Islam and Chris­tian­i­ty : Dia­tribe or Dialogue ?

Tak­en from L. Swi­dler (ed.), Mus­lims in Dia­logue : The Evo­lu­tion of a Dia­logue, The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewis­ton, NY, pp. 1 – 22, 1992. First pub­lished in Jour­nal of Ecu­meni­cal Stud­ies, 5:1 (Win­ter, 1968).

This is not the place to review the his­to­ry of Chris­t­ian-Mus­lim rela­tions. This his­to­ry may now be read in the eru­dite works of Nor­man Daniel.Islam and the West. The Mak­ing of an Image (Edin­burgh : The Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1960); Islam, Europe and Empire (Edin­burgh : The Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1966). The read­ing is sad and ago­niz­ing. The con­clu­sion which may be safe­ly drawn from this his­to­ry is that Chris­tian­i­ty’s involve­ment with the Mus­lim World was so full of mis­un­der­stand­ing, prej­u­dice, and hos­til­i­ty that it has warped the West­ern Chris­tian’s will and con­scious­ness. Would to God Chris­tian­i­ty had nev­er met Islam!” will rever­ber­ate in the mind of any stu­dent patient enough to peruse that his­to­ry.In con­sid­er­ing that his­to­ry one must take account of the fol­low­ing facts : The first mis­sion­ar­ies which Islam sent to Chris­ten­dom were met with swords drawn and were mas­sa­cred at Dhat al Talh in 629 A.C. From that moment, how­ev­er, a sec­tion of Chris­ten­dom which might be called Semit­ic Chris­tian­i­ty” wel­comed the Mus­lims, gave them pro­tec­tion, lis­tened to and were con­vert­ed by, or sim­ply tol­er­at­ed them. These Chris­tians were for the most part Arab or Semit­ic, though not nec­es­sar­i­ly Ara­bic speak­ing, and a fair num­ber were Copts, whether Abyssin­ian or Egypt­ian. The Abyssin­ian state, Chris­t­ian and theo­crat­ic, pre­vi­ous­ly wel­comed and pro­tect­ed the Mus­lim refugees from Mec­ca and was regard­ed as a friend by the Mus­lims ever since. With the rise of the Islam­ic state and the entry of Islam onto the stage of his­to­ry, a much old­er divi­sion began to resume its shape : the divi­sion of Chris­tian­i­ty itself into East­ern and West­ern, Semit­ic and Hellenic.

Though they had aban­doned most of the so-called hereti­cal” doc­trines of the ances­tors, sub­mit­ted them­selves to the main pro­nounce­ments of the syn­ods and coun­cils and acqui­esced to the the­o­log­i­cal, chris­to­log­i­cal and eccle­si­o­log­i­cal tenets of catholic Chris­tian­i­ty, the Semit­ic Chris­tians coop­er­at­ed with the Mus­lims. Despite the fact that the innate appeal of Islam, its exam­plars in life and action, and the con­tin­u­ous expo­sure to its civ­i­liz­ing and cul­tur­al pow­er had tak­en their toll of con­verts from their ranks, these Chris­tians have sur­vived in con­sid­er­able num­bers four­teen cen­turies of liv­ing under the polit­i­cal rule of Islam. Islam­i­cal­ly accul­tur­at­ed they cer­tain­ly are ; but not con­vert­ed. They con­sti­tute a liv­ing mon­u­ment of Chris­t­ian-Mus­lim co-exis­tence, of mutu­al tol­er­ance and affec­tion, of coöper­a­tion in civ­i­liza­tion and cul­ture build­ing. Their inter reli­gious modus-viven­di is an achieve­ment in which the whole human race may take right­ful pride.

On the oth­er hand, West­ern Chris­tians, embit­tered by a mil­i­tary defeat ini­tial­ly brought about by their own intol­er­ance to allow the Islam­ic can to be heard, nursed their resent­ment and laid in wait. For three cen­turies, spo­radic fight­ing erupt­ed between the two camps with­out deci­sive advan­tage to either par­ty. In the eleventh cen­tu­ry, the West­ern Chris­tians thought the time had come to turn the tables of his­to­ry. The Cru­sades were launched with dis­as­trous con­se­quences to Chris­t­ian-Mus­lim and Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian rela­tions. Chris­t­ian exe­cu­tions, forced con­ver­sions or expul­sion of the Mus­lims from Spain fol­lowed the polit­i­cal defeat of the Mus­lim state. For eight cen­turies, Islam had been the faith not only of immi­grant Arabs and Berbers but of native Spaniards who were always the major­i­ty. The Inqui­si­tion!’ made no dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion ; and it brought to an end one of the most glo­ri­ous chap­ters in the his­to­ry of inter­re­li­gious liv­ing and coöperation.

Mod­ern times brought a sto­ry of con­tin­u­ous aggres­sion and trag­ic suf­fer­ing begin­ning with the pur­suit and oblit­er­a­tion of Islam from East­ern Europe where the Ottomans had plant­ed it, to the con­quest, frag­men­ta­tion, occu­pa­tion and col­o­niza­tion of the whole Mus­lim World except the impen­e­tra­ble inte­ri­or of the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la. Mus­lims remem­ber with bit­ter­ness that this is the peri­od when Chris­ten­dom changed the script of Mus­lim lan­guages in order to cut off their peo­ples from the Islam­ic tra­di­tion and sev­er their con­tact with the heart­land of Islam ; when it cul­ti­vat­ed and nursed Hin­du and Bud­dhist reac­tion against the progress of Islam in the Indi­an sub-con­ti­nent ; when it invit­ed the Chi­nese to dwell and to oppose Islam in Malaysia and Indone­sia ; when it encour­aged the Greeks in Cyprus and the Nile Val­ley, the Zion­ists in Pales­tine and the French in Alge­ria ; when, as the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic pow­er with­in the Mus­lim World, Chris­ten­dom dis­cour­aged, retard­ed or imped­ed by every means pos­si­ble the awak­en­ings, renais­sance and self-enlight­en­ment process­es of Mus­lim soci­eties ; when, con­trol­ling the edu­ca­tion of Mus­lims, it pre­scribed for it lit­tle beyond the pur­pose of pro­duc­ing clerks for the colo­nial­ist administration.

Equal­ly, mod­ern times wit­nessed the strongest move­ment of Chris­t­ian pros­e­le­ti­za­tion among Mus­lims. Pub­lic edu­ca­tion, pub­lic health and wel­fare ser­vices were laid wide open to the mis­sion­ary who was accord­ed the pres­tige of a colo­nial gov­er­nor, and who entered the field with pock­ets full of rice” for the greedy, of inter­ces­sion with the colo­nial­ist gov­er­nor for the enter­pris­ing, and of the neces­si­ties of sur­vival for the sick and the needy.

Through­out this long his­to­ry of some four­teen cen­turies of Chris­t­ian-Mus­lim rela­tions, the researcher ran hard­ly find one good word writ­ten or spo­ken about Islam by Chris­tians. One must admit that a num­ber of Semit­ic Chris­tians, of West­ern Chris­t­ian Cru­sade-annal­ists or of mer­chants and trav­ellers may and did say a few good words about Islam and its adher­ents. Sam­plings of this were giv­en by Thomas Arnold in his The Preach­ing of Islam (reprint­ed by Sh. Muham­mad Ashraf, Lahore, 1961), espe­cial­ly the con­clu­sion. Mod­ern times have seen a num­ber of schol­ars who con­ced­ed that Muham­mad’s claims were can­did, that Islam­ic reli­gious expe­ri­ence was gen­uine, and that under­ly­ing the phe­nom­e­non of Islam, the true and liv­ing God had been and still is active. But these are iso­lat­ed state­ments even in the life of those who made them, not to speak of the del­uge of vitu­per­a­tion and attack upon Islam, Muham­mad and the Mus­lims which rill prac­ti­cal­ly all Chris­t­ian writ­ing about the world of Islam. More­over, what­ev­er lit­tle may be found belongs to Chris­tians as indi­vid­ual per­sons. Chris­tian­i­ty as such, i.e., the bod­ies which speak in its name, be they Catholic, Protes­tant or Greek Ortho­dox, has nev­er rec­og­nized Islam as a gen­uine reli­gious expe­ri­ence. The his­to­ry of aca­d­e­m­ic West­ern Chris­t­ian writ­ing on the sub­ject of Islam is a his­to­ry of ser­vice to the world of schol­ar­ship, though one of mis­un­der­stand­ing and fal­si­fi­ca­tion. As a librar­i­an seek­ing to col­late man­u­scripts, estab­lish texts and ana­lyze his­tor­i­cal claims, the Chris­t­ian schol­ar has done mar­vel­lous work which earned him the per­ma­nent grat­i­tude of schol­ars every­where. But as an inter­preter of the reli­gion, thought, cul­ture and civ­i­liza­tion of Islam, he has been — except in the rarest of cas­es-noth­ing less than a mis­in­ter­preter and his work, a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of its object. (See the scathing analy­sis of A. L. Tibawi, Eng­lish-Speak­ing Ori­en­tal­ists : A Cri­tique of Their Approach to Islam and Arab Nation­al­ism”, The Mus­lim World, Vol. LIII, Nos. 3, 4 [July, Octo­ber], 1963, pp. 185 – 204, 298 – 313.) Vat­i­can II con­ced­ed that the Moslems adore one God, liv­ing and endur­ing, mer­ci­ful and all-pow­er­ful, Mak­er of heav­en and earth and Speak­er to men … they prize the moral life and give wor­ship to God…” though it care­ful­ly equat­ed these char­ac­ter­is­tics not with actu­al sal­va­tion but with the mere inclu­sion with­in the plan of sal­va­tion.” (The Doc­u­ments of Vat­i­can II, ed. Wal­ter M. Abbott, S.J., New York, Guild Press [An Angelus Book], 1966, p. 663.) Lit­tle reward­ing as this con­ces­sion becomes when con­joined with the ear­li­er state­ment that whoso­ev­er.… know­ing that the Catholic Church was made nec­es­sary by God through Jesus Christ, would refuse to enter her or to remain in her could not be saved” (ibid., pp. 32 – 33), any­thing sim­i­lar to it has yet to come from the World Coun­cil of Church­es-indeed from any Protes­tant church, syn­od or coun­cil of church­es. On the oth­er side, Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian rela­tions have been deter­mined by the Qur’an.Before the Hijrah to Mad­i­nah and the estab­lish­ment of the first Islam­ic poli­ty, the rev­e­la­tion of Muham­mad, i.e., the Qur’an, defined the reli­gious rela­tion of Islam and Chris­tian­i­ty. To the Jews, it assert­ed, God sent Jesus, a prophet and apos­tle born of Mary by divine com­mand. He was giv­en the Evan­gel, taught to relieve the hard­ships of Jew­ish legal­ism and to exem­pli­fy the eth­ic of love, humil­i­ty and mer­cy. Those of his fol­low­ers who remained true to his teach­ing are blessed. Those who asso­ci­at­ed him with God, invent­ed trini­tar­i­an­ism. and monkery and fal­si­fied the Evan­gel, are not. The for­mer the Qur’an described in terms reserved for the friends of God : The Chris­tians are upright ; they recite the rev­e­la­tions of God dur­ing the night hours and pros­trate them­selves in wor­ship. They believe in God and in the Day of Judg­ment. They enjoin the good, for­bid evil and com­pete in the per­for­mance of good works. Those are cer­tain­ly right­eous” (Qur’an, 3:113). And you will find among the Peo­ple of the Book the clos­er to you those who said that they were Chris­tians ; for many of them are priests and ascetics and are hum­ble” (Qur’an, 5:82). In their hearts, We planned com­pas­sion and mer­cy’ (Qur’an, 57:27). Par­al­lel to this lav­ish praise of some Chris­tians, stands the Qur’an’s cas­ti­ga­tion of the oth­ers. Some Chris­tians said : The Mes­si­ah is the Son of God, there­by sur­pass­ing in unbe­lief the unbe­liev­ers of old.…They have tak­en their priests and monks for gods, as well as the Mes­si­ah, son of Mary, where­as they were com­mand­ed nev­er to wor­ship but one God beside Whom there is none else” (Qur’an, 9:30). 0 Peo­ple of the Book ! Do not go to extremes in your reli­gion and nev­er say any­thing on behalf of God except the truth. Jesus, the Mes­si­ah, the son of Mary, is only a prophet of God, a ful­fill­ment of His com­mand addressed to Mary .… So believe in God and in His prophets and do not hold the trini­tar­i­an view .… God is the one God. May He be exalt­ed above hav­ing a son. To Him belongs every­thing in heav­en and earth” (Qur’an, 4:171). As for what Mus­lim atti­tude towards Chris­tians should be, the Qur’an pre­scribed : Say : O Peo­ple of the Book ! Let us now come to agree­ment upon a noble prin­ci­ple com­mon to both of us, name­ly, that we shall not wor­ship any­one but God, that we shall nev­er asso­ciate aught with Him, and that we shall not take one anoth­er for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say : Remem­ber, as for us, we do sub­mit to God .… We believe in that which has been revealed to us and that which has been revealed to you and our God and your God is One. It is to Him that we sub­mit” (Qur’an, 3:64 ; 29:47). From this we may con­clude that Islam does not con­demn Chris­tian­i­ty but reproach­es some devo­tees of it whom it accused of devi­at­ing from the true path of Jesus. Every sect in Chris­tian­i­ty has accused the oth­er sects of the same. Yet, Chris­tian­i­ty has nev­er rec­og­nized Islam as a legit­i­mate and salu­tary move­ment. It has nev­er regard­ed Islam as part of its own tra­di­tion except to call Muham­mad a car­di­nal in rebel­lion against the Pope because of his jeal­ousy for not being elect­ed to the office, and Islam a de relic­ta fide catho­lia” (Islam and the West, pp. 83 – 84). Doc­tri­nal­ly, there­fore, these rela­tions have seen no change. Through­out their his­to­ry, and despite the polit­i­cal hos­til­i­ties, the Mus­lims revered Jesus as a great prophet and his faith as divine reli­gion. As for the Chris­tians, the Mus­lims argued with them in the man­ner of the Qur’an. But when it came to polit­i­cal action, they gave them the ben­e­fit of the doubt as to whether they fol­lowed the Chris­tian­i­ty of Jesus or of the Church. Muham­mad and Umar’s wager for a Chris­t­ian vic­to­ry over the Zoroas­tri­ans, the Mec­can Mus­lim’s choice of, wel­come and pro­tec­tion by Chris­t­ian Abyssinia and Muham­mad’s per­son­al wait­ing upon the Chris­t­ian Abyssin­ian del­e­gates to Mad­i­nah, the Prophet’s covenant with the Chris­tians of Najran, Umar’s con­venant with the Arch­bish­op of Jerusalem and his refusal to hold prayer on the premis­es of the Church of the Holy Sepul­chre lest lat­er Mus­lims might claim the place, the total coöper­a­tion of the Umaw­is and Abba­sis with their Chris­t­ian sub­jects, and of the Umaw­is of Cor­do­va with Chris­tians who were not their sub­jects-all these are land­marks in a record of coöper­a­tion and mutu­al esteem hard­ly par­al­leled in any oth­er his­to­ry. Some per­se­cu­tion, some con­ver­sion under influ­ences of all sorts, some aggres­sion, some doc­tri­nal attacks going beyond the lim­its defined by the Qur’an, there were, with­out a doubt. The Mus­lims in all places and times were not all angels ! But such were scat­tered cas­es whose val­ue falls to the ground when com­pared with the over­whelm­ing spread of his­to­ry which has remained true to this Qur’an­ic position.

