FAQ in the category of Islam and Other Religions

1 How is fasting performed in Judaism and Christianity? What is the difference between the fasting performed by the Prophet (pbuh) and the one performed by the people of the Book?

In Christianity, fasting is not a kind of worshipping that is arranged to be performed in a certain month of the year. Although there are periods of fasting shown in the worshipping calendars of churches as reminders, Christians can fast whenever they wish. 

In Christianity, alcohol and sexual relationship are forbidden during fasting. Daily activities are reduced to a minimum. Fasting is generally performed for forgiveness and in order to realize living in abundance. Especially Catholics and Orthodox Christians observe fasting for forty days called "Great Lent" and in Advent before Christmas. Protestant Churches leave it to their followers whether to fast or not.

In Judaism, fasting is necessary. Fasting is observed a few times in a year. Fasting is observed especially in Yom Kippur. They do not eat, drink wear leather clothes; they do not put on any oil and cream. They do not have sexual intercourse. 

In general, fasting is a means of keeping away from daily chores. The Jews living in various regions of Arabia did not use to eat anything after night when they fasted. Imsak (prohibition of eating, drinking, etc) starts when the sun sets in the evening. It is forbidden to eat that night until the first two stars appear the next day. This period was about twenty-five hours.

2 How can we convey the message of Islam to a Christian? How can we tell Christians about their mistakes?

It is necessary to tell people about the existence and oneness of Allah first when we tell them about the religion of Islam. For, it is easier to tell a person who believes inthe existence and oneness of Allah about other issues. It is necessary to tell (especially) Christians about the belief of oneness and that Hz. Isa (Jesus) is a prophet of Allah. The questions related to other issues that come to your mind can be answered through this website.

ANSWER TO JEWS AND CHRISTIANS FROM THE QURAN

In the Quran, there are concise and silencing answers to the wrong claims of Jews and Christians. Some of them are as follows:

Jews claim that Paradise is exclusively for them. The Quran answers them as follows:

"Say: "If the last Home, with Allah, be for you specially, and not for anyone else, then seek ye for death, if ye are sincere." But they will never seek for death, on account of the (sins) which their hands have sent on before them. and Allah is well-acquainted with the wrong-doers." (al-Baqara, 2/94-95)

Jews and Christians regard themselves as Allah's distinguished slaves. The Quran answers these wrong claims of theirs as follows:

"Why then doth Allah punish you for your sins?" (al-Maida, 5/18)

Jews and Christians utter this claim: "Hz. Ibrahim was one of us.'' The Quran silences them as follows:

"Ye People of the Book! Why dispute ye about Abraham, when the Law and the Gospel Were not revealed Till after him? Have ye no understanding?" (Aal-i Imran, 3/65).

Christians misinterpreted the fact that Hz. Isa was sent to the world without a father. They accepted him and his mother Hz. Maryam (Mary) as deities. The Quran clarifies this issue as follows: 

"The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was." (Aal-i Imran, 3/59)

That is, to understand that Hz. Isa was born without a father is not something that human mind cannot grasp. Allah creates as He wishes. As a matter of fact, He created Hz. Adam, who was the first man, out of dust, without a father and mother. Then, He blew spirit into him with the command "BE". Hz. Adam, who was created without a mother and father, does not have to be a deity; Hz. Isa, who was created without a father, does not have to be a deity, either.

It is very significant that when Hz. Isa had just been born, he spoke as a miracle and his first statement was, "I am indeed a servant of Allah." (Maryam, 19/30) That is, Hz. Isa rejected the Christians who would call him a deity in the future with his first words. Yes, he is not the son of Allah - God forbid – but a servant (slave) of Allah.  

"And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah.?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden." (al-Maida, 5/116)

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To what extent is a Christian’s belief of God who believes in trinity acceptable and valid?

3 Is the origin of all religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) Hz. Ibrahim's Hanif religion?

The word "Islam" is used in various senses. The special name of the religion sent toHz. Muhammad (pbuh) is also Islam. Therefore, the name of the religion sent to Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) and the religion of Hz. Ibrahim are different. Although the names of those religions are different, they are the same in terms of basic issues. However, there are differences in detail.

