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THE UNIVERSAL RELIGION

14 THE UNIVERSAL RELIGION (Jamal-ud-din Shams) Since the creation of the world Almighty God has been raising prophets to guide mankind to the path of truth and righteousness. When the ways and means of communication and transport were limited, God sent prophets for particular nations only with spiritual guidance. The Holy Quran confirms this fact in many places: “And We did raise among every people a Messenger with the teaching ‘Worship Allah and shun the evil one’.” (16:37) “And there is a Guide for every people.” (13:8) “And for every people there is a Messenger.”’ ( 10:48) “And there is no people to whom a warner has not been sent. ” (35:25 ) Before the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, there were in existence other religions than Islam such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism etc. They all presented a concept of nationalism. Judaism, for instance, was restricted to the Israelites, Hinduism to the people of India, Confucianism for the people of China and similarly other religions were intended only for certain tribes and nations. In the Old Testament God has been presented as a national God. He is frequently called the God of Israel. Christianity is being presented as a universal religion while it was Paul who took the religion to the Gentiles contrary to the purpose of the advent and teachings of Jesus who said: “[ am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matth J 5:24) When a Gentile woman approached him for a blessing he replied: “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.” (Matth15:26) THE UNIVERSAL RELIGION 15 It was only after further pleading that he granted her request. Jesus made it clear that he had come to establish the laws of Moses which had been revealed only for the guidance of the Israelites: “The scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not.” (Matth 23:2,3) The disciples of Jesus also believed, naturally, that their mission was to preach only to the Israelites in accordance with Jesus own claims and teachings. James addresses his epistle to the twelve tribes of Israel: “James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” (James 1:1) In like manner Peter says: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you … ” (Acts 2:22) The words of Peter show that he believed Jesus was a prophet and a man raised for the guidance of the children of Israel. Jesus confirmed once again the object of his mission when he said to his disciples: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the son of man be come.” (Matthew 10:23) This verse confirms that the mission of the disciples was directed to the Jews. Further Jesus said to his disciples: “And Jesus said unto them, verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” ( M atth. 19:28) None of the disciples of Jesus ever declared that Jesus had instructed them to preach to anyone except the Jews. It was in fact Paul’s idea to start preaching to the Gentiles after meeting with opposition from the Jews: “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by 16 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, 10, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:45, 46) When Peter began to mix and preach to the uncircumcised (non Jews) other disciples objected because they knew that Jesus had been sent only for the Israelites to whom his mission was confined: “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest into men uncircumcised and did eat with them.” (Acts 11:1-3) In accordance to the teachings of Jesus they had been preaching only to the Jews: “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that rose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. ” (Acts 11:19) Conversely the Holy Quran states that the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him was sent with a message for all mankind and not only for the Arabs. It claims to be a universal religion: “And We have not sent thee but as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner for all mankind. ” (34:29 ) “Blessed is He who has sent down Alfurqan to His servant, that he may be a Warner to all the worlds.” (25:2) “And We have not sent thee but as a mercy for all people.” (21:108) It was through the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that the world was blessed as it had never been blessed before. Unlike other books, the Holy Quran has presented the concept of a universal God. At the very beginning we read: “Lord of all the worlds. ” ( 1:2). Islam does not ignore or deny the truth of other religions. It accepts all Prophets of God and declares that they were sinless. The mission of the Holy Prophet of Islam was different in as much as he brought the THE UNIVERSAL RELIGION 17 final religion for all mankind. During his lifetime people of different nations and religions believed in him and accepted Islam. There was, for instance, Hazrat Bilal from Africa, Hazrat Sulaiman from Iran and Hazrat Sohab from Rome. It is necessary that a religious scriptures intended to unite all mankind should be a perfect and complete book containing the solution for all world problems. Such is the Holy Quran which covers all aspects of world affairs. Islam proves itself to be a universal religion because: 1. It itself claims to be a universal religion. 2. The Holy Quran has complete teachings for solving problems of the world. 3. It allows freedom of religion: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:267). “Say it is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.” (18:30) 4. It gives the message to unite all nat.ions: “Say, 0 people of the Book come to a word equal between us and that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him.” (3:65) 5. Islam teaches Muslims to believe in all previous prophets and to make no difference between them. (2: 137) 6. Islam makes no distinction between any nation and gives honour only to the God-fearing people: “Verily the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is most righteous among you.” (49:14) The Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, firmly established his claim to be a universal Prophet. May Allah bless his soul. Amen. **********

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