Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:62)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Religious Tolerance vs. Pluralism
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ﴿٦٢﴾
Translation: Indeed the faithful, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaeans—whoever have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
Commentary: This verse declares that eternal prosperity and happiness depends on having faith in Allah (SWT) [Arabic: (آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ)] and in the Day of Judgment [Arabic: (وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ)], accompanied with performing righteous deeds [Arabic: (وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا)]. This is true for everyone including Muslims, Jews, Christians, as well as followers of any other divine messengers such as the Sabeans. This principle is also mentioned in Chapter Al-Maidah 5:69:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالصَّابِئُونَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ ﴿٦٩﴾
5:69 Indeed Muslims, Jews, Sabaeans, and Christians—whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously – they will no fear, nor will they grieve.
Do the aforementioned verses imply that Muslims, Jews, Christians or followers of other divine messengers as long as they believe in God, the Day of Judgment and act righteously are all equally right before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment? Answering this question relies on understanding the concept of faith in God as explained in the Qur’an.
The Concept of Faith in God in the Quran [Arabic: (آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ)]: Belief in Allah (SWT) does not merely imply belief in the existence of God. Rather, it means belief in the existence of God and also belief in the current divine prophet and the scripture. It is an inconceivable claim for one to declare belief in God and to deny His messenger or His scripture at the same time.
Throughout history, Allah (SWT) has sent 124,000 messengers: beginning with Prophet Adam (AS) and ending with the Prophet of Islam (SAW). The mission of each prophet was limited to a specific nation and for a specified time, except the mission of Prophet Mohammad (SAW). He is the divine messenger for all humanity until the end of the time.
The verse asserts that whoever has faith in the prophet of the time and in the Day of Judgment, while also performing righteous deeds will indeed receive salvation in the Hereafter. Righteous deeds are those deeds that are in harmony with the divine revelation of the time. This general guideline holds true for everyone.
For instance, Prophet Musa (AS) was the prophet to the Children of Israel prior to Prophet Isa (AS). Hence, those in that era who believed in Prophet Musa (AS) and who practiced the teachings of the Torah will indeed receive salvation in the Hereafter. Similarly, Prophet Isa (AS) was the prophet to the Israelites prior to Prophet Mohammad (SAW). Those who, in that era, believed in Prophet Isa (AS) and practiced the Bible’s teachings, indeed will have their reward with their Lord. The Qur’an, in many verses, praises the devoted servants amongst the Children of Israel who lived during those times.
Nowadays, the Prophet of Islam is considered as the last divine messenger and the Qur’an as the last revelation. Accordingly, Islam is the religion of salvation now. However, those who are either unaware or headless of its teachings will be judged fairly in the Hereafter.
In conclusion, the Qur’an and the tradition of the Prophet (SAW) advocate religious liberty; history is testimony to this fact. Muslims, Jews and Christians lived side-by-side and each religious group worshipped God peacefully as they pleased. At the same time however, Islam does not concede to the competing beliefs regarding God and salvation.
For instance, Muslims, Jews and Christians agree on the existence of God—yet each religion defines God differently and holds many other irreconcilable beliefs.