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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

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

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“, ANDThe 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

Islam Views on Salvation: A Fine Balance

with 7 comments

Dear Bill,

You are wrong in assuming that righteous deeds are but bribes we offer to our Creator. We understand that doing good deeds does NOT benefit God, nor do our sins harm Him. This is a fundamental part of any Muslim’s creed and is clearly stated in the Quran:

Quran 3:176] And let not those grieve you who fall into unbelief hastily; surely they can do no harm to Allah at all; Allah intends that He should not give them any portion in the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement,

What then, is the purpose of doing righteous deeds ? you may ask, well, it is the sense of personal responsibility for one’s deeds that derives a man to try.
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.

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

Certain sins can never be redeemed: Idolatry and Association of partners to God. If you leave this world whilst not recognizing the One True, Eternal God, then you are beyond saving. You had your chance but did not take it.

God says in the the Quran:

Surah (chapter) 21:

And We set a just balance for the Day of Resurrection so that no soul is wronged in aught. Though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed, We bring it. And We suffice for reckoners. [21:47]

Surah 11:

Establish worship at the two ends of the day and in some watches of the night. Lo! good deeds annul ill-deeds. This is reminder for the mindful [11:114] .

and in Surah 17:

[17:13] And We have made every man’s actions to cling to his neck, and We will bring forth to him on the resurrection day a book which he will find wide open: [17:14] Read your book; your own self is sufficient as a reckoner against you this day.

and Surah 42:

And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust [42:40]. And whoever defends himself after his being oppressed, these it is against whom there is no way (to blame) [42:41]. The way (to blame) is only against those who oppress mankind and transgress on earth unjustly; these shall have a painful punishment [42:42].
And whoever is patient and forgiving, verily, is (of) the steadfast heart of things [42:42].

Where then, are the Grace, Mercy and Compassion of God ?

God is Merciful to the believers in the hereafter. He is Merciful and Generous to all in this life.

God says in the Quran:
Surah 7:

(O mankind!) Call upon your Lord humbly and in secret. Lo! He loves not aggressors [ 7:55]. Work not mischief on earth after the fair ordering (thereof). and call on Him in fear and hope. Lo! the mercy of Allah is near unto the good [7:56].

The believer should tread humbly on earth, try to save for your hereafter and please your Lord, for He rewards you with credits, that you will need. Do not transgress on other people, for you will, no doubt, pay them back.

The rules for Salvation in Islam are:

  • Avoid unforgivable sins by adopting the true faith, and Invoke God to help you,
  • Do your best to please God, and accumulate credits and to avoid debits,
  • Always remember that your ultimate fate is in the hands of God.
  • This is what Islam is all about: submit yourself to God.

Related Articles:

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm

Testimony of a Victim of Intolerance: Macarius, The Patriarch of Antioch

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Anyone who is interested in the history of religious tolerance/ persecution and the history of the spread of Islam should read the excellent book published in 1913 : “The Preaching of Islam“, by Sir T W Arnold, Professor of Arabic at University College London.

having studied thousands of books, letters, papers etc, in 10 different languages, Prof. Arnold produced a mass of evidence that discredited the myth that Islam was spread by the sword. He argued that Muslims, in general, have been very tolerant towards people of other faith. The author did not shy away from citing the few occasions where some Muslims have in fact persecuted their subjects .

In support of this thesis, I will reproduce several testimonies, written mostly by prominent  Christians, at different stages of history starting by an example from the not too distant past:

Writing in the 17th. century, at the height of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, Macarius, the Patriarch of Antioch wrote a moving piece, describing the suffering of Russians of the Orthodox Eastern Church. He was cursing the infidel oppressors, and invoking God to help those who delivered the Orthodox Christians in the East from the tyranny that befell their brethren. But the oppressors he referred to where not the Muslims or their agents. They were in fact Christians: Catholic Poles. He wrote:

We all wept much over the thousands of martyrs who were killed by those impious wretches, the enemies of faith, in these forty or fifty years. The number probably amounted to seventy or eighty thousands souls. O you infidels! O you monsters of impurity ! O you hearts of stone ! What had the nuns and women done ? What the girls and boys and infant children, that you should murder them ? … and why do I pronounce them accursed ? … Because they have shown themselves more debased and wicked than the corrupt worshippers of idols, by their cruel treatment of Christians, thinking to abolish the very name of Orthodox. God perpetuate the empire of the Turks for ever and ever ! For thy take their impost and enter into no account of religion, be their subjects Christians or Nazarenes, Jews or Samaritans: whereas these accursed Poles were not content with taxes and tithes from the brethren of Christ, though willing to serve them; but they subjected them to the authority of the enemies of Christ, the tyrannical Jews, who did not permit them to build churches, nor leave them any priests that knew the mysteries of their religion.

