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Surah 90: The City

May 30, 2016 2 comments

In this blog, I am going to provide an exegesis of the Ninetieth Surah of the Koran. Being a Christian, I bring my Christian background to the text. So, I understand it in probably a different way than many Muslims do. Here are three different translations of this chapter in the Koran. The chapter is really quite short — only 20 short verses.

1 I swear by this city, Makkah –
2 And you, [O Muhammad], are free of restriction in this city –
3 And [by] the father and that which was born [of him],
4 We have certainly created man into hardship.
5 Does he think that never will anyone overcome him?
6 He says, “I have spent wealth in abundance.”
7 Does he think that no one has seen him?
8 Have We not made for him two eyes?
9 And a tongue and two lips?
10 And have shown him the two ways?
11 But he has not broken through the difficult pass.
12 And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass?
13 It is the freeing of a slave
14 Or feeding on a day of severe hunger
15 An orphan of near relationship
16 Or a needy person in misery
17 And then being among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion.
18 Those are the companions of the right.
19 But they who disbelieved in Our signs – those are the companions of the left.
20 Over them will be fire closed in.
(Koran 90, Sahih International)

1 Nay, I swear by this city –
2 And thou art an indweller of this city –
3 And the Begetter and That Which He begat,
4 We verily have created man in an atmosphere:
5 Thinketh he that none hath power over him?
6 And he saith: I have destroyed vast wealth:
7 Thinketh he that none beholdeth him?
8 Did We not assign unto him two eyes
9 And a tongue and two lips,
10 And guide him to the parting of the mountain ways?
11 But he hath not attempted the Ascent –
12 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Ascent is! –
13 (It is) to free a slave,
14 And to feed in the day of hunger.
15 An orphan near of kin,
16 Or some poor wretch in misery,
17 And to be of those who believe and exhort one another to perseverance and exhort one another to pity.
18 Their place will be on the right hand.
19 But those who disbelieve Our revelations, their place will be on the left hand.
20 Fire will be an awning over them.
(Koran 90, Pickthall)

1 Nay! I swear by this city–
2 And you shall be made free from obligation in this city–
3 And the Begetter and Whom He begot.
4 Certainly We have created man to be in distress.
5 Does he think that no one has power over him?
6 He shall say: I have wasted much wealth.
7 Does he think that no one sees him?
8 Have We not given him two eyes,
9 And a tongue and two lips,
10 And pointed out to him the two conspicuous ways?
11 But he would not attempt the uphill road,
12 And what will make you comprehend what the uphill road is?
13 (It is) the setting free of a slave,
14 Or the giving of food in a day of hunger
15 To an orphan, having relationship,
16 Or to the poor man lying in the dust.
17 Then he is of those who believe and charge one another to show patience, and charge one another to show compassion.
18 These are the people of the right hand.
19 And (as for) those who disbelieve in our communications, they are the people of the left hand.
20 On them is fire closed over.
(Koran 90, Shakir)

verse 1 I swear — the Holy Spirit swears. The Holy Spirit swears and not Muhammad. Muhammad commanded people not to swear oaths.

And they swear by Allah their strongest oaths that if you ordered them, they would go forth [in Allah ‘s cause]. Say, “Do not swear. [Such] obedience is known. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with that which you do.” (Koran 24:53, Sahih International)

Jesus, likewise, commanded people not to swear oaths.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’  But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37, NKJV)

The Old Testament laws regarding swearing oaths in the Lord’s name were abrogated by Jesus. The Koran talks about abrogation in Koran 2:106 and 16:101.

St. James, who is Jesus’ stepbrother or cousin, also said not to swear oaths.

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment. (James 5:12, NKJV)

Many Church Fathers who lived before Muhammad wrote against the practice of swearing oaths.

But if thou art able to say that Christ bade us to use oaths, or that Christ did not punish the doing of this, show me, and I am persuaded. But if He forbids it with so much care, and takes so much thought about the matter as to class him who takes an oath with the Evil One [for whatsoever is more than these, namely, than yea and nay, saith He, is of the Devil (Matthew 5:37)], why dost thou bring this person and that person forward? (Instructions to Catechumens, First Instruction, chapter 5, by St. John Chrysostom)

For it is indeed a snare of Satan, this swearing. (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily XIII, by St. John Chrysostom)

For the oath of God is the assurance of a promise. Man is justly forbidden to swear: lest by the habit of swearing, since a man may be deceived, he fall into perjury. God alone swears securely, because He alone is infallible. (On the Psalms, Psalm LXXXIX, by Blessed Augustine of Hippo)

Swearing is absolutely forbidden, and it is only reasonable that the oath which tends to evil should be condemned. (Canon XXIX, Letter CXIX, by St. Basil the Great)

Therefore, Muhammad, who is a good example (Koran 33:21), would not swear an oath. God the Holy Spirit swears by “this city.” In Sahih International’s translation it says “by this city, Makkah.” However, Makkah does not appear in the Arabic text of the Koran. So, the city’s name is not mentioned.

The Holy Spirit swears by the city of the New Jerusalem in heaven and by the Father (“the begetter”) and the Son (“Whom He begot”). (See verse 3.) All three hypostases of the Deity are equal in glory, honor, power, etc. The Father is greater than the Son in respect to His humanity (John 14:28), but equal to the Son in respect to His Divinity. (John 5:18,23) Each hypostasis of the Deity is God in His entirety, but there are not three gods. There is only one God. God, therefore, swears by the city of the New Jerusalem in heaven and by Himself in this Surah because there is no one greater.

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. (Hebrews 6:13-16, NKJV)

verse 2

Sahih International: And you, [O Muhammad], are free of restriction in this city

Pickthall: And thou art an indweller of this city

Shakir: And you shall be made free from obligation in this city

The Arabic text says:

Wa-anta ḥillun bihādhā al-baladi.

