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Cultural Dialogue Between A Muslim & Christian

Narrated By:

Prof. Dr. Eng. Salama Abdel-Hady

Professor of Energy Systems

South Valley University

 

Preface

 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

 I grew up in a village where people’s love to and kindness with each other would never let you think to which religion any of them belongs. I never asked my friends at school who is a Christian and who is a Muslim. We shared the same values, the same features and even very similar names. With this background, I would like to introduce to my readers this dialog between a Muslim scholar and a Christian one. I have read the love and respect they show to each other between the words. The scholars concerned are two colleagues working in one of the high institutes affiliating with an Egyptian local university. Their institute sends them to deliver some lectures somewhere to students. In their way from Cairo to Aswan they engaged in this dialog and recorded it on a cassette tape and then wanted me to listen and enjoy it. They further asked if I would put it into a book without changing the content and put them anonymous. By and large, they see such a dialog as mere personal view which is non binding to scholars of both religions. In fulfillment of my promise to them, I have tried my best to record every single thing without addition or omission. I tried to put it in a arrangement conforming with the number of stops between Cairo and Aswan where they had to stop to eat something or drink something. I pray for your forgiveness for any inconvenience and wish you enjoy the whole thing.  I hope this dialog will increase the love and rapprochement between the citizens of this country; Muslims and Christians. The narratorProf. Salama `Abdel-Hady 

First Stop: Cairo

  Two friends who are working at a faculty of engineering met on the train traveling from Aswan to Cairo. Since they had a long journey ahead, they decided to spend the time in a reasonable and beneficial dialog that went as follow. X: Based on our long friendship, can we discuss one of the most important things that may appear to be critical and untouchable between us though its being the crux of the whole life?Z: You mean our religions! You agree that we belong to the same country, share the same history, and worship the One God. I think there should be no sensitivity in this since we will tackle the issue with objectivity.X: The main purpose of religion is the purification of man’s soul and heart and makes him feel the Greatness of Allah and fulfilling His commands by being an example of righteousness. Therefore,   there is no place for bias or hatred in our discourse and you know how close we are. The main purpose here is to foster this love and respect. We are searching for the truth which is an instruction of Jesus Christ as well as a clear command of the Qur'an: “O mankind! The messenger hath come unto you with the truth from your Lord. Therefore believe; ( it is) better for you. But if ye disbelieve, still, lo! unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth. Allah is ever Knower, Wise.[1]  I will always adhere to the verse that reads: “And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.

Z: It is really a good start since we both believe in the One God, and we are the followers of similar monotheistic religions. In Matthew and Mark and the rest of the books of the New Testament, it is written: “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandment is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; this is the first commandment.” (Mark: 12: 28-30) Also in John, Jesus used to talk to God saying: “that they might know thee the only true God.” (John: 17: 3) Also in Matthew, “None is righteous except God.” He also said: “To the Lord your God, your shall prostrate and Him only your shall worship.” The enemies of Jesus tried to accuse him of polytheism so as to bring him to the court but his assertion that he believes in one God did not allow them to do so.X: That is really good since we cannot see any difference between us. God has reiterated and highlighted this fact, that the belief in the one God is the common ground that brings us together. Almighty Allah says: “Say: O People of the Scripture. Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partners unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him).[3]Z: True Christianity commands the belief in the one true God of course.X: I agree and the Qur'an even tells us that you are near to us in kindness and care. We read: “Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who, believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt 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 priests and monks, and because they are not proud. When they listen to that which hath been revealed unto the messenger, thou seest their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the Truth. They say: Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses.[4] When we were still student, I admired a Christian writer very much. It was Nazmy Luqa who wrote a paper entitled: ‘Muhammad, the Message and the Prophet;. The paper showed me how much love do those Christians carry for Islam and Muhammad. Also note that we were all sons of same forefathers. Our forefathers embraced Islam while yours kept their faith and so we are originally related to each other.Z: We really love you, we share the same country, the same language, the same God and the same blood. I really hold your Prophet and his Companions in high esteem. You do the same when you show a lot of respect to Jesus and his mother. Our Pope and clergymen memorize many Qur’anic verses and repeat them in so many places and public events.X: Muhammad and Jesus tread on the same path. Muhammad is the natural successor of Jesus. Both call for peace, love, salvation and lofty manners. We all believe in Jesus who said: “What if man gains the world but loses himself” and “Son of man came not to destroy the souls of people but to save them.” All these texts show how great manners are there in Christianity. We also respect Virgin Mary and the Qur'an says: “And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation.[5] True Muslims can never deny that Christianity had a great role in purifying the hearts of early Christians who supported Islam at its early stages. One of those is Waraqah ibn Nawfal, the cousin of the Prophet’s wife Khadijah. When Khadijah took the Prophet to him to inquire about the nature of that thing that was revealed unto the Prophet, he told him that he is the long-awaited Prophet and it is the revelation coming to him from the Creator. Also, we all remember the King of Abyssinia who protected early Muslims who migrated to his country and even embraced Islam himself later on. Hercules, the King of the Romans, was convinced with the truthfulness of the Prophet and even tried to convince the delegation of pagan Arabs coming from Mecca that Muhammad is a true Prophet. We had so many of them including Solomon the Persian who converted to Christianity in search of the truth and then was informed by Christian priests that the true Prophet is about to appear in Makkah and then, based upon their instruction, he came to Madinah and waited for the Prophet. People knew Moses and Jesus as Prophet and Muhammad was nothing new then. Furthermore, the world at that time was really in need of a Prophet. I myself listen to the sermons delivered in many Masses and find that the values and morals propagated in these sermons are in no way different from those propagated in Friday sermons. Z: ok, then our dialog is then based on this love propagated by our religions and our main goal here is to find the truth. We should never insult the thinking or the creeds of each other; rather, we should be objective and fair so as to succeed.X: The Qur'an gives us an example of a very polite and excellent dialogue between Abraham and his father: “O my father! Lo! there hath come unto me of knowledge that which came not unto thee. So follow me, and I will lead thee on a right path.[6]   This should be our guide throughout this dialog and I suggest that we record this dialog so that other people could benefit it. Z: With pleasure!

