One Religion, Different Rites by Reza Shah-Kazemi

ONE RELIGION, DIFFERENT RITES

It is important at this point to cite some of the key verses of the Qur’an which clearly reveal the illogicality and vanity of religious chauvinism. Salvation is the consummation, through grace, of a fundamental spiritual orientation; it is not the automatic reward granted for belonging to one community rather than another.

Perhaps the most important of all the proof-texts for upholding this claim is:

Truly those who believe, and the Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabeans – whoever believeth in God and the Last Day and performeth virtuous deeds – surely their reward is with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve. (II: 62).[v]

Muhammad Asad, one of the most highly respected translators of the Qur’an, asserts that the word Islam itself would have been understood by the hearers of the word at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an in terms of its universal, and not communal, meaning. In other words, the religion bestowed upon the Prophet Muhammad was the very same religion which was bestowed upon his predecessors:

He hath ordained for you of religion that which He commended unto Noah, and that which We reveal to thee [Muhammad], and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein … (XLII: 13)

The essence of religion is one and the same, but its forms vary. The reason for this diversity is succinctly given in this verse:

For each We have appointed from you a Law and a Way. Had God willed, He could have made you one community. But that He might try you by that which He hath given you [He hath made you as you are]. So vie with one another in good works. Unto God ye will all return, and He will inform you of that wherein ye differed. (V: 48)

The import of this verse is confirmed by this one:

Unto each community We have given sacred rites (mansakan) which they are to perform; so let them not dispute with thee about the matter, but summon them unto thy Lord. (XXII: 67)

Read the entire text here.

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