The word, ḥillun,  is translated lawful in Koran 3:93; 5:5; and 60:10. A more literal translation of this verse would be, “And thou art lawful in this city.” Another words, someone is being told that he can lawfully be in that city. He is not forbidden to be there.

In the New Testament, the New Jerusalem is mentioned.

But the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:26, NKJV)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20, NKJV)

For he (that is, Abraham) waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:10, NKJV)

Then I, John, saw the holy city New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2, NKJV)

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved[l] shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:22-27, NKJV)

No one can repent after he has been resurrected on the Last Day.

He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11, NKJV)

The Day that the shin shall be laid bare, and they shall be summoned to bow in adoration, but they shall not be able, — their eyes will be cast down, — ignominy will cover them; seeing that they had been summoned aforetime to bow in adoration, while they were whole, (and had refused). Then leave Me alone with such as reject this Message: by degrees shall We punish them from directions they perceive not. (Koran 68:42-44, Yusuf Ali)

Not everyone may lawfully enter and dwell in this city.

But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:15, NKJV)

Those who obey God by keeping His commandments have the right to enter the city.

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14, NKJV)

verse 3  “The begetter” is God the Father; “Whom He begot” is God the Son. Begetting and being begotten are theological expressions. The procession of the Son from the Father is called “being begotten.” These words in no way teach that God had sex with someone.

Holy Trinity Diagram

verse 4 We = the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three hypostases of the deity are involved in the creation of human beings. The Son in the Bible is also called “the Word of the Lord.” The Holy Spirit is also called “the Divine Spirit.”

And now, O Lord, thou art our Father, and we are clay, all of us the work of thine hands. (Isaiah 64:8, LXX)

And the Word of the Lord came to him, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth from the womb, I sanctified thee; I appointed thee a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:4,5, LXX)

The Divine Spirit is that which formed me. (Job 33:4, LXX)

Sahih International translated this verse: “We have certainly created man into hardship.”

The word, kabadin, appears only once in the Koran. It is translated “hardship” in this verse by Sahih International. In Job, it says:

Yet man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. (Job 5:7, NKJV)

Man was created into hardship. The hardship is both spiritual and material. The hardship is the fruit of the Fall. People need God in order to eventually escape this hardship forever.

And to the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy pains and thy groanings; in pain thou shalt bring forth children, and thy submission shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And to Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and eaten of the tree concerning which I charged thee of it only not to eat — of that thou hast eaten, cursed is the ground in thy labours, in pain shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread until thou return to the earth out of which thou wast taken, for earth thou art and to earth thou shalt return. (Genesis 3:17-20, LXX)

verse 5 Thinketh he that none hath power over him? (Pickthall)

In Proverbs, it says:

Pride goes before destruction, and folly before a fall. Better is a meek-spirited man with lowliness, than one who divides spoils with the proud. (Proverbs 16:18,19, LXX)

Those who will not be allowed to dwell in that city will be proud and will mistakenly think that no one has power over them. God has power over them, though.

verse 6  He shall say: I have wasted much wealth. (Shakir)

Jesus told two parables about wealth. One is about hoarding wealth and the other is about prodigality, that is, wasting wealth.

And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21, NKJV)

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:11-32, NKJV)

verses 7,8 Does he think that no one sees him? Have We not given him two eyes (Shakir)

Understand now, ye simple among the people; and ye fools, at length be wise. He that planted the ear, does He not hear? or He that formed the eye, does not He perceive? (Psalm 93:8,9, LXX; 94:8,9, Hebrew)

God who has given us two eyes can see.

The eyes of the Lord behold both the evil and the good in every place. (Proverbs 15:3, LXX)

verse 9 And a tongue and two lips? (Shakir)

And the Lord said to Moses, Who has given a mouth to man, and who has made the very hard of hearing, and the deaf, the seeing and the blind? Have not I, God? (Exodus 4:11, LXX)

Therefore God can speak to us. The creator of the faculties of communication can communicate.

verse 10 And have shown him the two ways? (Sahih International)

The Arabic text is:

Wahadaynāhu al-najdayni?

Literally translated, “And We have shown him the two ways?”

God has set before us two ways: the way of life and the way of death. The way of life is the way of doing good. The way of death is the way of evil. When we follow one way, we receive a blessing. When we follow another way, we receive a curse.

Behold, I have set before thee this day life and death, good and evil. If thou wilt hearken to the commands of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to love the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His ordinances, and His judgments; then ye shall live, and shall be many in number, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all the land into which thou goest to inherit it. But if thy heart change, and thou wilt not hearken, and thou shalt go astray and worship other gods, and serve them, I declare to you this day, that ye shall utterly perish, and ye shall by no means live long upon the land, into which ye go over Jordan to inherit it. I call both heaven and earth to witness this day against you, I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: choose thou life, that thou and thy seed may live; to love the Lord thy God, to hearken to His voice, and cleave to Him; for this is thy life, and the length of thy days, that thou shouldest dwell upon the land, which the Lord sware to thy fathers, Abraam, and Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20, LXX)

And thou shalt say to this people, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I have set before you the way of life, and the way of death. He that remains in this city shall die by the sword, and by famine: but he that goes forth to advance to the Chaldeans that have besieged you, shall live, and his life shall be to him for a spoil, and he shall live. For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good: it shall be delivered into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he shall consume it with fire. (Jeremiah 21:8-10, LXX)

verse 11 But he hath not attempted the Ascent (Pickthall)

Here, I am reminded of this verse from Psalm 23 of the Septuagint.

Who shall go up to the mountain of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place? (Psalm 23:3 LXX; Psalm 24:3, Hebrew)

verses 12-17

Here is the Koran’s answer to the question in verse 11.

