Interactive Editorials, January 2004, www.aljazeerah.info
Six Questions About Islam, Muslims and Jews
By Hassan El-Najjar and Andee Goldman
Al-Jazeerah, January 25, 2004
I have read a lot of books on Islam and have a few questions.
1. Is it correct when a person dies, he does not go to heaven or hell until the Day of Judgment? Where does the soul stay?
2. How is the Nation of Islam part of Islam?
3. Does Islam includes parts of the Old and New Testaments?
4. Do Muslims believe that Adam was black and Eve was tan? where did white come from?
5. Islam was started in the Middle East. Is it the major religion of Arabs?
6. Is Islam supposed to respect the Jewish and Christians Books?
Thank you very much,
1. According to Islamic teachings, accountability will be in the Day of Judgment, not before. All souls go to heavens waiting for the Day of Reckoning. Then, believers go to Paradise and non-believers go to Hell.
2. I'm not much knowledgeable about followers of the Nation of Islam in the US. However, if they profess that there is no god except Allah and Muhammed is His messenger. And if they believe in the Holy Qur'an and the Sunna (teachings) of the Prophet, as the two major sources of Islam, then they are Muslims.
3. Islam means peace. It also means surrendering one's will to God. This means the belief that only God can benefit you or can cause you harm. Islam is the religion that God taught to humans on this planet through the senior angel, Jibril (Gabriel). It was revealed to humanity in different stages when people needed guidance. Thus, the message of Islam was taught through Adam, Noah, Ibrahim (Abraham), Abraham's descendants (Ismael, Isaac, and Jacob), Moses, Jesus Christ, and Muhammed, to name the most prominent of the messengers.
Thus, the Old Testament (the Torah) and the New Testament (the Engel) are Books of Islam, too. All messengers of God are considered Muslims, and we don't differentiate among them.
However, the Holy Qur'an, the word of God in Arabic, does not include chapters or sections of the two Books. Rather, it includes the same teachings. It completes them and gives a judgment about points of disagreement between Jews and Christians. An example of that is regarding Jesus Christ. While Jews did not believe in him, Christians believe in him as the Messiah and also the son of God.
The Holy Qur'an has supported Christians in that he was the Messiah but did not support them in their belief that he was the son of God. God, Allah, was not born of anybody, has never given birth to anyone, and there is nothing like Him.
4. There is nothing in the Holy Qur'an about the colors of Adam and Eve. So, this is not an Islamic teaching.
But if you want a scientific explanation about human skin color, it's found in anthropology. Simply, this is a pigmentation the human skin develops in relation to the sun heat and the sun ultra violate rays, which cause cancer. People living on the equator (where the sun is closest to the Earth's surface) have the darkest skin color. As they move to the north and to the south, away from the equator, the need for darker skin becomes less and less, until the skin becomes fairest near the arctic circle.
5. Yes, Islam started in the Middle East, where it was preached by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed. The vast majority of Arabs, more than 95 percent, are Muslims. However, the vast majority of Muslims are not Arabs. They constitute more than 1.3 billion people living in all continents but concentrate in Asia and Africa, where God gave them most of the Earth's oil.
6. Muslims not only respect the Old Testament and the New Testament but they also believe in them. And a person cannot be a Muslim if he or she does not believe that they were Books of God. However, Muslims are instructed to believe that the Holy Qur'an is the Book of God that has superseded and transcended His previous Books.
In interactive editorials, the editor of Al-Jazeerah answers questions and or responds to comments of readers, which are more general than readers' responses to specific articles or issues. It is an effective method of interaction in electronic journalism, particularly because it addresses readers' concerns.
Dr. Hassan A. El-Najjar is a sociologist and cultural anthropologist. He is the editor of Al-Jazeerah.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.