Hard Questions

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Archive for January 2008

The Chosen One (2) …what is the evidence?

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Can we use fragment 4QElect (ك4المصطفى) , from the Dead Sea Scrolls, to identify Muhammad (ص) as the Chosen One, The Prophet described in the Dead Sea Scrolls? The Qumran community were expecting this prophet and many of the documents and fragments discovered in the desert attested to this fact.

In my previous post: (The Chosen One in the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Quran), I reproduced two fragments and suggested that both perfectly fit the description of the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him.

Definitions:

  1. A Companion is someone who believed AND met/ saw the Prophet [PBUH]
  2. A Follower is someone who never met the Prophet [PBUH], but has met with a companion
  3. A Contiguous Narration is one where all the narrators are known to have lived at the same time and/ or known to have met each other.

The Fragment 4QElect=4Q534:

Let us look at the first paragraph from fragment 4Q534:

{[…] of his hand, two […] a mark. His | hair will be red and he will have moles on […] | and small marks in his thighs. }

The paragraph gives two important physical features of the expected prophet:

  1. The prophet is described as having red hair
  2. The prophet has moles somewhere in his body

Two features which were well documented about the beloved prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings are upon him:

The Evidence:

(I) The Moles on Prophet Muhammad’s shoulder [PBUH]:

There are several authentic, contiguous accounts of the prophet peace and blessing upon him which describe moles between his shoulders.

Imam Ahmed said in his “Supported Sayings”:

I was told by Hashim son of Al-Qasim and Aswad son of Amir, both said they were told by Shareek, quoting Asim quoting Abdallah, Son of Sarjas, he said:

I saw the Prophet peace and blessings upon him, I visited him, and ate from his food and drank from his drink and I saw the seal of prophethood. Hashim said:{they are} black moles on his left shoulders.”

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(II) The Red Hair of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]:

A) Imam Muslim wrote in his book, “The Authentic”, quoting the Companion Jabir, son of Abdallah, that the Prophet [PBUH}, after performing the ‘farewell Hajj’, shaved his head and distributed all the hear to his followers.
Several of the Followers of the companions and others from subsequent generations testified to have seen some of the Prophet’s hair.

B) Those Followers described the Prophet’s hair they saw as red, They thought the color as caused by the use of Henna and Katam (Plant leaves mixture used for dying hair)

Imam Bukhari wrote in his book: Athentic Sayings, Hadith (Saying No 5340) said:

Ibn Bakir told me, he said: I was told by Al-Laith, he heard it from Saeed Ibn Abi Hilal, he heard it from Rabi’a, son of Abi Abdel Rahman, he said: I heard Anas, son of Malik describe the Prophet [PBUH], he said:

“The Prophet was neither conspicuously tall, nor short; neither, very white, nor tawny. His hair was neither much curled, nor very straight. Allah sent him at the age of forty, he stayed for ten years in Mecca and for ten more years in Medina. Allah took him unto Him at the age of sixty and he scarcely had ten white hairs on his head and in his beard.” Rabi’a said: I then saw some of the Prophet’s hair, and it was red, I asked about it and was told it was because of perfume.”

Imam Ahmed and Imam Bukhari wrote in their books, both on the authority of Othman, son of Abdallah,

Ahmed said: “ I was told by by Hashim son of Al-Qasim, he said: I was told by Abu Moaiwa (Shaiban), quoting Othman son of Aballah, he said:

We went to Um Salamah (The Prophet’s wife) and she showed us some of the Prophet’s hair, It was red from Henna and Katam.”

C) However, a major companion, Anas, son of Malik, was quoted by Imam Muslim in an authentic, contiguous narration that the prophet did NOT dye his hair.

Anas was a young boy who lived with the prophet as his domestic assistant and was one the companions who knew the prophet (PBUH) very closely, therefore Anas’ words carry significant weight.

Imam Muslim wrote in “The Authentic Sayings”:

I was told by Mohamed son of Bakar son of Al Ryan, he said: I was told by Ismail son of Zacharia, he quoted Asim Al Ahwal, he quoted (Mohamed) son of Sirin, he said:

“I asked Anas, son of Malik if the Messenger of Allah [BUH] dyed his hair, he (Anas) replied: ‘He did not get to that, he had a few white hairs in his beard’, he (Mohamed son of Sirin) said, then I asked: Did Abu Bakr?: Anas said: ‘Yes with Henna and Katam.’ “

We can conclude that:

  1. Prophet Muhammad distributed his hair to his companions only a few months before his death.
  2. The Prophet hair was indeed red, a realisation of another description of the Chosen One in the fragment of the Dead Sea Scroll.

