Sweet First Fruits

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By W.M

Copyright © The Good Way 1983 - 1993

An Account of Christian Converts in Syria

The letter is of considerable length; it will suffice briefly to summarise the contents. (The arguments are all brought out in the later discussions so it would be unprofitable to give the letter here in full.) Its object is to establish the authority of the Bible (as borne testimony to by the Qur’an), and of Christianity as based thereon.

Holding it reasonable that man should look for a revelation of his Maker’s will, the writer proceeds to show how that will was gradually unfolded to a chosen race and embodied in the Books of Moses; and how, as a result of their apostasies, prophets were sent from time to time to recall the Israelites to the worship of the one true God.

How then is it possible

(thus ends the letter) for you, my friend, without insulting the Qur’an, to cast the Old Testament and Gospel behind your back, seeing that they are the very same Old Testament and Gospel, genuine and unchanged, as were borne testimony to in the seventh century? If you receive the Qur’an, you cannot but accept the Bible.

I call upon you to read it as the revelation of God. Admitting it as such, you cannot claim that it was intended only for Jews and Christians. God is one, and His revelation must be equally one — a manifestation of the divine will for all mankind.

Reading the Holy Scriptures,

the truth will dawn upon you that, just as there is one sun that illumines the whole world, even so, the Son of Righteousness, the Saviour, is the light for all mankind. And in accord therewith, the divine command runs thus: Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. (Mark 16:15)

Presuming on your kindness and love of truth, I have ventured, my friend, to write thus freely to you, and pray that you may find the blessed Gospel to be your guide unto everlasting life.

Your faithful friend, Yohanna Gheiyur

Having finished the reading, Abd ul-Hady sat down, and the company for some minutes remained silent. At last Sheikh Ali said: My friends, you have heard the letter. What do you think?

Sayyid Ibrahim answered: The reasoning is weighty, and the arguments, at first sight, difficult to answer. We need to discuss them one by one, and then we shall be able to say in what way they should be treated.

Thereupon Abd ul-Qadir spoke: Friend, said he, the Sayyid is garbling the truth and leading you astray. Though I am the youngest among you, I warn you not to forget that you are followers of the blessed Prophet and glorious Qur’an. With that, he began praising Islam – a religion which, for him, provided the only means of salvation; and he warned them to beware of the subtle attempt to undermine their faith. The honeyed morsel is steeped in poison; away with it, he cried, if you are true believers!

The aged Abd ul-Halim, arose then and spoke, leaning on his staff: Abd ul-Qadir has said nothing wrong about the danger of heresy. But let us not judge hastily by first appearances. Everything red is not a cinder. Jewels may be hidden in the sand, and in the clod a precious stone. With Sayyid Ibrahim, I advise that we do not cast the letter aside hastily. It contains no words of abuse against our faith, but rather, words of love and friendship. So, as wise and thinking men, let us study its contents. What is false we shall reject, and if there be in it any truth, we shall accept the same.

Omar Effendi then closed the conference. Agreeing with Abd ul- Halim, he objected to casting the letter aside as unworthy of notice. Rather, said he, let us consider it as learned and impartial Muslims should, and then reply to its criticisms.

But the day is now far spent, and if it pleases you, we shall end our sitting now, and come together again, when, having had time to ponder over the various arguments, we shall be better able to come to just conclusions.

To this, they all agreed. And so, after they had partaken of the refreshments, which Sheikh Ali placed before them, they departed each to his own home.


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