the doctrine of the Trinity was not of scriptural origin, published his Unitarian convictions in Twelve Arguments Drawn out of Scripture . . . (1647) and other works; English readers, moreover, were exposed to Unitarian views through Socinian books published in the Netherlands.
Muslim Contributions in Medicine, Science & Technology:
In sharp contrast to present pathetic state of knowledge and learning, the contributions in the advancement of knowledge by the traditional Islamic institutions of learning (Madrasahs, Maktab, Halqa & Dar-ul-Aloom) are enormous.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica:
“The madrasahs generally offered instruction in both the religious sciences and other branches of knowledge. The contribution of these institutions to the advancement of knowledge was vast.
Muslim scholars calculated the angle of the ecliptic; measured the size of the Earth; calculated the precession of the equinoxes; explained, in the field of optics and physics, such phenomena as refraction of light, gravity, capillary attraction, and twilight; and developed observatories for the empirical study of heavenly bodies. They made advances in the uses of drugs, herbs, and foods for medication; established hospitals with a system of interns and externs; discovered causes of certain diseases and developed correct diagnoses of them; proposed new concepts of hygiene; made use of anesthetics in surgery with newly innovated surgical tools; and introduced the science of dissection in anatomy.
Muslims furthered the scientific breeding of horses and cattle; found new ways of grafting to produce new types of flowers and fruits; introduced new concepts of irrigation, fertilization, and soil cultivation; and improved upon the science of navigation. In the area of chemistry, Muslim scholarship led to the discovery of such substances as potash, alcohol, nitrate of silver, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and mercury chloride.
Muslims scientists also developed to a high degree of perfection the arts of textiles, ceramics, and metallurgy.” According to a US study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in its Journal on 21 February 2007; ‘Designs on surface tiles in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages revealed their maker’s understanding of mathematical concepts not grasped in the West until 500 years later. Many Medieval Islamic buildings walls have ornate geometric star and polygon or ‘girih’, patterns, which are often overlaid with a swirling network of lines – This girih tile method was more efficient and precise than the previous approach, allowing for an important breakthrough in Islamic mathematics and design.’
Muslims Scholars in Science & Theology:
According to the famous scientist Albert Einstein; “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes you an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes you a believer in God. A critical analysis reveals that most of Muslim scientists and scholars of medieval period were also eminent scholars of Islam and theology. The earlier Muslim scientific investigations were based on the inherent link between the physical and the spiritual spheres, but they were informed by a process of careful observation and reflection that investigated the physical universe.
Influence of Qur’an on Muslims Scientists:
The worldview of the Muslims scientists was inspired by the Qur’an and they knew that: “Surely, In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day, in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, with which He revives the earth after its death and spreads in it all kinds of animals, in the change of the winds and the clouds between the sky and the earth that are made subservient, there are signs for rational people.”(Qur’an;2:164). “Indeed in the alternation of the night and the day and what Allah has created in the heavens and the earth, there are signs for those who are God fearing.”(Qur’an;10:6). They were aware that there was much more to be discovered. They did not have the precise details of the solar and lunar orbits but they knew that there was something extremely meaningful behind the alternation of the day and the night and in the precise movements of the sun and the moon as mentioned in Qur’an: One can still verify that those who designed the dome and the minaret, knew how to transform space and silence into a chanting remembrance that renews the nexus between God and those who respond to His urgent invitation.
Famous Muslim Scientists and Scholars:
The traditional Islamic institutions of learning produced numerous great theologians, philosophers, scholars and scientists. Their contributions in various fields of knowledge indicate the level of scholarship base developed among he Muslims one thousand years ago. Only few are being mentioned here:
Jabir ibn Hayyan, Abu Musa (721-815), alchemist known as the “father of chemistry.” He studied most branches of learning, including medicine. After the ‘Abbasids defeated the Umayyads, Jabir became a court physician to the ‘Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid. Jabir was a close friend of the sixth Shi’ite imam, Ja’far ibn Muhammad, whom he gave credit for many of his scientific ideas.
Mathematics, Algebra, Astronomy & Geography:
Al-Khwarizmi (Algorizm) (770–840 C.E) was a researcher of mathematics, algorithm, algebra, calculus, astronomy & geography. He compiled astronomical tables, introduced Indian numerals (which became Arabic numerals), formulated the oldest known trigonometric tables, and prepared a geographic encyclopaedia in cooperation with 69 other scholars.
