CYBERJOURNAL FOR PENTECOSTAL-CHARISMATIC RESEARCH #18
A Comparative Study of Principles and Methods of Propagating in the Holy Quran and the New Testament
By Dr. Mohsen Zare Jelyani and Dr. Hassan Khajehei
This study is an attempt to investigate and compare the principles and methods of propagating as revealed in the Holy Quran and The New Testament. The goal is to unravel the effective strategies and methods made available to the scholars through teachings in the Holy Quran and The New Testament. Such issues have always been of great concern and interest to thinkers. Also, we try to clarify the concepts of Tabshir (glad tidings) and Enzar (informing people of the punishments awaiting them) in the Bible. Along with other means of propagating, these two methods have been properly used retrospectively. This paper aims at investigating the propagating methodology and its significance and goals and finally identifying the commonly used means of propagating in the Holy Quran and the New Testament.
Key words: The Quran, The New Testament, Propagating
The Design of the Study
The thoroughly illuminating Quran contains some verses of great elegance which instruct humans the pure propagating methods, and the history of Ignorance Period (Paganism) can reveal to us the efficacy of such teachings in leading humans towards the right path. Apart from the crucial role of the messenger in doing so as emphasized in the Holy text, we can also realize the unchallengeable intelligence of the bearers of such divine responsibility.
Christianity has enjoyed an outstanding growth among religions, and that’s why a comparative study of the two Heavenly teachings is highly recommended and should be undertaken. In doing so, we can gain insights into some practical propagating strategies as well.
In this paper, initially we try to pin down the propagating methods as inferred from the verses in the Quran and subsequently compare them with corresponding parts from the New Testament. Our references are the narratives and traditions as well as teachings emanating from both Shiite and Sunnite sources. Such a study can surely serve as an initiative in the acquisition of knowledge about all divine religions and can lead us toward the ultimate holy happiness (salvation) and prosperity.
The significance of propagating in Islam and Christianity
In the world today, where cultural crises aim at depleting humans of spirituality , religious propagations and diffusing of Holy values would serve as the sole absolute existing means to resist the fall . That is why the bulk of speeches and sermons nowadays center around such an issue in order to save mankind. Islam and Christianity have gained success in this respect. To Islam, propagating is so essential that the superiority of Moslems to other nations (The Ummah) is chiefly because of calling to goodness and prohibiting evils “You are the best nation raised up for men: you enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah” (Ale Imran 110) and “And who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah and does good, and says : I am surely of those who submit?” (Fussilat, 33)
In Christian teachings as revealed in the New Testament, Jesus Christ had traveled a lot to preach and also to lead people to the right path, and as described in “Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem , this time with Barnabas. I Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.” (Corinthians 2/1,2) we understand how significant these travels had been.
We can conclude here that propagating is of central importance in both Islam and Christianity and it sounds reasonable here to compare the propagating in these two religions in order to arrive at useful conclusion.
Goals of propagating
In this part, the aim is to investigate the ultimate goal of propagating as involved in both Holy Quran and New Testament. Overall, there are two types of goals: intermediary and ultimate. The former is actually contained within the latter. To begin with, we describe the intermediary goals.
This is among the goal of propagating. Faith comes into different levels, and the Quran tells us about faith in prophethood, monotheism and resurrection in “ Believe in Allah and His messengers, and spend of that whereof he has made you heirs” (Hadid,7) “Do you then think that we have created you in vain, and that you will not be returned to us?” (Muminun, 115). In a similar vein, the New Testament says about the same point in “without faith it is impossible to please God ,because anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Ibrahim 11,6) “anyone who receive a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a reward” (Matthew 10/41). We thus, understand that faith has been a goal of appointment to prophecy.
2. Caring humans’ interests
Humans’ interests consist of different things including materials and spiritual interests, need for unity, friendship, calling to goodness and prohibiting evils, establishing justice and equity, and social freedom. The Holy Quran urges us not to worship anything other than Allah who is unique and with no counterpart “Say: O people of the book, come to an equitable word between us and you, that we shall serve none but Allah and that we shall not associate aught with Him, and that some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah.” (Ale Imran, 64). As said in The New Testament “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Corinthians 1/5) Establishing justice has been heavily emphasized as the main goal of appointment of the messengers “certainly we sent our messengers with clear arguments and sent down with them the Book and the measure that men may conduct themselves with equity” (Hadid,25). In Christianity also justice is said to have been among the duties of Jesus “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness” (Matthew,5/10 ).
The other aspect of humans’ interests is to identify the righteous, following them and avoiding imitating blindly “and when it is said to them, follow what Allah has revealed, they say Nay, we follow that wherein we found our fathers. What; Even though their fathers had no sense at all, nor did they follow the right way.” (Baqarah, 170). Achieving this goal is of great importance and Imam Ali p.b.u.h. says to Malik Ashtar, the governor of Egypt “wherever his talks are right and reasonable, follow him and do as he asks you.” (sayed Raazi, N 38, Majlesi 33/595/741). It is worth mentioning that the New Testament also points out the same idea about humans’ interests (Corinthians 5/15).
The other goal of divine religions is maturity. The Holy Quran as a leading book has pointed out this goal in “Guiding to the right way –so we believe in it .And we shall not set up anyone with our Lord.” (Jinn,2). Achieving this goal demands stimulating the intrinsic inner “So set thy face to religion, being upright, the nature made by Allah in which He has created men .There is no altering Allah’s creation. That is the right religion –but most people know not.” (Rum,30), combating deviations in thoughts “ O you who believe ,follow not the footsteps of the devil. And whoever follows the footsteps of the devil, surely he commands indecency and evil” (Nur,21), teaching of the holy book and Wisdom “ the beneficent , taught the Quran” (Rahman,1,2 ).,…and as Imam Ali p.b.u.h. has asserted (Sayed razi, Majlesi 11/60/70). Saving people from darkness and leading them on the right path can provide the ground for the above-mentioned maturity “I, Allah, am the seer. A Book which we have revealed to thee that thou mayest bring forth men, by their lord’s permission, from darkness into light, to the way of the mighty, the praised one,” (Ibrahim,1 ).
