Hard Questions

frank, open and honest discussions

Ebionites Theology and Early Christians’ Beliefs

with 24 comments

Watch Prof. James Tabor talk about the letters of James and Jude, and how and why the church tried to suppress them.

Readers of this blog would remember that I referred to Prof. Tabor’s book “The Jesus Dynasty”,  in my previous post.

Well, this video confirms what I have written about the Ebionites, the early Christians led by Jesus’ brother James. According to a very ancient Christian text called “The Teachings”, those early Christians knew nothing of a divine Jesus, they knew nothing of an atoning sacrificial death on the cross, nor did they recognise Jesus as the Son of God.

In fact, almost all of the major teachings of Islam about Jesus and his message are echoed faithfully including the definition of Jesus as a servant of God and teacher/ prophet.

Here is another piece of information that casts a light on the original teaching of Jesus, for those who care to to know.

(I first saw this video in Paul Williams‘ brilliant blog: Exploring Life, The Universe and Everything.)

Written by Rasheed Gadir

November 3, 2008 at 5:03 pm

The Chosen One (4) … so who is he?

with 7 comments

Fragment from Cave 4

Fragment from Cave 4

In his book: The Jesus Dynasty, Professor James D Tabor joins the increasing number of scholars who assert that Jesus was far more human than the church would lead you to believe. Prof. Tabor also reminds us of the fact, universally accepted now, that first century Jews were expecting at least two major prophets.

We continue the search for the identity of the last of these major prophets; and put to the test the proposition that he is no other than the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Having looked at the physical description of the chosen prophet, in some detail  in previous posts; we continue to analyse these fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls entitled:  “The Chosen One”  or “المصطفى“, for further information on the historical and circumstantial attributes of the expected prophet.

When you carefully read fragment 4Q536 below, you will notice that there is a distinction made between the (words of the Prophet, said to contain great wisdom) and the (words of God that the Prophet will write in a Book that will not decay.)

This is highly significant, because Islamic tradition has always maintained a clear distinction between the words of Prophet Muhammad (ص), referred to as “Hadith” and the words of God or “The Quran” which Muslims consider to be the literal and pure words of God.

Such a distinction can only be found in Islamic scriptures, and is unparalleled, neither in Christianity nor Judaism, for the Old and New testaments do not have clear dividing lines between the words of God and those of the prophets or even the writers and narrators of stories therein.

Fragment 4Q536:

8 he made [...] | that you are afraid of [...] 10 he will strengthen its concealment at the end of your powers. His possessions [...] | and he will not die in the days of evil. And his words will contain great wisdom. I will praise you [...] | is sentenced to death. Who will write the words of God in a book that will not decay? And my sayings [...] |You will come to me and in the time of evil he will know you forever. A man who [...] your servants, [...] sons [...]

I have coloured 4 passages that contain attributes of the Chosen One:

  1. He will not die in the days of evil, so this possibly excludes Jesus -as known in Christian theology- from being the subject of the document. Muhammad (peace upon him) triumphed against his enemies and did not die until his mission was completed.
  2. Who will write the words of God in a book that will not decay: Of all the Books claiming to be a revelation from God, the Quran stands out as the only book that : 1- Claims to be the literal word of God, and 2: has been truly preserved and did decay in transmission. Whilst there is plenty of evidence of the corruption of transmission of the Bible and other sacred books, similar claims made about the Quran are but speculations and suppositions.
  3. His word will contain great wisdom: Muslims have cherished the words of the Prophet and many volumes have been written analysing every word, description, action, story about Muhammad () and Hadith became a large subject of Islamic Scholarship to extract wisdom from the noble mouth of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
  4. I will praise you: The very name of the prophet, “Muhammad“, actually means  “Praised“,  this in addition to God directly praising the Prophet in many verses of the Quran, as in [Quran 68:4] And verily, you are on an exalted character.

