What qualities do you admire in people? Do you look at the color of their skin, their physical shape and appearance, or what type of clothes they wear? Does your opinion of people depend on their health, whether or not they are confident, how honest they are, how popular they are, or whether or not they make a good leader? The Qur’an gives a guide regarding these things. There are two special qualities that the Qur’an commends. God has given these qualities to Christians, though the Qur’an admits that some Christians do not express them.
Let me share a few teachings written by three of Jesus’ disciples. In the following several verses, can you guess which two qualities the Qur’an attributes to Christians?
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:9-16)
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)
“Mercy triumphs over judgment!” (James 2:13b)
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)
Now that you have considered these passages, written by three of Jesus’ disciples (Peter, Paul and James), which two qualities do you think the Qur’an mentions about Christians? You can check your answer by reading Sura 57:27:
“Subsequent to them, we sent our messengers. We sent Jesus the son of Mary, and we gave him the Injeel (Gospel), and we placed in the hearts of his followers kindness and mercy. But they invented hermitism [another translation says, “But monkery, they invented it"] which we never decreed for them. All we asked them to do was to uphold the commandments approved by GOD. But they did not uphold the message as they should have. Consequently, we gave those who believed among them their recompense, while many of them were wicked.”
We see that the two characteristics mentioned in the Qur’an about Christians are kindness (compassion) and mercy. When we think about people who are famous or rich or powerful, these are not qualities we usually notice. Compassion and mercy do not seem to elevate people who possess them. We tend to link compassion and mercy with weakness rather than strength; with women rather than men; with unheroic people rather than statesmen and politicians. This is because we do not understand God’s ways.
Why does the Qur’an value compassion and mercy? These qualities describe people who truly care about the needs and wants of others. According to Islam, these qualities are used to describe God (i.e., ir-rahman ir-raheem, etc.). A man whose character reflects the personality of God is truly a blessed one.
Much of what unbelievers admire and strive for is really useless and selfish. It is the person who is able to concentrate on others, caring for their needs, who comes closest to truly pleasing God. Perceptively, the Qur’an affirms that compassion and mercy are basic Christian beliefs and practices. The Bible says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) It is a great challenge for Christians to live up to this marvelous lifestyle.
(Most of the above information is from "Jesus Gives Peace: Jesus In The Qur'an and the Bible," written by Yusuf Abdallah)