William GraffHUM. 2010Take-Home Assay # 3Muslims Convinced of the absolute truth of Islam, Muslims traditionally have not sought dialogue with representatives of other religions, although medieval Islamic scholars wrote fairly objective works about them. Recently, however, Muslims have engaged in dialogues with representatives of Christianity and Judaism, recognized in Islam as the two other “religions of the book” (based on revelation). Nonetheless, memories of Western colonialism have generated suspicion and impeded ecumenical efforts. Monotheism is central to Islam-a belief in only one God, unitary and omnipotent. Belief in a plurality of gods or in the extension of God’s divinity to any person is emphatically rejected. God created nature through a primordial act of mercy; otherwise there would be pure nothingness. God provided each element of his creation with its own proper nature, or laws governing its conduct, so that it follows a characteristic pattern. The result is an well-ordered, harmonious whole, a cosmos in which everything has its proper place and limitations. No gaps, dislocations, or ruptures, therefore, are found in nature. God presides over and governs the universe, which, with its orderly functioning, is the primary sign and proof of God and his unity. Violations of the natural order in the form of miracles occurred in the past, but although the Koran accepts the miracles of earlier prophets (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others), it declares them outdated; Muhammad’s miracle is the Koran, the like of which no human can produce. According to Islam, God has four fundamental functions with respect to the universe and to humanity in particular: creation, sustenance, guidance, and judgment. God, who created the universe out of sheer mercy, is bound to sustain it as well. All nature has been made subservient to humanity, which may exploit it and benefit from it. The ultimate purpose of humanity, however, is to be in the “service of God,” that is, to worship him alone and to construct an ethical social order free from “corruptions.” Islamic law is based on four sources, or “roots of law.” The first two are the documentary sources, the Koran and the Sunna, or Hadith. The third source is called ijtihad (”responsible individual opinion”). It has been used when an issue is not covered by passages in the Koran or Sunna; a jurist may then resolve the issue by using analogical reasoning (qiyas). Such reasoning was first employed when Islamic theologians and jurists in conquered countries were confronted with the need to integrate local customs and laws with the Koran and Sunna. Later, Islamic authorities considered this original thinking a threat to the Koran and Sunna and laid down strict rules limiting its use. Because of the profound changes in the Muslim world community during the last few decades, however, a renewed emphasis has been placed on the innovative thinking of ijtihad. The fourth source is the consensus (ijma) of the community, which is reached by gradually discarding some opinions and accepting others. Because Islam has no official dogmatic authority, this is an informal process that often requires a long period of time.
Any phenomenon as complex and as vital as Christianity is easier to describe historically than to define logically, but such a description does yield some insights into its continuing elements and essential characteristics. One such element is the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ. That centrality is, in one way or another, a feature of all the historical varieties of Christian belief and practice. Christians have not agreed in their understanding and definition of what makes Christ distinctive or unique. Certainly they would all affirm that his life and example should be followed and that his teachings about love and fellowship should be the basis of human relations. Large parts of his teachings have their counterparts in the sayings of the rabbis-that is, after all, what he was-or in the wisdom of Socrates and Confucius. In Christian teaching, Jesus cannot be less than the supreme preacher and exemplar of the moral life, but for most Christians that, by itself, does not do full justice to the significance of his life and work. What is known of Jesus, historically, is told in the Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible. Other portions of the New Testament summarize the beliefs of the early Christian church. Paul and the other writers of Scripture believed that Jesus was the revealer not only of human life in its perfection but of divine reality itself. The ultimate mystery of the universe, called by many different names in various religions, was called “Father” in the sayings of Jesus, and Christians therefore call Jesus himself “Son of God.” At the very least, there was in his language and life an intimacy with God and an immediacy of access to God. As well as the promise that, through all that Christ was and did his followers might share in the life of the Father in heaven and might themselves become children of God. Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, to which early Christians referred when they spoke about him as the one who had reconciled humanity to God, made the cross the chief focus of Christian faith and devotion and the principal symbol of the saving love of God the Father. I firmly believe that each of the three religions can not get along for one simple reason. Each has come too far in its teaching, and in its own beliefs. If anyone were of these religions were to combine with the other it would in effect say to the world all we have believed in and all we have preached was wrong. Today in Northern Turkey a section of the mountains is closed off to all people (by armed military guards). Why due to resent finding that the mountain Muhammad is said to have talked with God on is forty miles further south that the teaching have stated. Now, if the Islamic leaders were to agree to this their followers would most centrally wonder what else might not be true. This is just an example of a major rift in the teaching of Islam. I see no possible way that any of the major religions could combine teaching of their doctrine now or in the future.