FAQ: UNIFICATIONISM AND ISLAM:
MUTUAL RESPECT AND JOINT EFFORTS TO BENEFIT THE WORLD
MUTUAL RESPECT AND JOINT EFFORTS TO BENEFIT THE WORLD
Overview of Unificationism and Islam:
Because Islam is the newest major faith on earth, older religions say nothing about it and offer no guidance to their followers regarding how they should view Muslims and Islam. This is one of the root causes of the great misunderstanding between Islam and other faiths, especially Christianity, and the conflicts that characterize many of the relations Islam has with other religions. Unificationism, however, looks at the full landscape of God’s work to uplift and save people everywhere, over the centuries of human history, from the perspective of the world today.
This means that Unificationists are taught the value of Islam and Muslims, and seek to actively work with them to achieve inter-religious harmony, world peace and a better life for all. A good number of Muslims are active in Unification projects, and a good number of Unificationists are active in supporting Muslim projects. And Unification organizations and individuals have initiated and participated in a wide range of inter-faith initiatives with Muslim scholars and leaders.
UNIFICATIONIST POSITIONS ON KEY MUSLIM ISSUES
The Prophet Mohammed
The core story of human history is God’s work to restore His beloved human creations to a state of oneness with Him. To do this, God has raised up many prophets, whom He has inspired with truth and wisdom, and the courage to share their understanding with others. This is an evolving process: as human beings grow in understanding, God is able to reveal more and more of His will and truth to them. Thus, Mohammed was sent by God as a prophet to shed light on areas of human ignorance and to build on the contributions of earlier religions in moving humanity towards a world of love, justice and goodness.
The Prophet Mohammed received revelations from the angel Gabriel which were assembled into the suras, or chapters, of the Koran (or Qur’an). Some of these addressed issues of the moment, especially in Mecca and Medina. Others addressed the eternal questions of existence, providing a theological framework for understanding the universe and life and a system of religion-based laws, called sharia.
Religious teaching is always translated into a set of guidelines and laws for a moral life that aims to lead to oneness with God’s will and laws. In Islam, these guidelines and laws, or sharia, are based on the revelations contained in the Koran, as well as the hadith, or traditions, of the life of the Prophet Mohammed as described by his early disciples. The four main schools of sharia in the majority sunni tradition are all fundamentally important in the lives of hundreds of millions of Muslims. Other schools of sharia, including those of the minority shia sects, have had similarly beneficial effects in the lives of those believers. Unificationism agrees with Islam that because people live in the darkness of ignorance about God, they need laws to guide them towards maturity and enlightenment.
Islam has provided an understanding of God and a guide for a moral life to more than one billion people around the world. In some cases, Islam has been successful where other religions have not done well. Unificationism believes that the value of religion can only be measured correctly in terms of the virtues it implants and fosters in individuals, families, societies and nations. Islam has provided the religious base for the virtuous lives of countless people and social structures.
Islam's Contribution to the World
A millennium ago, when Europe was plunged in the ‘Dark Ages’, Islam flourished and made significant contributions to science, philosophy, mathematics and medicine. There were Muslim philosophers and physicians such as Al Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna to the West) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes); there were mathematicians such as Al Khawarizmi, considered the father of algebra; historians such as Ibn Khaldoun; and great mystical writers and poets such as Rumi and Al Ghazali. Cities such as Isfahan and Bukhara, and later Cairo and Cordoba, were centers of scholarship and learning. None was more outstanding than Baghdad, which at the time of the Caliph Harun Al Rashid, in the 9th Century CE, was more advanced than any European city. Many Muslim men of letters wrote impressive commentaries on the works of Aristotle, and sought to reconcile Islam with logic and philosophy. Ibn Rushd insisted that the Koran should be studied on the basis of rational thought. Ibn Sina is said to have memorized the Koran by the age of seven, but also to have read Aristotle’s Metaphysics 40 times as a teen. Islam continues to make contributions to the world through the men and women it inspires, in all walks of life.
The ideal of God’s creation, a world of God-centered men and women living in love and peace with one another, is an ideal that Unificationism shares with Islam. In this world, the love of God will be reflected in the God-centered love among people, and the laws of God will be the basis for the laws of society.
The Fall of Man and Original Sin
The Koran describes the disobedience of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, in literal terms. Unificationism understands this disobedience to mean specifically that Adam and Eve failed to obey God’s instructions for them to establish pure and moral lives as a man and woman separately, before being joined together by God as a married couple blessed with the fullest endowment of God’s love. As a blessed couple they would have been the parents of a sinless human race. Their disobedience, or sin, was the original sin, which resulted in their descendants being born distant from God and sinful, a state of separation from God clearly demonstrated when Cain, their first son, killed his own younger brother, Abel.
Jesus came as the second Adam with the mission to restore the original family and a pure lineage. Unificationism agrees with Islam that Jesus was a sinless man, and not God. It also agrees with Islam that Jesus came as the prophesied Messiah. Jesus was sent to the people whom God had, for some two millennia, since the time of Abraham, prepared to receive the Messiah. Unfortunately, Jesus was not widely accepted by the Jewish people as the long-awaited Messiah, and as a result was put to death by the Romans, following his indictment by some Jewish leaders. The death of Jesus meant that the providence of salvation, or restoration, was prolonged. It also meant that a place was created for the arrival of a new prophet and religion, Mohammed and Islam.
Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael
If Abraham had not made an error in his sacrifice of animals, he would not have been called upon by God to sacrifice a son. Isaac and Ishmael, as the sons of a victorious Abraham, would have been in a position to build together the foundations for the nation and world God has always wanted and had promised Abraham. Instead, the brothers were alienated. Isaac fathered Jacob, who became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, and Ishmael fathered the 12 tribes of the Arabs. Resentments between the two estranged brothers became the seeds of historical resentment between the Ishmaelites and Israelites, the Arabs and the Jews.
Reconciliation Among Jews, Christians, Arabs and Muslims
God has worked with all the descendants of Abraham to raise them up in His image, to make them mature, loving men and women capable of fulfilling the original ideal of creation. But despite all God’s efforts, all too often the people He has loved and blessed have not fulfilled their portion of responsibility and have gone against God’s will. As a result, the history of relations between the Jews, and later their spiritual offspring, the Christians, on the one hand, and the Arabs and their spiritual offspring, the Muslims, on the other, has been full of resentment, anger and conflict, with all too rare episodes of amity. Unificationism sees Jews, Christians, Arabs and Muslims as descendants of a single ancestor, Abraham, and a single spiritual parent, God. As such, they should seek reconciliation through mutual respect and love. This reconciliation is the key to resolving the religion-related conflicts of the world today.