Apology to Jews and Christians is a chapter from the book American Muslim Agenda available at Amazon and Kindle
Who does God love the most? It is the one who forgives and seeks forgiveness. The wisdom is simple; by forgiving, you find yourselves free from tensions and guilt. You don’t have to run away from a social gathering if you see that person who has harmed you. Once you forgive, you can see eye to eye with anyone and live freely without fear.
A month before my late wife Najma passed away, we made a list of all the things that would release her from tensions and free her. One of them was a conflict with our friend Mansoor Shah during a planning session for a fundraiser for Zindagi Trust, an educational foundation. After that, no matter which gathering we went, either they would find an excuse to get the hell out of the party, or both of them were tense and did not want to face each other. It went for several years.
I called Mansoor Shah and told him that Najma might not live more than a few months and that he needed to visit her and clear the air. He pretended, “There is no problem with Najma Apa. I respect her tremendously.” But when he and Najma faced each other, both of them cried and forgave each other. It remains a great example, and the comfort remains the bottom line of forgiveness.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was an ultimate peacemaker. In each conflict he dealt with, he saw a room for mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill among competing tribes. Fifteen examples are commonly told about his fairness and justice, but seldom Muslims have seen the underlying message of conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance.
God wants his creation to live without apprehensions; that is the chief purpose of religion—any religion and most certainly Islam.
Apology to Jews, Christians, and Others
I am pleased to tender my apologies to Jews, Christians, Hindus, and others who are offended by the few verses of the Quran. In fact, they are not the verses; they are the flawed translations.
If you are a Jew, Christian, Hindu, or the other and happen to pick a “free” copy of the Quran and read the first chapter as it happens frequently, you may find it pleasant for a few minutes, and then you would probably choke.
The very first sentence “In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful” may sound good. Maybe you would say Jesus, Krishna, Yahweh, or another name in whatever language you may be familiar with but then decide Allah is okay too. It is another way of addressing the creator.
The second verse reads, “All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds.” You may get excited and say, “Wow, praise the Lord, Brother.” That’s right. All praise is due to God alone; if you are a Hindu, you may invoke Vishnu.
The third verse sounds similar to the first one. However, the first one is really not the first one but an introductory verse for every one of the 114 chapters, except one where it is placed in the middle for a purpose.
So far, so good.
What comes now is Quran 1:4 “Lord of the Day of Judgment!” You may find that interesting as well. It sounds like the Muslims also believe in the day of reckoning or see the law of karma operating, that is, you shall reap what you sow. It is about accountability.
Going to Quran 1:5 “Thee alone do we worship; and unto Thee alone do we turn for aid,” you may nod and feel right that you picked another excellent book to read.
Here comes the next; Quran 1:6 says, “Guide us the straight way.” You may or may not ponder, but you are eager to finish the first chapter and go to the next line.
Watch out now. You may spill your coffee from the rude shock you get and perhaps get offended. You may just close the book and look again on the cover as if to make sure it is the Quran you are reading, and it is.
The Quran 1:7 was “The Way of those on whom you have bestowed Your Grace, not [the way] of those who earned Your Anger [such as the Jews], nor of those who went astray [such as the Christians].” Depending on the level of your disgust, you may drop the book or use different words or be determined to find the truth.
That would be my response too, and indeed, that was my response nearly two decades ago.
Peace be upon you, my friends.
For thousands of years, Muslims—like Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhist, Zoroastrians, or others—simply recited the verses in Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Pali, Aramaic, Latin, or other languages, without paying attention to what it really meant. It was a ritual; it was needed to be read. You read it, and off you went.
A few years ago, one of my friends gave me the looks of disbelief when I said the word Islam meant “peace.” Later on, he opened the first page of the Quran, and his finger went right to verse 7. I was completely taken aback. I knew something was not right about that translation. God could not have said that, but I could not deny the fact of what I saw. I had no words, and my mind was racing to drop out of this or search for the truth.
It was quite an awakening to me as it would have been to those Jews, Christians, Hindus, and others who may have read this particular verse and perhaps sixty other verses that had a similar tone.
I became acutely aware of the different translations that were available and became conscious of the fact that most of the average people do not pay attention to the meaning of the words of the holy book or any religious text, for that matter, as religion is no more than a ritual for many.
Now with all my humility, I apologize to my Hindu, Christian, and Jewish friends in particular and all others in general for not doing our part, fixing the translations of the Quran.
Please don’t throw away the mistranslated Quran you have on your hands. Know for sure what you have read was not what God meant; it was a flawed translation.
I became passionate about finding the truth and held Quran conferences and gave a presentation on scriptural reading at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. The process found about sixty verses that have been purposely mistranslated down through history. In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders. Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews. It was all for politics, and I will be sharing the full story in my next book.
That lousy translation was the work of Hilali-Khan who found a reference in Ibn Kathir’s writings. Both were wrong to misinterpret God’s word, and we are wrong for not detecting early on. Thanks to the efforts of many American Muslims and a delegation from Saudi Arabia sponsored by the Department of State who has been instrumental in fixing a few of the mistranslations, particularly Quran 1:7. The prints after 2014 have the correction.
The State Department has a visitor’s program where they bring Muslim ministers and clergy from around the world. I have given a presentation on American religious landscape to nearly thirty such groups, including the mufti from China and Russia and most of the Middle Eastern nations.
Quran and Inclusiveness
It may come as a rude shock to Muslims who do not read the Quran that God will take care of those who takes care of his creation without prejudice. You don’t have to be a Muslim to earn God’s grace. All you have to do is care for his creation. There is a story to make that point.
A lady of ill repute once found a thirsty cat that was about to die. She makes the time to go find water from a distant spring in the desert, and the cat lived on. The Prophet said that God will forgive that lady’s sinful life. Islam is all about caring for fellow beings and creating cohesive societies where no one has to live in fear. Of course, Muslims are humans like Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others and do not fully follow the guidelines of their religion.
God could not be more precise than this. He honors those who care for his creation.
It appears that religious men are trained to send people from different religious backgrounds to hell as if God were sneaky and made deals with others behind our backs.
Let it be clear that the Quran does not monopolize on God; neither the Quran was written for Muslims. It was for all humanity, and we share his creation with all other living beings.
According to the Quran, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
We have honored the children of Adam, and provided them with rides on land and in the sea. We provided for them good provisions, and we gave them greater advantages than many of our creatures. (Quran 17:70)
The Quran gives everyone the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in GOD has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient. (Quran 2:256)
Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of the person.
O you who believe, equivalence is the law decreed for you when dealing with murder—the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. If one is pardoned by the victim’s kin, an appreciative response is in order, and equitable compensation shall be paid. This is an alleviation from your Lord and mercy. Anyone who transgresses beyond this incurs a painful retribution. (Quran 2:178)
You shall not kill any person—for GOD has made life sacred—except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce the judgment. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder, he will be helped. (Quran 17:33)
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without distinction of any kind.
Say, “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.” (Quran 2:136)
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing.
Let’s learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us. Then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.