Clarifications on Trinity/Monotheism and Dancing

Question and answer details
In searching your Web site, I have found it very informative, but in some ways very troubling. Islam preaches equality and acceptance, but some things in your Web site seem to contradict this. For example, this is a direct quote: "The Christian belief in Trinity undermines, contravenes, and invalidates their belief in Oneness." This is a very offensive statement. I accept that you do not believe in the concept of Trinity, nor understand it, but Christians firmly believe in both Trinity and the Oneness of God. Whether or not you understand it, please do not make accusations on how others see this doctrine, or how Christians undermine God's oneness. If you must say things like this, it would be much better to make it clear that this is how Muslims see Christianity, not simply pass it off as the way Christianity "is". Just like if I were to talk about the Muslim faith, I have no right to act as if I can say for certain the beliefs and feelings of the Muslim community in general, or make judgments on their doctrines, I can only present it as my interpretation of what I have read and studied. Another troubling quote is this: "It is permissible for women to dance and sing so long as there are no males around. In addition, the words of the song should be free from any foul words or vulgarity. Furthermore, no non-Muslim women should be attending, for the `Awrah of a Muslim woman before them is the same as in the case of a man. Thus, so long as the words of the song are pure and clean and there no males or non-Muslim women around, there is nothing wrong in dancing.” I understand the restrictions on vulgar words, males, and the showing of the body. But not allowing non-Muslim women sounds very discriminatory to me. It sounds like you are assuming that all non-Muslim women will be scantily dressed or disrespectful, and all women who are labeled as Muslim will be respectful, neither of which are true. There are non-Muslim and Muslim women who are very pure and respectful, and non-Muslim and Muslim women who would flagrantly violate these rules. Why would you prohibit dancing in front of non-Muslim women? These are the two that stood out to me at the moment, I would appreciate it if you could please clarify this for me.
Ælfwine Mischler

Salam, Amy. Nice to hear from you again.

I’m sorry if you took offense at something my colleague wrote in
Quibbling About Monotheism. We do try to not be offensive to our readers, but sometimes we err in judgment. What he wrote was obviously a Muslim response to the Christian interpretation of Trinity.

Instead of taking offense, you could explain how Christians understand the concept of Trinity and point out any weakness in my colleague’s position.

I think the difference between the Christian and Muslim views of monotheism centers on what is meant by the oneness of God. The English word
monotheism comes from the roots meaning simply “one” and “god.” Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines it simply as “the doctrine or belief that there is but one God.” The term says nothing about the nature of God, whether He is one person or three.

The Arabic word
tawheed, however, expresses not only that there is but one God in number, but that He is one in nature. The Qur’an clearly tells us that the doctrine of the Trinity is wrong, in words that mean:

*{ O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three". Cease! (it is) better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.}* (An-Nisaa' 4:171)

You are free to believe in the Trinity, but it remains a “mystery,” a name that theologians give to “revealed truths that surpass the powers of natural reason” (“Mystery,” The Catholic Encyclopedia). For myself, I prefer to believe in a God Whose nature—one, sublime over everything else—is not self-contradictory and is apparent to my powers of reason. I hope you don’t take offense at that; it is only my basic reason for reverting from Catholicism to Islam.

Your second remark is aimed at a fatwa,
Dancing: What Is Allowed and What Is Not? You are right in stating that not all Muslim women are pure and respectful, nor are all non-Muslim women scantily dressed and disrespectful. I think the restriction given in the fatwa is based on a verse in the Qur’an that means:

*{ And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.}* (An-Nur 24:31)

It was once explained to me that their women here refers to Muslim women because Muslim women know—or should know—that they are not allowed to describe a woman’s looks to a man. Also, if in a gathering there are Muslim women who do not respect hijab—i.e., they not only refuse to wear it themselves but they disparage those who do—then a woman should not remove her hijab in front of them because they might not respect the rules of not describing her.

Non-Muslim women would also not be expected to know these rules, and that is why Muslim women are advised to retain their hijab in front of them. Nowadays with mobile phones containing digital cameras becoming common, Muslim women should be extra cautious about removing their hijab in front of others, Muslim or non-Muslim. It is so easy in a large gathering to have one’s picture taken and seen by God knows whom.

So the restriction is not because Muslims see non-Muslims as being intrinsically indecent, but simply because non-Muslims are unlikely to know our rules of modesty, which are more far-reaching than those of non-Muslims.

I hope this clarifies things for you, Amy. If you have any more questions, please write again.


Useful Links:

Jesus Between Islam and Christianity

The Story of Jesus son of Mary

Understanding Allah, Jesus & The Holy Spirit

Jesus: Divine or Human?

Did Jesus Claim that he is God?