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Two Religions

OurIndonesia – Up to now, I have never found any pleasing answer of where the Koranic critic upon Bible must be positioned. Is it in the level of doctrinal critic or in the level of –I call it- “political critic”. For instance the critic conveyed by Islam in the competition between the new religion gathering disciples and the old established religion.

In an “enlightening discussion” in Utan Kayu, Martin Sinaga, a Christian Theologian, said that Islamic critic upon Christianity is its way to appreciate Jesus. It is a theological perspective to observe the prophecy figures proposed by Islam.

I was amazed to hear Martin’s words in that time. Afterward, I begin to question whether Islamic appreciation recorded in Koran is appropriate in the current context of interfaith meeting. It is hard for me to prove since Koran criticizes in the rough words, “They surely kafir/disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three” (QS 5:73).

Other verse said, “They indeed have disbelieved/kafir who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” (QS 5:17 & 72). I know that the word “kafir” used in various contexts. The muslim is also called as “kafir” whenever he does not thank God’s grace.

I find a little bit satisfying information from Jamal Al Banna, brother of Hasan Al Banna, the founder of Ikhwanul Muslimin. I met him and discuss about the doctrine of jihad in Islam. His explanation inspires me to have this view: If we read Koran comprehensively, we will find no “triumphalistic” spirit at all; it is the spirit to defeat other religions. It is the base of “Christology group”. In Koran, there is no affirmation about Islam as religion that annuls the previous religions.

Jamal Al Banna said that there is a self-defense in Koran because in that time the Arab tribes around the Arabic Peninsula attacked Islam as a new religion massively. Because of this attack, Islam tried to defend itself by launching the counterattack.

I guess that the Islamic teaching declaring that it annuls the previous religions comes later and formulated far after the revelation of Koran. There is no affirmation about it in Koran. On the contrary, Koran shows that it is not a “new revelation”, but the extension of the previous revelation. Koran affirmed about it (QS 46:9):“I am (Muhammad) no new thing among the messengers (of Allah).”

Therefore, two religions are hard to compare although comparison is necessary to search the potential meeting points. When we compare, we must realize that the attempt is limited. When we consider that the two religions are so much different, we have to be aware that the difference is not absolute, but there are some identical aspects in both religions (mainly that originated from the same huge tradition).


The Indonesian version of this article was published in IslamLib.