And You will find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe to be those who say: ‘Lo! We are Christians.’ That is because there are among them savants and monks, and because they are not arrogant. (Al Quran 5:82)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
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The holy Quran categorically prohibits marriage with idolaters, but allows marriage with the People of the Book, both the Christians and the Jews. The Quran says:
This day are all things good and pure are made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. Lawful unto you in marriage are not only chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects these instructions, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost all spiritual good. (Al Quran 5:5)
So, the Quran recognizes the Christians as the People of the Book and does not condemn them as idolaters.
Regarding marrying idolaters the Quran says:
Marry not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! a believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. They invite unto the Fire, and Allah invites unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expounds His revelations to mankind that they may remember. (Al Quran 2:221)
The holy Quran does not approve of Trinity or divinity of Jesus, may peace be on him, as it says:
Indeed, they deny the truth who say, ‘Behold, God is the third of a trinity’ – when there is no deity whatever save the One God. And unless they desist from this assertion, grievous suffering is bound to befall such of them as are bent on denying the truth. (Al Quran 5:73)
But, as God of Islam is the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful, He does not disregard the attempts on the part of Trinitarian Christians to be Monotheist and be devotees of the One True God:
We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow the previous prophets, and We gave him the Gospel. And We placed in the hearts of those who accepted him compassion and mercy. But monasticism which they invented for themselves — We did not prescribe it for them — for the seeking of Allah’s pleasure; but they did not observe it with due observance. Yet We gave those of them who believed their due reward, but many of them are rebellious. (Al Quran 57:27)
In several verses of the holy Quran, Allah opens the possibility of salvation for the Christians and the Jews and others:
Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 2:62)
Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 5:69)
As to those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians and the idolaters, verily, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; surely Allah is Witness over all things. (Al Quran 22:17)
It is not to say that anything goes. Allah takes a strong exception to those who ascribe partners to All-Knowing and All-Powerful God, for the holy Quran states:
Indeed, Allah does not forgive the ascribing of divinity to aught beside Him, although He forgives any lesser sin unto whomever He wills: for he who ascribes divinity to aught beside God has indeed contrived an awesome sin. (Al Quran 4:49)
A balanced understanding lies in reading all the above and other Quranic verses on the subject in unison, with the humility that ultimately it is up to God to judge in Hereafter and not up to us.
The holy Quran does appreciate the Christians’ struggle to find the Truth and invites them to join hands with the Muslims and others in their pursuit of the God of the Abrahamic faiths in the following words:
Say: ‘O followers of earlier revelation! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take human beings for our lords beside God.’ And if they turn away, then say: ‘Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves unto Him.’ (Al Quran 3:64)