Second Stop: Beni Suef

 Z: Do not you agree that the apparent difference between our faiths should never lead to any kind of enmity or hatred between us since the Qur'an itself stresses this point? X: I surely agree. You also can read in the Qur'an so many verses calling upon Muslims to believe in all Prophets and Messengers: “Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto Us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob. and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, add that which the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.[7] The Qur'an also highlights the fact that if you believe in the One True God, then you are not a polytheist or unbeliever. Allah says: “Whosoever surrendereth his purpose to Allah while doing good, he verily hath grasped the firm hand hold. Unto Allah belongeth the sequel of all things.[8]Z: I myself surrender to the One True God and find tranquility in this. There is a verse in the Qur'an that I love most. It commands us to remember the name of Allah frequently so as to feel tranquility and solace.X: You must be referring to the verse that reads: “Those who believe and do right: Joy is for them, and bliss (their) journey's end.[9] Do you know that a Dutch psychiatrist used to treat people plagued with depression by asking them to repeat the word Allah so many times and found it to be an effective way. He published his research in a scientific magazine this year.Z: I also love to listen to the story of Mary and the proof of her purity and chastity as mentioned in the Surah Maryam in the Qur'an. We Christians learn and memorize a lot of Quranic verses throughout our years of study. We love it a great deal.X: The Qur'an addresses all people not only Muslims and gives joy and benefit to all as Allah says: “O mankind! There hath come unto you an exhortation from your Lord, a balm for that which is in the breasts, a guidance and a mercy for believers.[10] All people are invited to enjoy the guidance and the light of the Qur'an and live within its great mercy. Regular recitation of the Qur'an strengthens one’s faith, and it gives him a feeling of peace and it teaches him how to stick to lofty morals and manners.Z: This is exactly what Jesus said to us. He told us of the coming of another Prophet that is Muhammad. In John, you read: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit if truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that he shall speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16: 13) As Arabic is my mother tongue, I listen to the Qur'an a lot and try my best to do this on regular basis. The words Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Great) give me power and determination.X: I get the same feeling when I am invited to a Christian friend’s wedding in the Church. I feel I am in a Sacred place listening to sacred words and feel no difference between Muslims and Christians. One of my Christian neighbors is so close to me to the extent that people think we are brothers.Z: In my village, Muslims and Christians live together and exchange social visits at happy events and sad events. Even the feats served during the month of Ramadan at the time of breaking the fast, it is served for all people, Muslims and Christians.X: I was extremely happy upon reading the paper written by Dr. Bebawi, a Christian researcher, on Islam where he defended Islam and proved that Islam has never been propagated by the sword; rather, through peaceful and wise call. Furthermore, he proved that all battles of Islam were waged for the very purpose of supporting the weak and defending the oppressed. Muslims who came to Egypt liberated the Copts from the Roman occupier and gave them freedom of faith and never turned their holy sites and churches into mosques. Egyptian Copts helped Muslims to get rid of the Romans who oppressed them. We all know that Muslims permitted Father Benjamin back to Egypt after Romans exiled him and even Amr ibn Al-`As appointed him as  a personal advisor for him.Z: I wholeheartedly believe that the more awareness we have the more love and respect for each other we cherish. When I meet any Egyptian abroad, I never ask if he is a Muslim or Christian, all are the same to me. It is because of this that I greet all with peace which is the command of Jesus himself.X: Absolutely true. I never recall that I have ever dealt with discrimination with Christians or Muslims. I had lots of friends and colleagues but never had that feeling. I also had so many Christian professors and I kept good feelings and showed gratitude to them. I hope Egypt continue enjoying this brotherly spirit, for it saddens me a lot if I meet any person not cherishing the same feelings. We Muslims believe that you are very near to us and we should be peaceful with all those who are peaceful with us. Almighty Allah commands us: “Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo ! Allah loveth the just dealers.” (Al-Mumtahanah: 8)Z: Do you know that all such people who have fanaticism inside their hearts are really immature and lack thinking and real knowledge. Should they read about other religions, they would know how many things we share. I met a lot of people who revere Mary and Jesus. I believe that the strong faith of Muslims have led a lot of my fellow Christians to stick firm to their faith. In Europe, the case is different since atheism is everywhere.X: In Poland where I got my degree, I witnessed how could communists destroy Christianity. They played a dirty game to remove Christian faith from the hearts, they used the contradiction between the statements of Paul and those of Jesus and said that he tried to formulate a new religion that has nothing to do with the religion of Jesus. They made use of the scandals of many Popes like Sergius III,  John X, John XI and John XII and Raspotin.
Z: Yes, but I still believe that a true knowledgeable Christian would never get engaged with things that keep away from his faith and would never rethink of the firm beliefs that have come to him in his Holy Sources.X: Do not you realize that while orientalists could never blemish the truthfulness of Islam or undermine it, those atheists could fight Christianity and destroy it in that place. Islam was born as a strong complete religion with Shari`ah (Law) and life-system. As for Christianity, Jesus started his call by saying: “I came not to initiate, but to fulfill.” So, he was bringing a reforming movement rather than a new system. However, early Christians tried to propagate Christianity as a new religion, thus taking it away from its purpose.Z: In its core, Christianity is strong since it calls for worshipping the one true God. Jesus reiterated: “The first of commandment is: Behold Israel, God is our Lord is One God.” (Mark: 12: 9) Jesus kept saying: “I came to the astray sheep of Israel.” Then Christianity was altered to fit the Romans and the early Egyptians at that time. True Christians underwent a lot of hardship in their attempt to stop this corruption. We really need to purify true Christianity from this corruption and bring it back to its original monotheistic beliefs.X: This true belief is exactly the same as mine, for all Divinely revealed religions are coming for the one purpose and the one call is monotheism. Almighty Allah says: “Is not He (best), Who produceth creation, then reproduceth it, and Who provideth for you from the heaven and the earth? Is there any God beside Allah? Say: Bring your proof, if ye are truthful!” (An-Naml: 64) Since our Lord is one, we will be judged before Him according to one law, same criteria. All Prophets call for good morals. Muhammad says: “Avoid prohibitions and you will be the most devout of all people and be pleased with what Allah has given to you and you will be the richest among people. Be good to your neighbor to be a true believer and love for people what to you love for yourself to be a true Muslim.”  