RTJ: Thank you for agreeing to an interview.
AlHaj: PEACE BE UPON THOSE WHO FOLLOW GUIDANCE!
RTJ: What motivated you to start a blog that addresses the People of the Book?
AlHaj: I did not start to write a blog on religion. I actually started to write a blog on cure of sickness using Quranic verses. That's why you see the url of the blog was nur-syifa. The syifa verses in the Qur'an are use to cure sickness, especially person possessed by evil spirit. I do not have experience in that, but I would like to share ideas with fellow Moslem healers. The oringinal name of the blog was Nur Syifa.
When I started to put Google ads on the blog, I do not know how ads of Chritianity appeared on my blog. I wrote to Blogger to rid off the ads. They told to me to use the ads filter. I tried but the ads filter did not function. I created the blog by trial and error until it becomes what it is now, and I came to learn the type of ads coming to your blog depend on the words appearing in your posts. If you write about Islam or Chritianity, ads relevant to them will finally appear on your blog automatically. So I have to lived with them. In a way with the ads I am indirectly propagating Christianity but on the other hand the ads help me to keep abreast of what is happening in the Christian world.
I am not an Islamic scholar, but I do find the Christianity ads are rather misleading when touching about Islam, we are always put on the defensive. [I think that's how you and J. K. Jones felt also when you read my posts]. So I started to write counter commentaries, but as far as possible I tried to be honest to stick to fact and as you see I prefer to quote from literature produced by recognize figures in their respective fields. I changed the name of the blog to 'Reminder to Believers'.
In politics I based my argument on terrorism from books written by Noam Chomsky and Samuel Huntington (they are world level thinkers). From them you know what is militant Islam or terrorism is all about - their roots. I don't want to talk from prejudicial point of view, after all we want this world to be in peace. I find the results of his research that terrorisms are engineered by America are more plausible rather than the Western prejudicial reports against Islam, not that I support terrorism or militancy. You may disagree with Chomsky. The trauma of Iraqis under the tyrant Saddam is no comparison with their trauma under American occupation. Under Saddam people can still lived their normal life, but under American occupation Iraqis genarally lost their dignity. Somalia and Afghanistan is still bleeding badly. I have with me three books, 'Imperial Ambitions', 'Failed States', and 'Perilous Power' by Chomsky and 'Who Are We' by Huntington ( also author of the 'Clash of Civilizations'). I still wanted to collect onother book by Chomsky, 'Hegemony and Survival'.
RTJ: Why do you believe Islam is true?
AlHaj: I believe Islam is true not because I was born a Moslem. My parents are not religious people, they are nominal Moslems. But I thanked God I am born a Moslem. It is the most precious gift for I can't make myself a Moslem without His will.
RTJ: In your younger days you were educated in a Roman Catholic MissionarySchool. How has this impacted you?
AlHaj: I studied Islam, I self-argued it, but I read a lot book on Islam by Moslems as well as orientalists; and I choose to go to a Christisan missionary school not because I want to study Christianity even, but I want to get the best facilitated educational opportunities. The years I studied in the missionary school ( Sacred Heart Secondary School were among my happiest younger days). I am at ease with fellow Christians in my country. We seldom talked about Islamic terrorism or militancy here, I think it is irrelevant in Malyasia. We achieved our independence from the British not through revolution as our Indonesian counterpart from the Dutch but through the round table. Turbulence historical background in one's country does affect one's world view towards others and set one mindset. We Malaysian I like to believed are gentlemen when facing natoinal crisis. We articulate our objective even when we get help from the Americans to fight the Communist insurgency in the early independence days.
But then surfers began to comment on my posts especially on political matters touching America and I find their writings quite subjective. Its hard to confront subjective writings. So I deleted all posts on political matters and retained the religious ones and again I changed the name of my blog to what you find now, concentrating entirely on People of the Books with references from the Al-Qur'an and the Bible and especially literatures written by Prof. Emeritus Geza Vermes. I have three of his books with me at the moment, 'The Gospel Of Jesus', 'Nativity', and 'Whos Who in The Age of Jesus'. I still need all his other books including the 'Dead Sea Scrolls'. I surfed the Pontif blog once in a while but his blog is not productive. I also surfed the Vatican webpage to keep abreast of the latest news and I was surprised when Bush visited the Vatican, I say Romans demonstrated against him on the Iraqi issues. See that is Godly people sympathising the suffering of the Iraqis. I feel sorry also for Alan Johnson. But I think these journalists have gone overboard reporting from insane places.
RTJ: In a comment I left on your blog I asked why you accept the authority of the Qu'ran. I also said that the Bible does not play the same part in Christian theology as the Qu'ran does in Islamic theology. For Christians, Jesus is the Word of God, just as the Qu'ran is in Islam. The Bible is more like Muhammad in that it is the vessel through which God makes His revelation known. How do you respond?
Why I believe in Islam? What do you think religion is? What do you think Qur'an is? You believe Prophet Muhammad was an imposter? Are you people honest with him as we are honest with Jesus?You say, Jesus was God's word, I believed with all my heart.
You say Jesus is God, no! If you say Jesus is God then Al-Qur'an is also God because Al-Qur'an is also God's word. What do you see of the Al-Qur'an - if not papers, ink, writing etc. Are those items God? No! And what do you see of Jesus, not man? Sure! Man is no different with papers, created. Did he not become from the womb of a woman and grew as any of us? Did he not undergo the path of creation? Why blinded yourself, because the light is too bright until you cannot see? Who raised him to the level of God, himself or you and why did you deliberate on his Godship if it is inequivocally stated by Jesus that he is God? You argued and you have to argue on his Godship in the Council of Nicea 325 AD. So you hesitated also? You did doubt it also. It took convention by convention to determine that he is God, not Jesus himself dertermined it. But then you decided to claim him God. And you deliberated 'painstakingly' to come to the point that God is Jesus based on Greek script not in his own Aramaic language, having no point of return (original Aramaic manuscripts) when there's discrepancies aroused between Arius and Athanasian?