I. The Present Problem

Per­haps noth­ing is more anachro­nis­tic-indeed absurd-than the spec­ta­cle of the West­ern Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ary preach­ing to Mus­lims the West­ern fig­ur­iza­tion of the reli­gion of Jesus. The absur­di­ty is twofold : First, the West, whence the mis­sion­ary comes and which sus­tains him in his effort, has for decades stopped find­ing mean­ing in that fig­ur­iza­tion which is the con­tent of mis­sion. Indeed, in the mis­sion­ary him­self, that fig­ur­iza­tion deter­mines but one lit­tle por­tion of his con­scious­ness, the remain­der falling under the same cor­rod­ing sec­u­lar­ism, mate­ri­al­ism and skep­ti­cal empiri­cism so com­mon in West­ern thought and cul­ture. Sec­ond, the mis­sion­ary preach­es this fig­ur­iza­tion to Mus­lims who, in North Africa and the Near East, were thrice Chris­tians. They were Chris­tians in the sense of prepar­ing, through the spir­i­tu­al­iza­tion and inte­ri­or­iza­tion of the Semit­ic reli­gion, for the advent of Jesus. It was their con­scious­ness and spir­it which served God as human sub­strate and his­tor­i­cal cir­cum­stance for that advent. Nat­u­ral­ly, they were the first to acknowl­edge” Jesus and to believe in him as crys­tal­liza­tion of a real­i­ty which is them­selves. They were Chris­tians in the sec­ond sense of the West­ern fig­ur­iza­tion of Chris­tian­i­ty when, hav­ing fall­en under the domin­ion of Byzan­tium, they flirt­ed with that fig­ur­iza­tion and in fact adopt­ed all its doc­tri­nal ele­ments regard­less of whether or not they offi­cial­ly joined the church­es of West­ern Chris­tian­i­ty. After liv­ing with this fig­ur­iza­tion a while, they wel­comed and embraced Islam. But they remained, even as Mus­lims, Chris­tians in the sense of hold­ing the real­iza­tion of the eth­ic of Jesus as the con­di­tio sine qua non of Islam­ic­i­ty and of real­iz­ing a fair part of the Jesus-eth­ic in their per­son­al lives. The com­e­dy in evi­dence today is that the mis­sion­ary is utter­ly unaware of this long expe­ri­ence of the Mus­lim with Jesus Christ.

This West­ern mis­sion­ary, whether monastes or oth­er, has asso­ci­at­ed him­self with, and often played the role of colo­nial gov­er­nor, trad­er, set­tler, mil­i­tary, physi­cian and edu­ca­tor. In the last two decades, after the Mus­lim coun­tries achieved inde­pen­dence, he found for him­self the role of devel­op­ment expert. Exper­tise in poul­try breed­ing, neu­ro­log­i­cal surgery or indus­tri­al man­age­ment, and the cry­ing need of the Mus­lim as yet under­de­vel­oped coun­tries were cal­lous­ly tak­en as God-sent occa­sions to evan­ge­lize, thus stir­ring with­in the Mus­lim a sense of being exploit­ed and pro­duc­ing still more bit­ter­ness. Besides, such an expert-mis­sion­ary is often spon­sored by, if not the direct employ­ee of, the aid­ing agency of the West­ern gov­ern­ment ; and a fair har­mo­niza­tion of his tac­tics and pur­pos­es with those of that gov­ern­ment were safe­ly pre­sup­posed. The West­ern World knows of no Chris­t­ian who, moved by the Ser­mon on the Mount, came to live among Mus­lims as a native, who made their bur­den his bur­den, their hopes and yearn­ings his hopes and yearn­ings. Albert Schweitzer, the idol of the mod­ern West in Chris­t­ian self-giv­ing to the natives of Africa, was as unchris­t­ian as to con­demn all the Africans’ search for lib­er­ty ;Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought, tr. C. T. Cam­pi­on (New York : Men­tor Books, 1955), pp. 147 – 148. indeed, pub­licly to request Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er to pre­vent a Unit­ed Nations debate on Alge­ria. The Africans ought to be helped and their suf­fer­ing relieved, this saint of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry com­mand­ed his fel­low Chris­t­ian whites-but as our colo­nial sub­jects ! More­over, where it dis­so­ci­at­ed itself from impe­ri­al­ism and was pure­ly reli­gious, West­ern Chris­t­ian mis­sion to the Mus­lim World was nev­er a mis­sion of Jesus, but a mis­sion of the West­ern fig­ur­iza­tion of Chris­tian­i­ty arro­gant­ly assert­ed in words, hard­ly ever exem­pli­fied in deeds. Mod­ern Chris­ten­dom has pro­duced a Mrs. Vester who real­ly gave and, for­tu­nate­ly, is still giv­ing of her life to the orphans of Jerusalem.See Bertha Spaf­ford Vester’s arti­cle Jerusalem, My Home” in Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Mag­a­zine (Decem­ber, 1964), pp. 826 – 847. There prob­a­bly were and still are oth­er iso­lat­ed indi­vid­u­als of this cal­iber. Nonethe­less, the per­sis­tent effort need­ed to estab­lish an eth­i­cal­ly respectable rela­tion with Mus­lim soci­ety has been neglect­ed. Since it has brought hard­ly any sig­nif­i­cant con­ver­sions and aggra­vat­ed the alien­ation of the two world com­mu­ni­ties, and since the Mus­lims, as well as Mus­lim World Chris­tians, regard it as pour­ing ide­o­log­i­cal salt into polit­i­cal wounds inflict­ed by the Cru­sades and a cen­tu­ry of col­o­niza­tion, the mis­sion chap­ter of Chris­t­ian his­to­ry, as we have so far known it, had bet­ter be closed, the hunt called off, the mis­sion­ar­ies with­drawn and the mis­sion-arm of the Catholic Church and of the World Coun­cil of Church­es liquidated.

To say all this is not to advo­cate iso­la­tion. In fact, iso­la­tion is impos­si­ble. The world is sim­ply too small, and our lives are utter­ly inter­de­pen­dent. Not only our sur­vival, but even our well-being and hap­pi­ness depend on our coöper­a­tion. Mere diplo­mat­ic cour­tesy or casu­al coa­les­cence of polit­i­cal inter­ests will not suf­fice. No gen­uine and effec­tive coöper­a­tion can pro­ceed with­out mutu­al esteem and respect, with­out agree­ment on pur­pos­es, final objec­tives and stan­dards. If it is to last through the gen­er­a­tions and with­stand the excru­ci­at­ing tra­vails that it must and will face in the con­struc­tion of a viable world-ecumene, coöper­a­tion must be firm­ly based on a com­mu­nion of faith in ulti­mate prin­ci­ples, on com­mu­nion in religion.

There is yet a more impor­tant and log­i­cal­ly pri­or con­sid­er­a­tion why iso­la­tion is nei­ther pos­si­ble nor desir­able. In Islam as well as in Chris­tian­i­ty, and prob­a­bly in all oth­er reli­gions, the man of reli­gion does not, in his reli­gious claim, assert a ten­ta­tive hypoth­e­sis, nor a truth among oth­er truths, or a ver­sion of the truth among oth­er pos­si­ble ver­sions, but the truth. This is so much part of reli­gious expe­ri­ence and of the claim rest­ing on such expe­ri­ence that to deny it is to car­i­ca­ture the reli­gion as a whole. Nei­ther Islam nor Chris­tian­i­ty can or will ever give it up. Cer­tain­ly this is exclu­sivism ; but the truth is exclu­sive. It can­not run counter to the laws of iden­ti­ty, of con­tra­dic­tion, of the exclud­ed mid­dle. Unlike sci­ence which works with prob­a­bil­i­ties, reli­gion works with cer­tain­ties. Reli­gious diver­si­ty is not mere­ly a reli­gious prob­lem. If the reli­gion in ques­tion lays claim to the truth, con­trary or diverse claims are intel­lec­tu­al prob­lems which can­not be ignored. In the absence of evi­dence to the con­trary, the exclu­sivist claim is as much de jure as it is de fac­to.

In our day and age, exclu­sivism casts a bad smell. Hav­ing worked with prob­a­bil­i­ties for three hun­dred years, as sci­en­tists or the audi­ence of sci­en­tists, and-as philoso­phers or the audi­ence of philoso­phers-with skep­ti­cal notions of the truth for over half a cen­tu­ry, we con­tract our noses when­ev­er an exclu­sive claim to the truth is made. As men of reli­gion, I hope we all have the strength of our con­vic­tions, and feel nei­ther offend­ed nor shamed by what our faiths claim. On the oth­er hand, there is some­thing shame­ful about exclu­sivism, just as there is about mis­sion. That is to lay one’s claim with author­i­ty, to refuse to lis­ten to or silence crit­i­cism, and to hold tena­cious­ly to one’s claim in face of evi­dence to the con­trary. We regard the exclu­sivist in sci­ence stu­pid, arid even insane, for run­ning in the face of evi­dence. Such oppro­bri­um equal­ly belongs to the man of reli­gion guilty of the same offence against the truth. Resis­tance to evi dence, how­ev­er, is not a nec­es­sary qual­i­ty of reli­gion, nor of the man of reli­gion. It falls with­in the realm of ethics of knowl­edge. True, reli­gious the­ses are not as eas­i­ly demon­stra­ble as those of sci­ence ; and the man of reli­gion appears often to Rout the evi­dence when it would be more just to say that he is not yet con­vinced there­by. But where the evi­dence is sig­nif­i­cant or con­clu­sive, to flout it is a defi­cien­cy of the man. Though its object is reli­gious or moral, exclu­sivism is epis­te­mo­log­i­cal and hence not sub­ject to moral con­sid­er­a­tions. On the oth­er hand, although its object is epis­te­mo­log­i­cal, fanati­cism is moral.