Jesus gives glad tidings to those that are meek that they will inherit the earth. He even said: “Love your enemies” and says: “God is Love” and Prophet Muhammad says: “The thing most weighing in once scale is good manners.” He also explains: “I have been sent to perfect the good morals.”Z: I believe in this in my heart of hearts. The deeper man’s faith is and the wider his knowledge is, the loftier his morals become and the purer his heart is. He will cooperate with all people and be good to all.X: I hope all religious leaders and clergy understand these principles in full and gather followers of both religions on love. Muslims believe in the other i.e. they believe that Christianity is a true religion, they believe in Jesus as a prophet and great reformer and that the Gospel is light. Almighty Allah says: “And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil).” (Al-Ma’idah: 46) Z: We had a very simple man in my village whom my father put to the service of the church. Later on he was proclaimed a priest and father. This man kept on describing Muslims as being enemies to Christianity due to his lack of knowledge. He did not go that deep in studying religion, though he was supposed to do so. However, people kept on going to him for confession and getting their sins forgiven. You know that people interpreted some texts in the Gospel to justify the confession, though the fact that there is no clear-cut evidence that priests are able to forgive sins. Such an issue annoyed me a lot and I was almost turning to be an atheist. However, I believed in my heart that the Kingdom of God is boundless and His Forgiveness is manifold and He needs no mediation.X: I believe too that forgiveness of sins and accepting repentance is the authority of God only and only Him can forgive and accept His sinful servants. The Qur'an testifies to this fact saying: “The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Stern in punishment, the Bountiful. There is no God save Him. Unto Him is the journeying.”  (Ghafir: 3) and also: “Ask forgiveness for them (O Muhammad), or ask not forgiveness for them; though thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times Allah will not forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.” (At-Tawbah: 80) Not a single clergy can claim this authority to himself and I believe it is a total corruption to believe that a human like you can forgive you, since we are all equal before God and to Him only we should return. Almighty Allah says: “Say: Verily those who invent a lie concerning Allah will not succeed. This world's portion (will be theirs), then unto Us is their return. Then We make them taste a dreadful doom because they used to disbelieve.” (An-Nahl: 69-70)Z: I believe that priests who claim such an authority in the past had no enough knowledge and were unable to converse and argue with people regarding certain points in the Christian faith and that is why they resorted to this fake thing to cover their faults and deficiencies. X: Muslim scholars, I believe, should always be the graduates of Al-Azhar since the study in Al-Azhar gives them deep knowledge and make them well-versed in all fields of Islamic knowledge. I know that every Muslim should read extensively about Islam and know the matters of his religion. But the catastrophe happens when people who have no deep knowledge or understanding stand up to issue fatwas and give their views in religious issues.Z: Yes, the same happens when a priest with very small amount of knowledge or no knowledge at all takes the position of leading people and giving them religious guidance. In that case, he will brand all other religions as disbelief and call other people heretics and will over-occupy himself with the authorities give to him by the church and go far in very evil ways of thinking and behaving. In all these cases, people would find no way but to resort to atheism and cast religion aside. You know that Jesus explained that the true life is to know God; so knowledge is the way to success. He said in John 16: 3: “Such is the eternal life that they know You, the one true God and Jesus Christ whom You sent.”X: It appears that your thinking is very much in consistence with Islam; that is the belief in the One true God Who is far from any associates and showing reverence and servitude to Him since He is the Creator of this Universe. Almighty Allah says: “Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, then mounted He the Throne. He covereth the night with the day, which is in haste to follow it, and hath made the sun and the moon and the stars subservient by His command. His verily is all creation and commandment Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!” (Al-A`raf: 54) And also: “He is Allah, than whom there is no other God, the Knower of the invisible and the visible. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is Allah, than whom there is no other God, the Sovereign Lord the Holy One, Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him). He is Allah, the Creator, the Shaper out of naught, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.” (Al-Hashr: 22-24)Z: Such verses call upon man to show submission to God Who created this universe. It is because of this that Muslim scientists used to use the word ‘Creation’ instead of ‘Nature’ because the former shows that it is created by Allah and its laws are celebrating His bounties and singing the hymns of His Ultimate Glory. Research in this field of knowledge was meant to please Allah and was thus a form of showing gratitude to Him. That is why science showed a great deal of advancement at the hands of those early Muslim scientists while early priests of Medieval Ages oppressed scholars and persecuted them and thought of knowledge as being an opponent to religion.At that moment, the train arrived at Al-Minya Stop and we had to pause for a while.  