Let us be honest. Aramaic is not simply chosen as the language of revelation, you bear that in mind, it was a 'language of revelation' chosen by God's word and that's why Jesus spoke it and God did not choose Greek as His channel. Did God choose the language of revelation hanky-panky? You are a man of reason. Why God give us the gift of reason? Reason functioned to understand not to be the arbitrator. The arbitrator is the Scripture. Once the Scripture is not in the original, the translation are noly traces! What make man fall is dishonesty.
I read also Richard Dawkins' 'The God Delusion'. I couldn't help laughing reading his book. I am not enraged. I pity the man. Alas he is propagting Atheism in America, aggresively huh! Its you the front liner there to counter him. There's also one big name, an old lady Karen Armstrong, also said to be an atheist but not the like of Dawkins, she defended religion. I think she is a theist without any orgainzed religion affiliation although she was ealier a Roman Catholic nun.
The Triune aside, you believe God is one. Why I believe Islam is true? Because God is one. And there's nothing in Islam that goes against my human nature.
And the idea of 'incarnation'? Whose culture is that, be honest, Greek (Hellenistic) or Semitic? Had any God's Apostles from Adam till Muhammad spoke of incarnation? Jesus? Jesus or you? I know you can quote the Biblical verses as proofs but none is objective but all are subjective that can call for multiple/variant, even the dangerous 'allegorical' interpretations.
I have read the last revised Bible ( 2006) published by Pengunin Classis, 'The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible (TNCPB)' that charged that the earlier translators misrepresented some of the words in the Authorised King James Version. So the TNCPB come with and as the more precise one. Read the preface to the TNCPB. In ten years time maybe another scholar come again with another version who saw another misrepresentation. Who dare to do that if there's an original Aramaic Bible as the original Arabic Al-Qur'an is? Do not be mistaken with the Arabic Al-Qur'an with its translation. Its translation is not Al-Qur'an at all. In the end you will have voluminous Bibles and those native Christians here have to alter also from time to time the Bibles in their native languages. And they will argue among themselves which native vocabulary is of proper usage or precise. For ages you will have that problems. You have argued about the Bible eversince the Bible was in Latin or Greek and you will never stop for God is not pleased with your tempering with His scriptures.
Quranicly speaking the Holy Qur'an says, chapter 32 (The Byzantines) verse 30, 'And so, set thy face towards [one ever-true] faith, turning away from all that is false, in accordance with the natural disposition which God has instilled in man: [for,] not to allow any change to corrupt what God has thus created - this is the [purpose of the one] ever-true faith; but most people know it not.' This makes me a Moslem. And the religion of all Prophets from Adam till Muhammad (Christ Jesus inclusive) is Islam (only officially known as Islam with the advent of Islam meaning submitting to the will of God as stated in the vesre alluded).
RTJ: What is the biggest misconception that Western Christian have about Islam?
AlHaj: My days in Roman Catholic Missionary School has made me understand the difference between Chritianity and Islam crytal clear. I can't take man as God. It is scripturally and rationally impossible. Jesus has spoken to be aware of your fellows who speaks on his behalf whom he will deny. Do you think they are we Moslems? We don't propagate Chrisitianity. Those will be you Christians preaching on his behalf speaking about him of which he never ever categorically approved.
RTJ: Do you believe there is salvation for non-Muslim monotheists?
AlHaj: If Islam is true which is true, Christians have no justification of remaining Christians but to embrace Islam. Prophet Muhammad says if Moses is living in my age of which I am the last Messenger he must also bear witness to me. Since Christians existed to the time of Muhammad so they must bear witness to Islam. If they refused their final everlasting abode is Hell. I don't joke with you with that teaching of Islam. If Moses was the last Messenger and Muhammad came before him, Muhammad must also bear witness to him and we the community of Muhammad must follow the religion of Moses. If we refuse we are regarded as not accepting the commandment of God as a whole. That's what happened to Satan when he refused to bow to Adam. Satan obeyed other aspect of God's commandments but not the commandment to bow to Adam. Satan was egoistic, he thought he was better than Adam because he was made from flame and Adam from dust. He forgot the one who gave him the commandment was God and not Adam. If Adam commanded him he may ignored the commandment on the justification of qualification but when God commanded, God's commandment is absolute. [Your question] is answered - no salvation, unless you want also to join the community of Satan.
RTJ: Is there anything eles you would like to add?
AlHaj: I quote the Qur'an, chapter 28 (The Story) verse 56: 'Verily , thou canst not guide aright everyone whom thou lovest: but it is God who guides him that wills [to be guided], and He is fully aware of all who would let themselves to be guided.'
Finally, I quote the Qur'an again, chapter 29 (The Spider) verse 46: 'And do not argue with the followers of earlier revelation otherwise than in a most kindly manner - unless it be such of them as are bent on evildoing - and say: 'We believe in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us as well as that which has been bestowed upon you: for our God (not Triune) and your God (not Triune) is one and the same (Unity), and it is unto Him that we [all] surrender ourselves.'
So, speaking from the perspective of Islam my Creator God is also your Creator God.
RTJ: Thank you for your time.
AlHaj: Thank you Ryan Jones.