Your Questions Answered
Question: I was wondering if Muslims feel like Allah loves them? Christianity is based on love - the love of God for His people and the love of Christ, who died for all, and the reciprocated love of Christians for their God. Is there any concept of such love in Islam? If so, can you explain it to me? And if not, what is Islam based on?
Answer: Certainly, in Islam, the pre-dominant motive for people to come closer to God is love. There is certitude of His Love, Mercy and Kindness that is always there for humans to experience and benefit from, should they reflect.
The Qur'ān itself begins by the expression: Bismillāh al-rahmān al-rahīm. al-rahmān and al-rahīm, being the attributes of God Almighty, convey belief in a God who is Extremely Merciful, whose Mercy is Ever-Lasting. Verse 2:165 of the Qur'ān says: "hose (who are) of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah" – that as human beings, despite being equally capable of loving others as much, their strongest love is unquestionably reserved for God. Given the context of the passage, this is because when an intelligent human being looks around him, he finds that every creation is for his benefit, put at his disposal by none other than the Master Designer, who keeps providing out of love. An intelligent observer inevitably finds himself over-whelmed by this extreme display of kindness and compassion.
In short, yes, the Islamic spirit is pre-dominantly the spirit of love from God, and for Him. But the love that the Almighty reciprocates is far stronger than all the love that we can all manage to ever put together. The Qur'ān says, for instance:
And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Full of Loving-Kindness. (85:14)
These attributes are mentioned all throughout the Qur'ān. His Mercy pre-dominates all other virtues that belong to Him. However, one thing needs to be mentioned. The Qur'ān gives a complete understanding of God, which is not exaggerated towards any one particular attribute/understanding of His, at the expense of others. God is a complete and perfect Being, and therefore, has attributes that are all complete and good. And what is important is that by understanding God through His attributes as mentioned in the Qur'ān, one can relate them to our living lives, day in and day out. You do not end up having a utopian understanding of God, which although is very romantic, is far from reality and brings disappointments as a result. Because when you have an understanding that is primarily and singularly of a Caring and Loving God, you will be at a loss to understand the sufferings and pain one finds in this world. How would you, for instance, comprehend the fact that He allows some people to unleash their desires and ambitions of greed and terror upon others?
It is when you understand God in the complete sense that you are able to accept the goings-on in the world today. Although love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and sympathy are His most significant attributes, yet, He is much more than that. He is simultaneously Loving, Fair, Wise, Strong... All His attributes put together make a complete picture; emphasis on one distorts the image. Love alone may help you when in need of a utopian understanding, but it will cater to a disability in reconciling it with the world around us. It is Islam that will tell us that His Love and His Sympathy results in providence and forgiveness, and at the same time, His Strength, Wisdom and Forgiveness, renders forgiveness available to only those who seek it with utmost sincerity. Here lies the difference between the Christian God and the Muslim God.
In Christianity, belief in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is enough to enable access to the Love of God; in Islam, God is most certainly Loving and Caring, but His Love is available to only those who seek it - if you don't, you miss it; if you do, it overwhelms you.
Why does Qur'ān not address people other than Jews,Christians and Muslims?
Question:Qur'ān claims to be an open book for those who want to have true guidance. But in its verses it usually addresses Jews, Christians (the Nasārā) and Muslims only. Does Islam not consider other religions like Buddhism, Hinduism etc. important enough? Or does it consider them as sub-religions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Or Islam does not want (or require) to address those religions in the Qur'ān? Please clarify.
Answer:My understanding is that it is wrong to expect from the Qur'ān that it comment on each and every ideology of the world that was in existence at the time of its revelation. Although the Qur'ān is a book of guidance from the Almighty for all times to come, He has talked in it about the issues that were directly relevant to the immediate environment of prophet Muhammad (sws). The basic purpose and the direct subject matter of the Qur'ān was the successful completion of prophet Muhammad's worldly mission of ensuring the earthly dominance of the ideology brought by him to the Arabian peninsula: "It is He Who has sent His Apostle with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all religion even though the Pagans (al-mushrikūn) may detest it," (61:9). We therefore find that the religious problems associated with the people who were his immediate addressees have been directly discussed in the Qur'ān.
The Jews and Nasāra (Christians settled in what was then Arabia) have been talked of in detail in it because these two religious communities were directly confronted by the Prophet (sws). We don't find the mention in the Qur'ān of the beliefs that were not held by the Christians of Arabia, even though they were very much found in other Christians of the world. For instance, we don't find in the Qur'ān the mention of the belief that Jesus (sws), died at the cross for the sins of mankind. Likewise, the polytheists of the Arabian peninsula have been directly addressed in the Qur'ān, while Hindus, Buddhists and other religious groups have not been directly addressed for the same reason.
It would have been against the interests of the immediate purpose of the Qur'ānic mission of enabling the religion of Allah to prevail over all other religions of the Arabian peninsula had the Qur'ān talked about the other religions of the world theoretically. It was the duty of the Muslims of later times to derive understanding from Qur'ānic verses to find the correct approach towards other religions too in the light of what the Qur'ān has mentioned regarding the people of the Arabian society. Indeed there is enough material available in the contents of the Qur'ān to enable Muslims to form correct opinions about essentially all the important religious matters man confronts even today. As for detailed solutions to these matters, the Almighty wants us to use our intellect which has been given to us by Him to find out solutions to them.