Third Stop: Minya

 X: I have a firm belief that one of the main reasons that Islam is still as strong till the present time as it was at its early days is that Almighty Allah has preserved the Qur'an from corruption and alteration. Being the final message to humanity, Islam brought us back to the pure innate of man and recorded its guidance in the Qur'an as brought by Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad. Such guidance was kept intact in its original form throughout centuries and many Muslim scholars started getting knowledge and explaining the details of this Shari`ah. Now, the Qur'an stands as the ultimate source of guidance and the standing proof for the truthfulness of Muhammad and Islam. Almighty Allah says: “O mankind! Now hath a proof from your Lord come unto you, and We have sent down unto you a clear light.” (An-Nisa’: 175) Almighty Allah also says: “There is not an animal in the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.” (Al-An`am: 38) It tells us the stories of the early nation so that we take admonition as it says: “In their history verily there is a lesson for men of understanding. It is no invented story but a confirmation of the existing (Scripture) and a detailed explanation of everything, and a guidance and a mercy for folk who believe.” (Yusuf: 111)Z: You are quite right. In its words and style, the Qur'an was miraculous. Arabs of that time were unable to produce the like of it though they mastered language and eloquence. The miracle of Qur'an is of an eternal nature meaning that it stays till the Day of Judgment.X: Every sensible person would surely believe that Qur'an is coming from the Divine Source since it contains miracles of all types; philosophical, legislative, moral, spiritual and scientific. At the time of its revelation, the Qur'an represented a challenge to Arabs who declared their inability to match it or even produce what is as small as one verse.Z: This great book helped Muslims stand firm and stick to their religion, follow their Prophet and apply their rituals. It was interesting to me to think scientifically in some verses of Qur'an. Such thoughts you may find in Appendix III. You will find how such verses are pointing to the miracles in the universe through a high scientific approach.Z. I think such verses motivated and guided the first believers to make scientific researches in all branches of science.X. Really, the Quran had this influence in the start of Islam. When Europe was passing the dark ages, or the middle ages, the Muslims were living golden ages in the period from the seventh century to the fifteenth century. The founders of most branches of sciences were Muslims. I hope you shouldn’t consider that the Islam is tied with the east or west. Now, the Muslims are spread allover the world. So, don’t consider that the lagged east is the Islam’s area and the developed west is the Christianity’s area because it is a misleading statement. However, you may see an article in the “Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia” concerning the Islamic Renaissance. I hope to read it, discover that we are so enlightened from the start of believing in Islam as we are not casting the superstition and fear of the medieval world in our belief. The number of pioneering Muslim Scientists who had their favor on different branches of sciences, as recorded in the encyclopedia are more than 300 scientists. Their books are found in many international libraries all over the world. As you say; Quran urges to discover the natural laws which governed the universe and which led to scientific, political and social advances. Discovering these laws show us the wisdom of God in His Creation and keeping such universe in order.  Here are two verses from the holy Quran (from Surat Al-Omran), which shows that the Quran was the scientific way for the whole human civilization:
[190-191] Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (with the thought): "Our Lord! Not for naught hast thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the Penalty of Punishment.
 Z. Your scientific faith in God strengthens our Christian faith in Egypt, as both of us are sharing the same country, Muslim and Christians in Egypt worked together to stick each to his own faith. That is why Egyptian Christians did not experience the same problems Westerners had like atheism. Due to their lacking of an eternal miracle that keeps their hearts at ease, you can find that Christians believe that Virgin Mary appears sometimes, something which has been misused by some fabricators who use media means and cinema stuff to produce some images and give people a fake belief of something like that.X: Christianity did not have such a strong start as that of Islam. The record of the life of Prophet Muhammad shows that in a number of years as small as 23 years he was able to establish a state that fought against the Super Powers of the world; Persians and Romans. In less than one century after the death of Prophet Muhammad, the Companions were able to carry this guidance to the whole world. They were trustworthy protectors and heirs of this religion. Contrary to this, Christianity started as a religion coming for the main purpose of guiding the astray sheep of Israel and then, after the death of its founder, people subjected it to their whims and inclination and altered its heritage in a way that led, in the end, to the clergy appointing themselves mediators between people and their Lord. Z: You are quite right. Some clergy still insist that they stand between man and his Lord, they say they have connection with God and it is only them who can understand Christianity and its secrets. They even go farther to say that none of their people can be near to God as they do. This led them to claim that if anyone annoys them, he will be harmed. Such beliefs still exist at this age of science and technology where people have been liberated from superstitions.X: I believe that the main role of Muslim scholars and religious leaders is guiding people and telling them what is religiously correct and what is wrong. You can find very simple people who have studied religion and apply what they have learnt. So the basic notion of religion is to inculcate in man the sense of loving and respecting God as well as fearing to commit sins. In this way, man will gain God’s love and satisfaction. Almighty Allah says: “Lo! Verily the friends of Allah are (those) on whom fear (cometh) not, nor do they grieve. Those who believe and keep their duty (to Allah)? Theirs are good tidings in the life of the world and in the Hereafter. There is no changing the Words of Allah that is the Supreme Triumph.” (Yunus: 62-64) Therefore, we Muslims looks at our scholars and religious leaders as people who are specialized in Islam but have no authority other than the respect that is given to them by merit of knowledge. Simple people can, by means of their faith and God loving, gain Allah’s pleasure and assistance. As for those whose hearts are full of arrogance and pride, they have no place in Islam. In Islam, there is no place for mediators, since man has a direct connection with Allah through direct praying in any place.Z: The concept of religious leaders in Islam is different from that found in Christianity since our Christian religious leaders believe that they are near to Jesus and thus have the authority to be mediators between God and people.X: Yes, this is what the Qur'an blamed them for when telling: “They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no god save Him. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!” (At-Tawbah: 31) Following this was of thinking is really dangerous since it gives man a feeling that he works under the authority of someone other than God and he does not have direct connection with his Creator. This has led to many people revolting against priests during the Medieval ages and shunned the idea of religion altogether.Z. The Muslims believe the truth of their book; Qur'an. So, they believe its guidance and way called as "Straight Path" and try to follow it strictly. But the Christians are confused. I read an article in times online of title: Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible", By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent, timesonline. This article states, according to the Pope, that there are many altered or corrupted verses in the Bible. Paul also asked his followers not to follow the guidance of the Law, Old Testament, since, as he claimed, it is weak and useless. Really, I read in his message to the Hebrew that the Law (Torah) is weak, useless and imperfect: 7:18 On the one hand a former command (Old Testament) is set aside because it is weak and useless, 7:19 for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. So, Paul claimed that a better hope is in his own words or the words of some men who claimed to have special secrets. What are such secrets which delete a Holy Book, the Law, which was sent from God.  X: So, Paul command deleted God's command which is the Former Commands. I think this is against Jesus instructions:   He follows the same Law of Moses and he insisted that the Law cannot be changed, in Mark we read: But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tiny stroke of a letter in the law to become void. (16:17). He told also that it is not permissible to him to change any word in the Law: in Mathew we read: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.(5:17-18)Z: That is why people called the religion of Paul as "Pauline Christianity", and the original Christianity as sent by Jesus as "Jesus Christianity". Of course both are too different.X: I think this difference is mentioned in the book of a Christian scientist, Michel Hart, who wrote a book of the title "The Greatest Hundred in the History. He told that if Jesus will return to the earth and see How his message was corrupted by Paul, he would get so mad. However, the Christian writer found in his book Mohamed is the greatest man in the History.Z: I think this Paul, who was not one of the Jesus disciples, was an enemy of Jesus. According to his previous history, as written in his Acts, he was killing Jesus followers and hating Jesus. Personally, I do not believe any of his words or his claims to be a messenger of Jesus. Why should Jesus select one of his enemies and leave his loved disciples. I think there is no logical reason to select such funny person who changed his name, his origin, his belief, his holy book, his words, his acts, his beliefs and his claims in every sent letter to every different country.   X: I think Paul was the only person who glorified such idol called "Cross". However, he stated a condition for accepting the magic or power of his cross. This condition was found in 1 Corinthians 1, as follows: The Message of the Cross: 1:18 for the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.”  So, the faith in a cross is foolishness unless the God would destroy wisdom and intelligence. However, Saint Paul claimed that it is written that God would destroy the wisdom and intelligence. But No one had found such writings in the Gospels. It is hard also to believe that it may happen that God will destroy His Wisdom as it His gift to people. It is written that the God is wise and he gifted such wisdom to selected people as Solomon, prophets, disciples and others too. Z: Actually, Paul had a bad history before his claimed meeting with the God in which he claimed that God asked him, asked a Killer, not to persecute Him. Why God came and ask such killer who was not one of Jesus disciples not to persecute him? He was also the only one who glorifies the cross and gave great importance to the crucifixion after Jesus.  Such tales and funnies increase the fuzziness of the Christians dogmas.X: As a fact; Islam has not such dogmas, secrets, Baptism, salvation, mediators, idols, crosses, God's son, crucifixions or Popes. The train stopped and some friends came and interrupted their talk. They were obliged to wait some time.

