Carl Sandberg, when asked what was the word in English language that he hated most, replied "exclusivism." The ideas that follow from exclusivism indeed provide the framework for a very narrowly defined world view which has been at the heart of innumerable intra- and inter-religious conflicts, wars, and genocides. Assuming that there is only a select group who an arbitrary God has chosen or forgiven, the others seem then to be excluded from His mercy and grace. Repetition of these kinds of claims have caused great harm throughout our history; counter-claims necessarily follow and the divide continues to deepen. To justify this way of thinking through Biblical, Quranic, or any Scriptural source renders the lofty ideals within these sources of guidance meaningless and only adds insult to injury. As we face the evil of, all forms of, terrorism there is a definite need to understand this complex issue so that we can respond appropriately to contain, if not annihilate, this modern "Plague of Darkness" -- to use a biblical term.
Violence perpetrated by Muslims may have complex reasons, but the framework of their hatred and hostility has indeed come down to an "Us vs. Them" paradigm, which they base entirely on an Islam, which the majority does not agree with. Again, these misguided people see God on their side and have internalized exclusivist attitudes and values, which, in their thinking, separates them from the rest of the world. Heaven for them is secure, and they are prepared to act on what they falsely interpret and believe as God's promise of Heaven for their acts. They are then the chosen ones. All their acts are justified through a historical narrative of their own which reaffirms this attitude and belief that theirs is a manifest destiny and that they are purging the world of evil. To base one's claim on the moral authority or right dispensed exclusively to us by a God who we all believe is merciful and just, to achieve worldly advantage, or to stake claim to heaven, is presumptuous, pompous, and perverse. This, as the basis of interaction between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, will only increase the tensions that already exist between these groups.
The ethos of Judaism is tikkun olom - the repair of the world. It is a universal challenge reaching out to all. We are all "Chosen" to love and repair. Jews, as others, are chosen for a world of Godliness and not superiority. To say otherwise justifies the hatred of the Jews, and makes Jews God's target. Will this notion hold for any group that has suffered? Blacks, Native American Indians, Armenians? God can not be made a scapegoat for xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianity, and anti-Muslim. We prefer to define ourselves as a choosing people: choosing goodness over demonization. Those who feel they are chosen and who "do the will of God," and those who follow chosenness foster civilizational war.
Islam came after Judaism and Christianity. Starting from this vantage point in its history, it has in its roots much that the other two offered earlier. Therefore a Muslim is a Jew before he is a Muslim, a Christian before he is Muslim. Five times daily when a Muslim offers his mandatory prayers, the format of which is set from the earliest times within it, he has to offer Peace and Blessings on the progeny of Prophet Abraham. This, along with several verses in the Quran, clearly define the inclusiveness that has been sadly absent in the thinking of many Muslims who are deluded into believing and acting on the exclusivist paradigm.
Therefore to trash Islam or to judge it condescendingly from an assumed moral high ground for the deviant acts of a few of its followers is entirely an act of historical or political opportunism which will only make a bad situation worse. Instead, there is a critical need to build on the "inclusivist" paradigm, and to refrain from mixing politics and religion, even as we sound off as religious leaders offering an understanding of the complex problems of the world, including terrorism. From the Muslim perspective, it is twice as difficult because of an onerous legacy that has perverted the true meaning of Islam. With the Governments within Muslim countries being mostly un-representative and un-caring and the masses mostly poor and uneducated, it will not be easy to undertake this critical task yet this infact is the critical need. The majority of the Muslim masses do believe in this message and are but waiting for their voices to be liberated and amplified.
Let us choose the path of understanding and pluralism. This is our true blessing.
Share your views on this topic in the IslamiCity Discussion Forum
Nazir Khaja, M.D. - Chairman, Islamic Information Service, Torrance, CA. Tel: (310) 370-4660, Email: [email protected]
Rabbi Steven Jacob - Temple Kol Tikvah, Woodland Hills, CA. Tel: (818) 348 0670, email: [email protected]
i agree with the idea of harmonious relationship among different faith. in fact this is one of the teachings of Islam. however, there are some pronouncement in the article that need to be qualified. if you have studied islam very well, you will learn that since the beginning of creation, the concept of ISLAM is already there. therefore dont get the misconception that prior to the birth of the HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S.A.W.)
Islam does not exist. Its actually there, being practice by the people. it may be called by a different term, but the concept,substance and the purpose is there.......
as regards the current problems the world is facing, theres no use blaming each other. lets just look at ourselves in the mirror and ask: what have i done to help others? or is actually what i am doing right now would contribute to the destruction and degradation of human lives?
if we want peace, lets start it within.....
to the author of the article, i appreciate your efforts.....however, before what you say my brother, it might cause confusion and anger on others........
and to all you guys out there...peace out.
I support the authors good intentions but I don't support their their ignorance of the Quran.
