Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fundamental Differences of Three Faiths; Views of the North

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Fundamental Differences of Three Faiths; Views of the North

Article excerpt

THE letter you published on Friday, May 31, from Mr Jack Fletcher was a welcome corrective to so much of the vitriolic outpourings against the Muslim community that originate in the less responsible sections of the British press.

His experience over the years as a tutor to Muslim students whose kindness and fellowship he was able to enjoy has given him a perspective that is rounded and realistic.

However, his statement that the message of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is 'do as you would be done by' is a simplification of a complex historical relationship in which the three faiths differ substantially in their fundamental beliefs.

To a Jewish believer, Christianity is an irritant in that its message amounts to telling him that his view of his own religion is inadequate and requires an additional covenant to be complete.

To a Muslim, Christianity is an anachronism in that the last word on true religion has been dictated by Allah to Muhammad, the final seal of the prophetic tradition. Jesus was, in this view, a forerunner of Islam.

Christianity, on the other hand, maintains that God has spoken not in commands but in his Son, God made man, who redeemed mankind and whose way of life men are invited to imitate.

That way of life is seen by Christians as consistent with the core of Judaic values embodied in the Scriptures.

In order to achieve some modus vivendi between the three different traditions, there is a need for perfect honesty and clarity about what the fundamental beliefs of each religion are and how they were arrived at. This is impossible to achieve if one is not allowed to criticise each other's premises and assumptions.

To a Muslim, to delve into the formation of the text of the Qur'an and the date of its composition is taboo, whereas Jewish and Christian scholars, especially over the last 150 years, have subjected their sacred texts to a thoroughgoing critical examination using the tools of linguistics, history and archaeology. …

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