All prophets from Hz. Adam to Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) conveyed the true religion to people. The principles of belief, which are the foundations of the religion, remained the same. However, the decrees related to worshipping and worldly affairs, which are called shari’ah, changed based on the necessities each era and the needs of people. Allah Almighty sent a different shari’ah to every ummah taking into consideration the living style and interests of the people of every era. The following is stated in verse 48 of the chapter of al-Maida:

“To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way.”

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi explains the issue as follows:  

“Sacred laws change according to the ages. Indeed, in one age different prophets may come, and they have come. Since subsequent to the Seal of the Prophets, his Greater Shari’a is sufficient for all peoples in every age, no need has remained for different laws.”

For instance, Jews can worship only in synagogues and Christians only in churches but Muslims can perform prayers anywhere. The tallow of animals like cattle and sheep was haram in the shari’ah of Hz. Musa (Moses) but it is halal in our religion.  

Hanif religion is a true religion based on the principle of tawhid (oneness); it is represented by Hz. Ibrahim.

The word "Hanif" has various meanings but the following meaning is generally accepted: "a person who turns toward the truth; a person who is on the straight path". In the Islamic terminology, it is the name given to people who turn away from all kinds of deviation and idolatry in the Era of Jahliyya and who believe in one Allah by following the religion of Hz. Ibrahim. 

The word "Hanif" is mentioned in ten places in the singular form as "hanif" and two places in the plural form as "hunafa" in the Quran. In eight verses, the word hanif is mentioned related to Hz. Ibrahim. For instance, the following is stated in two of them:

"They say: ‘Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation).’ Say thou: ‘Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah!’" (al-Baqara, 2/135),

"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." (Aal-i Imran, 3/67)

Allah Almighty ordered the Prophet (pbuh) to follow Ibrahim’s religion Hanif, that is, to continue his way, as follows:

"Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah… So We have taught thee the inspired (Message), "Follow the ways of Abraham the True in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah." (an-Nahl, 16/120,123)

Therefore, the word hanif is also used for the religion of Islam and the attribute of "hanif" is given to a sincere Muslim. As a matter of fact, the Prophet states the following:

"I was sent with the tolerant hanif religion (al-Hanifiyya as-Samha)." (Ibn Hanbal, V/266. See also, Bukhari, Iman, 29; Tirmidhi, Manaqib 32, 64; Ibn Hanbal III/442)

During the Era of Jahiliyya, before the Prophet (pbuh) was given the duty of prophethood, when idolatry was dominant in the Arabian Peninsula and people were in perversion, there were some people, though very few, who followed Hz. Ibrahim’s religion Hanif by turning away from idols and perversion and who searched the true religion. The resources of Islamic history mention them and their activities. One of those people was Waraqa b. Nawfal.

 

HANIF RELIGION

It is the religion based on the principle of oneness and represented by Hz. Ibrahim.

The word "Hanif" has various meanings but the following meaning is generally accepted: "a person who turns toward the truth; a person who is on the straight path". In the Islamic terminology, it is the name given to people who turn away from all kinds of deviation and idolatry in the Era of Jahliyya and who believe in one Allah by following the religion of Hz. Ibrahim.

The word "Hanif" is mentioned in ten places in the singular form as "hanif" and two places in the plural form as "hunafa" in the Quran. In eight verses, the word hanif is mentioned related to Hz. Ibrahim. For instance, The following is stated in two of them" They say: ‘Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation).’ Say thou: ‘Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah!’" (al-Baqara, 2/135), "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." (Aal-i Imran, 3/67).

Allah Almighty ordered the Prophet (pbuh) to follow Ibrahim’s religion Hanif, that is to continue his way, as follows: "Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah… So We have taught thee the inspired (Message), "Follow the ways of Abraham the True in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah." (an-Nahl, 16/120,123). Therefore, the word hanif is also used for the religion of Islam and the attribute of "hanif" is given to a sincere Muslim. As a matter of fact, the Prophet states the following: "I was sent with the tolerant hanif religion (al-Hanifiyya as-Samha)."  (Ibn Hanbal, V/266. See also, Bukhari, Iman, 29; Tirmidhi, Manaqib 32, 64; Ibn Hanbal III/442)

During the Era of Jahiliyya, before the Prophet (pbuh) was given the uty of prophethood, when idolatry was dominat in the Arabian Peninsula and people were in perversion, there were some people, though very few, who followed Hz. Ibrahim’s religion Hanif by turning away from idols and perversion and who searched the true religion. The resources of Islamic history mention them and their activities. One of those people was Waraqa b. Nawfal.

