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Archive for April 2008

The Dead Sea Scrolls: On The Prophet and His Detractors ….

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I am going to discuss two fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls in response to the latest media frenzy surrounding the release of a Dutch film, claiming to be anti-Quran, but before I begin, I have a simple message to Muslims around the world: Do NOT grieve, or lose your composure, for attacks on our faith and our Prophet have been the norm rather than the exception for most of the past 14 centuries. They have failed in the past and they WILL fail again. As far as I am concerned, these vicious and deliberately misleading attacks are the clearest Sign of the Truth of Islam.

Ironically, these actions are squarely condemned and predicted to fail by none other than the oldest Jewish texts known to exist: The Dead Sea Scrolls, written more than 2000 years ago. I will introduce here, two fragments from the scrolls that I believe demonstrate my point.

The first fragment is the The Self Glorification Hymn, 4Q491c , from the Dead Sea Scrolls cave 4 collection. This fragment speaks of a future Prophetical figure, a Messenger of God that is abused and insulted like no other:

Who shall [experience] troubles like me? And who is like me [in bearing] evil? I have not been taught, but no teaching compares i7[ with my teaching]. Who then shall attack me when [I] ope[n my mouth]? Who can endure the utterance of my lips? Who shall arraign me and compare with my judgment i3[ . . . Fo]r I am reck[oned] with the gods, [and] my glory with that of the sons of the King. Neither [refined go]ld, nor the gold of Ophir 19[ . . . ] (4Q491C -Dead Sea Scrolls – cave 4)
[source: Mystical Texts By Philip Alexander ]

The second fragment, [Levi Apocryphon, Fragment 4Q451.9- cave 4 Dead Sea Scrolls], is even more explicit. You may be forgiven for thinking it was written by a contemporary writer:

He will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of his people. His word is like a word of heaven, and his teaching is in accordance with the will of Elohim. His eternal sun will shine, and his light will be kindled in all corners of the earth, and it will shine on the darkness. Then the darkness will pass away from the earth and thick darkness from the dry land. They will speak many words against him, and they will invent many lies and fictions against him and shameful things about him. Evil will overthrow his generation…His situation will be one of lying and violence and the people will go astray in his days, and be confounded (4Q451.9 Dead Sea Scrolls)
[source: King, Priest and Prophet By Geza G. Xeravits- pages 111-112]

Fragment 4Q491c describe the Prophet as ‘someone who has not been taught’, a well documented attribute of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]. It also alludes to the background of the Prophet, who came from an un-learned nation. The second fragment [4Q451.9], tells how the teachings of the Prophet will cause “darkness to disappear from ‘DRY LAND’“, which can also be translated ‘The Desert’. Both Fragments indicate that the main strength of the Prophet are ‘his words‘, described as ‘ like the words of heaven ‘. This is one more feature that can only apply to Prophet Muhammad (ص). Unlike Moses and Jesus who performed physical miracles to their audiences, Muhammad’s (ص) main miracles is The Quran, The words of God.

Now, if you think about it calmly, no individual in history has been subjected to a barrage of insults or a sustained campaign of hate as did the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, the Messenger of God, (ص). From the dawn of Islam, when the prophet (ص) declared to the Arab polytheists that he was sent to them by God to end idolatry, the prophet was faced with unprecedented enmity from his own people. He endured 13 years of hostility, ridicule and sanctions in Mecca before being forced to leave his birthplace when the Meccans plotted to murder him, and he emigrated to Madina.

This emigration known as ‘Hijra’ was such an important event, it has been designated the base year of the Muslim Calendar. For the next 10 years, the Prophet was surrounded by enemies bent on extinguishing the new religion, but God delivered his promise to the prophet (ص), and he prevailed over his enemies, conquering Mecca in the 9th year AH. When the prophet (ص) performed the Farewell Pilgrimage in year 10 AH, he was joined by 100,000 Muslims.

The religion that started with one person 23 years earlier, has entered all the corners of Arabia, and was primed to spread to the world. Today, there are about 1.5 billions Muslims in the world.

One thing has never changed: The hostility shown to the prophet (ص). His enemies have always been extreme in their animosity.

The latest manifestation of this hatred and hostility can be seen right now: Danish Cartoons, Fitna, the Dutch Anti- Islam film, numerous articles in the printed press as well as hundreds of Websites and blogs dedicated to viciously attacking the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (ص).