Also, in the Bible the same is said (John,8/11). Thinking and pondering which are of significant importance in Islam can help man’s growth and maturity, and that is why Mohammad p.b.u.h. says: (Majlesi,7/114) .
4. Spiritual cleanliness (Taharat)
By taharat here spiritual cleanliness rather than physical is meant .Taharat is among heavily emphasized goals in both Quran and Bible “….Allah desires not to place a burden on you but He wishes to purify you, and that He may complete His favour on you, so that you may give thanks.” (Maidah,6) and “for it is written ,be holy, because I am holy” (Peter 1/16). Purification is among ways of taharat in divine teachings “ He, it is who raised among the illiterates a messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His messages and purifies them, then teach them the Book and wisdom.” (Jumuah,2). As the late great thinker, Tabatabie has noted, Allah has sent Mohammad p.b.u.h. to make people follow the route of taharat and goodness in order to become perfect and enjoy salvation accordingly.
Good deeds can also create grounds for taharat (John13/31). There are other ways which could be helpful in this regard as well “…..Certainly we encouraged those who were given the Book before you and we enjoin you too to keep your duty to Allah.” (Nisa,131).
5. Purified Life
Of the most important achievements of revelation in Quran and New Testament is purified life “Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, we shall certainly make him live a good life.” (Nahl,97). As said in the Bible “for here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrew 13/14), the eternal home is the very purified life.
There are different interpretations of purified life provided by scholars, such as clean life and worldly earning, the next world and heaven, being content with divine fate, and obeying Allah’s commands and instructions (Boroujerdi, 2/120).
The rationale behind the revelation of the holy books has been proximity to God, i.e., spiritual rather than physical proximity. In other words “In this world proximity is possible provided humans come to realize it“ (Bagheri,58). The pharaoh’s wife explains her wish as the proximity to Allah (Tahrim,11), “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’(Matthew ,5/8). Proximity can be achieved through love for Allah “Those who believe are stronger in their love for Allah.” (Baqarah,165) and obeying His teachings and worshipping Him “ I have not created the Jinn and the men except that they should serve me.”(Dhariyat,56) and salvation of man “Remember the bounties of Allah, that you may be successful” (alaraf,69) and “and greatest of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure, that is the grand achievement.” (Taubah,72).
The sole goal of divine teachings has been leading man which is inclusive of all the above-mentioned goals. That is why it is said in Koran “… and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit”( Nahl,89) that in the absence of such leadership man cannot go the whole way toward salvation. The late great Tabatabaiee maintained that there are two types of leading; biological leading which is for all beings and spiritual, i.e., beliefs and good deeds which are based on the right path to Allah. (Tabatabaiee7/367,368).
What are meant by leading are as follows: Guidance and providing a means for acquiring virtue and faith and showing the right path toward the heaven and salvation accordingly.
Principles and means of propagating in Islam and Christianity
Pondering in the Quranic verses and New Testament can reveal to us some principles and means of propagating which are as follows:
1.Principle of responsibility
Some verses in Quran indicate how far responsibility for humans in doing the assigned deeds is emphasized, e.g., ”and that man can have nothing but what he strives for” (Najm,39).
Responsibility is an indispensable part of social life, as asserted in Kashef interpretation (moghnieh,4/90). Thus, following this principle could be helpful in propagating campaign.
In New Testament, the very principle is also emphasized “for each man should carry his own load” (Corinthians 6/5). The responsibility that Allah has assigned to man are ; worshipping and obeying Him ”cited in preceding parts” (Dhariyat,56), responsibility toward man himself, i.e., reaching the spiritual salvation “So shun him who turns his back upon our reminder, and desires nothing but this world’s life’ (Najm,29), responsibility toward people and the believers in order to establish unity and cooperation between them “and help one another is righteousness and piety, and help not one another is sin and aggression and keep your duty to Allah. Surely Allah is severe in requiting evil” (Maidah,2), responsibility toward parents which include good behavior toward them (Isra, 3,24), and many other types of it which if taken and followed seriously, guarantees salvation.
The principle of responsibility can be undertaken in different ways and approaches, namely the following:
The exalted Allah has urged man to do certain acts as mandatory and thereby, responsibility is assigned to man, e.g., praying “Keep up prayer and pay the poor rate and bow down with those who bow down’ (baqarah, 43) fasting “fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you.” (baqarah,183) divine virtue (Insan 77) or social acts” strive hard in His way that you may be successful’ (Maidah 35), Calling to goodness and prohibiting evils ‘….enjoin the right and forbid the wrong” (Al Imran 104), Retaliation “O you who believe, retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain : the free for free, and the slave for the slave and the female for the female “ (Baqarah, 178), Zakat (Taubah, 60),…or obeying Allah ,His messenger and spiritual leader “Obey Allah and obey the messenger and those in authority from among you.” (Nisa,59).
In Christianity also, the same approach can be seen, e.g., “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left” (Hebrews, 10/26). Doing and following these mandatory acts as advised and assigned by Allah can lead the believers to ultimate salvation.
Allah always makes people aware of the result of what they do and in the light of such awareness, people do the assigned responsibilities “So he who does an atom’s weight of good will see it and he who does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (Zilzal 7,8 ).
