Allah’s Will Is Religious And Political Pluralism – OpEd


The phrase “if Allah had so willed” appears 7 times in 6 verses in the Quran with the meaning that had Allah so decided, Allah could have created humans with the instinct of termites who all work together in total  unity; but Allah did not do that because Allah wants there to be more than one true religion or political party; so we should compete respectfully and peacefully with others because religious and political pluralism is Allah’s will.

(1) “Those apostles We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them  (Moses) Allah spoke (directly and not through an angel); others He raised to (different) degrees (of honor); to Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit. If Allah had so willed, succeeding generations would not have fought among each other, after clear (signs) had come to them, but they (chose) to wrangle, some believing (some things) and others rejecting (other things). if Allah had so willed, they would not have fought each other; but Allah fulfills His plan.” (Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #253)

(2) “To you We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that has come to you. To each among you we have prescribed a law and an open way. if Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so strive (compete) as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is Allah.  He will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute;” (Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #48)

(3) “If Allah had so willed, He could have made them a single people; but He admits whom He will to His Mercy; and the Wrong-doers will have no protector nor helper.” (Ash-Shura, Chapter #42, Verse #8) 

As the Qur’an states: (49: 13). “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know each other (and not despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

(4) Say: “if Allah had so willed, I should not have recited it to you, nor would He have made it known to you. A whole life-time before this have I spent among you: will you not  understand?”  (Yunus, Chapter #10, Verse #16)

(5)  “The worshippers of false gods say: “if Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him – neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His.” So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of apostles but to preach the Clear Message?”  (An-Nahl, Chapter #16, Verse #35)

(6) And when they are told, “Spend of (the bounties) with which Allah has provided you,” the Unbelievers say to those who believe: “Shall we then feed those whom, if Allah had so willed, He would have fed, (Himself)?- You are in nothing but manifest error.”  (Ya Seen, Chapter #36, Verse #47)

The first quote teaches humans that Allah’s agents, the Prophets and the Messengers; have many different personalities, talents, experiences and abilities, and often live in very different cultures and historical times. Thus their books are all very different; although they all proclaim that there is only one imageless God. 

The second and third quotes teach humanity that Allah wants humans to live together in various groups of races, religions, nations, languages and political/economic societies so he can judge them accordingly.

The fourth quote applies to the Islamic community and its messenger, Prophet Muhammad. As the Qur’an states: “We have inspired in you a Lecture in Arabic, that you may warn the mother-town (Makkah) and those around it, and may warn of a day of assembling whereof there is no doubt. A group will be in the Garden, and a group of them in the Flame. Had Allah willed, He could have made them one community, but Allah brings whom He will into His mercy. And the wrong-doers have no friend nor helper. (42:7-8)

The fifth quote applies to the idol worshiping polytheists who falsely claim that if God had wanted them to be imageless monotheists He would have made them born in a monotheistic imageless community.

The sixth quote refers to those hard hearted people everywhere who say it is not their duty to feed the hungry because if Allah had so willed, He would have fed, (them Himself).

Thus, the Qur’an teaches: [5:45] “We ordained for them in that [Torah]: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and a [similar] retribution for wounds; but he who shall forgo it out of charity will atone thereby for some of his past sins. They who do not judge in accordance with what God has revealed –  they are the evildoers!”

[5:46] We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those [earlier prophets], confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah; and We vouchsafed unto him the Gospel, wherein there was guidance and light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God-conscious.

[5:47] “Let, the followers of the Gospel judge in accordance with what God has revealed therein: for they who do not judge in the light of what God has bestowed from on high– they are truly iniquitous!

[5:48]  “And to you  [Prophet Muhammad] have We vouchsafed this divine text, setting forth the truth, confirming the truth of whatever there still remains of earlier revelations and determining what is true therein. Judge, then, between the followers of earlier revelation in accordance with what God has bestowed from on high, and do not follow their errant views, forsaking the truth that has come unto thee. To every one of you we have appointed a [different] law and way of life. 

And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He vouchsafed unto you. Compete then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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