Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Verses 111 & 112
Verses 111 & 112
And they say, "None will enter Paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian." That is their wishful thinking, Say, "Produce your proof, if you should be truthful."
(Chapter 2:Verse 111)
God informed us that every good deed that we do has a reward, a reward that is ever-lasting, multiplied and held safe by God. In this verse, God responds to the claims of the Jews and the Christians who try to plant doubt within the hearts of the believers and drive them away from faith. The claim that they use to discourage the believers is: "None will enter Paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian." However, even within this claim, there is a clear contradiction. Here is the verse that exposes their lie:
The Jews say, ‘The Christians have no ground whatsoever to stand on,’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews have no ground whatsoever to stand on,’ though they both read the Scripture, and those who have no knowledge say the same; God will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their differences. (02:113)
In other words, each party claims paradise exclusively for themselves and not for the other. Yet, when it comes to standing against the Muslims, both parties claim that "None will enter Paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian." Here, the following famous quote comes to mind: “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” This is because the statements of a liar will eventually contradict each other. Take the example of a prosecutor who keeps asking the accused person many different questions about the same incident to find out whether he or she is lying or not. If the statements of the accused contradict each other, then it becomes clear that he or she is lying. When you are honest, your story never changes no matter how many times you have to tell it, because it comes from actual personal experience.
God describes the statement of the Jews and the Christians as 'wishful thinking.’ what does wishful thinking mean? It is a desire not based on any reality......a dream that is impossible to get. Some people argue that there is nothing wrong in dreaming and hanging on to hope, even if you have no chance of attaining it. At the very least, it may temporarily please you and give you comfort. We answer that the trauma which the dreamer suffers when he or she comes to grips with reality will be more destructive. In other words, living a lie never brings eternal comfort and happiness.
Allah answers those who claim paradise exclusively from themselves with: ‘Produce your proof, if you should be truthful." You ask for evidence when you are certain that your opponent is a liar and will not be able to bring evidence to support his or her claim. Suppose a person says that you owe him some money, and asks you to pay it back, while in reality you did not take any money from him. In this case, you will ask him to provide evidence such as a note, a cheque, or even witnesses as a bare minimum. You ask for proof, because you are confident that you have not taken any money from him. Similarly, God asked for proof from those claiming to be guaranteed paradise because He knows that they are liars. In fact, even within the scriptures, they cannot find such evidence. They would have to fabricate such statement, which is enough proof against them. God is aware that they are liars, that is why He ended the verse with: ‘if you should be truthful.’
So if this was a blatant lie, then what is the truth? the answer comes in the very next verse; God says:
In fact, any who direct themselves wholly to God and do good will have their reward with their Lord: no fear for them, nor will they grieve. (Chapter 2: Verse 112)
Allah starts the verse with the phrase 'In fact,' confirming that whatever they claimed before was false. For example, a person may tell you: 'I do not owe you any money' however, when you reply with 'In fact, you owe me $100,' you would be negating this person's false statement and presenting the truth.
God refutes the claim that only Jews and Christians will enter paradise, and implies that many others will enter it. When Islam came, every Jew and Christian was invited to it, and those who did not embrace the new message of their Lord will not enter paradise. God says:
Whoever seeks as religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (03:85)
Here we should pause for a very important point. Take note that Allah did not say that the Jews or the Christians will not enter paradise. Why? Because the Quran is God's word and it deals with issues since the beginning of creation until the day of resurrection. Allah never lets the faith of any believer go to waste. Those who believed in Moses and practiced his teachings and adhered to them, but died before the advent of Muhammad will be rewarded for their faith and deed. Likewise, a Christian who believed in Jesus and properly practiced the Bible, but died before God's new message of Islam reached him or her would definitely enter paradise. But after the advent of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the revelation of the Quran, whoever received and did not follow God's new message will not enter paradise as he or she has now deviated from the Lord's teachings.
Thus came the inclusive statement 'In fact, any who direct themselves wholly to God and do good will have their reward with their Lord' so the requirement for paradise is sincerity and devotion in belief. There are always those who pretend to direct themselves to God while in fact they are hypocrites showing the opposite of what they truly believe.
Allah wants you to come to Him out of thought, and love. He wants you to direct your entire being to Him starting with your face because it is the most honourable part of the body. That is why you are closest to the Lord during prostration. When you place your face, by which God elevated and honoured you, on the ground, it shows total devotion and leaves no room for arrogance.
Keep in mind that, when it comes to faith, Allah gave you complete freedom of choice. Thus, if you act righteously, you will earn a reward. In matters where you have no choice, such as your place of birth or the colour of your skin, there is no reward nor punishment. Thus, when it comes to religious obligations and teachings are from God, the reward will also be from him. God says that they: 'will have their reward with their Lord: no fear for them, nor will they grieve.' Fear is the worry about the future, and grieve is sadness and regret about the past. Say, for example, that you loaned your friend some money. You may fear not getting your money back if he or she cannot repay you. You fear that your friend may lose a job, refuse to pay your money back, or may even die in an accident. If the time comes, and your friend does not pay you back, then your fear will turn into regret and grieve over lending the money in the first place. However, when your reward is kept with God, these two emotions of fear and grief are never experienced. Allah is the constant that does not change, and the all powerful that does not waver. He is free of all need; To Him belongs the heavens and the earth. Thus, when you do good for God's sake, you never fear losing what you entrusted your Lord with, and since you are guaranteed the ultimate reward, there will be no grieving in the future.