12 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Ascent is! –
13 (It is) to free a slave,
14 And to feed in the day of hunger.
15 An orphan near of kin,
16 Or some poor wretch in misery,
17 And to be of those who believe and exhort one another to perseverance and exhort one another to pity. (Pickthall)

Here is the 23rd Psalm’s answer to the question.

He that is innocent in his hands and pure in his heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbour. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Saviour. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Pause. (Psalm 23:3-6, LXX; Psalm 24:3-6, Hebrew)

Both texts are not providing exhaustive instructions on how to make the ascent, that is, how to become a lawful inhabitant of the New Jerusalem. Freeing slaves; feeding the hungry and the poor; not stealing, not committing murder, having a pure heart, not lifting up one’s soul to vanity, being truthful with others; believing in the existence of one God, the Last Day, and in all of God’s messengers; exhorting others to persevere in doing good, and exhorting others to be merciful are some of the things mentioned in this Surah from the Koran and in the passage from the Psalms.

verses 18,19

18 These are the people of the right hand.
19 And (as for) those who disbelieve in our communications, they are the people of the left hand. (Shakir)

Jesus spoke about the Last Judgment. Verses 18 and 19 of this Surah are speaking about the Last Judgment, too.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46, NKJV)

In St. John’s Gospel, there is this passage which talks about divine judgment.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:16-21, NKJV)

Notice that faith was mentioned in verse 17 of the Koran as a prerequisite for obtaining entrance into the city. Faith in Jesus Christ is mentioned as being necessary to avoid divine retribution in John 3:18. What many Christians do not know is that the Koran actually tells people to believe in Jesus. (Koran 3:45-53,179; 4:136,152,171; 5:110,111; 57:19,27-29; 61:6-13) Various good deeds were mentioned in verses 12-17 of this Surah. Practicing the truth, which is the opposite of practicing evil, is mentioned in John 3:21. In order to become someone who comes to the light, which is, of course, God, one must practice the truth. When one does good, one is living according to his true nature which God intended him to live by. Sin is a subtraction from one’s humanity and not an addition to it. Those who disbelieve in God’s revelations (verse 19, Pickthall) will be on the left hand of Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment. Those who disbelieve in Jesus are “condemned already.” (John 3:18) They need to repent, believe, and start the spiritual ascent to the city by practicing good deeds.

verse 20 On them is fire closed over. (Shakir)

This is speaking about Gehenna (the Lake of Fire), the final resting place of the wicked after the Day of Judgment. In the Book of Revelation, it is mentioned here.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:11-15, NKJV)

Practicing Islam

May 26, 2016 Leave a comment

In this blog I have some more videos from Youtube. Some Muslims might object to me posting some of them, but hopefully they will reflect a little before becoming irate and see what I am actually trying to illustrate.

Before watching them, first read these verses from the Koran and then as you watch the videos try to find how many times these commandments from the Koran are being broken. I have grouped them according to various topics.

Causing Corruption or Mischief in the Land

And of the people are some who say, “We believe in Allah and the Last Day,” but they are not believers. They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not. In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie. And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers.” Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive [it] not. (Koran 2:8-12, Sahih International)

Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good. (Koran 7:56, Yusuf Ali)

And unto Midian (We sent) their brother, Shu’eyb. He said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other God save Him. Lo! a clear proof hath come unto you from your Lord; so give full measure and full weight and wrong not mankind in their goods, and work not confusion in the earth after the fair ordering thereof. That will be better for you, if ye are believers. (Koran 7:85, Pickthall)

But those who break the covenant of Allah after contracting it and sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined and spread corruption on earth – for them is the curse, and they will have the worst home. (Koran 13:25, Sahih International)

“So fear Allah and obey me. And do not obey the order of the transgressors, who cause corruption in the land and do not amend.” (Koran 26:150-152, Sahih International)

There is the type of man whose speech about this world’s life may dazzle thee, and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart; yet is he the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle [wal-nasla, literally, and offspring. See Koran 32:8.]. But Allah loveth not mischief. When it is said to him, “Fear Allah”, he is led by arrogance to (more) crime. Enough for him is Hell; an evil bed indeed (to lie on)! (Koran 2:204-206, Yusuf Ali)

And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers. (Koran 28:77, Shakir)

Displaying Hatred Instead of Love

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. (Koran 5:8, Sahih International)

Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah… Lo! Ye are those who love them though they love you not, and ye believe in all the Scripture. (Koran 3:110,119, Pickthall)

Every one pursues his goal. Compete with each other in performing good deeds. (Koran 2:148, Muhammad Sarwar)

Verbally Provoking Quarrels

Say to My servants that they should (only) say those things that are best: for Satan doth sow dissensions among them. For Satan is to man an avowed enemy. (Koran 17:53, Yusuf Ali)

Doing Evil

O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. He only orders you to evil and immorality and to say about Allah what you do not know. (Koran 2:168,169, Sahih International)

Believers, submit yourselves to the will of God as a whole. Do not follow the footsteps of Satan; he is your sworn enemy. If you are seduced after you have received the authoritative guidance, know that God is Majestic and Wise. (Koran 2:208,209, Muhammad Sarwar)

O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. And whoever follows the footsteps of Satan – indeed, he enjoins immorality and wrongdoing. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever, but Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Koran 24:21, Sahih International)

Looking at a Woman’s Body Too Much

and Not Guarding One’s Modesty

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. (Koran 24:30,31, Yusuf Ali)

Disobeying Jesus

And when Jesus brought clear proofs, He said, “I have come to you with wisdom and to make clear to you some of that over which you differ, so fear Allah and obey Me.” (Koran 43:63, Sahih International)

Shouting

“O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination. And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (Koran 31:17-19, Sahih International)

Unbelief, Wickedness, and  Rebellion

And know that among you is Allah’s Messenger: were he, in many matters, to follow your (wishes), ye would certainly fall into misfortune: but Allah has endeared the Faith to you, and has made it beautiful in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you unbelief, wickedness, and rebellion: such indeed are those who walk in righteousness;- (Koran 49:7, Yusuf Ali)

Ridiculing, Insulting, and Name-Calling

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (Koran 49:11; Sahih International)

Murder

For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. (Koran 5:32, Pickthall)

How many times did you see Muslims break those commandments in the Koran in these videos? Do you think that they were practicing Islam?