In summary, we find the two fragments 4Q534 and 4Q536 provide compelling evidence that Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him is indeed the Chosen One of God:

We have the physical evidence of the moles on his back and the colour of his hair. We have a prophecy that he will defeat his enemies, that his message will reach the whole world and last until the end of time. We have evidence about him being unlearned and then suddenly acquires knowledge about the holy books, angels and prophets. Evidence of his great wisdom, that his message will be universal and directed to all the people; and that he writes-  separately- the words of God in a book.

I end this post with a little challenge: Can you find any individual in history who fits the description given in fragments 4Q534 and 4Q536 better than Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam?

Related Posts:

Written by Rasheed Gadir

October 27, 2008 at 3:50 pm

The Original format of Christian Prayers

with 11 comments

Muslim students kneeling in prayer

Did you know that the early Christians used to pray five times a day ?

Did you know that their prayers involved kneeling and prostrating themselves to God in a similar fashion to the way Muslims pray?

Yes this is the same number of prayers that Muslims perform daily and there is also a similarity in the way prayers are performed.

Tertullian, the founder of Latin Christianity wrote:

But who would hesitate every day to prostrate himself before God, at least in the first prayer with which we enter on the daylight? At fasts, moreover, and Stations, no prayer should be made without kneeling, and the remaining customary marks of humility; for (then)89178917 i.e. at fasts and Stations. [Sabbath = Saturday, supra.] we are not only praying, but deprecating, and making satisfaction to God our Lord.89188918 For the meaning of “satisfaction” as used by the Fathers, see Hooker, Eccl. Pol. vi. 5. Touching times of prayer nothing at all has been prescribed, except clearly “to pray at every time and every place.
Sourcre: Tertullian – Of kneeling

He added:

in accordance (of course) with Israel’s discipline—we pray at least not less than thrice in the day, debtors as we are to Three—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: of course, in addition to our regular prayers which are due, without any admonition, on the entrance of light and of night.
Source: Tertullian- Of Time of Prayers

The last paragraph clearly describes a community that prays five times daily.

In fact, kneeling must have been prevalent amongst Christian worshippers, that the bishops gathering for the First Council of Nicaea thought it necessary to include an explicit prohibition in their declaration.

Here what God tells us in the Quran:

Therefor, bear with what they say, and celebrate the praises of thy Lord ere the rising of the sun and ere the going down thereof. And glorify Him some hours of the night and at the two ends of the day, that thou mayst be well pleased. (Quran 20:130)

And, about Mary, God tells us in the Quran

And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above the women of creation. (3:42)
O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship). (Quran 3:43)

I see this as evidence that Islam is the preservation of the true religion of God as preached by all his messengers, unfortunately, our Christian brothers had their teachings eroded over the centuries by church officials and leaders.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

September 4, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Allah: The God of The Quran and The Bible

with 67 comments

In response to an ever increasing number of Western Christian bloggers who are only too eager to blaspheme the beautiful name of the Creator, I have written a short article on the meaning and history of the word ‘Allah’.

The thrust of the argument is that Allah is most certainly the name of God used by Jesus and his disciples, It is the name of God in the oldest Gospel (written in Aramaic). Allah is most probably the name of God known to Moses and the prophets.

Arabic speaking Christians and Jews have no name for God other than Allah. Bearing in mind that Arab were introduced to Christianity BEFORE Greeks and Romans, it is astonishing that some people still want to blaspheme the name of The Creator, merely to erect a defensive wall against reason.

in summary, whether you like it or not, Allah is a more authentic name of the Creator than than the generic word ‘ God ‘.

TRY This:

  1. Visit The Peshitta New Testament in Aramaic/English Interlinear format website, The URL is http://www.peshitta.org/
  2. Goto Tools> Lexicon>
  3. Enter the word God in the search field, to find the corresponding Aramaic word

Furthermore, the name ‘ Allah ‘ has no gender, no plural form and has never been used for any entity other The Creator. All these attributes can hardly be equaled by the Greek word ‘ God ‘ which none of the prophets uttered.