Fourth Stop: Assiut

X:  You may give me some satisfying answers regarding the issue of the original sin and how Islam and Christianity look at it. Of course, this issue is viewed differently in both religions. Z: I do not like the word ‘differently’ since I basically agree that we share the core of faith but what appears to be difference needs to be discussed in detail. Basically, you can find that some creeds are wrong because they incoherent not because they differ with something else. You will be driven by your thinking and true understanding to discover the incoherence in them. Let me explain this point to you as follows: You say that God is Love, right? How can God be Love while He issues His judgment to punish all people and destroy them till the coming of Jesus? This was the first question presented by an old priest to his seniors who replied that Adam committed a major sin and so his progeny were to be punished, though the fact that God is Love. The priest replied that God’s justice supercedes His mercy but there is no justice here since He is punishing someone for a sin he has never committed. The man added that destroying the generation that came after Adam till the time of Jesus means destroying a lot of pious Prophets including Moses, Jacob, Joseph, and Zechariah. In addition, this goes in contradiction with the saying of Jesus himself in Matthew 16: 27: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” However, I like to add that such great sin and salvation belief are unbelievable dogmas introduced by Paul who I disbelieve. So, I am sure if we delete the funny words and letters of Paul, Christianity will approach Islam in its logical path to God, the One God. X: The Qur'an gives us clear cut text in this regard: “Whosoever goeth right, it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right, and whosoever erreth, erreth only to its hurt. No laden soul can bear another's load. We never punish until We have sent a messenger (to guide people).  (Israa: 15) Z: So the whole point is that people in the past used to accept certain dogmas and beliefs that later proved to be in need of reconsidering and reviewing. The basic of man’s relation to God is love and logic. Yet, people introduced many other notions that forged this original relation and made it far from its original true essence. What we need is to bring this belief back to its clear and clean origin.  X: Do you know that Allah preordained for Adam to leave Paradise after experiencing the whole issue of eating from the forbidden tree. Almighty Allah created man and knows what type of inclinations are there inside him. He wanted to teach Adam a lesson that is whoever disobeys Allah will be punished and when he repents, he will be always welcome to the fold of forgiveness. Almighty Allah says: “But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the (happy) state in which they were; and We said: Fall down, one of you a foe unto the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a tune. Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the Relenting the Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah: 36-37) Therefore, Adam learnt a lesson.Z: Reading through the Gospel, I can find no connection between Jesus mission on earth and Adam’s sin. I believe that Jesus came to help man be better and overcome the materialism that decayed his heart and spirituality. I also believe that the Gospel flows from the same Divine source of the Qur'an in terms that they both call for sticking to goodness and morality. Both books guarantee safety from punishment by having a pure heart and good work.X: It is strange to believe that Allah, with His overwhelming mercy, cannot forgive Adam who turns to Him in repentance. The Qur'an tells us that Almighty Allah created Adam and appointed him a vicegerent on earth: “And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: wilt Thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not.” (Al-Baqarah: 30) Therefore, Adam’s sin was preordained and Allah accepted his repentance and decreed to accept repentance from his progeny as well. Almighty Allah says: “And He is Who accepteth repentance from his bondmen, and pardoneth the evil deeds, and knoweth what ye do.” (Ash-Shura: 25) In this way, Allah taught Adam how to show repentance and his sin was really minor.Z: What people commit at this present age is very grave and greater of course than that sin of Adam. Do each one of us need a Messiah to get his sin forgiven. This unreasonable notion of original sin has led so many Western Christians to leave Christianity. I really wish that we purify Christianity from such fake beliefs. X: As I mentioned before, Islam has been very fortunate in terms of preserving its book from alteration or corruption. As for Christianity, the case is totally different since the sayings of Jesus had been recorded many centuries after his demise. But Quran was recorded by direct writing at the time of `Uthman ibn Affan”. However, Qur'an has been recorded in the hearts of the early Muslims since its revelation in the time of Mohamed. Therefore, the Qur'an has been transmitted through an unbroken chain and we have many copies of the Qur'an dating back to 23 A.H. where Arabs  knew paper and how to use it. As for the Gospels, the oldest copy of it was written four centuries after the ascension of Jesus. Though written about the same person, each Gospel is written according the version of its author. One important thing is that they are not written in the same language that was spoken by Jesus himself. However, some newly discovered Gospels, as Thomas and Judas, dated to the second century.   Z: Yes, Gospels were never the revelation of Allah. They are by no means like the Qur'an, yet we revere them and respect them as Holy. However, if we find contradictions between them, we try to understand their global \meanings only.X: I find much solace and comfort when I read some parts of the Gospels that tell us about Jesus mysticism and his piety and struggle against deceit and materialism. But I am angry of the translation of the Gospels which changes its original meanings. As an example is the translation that  described the scene of Jesus Crucifixion and record his loud cry as follows: Eloi, Eloi, Lema sabachtani, (according to English Copies of the Bible), Eloi, Eloi, Lema asabtani (according to German copies of the Bible). As noted, both cries used a different slang than that of Jesus. It is near to the Arabic-Hebrew slang that was used by the residents of southern areas of Palestine in these times. Eloi or Elhij in Arabic-Hebrew means my God, as stated. "Lema" means also"Why" in Arabic-Hebrew as stated in the written translations. But "sabachtanic" according to English copy, does not mean forsaken me as badly translated, but it means pigmented me. Sabcha (or sabgcha) means a pigment. "Asabtani" according to the German copies, also doesn’t mean also forsaken me, but it means hurt me or shock me. So, there is a doubt concerning the man on the Cross because he used different language than Jesus, he is blaming God to be pigmented, as revealed in the Quran or Judas Gospel, to be the similitude of Jesus. Finally, as he is crying loudly in a completely different manner than that of Jesus, it means he is another pigmented man. So, this scene is evidence to the fuzziness of Jesus Crucifixion. Someone claim that this sentence is a part of some Psalms. Those are liars since it is not found there. And can you imagine a crying man may sing a song?
Z: I found too confusing parts since they are in no way consistent with straight logic. Read in Mark 16: 19: “he was received up into the heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” How a man may sit beside an unimaginable God. Such claim deletes God's Mighty and Greatness and converts God into a normal father sitting next to his poor son. You can also find many discrepancies in the Gospel like the lineage of Jesus which contains 42 fathers after David- who is number 35- according to Luke. In Matthew, David is number 14 and the lineage contains 27 fathers after him till Jesus who is number 41. The mission of Jesus extended for one year according to Mark and Luke while John says it has extended for two years. Such discrepancies raise so many questions regarding the authenticity of the text.X. We shall admit that Islam came to complete the mission of Jesus and explain any obscurity that might have arisen in the minds of people after Jesus. We say that when you read the Gospel we felt that it has something in common with the Qur'an but still it has been subjected to alteration and corruption. This leads me to say that though different and having a lot of discrepancies, the Gospels are still having some elements of being holy. Surely; after reading the Gospel, I felt that the message of Islam is a continuation of Christianity and Muhammad was not something new. We Muslims were commanded to believe in the Gospel that was revealed to Jesus and believe in the One true God. Almighty Allah says: “And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.  (Al-`Ankabut: 46)Z: Yes, Islam and Christianity are both the messages of Allah and we should never set difference between Divine messages. You can read this in Deuteronomy 33: “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints.” Such a verse takes about the three Abrahamic faiths. God talked to Moses in Sinai and sent down revelation to Jesus in Seir and Muhammad received revelation at the mount Paran in Makkah. The point here is that faith is one unit and cannot be divided into parts. When you believe in one messenger, you need to believe in the rest. I myself find that the Prophet of Islam is an excellent example to be followed.X: Yes, this is exactly what the Qur'an tells us to do as it says: “Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the last Day, and remembereth Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab: 21) Jesus was also an excellent example to be followed.Z: True, but he stayed only for two years and his mission was clear that is to purify the hearts and the souls from the overwhelming materialism. It is because of this that I believe his life was almost spiritual not practical one. It has much to do with the life of monks but Muhammad was different indeed.X: Both of them were the messengers of Allah and each one of them played a role in building monotheism and inculcating it in the hearts. They helped humanity get rid of its weakness. We should never set difference between them, since Allah says: “The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers. We make no distinction between any of His messengers and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying.” (Al-Baqarah: 285)At that juncture they had to stop as the train stopped and there was much noise that prevented them from continuing. 

