I was raised as an Episcopalian, which is a Protestant denomination. I attended St. John's Episcopal Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. However, by the time I was 10 years old, there were already questions in my mind about the validity of my religion. I can recall asking my Sunday school teacher questions like, "If Jesus was the son of God, how is it possible that he died on the cross?"
As my questions became more pointed and specific, the Sunday school teacher would eventually always say, "We just have to have faith and believe. We cannot know the answers to these questions."
This did not satisfy me, because I felt that needed to know the ultimate answer to every question. As a result, I dropped out of the church. I was "confirmed" into the Episcopal Church by Bishop Marmon, the Bishop of Virginia, when I was 11, but rarely went to church after that.
My brother was exactly the opposite. He attended church every Sunday faithfully without fail. He even earned a five-year perfect attendance pin, never missing church even one Sunday for five years, although he failed the seventh grade in school because he went to school less than half the time. I suspect that this is a reason why my brother is messed up in the head now.
I had just about forgotten about religion altogether until I visited Afghanistan in 1976. This was my first contact with Islam. I knew nothing about Islam. I was under the general impression that Muslims had some weird and mystical beliefs. I was surprised to learn that the Muslims studied the Qur’an in such detail and had discussions about the legal interpretations of specific points.
This never really happens in Christianity, because Christianity does not provide any exact rules of conduct. There are the ten commandments of the Old Testament and the "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" of the New Testament, but other than that, there is almost nothing.
This was one of my objections to Christianity going back to when I was 10 years old. I learned in church that the Bible, both
the old and the new testaments, were all "revealed" by God. Yet, there were obviously hundreds of different authors. Had they all said the same thing, I could have understood that they were all getting their information from one common source. However, it was obvious from any sort of detailed study of the Bible that there were all sorts of errors and contradictions and that one person could not have written it all.
More importantly, the Bible is simply a history book. Except for the chapters which lay down Mosaic law, including what kind of food to eat and the punishment for various crimes, there is no real information about what to do and what not to do. There is the general injunction: "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Jesus wrote nothing. Therefore, I was surprised to see that in Islam, every action that a man takes is affected by his religion. The Qur’an provides comprehensive information about how to conduct life. At the same time, it does not tell you to sit in a corner and chant all day and all night. Muslims are active, practical people, who get things done every day.
After my visit to Afghanistan, I started to study this religion. I read lots of books. What surprised and attracted me that there were no barriers or secret areas, which were unknowable. I never arrived at a point where someone said, "That question cannot be answered. You just have to believe and have faith." In Islam, everything could be known. Scientific breakthroughs and discoveries were encouraged. There was no hocus-pocus.
Of particular importance to me was that Islam provided important answers to the fundamental questions which Christianity refuses to answer in any reasonable or logical manner. For example, Christians are completely muddled about who Jesus was. Sometimes, he is the son of God. Other times, he is God himself. I often debate these questions with Christians. They say that the "Holy Trinity," consisting of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost, are all part of one "godhead" or else are three different manifestations for the same thing.
This has always sounded like a lot of nonsense to me. I cannot find the word "godhead" anywhere in the Bible, so what is the authority for this?
The Qur’an answers this question in a simple and logical manner. Jesus was a man. Mohammed was also a man. So were Adam, Noah, Abraham and the other noteworthy personalities. They were born, lived and died just like other men. The only thing, which separated them from other men, which made them special, is that God spoke through them. They were the prophets of God.
Another problem with Christianity is that any person who does not "believe in Jesus" goes to Hell. Then what about all the Chinese, Japanese, Zulu tribesmen, Amazon Indians, and Australian Aborigines, many of whom may never have heard of Jesus. What about all the people who died before Jesus was born? According to Christianity, none of those people will be allowed to enter Heaven. Yet even a horrible criminal will go to heaven, solely because he "believes in Jesus."
Islam answers that question by saying that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad were not the only Prophets of God. In fact, there have been more than 100,000 prophets of God. Every race and culture in the history of the world has had its own prophet of God. Therefore, every person who has ever lived has had an equal chance to enter Heaven.
Regarding the problem that Jesus did not write the Bible and indeed did not write anything at all and that it is generally accepted that none of the authors of the New Testament of the Bible ever met Jesus, the simple fact is that all of the Qur’an came from the mouth of Muhammad (peace be upon him), who was illiterate. However, his followers wrote down every word.
n Courtesy of www.anusha.com
Reproduced from Arab News