I have dedicated a page on this blog for the article, which includes a link to an excellent article by Rick Brown, a must read for anyone seeking objectivity.

Allah is the God of Abraham, the God of the Bible, The God of the Quran, and the Only True God.

The Catholic Encyclopedia was absolutely correct when it said:

The notion of Allah in Arabic theology is substantially the same as that of God among the Jews, and also among the Christians, with the exception of the Trinity, which is positively excluded in the Koran, cxii: “Say God, is one God, the eternal God, he begetteth not, neither is he begotten and there is not any one like unto him.”

Allah said in The Quran, chapter 3:

[Quran: 3:2] Allah! There is no god save Him, the Alive, the Eternal.
[ 3:3] He hath revealed unto thee the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.

Related posts:

Written by Rasheed Gadir

June 13, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Allah is The God of The Quran and The Bible…. part 2: The logic behind the statement.

with 7 comments

This post is based entirely on a comment submitted by Mamoun Elkheir, I think It is a fantastic read and is just too valuable to be left in the inner comments sections of this blog. I decided to publish it as a separate post:

Mamoun was replying to Andrew in a heated debate which you can read here.

Mamoun said:

I have followed your objections to Rasheed’s post over the past few days, and your claim that that the argument is not put in a “logical format”.

Despite my conviction, and I believe it would also by the conviction of anyone who has elementary understanding of the science of logic- that the argument in the post is logically sound, and includes all the necessary elements of “logical proof”, nevertheless, I will explain the arguments in details:

Logical Elements of The Post:

1- The post does indeed expresses a “Logical Statement” as its central issue. The accepted definition of a “Logical Statement” is : “Any statement that can either be TRUE or FALSE“.

In this case, the Logical Statement in question, as has been explained by Rasheed in his comment, is the title of the Post, namely: Allah is The God of The Quran and The Bible“, and within the post itself, the “Central Argument” has been further expanded, since:

Rasheed claimed that:

["The god that Muslims AND 'Arab Christian and Jews to this day' AND ' Christian and Jews who lived at the time of Jesus Christ and spoke Aramaic,'
believed to be
("The god of Abraham and Isaac", AND "The Only True god"),
That the name of this god
-who is accurately determined by the preceding statement -
is ALLAH.].

This is central argument of the post, was clearly stated in the title of the post, and detailed within it,

Now this statement can be Accepted by one person and Rejected by another, It is, no doubt, a “Logical Statement” according to the scientific definition of a “Logical Statement”,

You, therefore, have no right to demand that a person changes the composition of a “logical statement” put forward by him, You can either: a) Accept it according to the evidence and deduction offered by him, b) Reject it according to evidence that YOU produce, c) Ignore it, as Rasheed has offered you

Yet, most striking, is your request that the Statement be re-written in the “Conditional Format” suggested by yourself (IF A AND B THEN C), since this format, unfortunately, is simply another “LOGICAL COMPOSITION” that needs to be PROVEN or REJECTED, in EXACTLY the same way the “Logical Statement” put forward in the post and its title by Rasheed.

This format you requested which is called a “CONDITIONAL SATAEMET” is just one amongst MANY other “LOGICAL COMOSITIONS” such as (Conjunction Statement: A AND B) , (Disjunction Statement: A OR B), (Implication Statement: A IMPLIES B), (Negation Statement: NOT A).
ALL these “Logical Compositions” do not, by themselves, imply the TRUTH or FALSEHOOD of any statement, they are simply Statements that can either be TRUE or FALSE, in EXACTLY the same way the statement put by Rasheed in the title of his post and then proceeded to PROVE it within the post. This PROOF, will be the subject of the remainder of my comment, and I will explain it in some details here.

Due the the apparent confusion in your understanding of logical concepts and terminology, I do advise that you consult some basic references on the subject:

2: NEXT, and this is the most important part of the discussion, we look at the logical evidence that can be used to Prove or Reject the “Logical Statement” put by Rasheed.

