Can Islam Learn from World Religions?
We were once asked “What lessons can Muslims learn from the challenges faced by scholars and experts in other religions such as Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity?”
As a response to this question, we say: there is potential for us to benefit from those religions and there is no objection to doing so. This would require certain things including: studying these challenges and the means of facing them; adopting those solutions which conform to the doctrines of Islam as well as to local and national circumstances; and benefiting from certain other solutions after adapting them. The most important thing, though, is studying these challenges in a wide-ranging, profound and scholarly manner, which is what the University of al-Azhar is engaged in today.
I believe our knowledge in this regard is still poor. Acquainting ourselves with other religions, especially those of non-Middle Eastern origin, remains elusive.
There is in fact but a single study in the Arabic language on Buddhism. There is not even an Arabic translation of the Hindu Vedas or of the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics which was printed in English in 1912.
This is doubtless urgently needed today following the unprecedented manner in which the world has opened up to become like a single village. There is a certain prevalent attitude that might have been suitable and correct in the past, which is that there is no need for a Muslim to be informed of that mass of religious doctrines that apparently contradicts Islam, but it has now become a present-day obligation not only in order to defend Islam itself but to be able to better act on its message. And for every moment there is a duty.