Ahmet ÖNKAL

4 Why is Jerusalem (Quds) important for Jews and Christians?

Jerusalem is a city that has an important place in three religions and that is regarded as a sacred city.

Jerusalem in Judaism

The city of Jerusalem is mentioned only once in the Old Testament as Salem. (Genesis, 14/18) The claim whether Mount Moriah, the place where Isaac was presented as a sacrifice, and the temple of Solomon is there is debatable. The city’s being a center of kingdom and worshipping starts with Hz. Dawud (David). (II. Samuel, 6-7; chapters, 24/18-25; I. Chronicles, 21/18-22)

In the first period of the temple, the hill where the temple was located was called Mount Zion. The name Zion also meant the whole Jerusalem. When Hz. Dawud was promised that his kingdom will endure forever, it was also regarded as a sign of the eternity of Jerusalem, which was a city of kingdom and worshipping.  (II. Samuel, 7/13-16)

The construction of the temple during the reign of Hz. Sulayman (Solomon) gave Jerusalem a different sacredness; the promise of the Lord that Dawud’s kingdom will endure forever and the acceptance of the temple as Lord’s eternal abode consecrated the city.  

In Psalms (Psalm, 132), the city of Dawud (Zion), where the Ark of the Covenant was taken, is presented not only a city that Lord chose as kingdom but also as the abode of Lord. According to the Prophet Jeremiah, Jerusalem will be called a “prosperous city, sacred mountain”. (31/23; 33/16) It is also described as “beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth” (Psalm, 48/2), “perfect in beauty” (Psalm, 50/2); and the following is stated about it: “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy!” Psalm, 137/5-6)

Jerusalem is dealt with differently from the other cities in Judaic shari’ah due to its specialty and sacredness; therefore, some rules are not applied in Jerusalem. Since it is accepted as a place chosen by Lord (II. Kings, 21/4; Psalm, 132/13), the Temple of Jerusalem is not only a place where sacrifices are presented but also the target of pilgrimage. For, every man must appear before the Lord (in the temple) three times a year (in the festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot). (Exodus, 23/17; Deuteronomy, 16/16-17)

Since it is a place of pilgrimage, Jews had to stay there for a certain period of time; this formed the most important characteristic that shaped the cultural life of the people in the period when the temple existed.

Jerusalem has been the symbol of the highest values and hopes of Judaism because it was chosen by God. The prophets mentioned its name with praise. Isaiah calls Jerusalem “the City of Righteousness” and states that the law will go out from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (1/26; 2/3). Jeremiah states that Jerusalem will be called “the Throne of the Lord” and that all nations will gather in Jerusalem (3/17).

On the other hand, its beauty is described and it is likened to the darling. (Song of Songs, 6/4; Psalm, 48/2; 50/2)

In Talmud (Sukkot, 51b), it is stated that a person who has not seen Jerusalem can never know what a beautiful city is like; it is reported in Midrash (Genesis Rabbah, 14, 8) that Adam was created from the soil of the Jerusalem Temple and it is reported in another narration that the world started to be created beginning from Zion

According to Jewish shari’ah (Halakah), the whole country is sacred but the city of Jerusalem is the most sacred. The holiest place on the earth called “the holiest of the holiest” is in the temple in Jerusalem. The orders and prohibitions necessitated by sacredness of Jerusalem are listed in shari’ah. (Neusner, V, 15-16)

After the demolition in 70 AD, Jerusalem started to play a lesser role in the life of Jews but it continued to exist as the symbol of spiritual magnificence and the embodied form of shari’ah; the longing felt for it has been expressed on every occasion. No matter where Jews are and at no matter what time they pray, they have to turn toward Jerusalem.

In the blessing said during dinner, the wish of rebuilding Jerusalem is expressed. The prayer called Amidah, which is repeated three times a day, is made by turning toward Jerusalem; in this prayer, the desire to return to Jerusalem and to reestablish the city and the reign of Dawud is expressed. In the three annual fasts, Jews mourn for the memory of the fall of Jerusalem.

