British "Cardinal Celebrates Ramadan at Home"

As-Salāmu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullāhi wa Barakātuhu, dear Salibi – sister

What is faith (in Arabic, ʾīmān)?

According to Hamiduddin Farahi, ʾīmān is:

‘The certitude which exists with humility, trust and all the conditions and corollaries of adherence to a view.’ (‘Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr’ – my emphasis).

Compare: ‘Now faith is the conviction concerning those things that are in hope, as if it were these things in action, and the revelation of those things that are unseen.’ (Hebrews 11:1 – Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

Without ʾīmān it is not possible for a person to be a Muslim.

The Qur’an is quite clear that ʾīmān must be accompanied by righteous deeds: ‘We create man in the finest state then reduce him to the lowest of the low, except those who believe and do good deeds – they will have an unfailing reward . After this, what makes you (man) deny the Judgement?’ (Al-Tin: 4-7 – my emphasis).

Compare:

‘And through good works, that we do for our neighbor with love and good cheer, our faith germinates and bears fruit. Let us ask ourselves, is our faith fruitful? Does our faith produce good works? Or is it barren, and therefore more dead than alive? Am I a neighbor, or do I simply walk on by? Am I one of those who choose people according to my taste?’ (Pope Francis: Angelus, July 10, 2016 – quoted in the National Catholic Reporter – 2nd February, 2018).

As you can see, when it comes to the meaning of ʾīmān (of faith) – and the need for it to be expressed in good works – Islam and the Church are as one.

(Continued).

You ask: ‘If there is no obligation to convert, why do some sects (Wahhabis, Salafists) interpret the Qu’ran in a way that’s quite unfavourable to Jews, Druze, and Christians? I do not have in mind murderous terrorists like some Islamic militant groups, but fundamentalist sects that are not terroristic but rather very strict.’

Islamic puritans (an amalgam of Wahhabism and Salafism) are opposed to anyone – be they Jew, Christian or Muslim – who does not share their interpretation of Islam; who is not on their ‘path’.

Khaled Abou El Fadl writes:

‘In this sense, it is accurate to describe the puritanical orientation within Islam as supremacist, for it sees the world from the perspective of stations of merit and extreme polarization.

‘All along the puritans claim to be entirely literal and objective, and to faithfully implement what the texts demand without their personal interference. This claim is simply fraudulent and untrue because in every situation we find that the puritan reading of the text is entirely subjective.

‘Puritans believe that Islam is the only straight path in life, and such a way must be pursued regardless of what others think and regardless of how it impacts the rights and well-being of others. ’ (‘The Great Theft - Wrestling Islam from the Extremists.’)

In short, puritans interpret the Qu’ran in a way that’s quite unfavourable to Jews, Druze, and Christians (and to non-puritan Muslims) because – and simply because – we are not of them.

I repeat, there is no obligation for a Jew or a Christian to convert to Islam. The truth of this statement is – I believe – best seen in the context of marriage.

According to Islamic law a Muslim male may marry a Jew or Christian. His wife has an absolute right, not only to retain her Faith but to practise it. She has no obligation to convert; and may not be coerced into doing so.

I hope this goes some way towards answering your questions.

May Allāh (subḥānahu ūta’āla) bless you, and your family, Salibi; and keep all of you safe in these difficult times.

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