Islam and Chris­tian­i­ty can­not there­fore be imper­vi­ous to each oth­er’s claims, for just as it is irrefutably true that each lays claim to the truth and does so can­did­ly, it is irrefutably true that the truth is one, that unless the stand­point is one of skep­ti­cism, of two diverse claims to the truth, one or both must be false ! In the aware­ness that the stand­point of reli­gion is that of a claim to the truth, none but the most ego­tis­tic trib­al­ism or cyn­i­cism would sit con­tent with its grasp of the truth while diverse claims to the one and the same truth are being made just as can­did­ly by oth­ers. The man of reli­gion, how­ev­er, is moral ; and in Chris­tian­i­ty and Islam, he is so par excel­lence. He must there­fore go out into the world, teach the truth which his reli­gious expe­ri­ence has taught him and in the process refute the con­trary claims. In Islam as well as in Chris­tian­i­ty, the man of reli­gion is not a trib­al­ist nor a cyn­ic ; and his per­son­al rela­tion to oth­er men, if not the fate itself of oth­er men, weighs heav­i­ly in the out­come of his own fate. Hence, both the Mus­lim and the Chris­t­ian are intel­lec­tu­al­ly and moral­ly bound to con­cern them­selves with the reli­gious views of each oth­er, indeed of all oth­er men. To con­cern one­self with the con­vic­tions of anoth­er man is to under­stand and to learn these con­vic­tions, to ana­lyze and crit­i­cize them and to share with their adher­ents one’s own knowl­edge of the truth. If this is mis­sion, then Islam and Chris­tian­i­ty must mis­sion­ize to the ends of the earth. I real­ize the equiv­o­ca­tion of the term, and I sug­gest that the word mis­sion” itself be dropped from our vocab­u­lary and the term dia­logue” be used to express the man of reli­gions con­cern for men’s convictions.

Dia­logue” then is a dimen­sion of human con­scious­ness (as long as that con­scious­ness is not skep­ti­cal), a cat­e­go­ry of the eth­i­cal sense (as long as that sense is not cyn­i­cal). It is the altru­is­tic arm of Islam and of Chris­tian­i­ty, their reach beyond them­selves. Dia­logue is edu­ca­tion at its widest and noblest. It is the ful­fill­ment of the com­mand of real­i­ty to become known, to be com­pared and con­trast­ed with oth­er claims, to be acqui­esced in if true, amend­ed if inad­e­quate, and reject­ed if false. Dia­logue is the removal of all bar­ri­ers between men for a free inter­course of ideas where the cat­e­gor­i­cal imper­a­tive is to let the sounder claim to the truth win. Dia­logue dis­ci­plines our con­scious­ness to rec­og­nize the truth inher­ent in real­i­ties and fig­ur­iza­tions of real­i­ties beyond our usu­al ken and reach. If we are not fanat­ics, the con­se­quence can-not be any­thing but enrich­ment to all con­cerned. Dia­logue, in short, is the only kind of inter-human rela­tion­ship wor­thy of man ! Vouch­ing for Islam and, unless my read­ing of Chris­tian­i­ty has com­plete­ly deceived me, for Chris­tian­i­ty as well, dia­logue is of the essence of the two faiths, the the­ater of their even­tu­al uni­ty as the reli­gion of God, the reli­gion of truth.By their abuse, the Cru­sades and the last two cen­turies of Chris­t­ian mis­sion have spoilt the chances of the Mus­lim mass­es enter­ing trust­ful­ly into such com­mon endeav­or. For the time being, the grand dia­logue between Mus­lims and Chris­tians win have to be lim­it­ed to the intel­li­gentsia where, in the main, pro­pa­gan­da does not con­vince and mate­r­i­al influ­ences pro­duce no Quis­lings. This lim­i­ta­tion is tol­er­a­ble only so long as the Mus­lim World is under­de­vel­oped and hence unable to match mea­sure for mea­sure-and thus neu­tral­ize-the kilo­watts of broad­cast­ers, the ink and paper of pub­lish­ers and the mate­r­i­al bribes of afflu­ent Christendom.

We must say it bold­ly that the end of dia­logue is con­ver­sion ; not con­ver­sion to my, your or his reli­gion, cul­ture, mores or polit­i­cal régime, but to the truth. The con­ver­sion that is hate­ful to Islam or to Chris­tian­i­ty is a con­ver­sion forced, bought or cheat­ed out of its uncon­scious sub­ject. Con­ver­sion as con­vic­tion of the truth is not only legit­i­mate but oblig­a­tory ‑indeed, the only alter­na­tive con­sis­tent with san­i­ty, seri­ous­ness and dig­ni­ty. More­over, the mutu­al under­stand­ing between Islam and Chris­tian­i­ty which we yearn for is not mere­ly the con­cep­tu­al, descrip­tive knowl­edge of Islam texts and man­u­scripts achieved by the Ori­en­tal­is­tik dis­ci­pline, nor of the Chris­t­ian tra­di­tion achieved by the Mus­lim and old­er dis­ci­pline of Al Milal wa al Nihal” where the ele­ments con­sti­tu­tive of Chris­tian­i­ty are sim­ply list­ed as in a series. It is pri­mar­i­ly an under­stand­ing of the reli­gion in the sense of faith and ethos, of appre­hend­ing the mov­ing appeal of its cat­e­gories and val­ues, of their deter­min­ing pow­er. Reli­gious facts may be stud­ied sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly like any spec­i­mens of geol­o­gy. But to under­stand them reli­gious­ly is to appre­hend them as life-facts whose con­tent is this pow­er to move, to stir and to dis­turb, to com­mand and to deter­mine. But to appre­hend this pow­er is to be deter­mined by it, and to do so is pre­cise­ly to attain reli­gious con­vic­tion-in short, con­ver­sion, how­ev­er lim­it­ed or tem­po­rary. To win all mankind to the truth is the high­est and noblest ide­al man has ever enter­tained. That his­to­ry has known many trav­es­ties of this ide­al, that man has inflict­ed tremen­dous suf­fer­ings upon his fel­low­men in the pur­suit of it are argu­ments against man, not against the ide­al. They are the rea­sons why dia­logue must have rules. Dia­logue accord­ing to rule is the only alter­na­tive becom­ing of man in an age where iso­la­tion-were it ever pos­si­ble-implies being bypassed by his­to­ry, and non­co­op­er­a­tion spells gen­er­al dis­as­ter. Grant­ed, the rules must be crit­i­cal and their pre­sup­po­si­tions the fewest and simplest.

II. Method­ol­o­gy of Dialogue

Grant­ed then that dia­logue is nec­es­sary and desir­able, that its final effect should be the estab­lish­ment of truth and its seri­ous, free, can­did and con­scious accep­tance by all men, we may now move on to the spe­cif­ic prin­ci­ples of method­ol­o­gy which guar­an­tee its mean­ing­ful­ness and guard against its degen­er­a­tion into pro­pa­gan­da, brain­wash­ing or soul-pur­chas­ing. These are the following :

No com­mu­ni­ca­tion of any sort may be made ex cathe­dra, beyond cri­tique. No man may speak with silenc­ing author­i­ty. As for God, He may have spo­ken with silenc­ing author­i­ty when man was an infant, and infant man may have accept­ed and sub­mit­ted. To mature man, how­ev­er, His com­mand is not whim­si­cal and peremp­to­ry. He argues for, explains and jus­ti­fies His com­mand, and is not offend­ed if man asks for such jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. Divine rev­e­la­tion is author­i­ta­tive, but not author­i­tar­i­an ; for God knows that the ful­fill­ment of His com­mand which issues from ratio­nal con­vic­tion of its intrin­sic worth is supe­ri­or to that which is blind. Ful­ly aware of his moral free­dom, mod­ern man can­not be sub­ject­ed ; nor can he sub­ject him­self to any being with­out cause ; nor can such cause be incom­pre­hen­si­ble, irra­tional, eso­teric or secret.The Qur’an tells us that Abra­ham, the paragon of faith in the one true God, asked God to show him evi­dence of His pow­er to res­ur­rect the dead. When God asked, Have you not believed?” Abra­ham retort­ed, Indeed, but I still need to see evi­dence so as to put my heart at rest” (Qur’an, 2:260). Like­wise, the Qur’an­ic dis­course with the Mec­ca­ns con­cern­ing their reli­gion and Islam was a ratio­nal one, replete with evi­dence” and with the retort, Say, Bring forth your evi­dence [against God’s] if you are truth­ful” (Qur’an, 2:111 ; 21:24 ; 27:64 ; etc.). On a num­ber of occa­sions, the Qur’an speaks of the evi­dence of God,” the proof of God” which it goes on to inter­pret in ratio­nal terms (see for exam­ple, Qur’an, 4:173 ; 12:24 ; 23:118 ; 28:32).

No com­mu­ni­ca­tion may vio­late the laws of inter­nal coher­ence men­tioned ear­li­er. Para­dox is legit­i­mate only when it is not final, and the prin­ci­ple over­ar­ch­ing the­sis and antithe­sis is giv­en. Oth­er­wise, dis­course will issue in unin­tel­li­gi­ble riddles.

No com­mu­ni­ca­tion may vio­late the laws of exter­nal coher­ence ; that is to say, man’s reli­gious his­to­ry. The past may not be regard­ed as unknow­able, and his­to­ri­og­ra­phy assumed to stand on a par with either poet­ry or fic­tion. His­tor­i­cal real­i­ty is dis­cov­er­able by empir­i­cal evi­dence, and it is man’s duty and great­ness to press ever for­ward towards the gen­uine under­stand­ing and recon­struc­tion of his actu­al past. The lim­its of evi­dence are the only lim­its of his­tor­i­cal knowledge.

No com­mu­ni­ca­tion may vio­late the law of cor­re­spon­dence with real­i­ty, but should be open to cor­rob­o­ra­tion or refu­ta­tion by real­i­ty. If the laws of nature are not today what they were before Ein­stein or Coper­ni­cus, it is not because there are no laws to nature, nor because real­i­ty is unknow­able, but because there is a know­able real­i­ty which cor­rob­o­rates the new insights. The psy­chic, eth­i­cal and reli­gious sen­si­tiv­i­ties of the peo­ple, of the age, are part of this real­i­ty ; and man’s knowl­edge of them is most rel­e­vant for the Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian dia­logue we are about to begin.

Dia­logue pre­sup­pos­es an atti­tude of free­dom vis-?is the canon­i­cal fig­ur­iza­tion. Jesus is a point at which the Chris­t­ian has con­tact with God. Through him, God has sent down a revelation.

Just as this rev­e­la­tion had to have its car­ri­er in Jesus, it had to have a space-time cir­cum­stance in the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment of Israel. Equal­ly, Muham­mad, the Prophet, is a point at which the Mus­lim has con­tact with God Who sent a rev­e­la­tion through him. Muham­mad was the car­ri­er of that rev­e­la­tion, and Arab con­scious­ness and his­to­ry pro­vid­ed the space-time cir­cum­stance for its advent. Once the advent of these rev­e­la­tions was com­plete, and men began to put their faith there in num­bers and con­front­ed new prob­lems call­ing for new solu­tions, there arose the need to put the rev­e­la­tion in con­cepts for the ready use of the under­stand­ing, in pre­cepts for that of the intu­itive fac­ul­ties, and in legal notions and pro­vi­sions for the guid­ance of behav­ior. The rev­e­la­tions were fig­ur­ized.” Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, as is nat­ur­al in such cas­es, dif­fer­ent minds cre­at­ed dif­fer­ent fig­ur­iza­tions because they had dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions of the same real­i­ty. This lat­ter plu­ral­ism is not a vari­ety of the object of faith, the con­tent revealed an sich, but of that object or con­tent in per­cipi, i.e., as it became the object of a per­cep­tion that is intel­lec­tu­al, dis­cur­sive, intu­itive and emo­tion­al all at once. With­in each reli­gion, the object of faith which is also the con­tent of the rev­e­la­tion was, in itself, all one and the same. Although the fig­ur­iza­tions of the rev­e­la­tion were many, that of which they were the fig­ur­iza­tion was one. Jesus is one ; the God who sent him, and the divine rev­e­la­tion with which he was sent, each and every one of these was one, not many. When, as objects of human knowl­edge, they were con­cep­tu­al­ized and per­cep­tu­al­ized, they became many. The same is of course true in the case of the fig­ur­iza­tion of Islam.