Read Also from this series: The Chosen One (1), The Chosen One (3), The Chosen One (4)

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Marriage of British twins and the teachings of the Quran

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A British married couple discovered that they were twins separated at birth and adopted into different families. The story was carried by the independent newspaper and has gripped the nation.

The High Court declared the marriage annulled and legally invalid.

This story led me to reflect on the eternal wisdom contained in the Quran, the words of God revealed to humanity…. Allah says in the Quran:

[Quran 33:4] Allah hath not assigned unto any man two hearts within his body, nor hath He made your wives whom ye declare (to be your mothers) your mothers, nor hath He made those whom ye claim (to be your sons) your sons. This is but a saying of your mouths. But Allah saith the truth and He showeth the way.

[33:5] Proclaim their real parentage. That will be more equitable in the sight of Allah. And if ye know not their fathers, then (they are) your brethren in the faith, and your clients. And there is no sin for you in the mistakes that ye make unintentionally, but what your hearts purpose (that will be a sin for you). Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

The two verses have set out the rules of adoption for Muslims for centuries: You are encouraged to bring up orphans/ vulnerable children. You can give them a home, love, food, and protection but you can never call them your own or change their identity.

Now, this topic is outside the scope of my blog, but I thought a post on the subject can also be considered a contribution to practical inter-faith dialogue, and maybe lawmakers in Britain will consider the benefits of the teachings of Islam on adoption.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

January 13, 2008 at 11:58 am

The Chosen One in the dead sea scrolls

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If you are interested in religion, then these fragments from the Dead Sea scrolls should stir your curiosity. They are amongst the few scrolls available to the English language reader, which speak about an important prophet, described as ‘The Chosen One’ or ‘The Elect One’.

So, Who is this Chosen One mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Could it be Jesus or Noah?

The fragments are designated: 4Qelect=4Q534 and 4QarNC=4Q535-6. They were translated and published in English by Xeravits and Geza G, paraphrased by Nick Flangian.

I have asked myself the questions above and I know of only one person in history that fits the description, almost perfectly: prophet Muhammad, pbuh, the messenger of Islam.

I have marked as bold important phrases that have striking similarities to what we know about the prophet, peace and blessings are upon him.

I invite my readers to read the fragments carefully, and try to come with their own answers about the identity of the prophet.

In this post, I will only reproduce the paraphrased scrolls, and leave their discussion for the next post.
4Qelect=4Q534:

col-1:
[…] of his hand, two […] a mark. His | hair will be red and he will have moles on […] | and small marks in his thighs. [And after t]wo years, he will know one thing from another. | While he is young, he will be like …[…like] someone who knows nothing, until he 5knows the three Books […] | Then he will gain wisdom and learn understanding […] visions will come to him while he is on his knees. | And with his father and ancestors […] life and old age. He will have wisdom and discretion | and he will know the secrets of man. His wisdom will reach out to everyone and he will know the secrets of all living things. | All of their plans against him will fail, and his rule over all things will be great. 10[…] his plans will succeed because he is the one picked by God. His birth and the breath of his spirit […] and his plans will last forever. […]

col2:
1[…] which […] fell in ancient times. The sons of the pit […] | […] evil. The spot […] | […] | […] in order to go […] […] flesh […] | […] | and his breathing out […] | forever […] | 10 | […] | and the cities […] | and they will destroy […] | The waters will stop […] they will destroy […] from the heights. They will all come […] […] | […] and they will all be destroyed. His work will be like that of the Watcher. | Instead of his voice […] he will establish his foundation on him. His sin and his error | […] the Holy One and the Watchers […] to say | they will speak against him […].

The second fragment is even more interseting:

4Q536:

frag 1 Col 1
[…] you will be […] | […] he will make you think of the holy angels […] | […] the lights will be revealed to him | […] all of his teachings […] the wisdom of humanity, and every wise man | […] in the region he will be great | […] humanity will be troubled | […] he will share God’s secrets | […] he will understand God’s mysteries […]

frag 1 Col 2

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 […]

original paraphrase by Nick Flangian

Read from this series: The Chosen One (2), The Chosen One (3), The Chosen One (4)

Written by Rasheed Gadir

January 9, 2008 at 4:36 pm

St. Paul and The Mahdi

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“Why believe Muhammad over Paul, when both of them derived their authority from visions from God? ” This question was put to me by my dear friend Michael, in a comment on my post on the crucifixion.M A Al Mahdi of Sudan

St. Paul experience is not completely alien to Muslims, although we look at it in a rather different light. Many Muslims say they see in their sleep, visions of the prophet Muhammad peace and blessing upon him. Some of them are very righteous people who are not known for being liars. Some even went to claim a special status as a Mahdi (Guided one).

These visions have generally been understood to be a private matter for the individual concerned. It does not give him/ her any special authority to add to or interpret the revelation of the Allah in the Quran or the saying of the prophet. Visions granted to ordinary people, do not transform their words/ opinions or writing to Holy scriptures from God. We need to look at what they say, and if it conform to the message delivered by the Messengers of God, and the eternal message of God, then we can take it on board as Their contribution.

There is a major difference between Muhammad pbuh and St Paul: Muhammad said he was a messenger of God sent to Mankind, who received a revelation in the same tradition of the prophets before him, including Jesus, i.e. through an angel sent by God who spoke with him, or via vision/inspiration of events, or God -unseen- speaking to him. He was given specific instructions by God to deliver to the people.

St. Paul, on the other hand, only said he was interpreting the message and live of Christ. He said he saw visions of Christ, and never claimed he was a messenger of God. His role is comparable to those who claimed to be the Mahdi, saying they see visions of the prophet Muhammad pbuh.

My view on those visions (from Both Faiths) is that they simply have no authority what so ever. Their legitimacy or otherwise is determined solely by how consistent they are with the teaching of the prophets of God from Noah until Muhammad, and including Jesus the Christ, peace be upon them.

Of prime importance to me is what I call ‘the principle of The homogeneity of the message of God‘. If a particular person is preaching a message that is wholly compatible with the eternal message of God delivered by all his messengers, then I listen and take note of what he says. This eternal message can be summarised in:

  1. The Worship and obedience to God Almighty, the Most High,
  2. The banishing of worship to idols, angels, people.
  3. The belief in the messengers of God and his angels as servants to God The One, Most High creator of everything,
  4. The belief in the resurrection and Last day, when everyone will be held accountable for his deeds in this life.
  5. The importance of BOTH: correct belief in God AND the righteous deeds and avoidance of sin in order to attain salvation from Hell.

This was the message of all the prophets including Christ, and also the message of prophet Muhammad peace be upon them all. I am not convinced that this is what St Paul preached. I find for example a difference between his teachings on:

  1. His views on salvation are different from the words of Jesus and also those of James. Moreover, they go against the principles of justice and personal accountability.
  2. His interpretation of the crucifixion was something that he invented and was not attested to by Jesus before the incident itself.
  3. His teachings on taking the message to the gentiles contradicted the words of Jesus before the alleged crucifixion.
  4. As soon as he had the vision, he said he went to Arabia, without learning from the people who lived with Jesus all his life (At best, it is said he spent only two weeks with them although he contradicts this elsewhere in his writings).

I think that one of the root causes of some of the textual problems in the New Testament is discrepancy between the Pauline theology and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Over the years, scribes have found it necessary to harmonize the text.

This is a very interesting post which gives numerous examples where scribes felt the need to harmonize.

St. Paul had made an effort to interpret the events surrounding the life of Jesus and his words. I don’t think he claimed an exclusive right to interpret the life of Jesus, but somehow, his writings were to define Christianity. You have the right to believe those interpretations, but I need some convincing that they were compatible with the teachings of Jesus and the prophets of God before him.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

January 7, 2008 at 8:19 pm

SKY TV: Why not list Islam Channel in your Religion section

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Most rational people recognise that Islam is a religion, the second largest religion in Britain. Sky TV has chosen to overlook this obvious fact, and thus wasted a golden opportunity to greatly enhance community relations and social cohesion in the UK, by encouraging mutual understanding between followers of different religions.

Sky TV box displays a list of religion oriented
channels grouped together under the heading
“Religion”, where viewers can move from one channel to another at the click of a button, but for reasons unknown to me, Sky has chosen to list “Islam Channel” with foreign language broadcasts under the heading “International”.

The channel is based in the UK and broadcasts in English. It is run by British Muslims and Islam is clearly a religion, so why the channel is listed as foreign baffles me.

Grouping channels together offers an easy way for people who are interested in religion to easily find programs that cater for them. If only those channels represented different religious communities, then Muslims watching Islam channels can easily switch and watch a Christian channel teaching Christianity, and therefore, attain knowledge on Christian beliefs and values directly from knowledgeable Christians, without the need for second hand learning. The same can be done by Christians, who can understand how Muslims interpret their religion and scriptures. This will surely enhance social cohesion, by allowing people to get information directly from the sources without the distortions and bias of many of the so called “experts” who often volunteer to teach faiths that they do not follow, and do not really understand.

Whilst there are several American based channels bundled together in the religion category, UK based Islam Channel is absent from the list !.

Islam is the second largest religion in the UK.   According to the 2001 census, the number of Muslims in the UK  is close to 1,6 Millions or 3% of the population. Around 12% of these are indigenous White people.

I sincerely hope that Sky TV is not implying that Islam is a “foreign religion”. Such an old fashioned notion does not help in building bridges between the different faiths of the British people.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

January 3, 2008 at 3:51 pm