In Christianity the same point can be detected “the man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life“ ( John 12/25). Jesus Christ made people aware of the final results of their doings and thereby convince them.
C. Faith rendering approach
The Holy Quran mentions to the believers their responsibilities through some statements such as “ ان کنتم مومنین “. For example it says about Jihad in (Taubah,13). Fakhre Razi in his commentary about the verse says “the meaning of the verse is that is you do not fight, you are not faithful” (Fakhre razi 15/235).
Regarding fear of doing sinful acts in “It is the devil who only frightens his friends, but fear them not and fear me, if you are believer” (Al Imran 175) and many other verses which end in the same statement, this approach is emphasized. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ encourages people to believe in teachings if they are to avoid fears when facing the two typhoons “He replied you of little faith, why are you so afraid? Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm“ (Matthew, 8/26).
This is assumed to be essential to the ultimate salvation and leading of man, and is based on our understanding of self. Divine mercy is the consequence of inner and spiritual revolution (Infal 79).
This principle actually reveals the difference lying between Islam and Faith .The great thinker, the late Tabatabaiee, (18/367) has noted that “faith lies in the heart, but Islam is a concept through the language and our organs“
In Christianity the same principle is also cared about and any individual is valued based on his faith “Then Jesus said to the centurion, will be done just as you believed it would. And his servant was healed at that very hour” (Matthew 8/13). There are two ways to materialize this principle:
A.Inviting to faith
Faith means heartily belief, in other words, faith is a kind of assurance in your heart which is central to anything else (yazdi,25) . Manifestation of faith is in deeds and faith comes to different types, the most important of which is faith in God “Say: we believe in Allah” ( Baqarah , 136), “but my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him” (Hebrews1,0/38). There are other types of faith including faith in Mohammad the messenger p.b.u.h., faith in the unseen world and angels and faith in resurrection. All of these are emphasized in both Quran and New Testament.
The other way that God assumes as revolutionizing the inside of man is developing Insight “there are clear proofs for men, an a guidance and a mercy for people who are sure” (Jathiya, 20). According to the commentaries about this verse (Vahbe alzoheili). There are also other verses which say the Earth, heaven, mountains and plants all are means of achieving insight “Do they not look at the sky above them and how we have made it and adorned it and it has no gaps. And the earth, we have spread it out, and cast there in mountains and we have made to grow therein of every beautiful kind to give sight and as a reminder to every servant who turns to Allah.” (Qaf 6-8) The same fact is also evident in Christianity “but blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear.” (Matthew ,13/16) which means inner seeing and hearing.
3. The principle of reason
This is also emphasized in both Quran and the New Testament. The significance of this principle is that, lack of reason result in beastly behavior according to which man becomes the most inferior being “surely the vilest of beasts, in Allah’s sight are deaf, dumb, who understand not.” (Infal,22). It is the power of reasoning that causes man to think that the materialistic world is an introduction to the next world and thereby man doesn’t stick to this world “And this world’s life is naught but a play and an idle sport. And certainly the abode of the hereafter is better for those who keep their duty do you not then understand?” (An am,32). Imam Sadeq p.b.u.h. says that reason is something that result in worshipping and heaven in the next world is awaiting those who use their wisdoms in their deeds (koleini, 1/11/13).
In the New Testament the same is emphasized (think well, reason well). The different ways which lead to reason are as follows:
This is among the propagating means in Islamic teachings which serves as a tool for thinking (Reasoning)” Call to the way of thy lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the best manner.” (Nahl,125). Wisdom has been defined by the great late Tabatabaiee as:” Wisdom is a firm truth value with no possibility of wronghood, falsehood in it, and its advantage is also solid, i.e., with absolutely no disadvantage“ (Tabatabaiee 19/313). Wisdom includes all knowledge about fundamentals and secondary aspects of religion which are bases for distinguishing between good and evil ‘and certainly narratives have come to them, which deter consummate wisdom-but warnings avail not.” (Qamar 4,5).
In the Bible the same point is emphasized and lack of wisdom is equated with stupidity “for although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise they became fool” (Romans, 21/22/1).
Questioning means asking something which can be of significant importance in enhancing the mind and the power of reason. An intrinsic nature of man is tendency of questioning and we are born curious and inquiring. This characteristic is important in propagating and in all historical, social issues as can be understood in Quran “so ask the followers of the reminder if you know not.”(Nahl 43). In the New Testament the same fact is evident “which of you, if his son asks you for bread ,will give him a stone or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake?” (Matthew 7/9/10 ).
This approach is very effective in stimulating reasoning in man and that is why the hero of monotheism has defeated the leaders of blasphemy and atheists. In this approach the basic premises are agreed and emphasized and each side tries to nullify the other side using his own words and ideas .So the aim of this approach is: “convincing the interlocutor and thereby make him to give in“ (Khazaiee,33).
The exalted Allah invites us to use this approach, as revealed in some parts of Quran “and argue with them in the best manner” (Nahl,125). In contrast, non stimulating debate is avoided in the Bible “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’ ( Romans 18/12 ), which is indicative of the critical importance of this approach in propagating.
This is among highly valued ways of stimulating thoughts in humans. It means purifying the self and depriving ourselves of materialistic interests. ( Ala 4). Thus, some parts of Islamic propagating is devoted to the purification along with teaching of the Book and wisdom ,the greatest goals of the messengers “cited in preceding parts’ (Jumuah 2). As noted by Sheikh Abolfotoohe Razi, purification in this verse means inviting man to morality, approved behaviour and the deeds which make us purified and pious (Abolf 226/2). Unless we remove deviations and sinful acts in ourselves, we cannot think right and thus in Bible, purification is emphasized “the end of all things is near, therefore, be clear minded and self controlled so that you can pray” (I Peter 7/4).