There are a number of methods that can be used to logically Prove or Disprove a statement, and these include “Deduction“, “Induction“, “Proof by Contradiction” amongst others, and Rasheed has conclusively proved his statement using “TOTAL INDUCTION“, where :

a) He has shown, based on “The Accepted sources and references” for each of the Groups that they call the god they believe to be
(the god of Abraham and Isaac) AND (The only true god),
ALLAH
This part of the statement is called Postulate, since it is not challenged !

You can go back to the post and the linked page to see the references used.

b) It follows that

The name of the god that is accurately determined by being:
{[(The god of Abraham and Isaac) AND (The only true god)] ACCORDING to the beliefs OF
(Muslims) AND (Arab Christians and Jews to this day) AND (Early Christian and Jews at the time of Jesus)
is ALLAH, and this is the required proof.

Put in mathematical format:

Statement VALUE EVIDENCE
P= Muslims believe the name of the god of Abraham and Isaac who is the only true god is ALLAH TRUE POSTULATE
Q= Early Christians and Jews at the time of Jesus believed that the name of the god of Abraham and Isaac who is the only true god is ALLAH TRUE POSTULATE
R= Arab Christians and Jews to this day believe that the name of the god of Abraham and Isaac who is the only true god is ALLAH TRUE POSTULATE
W= P AND Q AND R The name of (the god who is accurately determined by being [the god of Abraham and Isaac AND who is the the only true god] ACCORDING to the belief of Muslims AND Early Christians and Jews at the time of Jesus AND Arab Christians and Jews to this day) is ALLAH TRUE CONJUNCTION

You can see that the statement is a Conjunction of Postulates, and therefore, can NOT be expressed in Conditional Format, Postulates are unchallenged Truths, and are not dependent on other statements for their truth i.e they ARE NOT CONDITIONAL on other statements.

To further help you in your task, The only way to disprove Rasheed’s Logical Statement would be to disprove ANY of the constituent postulates.

I hope this clarifies the logical issues for you

Regards

Mamoun

Related posts:

Allah: The God of The Quran and The Bible

Written by Rasheed Gadir

June 12, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Does the Quran say that The Bible could not have been corrupted ?

with 40 comments

This very good question was sent to me in an email by my friend Andrew. I asked and got his permission to use the question as a basis of a separate post, since I believe it is an important question that needs to be addressed.

Here is what Andrew said: >

Rasheed,
I came across something in the Qu’ran I thought was remarkable. We have had everal discussions about the validity of the biblical testimony. What I did not realize is that the Qu’ran claims Allah’s inspiration of the Torah (2:87), Psalms (4:163), and Gospel (3:3 &
5:46). The Qu’ran also says that the words of Allah can never be altered
(6:34, 6:115, & 10:64). How does this fit into the context of our discussions?

> Andrew

ANSWER

Andrew,

Looking at the original Arabic text of the Quran, which is very precise in its use of words, you will find three different Arabic words and phrases used to describe what English translations refer to as ‘words of God’,

  1. Word of Allah and Words of Allah : Arabic [Kalimatu Allah and Kalimat (pl) Allah]
  2. Speech of Allah conveyed to his messengers: [Kalamu Allah]
  3. Scriptures/Book(s) revealed : [Kitab Allah, Kutub Allah]

1: Although the generic Arabic term ‘word’ can mean any part of speech, the Phrase: {Word(s) of Allah}, as used in the Quran, always refers to the Decrees that God makes, When Allah decrees something, He says ‘Be’ and it is. This is attested to In Islam and also in the Bible.

Phrase 2: {Scriptures}: The words revealed by God in Scriptures are referred to everywhere in the Quran as: ‘Books’ or {Kitab or Kutub}. The Torah, The Injil (Gospel) and The Quran are always described in The Quran as such, and NEVER as ‘The Word(s) of Allah’.

Phrase 3: {Kalamu Allah} usually refers to speech of God to His messengers, including the original Scriptures.


All three verses in your question use the phrases ‘Word of Allah’ or ‘Words of Allah’ which means his Decrees. Nowhere in the Quran does it say ‘None can alter the Scriptures’ or non can alter the ‘Speech of Allah’ or any thing close to this meaning.