Fifth Stop: Suhag

 Z: In fact, heavenly religions complement one another. Many of our Egyptian forefathers who were originally Copts embraced Islam when they felt such a strong connection between Islam and Christianity and realized that Islam will add much to them. Islam really provides me with many answers regarding the creed of trinity which I find inconsistent and unreasonable at all.X: Islam also teaches us that our minds are limited and we have no way to imagine how Allah looks like, since nothing is like unto Him. Almighty Allah says: “The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He hath made for you pairs of yourselves, and of the cattle also pairs, whereby He multiplieth you. Naught is as His likeness; and He is the Hearer, the Seer.” (Ash-Shura: 11) He also says: “Vision comprehendeth Him not, but He comprehendeth (all) vision. He is the Subtile, the Aware.” (Al-An`am: 103) Then, other verses tell us in clear words: “Or were they created out of naught? Or are they the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they are sure of nothing!” (At-Tur: 35-36)Z: Actually, sometimes I repeat some Qur’anic verses that give me a feeling of tranquility and help me at difficult times, like the verse that reads: “Lo! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs (of Allah's sovereignty) for people who have sense.” (Al-Baqarah: 164)X: Such verses direct your heart and mind to the signs of Allah that are manifest everywhere in the universe. There is another verse that Muslims are used to repeat as it gives them a feeling of serenity: “Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.” (Al-Baqarah: 255)Z: It was Paul who called to deify of Jesus. Being Paul’s student, Luke recorded that Jesus came down from the heavens and was embodied within Mary. There are many other inconsistent words and additions that could be found in other Gospels but they all proved false and unauthentic. Such additions show that those people who added them to the book of Allah were really vile and wicked. They tried to attract idolaters to Christianity and so added such things. Some parts of the Bible show that Jesus is the word of God and then we find some other parts saying that he is God himself. I cannot accept that the creator of earth and heaven be merely a word.X: The Qur'an tell us that Jesus was created upon the word of God meaning upon his command ‘Be and it is’. This is clearly elaborated in the verses: “(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah).” (Al-`Imran: 45) So, Jesus Christ was near to Almighty Allah and he was His word meaning, was created upon His command. Almighty Allah promised Mary to beget a son without a father as He promised Zechariah that his wife shall beget a son at this old age. Almighty Allah says: “And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah, lordly, chaste, a Prophet of the righteous.” (Al-`Imran: 39)Z: I really feel confused when I read the first paragraph in John since it stirs a great deal of ambiguity. I do not know who is the author of such words? What makes the whole thing more complex is the fact that I cannot imagine that this great universe is a mere word and its Creator is a word too. Such sophisticated philosophical discourse-place our minds in nowhere and make us fall preys to Satan.
X: The Qur'an describes the process of the creation of the universe in clear words as it says: “Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and We made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?” (Al-Anbiya’: 30) This shows that Almighty Allah created this universe out of nothingness and filled it with stars and planets, oceans and mountains. This has nothing to do with the so called big bang or the so called chance. The verses of the Qur'an go on to tell us that the One Who created the universe in this way is able to resurrect it again when it is completely destroyed. Almighty Allah says: “The Day when We shall roll up the heavens and a recorder rolleth up a written scroll. As We began the first creation, We shall repeat it. (It is) a promise (binding) upon Us. Lo! We are to perform it.” (Al-Anbiya’: 104) In this way, we should look upon the universe as a living proof to the existence of Allah and His supreme power.Z: Such words remind man that the Day of Judgment is a truth and the Creator can cause it to happen.X: Yes, you can read something like this in the verses that read: “Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and (in) the difference of night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding. Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! Thou createdst not this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire” (Al-`Imran: 190-191) Pure nature would take man directly to believe in Allah, the Creator of the universe and the Owner of the Day of Judgment.Z: I was always asking myself; who is stronger; God or Satan? According to my priest, God disguised himself in the clothes of Jesus so as to deceive Satan and come safely to earth. Was God afraid of Satan?X: I believe that the response to such heresy is found in the Qur'an. The verses of the Qur'an tell us that Almighty Allah is the Creator of jinn and men. Of course, the devil is one of the jinn but his worship raised him to the rank of being an associate of the Angels. When Almighty Allah commanded the Angels to prostrate them-selves before Adam, they obeyed but the Satan revolted. There, he was driven out of Paradise. Incited by his hatred for Adam and his offspring, the Satan pledged to try his best to mislead men. Yet, he has no power or might in front of the power of faith and strong connection with the Most-Powerful. The Qur'an relates this as follows: “And We created you, then fashioned you, then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fell prostrate, all save Iblis, who was not of those who make prostration. He said: What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee? (Iblis) said: I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire while him Thou didst create of mud. He said: Then go down hence! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! thou art of those degraded. He said: Reprieve me till the day when they are raised (from the dead).” (Al-A`raaf: 11-14)Z: Yes, this is the truth. Allah is the only sovereign of this universe and to Him everything belongs. When Adam sinned, Almighty Allah would forgive him without any problem. It is really unreasonable to believe that Allah would let His son i.e. Jesus be humiliated and tortured in that way. Which one of the two sins is bigger; Adam eating from the forbidden fruit or God’s son being humiliated and it passes unnoticed.  X: I believe that a true Christian should try to save his mind from all these fake creeds and get to the pure religion of Allah. I find a big confusion when I think about the cross for example.Z: I asked the local priest of my village about the significance of the Cross and has it been mentioned anywhere in the Gospel? Has it ever been referred to as a source honor and respect? The man cried in my face that I should repent to God from such thoughts and never ask such questions again. I said unto myself, what is the benefit of our minds then if we crippled them and stopped thinking? We all know that the Cross has been used as a Christian symbol as of 325 AC during the Neicheia meeting. However, it has been before by Pharaohs in a little bit modified form that is the key of life. That is why you can see it engraved on the walls of their temples and Holt places. These drawings date back to thousands of years before the birth of Jesus, for such people believed such life keys would be the means through which their dead people could come back to life. Later on, Christians took that symbol and actually, this meeting of Neicheia witnessed the killing of so many pure and true Christians who refused that symbol and refused to believe in trinity. All such things place a lot of concerns regarding this symbol.X: I believe that the best words describing the greatness of Allah and His might and power are those in Surat Yunus that read: “Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then He established Himself upon the Throne, directing all things. There is no intercessor (with Him) save after His permission. That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Oh, will ye not remind? Unto Him is the return of all of you; it is a promise of Allah in truth. Lo! He produceth creation, then reproduceth it, that He may reward those who believe and do good works with equity; while, as for those who disbelieve, theirs will be a boiling drink and painful doom because they disbelieved. He it is who appointed the sun a splendor and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that ye might know the number of the years, and the reckoning. Allah created not (all) that save in truth. He detaileth the revelations for people who have knowledge. Lo! in the difference of day and night and all that Allah hath created in the heavens and the earth are portents, verily, for folk who ward off (evil).  (Yunus: 3-6)Z: As a cultured Christian, I refuse mysterious and ambiguous things ; I like to have everything clear before my eyes. That is why I am trying to inquire about the truthfulness of  these creeds, something which has also been done by Dr. Nazmy Luqa who was a Christian defending Islam and the Prophet and then embraced Islam and died a Muslim.X: Do you know that Jesus came to call people to worship the one true God? The Qur'an tells us: “When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah's sovereignty), he said: I have come unto you with wisdom, and to make plain some of that concerning which ye differ. So keep your duty to Allah, and obey me. Lo! Allah, He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is a right path. But the factions among them differed. Then woe unto those who do wrong from the doom of a painful day.” (Az-Zukhruf: 63-65) All Prophets called people to this creed of monotheism. I wish we all go back to this great an pure creed.Z: I share the same wish indeed with you, hope all hearts are united and love dominating all people. While still being Christian with this mentality, I find a good chance to talk to my people and help them understand the truth.X: I believe that one of the main reasons why Islam was able to overwhelm the hearts and stand strongly in face of materialism is its being a kin to man’s pure nature, since we are all the creation of Allah and Allah chooses Islam for us. That is why Allah says: “So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not.” (Ar-Rum: 30) Islam also establishes the fact that there is no compulsion in religion since the truth has been manifest and clear and anyone shall choose for himself the destiny he goes.Z: I believe that because of the pure nature inside me I was able to deny all human additions to the Gospel. When I travel abroad and tell people that though I am a Christian, I love the Qur'an and believe in it, they become very surprised and ask so many questions. In