Source: The Preaching of Islam by Professor T W Arnold, University College London- published 1913.

The Patriarch clearly acknowledged the tolerance of the Muslim Ottomans, which, he said, was extended to all Christians and Jews. He also betrayed his anti-Semitic feelings in the last paragraph whilst exonerating Muslims of the same.

This tale of Islamic tolerance, highlights a long period of history, when the Islamic world was a real beacon of hope for the oppressed everywhere. It is hard to imagine now but hopefully, by highlighting some of the brighter aspects of Islamic history, we can move towards achieving certain objectives:

  1. Remind Muslims of the tolerant attitude of Islam towards other faiths. This can enhance our experience as Muslims living in the West, brings us closer to other communities that form, with us, the increasingly diverse countries we live in.
  2. Expose the lies of the war mongers and Islamophobes who portray our religion in the worst possible light, and continually try to frighten everyone from Islam and Muslims, thus fostering an atmosphere of mutual mistrust and suspicion.
  3. Respond to elements within the Muslim communities that advocate an isolationist agenda, by teaching young Muslims that we have a long tradition of co-existing peacefully with people of different faiths.

The following verse from the Quran was said by Abdullah, son of Masood, a companion of the Prophet (ص), to sum up what Islam is about (Tabarani 8659):

[Quran 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.

Below you will find another book by a harsh critic of Islam who could not but acknowledge the tolerance Muslims afforded their subjects.

Further Reading: Online Book: The Heresy of Muhammad – annotated page

Related Posts:

Muslim Christian Dialogue: Where do we start ?

FITNA: Is It Worth a Protest?

with one comment

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

Constituents of the Muslim Faith- Part 1

with 11 comments

by Rasheed,

This is not a “My Book is better than yours” conversation. I am hoping, instead, for a mature and informative discussion of convergence and divergence of scriptures.

The decision on which scriptures to follow, is of course, a matter of personal choice and personal responsibility.

Following on from my previous post, I putting here, some of my thoughts and ideas about Islam. If you want to see Islam through a Muslim eye, then please read on.

In order of significance and authority, the primary sources of the Islamic faith are:

  1. The Quran
  2. Sayings of the Prophet, or ‘Hadith’
  3. Biography of the Prophet or ‘Seerah’

The Quran:

I, and All Muslims, believe the Quran to be the literal words of God as revealed to Prophet Muhammad through the angle Gabriel. The revelation took place over a period of approximately 23 years. The first revelation was in a cave in Mecca when the prophet was 40 years old, and last in Medina shortly before the prophet died aged 63.

The term word of God has a slightly different meaning from that adopted in Evangelical writings. Here literal means all the words were chosen by God and revealed to the prophet Muhammad who relayed them “exactly as he was taught by the angle Gabriel” .

I am hoping to write about the following aspects of Quran:

  1. Ownership of the Quran
  2. Style of the Text of The Quran
  3. Language
  4. The Teachings of the Quran
  5. Transmission of the Quran
  6. Can you show any Signs that this is a Book from God?
  7. Do you have answers to your critics?

As we progress in this discussion, other topics might also be added.

Ownership:
You may ask: What do you mean by saying “The Quran is composed of the literal words of God”? How is that different from the words of the Gospels?
Well, the word literal is very significant, because it means that no man has ever claimed to be the author of the Quran, not even prophet Muhammad. The book is understood to be God own words, chosen by HIM and delivered to the prophet whose only role was to recite them. He (the Prophet) has not claimed to have any input in the Book.

Style of the Text:
The Quran is narrated in the First person, with the speaker being God.
This is completely different from the Gospels, where it is made clear to the reader that, the writer is a particular person who is telling a story, or a person stating what he believes.