In this approach, comparing opposite affairs with clear-cut borders between them result in triggering the real truth in man’s exploring and creative mind which leads to deep thinking and pondering . For example, in Quran “ there is no compulsion in religion- the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error”(Baqarah 256) and in Christianity ,too,the same point is emphasized “but if they cannot control themselves they should marry for it is better to marry than to burn with passion”( I Corinthians 9/7).
4. The principle of Reminding
Since the intrinsic familiarity of man with Allah is sometimes subject to oblivion, we should always keep our inner world awake and alert so much so that Mohammad‘s main duty as stated in Quran is reminding” So remind thou art only one to remind.” (Ghashiyah 21),” Surely this is a reminder: so whoever will, let him take a way to his lord” (Insan 29 ). Tabarsi (may god bless him) defines reminding as “remembering and maxims through which resurrection is reminded” (Tabarsi10,1/626), and this is how man can understand his essence and keep on the right path to Allah. The same principle has been emphasized in Christianity as well “for you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live worthy of God, who calls you into the kingdom and glory” (I Thessalonians 2/11,12). The principle of reminding can be materialized through the following ways:
Which means “something done for the good of others” (Tajolaroos ). Such remembering awakens humans, causes him to find his real place in the universe and thus worship the endower. Allah has used the same way to conduct us ”taught the Quran, created man, taught him expression “ (Rahman 2..). In other verses , some blessings from Him have been described in order to remind us the significance of them and make us do divinely assigned deeds “and hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not disunited” (Al Imran 103), unity “and remember when you were few, deemed week in the land fearing lest people should carry you off by force” ( Anfal 26) freedom “O you who believe, call to mind the favor of Allah to you when there came against you hosts , so we sent against them a strong wind and hosts that you saw not. And Allah is ever seer of what you do.” (Ahzab,9) victory “and when Moses said to his people : O my people remember the favor of Allah to you when He raised prophets among you and made you kings and gave you what he gave not to any other of the nations” (Maidah,20), prophethood and headership “O men, call to mind the favor of Allah to you. Is there any creator besides Allah who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? There is no God but He. How are you then turned away? (Fatir ,3) sustenance “ (Taubah 104), repentance “then when they went in to Joseph, he lodges his parents with himself and said Enter Egypt in safety if Allah pleases” (Yusuf 99), security and the like. In the Bible, too, the same principle and approach is adopted for the very purpose of awakening us “Whoever drinks the water I gave him, will never thirst, indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to everlasting life” (John 4/14).
Preaching, as defined in Arabic, means advising about the ultimate consequences of affairs (Ibn manzoor 1,5/345) or as Ragheb has noted “a warning accompanied by fears“ (Ragheb 527).
Allah asks Mohammad p.b.u.h. to use the same way in propagating Islam “Call to the way of thy lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and agree with them in the best manner. Surely thy lord knows best him who strays from His path, and He knows best those who go aright” (Nahl,125). Here, we can conclude that Allah is the most valued preacher because he has sent us the Holy Quran as a magnificent source of sermons and maxims “surely Allah admonishes you with what is excellent. Surely Allah is ever hearing, seeing” (Nisa,58).
Adopting this tactic is also evident in Christianity. Jesus Christ p.b.u.h. has made a lot of preaches to lead people “therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes” (Matthew 25/6). Obviously not all preachers and sermons are valuable and equally effective, and to be effective they should have certain qualities including being hidden, eloquent, accurate and capable of creating favorite grounds in the audience.
This is among other propagating approaches in divine teachings and it implies learning from whatever phenomena happened in the past in order to enjoy a better and brighter future or in other words transition from bad qualities to good qualities. Ayatollah Javadi Amoli has noted that “of divine goals is learning from the past history or transition from bad to good qualities” (Javadi Amoli,132).
Allah considers the remnants of the Noah’s Ark as a lesson for people” and certainly we left it as a sign, but is there any that will mind?” (Qamar 15), or in another place saving Pharaoh’s body from the river is also assumed as a lesson for the future “but this day we shall see thee in the body that thou mayest be a sign to those after thee. And surely most of the people are heedless of our signs” (Yunus, 92). It is in the light of such learning grounds that man is lead to his inner world and as Imam Ali p.b.u.h. has said “a true believer looks at the world as lessons” (Sayed raazi, 347).
In Christianity the same approach is advised and some groups’ fates have become lessons for others “the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrew 11/38). So we can conclude that this approach is of great potentialities of use in propagating tasks.
To keep on the right path toward perfection, man needs patterns and in response to such a need the beneficent Allah has introduced pious leaders to him. A pattern should be both complete and perfect so much so that it would be wise to adhere to it. As an example, in the Holy Quran Mohammad p.b.u.h. has been introduced as a perfect pattern “certainly you have in the messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day, and remembers Allah much” (Ahzab,21). There are also other patterns as mentioned in Quran who are all perfect and flawless (infallible) including Abraham “Indeed, there is for you a good example in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people: we are clear of you and of that which you serve besides Allah.” (Mumtahana,4), Ayoub “and Job,when he cried to his lord; Distress has afflicted me; and thou art the most merciful of those who show mercy” (Anbiya,83) Yunus and Zakarya “and Dhu-I-nun , when he went away in wrath, and he thought that we would not straiten him, so he called out among afflictions: there is no God but thou, glory be to thee; surely I am of the sufferers of loss.” (Anbiya87).