The plu­ral­is­tic vari­ety of men, of their endow­ments and tal­ents, their needs and aspi­ra­tions, and the pecu­liar­i­ties of their vary­ing envi­ron­ments and his­tor­i­cal cir­cum­stances pro­duced a great array of fig­ur­iza­tions in both reli­gions. Undoubt­ed­ly, some of them were, some oth­ers were not, and still oth­ers were more or less inspired. There were dif­fer­ences in the accu­ra­cy of fig­ur­iza­tion, in the ade­qua­cy of con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion and per­cep­tu­al­iza­tion, and out­right­ly in the truth­ful­ness and verac­i­ty of the rep­re­sen­ta­tion. That is all too nat­ur­al. Dis­pu­ta­tion and con­tention arose and last­ed for many cen­turies ; they con­tin­ue to our present day. In the case of Chris­tian­i­ty, it became evi­dent that one of the fig­ur­iza­tions sur­passed in the mind of the major­i­ty all oth­er fig­ur­iza­tions. It must then be, the com­mu­ni­ty con­clud­ed, an iden­ti­cal copy of the con­tent revealed. Since this con­tent is holy and is the truth, the thinkers of the com­mu­ni­ty rea­soned, all oth­er fig­ur­iza­tions are here­sies” inas­much as any depar­ture from the Holy is anath­e­ma, and any vari­ance from the Truth is false­hood. Slow­ly but sure­ly, the oth­er” fig­ur­iza­tions were sup­pressed, and the cho­sen fig­ur­iza­tion stood as the dog­ma,” the Catholic truth.” In the case of Islam, the gen­er­al reli­gious and eth­i­cal prin­ci­ples revealed in the Qur’an were sub­ject­ed to vary­ing inter­pre­ta­tions, and a large array of schools pro­duced dif­fer­ing fig­ur­iza­tions of law and ethics. As in the case of Jesus, the life of. the Prophet was the sub­ject of numer­ous fig­ur­iza­tions. In order to bol­ster its author­i­ty and add to its faith in its own gen­uine­ness, each school pro­ject­ed its own thought onto his own per­son. Con­sen­sus final­ly elim­i­nat­ed the rad­i­cal fig­ur­iza­tions and pre­served those which, in the judg­ment of the com­mu­ni­ty, con­tained all the essen­tials. Lat­er Mus­lims sanc­ti­fied this fig­ur­iza­tion of the fathers, solemn­ly closed the gates of any cre­ative inter­pre­ta­tion how­ev­er ortho­dox, and prac­ti­cal­ly, though not the­o­ret­i­cal­ly, hereti­cat­ed every depar­ture from what they had made canonical.

Being human con­cep­tu­al­iza­tions and pre­cep­tu­al­iza­tions of real­i­ty, the fig­ur­iza­tions of Islam and Chris­tian­i­ty are nec­es­sar­i­ly tinged with the par­tic­u­lar­ism of space-time. It is quite pos­si­ble, there­fore, that some lat­er gen­er­a­tion might find some aspect of the holy con­tent in the old fig­ur­iza­tion dimmed by time or dis­tance ; that the said con­tent might need to be redis­cov­ered there­in ; that some oth­er gen­er­a­tion might find new fig­ur­iza­tion­al items which express to them that con­tent or some part there­of more vivid­ly. Cer­tain­ly this is what hap­pened in the Ref­or­ma­tion, which brought in its wake reviv­i­fi­ca­tion of many an aspect of the divine rev­e­la­tion of Jesus and released new as well as dor­mant ener­gies in the ser­vice of the holy. This is also what hap­pened in the Taymiyan (four­teenth cen­tu­ry) and Wahhab?eighteenth cen­tu­ry) reforms in Islam.

Would such a re-pre­sen­ta­tion or redis­cov­ery neces­si­tate the Chris­tian’s and the Mus­lim’s going out, as it were, of their own fig­ur­iza­tions’ out of their catholic” truths ? Not sim­pliciter. For there is no a pri­ori or whole­sale con­dem­na­tion of any fig­ur­iza­tion. But we should nev­er for­get that, as a piece of human work, very fig­ur­iza­tion is capa­ble of grow­ing dim in its con­veyance of the holy, not because the holy has changed, but because man changes per­spec­tives. Truth, good­ness and val­ue, God and the divine will for man as such, are always the same. But His will in the change and flux of indi­vid­ual sit­u­a­tions, of the vicis­si­tudes of his­to­ry-and that is pre­cise­ly what the fig­ur­iza­tion had been rela­tion­al to-must be chang­ing in order that the divine will for man be always the same. To ques­tion the fig­ur­iza­tion is iden­ti­cal­ly to ask the pop­u­lar ques­tion : What is God’s will in the con­text of our gen­er­a­tion ? of our his­tor­i­cal sit­u­a­tion ? indeed, in the con­text of our per­son­al indi­vid­u­a­tion ? The dim­ness of the fig­ur­iza­tion must be removed at all costs ; its mean­ings must be redis­cov­ered and its rel­e­vance recaptured.

There are those who argue that the fig­ur­iza­tion can and should nev­er be tran­scend­ed. Some of these do not rec­og­nize the human­i­ty of the fig­ur­iza­tion. Oth­ers insist that piety and moral­i­ty are redis­cov­er­able only in the fig­ur­iza­tion itself. To seek the ever-new rel­e­vance of the divine imper­a­tive is for them to relate the fig­ur­iza­tion of the fathers to the new sit­u­a­tions of human life and exis­tence. That that is not a bar­ren alter­na­tive is proved for them by numer­ous move­ments with­in the Chris­t­ian tra­di­tion, and by a num­ber of juris­tic inter­pre­ta­tions of the shar?h, in the Islam­ic tra­di­tion. Whether or not the present needs can be met by such means can­not be decid­ed before­hand, and must be answered only after the needs them­selves have been elab­o­rat­ed and the relat­ing attempt­ed, We can say at this stage, how­ev­er, that a con­sid­er­able degree of free­dom vis-a-vis the fig­ur­iza­tion is nec­es­sary to insure the great­est pos­si­ble tol­er­ance for the issues of the present to voice their claim.

6. In the cir­cum­stances in which the Mus­lims and Chris­tians find them­selves today, pri­ma­cy belongs to the eth­i­cal ques­tions, not the the­o­log­i­cal. When one com­pares the canon­i­cal fig­ur­iza­tion of Chris­tian­i­ty with that of Islam, one is struck by the wide dis­parate­ness of the two tra­di­tions. While Chris­tian­i­ty regards the Bible as endowed with supreme author­i­ty, espe­cial­ly as it is inter­pret­ed with right rea­son” — that is to say, in loy­al­ty to the cen­tral tenets of the fig­ur­iza­tion accord­ing to the Protes­tant school, or in loy­al­ty to the tra­di­tion of the Church as under­stood by its present author­i­ties, accord­ing to the Catholic-Islam regards the Bible as a record of the divine word but a record with which the human hand had tam­pered, with holy as well as unholy designs. Sec­ond­ly, while Chris­tian­i­ty regards God as man’s fel­low, a per­son so moved by man’s fail­ure that He goes to the length of sac­ri­fice for his redemp­tion, Islam regards God pri­mar­i­ly as the Just Being whose absolute jus­tice-with all the reward and doom for man that it enjoins-is not only suf­fi­cient mer­cy, but the only mer­cy coher­ent with divine nature. Where­as the God of Chris­tian­i­ty acts in maws sal­va­tion, the God of Islam com­mands him to do that which brings that sal­va­tion about. Third­ly, while Chris­tian­i­ty regards Jesus as the sec­ond per­son of a tri­une God, Islam regards him as God’s human prophet and mes­sen­ger. Fourth­ly, while Chris­tian­i­ty regards space-time and his­to­ry as hope­less­ly inca­pable of embody­ing God’s king­dom, Islam regards God’s king­dom as tru­ly real­iz­able-indeed as mean­ing­ful at all-only with­in the con­texts of space-time and his­to­ry. Fifth­ly, while Chris­tian­i­ty regards the Church as the body of Christ endowed with ontic sig­nif­i­cance for ever and ever, Islam regards the com­mu­ni­ty of faith as an instru­ment mobi­lized for the real­iza­tion of the divine pat­tern in the world, an instru­ment whose total val­ue is depen­dent upon its ful­fill­ment or oth­er­wise of that task.

This list is far from com­plete. But it does show that the pur­suit of dia­logue on the lev­el of the­o­log­i­cal doc­trine is marred by such rad­i­cal dif­fer­ences that no progress may be here expect­ed with­out pre­lim­i­nary work in oth­er areas. Since it is at any rate impos­si­ble for this gen­er­a­tion of Mus­lims and Chris­tians to con­front one anoth­er regard­ing all facets of their ide­olo­gies at once, a choice of area for a mea­ger start such as this is imper­a­tive. Pri­or­i­ty cer­tain­ly belongs to those aspects which are direct­ly con­cerned with our lives as we live them in a world that has grown very small and is grow­ing small­er still. The Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian dia­logue should seek at first to estab­lish a mutu­al under­stand­ing, if not a com­mu­ni­ty of con­vic­tion, of the Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian answers to the fun­da­men­tal eth­i­cal ques­tion, What ought I to do ? If Mus­lims and Chris­tians may not reach ready appre­ci­a­tion of each oth­er’s ideas or fig­ur­iza­tions of divine nature, they may yet attempt to do the will of that nature, which they both hold to be one. To seek God’s way”, i.e., to under­stand, to know, to grasp its rel­e­vance for every occa­sion, to antic­i­pate its judg­ment of every moral deed-that is the pre­req­ui­site whose sat­is­fac­tion may put the par­ties to the dia­logue clos­er to mutu­al self-under­stand­ing. Even if the­o­ries of God’s nature, of His rev­e­la­tion, of His king­dom, and of His plans for man’s des­tiny were to be regard­ed as objects of faith beyond cri­tique, cer­tain­ly the eth­i­cal duties of man are sub­ject to a ratio­nal approach. Nei­ther Chris­tian­i­ty nor Islam pre­cludes a crit­i­cal inves­ti­ga­tion of the eth­i­cal issues con­fronting modem man in the world. The prox­im­i­ty of these issues to his life, his direct aware­ness of them as affect­ing his own life as well as that of mankind give imme­di­a­cy to the inves­ti­ga­tion, and they assign the pre­rog­a­tives of com­pe­tence and juris­dic­tion to his per­son­al and com­mu­nal judg­ment in the mat­ter. The rel­e­vance of the issues involved to world prob­lems press­ing him for an answer fur­nish­es the inves­ti­ga­tion with a ready test­ing ground.

More­over, eth­i­cal per­cep­tions are dif­fer­ent from the per­cep­tions of the­o­ret­i­cal con­scious­ness where to miss is to per­ceive unre­al­i­ty. Dif­fer­ence in eth­i­cal per­cep­tion is that of the broth­er who does not see as much, as far or as deep as the oth­er. This is a sit­u­a­tion which calls for the involved mid­wifery of eth­i­cal per­cep­tion. Here, there is no ques­tion of error and false­hood, as every per­cep­tion is one of val­ue and dif­fer­ence con­sists in per­ceiv­ing more or less of the same. Nei­ther is the ques­tion one of an acqui­es­cent pro­fes­sion of a propo­si­tion­al fact. It is rather one of deter­mi­na­tion of the per­ceiv­ing sub­ject by the val­ue that is beheld ; and for such per­cep­tion to be itself, it must be the per­cep­tion of the man, just as for his real­iza­tion of the will of God to be itself, i.e., moral, that real­iza­tion has to be his own free and delib­er­ate act. On the pure­ly the­o­log­i­cal lev­el, when the impulse to make oth­ers hereti­cal is at work, tol­er­ance can mean either con­temp­tu­ous con­de­scen­sion, con­ver­sion, or com­pro­mise with the truth. In eth­i­cal per­cep­tion, on the oth­er hand, dis­agree­ment is nev­er ban­ished or excom­mu­ni­cat­ed ; and hereti­ca­tion defeats its own pur­pose. Tol­er­ance and mid­wifery-which are pre­cise­ly what our small world needs-are the only answer. Their efforts are in the long run always suc­cess­ful ; and, at any rate, they are in the Mus­lim’s opin­ion the bet­ter as well as the Chris­t­ian” view.

III. Themes for Dialogue 

Look­ing upon the con­tem­po­rary eth­i­cal real­i­ty of Mus­lims and Chris­tians, three dom­i­nant facts are discernible :

First, the modem Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian regard them­selves as stand­ing in state of innocence.

