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Offline Reader Questions

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Dear Brother Joseph
I may not have read it all (or it may not be there?) but I have a question regarding people of Other faiths.
If, someone from another faith, say a Christian. Jew, Sikh, Maybe even a hindu? Believe In ONE GOD and do NOT associate Partners, is there a necessity that they MUST Follow Quran?
I have heard some differing opinions on this and when I look at the Quran can sometimes get confused.
I ask this, because I have been asked this and it is a topic you hear quite often in the UK (not sure where you are based) on Radio shows/TV's etc.
Can someone remain of Their faith with the prerequisite?? that they believe in One GOD and NOT follow/or accept Quran?
Separately if you have time/knowledge, Does Quran refer to'  people other then the Book '? ie, massive communities such as Hindus for example? Did they not receive revelations from GOD?
Hope this makes sense!

Offline Joseph Islam

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    • The Quran and its Message
Re: Are Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Hindu's Required to Follow the Quran?
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2011, 07:11:33 AM »
Peace to you.
I have given you a brief response and also attached a more elucidated response which may be relevant to your query.
(1) There is no compulsion to follow the Quran. This is an individual choice dependant on whether the veracity of the message is accepted. Each person will be judged in accordance to what level of truth reached them. People of the Book are asked to accept the Quran as 'truth' and not to  automatically reject it. They are also not asked to abandon their laws.
(2) The Quran recognises other monotheists and to each salvation is open. See 2:62 and 5:69
(3) The Quran refers to a number of nations / communities by name and alludes to numerous communities without naming them. Any one of them could be a reference to communities which later became known as 'Hindu's. To all nations it is claimed that warners were sent and will continue to be sent (10:47; 13:7; 39:71). There are also many messengers and prophets that were sent but are not named by the Quran (22:52; 40:78; 4:164). Some scriptures have been alluded to (Such as the Suhuf of Abraham 87:19) but this does by no mean imply a comprehensive list. However, the Quran remains the final revealed scripture as sealed by the final Prophethood (33:40). So the understanding that other communities had scripture bearing Prophets before Prophet Muhammad is not necessarily denied. Whether these communities accepted their warners or subsequent warners is quite a different matter.
The best way to understand this is to imagine mankind on a long string. On the one hand there is falsehood and on the other there is absolute truth. We are all somewhere on this long string. We all have some sort of belief system. Even complete disbelief is a 'belief that there is no God'.  We all have practices we follow whether they are inherited as part of societal norms or whether they have a religious base. So on this long string there exists numerous 'systems' or 'deens'.
The Quran refers to different 'systems' or as the Quran calls 'deen'. For example in 12:76, we note the Egyptian King's 'Deen' in which Joseph could not take his brother by the king's 'law' (Note the Arabic term - Deen).  Pharaoh had a 'deen' (40:26) and was worried that Prophet Moses would change their religion (yubaddila dinakum).  The Quraish had their own 'deen' and even the people of the Book have been known to split up their 'deen' into sects (6:159) (farraqu dinahum wakanu shiya'an).
The Quran claims that not all roads lead straight (16:9), and the purpose of the Quran is to guide mankind to the path which is 'straight' and towards the part of the 'string' which denotes absolute truth. We are reminded to pray that we are led to a part which is closest to this truth (18:24).
Islam was a system of beliefs and monotheistic practices that were revealed to all Prophets of God (42:13) and the Quran's guidance is not necessarily there to eradicate all forms of cultural practices and systems but to only remove the practices and beliefs that are 'incongruent' with Islam. For example we note that the Quraish were already familiar with a practice with regards  Safa and Marwa in 2:158. (Note the Quran does not refer to them as mountains nor connects it with any Abrahamic story). They are simply referred to as 'symbols' (sha'airi). Note the language of the verse. It is not reinstating a practice nor is it prescribing a practice. It is simply allowing a cultural practice that was already in place to continue as optional.
