Evil and God's Chosen?

Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality Topics: Interfaith Views: 4377
4377

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]


  Category: Americas, Faith & Spirituality
  Topics: Interfaith
Views: 4377

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Older Comments:
ADZ FROM PHIL said:
Salam to all my Brothers and Sisters and to all the peace loving people of the world and of the different realm............

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.
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ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Wa antum ahlu ljaza', brothers Mohammadnur and brother Najjar.

I support the authors good intentions but I don't support their their ignorance of the Quran.

May Allah guide humanity to the Truth!

Ameen
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MOHAMEDNUR FROM U.S.A said:
Jazaka Allahu kheyr brother Zinedine
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
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MOHAMEDNUR FROM U.S.A said:
assalaamu caleykum
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
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SALEEM FROM USA said:
uneducated muslim nations or anyone is a old rap, which is degrading and a discreamation source we all need to understand clearly once and for all.
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.

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NAJJAR FROM MOROCCO said:
Assalamou 3ailaikoum. With all due respect, this work (this writing) needs a great deal of reference material and consultation with other qualified scholars for "quality assurance" purpose, and for not misleading people, nothing to do with Iviews.com as stated on the first paragraph of the static fine prints. This is published on the Internet and coming out from very sincere and peace loving scholars. Alhamoudillah , we can thank Islamicity for allowing erudite visitors to point out inaccurate statements contained in articles such as this one, and inform others not in possession of the facts. So far the most important remarks and corrections so gently put, are the ones posted by brothers Aslam Abdullah, Faliku Konneh and Zinedine who finally reminded the respected doctor Nazir Khaja the truth with unquestionable and final Divine statements from Al Qur'an Al Karim.

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
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ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Salaamu alaikum,

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.
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ZINEDINE FROM MOROCCO said:
Salaamu alaikum,

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!







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ADAM IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD FROM NIGERIA said:
Well the basic fact is that in Islam you never separate politics from religion. I agree with a commentatoe that this talk about INLUSIVISM and EXCLUSIVISM needs more clarification.

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.

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RASHID ALAM FROM USA said:
exclusivism definitely has no place in islam, for, according to islam, there is only one sin that is not forgivable, which is shirk, the association of partners with God. to say that muslims are the "chosen ones" is erroneous. there are only those who believe in one God, and those who do not, and ultimately, no one can judge one's beliefs, only God. as far as the seperation between religion and politics, this is not possible. islam is dynamic and includes all aspects of life, most importantly politics.
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FALIKU KONNEH FROM USA said:
The writers struck some salient points that are worth looking at. I however beg to differ with them on the point that a muslim is a Jew and Christian before he is a Muslim, reason being that these religions came before Islam. I wonder why they left out Budhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and some other "isms" that preceded Islam--at least Islam as we know it from a simplistic point of view. I think the argument should have been the other way around: members of all other religions were Muslims before they were ever members of those religions. And that is why people should refrain from referring to individuals who belatedly realize where they really belong as "Muslim converts," because they are not "converts." They are "reverts." My authority comes from Almighty Allah (SWT)who says in the Holy Qur'an that all living things and non-living things bow to His Will--willingly or unwillingly. If this is not being Muslim, then I would like to know what is? One more point: The Qur'an also tells people, in so many words, that Abraham was not a Jew even though some of his progenies became. Ishmael was not a Jew. Besides these few factual errors, I think the article is enlightening. Thank you very much.
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VALERIE FROM UNITED STATES said:
First of all I believe that Paganism came before any religion. I have been a spiritual seeker most of my life. Still SO much to learn. In religions there seem to me to be two interpretations, that of extremism and that of moderation. Depending upon what country one goes to that has a predominantly Muslim population and depending upon the leaders of that country/area it is evidenced by the people and especially the woman and how they are treated there to how extreme. As for religions, I have been a Catholic. I went to church almost every day as a Catholic, where I studied and prayed and lived Catholic for two years. I came to realize this faith seemed full of hypocrisy to me. Then I became a "born-again" Christian and went to this Babtist church every week for a period of two years. I began to realize this seemed to foster a hate within me for those who were not of the same faith-I left. Then there was Buddhism for another few years, and I still practice the meditations and philosophy of peace among all things and people. Many faiths I have studied. Bottom line, Muslims are not terrorists, bad people that hide behind religion are. It is like saying gun owners are all murderers. It is people, individuals who have been mislead by "radicals" due to their vulnerability. It is like saying all Christians are Native American Indian murderers and anti-abotion clinic bombers. People who may have had a bad thing happen in their lives and feel justice has not been served for example. Power-a way for a gov't to have/maintain control over their population by citing their version of the law whether it be through the Bible, the Koran, whatever. It is individual people that lead the weak and uneducated. Anybody should read whatever they can on all religions so they can have a thorough understanding of all faiths. Look to the population at large especially the working class and women and the opportunities for them. As individuals, we should all strive to simply get along-Insha Allah.
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ASLAM ABDULLAH FROM USA said:
The article in general is good. However, there aer a few additions and clarifications.
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.
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