this way, I gain new supporters. In fact, I believe that the only way to turn those cultured atheists into true belief is to purify the Christian creed from what corrupts it. Many Europeans have read about Islam and they believe that Jesus was a human being, they reject trinity, deny original sin and confession and all that stuff. However, driven by their arrogance and pride, they tend to reject Islam. In addition, they have an incomplete understanding of Islam which also leads them to reject it.X: This is simply what the Qur'an describes as it says: “Allah hath (now) revealed the fairest of statements, a Scripture consistent, (wherein promises of reward are) paired (with threats of punishment), whereat doth creep the flesh of those who fear their Lord, so that their flesh and their hearts soften to Allah's reminder. Such is Allah's guidance, where with He guideth whom He will. And him whom Allah sendeth astray, for him there is no guide.” (Az-Zumar: 23) I believe that what keeps a Christian from accepting us is his feeling that we do not accept the Cross.Z: A christian who does not have good mentality that enables him to think deeply, will find himself an easy prey to fake ideas and worn out thoughts that has been forged by insincere autocratic clergymen. There are many priests who tell their followers that swearing by the Cross is better than swearing by the name of God. They want those followers to cancel their minds and accept whatever is said to them.X: It is really a great thing that in Islam we do not have such a thing. In Islam we have nothing like a Pope whom we should follow without thinking. In Islam, every Muslim is responsible for himself and those under his protection like his family and children. In fact, blind following of priest or religious leaders is really dangerous. It will be a representation of the case about which we are told on the verse that reads: “They indeed found their fathers astray. But they make haste (to follow) in their footsteps.” (As-Saffat: 69-70)Z: Some churches succeeded in dominating the minds of simple people and started a system of their own in leading those people in a way that has nothing to do with the religion itself. People are led astray by them and they know nothing.X: However, some Christians believe that the Cross is not merely to cross pieces; rather, it is a symbol of salvation since they relate the saying of Jesus: “Whoever wants me, let him carry his cross and follow me.”Z: True, they claim that Jesus death and crucifixion is what Christianity is all about. However, a deep thorough reading of the Bible will show that most verses mention nothing about the Cross. Even the saying of Jesus you have just quoted, it refers to the fact that whoever wants to follow the steps of Jesus should start a struggle and care nothing about his life. Jesus calls upon us to fight for the Sake of God but never surrender to our Captors. If we are not to take it this way, then we are destroying human intellect and calling people to destruction. We cannot let our captors devour us while we are remaining silent.X: This is exactly what the Qur'an tells us when saying: “Is it this Statement that ye scorn. And make denial thereof your livelihood?” (Al-Waqi`ah: 81-82) Such priests believe in their hearts that the idea of Jesus sonhood of God and his death on the Cross are both fake and false. However, they tend to keep them to please people, something which is extremely dangerous. They think that by keeping this creed valid in the hearts of people, they will be kept in their places. However, they are fooling themselves: “Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is Allah who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little. Swaying between this (and that) , (belonging) neither to these nor to those. He whom Allah causeth to go astray, thou (O Muhammad) wilt not find a way for him.” (An-Nisaa’: 142-143)Z: I have asked my local priest many times if they have found any change in the life of human beings after the so-called crucifixion of Jesus and the same answer came from his mouth all the time that everyone has a limit for his knowledge and I should not know everything. He even went to warn me that I will get the curses of Jesus if I kept asking questions like these. As far as I understand, the world is the same sinful world and people are the same. Jesus, as witnessed by Paul, was crying on the Cross that God should help him get out of these pains. Then, the salvation was not death; rather, he wanted to get rid of the pains just like any other human being. Also Mark tell us that Jesus went to the heaven and sat on the right side of God. How can he be God and then sitting beside God? All this tells us that Jesus was never God and that he was not put on the Cross, it was some else. In fact, the oldest Christian sects like Serathians, Crebocratains and Baslidians confirmed that Jesus himself was never crucified; rather, it was one of his disciples. This is also reported in the Gospel of Barnabas, which was banned later by the Roman emperor, Qustantein.X: Do not agree that, as a true Christian, it is better for you to accept the Qur’anic version of the whole story? Do not agree with me that the Qur’anic account is far way better and more accurate. In fact, all the sayings that have been traced to Jesus are a point of difference among Gospels. We read in the Qur'an: “And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture ; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, wise.” (An-Nisa’: 157-158)Z: Yes, of course. I even believe that God has put the facial features of on Judas and thus the Romans took him instead of Jesus. This means that Jesus was taken up to the heavens and was never killed. This betraying disciple showed remorse for betraying his master and teacher i.e. Jesus and started crying saying: “Eli Eli, why have Thou forsaken me!” This way is different from that of Jesus who used to call God saying: “Our Father who is in the Heavens!” X: I feel for you that by denying crucifixion you will not be admitted to Heavens as priests say.Z: This makes me feel sick! I really hate these words that are repeated by our religious leaders. They say that if you are a Christian and you have been baptized, then you are saved from the Fire. What are the merits of good deeds then? Is it sufficient for me to be baptized and then I can do whatever I want? Am I guaranteed Paradise when I am baptized? Then why should I be generous and kind with people? Where is Divine justice then? Such words are really frustrating as they incite people to be bad to each other. In fact, many vile Christians use this to justify their committing of evil deeds. Human self tends to be bad all the time as Paul says. Since you tell people that a priest will be able to forgive their sins in return of a handful of money and that they will be blessed if they drink some wine claimed to have turned into the blood of Jesus, then why should people be good?X: Islam tells us that people’s hearts and their nature is originally pure and that sin is what corrupts it. The concept of sin in Islam is very unique since it represents a violation of Allah’s law and deviation from His code. However, on the individual level and the communal one, the door is always open to return and the process of return itself constitutes a sign of honor for man, since it is the return to the pure nature. Almighty Allah defines the main criteria for honor; that piety, as it says: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made `you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! The noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.” (Al-Hujurat: 13) Therefore, good conduct and fearing Almighty Allah are the best ways to get Paradise. Love, kindness, generosity and nearness to God are the real riches and treasures; whoever lacks such things, will be lacking everything even if he posses heaps of money. When Islam came to humanity, the Prophet purified the minds and the hearts of people from superstition and taught people how to be good to themselves and their fellow brothers and sisters in humanity, how to be peaceful to the world around and how to fear none but their Creator and how to spread all over the world carrying this guidance and light to people. That is why Almighty Allah says: “And We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) save as a bringer of good tidings and a warner unto all mankind; but most of mankind know not.” (Sabaa’: 28) This shows that Islam came to the whole world not a single nation or a certain tribe.Z: In fact, such accusations that are forged about Islam will never benefit Christianity; rather, they will damage Christianity itself.X: I get very surprised when I ask a Christian university student, “Who is Jesus Christ?” and he does not have a definite answer. When I ask those students if they believe that Jesus was crucified, they say that they just know that he is salvation. Also, they when I recite to them the Qur’anic verse that reads: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him”. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how we make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!  (Al-Ma’idah: 75), I stir many questions in his mind. How come that Jesus, who is claimed to be god himself, be betrayed by one of his followers, humiliated at the hands of some riff-raff and shed tears. How come that god eats, drinks and urinates. How come that he is breast fed and is walking in front of people? God shall be far remote from these things and we should glorify Him as He says in the Qur'an: “And they esteem not Allah as He hath the right to be esteemed, when the whole earth is His handful on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens are rolled in His right hand. Glorified is He and High Exalted from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him).” (Az-Zumar: 67)Z: They have no way but to accept what those priests tell them so as not make their families angry and make themselves subject to curses. What really puzzles my mind is the fact that many of those priests here in Egypt who insist on their fake creeds even after reading the Qur'an. They read day and night the words of Jesus that we should search for the truth. Yet, they think they are protecting Christianity while they are protecting their own interests. They keep saying that Allah has a son while He, Glory be to Him, is far from such superstitions.X: Yes, Allah is above the laws to which human beings are subject. We read in the Qur'an: “Everyone that is thereon will pass away. There remaineth but the countenance of thy Lord of Might and Glory.” (Ar-Rahman: 25-27) Almighty Allah also says: “All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifieth Allah and He is the Mighty, the Wise. His is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; He quickeneth and He giveth death; and He is Able to do things. He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things.” (Al-Hadeed: 1-3)Z: I always ask many good priests this question: Why do not Christian believe that God has forgiven Adam since he left Paradise as He forgives all sinners who turn to Him in repentance? Why do not we accept the fact that God cannot be the father of anyone since He is unlike anyone and no one is like him? If they believe in such things they will save their followers. Why do not they accept that Jesus was a Prophet like all other Prophets? Why do not they tell their followers that they are accounted for their deeds in front of God and it is Him who will reckon and reward or punish them. When we call God our father, it may mean that He is our Lord and not our real father. Why do not they say that Jesus was the same to God i.e. not a real son; rather, a Prophet and chosen messenger?X: Your words remind me of the verse that reads: “O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three". Cease! (it is) better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.  