بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين
by Gabriel Keresztes Abdul Rahman al-Romaani
An analysis of the meanings of the verse; ‘Those who Believe and the Jews and the Christians …’ (Qur’an 2:62 & 5:69)
Some of the first interfaith dialogues between Muslims and non-Muslims during the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) culminated with excellent results of either the party accepting the faith or walking away from the dialogue with a better understanding of the message of Islam as in the case of Heraclius and others. However, for such results to be achieved, sincerity, open-mindedness and lack of alternative motives are required. There were some who came to Muhammad (pbuh) with intentions that were not very sincere, aiming to destroy Islam (be it intellectually or physically). They did not seek the truth and they did not want to accept any proofs that stood strong in the face of their questions and objections. Till today, missionaries and orientalists are still riding some of the same questions not willing to submit to the clear truths that are presented to them. Such people claim high academic merits and credibility, having big budgets and selling their faith and ideas to the Muslim world, misguiding and lying to the lame masses. In this paper I will analyze a very popular objection that orientalists and missionaries have propagated both past and present. The issue in question is a verse of the Quran that apparently says that non-Muslims will also have their reward from Allah (go to paradise) along with the Muslims. I will show beyond the shadow of a doubt that such claims are baseless and that the explanation of this verse does not align with missionary and orientalist claims of inconsistency and contradiction. In order to do so, I have divided this paper in three parts: first, I will deal with the tafseer of this verse using other verses in the Quran that expound on the meaning of the words and their usage. Second, I will give a few instances of explanations given by scholars of Islam when it comes to the verse in question. Third, I will look at what the Quran and what Islam says in general about the final destination of non-Muslims and their likes.
What Does the Quran Say?
The verses that are questioned and that supposedly say that non-Muslims will be safe and have their reward from Allah are:
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans - those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.
Sam Shamoun, Christian missionary, Islam hater, an ex nation of Islam adherent, says in one of his articles: “In light of the foregoing, how can the Quran promise Jews and Christians a reward from their Lord for believing in him and doing good when they are not Muslims and hold to the divinity of specific prophets?” What Sam and others willingly fail to understand is that they cannot apply the standards of the Bible to Quran. Knowing that their Bible is full of contradictions they try to project them onto the Quran. Instead of answering the queries of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, they try to evade by redirecting the reader to the assumption that the Quran also contains contradictions. One of the first ways to explain the Quran is by explaining it with the Quran itself. Let us have a look at how the Quran explains this verse and it’s contextual meaning. It is without a doubt that missionaries are masters of taking things out of contexts, both for the Quran and the Bible. They do this with the hope of explaining the contradictions that they are faced with, as well as trying to fool Muslims into believing that the Quran is corrupted. The verse in question first and foremost begins by saying:
Those who believed and who were Jews…
The verse refers to those who have believed (past tense) and who were amongst the groups of the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabeans etc. Anyone who believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment and did good deeds will have their reward with their Lord and will not be afraid and will not be sad. Second, the Quran is very clear that these groups or categories believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment. What kind of belief? These groups believed in the pillars of faith of Islam. Unless Shamoun and his likes are ready to admit that Christians and Jews believe in the Allah of Islam, he needs to admit that his claim is invalid. The theology that is expected of these Jews, Christians and Sabeans that the Quran is referring to is the theology of Islam, hence they become Muslims, they submit, and they are followers of the truth. Contrary to the ideas held by Sam and his likes, the Quran does not talk in these verses about the Jews and Christians who have corrupt beliefs about prophets (i.e Jesus is God or Jesus is the son of an adulteress), but the ones who have proper faith or aqeedah in Allah and the Day of Judgment:
Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration.
They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.
This is the group of Jews and Christians who are Muslims. They have submitted to Allah, they pray the night prayer and they believe in Allah and the Last Day, the same attribute that is mentioned in the verse in question (those who believed in Allah and the Last Day).
We will give a few instances from the Quran to show that in order to differentiate between the different groups of believers the past and present Allah uses terms such as هادوا and والصابئون and النصارى which refers to believing Jews, Sabeans, Christians and not the religion of these groups (with their theology as we know it today). The first example is:
It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who submitted (literally in Arabic it says ASLAMU اسلموا) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book…
As we can see Allah is referring to Jews as Muslims as they are the believers of the past, the ones who were followers of Moses and the prophets of old. These were people with a different shariah (set of laws) but wit the same creed and theology of Muslims today.
The second example is:
For the iniquity of the Jews We made unlawful for them certain (foods) good and wholesome which had been lawful for them; in that they hindered many from Allah's Way;
As one can clearly see from above that the group of believers is identified as Jews. Allah (whoever believes in Allah) made certain foods unlawful for them because of their sins.
O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of Allah: As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples, "We are Allah's helpers!" then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed.
This verse explains ‘ansar’ a word from which the word ‘nasarah’ which is translated as Christians comes. The root word is نصر which means help or victory. As we see above the address is to those who believe as in the verse in surah 2 (the subject of this paper). At the same time we see that a portion of the Children of Israel or the Jews believed while others did not. Both groups are called Children of Israel, the difference between them being faith in Allah. The same way those who believed and those who were Jews and Christians and Sabeans… who believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment, are given their respective names but their common attribute is that they believe. They did not share the theology of corrupt people from their groups and they submitted themselves to belief in Allah. With the same token the Jews and Christians are described as non believing groups in the Quran, showing without a shadow of a doubt that such groups have a great deal to worry about when it comes to the Day of Judgment on account of their lack of faith in Allah and because of their rejection of the truth:
Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.
The final example connects all the points showing the clear evidence that amongst the people of the book are those who follow the truth and they are Muslims:
When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah's helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.
