Tuesday 26 June 2018

Jewish perception of Islam as Idolatrous

I have written a few posts as to how Islam and other faiths differ. Today I just thought to find out how other faiths view Islam. And I was appalled to come across some Jewish sites which gave out a view point of the Jews about Islam and labeling it as Idolatrous.

This was something that came as a total surprise as we as Muslim while believing in the total absoluteness of Allah, God as understood by Jews and to an extent by Christians in their overall concept of Trinity, also dispel any notion of bowing in front of idols of any kind. In fact, upon conquest of Makkah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cleansed the Ka'aba of all idols placed in there by the infidels.

But then another revelation still amazed me that speaks of the total ignorance of the Jew scholars about who we bow in front of when praying. Read the following excerpts, with special reference to the lines highlighted in bold italics:
I mentioned earlier that almost all authorities accepted Maimonides’ view of Islam. There is, however, one authority, who, while most cryptic, appears to be leaning in the opposite direction. In a medieval commentary erroneously attributed to the famous sage, Rabbi Nissim Gerondi (c.1310‑1375), but actually written by an unknown later scholar, one finds a shocking opinion, in the course of “R. Nissim’s” discussion, of Christians bowing to holy objects and Muslims bowing to Muhammad[!] Although the comment is not entirely clear, it appears to be saying that even though the Muslims do not turn Muhammad into a God, one must regard their (supposed) action of bowing down to him as idolatry, thus putting them in the category of idolaters.
Now here comes the ignorance of the Jew scholars. We Muslims while regard Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in extremely high, revered and exalted position as the last of all the prophets chosen by Allah and blessed him with the last of the holy scriptures The Holy Qur'an, we never pretend or mean to be bowing in front of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) while prostate in our prayers for he was just a human being chosen by Allah to be His last prophet. 
Say (O Muhammad), "I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So, whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord - let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone." (Qur'an Surah Al Kahf 18:110)
Equating someone to Allah is the biggest sin in Islam:
In Islam, shirk (Arabic: شرك‎ šhirk) is the sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism, i.e. the deification or worship of anyone or anything besides the singular God, i.e. Allah. Literally, it means ascribing or the establishment of "partners" placed beside God.
In the Holy Qur'an, Allah the Almighty at many places warn the people against equating anyone with Him, for He alone is worthy of worship, is the master of the universe and master of the Day of Judgment:
Yet there are men who take (for worship) others besides Allah, as equal (with Allah.: They love them as they should love Allah. But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for Allah. If only the unrighteous could see, behold, they would see the penalty: that to Allah belongs all power, and Allah will strongly enforce the penalty. (Surah Al-Baqara, 165)
Say: "O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah. That we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will). (Surah Al-Imran, 64)
Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin.” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:48) 
In the light of above commandments of Allah in the Holy Quran, we as Muslims cannot think of bowing or prostrating in front of anyone except Allah alone. We revere Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) the same way Jews revere Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) and Christians who revere Prophet Eesa (Jesus, peace be upon him). No one bows in front of prophets, so do we Muslims too. It is only Christians who consider Jesus as one of the Gods when they talk of Trinity. In that sense Christianity could be labelled as Idolatrous, not Islam.

Thus, calling us idolatrous is extremely absurd, highly preposterous, objectionable and detesting. I wonder how come the so called learned Jewish scholars could ever label us idolatrous, thinking we bow and prostrate in front of a human being and not in front of the Almighty Allah, the creator of this universe who has no parallel. In fact, equating someone with Allah is considered as the most unforgivable sin.

I wonder how come Jews could think or interpret Islam Idolatrous by saying that Muslims prostrate in front of a prophet who was human like all of us. In this age of technology and availability of instant and detailed knowledge about religions and faiths, one can easily find the truth. Gone are the days when religious preachers, in this case rabbis, could mislead their people through their sermons.

However, there are some Jewish scholars who view the above mindset as incorrect. Read the following views:
This is a dramatic deviation from Maimonides’ view, and it is shocking that “R. Nissim” does not even refer to his predecessor. In any event, the authentic R. Nissim did not hold to this view, and we are in possession of a *responsum of his in which he declares unambiguously that Islam is not a form of idolatry.
a written reply by a rabbi or Talmudic scholar to an inquiry on some matter of Jewish law 
In fact, some scholars believe that:
Hardly any attempt is made in the classical Jewish sources to distinguish between different kinds of pagan or primitive worship such as animism, fetishism, and polytheism. All forms of worship that are not purely monotheistic are treated together as idolatry and severely condemned. 
I hope I have tried to put across the view point of us Muslims and that of those who think that Islam has been misunderstood and being followers of a monotheist Allah, we cannot be labeled as Idolatrous.   

May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 

وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

For more Q&A about Understanding Islamplease refer to our reference page: Understanding Islam - Frequently asked Q&A

Reference Sources: | 1 | 2 | Read more verses of Qur'an condemning those who equate someone with Him HERE
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