What­ev­er their past ideas and atti­tudes may have been, both of them agree that man’s indi­vid­u­a­tion is good, that his life of per­son and in soci­ety is good, that nature and cos­mos are good. For­tu­nate­ly, modem Chris­t­ian the­olo­gians too have been rejoic­ing in their redis­cov­ery of God’s judg­ment of cre­ation that it was good.“Gen­e­sis 1:18, 21. The ide­o­log­i­cal import of this re-dis­cov­ery is tremen­dous. Man has reha­bil­i­tat­ed him­self in cre­ation. He has found his place in it and rep­re­sent­ed his des­tiny to him­self as one of engage­ment in its web of his­to­ry. He is in God’s image, the only crea­ture with con­scious­ness and spir­it, unto whom the com­mand of God has come, and upon whom the will of God on earth depends for real­iza­tion as that will is, in itself, a will to a moral­ly per­fect­ed world. Cer­tain­ly, God could have cre­at­ed the world already per­fect, or nec­es­sar­i­ly per­fectible by the work­ings of nat­ur­al law. But He cre­at­ed this world, where rust and moth con­sume and where thieves break through and steal”,Matthew 6:19. i.e., a world where His will, or val­ue, is not yet real­ized, that in the free real­iza­tion of it by man, the moral val­ues may be real­ized which could not be real­ized oth­er­wise. Hence, this world is good, despite its imper­fec­tion ; and man occu­pies there­in the espe­cial­ly sig­nif­i­cant-indeed cos­mic-sta­tion of the bridge through which the eth­i­cal ele­ments of divine will enter the realm of cre­ation. It is not sur­pris­ing that a redis­cov­ery of such momen­tum caus­es a great deal of joy, a feel­ing of self-con­fi­dence in the great task ahead. Gone are the sor­did obses­sions with the innate deprav­i­ty, the intrin­sic futil­i­ty, the nec­es­sary fal­l­en­ness and cyn­i­cal vacu­ity of man and of the world. Mod­ern man affirms his life and his world. Rec­og­niz­ing the imper­a­tive­ness as well as the mov­ing appeal of God’s com­mand, he accepts his des­tiny joy­ful­ly and press­es forth upright into the thick of space-time where he is to make that will real and actual.

Sec­ond­ly, the modem Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian are acute­ly aware of the neces­si­ty and impor­tance of rec­og­niz­ing God’s will, of rec­og­niz­ing His com­mand. This acknowl­edg­ment is the sub­stance, the con­tent or meat” of their acknowl­edg­ment of God. Recog­ni­tion of God’s com­mand”, eth­i­cal per­cep­tion!” and the act of faith” are mutu­al­ly con­vert­ible and equiv­a­lent terms. Such acknowl­edg­ment is indu­bitably the first con­di­tion ; for it is absurd to seek to real­ize the divine will in the world with­out a pri­or acknowl­edg­ment of its con­tent, just as it is absurd to seek to real­ize what ought to be done with­out the pri­or recog­ni­tion of what is valu­able. How is one to rec­og­nize that which ought to be done in any giv­en sit­u­a­tion-which must be one among a num­ber of pos­si­ble alter­na­tives-with­out the stan­dard or norm with which the real­iz­abil­i­ty in the alter­na­tives of that which ought to be can be mea­sured and ascer­tained ? Indeed, if any axi­ol­o­gy-free pro­gram of action could ever be envis­aged, the agent there­of would not be a moral sub­ject, but an automa­ton of duties. To be moral at all, the act must imply a free choice ; and this is a choice in which con­scious­ness of the val­ue, or of its mat?al as the spa­tio-tem­po­ral con­cretiza­tion there­of, plays the cru­cial part. All this notwith­stand­ing, and how­ev­er absolute­ly indis­pens­able and nec­es­sary the acknowl­edg­ment of God’s com­mand and will may be, it is only a con­di­tion, a con­di­tio sine qua non to be sure, but still a con­di­tion. Philo­soph­i­cal­ly stat­ed, this prin­ci­ple is that of the pri­or­i­ty of the study of val­ues to duties, of axi­ol­o­gy to deon­tol­ogy. The act of faith, of acknowl­edg­ment, recog­ni­tion and acqui­es­cence, is the first con­di­tion of piety, of virtue and felic­i­ty. But woe to man if he mis­takes the con­di­tion of a thing for the thing itself ! The act of faith nei­ther jus­ti­fies nor makes just. It is only an entrance tick­et into the realm of eth­i­cal striv­ing and doing. It does no more than let us into the realm of the moral life. There, to real­ize the divine is imper­a­tive in the val­ue-short world, to trans­fig­ure and to fill it with val­ue, man’s pre­rog­a­tive as well as duty.

Third­ly, the modem Mus­lim or Chris­t­ian rec­og­nizes that the moral voca­tion or mis­sion of man in this world has yet to be ful­filled, and by him ; that the mea­sure of his ful­fill­ment there­of is the sole mea­sure of his eth­i­cal worth ; that in respect to this mis­sion or voca­tion all men start out in this world with a carte blanche on which not­ing is entered except what each indi­vid­ual earns with his own doing or not-doing. In the dis­charge of his mis­sion in space-time, no man is priv­i­leged and every man is an equal con­script. For the com­mand of the one God is also one, for all men with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion or elec­tion ; and His jus­tice is absolute.Cer­tain­ly God may and does grant His grace to whom­so­ev­er He choos­es ; but such grace is nev­er a cat­e­go­ry of the moral life, a cred­it which can be tak­en for grant­ed or count­ed upon” by any man. It remains a cat­e­go­ry of God’s dis­po­si­tion of human des­tinies, nev­er an attribute of men’s lives. The gra­tu­itous gift is not a thing earned, by def­i­n­i­tion ; and that which is not earned can­not fig­ure on God’s scale of jus­tice-equal­ly by definition.

There is yet anoth­er divine grace which is not quite gra­tu­itous. It is called grace” by equiv­o­ca­tion ; for it is a good thing which God grants freely but not whim­si­cal­ly, and which He does only in deserv­ing cas­es. Such grace is real­ly a lift” on the road of eth­i­cal per­ceiv­ing and liv­ing, accord­ed to those who are real­ly per­se­ver­ing and hard-press­ing for­ward towards the goal. Specif­i­cal­ly, it is the gift of a sharp­er cog­ni­tion of, or of a more total deter­mi­na­tion by the goal and no more. It is earned.

IV. Dialec­tic of the Themes with the Figurizations

A. Mod­ern Man and the State of Innocence

The notion of orig­i­nal sin, of the fal­l­en­ness of man, appears from the per­spec­tive of con­tem­po­rary eth­i­cal real­i­ty to have out­lived its meaningfulness.

Sin is, above all, a moral cat­e­go­ry ; it is not onto­log­i­cal. For mod­ern man, there is no such a thing as sin of cre­ation, of nature, of man as such, no sin as entry into exis­tence or space-time. Phys­i­cal death is per­haps the deep­est mys­tery of the process of space-time ; it is cer­tain­ly a dis­val­ue, but it is not moral, and there­fore not sin, nor the con­se­quence of sin.

Moral sin is not hered­i­tary ; nei­ther is it vic­ar­i­ous, or com­mu­nal, but always per­son­al, always imply­ing a free choice and a delib­er­ate deed on the part of a moral agent in full pos­ses­sion and mas­tery of his pow­ers. The actu­al involve­ment, or the attrac­tion,” to which the free moral agent may be sub­ject by mere­ly being a mem­ber of his fam­i­ly, of his com­mu­ni­ty, of his reli­gio-cul­tur­al group, is not denied. Mod­ern man is also aware that sin is an evil act the ontic con­se­quences of which-whether mate­r­i­al or psy­cho­log­i­cal-diverge in space-time ad infini­tum, affect­ing in some mea­sure the being and lives of oth­er peo­ple. He is equal­ly aware that such con­se­quences are not moral pre­cise­ly because they are ontic, i.e., nec­es­sary, involv­ing no choice on the part of the per­son whom they affect. More­over, moder­ni­ty has removed the hith­er­to nec­es­sary con­nec­tion between exis­tence and mem­ber­ship in the fam­i­ly, com­mu­ni­ty or reli­gio-cul­tur­al group. It was this strict neces­si­ty of the con­nec­tion, char­ac­ter­is­tic of ancient soci­eties, which, though par­tial­ly, had induced the fathers to rep­re­sent sin as a nec­es­sary and uni­ver­sal cat­e­go­ry. The mod­ern Muslim

and Chris­t­ian no more hold a man as mem­ber of a group and as sub­ject to the fix­a­tions oper­a­tive in that group except as the result of a deci­sion that man makes for him­self. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true of those soci­eties which have achieved a high degree of inter­nal mobil­i­ty, espe­cial­ly true of West­ern soci­ety. But the fact is that the whole world is mov­ing in that direc­tion and the day is not far when, from the per­spec­tive of the now-form­ing world com­mu­ni­ty, the uni­ver­sal­iza­tion of edu­ca­tion and the ter­mi­na­tion of the age of soci­etal iso­la­tion, it will be rel­a­tive­ly easy to move from one cul­ture to another.
Sin is not only a doing, whether intro­vert­ed, as when the doing is strict­ly with­in the per­son­’s soul direct­ly affect­ing nei­ther his body nor any­thing else out­side his soul, or extro­vert­ed, as when the doing is spa­tial involv­ing his body, the souls and bod­ies of oth­ers, or nature. Such doing is only the spa­tio-tem­po­ral con­se­quence of sin. Sin is pri­mar­i­ly a per­ceiv­ing. Here lies its locus and gen­e­sis, i.e., in per­cep­tion. Its effect is in intent and doing. Accord­ing­ly, it can be coun­ter­act­ed only in the fac­ul­ties of per­cep­tion and its solu­tion must there­fore be in edu­ca­tion. It is obvi­ous that retal­i­a­tion and ret­ri­bu­tion are by them­selves inad­e­quate to meet sin wher­ev­er it may take place. That for­give­ness is equal­ly inad­e­quate becomes clear when we con­sid­er that by releas­ing the eth­i­cal ener­gies of the sin­ner from frus­tra­tion at his own mis­deed, the spir­i­tu­al pow­er of for­give­ness can cure only the sin­ner with strong eth­i­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ties. For it takes a sin­ner gen­uine­ly frus­trat­ed by his own moral fail­ure to respond to its mov­ing appeal. The rest-and the rest is sure­ly the great major­i­ty-remain untouched by its pow­er, if not encour­aged and con­firmed in their sin­ful­ness. Edu­ca­tion, on the oth­er hand, min­is­ters to every­body’s need. It is uni­ver­sal in its appli­ca­tion as all men stand to ben­e­fit from its fruits. Admit­ted­ly, for­give­ness does have an intrin­sic pow­er which acts on all per­ceiv­ing sub­jects mov­ing them to emu­late the for­giv­er. Like love, cour­tesy and respect, it is con­ta­gious.” But it is for­ev­er per­son­al, its activ­i­ty and effect are always errat­ic ; where­as edu­ca­tion is always sub­ject to delib­er­a­tion, to cri­tique and to planning.

It is with­in the realm of per­cep­tion that the mod­ern Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian can make sense out of the Chris­t­ian fig­ur­iza­tion’s notion of sin. From this per­spec­tive, sin is man’s propen­si­ty to eth­i­cal mis­per­cep­tion. It is an empir­i­cal datum whose ubiq­ui­tous­ness is very grave and dis­turb­ing. Nonethe­less, it is not nec­es­sary. The gen­er­al propen­si­ty to eth­i­cal mis­per­cep­tion is coun­ter­bal­anced by the propen­si­ty to sound eth­i­cal per­cep­tion which is at least as uni­ver­sal as its oppo­site. Indeed, there is far more val­ue in the world than there is dis­val­ue, far more virtue than sin. If by nature man falls in error in his cog­ni­tion of the eth­i­cal, of val­ue, it is equal­ly by nature, if not by a stronger nature, that he is dri­ven to keep on look­ing and try­ing despite the fal­ter­ing. Man by nature desires to know” the true, the good and the beau­ti­ful (said Aris­to­tle); and man is doomed to love the good” and pur­sue the true and the beau­ti­ful (said Pla­to). While his soul yearns for, seeks and pur­sues val­ue, man’s nat­ur­al will to live” keeps him on his feet, and his will to do” pro­pels him for­ward despite the set­backs of sin. True, man is by nature inclined to moral com­pla­cen­cy, but he is equal­ly inclined to the life of dan­ger. And while modem man is cer­tain­ly resolved in favor of the lat­ter, our rea­son tells us that we should encour­age him all the more because the life of dan­ger holds the greater promise. Man may and cer­tain­ly will err in eth­i­cal per­cep­tion. But he is not hope­less ; nor are his mis­per­cep­tions-his sins-incor­ri­gi­ble. His fate, blest or unblest, devolves in the first place upon him alone.

If this is con­vinc­ing to both, the dia­logue must move on towards reviv­i­fy­ing the fig­ur­iza­tion­re­cap­tur­ing what­ev­er truth there is in it. We may hence expect it to bring out the fol­low­ing point. Eth­i­cal mis­per­cep­tion, in all its vari­eties, is that which we ought to guard against, to avoid and to com­bat in our­selves, in the oth­ers and in all men. Indu­bitably, we must become ful­ly aware of the ene­my, of his tac­tics and defences, of his nature and con­sti­tu­tion, if we are to fight him suc­cess­ful­ly. In the mind of the gen­er­al, a very promi­nent place is occu­pied by the ene­my.” It was such gen­uine aware­ness on the part of the fathers that induced them to put sin in man’s flesh, in the pas­sions for the low­er val­ues of plea­sure and com­fort, of life and pow­er, in the over­hasty real­iza­tion of val­ue, the sur­mount­ing of mares cos­mic sta­tion, in the arro­gant pride that the eth­i­cal job of man on earth has already been done and fin­ished. in this sense every­one is sus­cep­ti­ble to sin as every man has his temp­ta­tions, his weak moments when his eth­i­cal per­cep­tion is dimmed and his moral vig­or is dull and slow to act. To be always con­scious of this dis­po­si­tion, i.e., to keep it con­stant­ly in mind as the neg­a­tive object of the moral strug­gle, is the pecu­liar mer­it of the fathers’ empha­sis on sin.