Here are the verses you quoted in your Question, translated literally:

[Quran 6:34]:
Messengers indeed have been denied before thee, and they were patient under the denial and the persecution till Our succour reached them. There is none to alter the Words of Allah. Already there hath reached thee of the tidings of the messengers (We sent before).

The above verse is a reference to the Decree that God will always make his messengers victorious over their adversaries

[Quran 6:115]:
And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All¬Hearer, the All¬Knower.(115)

Again, this is the most literal translation, and is a clear indication that the Words of Allah refers to what He decreed.

[Quran 10:62-64]:
Behold! verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve; (62) Those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil― (63) For them are Glad Tidings, in the life of the Present and in the Hereafter: no change can there be in the Words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme Felicity. (64)

Yet again, this is an obvious reference to the Decree of Allah that His party shall not grieve.

There are other important examples of the usage of ‘Word of Allah’ in the Quran: Jesus is called the word of Allah because God said ‘Be” and he was created:

Allah says about Jesus in Surah 4 [Quran 4:171] :
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. (171).

And Allah said of Jesus and Adam:

[Quran 3:58]
Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, then He said unto him: Be! and he is. {58}

And about Mary, mother of Jesus, Allah says:

[Quran 66:12]:
And Mary, daughter of Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His Books, and was of the obedient. (12)

Notice how the Quran says that Mary had put faith in her Lord’s words and His Books, the words conveyed to her by the Angles. The words of Allah are therefore distinct from the Scriptures in the Quranic narration.

  • Usage of Phrase 2: Scriptures/ Books of Allah:

When The Quran speaks of the Scriptures and Books of Allah (Phrase 2) it clearly states that it can be changed:

[Quran 3:79]
Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, “This is from Allah,” that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby. (79)

And in Surah 5, Allah says:

[]Quran 5: 13-14]:
And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly. (13) And with those who say: “Lo! we are Christians,” We made a covenant, but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished. Therefor We have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the Day of Resurrection, when Allah will inform them of their handiwork. (14)

You can see here that when mentioning the Scriptures/ Books, God says that people sometimes do write their own material instead of the Book of Allah and leave out or forget other parts.

What the Quran said 14 centuries ago, about changes to The Bible, is now undisputed common knowledge. There is hardly anyone who denies that changes were made to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. People might argue about the extent and significance of these changes, but the fact that, there were deliberate changes, is virtually unchallenged.

In fact, in the English language, “word” can also mean “promise”, as in: ‘Andrew is a guy who keeps his word‘. People can obviously misquote Andrew, but he still keeps his “word”.

Allah Knoweth Best.

Best Regards
Rasheed

Written by Rasheed Gadir

June 5, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Christian – Muslims Q & A session

with 50 comments

Dear Bill & Don,

You have asked so many good questions in your latest comments, I decided to collate my answers together in a questions and answers session and give them a separate post, taking the form of a Questions and Answers session.

Background:

Islam emphasizes the reality and importance of the hereafter, The Day of resurrection, where every human will be physically resurrected to face judgement. It is as real as this world we live in it. The resurrection is a corporal and not spiritual one.

The hereafter is the everlasting life. It is what really matters. Our life in this world is insignificant compared to the hereafter. Your ultimate fate is either everlasting paradise or everlasting torment in Hell.

Islam teaches that life on earth is nothing but a very short, temporary existence where people are tried and tested from adolescence till death.

Muslims do not ignore the Grace and Forgiveness of God to the believer, The importance of repentance. As I have said in a previous comment, a Muslim should continually repent and ask God for forgiveness of sins.

Below I will provide my answers to your questions. Where applicable, I will provide the verses from Quran and Hadith that I basing my answers on.

God says in the Quran:

[39:41] Lo! We have revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture for mankind with truth. Then whosoever goes right it is for his soul, and whosoever strays, strays only to its hurt. And thou art not a warder over them.

