It is said that when we emphasize the ‘reality’ in our discussions with non-Muslims, we are showing a total disdain for different minds to perceive things in different ways. What do we say to this?
Answer (by Ustadh Luqman al-Andalusi, Executive Director of al-Andalus Institute of Islamic Studies):
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
In Islam, one of our spiritual masters is the best friend of the Prophet Muhammad, Abu Bakr as-Siddique. He said, “The way I know Allah is to know that I do not know Allah.” Meaning that nobody on earth knows the true Essence of God.
Therefore, it is true that we do not know the realities of God, however, we can get to know Him through the signs of His creation. That is a Muslim’s reality.
As Muslims, it is also not true that we do not believe that others can experience spiritual realities. What we do not agree about are a lot of the methods used to get such realities. For example, so-called spiritualists piercing their skin in order to gain spiritual euphoria, or let’s say someone who wastes food when people around the world are hungry; to then place this food in front of an idol is considered useless to a Muslim, These methods are rejected by those with faith, because they go against what the Creator of the air you breathe wants. We, as humans cannot just come up with our own ways of life without the guidance of God. That is similar to a person trying to fly a plane, with a motorcycle license. But, with that said, we as Muslim cannot say that methods used by other religions do not affect the soul [Ruh]. Especially, if a person does not know any better. Meaning they are living a faith of their ancestors and let’s say they are good people that have fed orphans their whole life. They would have a good spirit and they would be the best people to be susceptible to accepting Islam because they are already good people.
Another thing that has to be noted, is that we also do not reject that others within the so-called Abrahamic faiths have a lot of similarities to Islam in doctrine. What we reject as Muslim, is saying that God could be a man. We do not reject that Jesus was a Prophet and a beloved of Allah. We place no divinity upon him, not because of disrespect. We believe he is the Messiah, will come back and that he will unite the believers at that time.
Therefore, yes people can have their realities, yet one has to be willing to change that reality once they find the true reality. Scientists themselves do this all the time. So, yes, people of others religions can have spiritual realities that affect the Ruh and would transform them.
With that said, in Islam, I will not lie, we do believe that methods other than Islam are not valid, we would not be shy to say this. Our scholars have noted, that just as there is a difference between a clock and a watch, even though they tell the same time; many will have a different concept of God, all with the intention to reach that reality which is being questioned. That Reality is God.
So, to end, in Islam we allow freedom of religion and we allow others to practice in their churches and synagogues. What we do not accept is people using religion as a tool to oppress people, such as idol worshipers and atheists who hate people because they love God, etc. Many proofs of other cultures and religions can be used. We do not accept anything that goes against the natural disposition of life.
The Proofs for the realities of this are all in the Quran, which is the last revelation, which to us as Muslims purified and then confirmed the truths of the Bible. It is in no way a carbon copy of it.
The proofs of the existence of Allah and many scientific realities are also found in the Quran. These would allow a person of sound intellect to break the fallacies of the media, etc., in order to learn Islam with a clear mind. Yet, many are not willing to do this because of pressure to hate Islam through the media and more conservative families, so to speak. I hope this helps and please forgive if I offended anyone. The truth is like medicine, please drink up.