To demonstrate this difference, let us compare two verses concerned with the origin of the Quran and that of the Bible from the respective scriptures:

The Quran Chapter 39:

1- The revelation of the Scripture is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.
2- Lo! We have revealed the Scripture unto thee (Muhammad) with truth; so worship Allah, making religion pure for Him (only).
3- Surely pure religion is for Allah only. And those who choose protectors beside Him (say): We worship them only that they may bring us near unto Allah. Lo! Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Lo! Allah guideth not him who is a liar, an ingrate.
4- If Allah had willed to choose a son, He could have chosen what He would of that which He hath created. Be He Glorified! He is Allah, the One, the Absolute

It is clear here and, throughout the whole book, that prophet Muhammad [pbuh] is not claiming to be the author of the text,

When you look at the beginning of the Gospel according to Luke, you will find a different definition of the text. You will find a text that belongs to Luke. It was Luke’s choice of words, and events to describe. He wrote:

The Gospel According to Luke [1:1-4]:

1- Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us,
2- just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
3- Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4- so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

In fact, the canonical Gospels are similar in style and content to the third category of Scripture in Islam, i.e. “Biography of the Prophet” or “Seerah”,.

There are two non canonical Gospels (The Gospel of Thomas, and, the hypothetical “Lost Gospel Q”.) that have some similarities in style to the Muslims second category of Scriptures- “Hadith” -in that, they are composed of pure “Sayings of Jesus”.

Another feature of the Quran is that, it has no time-line. It navigates freely through time, and there is no chronological order. In many places, it refers to future events in the past tense, to imply certainty. There is no beginning or end to the book in the way you find in the Gospels or the Torah.

Other features of the Quran that are only demonstrable if you listen to the recitation in Arabic, for example the internal rhythm, the sound of the verse endings, the harmony of the sounds of individual letters and words. All of these features, are outside the scope of this discussion.

There follows a translation of the recitation in this video, from chapter 36:

[36:1] Ya Seen.
[36:2] I swear by the Quran full of wisdom
[36:3] Most surely you are of those sent
[36:4] On a straight path.
[36:5] A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful.
[36:6] That you may warn a people whose fathers were not warned, so they are heedless.
[36:7] Certainly the word has proved true of most of them, so they do not believe.
[36:8] Surely We have placed chains on their necks, and these reach up to their chins, so they have their heads raised aloft.
[36:9] And We have set a bar before them and a bar behind them, and (thus) have covered them so that they see not.

[36:10] And it is alike to them whether you warn them or warn them not: they do not believe
[36:11] You can only warn him who follows the reminder and fears the Beneficent Allah in secret; so announce to him forgiveness and an rich reward.
[36:12] Lo! We it is Who bring the dead to life. We record that which they send before (them, and their footprints. And all things We have kept in a clear Register.

A final prayer:

“My God, Creator of heavens and earth, Knower of the seen and the unseen, I dedicate my work to you, seeking to earn your pleasure and hoping avoid your anger.

If I do well it is by your Grace alone, and if I erred, it is myself, and Satan that are to blame.”

Written by Rasheed Gadir

November 19, 2007 at 2:47 am

Muslim – Christian Dialogue: Where do we start?

with 4 comments

by Rasheed,

Do Muslims and Christians need to enhance their understanding of each other? If your answer is yes, then, how best can this be achieved?

The obvious answer is, by listening to each other. There is just no better way.

The keywords here are “each other”. If all we do is to listen to what we, and our co-religionists think about the other faith, then this is not listening to each other.

When I learn about Christianity, I consult Christian sources, ask Christian people, and read books written by Christians. I try to expose myself to a broad spectrum of opinion from within Christianity. I do not claim to be completely unbiased, but I try not to think about others in terms that they find alien to themselves.

Other questions might arise here including: What can this dialogue achieve? Which topics will be discussed, and who will decide on them?

I do not have ready answers to all the above questions. My own answer to the question about what can be achieved, is “better understanding“. I have no illusion that we will iron all our differences, or come to an agreement on any topic of discussion. My aim is simple, let us know our differences as best as we can, understand each other’s point of view, and maybe world will be a better place as a result; for It is my opinion that, Abrahamic faiths had a positive contribution on the history of Mankind.

When my friend Andrew asked me about Islamic scriptures, I promised him to share a few thoughts on the subject. This, I hope, will give him, and other readers, a better idea of what Muslims think of their faith.

Obviously these are questions that can take a lot of effort to answer, and of course, you can find various opinions and different answers to them. All I can promise, is to be candid, and frank.

I have finished writing my first post on Islam Sources. It is now undergoing final revision, and will appear here shortly.

Related Posts:
Christian – Muslim Q&A session

Written by Rasheed Gadir

November 17, 2007 at 1:01 am