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Archive for the ‘Jesus’ 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.)

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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

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“, 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

The Ebionites: True followers of Jesus who converted to Islam

with 53 comments

Burning of heretics Books by Papal Mandate

Burning of heretics' books by Papal mandate

We look today at the Jesus movement in Jerusalem formed by early followers of Christ, and headed by the disciple James. Their understanding of Christianity differed fundamentally from the religion later formulated by Paul, whom they considered to be a false teacher. They had a gospel written in Aramaic which is now lost to us . Modern scholars have described their theology in terms that closely resembles the religion preached by Muhammad (ص).

This group of early Christians, known as The Ebionites (the poor) and sometimes Nazarenes (Some scholars believe the Nazarenes to be a different group from the Ebionites, others maintain they are the same)- were labelled ‘heretics’ and persecuted by the Orthodox church which adopted the teachings and interpretations of their arch rival Paul of Taurus.

According to Biblical scholar Barrie Wilson, the main features of the Ebionite’s theology can be summerised in the following:

  1. Jesus was a created human and not divine
  2. Jesus was a teacher
  3. Jesus was the expected Messiah
  4. The Law of the Torah must be observed
  5. Theirs was the earliest congregation of followers to Jesus, starting from around 30 AD

Several church fathers described how Ebionites rejected The Divinity of Jesus and The Atoning Death of Jesus. According to those church fathers, the Ebionites emphasized the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus. They considered Paul an apostate of the law who corrupted Jesus’ message.

Church father Irenaeus, wrote in “Against Heresy”:

Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practise circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.

What is really significant, from the Muslim point of view, is Dr. Barry Wilson suggestion that, the Ebionites survived until the Muslims’ conquest of the Middle East, when they [the Ebionites] were absorbed in Islam.

This can help explain why the Christians of Syria and Egypt were converting to Islam en-mass in the 7th. century AD. It is possible that, people who were in contact with Ebionites or, were Ebionites themselves, recognised as truthful, the revelation of the Quran.

The Quran, with its uncompromising monotheism, its insistence on humanity of Jesus, and rejection of the trinity closely echoed the Ebionites beliefs, and was in complete harmony with what they new about God and Jesus [The only exception is the virgin birth which the Quran confirms and the Ebionites were said -by their opponents -to reject] . They probably recognised Islam as a continuation of the same message of God delivered by Jesus, Moses, Abraham, and the prophets.

Allah describes the reaction of some Christians and Jews in the Quran, chapter 28:

[Quran 28:51] And now verily We have caused the word to reach them, that haply they may give heed.
[28:52] Those unto whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it,
[28:53] And when it is recited unto them, they say: We believe in it. Lo! it is the Truth from our Lord. Lo! even before it we were of those who surrender (unto Him).
[28:54] These will be given their reward twice over, because they are steadfast and repel evil with good, and spend of that wherewith We have provided them,
[28:55] And when they hear vanity they withdraw from it and say: Unto us our works and unto you your works. Peace be unto you! We desire not the ignorant.

There is little doubt that the church in Jerusalem pre-dated the churches established by Paul in Roman cities. There is no doubt that the church members in Jerusalem were the ones who actually saw and heard Jesus directly, unlike Paul, who never met Jesus.

I, therefore, have no doubt that the teachings of the Ebionites on Jesus are closer to the truth.

Related Posts: On Jewish Christianity, Islam and The Gentiles

Atonement: Can You Really Be Certain of Salvation?

with 14 comments

I often hear my Christian friends say that one of the chief attractions of Christianity is the guaranteed salvation and atonement of sins offered to Christians. The Christian Doctrine of Salvation stipulates that the death of Christ on the cross was a sacrifice that atoned the sins of believers in Jesus divinity and crucifixion for their sake. Some have suggested that the absence of assured salvation in Islam is a serious handicap and a clear proof of the superiority of Christianity over Islam and of Jesus over Muhammad. Does Islam offer a solution to the problem of sin? Do we have an answer to the Doctrine of Atonement? How can a Muslim be sure of Salvation? they ask.

I will start by saying the belief that one will be saved is NOT in itself sufficient to guarantee salvation. The doctrine itself must be true before it can be used as a blank cheque and a season ticket to Paradise. It is, therefore important that the doctrine of salvation is scrutinised to determine its legitimacy and authenticity.

There will be nothing worse than a person indulging himself sure in the knowledge that he will be saved, only to discover that he was deluded and that he will have to answer for his deeds.

I have a few problems with this doctrine that I would like to discuss:

  1. Can we trace the doctrine reliably to Jesus himself? In other words, has Jesus himself ever said he was going to be crucified to atone for the sins of his followers?
  2. What is the fate of the righteous followers of previous prophets, like the older generations of Israel who lived and died without knowing Jesus? Why are they denied salvation? What about the Patriarchs themselves? They have never professed the trinity nor the doctrine of atonement.
  3. This doctrine in particular is very alien to natural justice and the universal virtue of individual responsibility. I mean, what would you say of a justice system that punishes the innocent and reward the guilty?
  4. What, according to the Gospels, are we to be saved from? Many New Testament passages speak of the saved entering the kingdom of God, so what is the fate of the non-saved? It appears to me that, there is a distinct lack of clarity with regard to the unsaved.