May Allah guide humanity to the Truth!
i just saw your comment after i wrote summitted mine. muslim is not a jew or christian and never was. Please we need to read our book, The Holy Quran
may Allah guide us
i just want to point out something. Brother Nazir said "a muslim is a jew before he is muslim and a christian before he is muslim. and that is not true. Allah said in sura Al-imran(3)verse 67 Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to Allah's (Which is Islam), and he joined not gods with Allah. and we, muslims are followers of ibrahim as it has been indicated in the Quran many times. so to say muslim a jew or christian before he is muslim is incorrect.
Allah knows best
justice peace and prosperity and poverty has nothing to do with education (ability to read and write).
Most of the people in charge of Justice and Peace and govt. know a lot to read and write and only use this rap for exploitation purpose , especially in the 3rd world.
People in part of Africa are starving to death not because of being uneducated enough. but are the result of the well educated people around the globe. who lack morals. without morals we see this painful events like heroshima, vietnam, soviet afghanistan unethical and immoral bush war on iraq.
For those who do not understand why it is truly a blasphemy, disrespect and effrontery toward all the Messengers and Prophets From Adam to Mohammed, may the Peace and the Blessing of Allah be upon them all, to call them anything but Muslims. For Islam means submission, to completely surrender to the will of God, and a Muslim means a person who submits and surrenders to God. All the Prophets and Messengers unreservedly submitted and surrendered to the One and only God, Allah. All the Prophets and messengers were Muslims; they conveyed the Divine message to people and advised them to submit and surrender to God, not to hard to understand why we testify they were Muslims.
May the peace reign Wassalam
Here is another common mistake that I hear all the time: "Jesus is a Jew" my answer is always: No Jesus is not a Jew he is a Levite. Why because he is a decendant of Levy and not a decendant of Judas. Levy and Judas are two of the 12th sons of Jacob. Please know that the word Judaism did not come from God, it either came from Judea or Judas, the father of the most numerous and probably dominant tribe of all the children of Israel, the nakename for (Jacob).
Valery, I would like to add that I personally believe that Monotheism started first in the country side as pure as nature itself (Fitra) but once Humans start to build cities and life became bureaucratised and corruption and materialism dominant, polytheism and atheism started to flurish.
Please if you are Christian read your Bible carefully and/or read the CHOICE a great book written by the late Bible Scholar Ahmad Deedat.
I agree with most of what you wrote because your intentions are good but I must correct the statements below:
"Islam came after Judaism and Christianity. Starting from this vantage point in its history, it has in its roots much that the other two offered earlier. Therefore a Muslim is a Jew before he is a Muslim, a Christian before he is Muslim."
It saddens me to hear not only the Jews and Christians but also many Muslims believe that Islam came after Judaism and Christianity. Unless you don't read the Holy Quran then I advise you to read it. You will then find these verses: "140. Or do ye say that Abraham, Isma'il Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than Allah. Ah! who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from Allah. but Allah is not unmindful of what ye do!"
"132. And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; "Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam."
You want more then read this one too:
"127. And remember Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.
128. "Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy (Will), and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in Mercy); for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."
Allahuma balaght Allahuma fashad!
Allah is my witness that I have informed you!
Islamcity Jazakumu Allahu bikhair!
The way I see this issue (in this era) is that for as long as you will adhere to the basic teachings of Islam that of declaring your monetheism (total), prayers (observing the five daily prayers and in Jama'a), Fasting, going to pilgrimage (from time to time) and giving out of your wealth the compulsary alms, so much you will be considered an extrimist. And we all know after extrimism they now consider classifying u a "terrorist" or something else. In summary you will never know peace on earth from the constant bashing.
So a jew and a muslim you may even include a christian may sit and write about the need for "pluralism" or is it? The answer will still be the same. So God save us.
Islam never claimed that it was a new religion or unique religion. Nor does Islam claim that it was founded by Prophet Muhammad. Nor does it ever say that it started in Arabia.
Islam makes a simple claim that the divine message has essentially been the same from the time of the creation of Adam. This message was repeated in different contexts and situation through individuals chosen by God, almighty Himself.
Thus Islam was not founded by Prophet Muhammad. The claim is that it was revealed by God Almighty.
The second claim that Islam makes is that people are given the right to choose whatever path they want to choose to live their life. They have the right to reject God or accept Him as their Lord.
The third claim that Islam makes is that those who differ with others on matters pertaining to nature and form of God or no God must be treated with dignity and respect. Their rights as the one created by the divine cannot be violated.
The fourth claim that Islam makes is that people should be empowered with knowledge of the revelations so that they can make an intelligent choice.
The fifth claim that Islam makes is that ultimate judge is God, Almighty who alone will determine the fate of each individual on the basis of His grace, mercy within the context of the individual's action and intentions.
In this context, the demonization of any religion is strictly prohibited in Islam.
However, what we see is that from many synagogues, churches, mosques and temples and secular institutions, a systematic campaign to demonize the other is played out week after week.
It is this bigotry that need to be fought.
About the exclusivism and inclusivism, we need to be very clear.