In this way, practices and beliefs of the Quraish which were incongruent with Islam were removed (For example: Intercession, multiple deities, lack of belief in the last day or even superstitions (Camel ear slit 5:103 etc)) and others consistent with monotheistic faith were retained. In this way, the  'deen' of the Quraish was 'cleaned' and 'perfected' so in effect, it was brought back in line with 'Islam'. It was not Islam that was perfected (as commonly thought) as Islam was always perfect, but the 'deen' of the Quraish was 'perfected' and Islam was reinstituted (5:3)
Now the Quran distinguishes between 'Ahl-e-Kitab' (People of the Book - Jews and Christians) and other 'deens'. The Quran does not refer to the people of the book as people of 'different' deens. The Quran even recognises plurality and recognises that the people of the book will follow a different 'Shariah'. Note verse 5:48, 'we prescribed a law and an open way' (ja'alna minkum shir'atan wa min'hajan). However the Quran does ask for the People of the Book to believe in the 'veracity' of the Quran and not to dismiss it as false. Note that there are 'believers' from the People of the Book.
"And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book (Arabic: Ahli-l-kitabi), those who believe in God, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to God: They will not sell the Signs of God for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account"
The Quran also offers itself as a criterion and judge where they may be dispute (5:49). In particular, the Quran admonishes transgressions in 'deen' for example with regards Christians and the concept of 'thalathatun' (three) (4:171) and the concept of Son of God or attributing partners to Him. So again, the Quran attempts to 'clean up' transgressions in the deen of the People of the Book and not necessarily to abandon their laws.
There is often a tendency to over simplify the concept of 'One God'. In numerous debates, I have often intimated that the Quran does demand that one conceives the 'correct' understanding of the ONE God as one who is free of partners, Unseen, Intangible, Omnipotent, Transcendent, who is All Powerful, Merciful and All Just. He is the creator of the Heavens and the Earth and to whom all things will return for judgement. From a Quran's perspective It is simply not enough to say that one believes in ONE God, but then to think of him having intercessors, partners or having no recourse to  judgment. The latter point is just as imperative as belief in the 'last day' and ultimate judgement is a prerequisite for true monotheistic belief. Many religions have a confused concept of the last day (Yaum-ul-Qiyama).
However, the Quran also makes it clear that no soul will be burdened beyond what they can bear and one is only responsible for the amount of 'truth' that has reached them. If the 'truth' of the Quran has not reached one, then it is understandable that their limited answerability will follow suit. It is quite another matter if the Quran's message has been understood fully an inwardly accepted, but then denied.
There is no compulsion in religion nor into following the Quran. Aspects of truth can be discerned without scripture. Remember, Abraham did not need a scripture to realise that there was only ONE God and to reject other forms of beliefs. He simply did this by pondering over the heavenly celestial bodies (6:75-79).
The Quran claims to be clear guidance which leads to the truth. If this truth has reached one with complete clarity and is then rejected, then that is a matter for God to decide. Today's Muslims have as much reason to 'clean' up their 'deen' as do other monotheists as do Hindu's or Sikhs. It is a responsibility for all of us to search for the truth and not confuse our beliefs (6:82). The Quran claims to be that truth and a revelation from God. We all (regardless of being Muslims, Hindu's or Sikhs) have a responsibility to assess that claim and if accepted, to clean up our particular 'system' (deen) in accordance with it. With regards People of the Book however, the Quran  mainly addresses their 'transgressions' in 'deen'. 
This also does not imply that all Hindu's and Sikh's are automatically 'Kaffir' (disbelievers) nor have access to God's mercy. This is a matter only for God to decide. Remember Kufr from the Quran's point of view is only reached once the truth has been fully manifested to a person given their  faculties, understood but then rejected.
Also the Quran does not label deens, it only addresses beliefs and practices in a form of a discourse to mankind from God. There may be a Jewish brother that follows a true monotheistic line of faith as opposed to a brother that claims to be a 'Muslim' but then adds confused concepts to his beliefs and practices.
Some related articles which may help further:
What is the true definition of 'Deen' from a Quran's perspective
Are some 'Muslims' of today any different from the Quraish (Mushrikeen) of old?
Understanding 'Kufr' (Disbelief) from a Quranic perspective

People of the Book (Jews and Christians)
I hope this helps.
Kind regards,
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell