Trinidad and Tobago’s highest national award was designated the ‘Trinity Cross’. This essay was published in 2004 in a full-page of a local newspaper, and it provoked a major Hindu organization to join hands with a Muslim body to take the matter to court. The judge ruled that the national award was discriminatory. The government which had procrastinated on the issue for almost 40 years, was forced to respond and change the award.
Some declare, with their heads buried ‘ostrich-like’ in the sand, that there is no ‘Trinity Cross’ problem facing this country, or that it is a ‘non-issue’. Others recognise the problem but choose to do nothing about it, or to peddle disinformation and scurry around inventing flimsy and irrelevant defences for an unjust and, hence, indefensible status quo. We are saddened by this, but not surprised.
DANGER IN LACK OF LEADERSHIP IN GOVERNMENT
While we understand their predicament and sincerely sympathise with them in their difficulties, we are quite frankly disappointed and distressed by the lack of leadership qualities in the successive governments of this country who have found difficulties involved in the ‘Trinity Cross’ problem to be insurmountable. We are distressed because it poses grave danger for us all. In these dangerous changing times real leaders must have the courage and integrity to uphold ‘justice’ and what is right (amr bil ma’aruf), while opposing ‘injustice’ and what is wrong (nahi ‘anil munkar), regardless of the political or any other price they may have to pay! There are other vastly more urgent and dangerous problems facing this beleaguered country, and real leadership is indispensable if they are ever to be resolved.
THE IMMEDIATE PROBLEM
Hindus object to the ‘Trinity Cross’ as the nation’s highest award since it is overtly Christian in character and, as such, discriminates against non-Christians—particularly in the context of the unique, historic and amazing proclamation of the National Anthem, “Here every creed and race find an equal place.” Muslims, of course, share that Hindu view. At the same time we are pleased that a religious symbol was chosen for the nation’s highest award since such helps to contain the advance of secularism and its inevitable resultant godlessness. And we certainly would not like to have a religious symbol replaced with something secular/godless.
DEFINING AND RESPONDING TO ‘TRINITY’ AND ‘CROSS’ IN ‘TRINITY CROSS’
But our basic purpose is to first explain how Islam views ‘Cross’ and ‘Trinity’ (in the ‘Trinity Cross’), and, in the process, to enter into the record for yet another time specifically Muslim objections to the name ‘Trinity Cross’. Now the ‘Cross’ may have symbolised different things over time for different peoples. But certainly in this country, and in the context here addressed, the ‘Cross’ is perceived by more than half the population to symbolise the Christian belief that the son of Mary was crucified on a wooden Cross. ‘Trinity’, also, has symbolised many different things over time. In Haiti, for example, an impoverished, black, largely illiterate, but supremely courageous people (some of whom were Muslims at the time), have long suffered for having given the European slave-master a marvellous slap on his ugly face 200 years ago. But those Haitian people had the elementary political insight to respond to the efforts being made by the Euro-World Order to remove their heroic and equally courageous President (Aristide) from power by rewording the ‘Trinity’. It was then used to point a finger with amazing accuracy at the hidden force that was attacking them. That ‘Trinity’ was the ‘Father’, the’ Son’, and the CIA! But the context in which we write is one that recognises the term ‘Trinity’ as symbolic of a very strange Christian belief, which eventually prevailed over dissenting voices in early Christianity, even though it was previously unknown, that the One God of Abraham (‘alaihi al-Salam) and Moses (‘alaihi al-Salam) was somehow now comprised of three persons—God the Father, God the Son (i.e., Jesus), and God the Holy Ghost.