Q1: What do you mean by Association of partners to God? Do you mean to say that idolatry considered unforgivable (ie, Catholics and Buddists worshiping statues)?

Ascribing divinity to entities other than God is association. Worshiping or invoking deities other than God also falls under the same category, similarly, The Christian Trinitarian theology which says Jesus is also god, The worship of Mary, The Saints, relics, Shrines, Statues, The cross, all these involve the belief that these people/ things can help us in a divine way and are thus idolatry.
God has created us in a perfect way, he feeds and cloth us, protect us, and allowed us to have the intelligence to conquer and utilise the universe. Giving credit to others for all these privileges is unforgivable: He said in the Quran:

[Quran 4:116] Lo! Allah pardons not that partners should be ascribed unto Him. He pardons all save that to whom He will. Whoso ascribes partners unto Allah has wandered far astray.

Q2: Are you saying that no amount of good deeds can make-up for this weighty sin?

That is right. The only thing that negate this sin is to confess before your death that there is no god save Him, for God says in the Quran:

[Quran 3:91] Lo! those who disbelieve, and die in disbelief, the (whole) earth full of gold would not be accepted from such an one if it were offered as a ransom . Theirs will be a painful doom and they will have no helpers.

Q3: Does this mean that certain sins carry different weight?

Yes, different sins carry different weight.

God says in the Quran:

[53:31] And unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, that He may reward those who do evil with that which they have done, and reward those who do good with goodness.
[53:32] Those who avoid enormities of sin and abominations, save the unwilled offences – (for them) lo! thy Lord is of vast mercy. He is Best Aware of you (from the time) when He created you from the earth, and when ye were hidden in the bellies of your mothers. Therefor ascribe not purity unto yourselves. He is Best Aware of him who wardeth off (evil).

Q4: Do you need to balance the weight of certain sins vs the weight of certain good deeds?

Generally speaking, there are major sins that could incur severe punishment. These include murder, adultery, false testimony, mistreating parents amongst others. There are also righteous deeds that have higher rewards. However, God alone can determine the weight of both sins and good deeds. There are factors that are important in deciding the weight of a certain deed, and these factors such as sincerity, intentions, are only known to Him. It is His judgement that matters.

Take the example, someone who performs prayers with an absent mind, hoping to finish it as soon as possible and get on with other things. This person can not expect the same reward as someone who reflect in his presence before God, and utter his words with sincerity and strong belief. Someone who helps an old lady cross the road so that other people might see and praise him is not like one doing the same deed solely for the purpose of obeying God command of showing compassion.

[57:29] That the People of the Scripture may know that they control naught of the bounty of Allah, but that the bounty is in Allah’s hand to give to whom He will. And Allah is of Infinite Bounty.

Q5: Who judges us and what happens to us after we are judged?

God alone judges us. He can command any of his creation to execute his judgment, but the judgement itself is His preserve.

[28:88] And call not, besides Allah, on another god. There is no god but He. Everything (that exists) will perish except His own Face. To Him belongs the judgement, and to Him will ye (all) be brought back.

Q6: Do people who have good deeds that greatly outweigh their sins receive a greater reward than those who barely squeak by?

In general yes, but as I said above, things like sincerity and intentions are taken into account. It is not just adding the numbers of sins/ good deeds.

Q7: How does doing a good deed pay the price for disobedience?

Q8. the sin of disobedience to God’s commandments remains (Thou Shalt Not Steal). How does praying several times a day, donating money to charity, volunteering for whatever make up for the harm caused infidelity or murder?

Believers must ask God for forgiveness and repent and show remorse. If you are sincere in your repentance, you will no doubt strive to do what God commands, and try to avoid what He dislikes.

You can not pay God to forgive you, but you can humbly ask for forgiveness and show remorse. God is Most Forgiving, Most Compassionate towards believers. There is NO guarantee and you can not get forgiveness from anyone other than God, The Merciful.

God says:

[3:134] Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind;- for Allah loves those who do good; [3:135] And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah?- and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done.

