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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sharing Jannah

As a mother would say to her child, “if you want dessert, you have to finish your dinner” or, “if you keep fighting with your sister, you will go to bed early”, scripture, or God’s word tells us how to behave to receive reward or how not to behave to avoid punishment. Every family and every religion has rules. But what do these rules, in Islam, say about the “other”? It seems that it depends on who you ask. Since the scholarly opinions range from inclusion to exclusion, this is question does not seem to have a definite answer.

To demonstrate the pluralistic answer to the question of salvation of Muslims and non-Muslims, Mohammad Hassan Khalil shared opinions of five well-known Muslim scholars: Abu Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī, Muhyī al-Dīn Ibn al-‘Arabī, Taqiyaddīn Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, and Muhammad Rashīd Ridā. The arguments these scholars make include an analysis of even more questions. Before an answer of who is saved can be determined, one has to decide first how to translate the verses, as many words have multiple meanings, from general to exact. Then, once a translation is made, one has to decide how to interpret them (ijtihad). Interpretation includes even more questions.  Should it matter if the verses are Medinan or Meccan? Does the historical context matter or is it a general statement… or rather, a specific statement for a specific time and place only? Have the verses been abrogated and thus null in meaning to today? So many questions! Oh, but we must back up even further.

What is Islam? Is it possible that non-Mohammed following others, such as the Christians, Jews, and Sabians (people of the book) are in their own way submitting to God in the way that God called them to? Are they “Muslims” of a sort? What about God’s compassion and Mercy? Can’t God decide to save anyone if so desired? So do the rules even matter? The mother might choose to punish the child for his or her naughty behavior, but then will still enfold him or her into her arms, giving forth her love to the child. Will God not be as forgiving, if not more?

As for me, I believe in inclusive love and that only humans limit God’s power and mercy, at a fault.

This is a response paper that was originally written in reference to MUSLIM SCHOLARLY DISCUSSIONS ON SALVATION AND THE FATE OF ‘OTHERS’ by Mohammad Hassan Khalil for REL 432: Modern Muslim Thought at Michigan State University in September 2012