Physics, Philosophy, Medicine:
Ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi (Alkindus) (800–873 C.E) was an intellectual of philosophy, physics, optics, medicine, mathematics & metallurgy. Ali Ibn Rabban Al-Tabari(838–870 C.E) was a scholar in medicine, mathematics, calligraphy & literature. Al-Razi (Rhazes) (864– 930 C.E), a physical and scientist of medicine, ophthalmology, smallpox, chemistry & astronomy.
Ar-Razi’s two most significant medical works are the Kitab al-Mansuri, which became well known in the West in Gerard of Cremona’s 12th-century Latin translation; and ‘Kitab al-hawi’, the “Comprehensive Book”. Among his numerous minor medical treatises is the famed Treatise on the Small Pox and Measles, which was translated into Latin, Byzantine Greek, and various modern languages.
Al-Farabi (Al-Pharabius) (870- 950 C.E) excelled in sociology, logic, philosophy, political science & music. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahravi (Albucasis; 936 -1013 C.E) was an expert in surgery & medicine known as the father of modern surgery.
Ibn Al-Haitham (Alhazen) (965-1040 C.E); was the mathematician and physicist who made the first significant contributions to optical theory since the time of Ptolemy (flourished 2nd century). In his treatise on optics, translated into Latin in 1270 as Opticae thesaurus Alhazeni libri vii, Alhazen published theories on refraction, reflection, binocular vision, focusing with lenses, the rainbow, parabolic and spherical mirrors, spherical aberration, atmospheric refraction, and the apparent increase in size of planetary bodies near the Earth’s horizon. He was first to give an accurate account of vision, correctly stating that light comes from the object seen to the eye.
Abu Raihan Al-Biruni (973-1048 C.E); was a Persian scholar and scientist, one of the most learned men of his age and an outstanding intellectual figure. Al-Biruni’s most famous works are Athar al-baqiyah (Chronology of Ancient Nations); at-Tafhim (“Elements of Astrology”); al-Qanun al-Mas’udi (“The Mas’udi Canon”), a major work on astronomy, which he dedicated to Sultan Mas’ud of Ghazna; Ta’rikh al-Hind (“A History of India”); and Kitab as-Saydalah, a treatise on drugs used in medicine. In his works on astronomy, he discussed with approval the theory of the Earth’s rotation on its axis and made accurate calculations of latitude and longitude. He was the first one to determine the circumference earth. In the filed of physics, he explained natural springs by the laws of hydrostatics and determined with remarkable accuracy the specific weight of 18 precious stones and metals. In his works on geography, he advanced the daring view that the valley of the Indus had once been a sea basin.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 981–1037 C.E); was a scientist of medicine, philosophy, mathematics & astronomy. He was particularly noted for his contributions in the fields of Aristotelian philosophy and medicine. He composed the Kitab ash-shifa` (“Book of Healing”), a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopedia, and the Canon of Medicine, which is among the most famous books in the history of medicine.
Ibn Hazm, (994-1064 C.E) was a Muslim litterateur, historian, jurist, and theologian of Islamic Spain. One of the leading exponents of the Zahiri (literalist) school of jurisprudence, he produced some 400 works, covering jurisprudence, logic, history, ethics, comparative religion, and theology, and The Ring of the Dove, on the art of love.
Al-Zarqali (Arzachel) (1028-1087 C.E); an astronomer who invented astrolabe (an instrument used to make astronomical measurements). Al-Ghazali (Algazel) (1058-1111 C.E); was a scholar of sociology, theology & philosophy.
Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) (1091-1161 C.E); was a scientist and expert in surgery & medicine.
Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1128- 1198 C.E); excelled in philosophy, law, medicine, astronomy & theology.
Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi (1201-1274 C.E); was the scholar of astronomy and Non-Euclidean geometry.
Geber (flourished in 14th century Spain) is author of several books that were among the most influential works on alchemy and metallurgy during the 14th and 15th centuries. A number of Arabic scientific works credited to Jabir were translated into Latin during the 11th to 13th centuries. Thus, when an author who was probably a practicing Spanish alchemist began to write in about 1310. Four works by Geber are known: Summa perfectionis magisterii (The Sum of Perfection or the Perfect Magistery, 1678), Liber fornacum (Book of Furnaces, 1678), De investigatione perfectionis (The Investigation of Perfection, 1678), and De inventione veritatis (The Invention of Verity, 1678).
