A while back, I was reading that book by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross called "My Year Inside Radical Islam". I had mentioned in a previous post some questions I had about the position of Christians before Allah. Are we capable of going to heaven? Are we infidels? What does Islam teach about these issues? So, in our cool technological age I decided to email Mr. Gartenstein-Ross and see what he says about it all. I found him to be very accomodating, and he's allowed me to post his response on my blog. (You really must read his book!) Here's his answer:
"With respect to your question, there is a split opinion among Muslims in contemporary times about whether Christians can go to heaven. Compare Qur'an verse 2:62 (saying that Jews, Christians, and Sabians "who believe in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord") to verse 3:85 (saying that "whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers"). The traditionally dominant interpretation is that verse 3:85 abrogates verse 2:62, and therefore that only Islam is a path to salvation. Some contemporary scholarship has challenged that view, but my guess based on observational data is that most Muslims, and most Islamic scholars, hold an exclusivist view of salvation.
As to Christians being "people of the book," that's primarily a political classification and doesn't speak to whether or not Christianity is a path to salvation. The "people of the book" classification allows Christians to continue to practice their faith under Muslim rule, although with the visible subjugation of the dhimmi class.
One final point. You ask whether you're "OK or not" in Muslims' eyes. This ties into the question of whether there can be respect and friendship between people of different faiths that make competing truth claims. It's worth noting that under most interpretations of Christianity, adherents to other religions cannot reach heaven. I do not find this to be an inherently offensive view, so I have difficulty finding it offensive when coming from Muslims rather than Christians. After all, if someone believes that you're on a path to hell and he's right, he's doing you a favor by trying to correct your course. And if he's wrong, that erroneous belief has no impact at all on you. I believe there can be friendship, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence between people who belong to faiths that make competing truth claims. Problems occur when adherents of one faith believe that it is their religious obligation to physically dominate believers in another creed, as is the case for radical Muslims today."
Labels: Current Events