Per Tall Skinny Kiwi’s call for bloggers, I’m blogging a reading from the Qur’an today. Even though the planned
publicity stunt burning didn’t take place, there’s no reason not to fill the void of hate with education.
When Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus replies with the Shema (Deut 6:4-9) and a commandment about loving your neighbor. Here it is in Christianity and in Islam side by side:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:30-31, NRSV
“Worship Allah and join none with him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is stranger, the companion by your side”Qur’an, chapter 4, verse 36
The verse in the Qur’an actually has many translations due to the difficulty of translating Arabic to English. Here’s a list of the varied translations. But the key point of difficulty is the first section: Worship Allah and join none with him. This first verse is a direct challenge to the claims of Christianity that Jesus was God’s son. On the Dome of the Rock at Mecca, it is inscribed in various places that Jesus was just a messenger and that it is unthinkable that God would have a son or embodied divinity. This was inscribed after the Crusades (Christians v. Muslims) and is thus a political as well as theological statement.
We would think this would be a stumbling block to relations with Islam and Christianity, but if you think about it, the Jewish faith has denied Jesus’ Messiahship since the Incarnation. They deny the basic tenet of our faith: that God has a son who is the Messiah and is Jesus Christ. Both of these world religions deny the basic building block of Christianity: the Incarnation. I cannot tell you how much of my theology is built on the Incarnation, and thus it is an important affirmation.
And yet in the verse above, theology is in an uneasy marriage to praxis (action). It’s OK to make a theological affirmation, but join hands and serve one another even those who are infidels, heretics, or violent towards you.
Thus in the Qur’an verse above, we have the model for interfaith living. Make your theological affirmations, hold tight to them, and serve your neighbor with the highest of ideals. Interfaith centers, places of worship, theological seminaries (ie. Claremont), global responses to tragedy: they all hold tight to their faith but put their hands and feet in service to their neighbor.
May our future hope shine brighter than the flames of intolerance and hatred.