They are the clearest expression of alchemical theory and the most important set of laboratory directions to appear before the 16th century. Accordingly, they were widely read and extremely influential in a field where mysticism, secrecy, and obscurity were the usual rule. Geber’s rational approach, however, did much to give alchemy a firm and respectable position in Europe. His practical directions for laboratory procedures were so clear that it is obvious he was familiar with many chemical operations. He described the purification of chemical compounds, the preparation of acids (such as nitric and sulfuric), and the construction and use of laboratory apparatus, especially furnaces. Geber’s works on chemistry were not equaled in their field until the 16th century with the appearance of the writings of the Italian chemist Vannoccio Biringuccio, the German mineralogist Georgius Agricola, and the German alchemist Lazarus Ercker.
Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (Ibn Battuta) (1304-1369 C.E); was a world traveler, he traveled 75,000 mile voyage from Morocco to China and back. Ibn Khaldun(1332-1395 C.E) was an expert on sociology, philosophy of history and political science.
Tipu, Sultan of Mysore (1783-1799 C.E) in the south of India, was the innovator of the world’s first war rocket. Two of his rockets, captured by the British at Srirangapatana, are displayed in the Woolwich Museum of Artillery in London. The rocket motor casing was made of steel with multiple nozzles. The rocket, 50mm in diameter and 250mm long, had a range performance of 900 meters to 1.5 km.
Turkish scientist Hazarfen Ahmet Celebi took off from Galata tower and flew over the Bosphorus, two hundred years before a comparable development elsewhere. Fifty years later Logari Hasan Celebi, another member of the Celebi family, sent the first manned rocket into upper atmosphere, using 150 okka (about 300 pounds) of gunpowder as the firing fuel.
Influence of Islamic Learning in Reviving Western Civilization:
While Muslims were excellilng in the field of knowledge and learning of science and technology, the conditions of Christendom at this period was deplorable. Under Constantine and his orthodox successors the Aesclepions were closed for ever, the public libraries established by liberality of the pagan emperors were dispersed or destroyed. Learning was branded as magic and punished as treason, philosophy and science were exterminated. The ecclesiastical hatred against human learning had found expression in the patristic maxims; “Ignorance is the mother of devotion” and Pope Gregory the Great the founder of the doctrine of ‘supremacy of religious authority’; gave effect to this obscurantist dogma by expelling from Rome all scientific studies and burning the Palatine Library founded by Augustus Caesar. He forbade the study of ancient writers of Greece and Rome. He introduced and sanctified the mythological Christianity which continued for centuries as the predominating creed of Europe with its worship of relics and the remains of saints. Science and literature were placed under the ban by orthodox Christianity and they succeeded in emancipating themselves only when Free Thought had broken down the barriers raised by orthodoxy against the progress of the human mind.
Exceptional influence of Islamic learning on the West:
The influence of Islamic learning on the West has been phenomenal; an extract from Encyclopedia Britannica is an eye opener for the Muslims:
“The decline of Muslim scholarship coincided with the early phases of the European intellectual awakening that these translations were partly instrumental in bringing about. The translation into Latin of most Islamic works during the 12th and 13th centuries had a great impact upon the European Renaissance. As Islam was declining in scholarship and Europe was absorbing the fruits of Islam’s centuries of creative productivity, signs of Latin Christian awakening were evident throughout the European continent. The 12th century was one of intensified traffic of Muslim learning into the Western world through many hundreds of translations of Muslim works, which helped Europe seize the initiative from Islam when political conditions in Islam brought about a decline in Muslim scholarship. By 1300 C.E when all that was worthwhile in Muslim scientific, philosophical, and social learning had been transmitted to European schoolmen through Latin translations, European scholars stood once again on the solid ground of Hellenistic thought, enriched or modified through Muslim and Byzantine efforts.”
“Most of the important Greek scientific texts were preserved in Arabic translations. Although the Muslims did not alter the foundations of Greek science, they made several important contributions within its general framework. When interest in Greek learning revived in Western Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, scholars turned to Islamic Spain for the scientific texts. A spate of translations resulted in the revival of Greek science in the West and coincided with the rise of the universities. Working within a predominantly Greek framework, scientists of the late Middle Ages reached high levels of sophistication and prepared the ground for the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.” According to Will Durant, the Western scholar, “For five centuries, from 700 to 1200 (C.E), Islam led the world in power, order and extent of government, in refinement of manners, scholarship and philosophy”.
