The People of the Gospel
In Sura al-Ma'ida 5:47, we find a thrilling expression which appears only once in the Qur'an and contains a profound and comprehensive meaning: "The people of the Gospel". Muhammad watched the Christians around him and realized that they often quoted and always spoke from the Gospel. They tried to practice Christ's teachings and kept many verses from the Gospel by heart. He recognized that this book was the center of their culture, the basis of their faith, and the fountain of spiritual power in their lives. This is why Muhammad called Christ's followers "The people of the Gospel". Each one of them was, in his eyes, a "walking Gospel". They were eligible to have this divine book, for they lived what they believed in. They followed the example of the Son of Mary in their behavior. Muhammad testified in their favor,
"… You will also find that those who have the greatest sympathy with the believers (Muslims) are the ones who call themselves Christians (Nasara), because they have priests and monks among them and they are not arrogant." (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:82)
ا ... وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُمْ مَوَدَّةً لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَى ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَاناً وَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ. (سُورَة الْمَائِدَة ٥ : ٨٢)
What a great testimony Muhammad confessed about the Christians in his days! This honest comment in the Qur'an about the Christians can ease all conversations and cooperation between Muslims and followers of Christ, because this testimony is true.