Well, this is why so many non-Muslims are Islamophobic and dislike Muslims. They see things like these on TV and on Youtube and they think that all Muslims are like that. Most non-Muslims have never read the Koran. For them, the only Koran they know is what they see in videos like these.

Back in my Protestant days, I remember hearing a preacher say that the only Bible some people ever read is you. Well, that is the way it is with the Koran. Most non-Muslims have no interest in purchasing a Koran, let alone reading it. So, they form their opinions about the contents of the Koran based on what they see Muslims doing.

I remember my mother was once trying to google the internet to find out where in the Koran it says to kill the infidel. Actually, it does not really teach that. The killing in the Koran is almost entirely confined to warfare, which can only lawfully be waged for one of three reasons: self-defense, to liberate the oppressed, or to end religious persecution. (There are plenty of war passages in the Bible, too. Read them and ask yourself why are we not following the teachings in those passages today. Christian nations have fought many wars in the past. So, we Christians cannot truthfully say that the Muslims are the only ones who go to war.) The disbelievers (or infidels) in the Koran are the polytheists and the heretical Christians, like the Maryamites and the Sabellians. Trinitarian monotheists are believers. (Koran 30:2-5) Christians and Jews in the Koran are called People of the Scripture or People of the Book. We Christians are Kitabis, not Kuffaar.

Just as there are Christians who do not practice the teachings of Jesus, so are there Muslims who do not practice the teachings of the Koran.

The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Ye believe not, but rather say “We submit,” for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts. Yet, if ye obey Allah and His messenger, He will not withhold from you aught of (the reward of) your deeds. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The (true) believers are those only who believe in Allah and His messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Would ye teach Allah your religion, when Allah knoweth all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, and Allah is Aware of all things? (Koran 49:14-16, Pickthall)

Here are some more videos. The Koran says:

For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. (Koran 5:32, Pickthall)

Now watch this video.

Was the Muslim woman practicing Islam? (Think now. That child might even be a Christian child.)

Now, look at this verse in the Koran.

And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers. (Koran 28:77, Shakir)

Now, watch the video.

Was this Muslim practicing Islam?

In the Koran, it says:

Surely the righteous shall drink of a cup the admixture of which is camphor, a fountain from which the servants of Allah shall drink; they make it to flow a (goodly) flowing forth. They fulfill vows and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide. And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive: We only feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks: surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day. (Koran 76:5-10, Shakir)

Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate. (Koran 22:28, Pickthall)

It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness – to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing. (Koran 2:177, Yusuf Ali)

One of the Five Pillars of Islam is giving to charity (zakat). In the Bible, it is called almsgiving. Were those Muslims in the three previous videos practicing Islam?

In the Koran, it says:

Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good. (Koran 7:56, Yusuf Ali)

Do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers. (Koran 28:77, Shakir)

There is the type of man whose speech about this world’s life may dazzle thee, and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart; yet is he the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle [wal-nasla, literally, and offspring. See Koran 32:8.]. But Allah loveth not mischief. When it is said to him, “Fear Allah”, he is led by arrogance to (more) crime. Enough for him is Hell; an evil bed indeed (to lie on)! (Koran 2:204-206, Yusuf Ali)

Now, watch this video.

I think that this man was arrested for encouraging terrorism in Great Britain. Many moderate Muslims interpret those passages in the Koran about spreading corruption or mischief in the land as applying to terrorism. If he was doing that, was he truly practicing Islam?

In the Koran, it also says:

Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment. (Koran 5:33, Sahih International)

Great Britain has no death penalty. Crucifixion and amputation of hands and feet are human rights violations. Exile in this man’s case, if he is guilty, is not a good idea in this age. He will simply just start doing the same things in another country. Many Islamic countries use imprisonment instead of exile. So, by putting him in jail, is the government of Great Britain doing something which is congruent with the teachings of Koran 5:33?

[After studying the Koran and pondering on it for some time, I have changed my understanding of Koran 5:33. I believe that there are no criminal punishments mentioned in this verse. The verse is talking about the consequences that the polytheists would experience while waging an actual military war against Muhammad and the first generation Muslims. People fought with swords in the seventh century. So, someone could lose a hand and/or a foot in combat. The word translated “crucified” could mean “hanged.” Anjem Choudary and people like him are following in the footsteps of the devil which the Koran forbids us from doing. (Koran 24:21) The devil sows discord among men. (Koran 17:53) This is the activity of people who encourage terrorism. They, like the devil, are sowing discord among men. The Koran teaches that people should make peace among mankind. (Koran 4:114) The verses which command people to make peace and be at peace with others are not abrogated. “Peace is better.” (Koran 4:128) Abrogating verses are either similar to or better than the abrogated ones. (Koran 2:106) War, strife, and violence are not better than peace.]

Two more verses from the Koran.

God knows whatever is unseen in the heavens and in the earth. He is Well Aware of what you do. (Koran 49:18, Muhammad Sarwar)

Allah hath promised, unto such of them as believe and do good works, forgiveness and immense reward. (Koran 48:29, Pickthall)

I understand the words, “believe and do good works” to mean what St. James said in his Catholic Epistle about faith and works. “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) Those who profess faith do not always possess genuine faith. Actions speak louder than words.