Theologian Earl Morse Wilbur (1866-1956) advanced the thesis, now widely accepted, that the history of Unitarianism in Poland, Transylvania, England, and America gains unity from certain common themes. These themes are freedom of religious thought rather than required agreement with creeds or confessions, reliance not on tradition or external authority but on the use of reason in formulating religious beliefs, and tolerance of differing religious views and customs in worship and polity. Their teachings historically have included the unity of God, the humanity of Jesus, mankind’s religious and ethical responsibility, and the possibility of attaining religious salvation through differing religious traditions. They emphasize the authority of the individual’s religious conviction, the importance of religiously motivated action for social reform, democratic method in church governance, and reason and experience as appropriate bases for formulating religious beliefs.
Trinitarians however has maintained hold upon major population not due to ideological superiority but due to aggressive missionary activities coupled social welfare projects like education, health, charity, material benefits along with coercion and persecution wherever feasible.
Among the present-day Christians a large number of men and women still believe in one God. They are not always vocal. Due to the crushing power of the Churches they cannot express themselves and there is not much communication between them. However with the advancement in communication specially the cyber world, such groups have started to vent their views.
In the end it will be of interest to quote Athanasius the champion of Trinity. He says that: “Whenever he forced his understanding to meditate on the divinity of Jesus his toilsome and unavailing efforts recoil on themselves, that the more he wrote the less capable was he of expressing his thoughts”. At another place he pronounces his creed as:
“There is not three but ONE GOD”
Knowledge, Reason and Wisdom:
Islam is the faith based upon knowledge, reason and wisdom, for it is ultimately knowledge of the Oneness of God combined with faith that saves man in this world and hereafter. The Qur’an is full of verses urging man to use his intellect, to deliberate, to think and to know, for the objective of human life is to ascertain the Truth, which could be achieved by recognizing and exploring the sings of God all around. Hence it becomes obligatory for all the Muslims both men and women to acquire the knowledge of all sciences including the religious sciences to understand the signs of God and to harness the powers of nature.
The Great Tragedy:
The great tragedy of Muslim history occurred over five centuries ago, when the study of Islamic sciences was separated from the other branches of knowledge in the Islamic learning institutions, considering it be evil and against the spirit of Islam. The women were discouraged to acquire knowledge. The Ottomans and Mughal empires also ignored to concentrate on acquisition of scientific knowledge. Islam is a faith based on the Reality and rational thought not on unscientific myths. Islam advocates to maintain balance between the life of this world and struggle for the reward in hereafter, thus asceticism and monasticism is not part of Islam.
Islam Christianity &Judaism:
Qur’an urges Muslims to invite the ‘People of the Book’ (Christians and Jews) towards the commonalties: “Say: “O people of the Book! Let us get together on what is common between us and you: that we shall worship none but God; that we shall not associate any partners with Him and that we shall not take human beings for our lords besides God;” If they turn away then tell them: “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves un to Him (in Islam).”(Qur’an;3:64). The Jews, Christians and Muslims claim to be the followers of Abraham, who preached the pure monotheism. Moses and Jesus said: “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad“; “Hear, O Israel : The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy;6:4, Isaiah;43:11, 45:5,46:9 & Mathew;19:17). Qur’an says: “Your God is one God; there is no one worthy of worship except Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” (Qur’an;2:163). The focus on common aspects will help in developing batter understanding of each other and can become basis for dialogue. The faith in Islam is based upon belief in Allah (One God), His angels, His Scriptures (like Torah, Psalms, Gospel), His messengers, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be His Last Messenger, Resurrection after death, Destiny, Trial, Hell and Paradise. A Muslims should practice the five pillars of Islam (worship); the first two; Declaration & Prayers (Shahada & Salah) are daily, next two Charity & Fasting (Zakat & Saum) are annual while Hajj is once in life. These are based on Abrahamic traditions, also mentioned in Bible.
The narratives of creation of universe, Adam and humanity are quite similar. The guidance of humanity through messengers and prophets like Noah, Lut, Jonah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon Jesus and scriptures has been mentioned in Bible and Qur’an. Muslims believe in miraculous birth of Jesus without father, miracles performed by him, his accession to heaven and second coming before end of the world. Jesus (peace be upon him), the son of Mary was the Messenger of God: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”(Acts; 2:22). Jesus himself said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mathew; 10:5-6, 15:24 & Qur’an;3:49), “Think not that I (Jesus) have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. . . . Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;”(Mathew;5:17-20).
Qur’an and Bible are synonymous on the individual responsibility of man; (Qur’an;35:18, 17:15,6:164 and Bible; Ezekiel;18:20-21). The advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been prophesized the Old Testament as well as in New Testament; (Deuteronomy; 18:18,19, Mathew; 1:18, Luke; 1:35, Qur’an; 3:42-47 linked with John;18:36, 1:11 & Mathew;5:17-18).