Explanation by Scholars
Ibn Kathir in his exegesis brings an excellent point on the context of such verses. He says that the previous verses talk about the people who disobeyed Allah, while the next verses talk about those from amongst the Jews and Christians and Sabeans who obeyed Allah and believed (hence the past tense used in the verse). He makes reference to Quran 10:62:
No doubt! Verily, the Awliya' of Allah, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve
To be noticed that the verse ends the same way 2:62 and other related verses end with: no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.
In another case he gives the reference to the following verse that puts people like Shamoun in a very uncomfortable situation to either admit that Christians believe in the same Allah as Muslims or rest their case:
Verily, those who say: "Our Lord is Allah,'' and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): "Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!'').
We see that the main reason why such people will have paradise is because they believe in Allah just as the verse in 2:62 says: whoever believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment.
Ibn Abbas is reported to have said:
Allah does not accept any deed or work from anyone, unless it conforms to the Law of Muhammad that is, after Allah sent Muhammad. Before that, every person who followed the guidance of his own Prophet was on the correct path, following the correct guidance and was saved.
I believe that these examples are enough to show the clarity of the issue at hand and to remove any misconceptions and misinterpretations.
The Final Abode of non-Muslims
It is without a doubt that many scholars of Islam such as Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn Qayyim held the opinion that people who lived in the periods of the fatrah (interval between two prophets) their case will be with Allah on the Day of Judgment and He will not wrong them. They have quoted as proof:
And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning)
At the same time it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that those who hear the message and reject it will go to hell. Today Islam is propagated and spread through many media channels and most people have heard or learned about Islam. Islam is being taught in secular universities, high schools and grade schools. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
By the One in Whose hand is my soul, no one of this nation, Jew or Christian, hears of me then dies without having believed in that with which I was sent, but he will be one of the people of the Fire.
Some Muslims also try to say that non-Muslims will go to paradise or that they will be forgiven but rationality and proofs dictate otherwise. If anyone knows and hears about Islam and Muhammad they are held accountable and they will be punished. At the same time the concept of fitrah (natural disposition to believe in one God) that was imbedded in every single person when they were created is something that every non-Muslim will have to answer for:
And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we have testified." [This] - lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, "Indeed, we were of this unaware."
In conclusion we see that the Quran is very clear and very precise in the way it describes different groups of believers from the past and present. Islam calls to the submission and belief in Allah the Lord of the Worlds. Anyone who shuns this belief, who refuses to submit to this apparent truth, will be accountable and susceptible for punishment on the Day of Judgment. Missionaries and orientalists have been following the trend of attacking the Quran and Islam on baseless assumptions and objections for centuries. They have spent significant time and resources in trying to misguide Muslims and non-Muslims alike from the truth of the matter. Jews, Christians, Sabeans and any other nation, are described as separate groups in the Quran. When they believed in Allah and the Day of Judgment they became believers, just as many do today all over the world. Upon them there shall be no fear nor will they grieve.
Indeed Allah knows the best!
 Peace Be Upon Him – the standard salutation as reported in the hadith: Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saying: “Whoever supplicates Allah to exalt my mention (i.e., send salah), Allah will exalt his mention (i.e., send salah) ten times and remove from him ten sins and raise him ten degrees.” [Muslim]
 Najashi of Abyssinia, Heraclius of Rome, delegations of Bedouins etc. Ibn, Ishāq Muhammad, and Alfred Guillaume. The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ishāq's Sīrat Rasū L Allāh. Karachi: Oxford UP, 1955. Print.
 When Mughira ibn Shu’aib(R) was sent to Najran, by Prophet Muhammad(P), the Christians of that place asked him: “Do you read in the Qur’an Mary (mother of Jesus) being mentioned as the sister of Aaron, while you know that Jesus was born long, long time after Moses? As he could not answer, on his return to Medinah, he posed the question to the Prophet, whereupon he said: “They (the people of the old age or Israelites) used to name their children after their Prophets and pious persons who had gone before them.” (Muslim – Hadith No.5326). Ashrof, Mohamad V A. "Mary, the Sister of Aaron?" Bismika Allahuma. N.p., 14 Oct. 2005. Web. 26 July 2012. <http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/archives/2005/mary-the-sister-of-aaron/>.
 N.A. Newman, an Islamologist of America, attacked Qur’an citing the verses 19:28-29: “An apparent mistake of Muhammad, whereby Mary the mother of Jesus was also thought to be Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron”. Ibid.
 Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans - those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. Quran 2:62
 Also 5:69
 Quran 2:62
 For a list see http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions, however I have to be fair and say that some examples are NOT TRUE and as Muslims we should not act like missionaries do and just pile everything together for the sake of showing some contradictions. We need to be fair and objective and say that many contradictions are present in the Bible, however many examples that are brought forth are not contradictions but misunderstandings that can be solved easily.
 Belief in Allah, angles, the books, the messengers, the day of judgment, and divine decree. "Mission Islam." Mission Islam. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2012. <http://www.missionislam.com/>.
 Even though Arab Christians and Jews say Allah to God, they do not share the same theology.
 Quran 3:113-114
 Quran 5:44
 Quran 4:160
 Quran 61:14
 The root word of Yahud is a word that means, `repenting', just as Musa said in 7:156
 Quran 98:6
 Quran 3:52
 "Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Quran Tafsir." Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Quran Tafsir. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2012. <http://qtafsir.com/>.
 Quran 41:30
 Ibn Kathir via Ali Bin Abi Talhah from ibn Abbas
 N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2012. <http://www.islamqa.com/>.
 For more on this topic you can read our article at http://www.islamicsearchcenter.com/archive/2011/03/about-those-who-do-not-recieve-the-message-of-islam/
 Quran 17:15
 Narrated by Imam Muslim 153
 Quran 7:172