Koran Issues in Contemporary Middle Eastern History

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The followers of Judaism and Christianity viz. Jews and Christians are referred to in Islam as the ‘people of the book’ because they too were sent messengers with scriptures. Differences between the three lie mainly in which prophets are recognized or not, the accepted books, interpretations of faith and teachings and so on. The Jews and Arabs historically are cousins set apart by the brothers Ishac (Isac) (A.S.) and Ismail (Ishmail) (A.S.) respectively, both descendents of prophet Ibrahim (A.S.). Between Christianity and Islam the notable differences come down to the belief in the oneness of Allah versus the doctrine of trinity. that Jesus was a prophet like other prophets (Islamic view) or the son of God (orthodox Christian view), and so on. So, there is a very close relationship between Islam, Judaism and Christianity and a great scope for mutual understanding and learning. Christians especially are potentially closer to the Muslims because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world and they are not arrogant. (5:85)The true concept of jihad in Islam is a comprehensive and constant ‘struggle’, ‘effort’ or ‘striving’ on an individual level and against one’s ego (nafs). Its justification or purpose is purification of the soul In a limited sense and as popularly perceived in the West, it also means a collective ‘holy war’ against others especially infidels. It is therefore a collective obligation (fard al-kifayah) under certain circumstances. It should also be pointed out that jihad in this manner has certain conditions that must be met, also that the drive to engage in warfare is overridden by some conditions too. For example, in Surah Tauba (9:5-6) it appears that muslims are being enjoined to fight but this must cease if for instance, those who are being fought convert to Islam, observe prayer, or seek asylum and pay the