Does the Koran Say to Love Your Enemies?

May 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Anyone who has read the Gospels knows that Jesus taught us to love our enemies. He said this in the Sermon on the Mount and in the Sermon on the Plain.

Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35)

Now, some may wonder if the Koran teaches the same thing. Well, I think that it does in a round about way. In the Third Surah it says:

Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah… Lo! Ye are those who love them though they love you not, and ye believe in all the Scripture. (Koran 3:110,119, Pickthall)

And in the Ninth Surah it says:

The vanguard (of Islam) – the first of those who forsook (their homes) and of those who gave them aid, and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds,- well-pleased is Allah with them, as are they with Him: for them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein for ever: that is the supreme felicity. (Koran 9:100, Yusuf Ali)

The first generation Muslims, excluding the hypocrites, were the best community raised up for mankind (Koran 3:110) and they are an example to all Muslims. (Koran 9:100) Those first generation Muslims loved those who did not love them back.

In the Second Surah it says:

Every one pursues his goal. Compete with each other in performing good deeds. (Koran 2:148, Muhammad Sarwar)

Every Muslim should not only try to love those who do not love them, but should also try to love them more than the first generation Muslims loved their enemies.

In the 37th Surah, regarding Muhammad, it says:

Nay! He has come with the (very) Truth, and he confirms (the Message of) the messengers (before him). (Koran 37:37, Yusuf Ali)

Muhammad confirms the message of the messengers before him. In the Fourth Surah and the 61st Surah it says that Jesus is a messenger of Allah. (Koran 4:171; 61:6) Therefore, Muhammad confirms Jesus’ words: “Love your enemies.” Furthermore, in the 3rd and 43rd Surahs it says that we should obey Jesus. (Koran 3:50; 43:63)

And (I come) confirming that which was before Me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey Me. (Koran 3:50, Pickthall)

And when Jesus brought clear proofs, He said, “I have come to you with wisdom and to make clear to you some of that over which you differ, so fear Allah and obey Me.” (Koran 43:63, Sahih International)

So, since Muhammad has confirmed the words of Jesus and Jesus is recorded in the Koran as having said, “Obey Me,” we should love our enemies. Since the first generation Muslims were the best community raised up for mankind and they loved those who did not them back, we, likewise, should love those who do not love us back. (Koran 3:110,119; 9:100) That includes our enemies. Since we should strive to outdo each other in doing good deeds (Koran 2:148), we should try to love our enemies more than the first generation Muslims loved their enemies. So, yes, the Koran also teaches us to love our enemies.

Categories: Islam Tags: , , , , ,

Probably Not What You Would Expect

May 26, 2016 Leave a comment

I have been browsing the internet and have come across some interesting videos. Some have changed some of my own misconceptions about things. Well, look at this video first. It is one of those videos I found on Youtube. This young lady makes some great videos. I hope she does not mind me posting some of them in my blogs. Here, she talks about being single and other things.

Now watch this video.

Are you shocked? You see the stereotype does not always fit. Here is another video.

Here is one more video which dispels the stereotypic image that many of us non-Muslims have about them.

I might disagree with their unitarian theology, but if I, as a Christian, cannot love these people and treat them with the human dignity that they deserve, then I really am not practicing my religion.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (I John 4:20,21, NKJV)

 

Categories: Islam, Religion Tags:

Stoning Jesus

May 21, 2016 Leave a comment

In the Koran, it says:

Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and guidance for mankind, which ye have put on parchments which ye show, but ye hide much (thereof), and (by which) ye were taught that which ye knew not yourselves nor (did) your fathers (know it)? Say: Allah. (Koran 6:92, Pickthall)

The Book which Moses brought is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Torah is a light and a guidance for mankind. From it one can learn what is right and what is wrong. The Torah prescribes stoning as one manner in which capital punishment is to be administered for certain sins. In this blog I am going to look at the reasons for stoning and attempt to ascertain why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus.

In the Gospels, we read:

And He was saying to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:23-29, NASB)

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:56-59, NASB)

Jesus had been talking to the Jews. After He said to them, “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” they wanted to stone Him. In another place in the Gospel according to St. John, we read:

“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a Man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:30-38, NASB)

Here, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus after He said, “I and the Father are one.” Some people say that what Jesus meant when He said this was that He was in agreement with the Father and was doing the Father’s will. If that is true, then is there a place in the Old Testament that says that one should be stoned for obeying God? No, of course not.

Let us look at some passages in the Torah about stoning and see which ones the Jews were using to justify stoning Jesus.

Working on the Sabbath

This passage in Numbers says that a man was stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

And the children of Israel were in the wilderness, and they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And they who found him gathering sticks on the Sabbath day brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel. And they placed him in custody, for they did not determine what they should do to him. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Let the man be by all means put to death: do ye all the congregation, stone him with stones. And all the congregation brought him forth out of the camp; and all the congregation stoned him with stones outside the camp, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Numbers 15:32-36, LXX)

This is the only incident where someone was stoned for not observing the Sabbath. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is it mentioned that anyone was ever stoned for doing so. However, in Exodus there is a commandment to put someone to death for working on the Sabbath. (Exodus 31:15)

Jesus was not breaking the commandment regarding the Sabbath. So, in both instances when the Jews wanted to stone Him, they did not want to do that because He was breaking the Sabbath.

Disobeying Parents

Another reason for stoning someone is for disobeying one’s parents.