Unlike the fathers, there­fore, the modem Chris­t­ian and Mus­lim can­not think of sin as the predica­ment out of which there can be no hope of deliv­er­ance save by a non-human, divine act. Even if, in the inter­est of final vic­to­ry in mans moral strug­gle, we over­es­ti­mate the ene­my, vic­to­ry must cer­tain­ly be pos­si­ble if it is to be an objec­tive and the strug­gle is to be sus­tained despite the even­tu­al set­backs. Were we to grant that sin is nec­es­sary but keep in mind its mean­ing as eth­i­cal mis­per­cep­tion, we would be con­tra­dict­ed by the fact that man has in fact per­ceived right­ly when he per­ceived God’s past rev­e­la­tions as gen­uine. This incon­se­quence may not be removed except by adding anoth­er fan­tas­tic assump­tion nihi­lat­ing man’s respon­si­bil­i­ty for gen­uine per­cep­tion, viz., pre­des­ti­na­tion to right per­cep­tion. But that is a pure fab­ri­ca­tion ; that per­cep­tion which is not the per­son­’s per­cep­tion is not perception.

Final­ly, the dia­logue must move towards a clear answer to the eth­i­cal ques­tion. If we keep our bal­ance, we will rec­og­nize that the right men­tal and emo­tion­al atti­tude to sin is to keep it in con­scious­ness in order to avoid and to sur­mount it. The Toad hith­er­to is and can be only edu­ca­tion, the axi­o­log­i­cal anam­ne­sis which caus­es the man to see for him­self, to per­ceive val­ue and expose his own ethos to deter­mi­na­tion by it. The teacher in gen­er­al, whether moth­er, father or elder, teacher by con­cepts, or by exam­ple, is pre­cise­ly the helper who helps man per­ceive Tight­ly and there­by sur­mount the sin­ful mis­per­cep­tions. Edu­ca­tion is the unique proces­sus of sal­va­tion, No rit­u­al of water, there­fore, or ablu­tions or bap­tism, of ini­ti­a­tion or con­fir­ma­tion, no acknowl­edg­ment of sym­bols or author­i­ty, no con­fes­sion of con­tri­tion, can by them­selves do this job for man. Every per­son must do it for him­self, though he may be assist­ed by the more expe­ri­enced ; and every­body can.

B. Jus­ti­fi­ca­tion as Declar­ing or Mak­ing Good

Look­ing at the fig­ur­iza­tion cre­at­ed by the fathers, the con­tem­po­rary Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian observe that its notion of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion as a declar­ing or mak­ing good the per­son who has acknowl­edged the fig­ur­iza­tion does not accord with con­tem­po­rary real­i­ty. Here three con­sid­er­a­tions are in order. First, where eth­i­cal mis­per­cep­tion has been the fact or the rule, no con­fes­sion of any item in the fig­ur­iza­tion will trans­form mis­per­cep­tion into per­cep­tion. Even the con­fes­sion of God as con­ceived of in the fig­ur­iza­tion does not con­sti­tute the entrance tick­et” we men­tioned ear­li­er, the sine qua non of sal­va­tion. What will do so is the con­fes­sion of the con­tent of divine will, of val­ue itself. For it is the mate­ri­ale val­ues them­selves, not the con­cepts and the­o­ries of God” or divine will” as enun­ci­at­ed or elab­o­rat­ed by the fig­ur­iza­tion, that move the human soul, that can be real­ized once they are known, and that must be known in order to be realized.

Sec­ond, edu­ca­tion, as we have defined it, is a long and con­tin­u­ous growth which has no divi­sions admit­ting of the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of its process­es as a before and an after. Nei­ther is the realm of val­ues (the will of God) divid­ed into two parts such that only the attain­ment of one, rather than the oth­er, may be said to con­sti­tute, or begin, eth­i­cal liv­ing. Gen­uine per­cep­tion, there­fore, as well as gen­uine val­ue-real­iza­tion, is with the child as well as with the mature elder, though the objects (val­ues and their rela­tions) dis­cerned may belong to dif­fer­ent orders of rank. Sal­va­tion or, rather, an amount of it may be the work of the faith­ful” of any reli­gion as that of the faith­less” — the goy­im or bar­baroi of any faith with­out regard to the fig­ur­iza­tion to which they sub­scribe. The child must then be jus­ti­fied” as much as the adult, the sin­ner” as much as the saved,” pro­vid­ed he per­ceives that which his yet-unde­vel­oped, or lit­tle-devel­oped fac­ul­ties enable him to per­ceive. Val­ue-per­cep­tion is a con­tin­u­ous growth process. It does not admit of a moment of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion before which there was no growth at all and then, by divine fiat, it has come to be. Third, per­cep­tion of gen­uine val­ue is only the begin­ning of the process of felic­i­tous achieve­ment. Beyond it yet lies the longest and hard­est part of the road, the real­iza­tion in space-time of that which had been cor­rect­ly perceived.

Anoth­er mean­ing of con­fes­sion is con­ver­sion. It con­sists of a new open­ness of mind and heart to the deter­min­ing pow­er of the divine, of val­ue. It is the state of ful­fill­ment of the admirably stat­ed first com­mand of Jesus, name­ly, to love God with all one’s mind, all one’s heart and all one’s pow­er.Matthew 22:37 ; Mark 12:30 ; Luke 10:27. This is cer­tain­ly a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion, for it entails a delib­er­ate will­ing­ness to seek the good and to sub­mit to its deter­mi­na­tion rather than to evil’s. As the first step of faith, how­ev­er, it must stand below the act of con­fes­sion as per­cep­tion of val­ue at all. All it rec­og­nizes is the val­ue of sub­mis­sion to val­ue which is also a pre­req­ui­site but more fun­da­men­tal, more ele­men­tal, than the first. It can also refer to an atti­tude that comes after per­cep­tion of the whole, or a large part of the realm of val­ue. In this case, it is of momen­tous sig­nif­i­cance if we regard the eth­i­cal phe­nom­e­non as nec­es­sar­i­ly bro­ken into per­cep­tion and action, as sep­a­rate suc­ces­sive stages between which the dev­il and his temp­ta­tions may inter­vene. This view rests upon the ground­less assump­tion that eth­i­cal per­cep­tion is for­mal­is­tic and, hence, dis­cur­sive and intel­lec­tu­al (Kan­t’s prac­ti­cal rea­son” try­ing to sub­due and to dis­ci­pline an errat­ic Willk”. The estab­lish­ment of eth­i­cal per­cep­tion as emo­tion­al a pri­ori intu­ition (Schel­er, Hart­mann) has recap­tured the uni­ty of the eth­i­cal phe­nom­e­non as per­cep­tion and action at the same time, and proved the Socrat­ic for­mu­la knowl­edge = virtue” once again true.

There is yet anoth­er sense, rec­og­nized and well-empha­sized by the fig­ur­iza­tion of Chris­tian­i­ty, in which faith and its con­fes­sion can con­sti­tute a real achieve­ment. This is the sense in which the con­fes­sion of faith, i.e., the sub­jec­t’s con­vic­tion that he is now rec­on­ciled to God and accept­ed by the com­mu­ni­ty, means the lib­er­a­tion of his eth­i­cal ener­gies for self-exer­tion in God’s cause. Since the state of sin is by def­i­n­i­tion the unde­sir­able state of being, and faith is the con­scious­ness of this unde­sir­abil­i­ty at all lev­els, the solemn con­fes­sion of faith becomes the res­o­lu­tion not to relapse into that which has so far been right­ly per­ceived as unde­sir­able. Psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly speak­ing, assur­ance of the accep­tance by God and the com­mu­ni­ty of this res­o­lu­tion as some­thing seri­ous and sig­nif­i­cant, has the good effect of remov­ing what­ev­er fix­i­ty mis­per­cep­tion may have devel­oped in the moral sub­ject and releas­ing his ener­gies towards val­ue-real­iza­tion, as if a new page had been turned in his book-of-life. Though this must remain a mere as-if,” it is a pow­er­ful moment psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly. In a per­son of eth­i­cal­ly sen­si­tive nature, the con­scious­ness of sin may pos­sess that per­son to the point of frus­trat­ing his deter­mi­na­tion by the good, his will to right per­cep­tion and right action. In such a per­son, the phe­nom­e­na of repen­tance, con­fes­sion, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and accep­tance can not only release pent up ener­gies but cre­ate new ones and ori­ent them towards the good to which they can then rush with a great surge. But, as we have said ear­li­er in con­nec­tion with the psy­cho­log­i­cal effect of sal­va­tion upon the sub­ject, we must remem­ber that such respons­es and effects are the pre­rog­a­tive of the few, just as great sin equal­ly belongs to the few. The major­i­ty, how­ev­er, remains as lit­tle deter­mined by the one as by the oth­er. In the mediocre mea­sure that the major­i­ty can have either the cause (sin) or the effect (jus­ti­fi­ca­tion), the advan­tage of the con­fes­sion of faith must per­force be equal­ly mediocre.

There is a sense, there­fore, though a unique one indeed, in which the act of faith car­ries an ontic rela­tion to man and cos­mos, which is its capac­i­ty to infuse into the psy­chic threads of the sub­ject new deter­mi­nants and thus bring about a new momen­tum as it deflects the causal threads from the cours­es they would have tak­en had these new deter­mi­nants not entered the scene. This plus” of deter­mi­na­tion is as onti­cal­ly real as any nat­ur­al deter­mi­na­tion since both of them equal­ly pro­duce the same result, name­ly, the deflec­tion of causal threads to ends oth­er than those to which they would lead oth­er­wise. But we should guard against ever con­fus­ing the nature of this plus.” It is cer­tain­ly not a jus­ti­fac­ti, a mak­ing just, for, onto­log­i­cal­ly speak­ing, the deflec­tion of causal threads which con­sti­tutes the moral deeds have not yet tak­en place though it has become a real pos­si­bil­i­ty. Nor is it a declar­ing just in the foren­sic sense that, where­as the same per­son remains the same, the scales of jus­tice that pro­nounced him sin­ful have just been tipped in his favor by the fact of solemn con­fes­sion. Such would be lit­er­al­ly a case of cheat­ing.” Nor, final­ly, is jus­ti­fi­ca­tion a con­sid­er­ing of the sin­ful as inno­cent, eth­i­cal­ly speak­ing. For it is nei­ther a cat­e­go­ry of God’s thought, nor one of the mares deeds which belong to his­to­ry and can nev­er be undone. It is only a psy­chic release in the jus­ti­fied sin­ner, whose real val­ue is not intrin­sic but deriv­a­tive of that of the val­ues which the new­ly released ener­gies may, or may not, realize.

C. Redemp­tion as Ontic Fait Accompli

Third­ly, look­ing at the fig­ur­iza­tions of the fathers, the modem Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian rec­og­nize that redemp­tion is not a fait accom­pli inas­much as the fill­ing of space-time with real­ized val­ue is not yet, but has still to be done by man ; that it is man’s works, his actu­al­iza­tion of divine will on earth as it is in heav­en, that con­sti­tutes redemp­tion. Were redemp­tion a fait accom­pli in this sense, i.e., were the eth­i­cal job or duty of man towards God done and fin­ished, his cos­mic sta­tus, and hence his dig­ni­ty, would be impaired. In that case, moral­i­ty itself falls to the ground. Sal­va­tion must flow out of moral­i­ty, not vice ver­sa. The only moral­i­ty that can flow out of accom­plished sal­va­tion nec­es­sar­i­ly robs mares life and strug­gle in space-time of its grav­i­ty, its seri­ous­ness and sig­nif­i­cance. True, the already-saved man is not free to lead any life and must live like a per­son unto whom God bad accom­plished sal­va­tion. Such a man will there­fore be under the oblig­a­tion of grat­i­tude for the sal­va­tion done. Far from under­rat­ing the order of rank of the eth­i­cal val­ue of grat­i­tude, the mod­ern Mus­lim and Chris­t­ian find any eth­ic in which grat­i­tude is the deter­min­ing cor­ner­stone inad­e­quate to con­front space-time, to gov­ern the plung­ing of one­self into the thick of tragedy-laden exis­tence, to guide man’s efforts for trans­for­ma­tion of the uni­verse into one ful­ly real­iz­ing the will of God. His­tor­i­cal­ly speak­ing, and in the fig­ur­iza­tions of Chris­tian­i­ty and Islam, the eth­ic of grat­i­tude that emerged out of the notion of redemp­tion as a fait accom­pli deval­u­at­ed space-time as an unfor­tu­nate, insignif­i­cant inter­lude, the end of which was eager­ly await­ed. In the per­spec­tive of such an eth­ic, the ful­crum of life and exis­tence is clear­ly shift­ed out­side of space-time, which becomes no longer the body” and the­ater in which the will of God is con­stant­ly prayed to be and should be done. That is all in addi­tion to the super­cil­ious­ness and com­pla­cen­cy which the car­ry­ing around of one’s title to par­adise gen­er­ates. If, on the oth­er hand, redemp­tion is remem­bered-and affirmed-to be the doing of man’s cos­mic voca­tion, the real­iza­tion of val­ue in space-time, then the assump­tion of redemp­tion as accom­plished sal­va­tion must be the great­est sin.