In New Testament the same approach is encouraged and Jesus p.b.u.h. is introduced as the most perfect pattern for people “to this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2/21). Pattern making is very effective in the short run, therefore, it can have plentiful applications in propagating tasks.
5. Modification and manipulation of situation principle
This principle, used to lead people, is on the ground that man has the predisposition to manipulate and modify the situations and learn from them .Allah considers avoidance as an example of this principle and says to Mohammad p.b.u.h. ”and when thou seest those who talk nonsense about our messages, withdraw from them until they enter into some other discourse. And if the devil causes thee to forget, then sit not after recollection with the unjust people.” (Anam 68). As maintained in commentaries, avoidance means expressing opposition of any sort (Fakhre raazi 25/13) and here it means avoiding association with some and stop talking with them.
In a similar vein in Bible association with the corrupt is prohibited “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with everyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy or idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.” (I Corinthians 5/9,11). Now let’s see how this principle can be materialized.
Here, facilitating situations are created and hindering ones are modified. Lots of Quranic verses contain points which can serve as background making situations which help keep people on the right path” surely those who believe and those who are jews, and the Christians, and the sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the last day and does good, they have their reward with their lord,and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” (Baqarah 62) and (Taubah 6).In such verses the emphasis has been put on the situations which lead to effective propagation .The holy Quran also has specified times when children should not be present if parents are to be alone together in order to eliminate the possibility of making sins in children “O you who believe, let those whom your right hands possess and those of you who have not attained to puberty ask permission of you three times: before the morning prayer, and when you put off your clothes for the heat of the noon, and after the prayer of night. These are three times of privacy for you; besides these it is no sin for you nor for them - some of you go round about waiting for others. Thus does Allah make clear to you the messages. And Allah is knowing, wise”(Nur58).
To avoid the trials, Jesus asks his followers and pupils “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation, the spirit is willing but the body is weak” (Matthew26/41). So we see that in both holy books background making approach is encouraged.
B. Modification of situation
The Holy Quran is determined to bring about some changes in order to make situations appropriate for the acceptance of Allah’s words as revealed in Quran .An example is calling for good and prohibiting evils “and from among you there should be a party who invite to good and enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. And these are they who are successful” and “you are the best nation raised up for men: you enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah. And if the people of the book had believed it would have been better for them.Some of them are believers but most of them are transgressors” (Al Imran,103,109). Another example is resorting to force to change the situation, as manifested in the story of Abraham’s encounter with atheists (Anam 76-79) which is also true of Mohammad p.b.u.h. combating the atheists.
Emigration, too, is influential in the modification of situations, as Mohammad p.b.u.h. emigrated from Medina in order to establish more security and development in Islamic society.
In Christianity, also, the same approach is evident, e.g., Jesus p.b.u.h. said to a young individual “if you want to be perfect go sell your possession and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come and follow me” (Matthew 19/21). So we can conclude from teachings in both Islam and Christianity that to enjoy an effective propagation, situations should be changed to pave the path toward the sacred goal.
Superstitions and unfounded (unbased) imitation are believed to be obstacles to effective propagation and in all divine religions both are denounced (Motahari193). An example in the Quran is the wrong tradition among some uninformed Arabs who entered their houses through backdoor rather than front door, after wearing pilgrimage garb “they ask thee of the new moon Say: they are times appointed for men, and for the pilgrimage. And it is not righteousness that you enter the house by their backs, but he is righteous who keeps his duty. And go into the houses by their doors; and keep your duty to Allah, that you may be successful.” (Baqarah189). Blindly imitating is also heavily criticized “and when it is said to them, follow what Allah has revealed, they say; Nay we follow that wherein we found our fathers .What! Even though their fathers had no sense at all nor did they follow the right way “(Baqarah 170), and heresy is prohibited (Hujurat 1). In Christianity also it is highly recommended that attempts be made to prevent imitating blindly and following superstitions “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transferred by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God ‘s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 2/12). In a nutshell, we may conclude here that unless we rid ourselves of such restrictions, we cannot think wisely and cannot keep on the right path toward the sacred goal.
D. Stimulating emotions
Of other ways used to modify situations in order to lead people is stimulating their emotions and Quran has done it for the purpose of encouraging people to do good deeds. An example is Allah’s stimulating Arabs’ emotions and their faith in Mohammad p.b.u.h. in order to trigger The Truth in their hearts “Certainly Allah conferred a favor on the believers when He raised among them a messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His messages and purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom, although before that they were surely in manifest error.” (Ai Imran 163).
Fakhre Raazi’s commentary about this verse is “Jews and Christians were proud of their books,i.e., Old and New Testaments but Arabs had nothing to be proud of. The holy appointment of Mohammad p.b.u.h. brought about the superiority of Arabs to Jews and Christians then“ ( Fakhre Raazi 80/9). In another place in Quran, backbiting (speaking ill of somebody absent) is likened to eating a brother’s flesh, which is another example for stimulating the emotions which aims at changing the situations “O you who believe, avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is sin; and spy not nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor it, and keep your duty to Allah, surely Allah is oft returning (to mercy), merciful” (Hujurat 12).
Bible also encourages the same policy, e.g, ”if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him” ( John 17/3) and in doing so it convinces individuals to have mercy and heartily emotions toward each other.