Q9: After we are judged, do we return to the presence of God?

The believers who enters Paradise may dwell in God’s presence. Idolaters can not:

[Quran 3:77] Lo! those who purchase a small gain at the cost of Allah’s covenant and their oaths, they have no portion in the Hereafter. Allah will neither speak to them nor look upon them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He make them grow. Theirs will be a painful doom.

As for the believer in the Last Day, God says:

[75:22] That day will faces be resplendent,
[75:23] Looking toward their Lord;

Q10: God is perfect and no imperfect being can dwell in His presence.

It is for God alone to decide who dwells in His presence. He commanded that disbelievers and idolaters will not dwell in His presence. Believers whose sins have been Forgiven can dwell in His presence, by His permission, and subject to His will.

Q11: Does He issue us forgiveness based on our good deeds and confession of Him while on earth?

God issues forgiveness, subject to a sincere confession of true faith, sincerity, good and sincere deed bases on His knowledge of us and His will.

Q12: why were Adam and Eve cast out of the Garden of Eden and caused to die? As far as we know, they committed only one sin:

The punishment that Adam incurred was limited. He had to endure life on earth for a short time until his death. He repented and God accepted him back. In a rather short time he will be back in Paradise, and for ever.

Adam is prophet because he received revelation from God. He saw paradise and the angles. Death is the destiny of all things. Animals die and they do not sin as they are not responsible in the way humans are, nevertheless, God decreed that they should die.

God says in the Quran:

[Quran 2:37] Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the relenting, the Merciful.

[28:88] And call not, besides Allah, on another god. There is no god but He. Everything (that exists) will perish except His own Face. To Him belongs the Command, and to Him will ye (all) be brought back.

Q13: What do Muslims see as the purpose of Mortality?

Mortality was decreed by God on all things . The purpose of life and death is that people are tried and tested, for God gave us intelligence and a free will to choose between good or evil and between true faith and disbelief. Death signals the end exam time. God says:

[67:1] Blessed is He in Whose hand is the Sovereignty, and, He is Able to do all things.
[67:2] Who hath created life and death that He may try you which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving,

Q14: Do Muslims view God as a being who loves us and is the father of our spirits?

God loves those who believe in Him. He tolerates the disbelievers and blasphemers, and gives them the opportunity to repent until their time is up. He is the Creators of our flesh , bones and spirits and everything else.

Q15: what is our relationship to him and what is our relationship to each other?

We are God’s servants and He is our Lord. To each other we are bothers. There are various levels of brotherhood between humans: We can be brothers in humanity, Brothers in faith, Brothers in kinship etc.

Q16: Are you denying that when we sin against God our sins are not deserving of an infinite penalty?

It is not for me , you or anyone else do decide what a certain sin deserve in the way of penalty. This is God’s judgment and I can only say a certain sin is deserving of a particular penalty based on what God says. I can only say that God decreed that a disbeliever who dies whilst denying God or associating partners will not be forgiven. Anything else is subject to God’s will and mercy. God said:

[39:53] Say: O My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.
[39:54] Turn unto your Lord repentant, and surrender unto Him, before there come unto you the doom, when ye cannot be helped.
[39:55] And follow the better (guidance) of that which is revealed unto you from your Lord, before the doom cometh on you suddenly when ye know not,
[39:56] Lest any soul should say: Alas, my grief that I was unmindful of Allah, and I was indeed among the scoffers!
[39:57] Or should say: If Allah had but guided me I should have been among the dutiful!
[39:58] Or should say, when it seeth the doom: Oh, that I had but a second chance that I might be among the righteous!
[39:59] (But now the answer will be): Nay, for My revelations came unto thee, but thou didst deny them and wast scornful and wast among the disbelievers.

Q 17: How do you propose that we will compensate God for sinning against Him?

See the verses from the Quran just above this question for answer

Q18: The only difference is what they define good deeds to be.

