VERILY, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians -all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds-shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.Surprised? I was, a bit. Before that, I had ever wondered about good people who are not Muslims - now that question is answered. We discussed this during our tafsir class with Ustaz Haniff.
Al Quran, Al Baqarah 2:62
I can sense the uneasiness felt by some. One student asked "does that mean we don't have to believe in Muhammad SAW?" Another one asked, "So it's ok to be a Christian or a Jew?"
I think some of us have missed the point - these are referring to people who have not gotten the message of the Quran properly. Yes, everyone in the world (which is not true anyway) may know 'Islam' - but what they know about Islam may be askewed and not right at all. After all, there are many deviated teachings using the name of 'Islam'. A clear example of deviated teachings, is teaching terrorism as part of Islam which is what most westerners think of, when they hear the word Islam. That is sad.
So there ARE some people out there, who truly believe in the Oneness of God, and in the Hereafter, and all they do is good.. they give to charity, they are kind to their kindreds and to others - they may even be better Muslims than most Muslims. Allahu'alam.
In any case, it is very important to note that, the book of Tafsir Ibn Kathir suggests that this ayat refers to those Jews, Christians and Sabians who exists before the coming of Rasulullah SAW and the clear Qur'anic message.
So, that does not mean that we can get away with converting to Judaism or Christianity? Think about it..
1) For one to believe in the truthfulness of that ayat, would first have to believe it's coming from Allah SWT, through Rasulullah SAW. How can one choose to believe solely in that ayat and at the same time denounce the believe that Muhammad is the messenger of God??
For people like us (insyaAllah n masyaAllah) who have been given the Hidayah to believe in Allah SWT, Rasulullah SAW n the Quran, we do not n should not pick n choose which ayat to stand by. We will accept Islam as a whole, making us Muslims and therefore impossible for us, to want to be Jews or Christians or Sabians at the same time.
"And whoever seeks religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers."2) Allah judge our actions by our true intentions. We can advise a person but we cannot change them. Allah guides whom he wills. For a person to want to become Christians or Jews because they did not get the proper message of Islam, and they TRUELY believe the other instead, and pray only to One God n do good, who are we to say or know if that is truely in his/her heart. Let Allah SWT judge in the Hereafter.
Or if a Muslim, decides to pick on that ayat, as an excuse to convert, that God knows best what is in his heart.
".. Thy duty is to make (the Message) reach them; it is Our part to call them to account."and..
Al Quran, Ra'd 13:40
Those to whom We have given the Book rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee; but there are among the clans those who reject a part thereof. Say : I am commanded to worship Allah and not to join partners with Him. Unto him do I call and unto Him is my return." Al Quran, Ra'd 13:36Wallahua'lam. May Allah guide us all. Ameen.
And the purpose it was even brought up in the first place, is to remind ourselves, not to be arrogant, and think like we're the only 'saved' ones. Are we even sure that we'll be saved with all that we do, or don't do?