This con­sid­er­a­tion need not blind us to the fact, hint­ed at in the fore­go­ing sec­tion, that redemp­tion does achieve an onti­cal­ly real accom­plish­ment : name­ly, the release of ener­gies and the infu­sion of deter­mi­nants which would not have become real oth­er­wise, and the actu­al­iza­tion of ends oth­er than those to which the un-increased deter­mi­nants and ener­gies would have led. But the plus” of deter­mi­na­tion, the pent-up ener­gies released by the redemp­tive act of faith are not bound to pro­duce any giv­en ends. As a rule, they will go to rein­force those appli­ca­tions of ener­gies, or those causal nexus at which the moral sub­ject has already been work­ing ; and the act of faith pre­sup­pos­es that what has been dis­cerned is the gen­uine truth, good­ness and beau­ty. But the appli­ca­tion of the new ener­gy to the pur­suit of what has been right­ly dis­cerned is not nec­es­sary. That is why sin is pos­si­ble even after redemption‑a fact which the fig­ur­iza­tion which under­stands redemp­tion as a being-done of man’s eth­i­cal voca­tion can­not rec­og­nize or affirm except through the incon­se­quence of para­dox. Thus, it takes some­thing more than redemp­tion in the sense of for­give­ness and release of eth­i­cal ener­gies to achieve sal­va­tion in the sense of eth­i­cal felic­i­ty, of real­iz­ing val­ue in space-time, of deflect­ing its threads towards val­ue-real­iza­tion, the bring­ing about of the mat?aux of val­ue and of fill­ing the world therewith.

In giv­ing us the notions of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and redemp­tion, there­fore, the canon­i­cal fig­ur­iza­tions gave us mere­ly a pro­le­gomenon to eth­i­cal sal­va­tion. These notions pro­vide a cure for those who need it and these are of two kinds : the hyper­sen­si­tive per­son, whose con­scious­ness of his past eth­i­cal short­com­ings and mis­per­cep­tions has pre­vent­ed him from try­ing again ; the hypochon­dri­ac, who dwells on his sad state of affairs so strong­ly and so long that he for­gets that there is a task yet to be per­formed, how­ev­er bad his past may have been, and that his com­plain­ing will not per­form that task. Just like the man who has been so sick that he has lost the sense of life and can think only of death, and who will lead a super­fi­cial life if he were to come to a sud­den cure, so the moral hypochon­dri­ac, upon redemp­tion, would hard­ly exert him­self moral­ly, or know what to exert him­self for, as his eth­i­cal vision has been warped by the long ill­ness. Such a man will nev­er recov­er from the event of his cure, of his redemp­tion. He will nev­er pass to the san­i­ty, sobri­ety and grav­i­ty of fac­ing space-time with its cry­ing need for God, for value.

Both these types are rare ; mankind is nei­ther made of eth­i­cal genius­es and heroes, nor of hypochon­dri­acs. For the major­i­ty of men, redemp­tion remains an event of espe­cial sig­nif­i­cance only inas­much as it is the per­cep­tion of that which ought to be and, in this capac­i­ty, it is an actu­al embarka­tion on the eth­i­cal road, a pro­le­gomenon to real felic­i­ty. Valu­able and nec­es­sary as it may be, it con­sti­tutes no salu­to­ry mer­it and those who have achieved it have achieved only the begin­ning. They are not the elect in any sense, and nei­ther is their sal­va­tion guar­an­teed. What they achieve is not only pos­si­ble, but actu­al for every man ; all men must come to it soon­er or lat­er by nature as they begin con­scious­ly to live under the human predica­ments of desir­ing knowl­edge and of lov­ing the good. Far from fur­nish­ing ground for a new elec­tion”, a new par­tic­u­lar­ism, and a new exclu­sivism, redemp­tion in the only sense in which it makes sense, name­ly val­ue-per­cep­tion and val­ue-real­iza­tion, is tru­ly uni­ver­sal­ist in that it express­es modal­i­ties of eth­i­cal liv­ing which are actu­al in all human beings. Eth­i­cal sal­va­tion, on the oth­er hand, i.e., the actu­al­iza­tion of divine will or moral val­ue, is a pro­gres­sive achieve­ment open to all men by birth ; and it is judged and mea­sured on the scale of an absolute jus­tice that knows no alter­na­tive to or atten­u­a­tion of the prin­ci­ple Bet­ter among you is the more right­eous”, for whoso doeth good an atom­’s weight will see it then, and whoso doeth ill an atom­’s weight will see it then.“Qur’an, 99:7 – 8.

V. Prospects

A. The Catholic Church

On the Catholic side, one can safe­ly take the record of Vat­i­can II not only as rep­re­sen­ta­tive, but as deter­min­ing the future for at least this gen­er­a­tion. As regards the issues tak­en up by the fore­go­ing dia­logue, Catholic Chris­tian­i­ty is still to be heard from. As far as I know, Vat­i­can II has not even attempt­ed to dis­cuss such issues, let alone re-present them as objects of a crit­i­cal Chris­t­ian-Mus­lim dia­logue. It has stopped the call­ing of non-Chris­tians by bad names. But that is too mod­est a con­tri­bu­tion. Mod­ern man takes the pre­req­ui­sites of polite­ness, cour­tesy and mutu­al respect for grant­ed, and he is not moved to admir­ing trance by an asser­tion or defence of them. As far as the Mus­lim is con­cerned, such defence is four­teen cen­turies late.Call men with Peace” to the path of your Lord through wis­dom and becom­ing preach­ing. Argue with men gen­tly… Tell My wor­ship­pers to lim­it them­selves to the come­li­er words.… Do not con­tend with the Peo­ple of the Book except with argu­ments yet more con­sid­er­ate and gentle.…Those are the ser­vants of God who… when the igno­rant dis­pute with them respond with Peace’ ” (Qur’an, 16:125 ; 17:53 ; 29:46 ; 25:63).

As a mat­ter of fact, Vat­i­can II left much to be desired that is of far greater impor­tance. Besides join­ing the Mus­lims to the devo­tees of most archa­ic reli­gions, the state­ment — the plan of sal­va­tion also includes those who acknowl­edge the Cre­ator… the Moslems… [and] those who in shad­ows. and images seek the unknown God?-merely sub­sumes them under the call of God.“The Doc­u­ments of Vat­i­can II, p. 35. The uni­ver­sal­i­ty of the call is not an actu­al but an ought-uni­ver­sal­i­ty, and hence it does not yield the desired uni­ver­sal­ism at all. If God called all men, it goes with­out say­ing that the Mus­lims are includ­ed. To exclude them is tan­ta­mount to count­ing them among the trees. If this is an advance over the for­mer posi­tion where the Mus­lim was regard­ed as a sub­hu­man, it is an advance which stinks by virtue of this rela­tion. More­over, the same doc­u­ment has stressed that of the pious among those who do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church” only those may attain to ever­last­ing sal­va­tion” who do so through no fault of their own.“Ibid. The Mus­lim who has been thrice Chris­t­ian is there­fore exclud­ed. The judg­ment– what­ev­er good­ness or truth is found among them is looked upon by the Church as a prepa­ra­tion for the Gospel“Ibid. — may be as old and clas­si­cal as Euse­bius to which the text proud­ly refers. Con­de­scend­ing Indeed ! Do I see pro­gres­sivism at the apex of which stands Chris­tian­i­ty as the arche­type of reli­gion and the oth­er reli­gions as fal­ter­ing approx­i­ma­tions” Yes ; but wait for the expla­na­tion of this reli­gious diver­si­ty and imper­fect approx­i­ma­tions out­side of Chris­tian­i­ty ! Often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become caught up in futile rea­son­ing and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serv­ing the crea­ture rather than the Cre­ator”!!!Ibid. The non-Chris­tians do not even know God ; nei­ther do they serve Him ! This is utter­ly out of tune with the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Name-call­ing will not do. It is amaz­ing that despite this low esteem of those who are not Chris­tians, Vat­i­can II agrees with my plea to seek mutu­al under­stand­ing and coöper­a­tion on the eth­i­cal lev­el, to make com­mon cause … on behalf of all mankind … of safe­guard­ing and fos­ter­ing social jus­tice, moral val­ues, peace and free­dom.“Ibid., p. 663. As a Mus­lim who has been thrice Chris­t­ian, I applaud and stretch forth my hand in the hope that my Ser­mon-on-the-Mount eth­ic my prove contagious.

B. The Protestants

Unlike the case of Catholics, no pro­nounce­ment is vest­ed with deci­sive author­i­ty for Protes­tants. Their posi­tion would have to be sur­mised from the writ­ings of those who regard them­selves as the spir­i­tu­al thinkers of their com­mu­ni­ty. I there­fore pro­pose to do no more than plumb one thinker on this mat­ter who, many Protes­tants will prob­a­bly agree, stands on the fron­tier of Chris­t­ian the­ol­o­gy. That is the late Paul Tillich.

In his Chris­tian­i­ty and the Encounter of the World Reli­gions, Tillich repu­di­at­ed the neo-ortho­dox approach which refus­es even to acknowl­edge the exis­tence of such a prob­lem as man’s reli­gions pose for Chris­tian­i­ty.(New York : Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1963), p. 45. He crit­i­cized the pro­gres­sivist expla­na­tion of the reli­gions of the world and refut­ed the cir­cu­lar argu­ments of those the­olo­gians who, assum­ing Chris­tian­i­ty to be the typos of reli­gion, mea­sure man’s reli­gions with its rod.Such as Ernst Troeltsch, Rudolph Otto, Adolph Har­nack, etc. Ibid., p. 43. He spoke of an orig­i­nal uni­ver­sal­ism of the ear­ly church mean­ing there­by Chris­tian­i­ty’s adop­tion of ele­ments from oth­er reli­gions and their sub­jec­tion to the par­tic­u­lar­ist idea of Jesus as the Christ.

Though com­mend­able, this idea is hard­ly ade­quate to meet the issue of inter­re­li­gious con­fronta­tion.Ibid., pp. 34 – 37. There is his­tor­i­cal spu­ri­ous­ness in Tillich’s claim that Chris­tian­i­ty turned rad­i­cal­ly exclu­sive and par­tic­u­lar­is­tic as the result of the first encounter… with a new world reli­gion”, name­ly, Islam (ibid., pp. 38 – 39). In fact, Chris­tian­i­ty was rad­i­cal­ly exclu­sive at Nicaea and at every oth­er post-Nicene coun­cil. This char­ac­ter­is­tic was prob­a­bly devel­oped much ear­li­er than Nicaea. Even if Tillich’s claim were true, it con­sti­tutes a poor apol­o­gy. The astound­ing nov­el­ty how­ev­er is Tillich’s claim that Chris­tian­i­ty’s self-con­scious­ness with respect to the Jews and hence, Chris­t­ian anti-Semi­tism, were the result of the shock of the encounter with Islam.” The prob­lem is not one of approv­ing of or adopt­ing that which agrees or can be made to agree with us but of what to do with that which con­tra­dicts us, that which stands on the oth­er side of us. On this issue Tillich sug­gests the pos­si­bil­i­ty of self-crit­i­cism in light of the dif­fer­ence with oth­er reli­gions. Appro­pri­ate­ly, he enti­tled his con­clud­ing lec­ture Chris­tian­i­ty Judg­ing Itself in the Light of Its Encoun­ters with the World Reli­gions.” No more promis­ing title can be found than this. But before he let his audi­ence rise to cheer, Tillich dis­solved the whole promise as he defined the basis of any future self-judg­ment of Chris­tian­i­ty. There is only one point,” he said, from which the cri­te­ria can be derived and only one way to approach this point. The point is the event on which Chris­tian­i­ty is based, and the way is the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the con­tin­u­ing spir­i­tu­al pow­er Of this event, which is the appear­ance and recep­tion of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, a sym­bol which stands for the deci­sive self-man­i­fes­ta­tion in human his­to­ry of the source and aim of all being.“Ibid., p. 79. Evi­dent­ly, the basis is not God, nor the will of God, but the Chris­t­ian fig­ur­iza­tion of God. But loy­al­ty to fig­ur­iza­tion pro­duces foot­notes and com­men­taries, not knowl­edge ; and Chris­tian­i­ty, if based upon such a prin­ci­ple, will learn noth­ing at all.

