Dividing Mankind into two.

24. Dividing Mankind into two.

Exemplifying these basic differences of approach, there are other differences of appeal and organization between the two religious systems. For example, from the beginning, Christianity and Islam have talked of‘we’and ‘they’. They divide mankind into two: believers and unbelievers, the worthy men of faith and the sorry infidels, the elect and the damned. They are not religions of ‘man’ but of a particular umma, millat, or Church. Their rejection and hatred of others is written in capital letters in their doctrines and in the pages of their history.

We all know how much part the sword played in the spread of Islam, but this part was equally prominent in the spread of Christianity. There was a time when many good Christians did not regard non-Christians as humans at all. The attitude is still indicated by one of the meanings of a ’Christian’ as given in the World Book Dictionary. There, he is defined as ‘’human: not animal’’. The Webster’s Third New International Dictionary makes this idea still clearer, where one of the meanings of a ‘Christian’ is a “human being as distinguished from a lower animal”. This indicates what Christians have thought of them­selves and of others.

Quran calls the “unbelievers’’ as “the worst beasts”. That this is not a mere figure of speech is proved by Islamic practice. Islamic thought has divided the world into three sections: (1) the people of faith, which means they themselves; (2) the people of the book, which means religions of the Semitic origin; and the rest. The first people are the chosen ones, the second are called ‘zimmis’, the protected ones. They could still co­exist under certain disabilities as second-grade citizens. But the option for the third was either ‘Islam or death’. It is another matter that the policy could not always be implemented.