And if any man has a disobedient and contentious son, who hearkens not to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother, and they should correct him, and he should not hearken to them; then shall his father and his mother take hold of him, and bring him forth to the elders of his city, and to the gate of the place: and they shall say to the men of their city, This our son is disobedient and contentious, he hearkens not to our voice, he is a reveler and a drunkard. And the men of his city shall stone him with stones, and he shall die; and thou shalt remove the evil one from yourselves, and the rest shall hear and fear. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21, LXX)

Jesus was already a grown Man. This passage would not apply to Him. Anyway, in the Koran it says that Jesus was “faultless.” (Koran 19:19) Jesus also said that He always does those things that please God. (John 8:29) So, He never disobeyed His mother or His stepfather while He was growing up.

Fornication

Another reason for stoning was for fornication, that is, having sex before one becomes married.

And the father of the damsel shall say to the elders, I gave this my daughter to this man for a wife; and now he has hated her, and attaches reproachful words to her, saying, I have not found tokens of virginity with thy daughter; and these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall unfold the garment before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man, and shall chastise him, and shall fine him a hundred shekels, and shall give them to the father of the damsel, because he has brought forth an evil name against a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife: he shall never be able to put her away. But if this report be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel; then shall they bring out the damsel to the doors of her father’s house, and shall stone her with stones, and she shall die; because she has wrought folly among the children of Israel, to defile the house of her father by whoring: so thou shalt remove the evil one from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:16-21, LXX)

The two passages in the Gospels say nothing about Jesus having sex with anyone. He was not married, but He never committed fornication.

Adultery and Rape

Two other reasons for stoning are for committing adultery and for rape.

And if a man be found lying with a woman married to a man, ye shall kill them both, the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou remove the wicked one out of Israel. And if there be a young damsel espoused to a man, and a man should have found her in the city and have lain with her; ye shall bring them both out to the gate of their city, and they shall be stoned with stones, and they shall die; the damsel, because she cried not in the city; and the man, because he humbled his neighbour’s spouse: so shalt thou remove the evil one from yourselves. But if a man find in the field a damsel that is betrothed, and he should force her and lie with her, ye shall slay the man that lay with her only. And the damsel has not committed a sin worthy of death; as if a man should rise up against his neighbour, and slay him, so is this thing; because he found her in the field; the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to help her. (Deuteronomy 22:22-27, LXX)

Jesus was not accused of having committed either of these sins by the Jews in those Gospel passages.

Practicing the Occult Arts

Fortune telling and sorcery are also punishable by stoning in the Torah.

And as for a man or woman whosoever of them shall have in them a divining spirit, or be an enchanter, let them both die the death: ye shall stone them with stones, they are guilty. (Leviticus 20:27, LXX)

Jesus was once accused of casting out devils by Beelzebub (that is, Satan).

Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. (Matthew 12:22-24, KJV)

No one wanted to stone Him for doing that though. In those Gospels passages (John 8:56-59; 10:30-38), there is no allegation of sorcery lodged against Jesus.

Human Sacrifice to False Gods

Another reason for stoning is for offering one’s child to a false god.

Thou shalt also say to the children of Israel, If there shall be any of the children of Israel, or of those who have become proselytes in Israel, who shall give of his seed to Moloch, let him be surely put to death; the nation upon the land shall stone him with stones. (Leviticus 20:2, LXX)

Jesus did not have any children. Therefore, this passage does not apply to Him.

Cursing God

Another reason for stoning was for cursing God.

And there went forth a son of an Israelitish woman, and he was son of an Egyptian man among the sons of Israel; and they fought in the camp, the son of the Israelitish woman, and a man who was an Israelite. And the son of the Israelitish woman named THE NAME and curse; and they brought him to Moses: and his mother’s name was Salomith, daughter of Dabri of the tribe of Dan. And they put him in ward, to judge him by the command of the Lord. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Bring forth him that cursed outside the camp, and all who heard shall lay their hands upon his head, and all the congregation shall stone him. And speak to the sons of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, Whosoever shall curse God shall bear his sin. And he that names the name of the Lord, let him die the death: let all the congregation of Israel stone him with stones; whether he be a stranger or a native, let him die for naming the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24:10-16, LXX)

Jesus did not curse God when He was speaking to the Jews.

Before looking at the next two reasons for stoning in the Torah, let us first look at these passages in the Old Testament.

God’s Name

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  (Exodus 3:13,14, NASB)

I God, the first and to all futurity, I AM. (Isaiah 41:4, LXX)

Be ye My witnesses, and I too am a witness, saith the Lord God, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I AM: before Me there was no other God, and after Me there shall be none. (Isaiah 43:10, LXX)

Hear Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of Israel, who are borne by Me from the womb, and taught by Me from infancy, even to old age: I AM; and until ye shall have grown old, I AM: I bear you, I have made, and I will relieve, I will take up and save you. (Isaiah 46:3,4, LXX)

In these passages, God calls Himself I AM. In Hebrew and also in Aramaic this is only one word. In the first passage about stoning Jesus, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” I AM is what God called Himself when speaking to Moses from the burning bush. He told Moses to tell the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) In the second Gospel passage, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy. They understood that what Jesus was claiming was that He is God.

Proselyting for False Gods

According to the Torah, someone can be stoned for trying to get people to worship any other god but the one and only true God.

And if thy brother by thy father or mother, or thy son, or daughter, or thy wife in thy bosom, or friend who is equal to thine own soul, entreat thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, of the gods of the nations that are round about you, who are near thee or at a distance from thee, from one end of the earth to the other; thou shalt not consent to him, neither shalt thou hearken to him; and thine eye shall not spare him, thou shalt feel no regret for him, neither shalt thou at all protect him: thou shalt surely report concerning him, and thy hands shall be upon him among the first to slay him, and the hands of all the people at the last. 10 And they shall stone him with stones, and he shall die, because he sought to draw thee away from the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10, LXX)

If Jesus was claiming to be God, then in the Jews’ opinion He would be leading them away from the true God. They did not believe the words of Jesus. Therefore, they wanted to stone Him.