In the middle ages, stories were invented in Europe about the prophet that described how he burnt children alive and ate them. The teaching of Islam were sometimes portrayed as borrowed material that Muhammad learned from Christians and Jews. The same prophet was accused by the same people, of reviving a pagan religion that he developed from old legends in Arabia. You can often find conflicting and contradictory statements about the prophet in the same page.

I have read an article which implied that Muhammad copied stories from old scriptures and books and included them in the Quran. The list comprised Old Jewish writing, apocrypha, Greek legends, the Hebrew Bible, The Talmud amongst others. What is striking about this claim is that the list is so extensive, it is absolutely impossible for an illiterate person living in Mecca in the sixth century to have found and seen all of them, let alone study and extract stories from them. The author conveniently ignore the fact the Quranic narration is almost always substantially different from the alleged sources. Even today, with the all the advances in communication and the availability of resources like the internet, libraries, and printing it would still be extremely difficult for someone to go through half of these books. Remember that the prophet (ص), was leading an emerging state, he was the preident, the supreme cour, the leader of the army, and the teacher. Where did he find the time to read those books that are written in different languages, and that are hard to come by even today!!

Of course I acknowledge that other Prophets have suffered too, but none like Muhammad (ص), and none has suffered for such a long period. The Prophet has continued to be the target of ‘vicious things said about him’ to this very moment.

Allah told the Prophet (and us ) in the Quran – Chapter 3:

[Quran 3:186] Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.

FITNA: Is It Worth a Protest?

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After all the hype, briefings, threats and counter threats, the film that was meant to persuade the world to ditch the Quran is out.

Having watched, full of anticipation, the documentary made by Dutch parliamentarian and leader of the ‘Freedom’ Party, Geert Wilders, my feeling afterwards were a strange mixture of disappointment and relief.

The film, full of the usual tired misinterpretation of verses of the Quran, lacked originality, quality and substance. It betrayed its makers’ lack of knowledge of the Arabic language, the Quran and the way Muslims interpret their scriptures.

Fitna starts with an image from the Danish Cartoons, the sole purpose of its inclusion appears to be and attempt to provoke a backlash from Muslims. It then follows a pattern of quoting verses or partial verses from the Quran, misinterpreting them or take them out of context, and then recycle some old footage from scenes of carnage from Iraq/ Afghanistan.

Take as an example of the deliberate misinterpretation of the film maker: the verse from Chapter 3:

Wilders quotes (partially) verse (3:85: ‘And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him’.
Wilders’s intention here is to use the verse as proof that Islam does not tolerate other faiths and refuse to coexist peacefully with other systems of belief.

The deceit is evident here because the film only quote half of the verse. The full verse reads:

[Quran 3:85] And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he shall be one of the losers.

Only when you read the full verse, then you realise that it is God who is saying that Those who refuse to submit to Him, will not be accepted in the Hereafter, The Day of judgement and will become losers.

The verse does not, in any way, reject the coexistence of different faiths in this life, except for in the imagination of the makers of Fitna.

The second example I will discuss demonstrate the lack of knowledge of the Arabic language and its uses by the film makers. They refer to a verse from Chapter 47:

[Quran 47:4] Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers , smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens.

Here the order to the believer is to smite the necks of the unbelievers when they meet them, or so would the film want us to understand. However the Arabic phrase ‘when you meet’ , in the context of fighting, has the specific meaning of ‘meeting the enemy in the battle field‘. There are numerous illustration of this meaning from Arabic speech and poetry. To expel any misunderstanding, the verse finishes by specifying the circumstances under which this command from God ceases to be valid: ‘ Until the war lays down its burdens.’

I could go on discussing the film and the shallow arguments contained in it, but I truly believe that it does not deserve more of my or your time at the moment. This film is prime contender for the worst documentary of the year.My advise to all Muslims who are planning to protest against the film: Please calm down and watch the film for yourself for only then will you realise that the film is a testimony to the truth of Islam. I mean, how else can you describe such a feeble counter argument by your religion’s critics.

Please do not fall in a trap that has been prepared for you. There is absolutely no need for demonstrations, talk of boycott or threats to sever diplomatic relations with the Netherlands over this film.

One last point: Greet Wilders is not a spokesman for Christianity, I am sure that his views do not represent the views and understanding of the majority of Christians in the world.

Related Post: On Prophet And His Detractors

Written by Rasheed Gadir

April 1, 2008 at 2:45 am