The real teaching of Jesus on Salvation is in full agreement with the teaching of Islam, both advocate personal responsibility and obedience to God. According to the synoptic Gospels, when a man asked Jesus saying Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus replied … You know the commandments.. Mark 10: 17-25, Mt 19: 16-24, Lk 18: 18-25

Why didn’t Jesus say to the man Just have faith in me as your lord and Savior, and rest assured that I will die for you to be saved?

The renowned biblical scholar and Dead Sea Scrolls expert Geza Vermes wrote in his excellent book “The Resurrection”:

In sum, whilst the idea of the resurrection lay in the periphery of the preaching of Jesus, based on the idea of the kingdom of God, St. Paul turned it into the centrepiece of his mystical and theological vision, which was soon to become the essence of the Christian message.

I believe what Vermes said here to be accurate. This doctrine was invented by Paul who was attempting to make sense of the perceived crucifixion and ascension of Jesus. Because of its human origin, it was liable to have holes in its integrity. Paul convinced his early followers that the risen Christ will return during their lifetime and they will all join him in the kingdom. When some of the faithful died without realising their hope of joining Christ, it became a problem that needed the doctrine to be fine tuned. So Paul made amendments and included the dead early Christians in the proposed salvation. Later, when the question of what will happen the righteous of older generation including the Patriarchs, another fine tuning was necessary, and a passage in 1 Peter suggested that during his stay in the tomb, the dead Jesus went and saved the prisoners of sheol ‘The domain of the Dead’.

Islam has a very simple and logical doctrine: Everyone will be raised from the dead to be judged according to his own deeds. Those who believed in The One God, and believed his messenger and were righteous will be saved. Others will be punished in proportion to their “balance sheet”. Forgiveness of sin is subject to the Will of God alone, and is only possible, though not guaranteed, for those who did not worship other gods besides The One God.

These principles are universal, and they apply to all human past and present, fairly and justly.

There is an incentive for people to act righteously and a deterrent for those who indulge in evil.

Related Posts:
On Jewish Christianity, Islam and the Gentiles
Thoughts on The Crucifixion

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Thoughts on the crucifixion

with 58 comments

Can we reconcile the Christian and Muslim differences over the Crucifixion? Probably not, but we can still explore and look closely at them. We might learn something useful.

The Gospels confirm that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross. Muslims insist that he was not crucified, but saved by God, so obviously, our views on the historical event can not be reconciled, however, unlike other differences between the two faiths, I believe our difference on the crucifixion can be ‘explained’.

The source of the Muslim view on the crucifixion is the Quran. Allah says in the Quran, Chapter 4:

[Quran 4:154] And We caused the Mount to tower above them at (the taking of) their covenant: and We bade them: Enter the gate, prostrate! and We bode them: Transgress not the Sabbath! and We took from them a firm covenant.

[4:155] Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few –

[4:156] That they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge;

[4:157] That they said, “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:

[4:158] Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Mighty in Power, Wise;

[4:159] And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them;-

Based on the verses above, God made it appear to those present at the scene, that Jesus was being crucified. It is no wonder then, everyone thought what they were witnessing was the crucifixion of Jesus.

But the Quran also confirms that God saved Jesus. This is one further reason for Muslims to revere Jesus. He had a high standing before God, that Almighty did NOT allow his enemies to kill him.

On the other hand, there are varying accounts of the date of the resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels. Similarly, much of the story of the empty tomb in the Bible and the subsequent appearance of Jesus to the disciples described in the Gospel of Mark, turned out to be an unreliable later addition. There are several conflicting accounts of what happened after the crucifixion.

All this leads me to think that, people believed the Messiah was crucified, but they were unable to find his blessed body.

This secret was only revealed in the Quran centuries later: God has saved his prophet Jesus from his enemies. He did not allow the plotters to prevail against Jesus, who is one of five “Willful” major prophet.

This is consistent with what happened with All the the major messengers of God. Each one of them was saved from his enemies:

  1. Noah was saved from the flood.
  2. Abraham was saved when he was thrown into a raging fire.
  3. Moses was saved from the army of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
  4. Jesus was saved from those who plotted to kill him.
  5. Muhammad was saved from the Meccans who plotted to murder him. God’s peace and blessing be upon all of them

In other areas where Islam and Christianity differ, I believe that the true teachings of Jesus were altered, and I have explained this position in other posts on this blog.

The crucifixion is different. There was simply no way for Christians and Jews to know that their Messiah was saved, not until God sent his last prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) with the Quran, to tell the true story of what really happened on that day, and how God saved his prophet Jesus, in what was the last miracle bestowed on Jesus before his second coming.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

December 15, 2007 at 1:09 am