This is another way effective in modifying the situations and it means informing and causing fears of what may occur in future .Taleghani (May peace be upon him) describes it as “news about sad and sorrowful future” (Taleghani, 28/1). Quran contains many verses addressing the same point so that The prophet Mohammad p.b.u.h. is introduced as warning giver “and those who disbelieve say: why has not a sign been sent down to him from his lord? Thou art only a warner and for every people a guide” (Ra’d 7). Warning is more significant than glad tidings as the former has been used more frequently than the latter and the reason might be as: 1. Humans’ tendencies to negative and disapproved things are more than tendencies toward positive things ,this is why Allah has resorted to warning actions more than glad tidings in order to keep them on the right path , 2. The other explanation is based on human’s forgetfulness and warning can revive Human’s intrinsic covenant with his God. And finally 3. All warnings have been done as emphasizing and mentioning, but with a rationale behind them. At any rate, warning could be either before or after the action both of which used in Quran.
Although many people consider Christianity empty of warnings, there are examples of it in the Bible “but woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now for you will mourn and weep.” ( Luke6/24,25), “I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again anyone who says to his brother ,Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin, but anyone who says You fool, will be in danger of fire of hell” (Matthew5/21,22) . So in both Islam and Christianity warning actions are used.
6 .Principle of continuous propagating
Since propagating affects us gradually, it should be consistent and continuous if it is to be successful. Repetitions and continuous actions yield better results than intensive and abrupt ones. In heavenly teachings the same fact is emphasized “and certainly we have made the word to have many connections for their sake, so that they may be mindful” (Qasas 51). There are also verses in which the same principle is implied through use of special verb forms, subjects and the like. An example is the chapter Ma’arij which attacks greediness in humans and make those who worship regularly an exception “except those who pray, who are constant at their prayer “except those who pray. Who are constant at their prayer”(Ma’arij,22,23). There are many other similar verses which are indicative of the same principle .Imam Sadeq p.b.u.h. has said about the significance of continuity,” the best deeds to Allah are those which are done continuously even though very little tasks.” (Koleini 2/375/2). The same principle is also followed in Christianity, e.g.,” and pray in the spirit on all occasions with a all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all saints.” (Ephesians 18/6) .The practice of this principle is through the following ways:
Through repetition the content is well established in the interlocutor’s mind as maintained by (Zarkeshi 114/3) “the significance of repetition is the establishment in minds“. In the Holy Quran the story of Moses is repeated 120 times in more than 900 verses. Another case is (Rahman, Mursalat.) in which some verses are repeated 31 and 11 times, respectively. The repetition in Quran is for the purposes of acceptance of speech, avoiding forgetfulness, appreciation and attacking, praising, worshipping, significance in the community and finally helping the topic interpretation of Quran.
In the New Testament the same principle is adopted ,as exemplified in “blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek….blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness” (Matthew5/3-11) in which the repetition of glad tiding is helpful to the establishment of the idea in the minds.
There are many verses in Quran indicating Allah’s taking advantage of opportunities to express or pronounce something, and the same behavior can be found in Messengers and sacred ones who took advantage of the opportunities to propagate their thoughts and ideas among the Ummah. The revelation of verses of Quran has been for the purpose of utilizing the opportunities to diffuse the ideas. For example, in the verse “those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, for them is a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter. And Allah knows while you know not.”(Nur 19), Allah warns those who wanted to defame the prophet p.b.u.h. that agonizing pains await them in this world and hereafter, or in another place “and a believer would not kill a believer except by mistake. And he who kills a believer by mistake should free a believing slave, and blood money should be paid to his people unless they remit it as alms and Allah is all knowing and wise” (Nisa,92) Allah nullifies trinity while telling the story of Jesus Christ p.b.u.h.
In Christian teachings ,there are also some examples of good opportunities, e.g.,” Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment .But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5/21,22) .Thus, good opportunities, either big or small should be seized .
Another tactic which can help the permanence and continuity of propaganda is inspiration and Quran has utilized it fruitfully in different places. For example, Allah has taken advantage of statements such as لا اله الا الله ,ما من اله غیره ,لا اله الا هو to inspire monotheism in people .. The late great Tabatabaiee has noted that “Quran inspire its followers to believe in Allah only and there is no God but the Unique Allah who is the only possessor of the universe and nothing survives without His help.” (Tabatabaiee,3/9). Also, there are verses which inspire in people that greatness and glory belong only to Allah, like……In New Testament, too, we can find similar ideas, e.g., “but the word of the lord stands for ever”(I Peter 1/25).
7. Principle of Compassion
Since humans are easily influenced by honesty and compassion which result in the elimination of bad deeds in them, Allah’s compassion toward them is unlimited and by doing so humans are kept on the right path to Him. Allah’s compassion is toward everything in universe, as stated in “and ordain for us good in this world’s life and in the hereafter, for surely we turn to thee. He said; I afflict with my chastisement whom I please, and my mercy encompasses all things. So I ordain it for those who keep their duty and pay the poor the poor rate and those who believe in our messages.” (A’raf 156)
The same principle is evident in Christianity, and the followers are repeatedly urged to have compassionate behaviors toward even the enemies “you have heard that it was said: love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5/43,44). Regarding the neighborhood the same policy is encouraged “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: love your neighbor as yourself” (Corinthians 5/13,14). There are also other examples in Christianity which are focused on the same point in propagating .This principle can be materialized through the following means:
In Quran, there are verses which are indicative of not only warning and intimidating but also giving hopes and forgiveness “if you shun the great things which you are forbidden, we shall do away your evil and cause you to enter an honorable place of entering” (Nisa31), and “say: O my servants who have been prodigal regarding their souls, despair not of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives sins altogether. He is indeed the forgiving, the merciful “(Zumar 53). In new Testament, hope is looked upon as a prerequisite for faith “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrew1/11).Hope can pave the path to repentance (Nur,31), and in “I will tell you , not but unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 3/13), we can conclude that hope and repentance are two effective types of propagating means which are highly appreciated in both Islam and Christianity.