Idolatry

The next passage from the Torah forbids idolatry. Idolaters can be stoned.

And if there should be found in any one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God gives thee, a man or a woman who shall do that which is evil before the Lord thy God, so as to transgress his covenant, and they should go and serve other gods, and worship them, the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven, which he commanded thee not to do, and it be told thee, and thou shalt have enquired diligently, and, behold, the thing really took place, this abomination has been done in Israel; then shalt thou bring out that man, or that woman, and ye shall stone them with stones, and they shall die. He shall die on the testimony of two or three witnesses; a man who is put to death shall not be put to death for one witness. And the hand of the witnesses shall be upon him among the first to put him to death, and the hand of the people at the last; so shalt thou remove the evil one from among yourselves. (Deuteronomy 17:2-7, LXX)

If Jesus claimed to be God and the Jews did not believe His words, then they would find a just reason for stoning Him in this passage. The Jews believed that He was not God and was claiming to be God. Therefore, they wanted to stone Him.

In John 8:58, Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham. There is no teaching about reincarnation in the entire Bible, nor is that doctrine taught in the Koran. Jesus said:

So Jesus answered them and said, My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” (John 7:16, NASB)

I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world. (John 8:26, NASB)

I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father. (John 8:38, NASB)

For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. (John 12:49, NASB)

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:24, NASB)

Whenever Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I AM,” He was speaking the words that the Father told Him to speak. The words of Jesus are the words of Allah. Jesus claimed to be Allah.

In the Koran, it says:

They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. (Koran 5:17, Pickthall)

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (Himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

Jesus is Allah, but Allah is not Jesus. Whenever one says that Allah is Jesus, one is speaking the heretical doctrine of the Sabellians. The Sabellians believed that there is only one hypostasis in the Deity and that Jesus is the incarnation of that one hypostasis. They denied the existence of two other hypostases in the Deity: the Father and the Holy Spirit. They believed that Jesus manifested Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which were three different modes of the Deity’s existence and not three different hypostases of God.

The Orthodox Christian doctrine is that there are three distinct hypostases in the Deity. These hypostases are not three distinct gods, but three distinct Persons who are one and the same God. Everywhere the Father is, there is the Son and the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the Son is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the Holy Spirit is, there is the Father and the Son.

All three hypostases share the same essence. One essence, one God. The same essence, the same God. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety, but distinct from the other two.

In Koran 5:72, it says that Jesus said: “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, My Lord and your Lord.” In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus said to St. Mary Magdalene:

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” (John 20:17, NASB)

Since each hypostasis of the Deity is Allah (that is, God) in His entirety, it is appropriate, therefore, for one hypostasis to call another hypostasis Allah, or God. In Koran 5:72 and in John 20:17, Jesus was not denying that He is Allah. He was merely calling another hypostasis of the Deity Allah. Koran 5:72 teaches that Jesus is not a unipersonal God who manifests Himself in three different modes of existence. Jesus acknowledges the existence of at least one other hypostasis in addition to Himself in that verse from the Koran.

Every part of God’s essence belongs to all three hypostases. If it were possible to divide the divine essence of Allah into tiny, infinitesimal particles, each particle would belong to all three hypostases of the Deity. The divine essence, however, is unknown. No one knows of what substance God consists. In fact, no one will ever know.

Jesus is a Man. He is 100% human and 100% God. The two natures are joined together without division, without separation, without mixture, and without change. The divine nature of Jesus is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. The human nature is limited in power, knowledge, and location. His divine nature is infinite. His human nature is finite.

Now, let us look at these passages about Jesus’ trial before the Jewish High Priest and the Sanhedrin.

But He held His peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I AM: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. (Mark 14:61-64, KJV)

Art Thou the Christ? Tell us. And He said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer Me, nor let Me go. Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art Thou then the Son of God? And He said unto them, Ye say that I AM. And they said, What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth. (Luke 22:67-71, KJV)

Jesus was questioned by the High Priest in St. Mark’s Gospel. He was questioned by several Jews in St. Luke’s Gospel.

The Jews wanted to put Jesus to death because of blasphemy. He called Himself “I AM.” He said that He is God. Deuteronomy 13:6-10 and 17:2-7 are the basis for putting Jesus to death in the Jews’ opinion.

The Jews did not want to stone Him because the Passover lamb was going to be sacrificed the next day. They wanted the Romans to execute Him. So, they delivered Him to the Roman governor Pilate. (See Matthew 26:3-5 and John 19:14.)

Jesus was crucified by the Romans and not by the Jews as some seventh century Jews asserted. (See Koran 4:157.) He voluntarily laid down His life. No one took it from Him.

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father. (John 10:17,18, NKJV)

He was buried and arose from the dead. He appeared to over 500 people during a forty day period of time. (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20,21; Acts 1:1-3; I Corinthians 15:3-8)

When He was on the Cross, there were two thieves that were crucified on both sides of Him. St. Luke recorded this conversation of the thieves with Jesus while He was on the Cross.

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on Him, saying, If Thou be Christ, save Thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this Man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise. (Luke 23:39-43, KJV)

Jesus told one of the thieves that He would be with Him in Paradise. In the Koran, it says that Jesus was among the righteous.

And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them) was of the righteous. (Koran 6:85, Pickthall)

It also says in the Koran that anyone who ascribes partners unto Allah is forbidden Paradise.

Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden Paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers. (Koran 5:72, Pickthall)

Jesus went to Paradise with one of the thieves. Jesus is, therefore, not a partner of Allah, that is, a separate god from Allah. (See Koran 5:116.) Jesus is Allah.

