The Qur'ân's evaluation of human nature: an inquiry with a view toward Christian-Muslim dialogue

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Lewis R. Scudder

Abstract

There is far more sound than sense made about how Islam evaluates human nature and how that might bear upon the agenda of dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Among the mantras endlessly repeated by Muslim apologists is that Islam views human nature with liberal optimism and has no notion of “original sin.” Rather, so they say, Islam views the human being as born essentially with a clean slate. They cite (not altogether accurately) the term fitrah as it is used in Sûrah 30:30, “Set your face toward religion with lofty intent, [toward] the innate character of God (fitrah) in the context of which the human race was brought forth (fatara). There is no changing what God has created. That is the religion of worth, but most people refuse to know that.” Leaving aside, for the moment, the Christian understanding of sin and human nature, we must ask: Is this Muslim apology really valid? Does the Qur’ân sustain it? And the answer we must give is no, not very well.

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Keywords
Qurʼan -- Theology; Qurʼan -- Relation to the Bible; Human beings; Sin -- Islam; Sin, Original; Christianity and other religions -- Islam; Islam -- Relations -- Christianity
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