B. Glad tidings
Another means of actualizing the above principle is glad tidings which is heavily emphasized in heavenly teachings. The most gracious Allah has promised the believers the heaven “those who say, our lord is Allah, then continue in the right way the angels descend upon them saying fear not, not to be grieved and receive good news of the garden which you were promised”(Fussilat,30) and addressing the righteous He promised “surely those who keep their duty are in Garden and fountains. Enter them in peace, secure. And we shall root out whatever of rancor is in their breasts- as brethren, on raised couches, face to face. Toil afflict them not therein nor will they be ejected there from “(Hijr 45-48). There are many other verses implying the application of the same policies.
In Christianity, too, the same approach is encouraged so much so that we can say the fundamentals of Jesus’ mission had been glad tidings “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew3-5/5). In another place “Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s almighty hand, that he may lift up in due time” (I Peter 6/5) God has done the same thing.
C. Excessive rewarding
Allah, the richest source of forgiveness and blessings, gives excessive rewards, i.e., more than they deserve to anybody who does good deeds and in doing so, He encourages them to continue doing good things “that Allah may give them the best reward for what they did, and give them more out of His grace. And Allah provides without measure for whom He pleases” (Nur, 38), “O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah and believe in His messenger- He will give you two portions of His mercy, and give you a light in which you shall walk, and forgive you. And Allah is forgiving, merciful” (Hadid 28). In his commentary on the verse the late Tabatabiee maintains “anyone who possesses such a high rank of faith, he enjoys more and more rewards”.
Excessive rewarding has a lot of applications in propagating in both Islam and Christianity. For instance, in the Bible the reward for good deeds exceeds what they deserve “so do not throw away confidence, it will be richly rewarded” (Hebrew35/10) or “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans18/8).
8. The principle of politeness in speech
Politeness in dealing with people is highly recommended and can help strengthen the relations .Politeness is defined as “good behavior toward people, good approach, and socially approved conducts.” (Ibn Manzoor 13/1).
In Islam, politeness is highly appreciated and in dealing with parents Allh says:” Isra 23”. Allah’s words here are indicative of polite speech. (Zamakhshari 658/2).
Politeness even when dealing with the ignorant is among good characteristics “and the servants of the beneficent are they who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say peace!” (Furqan 63). We understand here how much Quran insists on observing politeness in our social affairs in all circumstances no matter where and who.
In Christianity as well the same principle is emphasized .For example ,humility is highly encouraged in “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 11/14) . This principle can be actualized through the following means:
In both Islam and Christianity, lenient talks are appreciated, and according to Quran such talks are more influential in dealing with people. The influence of talks in propagating task is so much that God has advised Moses and Haroon to follow it “they said: Our lord , we fear lest he hasten to do evil to us or be inordinate “ (Ta Ha 44).
Lenient talks doesn't not mean censorship at all, but it is a mode of talking to people. It doesn't mean flattery and attracting wrong doers' attractions either. The rationale behind it is respecting others in order to prevent the bad reaction on the part of interlocutor. In Hadith "follow the principle of lenient and soft talks so that you will find more friends and lose more enemies." (Amadi,53/86).
In the New Testament, too, the same principle is emphasized “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4/29)
Related to the preceding principle of politeness, indirect inspiration aims to inform some others through addressing a certain group. In other cases ,it aims at observing politeness and respecting others .For instance, wherever Allah is to say something about sex issues, He deliberately uses some statements to eliminate the probable stimulations and whimsical desires .As an example, He uses "تغشها" for marriage “ …so when he covers her she bears a light burden with it.” (A’raf 189) or uses "مس , رفث" for intercourse “Or one of you come from the privy or you have touched the women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth then wipe your faces and your hands. Surely Allah is ever pardoning, forgiving” (Nisa 43). According to the great Tabatabaiee, to observe politeness Allah uses "Touching women" in place of intercourse (Tabatabaiee 5/244). In the Bible the same policy is adopted “now for that matters you wrote about it is good for a man not to marry” (I Corinthians 1/7).
9. The principle of aesthetics in speech
By this principle we mean eloquence and magnificence of speech which can help consolidate the influence on the interlocutor .The Holy Quran is actually a miracle with respect to this point “This is a message for the people and that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is One God, and that men of understanding may mind”(Ibrahim 52) .Allah always advises His messengers to follow it ,e.g., in dealing with hypocrites “ (Nisa 43).We can conclude here that in talking with people our speech should be aesthetic and create persuasion and at the same time creating fears and warnings.
To make the speech aesthetically approved and more influential, it should be uttered unequivocally, firmly and vigorously with no feeling of fear and anxiety. This manner of talk is evident in both Islam and Christianity.
The holy Quran, with no consideration of the upcoming results, expresses some verses regarding the torments awaiting the lewd “it has indeed been revealed to us that punishment will overtake him who rejects and turns away”(Ta Ha 48). It also strictly states that everyone is responsible for his/her deeds “O people of the Book, indeed our messenger has come to you making clear to you much of that which you concealed of the book passing over much. Indeed there has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book“ (Maidah 15).
Allah has asked Mohammad p.b.u.h” Say: O disbelievers, I serve not that which you serve, nor do you serve Him whom I serve nor shall I serve that which you serve nor do you serve Him whom I serve ,for you is your recompense and for me my recompense” (Kafirun 1-6).The same point can be seen in the Bible “ How can you believe if you accept praise from one another , yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God” (John 44/5). So strictness in speech is critical in propagating campaign.
