Hard Questions

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Posts Tagged ‘Quran

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

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 51 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

Related Posts:

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 23, 2008 at 10:11 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.

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Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 20, 2008 at 7:56 pm

My difficulties with the trinity concept

with 35 comments

Dear Don,

I have been thinking on how best to carry this conversation forward. Bill was right about the futility of arguing over the validity and authority of different Scriptures. I accept that we do not regard each other’s scripture’ as wholly authoritative. So we have to find a way to discuss Scriptures and doctrine, whilst taking into account our disagreements.

I always try not to judge the authenticity and reliability of Bible passages on the basis of my own convictions, however, I think it is reasonable to draw on the opinion of learned, non-Muslim, prominent Biblical scholars. So, If I say a passage is probably not authentic, this would not be based on my perspective as a Muslim, but rather, on the judgement of some prominent Biblical scholars.

Let me start by defining some areas where I think there are fundamental differences, and allow each other to explain, robustly, why we think one position is more valid than the other.

The first such point is our knowledge about GOD. Leaving aside arguments about His name, Muslims understand GOD to be The One, Eternal, Living, indivisible Creator of everything. We do not accept the idea of a triune Godhead, whether it being as defined by the Nicaean Creed or your definition of distinct Persons in the Trinity.

The concept of the trinity, is an interpretation, and was developed/articulated -depending on you theological stance- a long time after Christ ministry. One of the problems I am finding with the concept, is that I think it raises so many questions and possibilities, that can not be answed except by applying a certain amount of “guesswork“.

The concept of The Father and The Son, somehow imply a chronological order, for its inconceivable for a father not to have existed Before his a son. If this is the case, then they can not be equal. If, as you say, the Son is subordinate to the Father, than that will will also negate his status as god, for a god is Omnipotent and can not be a subordinate. Frankly, I find the believe in a hierarchy of distinct persons that form a Godhead, closer to the beliefs of polytheists than what we know of the faith of Abraham and the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.

To illustrate my point about the need of “guesswork” to explain the Trinity, I list of some of various understandings of the Trinity. All these thoughts were advocated by learned Christians in the first 7 centuries AD:

from : Synopsis of Ancient Heretics

  • Monarchianism were people who overly stressed the unity of God in opposition to the teaching that the One God had three distinct personalities.
  • Paul of Samosata. He taught Christ was not divine, but a good man, who achieved divinity at his baptism along with saviorhood.
  • Sabellianism came to us from a man named Sabellius. He taught what is called Modal Monarchianism. To him the One God manifested Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit, but were in reality just One God. God assumed various modes but was not really three-in-one
  • Arianism Arius denied the full deity of the preexistent Son of God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. He held that the Son, while divine and like God (“of like substance”), was created by God as the agent through whom he created the universe
  • Nestorianism A 5th-century Christological heresy, Nestorianism takes its name from Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople (428-31), who argued against the Alexandrian use of the title Theotokos, meaning “God bearer,” or “Mother of God,” for the Virgin Mary. Nestorius believed Mary was the mother of Christ only in his humanity. Nestorius taught that Christ had two natures adivine and human nature. Nestorius was condemned by the Council of Ephesus (431; see EPHESUS, COUNCIL OF), which was convened specifically to settle the dispute.
  • Monothelitism was a 7th-century Byzantine doctrine that accepted the teaching of two natures in JESUS CHRIST, as defined (451) at the Council of CHALCEDON, but declared that he had only one will or mode of activity (energeia). The Monothelitic formula was adopted (624) by Byzantine Emperor HERACLIUS as a compromise that might be acceptable to the Monophysites (see MONOPHYSITISM) of Egypt and Syria
  • Adoptionism, was a theological doctrine propounded in the 8th century by a Spanish bishop, Elipandus of Toledo. Concerned to distinguish between the divine and human natures of Christ, Elipandus held that in his divinity Christ was the son of God by nature

This state of affairs is eloquently described in the Quran, where Allah says in Chapter 19 “Mary”:

[19:34] Such was Jesus, son of Mary: (this is) a statement of the truth concerning which they doubt.
[19:35] It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is.
[19:36] And lo! Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So serve Him. That is the right path.
[19:37] The sects among them differ: but woe unto the disbelievers from the meeting of an awful Day.

I acknowledge the fact that religious factions exist within Islam and Judaism too, but in both of these religions, there is near unanimity on their understanding of GOD, I do not know of any noticeable Muslim sect that disagreed on their understanding of Unity of God or his attributes. The major differences were between those who understood God’s attributes as literal and those who insisted they are figurative. Other disputes arose between sects who believed The Quran was created by God (Mu’tazilah) and others who insisted it was His Words.

Written by Rasheed Gadir

May 15, 2008 at 9:43 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