Nope. The definitions of good and bad deeds are more common between Muslims and Christians than you might think.:

On good deeds, summed them up saying:

[16:90] Lo! Allah enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed.

And on evil deeds He said:

[6:150] Say: Come, bring your witnesses who can bear witness that Allah forbade (all) this. And if they bear witness, do not thou bear witness with them. Follow thou not the whims of those who deny Our revelations, those who believe not in the Hereafter and deem (others) equal with their Lord.
[6:151] Say: Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord hath made a sacred duty for you: That ye ascribe no thing as partner unto Him and that ye do good to parents, and that ye slay not your children because of penury – We provide for you and for them – and that ye draw not nigh to lewd things whether open or concealed. And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern.
[6:152] And approach not the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better, till he reach maturity. Give full measure and full weight, in justice. We task not any soul beyond its scope. And if ye give your word, do justice thereunto, even though it be (against) a kinsman; and fulfil the covenant of Allah. This He commandeth you that haply ye may remember.
[Pickthal 6:153] And (He commandeth you, saying): This is My straight path, so follow it. Follow not other ways, lest ye be parted from His way. This hath He ordained for you, that ye may ward off (evil).

Q19: The Bible says even our righteous acts are like filthy menstrual rags in God’s sight (Isaiah 64:6) if we are doing them to earn God’s favour.

The Quran says righteous deeds are for the benefit of the person who does them. They do not benefit God, but He loves those who strive to be righteous

Q20: what happens to those who never had the opportunity to learn of the one true god before they left this earth? Are they also out of luck?

This is a question where there is no agreement between Muslims scholars. I personally am inclined towards the opinion which says that, All nations have actually received a revelation at some point in their history, and that All humans are capable of finding true faith of monotheism and discover the falsehood of idolatry practices if they use their brains to think about the creation, its organisation and splendour. God says in the Quran:

[2:164] Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) for people who have sense.

and He says:

[35:24] Lo! We have sent thee with the Truth, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner; and there is not a nation but a warner hath passed among them.

Q21: If you commit a sin that harms someone else, how can you atone for that sin?

Islam puts a great emphasis on personal responsibilty. Every human is accountable for his own actions. You can not get someone else to pay the price of your misdeeds. God says in the Quran:

[35:18] And no burdened soul can bear another’s burden, and if one heavy laden crieth for (help with) his load, naught of it will be lifted even though he (unto whom he crieth) be of kin. Thou warnest only those who fear their Lord in secret, and have established worship. He who groweth (in goodness), groweth only for himself, (he cannot by his merit redeem others). Unto Allah is the journeying.

Every human has a personal account. In this account, righteous deeds are rewarded with credits whilst sins are debited. obviously, certain deeds have higher rewards than others and likewise for sins.

If you commit a crime against another person, you are also required to compensate that person, either in this world or in the hereafter. So, in the case you mentioned, of a criminal harming someone you love, if that criminal is caught and the Law applied to him, that is his punishment. If the victim forgives him, she gets credits for that, if his crime goes undetected, he will face his victim in the hereafter and pay for his crime from his personal account. If he does not have enough credits to pay, then he takes debits from the victim’s account. There is an accurate Balance, and nothing is unaccounted for. There is Absolute Justice.

Abû Hurayrah relates in Sahîh Muslim:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked us: “Do you know who is bankrupt?”

We replied: “The one among us who is bankrupt is someone who has neither gold nor silver nor any provision.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said: “Among my people, the one who is bankrupt is the one who – after praying, fasting, and paying charity – arrives on the Day of Judgment having cursed one person and slandered another, assaulted another, and misappropriated the wealth of someone else. Then those people will be given of his good deeds, and if his good deeds run out before redress is made, then some of their sins will be taken from them and put upon him. Then he will be cast into Hell.”

This why we need to do righteous deeds. It is the only currency acceptable in the hereafter, it constitutes your most important ‘pension fund’.

N.B: Q21 is taken from my post: Islam Views on Salvation, see link below

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Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 23, 2008 at 10:11 pm

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