The importance of Jerusalem in the worshipping life is based on the belief that the Jewish state will be established by Messiah in these regions. The rebuilding of Jerusalem and the construction of the temple are signs of this. According to Jewish tradition, there is a Jerusalem in the sky in addition to the Jerusalem on earth. It is reported that in Talmud that God declared that it was not possible to enter the Jerusalem in the sky before entering the Jerusalem on earth.

In some of the Jewish religious literature, it is stated that the celestial Jerusalem will come down to the earth to settle in its place at the end of the world. Jews wish to be buried in Mount of Olives in order to save time and reduce the burden when Jerusalem is rebuilt and when the dead are resurrected since it is close to the hill where the temple is located. The Seder table and the worshipping of the Day of Atonement in the Jewish Passover festival end with the wish of "next year in Jerusalem". (Dictionnaire encyclopedique du Judaisme, p. 573)

Jerusalem in Christianity

Jerusalem occupies an important place in the Gospels. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus started to convey his message to people in the Galilee region, and upon their negative attitude, he headed toward Jerusalem, entered the city and cleaned the temple. When he got reactions from Jewish authorities, he stated that the city would be punished and the temple would be fouled. When he was crucified outside the city, the curtain of the temple was torn.

The other Gospels make some additions to this information about Jerusalem. The Gospel of John states that Jesus had come to Jerusalem many times. According to the Gospels, the worldly life of Jesus ends in Jerusalem, where the disciples take the "holy spirit".

Jerusalem in Islam

The name Quds (Jerusalem) is not directly mentioned in the Quran but this city is mentioned as the farthest Mosque, whose precincts were blessed (al-Isra 17/1); in addition, the region where it is located is described as “the holy land” (al-Maida 5/21) and “a beautiful dwelling-place” (Yunus 10/93).

It is stated in hadiths that, along with Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi, Masjid al-Aqsa is one of the three mosques that are permissible to go on a journey in order to visit and that it is the second mosque built on earth after Masjid al-Haram. (Bukhari, Fadlus-salat fi masjidi Makkah wal-Madinah, 6, Hajj, 26, Anbiya, 8, 40; Muslim, Hajj, 288, Masajid, 2; Nasai, Masajid, 3)

In addition, it is reported in some narrations that the Prophet advised performing prayers in Bayt al-Maqdis. (Abu Dawud, Salat, 14)

According to the narrations outside Kutub as-Sitta, when Jesus dies after coming to the world again, he will be buried next to the grave of the Messenger of Allah in Madinah or in Jerusalem. 

There are narrations stating that the Prophet performed prayers by turning toward Jerusalem by also turning toward the Kaaba at the same time before the Migration for two or three years (Ibn Sa‘d, I, 243; Qurtubi, II, 150; Fakhruddin ar-Razi, IV, 110) and there are some different narrations but it is accepted that this practice continued for sixteen or seventeen months in the period of Madinah and then the qiblah was changed to the Kaaba. (Bukhari, Salat, 31, Tafsir, 18; Muslim, Masajid, 11-12)

That the Messenger of Allah preferred Jerusalem as the qiblah for a period of time when he was alive is one of the causes why Muslims regard this city as a religious center. 

In addition, that the Prophet went to Masjid al-Aqsa in the miracle of Isra (night journey) that took place when the Prophet was taken from Masjid al-Haram to Masjid al-Aqsa, whose precincts were blessed, (al-Isra 17/1) and the consequent miracle of Miraj (Ascension) increased the importance of this city for Muslims.

Muhammad Hamidullah claims that Masjid al-Aqsa is not Bayt al-Maqdis but a mosque in the sky where angels worship Allah continuously (İslâm Peygamberi, I, 150-151), but it should be known that what is meant by that mosque is Bayt al-Maqdis built by Hz. Sulayman, not the mosque that was given this name afterwards.  

Furthermore, Jerusalem has had an important place in the tradition of heavenly religions because it was located in a region where many prophets lived beginning from Hz. Ibrahim and described as holy, because it included Bayt al-Maqdis built by Hz. Sulayman, and because it was the place where the struggle of Sons of Israel and the prophets sent to them took place. (see Abul-Faraj Ibnul-Jwzi, p. 63-147; TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi, Kudüs item.)