Wherever the holy Quran seeks to establish a meaning in people's minds, it associates the meaning with some approved or disapproved realities. In case it seeks the abandoning of indecent deeds, association is with grave/bitter events. In both cases, the result is satisfactory and fruitful. That's why Allah asks the believers to bring with them ornaments when going to mosques ”O children of Adam, attend to your adornment at everytime of prayer, and eat and drink and be not prodigal; surely He loves not the prodigals”( A’raf 31). When you are in the mosque and are well dressed with recommended, decent ornaments, it never tunes out of your minds. An example illustrating this fact in the Quran is ”and we enjoined Abraham and Ishmael, saying; purify my House for those who visit and those who abide for devotion and those who bow down and those who prostrate themselves” (Baqarah 125).
In the Bible too, the same behavior is encouraged. “Remember the earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering” (Hebrew 32/10). We can then conclude that in both religions the same attitude and approach is recommended and advised
This is another way of making the speech and words more attractive and influential. There are lots of such narrations in the holy Quran (of course real, not fictitious). Lion's share of Quran, i.e., 1/3 of it or 60 narrations realized in 1800 verses, is devoted to this tasks. The rationale behind such narrations is removing humans from the dark passages of ignorance and reaching the land of enlightenment and finally happiness. This is why the holy Quran is referred to as a book of "best narrations" “We narrate to thee the best of narratives, in that we have revealed to thee this Quran, though before this thou wast of those unaware”(Yusuf 3). The great late thinker, Tabatabaiee, in his Al-Mizan maintains that "Quran as a crystal clear and rich source of words consists of stories which are the truest and also narrations about the past history." (Tabatabaiee 202/12).
Jesus Christ has also utilized the same style when interacting with people, and his talks were geared to their levels of wisdom and education (Luke 16-21/12). This type of interaction is very helpful in leading the people toward the light and the right path.
Parables are another means by which the speech can be made more influential. Ayatollah Sobhani defines parable as "a part of wisdom, geared to the situation and is used widely by people in similar settings with the purpose of creating an exact, precise picture of in interlocutor's mind" (Sobhani 10/7). The influence of a parable is sometimes much deeper than common preaching and maxims, and this is why Quran says “And certainly we have set forth for men in this Quran similitude of every sort that they may mind” (Zumar 27). The advantages of such a speech altogether constitute rhetorics. There are lots of parables in Quran, for example “So his parable is as the parable of a smooth rock with earth upon it then heavy rains fall upon it so it leaves it bare” (Baqarah 264).and “the parable of those who take guardians besides Allah is as the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house and surely the frailest of the houses is the spider’s house if they but knew” (Ankabut 41).
In Christian teaching the use of parables is also evident “no good tree bears bad fruit nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes nor grapes from briars” (Luke 6/43,44).
It is noteworthy that this approach is so delicate and influence people's hearts so fast, therefore, it could serve propagation very effectively.
10-The principle of moderation
Since different people are of different capabilities and talents, the moderation principle should be taken into account when dealing with them. Thus, any propagating move and practice should be based on the golden mean, i.e., moderation.
Religious code and etiquette emphasize teaching of this principle and as maintained by Fakhre Raazi “the exalted Allah urges all humans to approach one another fairly and moderately” ( Fakhre Raazi, 11/180). Allah describes Islamic Ummah as moderate and middle goer (Baqarah 143).
The observance of this principle in all aspects of life including individualistic, familial, political, social, economic, and the like, is a must. The wise Luqman advised his son to follow the path of moderation and not go extreme “and pursue the right course in thy going about and lower thy voice. Surely the most hateful of voices is braying of asses” (Luqman 19).
In Christianity, too, the same principle is heavily emphasized, e.g., (Matthew 5/6,10). The materialization of this principle is through the following means:
Essential to propagating task is acting as much as we are capable .Allah ha revealed His words to the interlocutors based on their levels of capabilities “Allah imposes not on any soul a duty beyond its scope”(Baqarah 286). The great thinker, Tabatabaiee, describes the verse as “the Exalted God assign everybody according to his/her capabilities and not more“ Christian teachings, also follow the same principle in assigning people different tasks (Romans7/12). Justice is actually manifested in assigning tasks according to capabilities.
In both Islam and Christianity such attention is equally cared for. Giving attention to spiritual needs and suppressing instinctive desires without caring about sexual and materialistic needs are not approved of. There are many verses in Quran encouraging people to enjoy the Halal and clean blessings endowed by Allah, e.g.,” and He it is who produces gardens, trellised and untrellised and palms and seed produce of which the fruits are of various sorts and olives and pomegranates, like and unlike. Eat of its fruit when it bears fruit and pay the due of it on the day of its reaping…” (An’am142). Or “take for your people houses to abide in Egypt and make your houses places of worship and keep up prayer ..” (Yunus 87). Generally Allah punishes those who discourage taking advantage of worldly blessings “these are for the believers in the life of this world, purely theirs on the resurrection day. Thus do we make the messages clear for a people who know” (A’raf32) and without giving such attention, no leading is expected.
In Christianity, helping the needy is assumed to be equal to heavenly saving (Matthew19/21).
Having investigated the propagating means in Islam and Christianity, we can conclude that the two religions have a lot in common ,and their differences lie in the settings which are determining factor in selecting what and how of propagating tasks.
It is noteworthy that although some believe Islam is the religion of Enzar and Christianity is the religion of Tabshir, there are a lot of Tabshir (glad tidings) techniques in the Quran and a lot of Enzare (Warning) ones in the Bible .In a nutshell, it could be said that principles and techniques of propagating are actually identical in these two religions.
The other point to be noted here is that a lot of attention is given to mercy and materialistic needs in Christianity, which resulted in the success of the religion. Therefore, those involved in propagating campaigns are advised to take into account these facts as far as their interlocutors are concerned and by doing so create hopes in the followers’ hearts.