The Cross symbolised an event of such sacred and supreme importance that it resulted in that most momentous of all events that now remains to occur in history, i.e., the return of the true Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary. Every true Muslim not only believes in that return but, also, would joyfully submit to his authority when he does return. The Qur’an itself has recorded the evil words of those who boasted on that evil day: “We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”. But the Qur’an went on to reveal that Allah Most High caused the event to appear as though Jesus was crucified when, in reality, he was not! He did not experience maut (death— i.e., when the soul is taken and not returned) and, instead, Allah Most High raised him into the heavens and unto Himself. Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) prophesied that Jesus (‘alaihi al-Salam) would one day return. He would “descend from the clouds with his hands resting on the wings of two angels.” The world would then see him “breaking the Cross and killing the pigs”, and that would symbolise his triumph over his enemies! The ‘Cross’ is, therefore, for Muslims, a symbol of tremendous pain, anguish and grief, and it provokes great anger over the wickedness of the enemies of the True Messiah. But Muslim objections to the ‘Cross’ stem from the Christian belief that has been identified with it, i.e., that ‘God the Son’, who is the third person of the allegedly divine ‘Trinity’, died on the ‘Cross’ in order to atone for the sins of mankind. Muslims assume that when the true Messiah returns and, as prophesied by Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), “breaks the Cross”, it would symbolise the dramatic repudiation of that Christian belief associated with the ‘Cross’.
THE QUR’AN AND ‘TRINITY CROSS’
The Qur’an has very clearly prohibited a Muslim to be in any way associated with the Christian ‘Trinity’ or with (the Inter Religious Organization’s) ‘Fatherhood of God’. The Qur’an itself categorically and emphatically rejects all three items that constitute the Christian ‘Trinity’ and, in so doing, it also categorically rejects ‘Fatherhood of God’. God is not a ‘Father’! He is not a ‘Son’! He is not a ‘Holy Ghost. Indeed He created both the male and the female but is neither male nor female:
“O followers of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds (of truth) in your religious beliefs, and do not say of God anything but the truth. The Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, was but God’s Apostle – (the fulfilment of) His promise that He conveyed to Mary – and a soul created by Him. Believe then, in God and His Apostles, and do not say, ‘(God is) a trinity’. Desist (from this assertion) for your own good. God is but One God; utterly remote is He, in His glory, from having a son: unto Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and none is worthy of trust as God.”
(Qur’an, ‘Women’, 4:171)
“Indeed they deny the truth who say, Behold, God is the Messiah, the son of Mary—seeing that the Messiah himself said, O people of Israel! Worship God (alone) Who is my Lord as well as your Lord. Behold, whoever ascribes divinity to any being beside God, unto him will God deny heaven, and his goal shall be the fire; and such evildoers will have none to assist them! Indeed those who declare that God is the third of a trinity have denied the truth—seeing that there is no God save the One God … ”
(Qur’an, ‘Table of Food of the Last Supper’, 5:72-73)
“As it is, some assert, the Most Compassionate (God) has taken unto Himself a son. This is, indeed, a monstrously false declaration. The heavens might well-nigh be rent into fragments, and the earth be split asunder, and the mountains fall down in ruins—that men should ascribe a son to the Most Compassionate (God). It is inconceivable that the Most Compassionate (God) should take unto Himself a son! Not one of all (the beings) in the heavens or on earth (including Jesus) appears before the Most Compassionate (God) other than as a servant.”
(Qur’an, ‘Mary’, 19:88-93)
In this matter, as well as in respect of all other matters pertaining to blasphemy (Shirk), the implications (on the Day of Judgement) for Muslims who accept the overtly Christian ‘Trinity Cross’ award would be truly terrible. Muslims need not pay any attention whatsoever to those who casually dismiss the above comment as ‘fundamentalism’.
A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO PROBLEM
We may now offer a possible solution to the problem that, we hope, would satisfy the (only) two groups, Hindus and Muslims, who have ever formally complained in this matter, which is that a second and a third award, equal in status to ‘Trinity Cross’, be established. Those who are awarded the nation’s highest award, but are unwilling for religious reasons to accept the present award, as has already occurred in the past, can choose either the second (Muslim) or third (Hindu) equivalent award. In this way the overtly Christian ‘Trinity Cross’ would remain as the nation’s highest award without any discrimination against non-Christians. We urge that this problem be urgently addressed and resolved before further damage is done. Apathy has failed – dismally and pathetically. Things must change. Now!