Belief in All Prophets:
The Holy Qur’an invites the Muslims not only to believe in Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but also in the prophets who had come prior to his advent. Muslims, are interested not only in the Revelation that was given to humanity through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), but also in the Revelations which were given to prophets previous to him. Among the prophets who had appeared before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Exalted Status of Jesus Christ:
The Qur’an has emphasized the importance to the Muslims of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). Jesus was no doubt was sent with a direct mission to the Israelites; he was also a universal sign. In Qur’an (21:107) the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been termed as a Mercy unto Humanity (Rahmatun lil Alamin), in the same Chapter (21:91) Mary and Jesus have been termed as a “Sign to Humanity” (Ayatun lil Alamin) due to miraculous birth of Jesus to virgin Mary. It is important that though many prophets are mentioned in the Qur’an the word Alamin (universe or humanity) has been used “only for Prophet Jesus and Mohammed (peace be upon them). In addition to his mission to the Israelites Jesus was commissioned with the task of heralding to the world the advent of the Last and the greatest Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Incidentally it is only Prophet Jesus and Mohammed (peace be upon them) who have the largest following in the world today. Over half of the total human population consists of the Christians who claim to be associated with Jesus, while the Muslims believe in both, i.e. Prophet Jesus and Mohammed (peace be upon them). The Qur’an also underlines the closeness of relationship between the Muslims and Christians (Qur’an;5:81-85). It is only through understanding and cooperation between the Christians and Muslims, through which the rising tides of atheism and materialism can be confronted and world made peaceful place for the humanity.
The Law and Commandments:
The instructions analogous to the Commandments have also been mentioned in Qur’an and made applicable to Muslims except Sabbath, the stringent restriction from which Muslims have been relieved, it was not the tradition of Abraham. The tradition of circumcision is linked with Abraham (Genisis;17:10-12, Acts;7:8, John;7:22) accordingly Jesus was also circumcised (Luke;2:21), while Christians have abandoned this tradition, Muslims being the faithful true followers of Abraham, strictly adhere to this practice. Moses is revered as a messenger of God with scripture, mentioned in Qur’an at numerous verses; 17:2, 4:154, 7:145 & 7:154.
Status of Women:
Islam places women at respectable and dignified position. Taking ‘Interest’ is prohibited in Bible at Leviticus;25:37. Riba (literally ‘usury’ or ‘interest’) is also prohibited by Qur’an at 2:278-279, 2:275, 2:276 & 30:39. The dietary prohibitions of Old Testament are almost similarly applicable to Muslims with some relaxations. The pork (pig meat) and alcohol are also prohibited for Muslims. Muslims are also allowed to consume permissible (Hilal) food from the People of the Book. The punishments through retaliation; like Life for a Life, Eye for Eye are mentioned in Bible and Qur’an. In Eschatology; Resurrection on the Day of Judgment, reward and punishment after trial, paradise and hell, bear some similarities. Humanitarian obligations have been emphasized in Bible and Qur’an.
Declaration of the Second Vatican Council:
It is heartening to see that there is a reorientation in the Christian world in its attitude to Muslims. The Declaration of the Second Vatican Council on “Religious Freedom,” issued in 1965, said: “Upon the Muslims the Church looks with esteem. They adore One God, Living and Enduring, Merciful and All-powerful, Maker of heaven and earth, and Speaker to man. They strive to submit wholeheartedly even to his inscrutable decrees,”
Fairness and Justice for World Peace:
The extreme oppression of Muslims, the world over has resulted in violence. Islam does not advocate killing of innocent or suicide. The human life is valued greatly. The acts of few desperate ignorant people does not represent the real Islam, which is the religion of peace and obedience to God. It is important that for the sake of world peace and freedom of humanity, the Christian world and Zionist Jews should treat the Muslims with fairness, justice, respect and dignity which they deserve and stop oppression and exploitation of their people, land and resources. The common roots, as ‘Children of Abraham’ should form the basis of friendship and dialogue not confrontation.
Europe owes it awakening form the dark ages to the Renaissance and Enlightenment by the transfer of knowledge including lost Greek heritage through the Muslim scholars and centers of learning at Spain and their contact with the Muslim world through Crusades. As long as Muslims continued the pursuit of all branches of useful worldly knowledge of physical science, technology along with the religious sciences, the Islamic Civilization was at its zenith.