Muslim-Christian Dialogue

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I I February 23, 2015 I Volume XXVII, Issue 08

Since Christians and Muslims together make up more than half of the world’s population, a viable relationship between them is obviously crucial if there is to be meaningful peace in theworld. In such a situation, Muslim-Christian unity is a  sine qua non for building a better society, for no great task can be performed without joint effort. And, finding common ground between the two religious communities in order to maintain a stable equation is not just a matter of polite exchanges taking place on religious matters between selected leaders.

We find a number of similarities between Muslims and Christians — both belong to the same religious family, the religions they follow are both revealed religions, and both have common ancestor–the Prophet Abraham. Recognising such similarities can provide a conducive atmosphere for Muslim-Christian unity.

A study of the Quran shows that it attaches special importance to building good, cordial relations between Muslims and Christians. In the classical literature of Islam, there are many appreciative references to Christ and Christianity. The Quran calls Christ the ‘Spirit of God’ [1] , and of Mary it says: ‘We breathed into her of our spirit, and made her and her son a Sign to all men.” [2]  With regard to Christ and his followers, the Quran says: ‘We gave Christ the Gospel and put compassion and mercy in the hearts of his followers.’ [3] Elsewhere, the Quran states: ‘The nearest in affection to the Muslims are those who say: “We are Christians”. That is because there are priests and monks among them; and because they are free from pride.’ [4]  In the Quran, Muslims have been commanded by God to follow the path of Christ’s followers. This verse is as follows: “O believers, be helpers of God, as said Jesus to his disciples ‘Who are, my helpers in the cause of God?’ The disciples said, ‘We are helpers of God.’” [5]

There is a  hadith report in the  Sahih Muslim which demonstrates the early Muslims’ positive evaluation of Christians. Mustaurid, a companion of the Prophet, reported that the Prophet said: “The Day of Judgment will not come until the Christians outnumber all other people.” Amribn al A’as, a senior companion of the Prophet, endorsed this:

“The Christians have four characteristics. They are the most forbearing in times of adversity; they do not allow their spirits to be broken, but promptly recover from every setback; they are the first to charge again after retreat; and they are the best of all in caring for the deprived, downtrodden and the weak.”

Amr then added that there was a fifth feature of the Christians, which is the best of all: that they restrain their kings from perpetrating injustice and oppression. [6]
Thus, we find that gentleness and good behaviour provide a strong basis for unity.

The question now arises as to what steps should be taken for the betterment of society by Muslims and Christians. To my way of thinking, the first and foremost requirement is to provide opportunities for them to interact with each other repeatedly. Another important issue is that of education. It is a known fact that education is the basis of all progress. I believe that Muslims and Christians ought to start working together in this field, too. This joint effort will go a long way in harmonizing relationships between the two communities. Yet another point in this regard is to highlight positive moral values common to both religions. The basic point in this connection is to pave way for good relations between Christians and Muslims. By avoiding theological differences, we must strive hard to build a common platform on the basis of common moral ground.
[1]  Quran 4: 171
[2]  Quran 21: 91
[3]  Quran 57: 27
[4]  Quran 5:82-83
[5]  Quran 61:14
[6] Sahih Muslim : 2898