The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah, nor will the favored angels. Whoso scorneth His service and is proud, all such will He assemble unto Him.” (An-Nisa’: 171) Your logical thinking copes with mine since I also believe that deeds are the criteria that decides the destiny of man and not his being baptized or admitted into a religion. the Qur'an explains this concept saying: “It will not be in accordance with your desires, nor the desires of the People of the Scripture. He who doeth wrong will have the recompense thereof, and will not find against Allah any protecting friend or helper. And whoso doeth good works, whether of male or female, and he (or she) is a believer, such will enter paradise and they will not be wronged the dint in a date stone.” (An-Nisa’: 123-124). Paradise is not gained by mere wishes, it is gained by hard work and agony.Z: When I was young, I used to read about Jesus. Based on his description, I used to think of him as being a kind father, a big priest who comes to this world to teach people and needs their help in his mission.X: As a Muslim, I believe that this universe is governed by a system that is known only to Allah, the Creator and functions in a way known to Him only. This is mentioned in the verses: “The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him, and there is not a thing but hymneth his praise; but ye understand not their praise. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving.” (Al-Isra: 44) That is why the Qur'an guides us to what makes our hearts shake and feel fear of Allah. We read: “If We had caused this Quran to descend upon a mountain, thou (O Muhammad) verily hadst seen it humbled, rent asunder by the fear of Allah. Such similitudes coin We for mankind that haply they may reflect.” (Al-Hashr: 21) You can get such a feeling of tranquility and serenity when you look at the faces of Muslims praying in their mosques. You will feel that they have tranquility inside and wish only for the pleasure of Allah. In the mosque there are no statutes like those found in a church, no pictures or nothing of the sort. There are no hymns, no hallelujahs; the only thing you will hear is the Qur'an that fills each heart with might and faith. Prayer can be conducted by an Imam, any learned Muslim who can also give a Friday sermon to teach his fellow Muslims.Z: In a church, women wear full makeup to come and sit beside men according to a certain order. They even go to the church only to attend marriages, celebrations and other things. They listen to the sermon while listening to music at the same time. You go into a church and you will see many semi naked statutes claimed to be the statutes of Angels. What makes me feel sad is that some Christian priests here in Egypt insist on their stance and reject the truth; they have either to let people search for the truth or guide them to it.X: This goes in consistence with the Qur’anic verse that reads: “O People of the Scripture! Why disbelieve ye in the revelations of Allah, when ye (yourselves) bear witness (to theft truth ) ? O People of the Scripture! Why confound ye truth with falsehood and knowingly conceal the troth?” (Al-`Imran: 70-71) Such religious leaders should tell the truth and beware of what their followers may say on the Day of Judgment: “And those who disbelieve will say: Our Lord! Show us these who beguiled us of the jinn and humankind. We will place them underneath our feet that they may be among the nethermost.” (Fussilat: 29) They should not be like Pharaoh who led his people astray. Here I would like to ask you one question, do most of educated Christians think in the same way of yours?Z: I am sure that most of them believe in what I believe in, even though they cannot speak such ideas out. You must have heard about the American writer, Sir Michael Heart who wrote a book entitled: “100 Eternal Celebrity” and chose Muhammad to top of his list. He confessed that Islam played a vital role in guiding humanity since it has liberated their minds from doubts and false ideas. Muhammad, being the greatest religious, political leader and reformist even known in history deserves to be number one in that list. It was him who taught people practically how to be perfect in everything. He was the best example to follow in all spheres of life. One of his students, being `Umar ibn Al-Khattab ruled the Muslim state with justice and equality and taught people that they are born free and not enslaved by anyone in this world. Therefore, no obedience is due to a creature if it involves disobeying the Creator. Many priests here in Egypt accept the Prophet and believe that he was really a great person.X: Yes, I know many of them who believe that they need to believe in Islam for their Christianity to be valid since Islam is the final religion and the Qur'an is the final version. It is because of the alteration of the Holy Books that people started difference and disputation. Almighty Allah says: “And they were not divided until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves; and had it not been for a Word that had already gone forth from thy Lord for an appointed term, it surely had been judged between them. And those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them are verily in hopeless doubt concerning it. Unto this, then, summon (O Muhammad). And be thou upright as thou art commanded, and follow not their lusts, but say: I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us are our works and unto you your works; no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and unto Him is the journeying.” (Ash-Shura: 14-15)Z: I believe that many religious leaders call people to love God and they feel the responsibility of guiding people which is placed on their shoulders. Such priests cite the Qur'an in their sermons and refer to it all the time and their students follow their example in this regard. Other priests and fathers are blinded by their love for this worldly life and want to get money and would do anything for this. This may think that Islam will rip them off of their wealth and might.X: I think they have fallen a prey to superstition and are enslaved by Jinn as the Qur'an says: “They will say: Be Thou glorified. Thou art our Protector from them! Nay, but they worshipped the jinn; most of them were believers in them. That day ye will possess no Use nor hurt one for another. And We shall say unto those who did wrong: Taste the doom of the Fire which ye used to deny.” (Saba’: 41-42)Z: I am quite sure that whoever thinks deeply and with objectivity would reach the truth. I have attended so many good Christians on their death bed and they would pronounce the testification of faith (the pronouncement signaling conversion to Islam) before they die. Some of them even asked to be buried in Muslim graves.X: Does not this bring you closer to Islam and farer from Christianity?Z: Who told you that being close to Islam will mean my being far from Christianity? Muhammad was foretold by Jesus and was named by him in John: 16: 14 as it says: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that shall abide with you forever.” The Comforter referred to here is Muhammad.X: Such is a clear indication that Muhammad came with the truth and he does not speak out of his mind; rather, he tells us whatever is revealed unto him. Almighty Allah says: “Nor doth he speak of (his own) desire. It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired. Which one of mighty powers hath taught him?” (An-Najm: 3-5)Z: Jesus is also reported as saying: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment.” It is Muhammad who brought a book that shows what is right and what is wrong and warn people against the punishment of the Hereafter.X: The Qur'an also told us that Jesus gave glad tidings of the coming of Muhammad and gave him the name Praised One. We read in the Qur'an: “And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when be hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic.” (As-Saff: 6)Z: It is because of this that I really believe that when I read the Qur'an and believe in Muhammad, I am not far from the teachings of Jesus; rather, I am putting them into application. In its early days, Christianity called people to a monotheistic belief. Only in 325 AC, Nicheiah Assembly fabricated the idea that Jesus is God and started putting Trinity into practice. In 383 AC, Emperor Theodosius threatened anyone who does not believe in trinity that he will be punished. In 496 AC, a decree damning the Gospel of Barnabas was issues by Gilasius. Later Emperor Qustentein burned all bibles that included the pure creed of monotheism and included the prophecy of the coming of Muhammad.X: The Torah also contains some statements that the true religion will come from the Arabian Peninsula. We read this in Gensis (25: 13) and also in Deuteronomy (18: 18) “I shall raise unto them a Prophet from amongst their brethren like unto thee and place my words in his mouth.” We can see that there are many common things between Muhammad and Moses; each of them has a father and a mother, each of them performed miracles, each brought a new law and each of them led his followers in a migration. Jesus was unlike them in the sense that he was born without a father, he did not bring a new law and he did not migrate from his place to another country.Z: Jesus told the Children of Israel that Prophethood will move to another people after they have killed John the Baptist (Yahya) and concocted many conspiracies against Jesus himself. He used to cite the Psalms to support what he says.X: In Isaiah 42, we read: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” All these biblical descriptions are not far from what we read in the Qur'an when it says: “Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honor him and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful.” (Al-A`raaf: 157) At that moment they had to stop to eat something as the train broke down. 

 



[1] An-Nisa: 170
[2] Al-`Ankabut: 46
[3] Al-`Imran: 64
[4] Al-Ma’idah: 82-83
[5] Al-`Imran: 42
[6] Mary: 43
[7] Al-Baqarah: 136
[8] Luqman: 22
[9] Ar-Ra’d: 28