People of the Book

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People of the Book (Arabic: أهل الكتاب‎ ′Ahl al-Kitāb) is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a book of prayer.[1] The three faiths that are mentioned in the Qur'an as people of the book are Judaism, Sabians and Christianity. However, many Muslim rulers and scholars have also included other religions such as Zoroastrianism[2][3] and Hinduism.[4][5]

In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the Qur'an, is taken to represent the completion of these scriptures, and to synthesize them as God's true, final, and eternal message to humanity. Because the People of the Book recognize the God of Abraham as the one and only god, as do Muslims, and they practice revealed faiths based on divine ordinances, tolerance and autonomy is accorded to them in societies governed by sharia (Islamic divine law).

In Judaism the term "People of the Book" (Hebrew: עם הספר, Am HaSefer) was used to refer specifically to the Jewish people and the Torah, and to the Jewish people and the wider canon of written Jewish law (including the Mishnah and the Talmud). Adherents of other Abrahamic religions, which arose later than Judaism, were not added.[6]

The Catholic Church explicitly rejects the similar expression "religion of the book" as a description of the Christian faith.[7]

Contents

Definition

The term "People of the Book" in the Qur'an refers to followers of monotheistic Abrahamic religions that are older than Islam. This includes all Christians, all Jews (including Karaites and Samaritans), and Sabians.[8]

Many early Islamic scholars, such as Malik ibn Anas,[citation needed] agreed that Zoroastrians should also be included. Zoroastrianism is believed by scholars and historians to have been founded between 1000 BCE and 600 BCE, making it older than Christianity and Islam. It shares similar eschatological views with Christianity and Islam, and recognizes life after death, Satan (as Angra Mainyu), Heaven, and Hell.

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