Here Tillich has failed in our fifth method­olog­i­cal prin­ci­ple, viz., free­dom vis-?is the canon­i­cal fig­ur­iza­tion. It seems as if Tillich, despite the depth and breadth of his vision, is telling the Mus­lim : Assum­ing the Coun­cil of Nicaea con­sist­ed of God as chair­man, His angels and prophets as mem­bers, and that it did unan­i­mous­ly and under express divine com­mand decide for all eter­ni­ty what it did decide, what use can we make of what you or any oth­er reli­gion has to offer” The Mus­lim retort is that it is pre­cise­ly here in the Nicene Coun­cil that the dia­logue will have to start, if at all, assum­ing that the coun­cil is still on and delib­er­at­ing. Con­sist­ing of men with holy as well as unholy motives and presided over by a pagan emper­or inter­est­ed in the polit­i­cal uni­ty of the Empire more than in the truth, the coun­cil is either closed and hence only of didac­tic val­ue to mod­ern man, or open and mod­ern man may par­tic­i­pate there­in as con­stituent mem­ber.The accounts of the tac­tics used in the Coun­cil or there­after in order to imple­ment or defeat its deci­sion by the par­ties involved were far from inspir­ing any awe or silenc­ing, author­i­ty. Intrigues and slan­ders of the low­est kind,” wrote Har­nack, now began to corn, into play, and the con­flict was car­ried on some­times by means of moral charges of the worst kind, and some­times by means of polit­i­cal calum­nies. The eas­i­ly excit­ed mass­es were made fanat­i­cal by the coarse abuse and exe­cra­tions of the oppo­nents, and the lan­guage of hate which hith­er­to had been bestowed on hea­then, Jews and heretics, filled the church­es. The catch­words of the doc­tri­nal for­mu­lae, which were unin­tel­li­gi­ble to the laity and indeed even to most of the bish­ops them­selves, were set up as stan­dards, and the more suc­cess­ful they were in keep­ing up the agi­ta­tion the more sure­ly did the pious-mind­ed turn away from them and sought sat­is­fac­tion in asceti­cism and poly­the­ism in Chris­t­ian garb” etc., etc. (A. Har­nack, His­to­ry of Dog­ma, tr. by Neil Buchanan [New York : Dover Pub­li­ca­tions, Inc., 19611, Vol. IV, p. 61). It was pre­cise­ly at Nicaea that the split of Chris­tian­i­ty into East­ern and West­ern for­mal­ly began, not in the mean­ing usu­al­ly attached to these terms as denot­ing the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Ortho­dox Church, or the Church­es of the West as dis­tin­guished from those of the East, but in the old­er sense of a Semit­ic Chris­tian­i­ty of so-called heretic” church­es of the East and a Chris­tian­i­ty fig­ur­ized under terms sup­plied by Hel­lenis­tic con­scious­ness. Only at Nicaea” can the dia­logue with Islam, the heir of that East­ern Chris­tian­i­ty which was hereti­cat­ed at Nicaea, be resumed.

In the last lec­ture of his career, The Sig­nif­i­cance of the His­to­ry of Reli­gions for the Sys­tem­at­ic The­olo­gianPub­lished togeth­er with a num­ber of oth­er lec­tures by Tillich, and state­ments of friends at a memo­r­i­al ser­vice ded­i­cat­ed to him, under the title, The Future of Reli­gions (New York : Harp­er and Row, 1966), pp. 80 – 94, Tillich did not progress beyond the fore­go­ing posi­tion. He called Reli­gion of the Con­crete Spir­it” the telos” or the inner aim” which the his­to­ry of reli­gions is to become.” This is com­posed of three ele­ments : the sacra­men­tal basis” which is the uni­ver­sal … expe­ri­ence of the Holy with­in the finite”; the crit­i­cal move­ment against the demo­niza­tion of the sacra­men­tal”; and the ought ‑to-be… the eth­i­cal or prophet­ic ele­ment [which] becomes moral­is­tic and final­ly sec­u­lar” with­out the oth­er two.Ibid., p. 86. One can hard­ly miss the parochial rep­re­sen­ta­tion of West­ern Chris­tian­i­ty in this scheme where the first ele­ment is the Jesus-event, the sec­ond the Ref­or­ma­tion, and the third, the sec­u­lar moral­is­tic human­ism of mod­ern times. And we must, in addi­tion, over­look Tillich’s lack of infor­ma­tion, at least regard­ing Islam, evi­dent in his gen­er­al­iza­tion that the uni­ver­sal reli­gious basis is the expe­ri­ence of the Holy with­in the fini­nite.“Ibid.

Hav­ing defined these ele­ments, Tillich then tells us that they always strug­gle against one anoth­er ; but that when inte­grat­ed with­in the Reli­gion of the Con­crete Spir­it, they strug­gle as one organ­ic whole against the dom­i­na­tion of each.Ibid., pp. 86 – 88. Kairoi” or moments…in which the Reli­gion of the Con­crete Spir­it is actu­al­ized frag­men­tar­i­ly can hap­pen here and there.“Ibid., p. 89. But the whole his­to­ry of reli­gions” is a fight for the Reli­gion of the Con­crete Spir­it, a fight of God against reli­gion with­in reli­gion.“Ibid., p. 88. In this con­tin­u­ing world strug­gle of God against the demon­ic forces, the deci­sive vic­to­ry” was the appear­ance of Jesus as the Christ.“Ibid. The cri­te­ri­on” of vic­to­ry, or of the pres­ence of the Reli­gion of the Con­crete Spir­it is the event of the cross. That which has hap­pened there in a sym­bol­ic way, which gives us the cri­te­ri­on, also hap­pens frag­men­tar­i­ly in oth­er places, in oth­er moments, has hap­pened and will hap­pen even though they are not his­tor­i­cal­ly or empir­i­cal­ly con­nect­ed with the cross.“Ibid., p. 89. Tillich even sug­gests the re-use of the sym­bol Chris­tus Vic­tor” in this view of the his­to­ry of reli­gions.Ibid., p. 88. How do we know that what hap­pened in the kairos of Muham­mad or of the Ref­or­ma­tion was a frag­men­tary event of the cross” unless it is assumed that all reli­gious moments are kairoi of the same” But if this is assumed before­hand, what nov­el­ty did the minor premise bring” Obvi­ous­ly, this is the same cir­cu­lar rea­son­ing Tillich had crit­i­cized in Troeltsch and Otto, how­ev­er dis­guised the terms.

Tillich’s last word” was his answer to the ques­tion of the mean­ing of the his­to­ry of reli­gions to the reli­gion of which one is the the­olo­gian.” The­ol­o­gy,” he claimed, remains root­ed in its expe­ri­en­tial basis. With­out this, no the­ol­o­gy at all is pos­si­ble.” Thus, in loy­al­ty to the canon­i­cal fig­ur­iza­tion, Tillich per­sis­tent­ly refused to rec­og­nize any sacra­ment-free con­scious­ness as reli­gious. Straight­jack­et­ed by his own self-imposed lim­i­ta­tion to the expe­ri­ence of the Chris­t­ian fig­ur­iza­tion, the Chris­t­ian the­olo­gian is to spend the rest of time formulat[ing] the basic expe­ri­ences which are uni­ver­sal­ly valid [sic ! the expe­ri­ence of the Holy in the finite is any­thing but uni­ver­sal] in uni­ver­sal­ly valid state­ments.“Ibid., p. 94.

How can such an attempt see any­thing in the reli­gions of man but frag­men­tary real­iza­tions of the Chris­t­ian expe­ri­ence ? Can it be said that such an atti­tude enables the Chris­t­ian to under­stand the oth­er faiths of oth­er men, let alone pro­duce a fruit­ful dia­logue with the men of oth­er faiths ?

As for his sys­tem­at­ic the­ol­o­gy, its pages run counter to every one of the eth­i­cal insights we have attrib­uted to mod­ern man. One might con­clude that if Tillich were still alive, he would not car­ry the dia­logue a sin­gle step for­ward. Sur­pris­ing­ly, how­ev­er, this con­clu­sion is not true. For just before he died, he read the sec­tions of this paper enti­tled Method­ol­o­gy of Dia­logue,” Themes for Dia­logue” and Dialec­tic of the Themes with the Fig­ur­iza­tions” and wrote in a let­ter to the author : I… read your man­u­script and thought it was an excel­lent basis for any dis­cus­sion between Chris­tian­i­ty and Islam. You bring out the points of dif­fer­ence with great clar­i­ty and sharp­ness. Not in order to let them stay where they are, but in order to show that behind the dif­fer­ent fig­ur­iza­tions there is, espe­cial­ly in the present moment, a com­mon ground and a com­mon emer­gency. I believe that with this pre­sup­po­si­tion in mind, a dis­cus­sion could be very fruitful.”

This was a sur­prise. It recap­tures my lost optimism. Islam and Christianity: Diatribe or Dialogue? 1Endmark

Isma’il R. al Faruqi was born in Pales­tine in 1921. He stud­ied phi­los­o­phy at the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty of Beirut, Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty and Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty. His doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion was on the meta­phys­i­cal sta­tus of the good. He stud­ied Islam at Cairo and oth­er cen­ters of Mus­lim learn­ing, and Chris­tian­i­ty at the Fac­ul­ty of Divin­i­ty, McGill Uni­ver­si­ty. He taught at the Insti­tute of Islam­ic Stud­ies, McGill Uni­ver­si­ty ; the Cen­tral Insti­tute of Islam­ic Research, Karachi ; the Insti­tute of High­er Ara­bic Stud­ies of the League of Arab States, Cairo Uni­ver­si­ty ; and al Azhar Uni­ver­si­ty, Cairo, and, between 1964 and 1968 was Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Reli­gion at Syra­cuse Uni­ver­si­ty, devel­op­ing a pro­gram of Islam­ic Stud­ies. From the fall of 1968 he was Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Reli­gion at Tem­ple Uni­ver­si­ty until his death in 1986.

1 Comment

  1. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/​ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Chris­t­ian ver­sion becomes null and void and we are wast­ing our time and resources i.e. we could save tril­lions of dol­lars and cre­ate a more peace­ful world rather than fight­ing against Islam the reli­gion of Abra­ham, Moses, Jesus and Muham­mad (peace be upon them all).

    The pas­sages are cen­tral to islam/​chritianity/​judaism.

    GENESIS 16:16
    And Hagar bore Abram a son ; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish?mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish?mael to Abram.
    GENESIS 21:5
    Abra­ham was a hun­dred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

    At Gen­e­sis 22 Abra­ham had only 2 sons oth­ers came lat­er. The Quran men­tions that it was Ish­mael that was sac­ri­ficed hence the ref­er­ence in gen­e­sis 22:2 your only son can only mean some­one has sub­sti­tut­ed Ish­mael names for Isaac!!

    BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
    NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X)
    NB no con­cept of zero in roman numerals.

    100 — 8614

    ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC?S WEANING

    THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14 – 21
    BUT IT ISDESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

    PLEASE GIVESTRAIGHT FORWARD REPLY

    GENESIS:21:14 — 21

    So Abra­ham rose ear­ly in the morn­ing, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoul­der, along with the child, and sent her away. And she depart­ed, and wan­dered in the wilder­ness of Beer-She­ba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bush­es. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the dis­tance of a bow­shot ; for she said, ?Let me not look upon the death of the child.? And as she sat over against him, the child lift­ed up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad ; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heav­en, and said to her, ?What trou­bles you, Hagar ? Fear not ; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast with your hand ; for I will make him a great nation.? Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water ; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew up ; he lived in the wilder­ness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilder­ness of Paran ; and his moth­er took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

    AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14 – 21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS INTWIST.
    For back­ground info on the future reli­gion of mankind see the fol­low­ing websites :

    http://​www​.al​-sun​nah​.com/​m​u​h​a​m​m​a​d​_​i​n​_​t​h​e​_​b​i​b​l​e​.​htm (MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)
    http://​www​.wit​ness​-pio​neer​.org/​v​i​l​/​B​o​o​k​s​/​M​B​_​B​Q​S​/​d​e​f​a​u​l​t​.​htm (Quran and Science)
    http://​www​.harun​yahya​.com/
    http://​www​.barn​abas​.net/
    http://​www​.answer​ing​-chris​tian​i​ty​.com/​a​c​.​htm
    http://​www​.islam​ic​i​ty​.com/
    http://​www​.isla​m​on​line​.net/​e​n​g​l​i​s​h​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​s​h​tml

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