The Father is Allah. The Son is Allah. The Holy Spirit is Allah. However, there is only one Allah. The Father is neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit. The Son is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son. God is love. (I John 4:8,16) God is the Loving. (Koran 11:90; 85:14) All three hypostases love each other with constant, unconditional, self-sacrificial love. There is no dissension or contention in the Trinity.

To conclude, the Jews wanted to put Jesus to death because He claimed to be God. The basis for doing so, in their opinion, is found in two passages from the Book of Deuteronomy. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10 and 17:2-7) There are three distinct hypostases in the Deity who are one and the same God sharing the same essence. Jesus is one of these hypostases. Jesus went to Paradise. He was among the righteous. (Koran 6:85) He never claimed to be a separate god from Allah. (Koran 5:116) He said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) Jesus is Allah (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58), but Allah is not Jesus. (Koran 5:17,72) Jesus is the Son of God, who is also God. Jesus is not the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is not a unipersonal God who manifests Himself in three different modes like the Sabellians teach. Jesus is also human. As human, He is finite and limited in His abilities. As God, He is infinite and able to do all things. Those who disbelieve what Jesus said concerning Himself in the Gospels are “disbelievers in the truth” and Allah has prepared for them “a shameful doom.” (See Koran 4:150-152.)

Surah 112: The Surah of the Holy Spirit

May 16, 2016 Leave a comment

In this blog, I want to provide two possible interpretations for chapter 112 of the Koran. The name of this surah (that is, chapter) is The Sincerity. Some copies of the Koran call it the Unity. I think this has become somewhat of a creed for Muslims. Most probably see this as a statement denying the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, but I do not think that that is what it is actually doing.

I have chosen three translations of this surah. It is really very short, only four short verses.

Say: He is Allah, the One!
Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
He begetteth not nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable unto Him.
(Surah 112, Pickthall)

Say, “He is Allah , [who is] One,
Allah, the Eternal Refuge.
He neither begets nor is born,
Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”
(Surah 112, Sahih International)

Say: He, Allah, is One.
Allah is He on Whom all depend.
He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And none is like Him.
(Surah 112, Shakir)

The first verse in Arabic is:

Qul Huwa Al-lahu aḥadun.

Translated literally it is:

Say: He Allah one.

One can dispute as to where one should insert the verb. The verb, is, is understood. I like Shakir’s translation. “Say: He, Allah, is One.” The doctrine of the oneness of God is taught in several places in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:28-34; I Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6; James 2:19; etc.) Also, in the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed, we say, “I believe in one God…” The first verse of this Creed teaches what Jews, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims believe to be true. God is one.

The next verse in Arabic is:

Al-lahu al-ṣamadu.

The word, al-ṣamadu, occurs only once in the entire Koran – in verse 112:2. So, there may be some significant differences in how it is translated into English. I like the translation of Sahih International. “Allah, the Eternal Refuge.” It could be translated, “Allah is the Eternal Refuge.” The verb, is, is understood like it is in the first verse.

The next verse is the one that seems to be denying the doctrine of the Trinity, but I disagree. There are two possible false doctrines that it is denying to be true: the Maryamite heresy (See Koran 5:116.) and the polytheistic doctrines regarding gods having sex and begetting other gods. It may also be referring to the Holy Spirit, the third hypostasis of the Deity. The Arabic of the verse is:

Lam yalid walam yūlad.

Both verbs in the verse are in the jussive mood. The jussive mood is an imperative mood for the first and third person. It can also be translated into English as the subjunctive mood. So, a possible translation is:

Should not beget and should not be begotten.

Or another possibility is:

Let Him not beget and let Him not be begotten.

The basic idea, regardless of which translation one prefers, is that God does not sexually beget, nor was He sexually begotten. This interpretation would be a rejection of the Maryamite heresy which taught that God the Father had sex with the Virgin Mary and Jesus was sexually begotten. It would also be rejecting the pagan doctrines about gods having physical acts of sex with goddesses and even humans and having offspring by them. Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology are full of such examples.

There were polytheistic Arabs in the seventh century and Muhammad preached against polytheism.

If it is speaking about the theological concepts of begetting and being begotten as used in the Bible and by Christians when speaking about the mode of procession of the Son from the Father, then this whole chapter of the Koran is really about the third hypostasis of the Deity – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, but the Father did not beget in the theological sense the Holy Spirit, nor was the Holy Spirit ever begotten in the theological sense.

I have already said in former blogs, no Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or mainstream Protestant Christian believes that God had sex with anyone. The words, beget, begotten, and proceed, are used in speaking about the relationships among the three hypostases of the Deity. What these terms actually really mean is really a mystery. These are terms found in the Bible. Therefore, they are the ones that are used.

I have also said in previous blogs that we believe that each hypostasis of God is God in His entirety, but there are not three gods. There is only one. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Three wholes make one whole. This is a mystery. One needs to admit that the human mind will never be able to comprehend all of the mysteries shrouding the Deity. Whenever one tries to understand such mysteries and explain them like a scientist does after he has analyzed the biological processes occurring in the body of a frog, one falls into a grave error. God is so big that He can never be scientifically and rationally explained in complete detail. Trying to do so is essentially trying to exalt oneself above God. That, of course, is sin. So, the doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery, but we, Orthodox Christians, still believe it. Do not ask any of us to philosophically prove or explain this doctrine. “God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us.” Our religion is a revealed religion.

The last verse of this surah in Arabic is:

Walam yakun lahu kufuwan aḥadun.

“And should not be for Him an equivalent one.” I like the translation of Marmaduke Pickthall here:

And there is none comparable unto Him.

When I first read these words, I thought about this verse in the Old Testament.

This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. (Baruch 3:35, LXX)

God is unique. The Koran and the Bible agree. Each hypostasis of the Deity is also unique. So, nothing is comparable to either of Them. Nothing is comparable to our God.

I think that this surah is speaking about the Holy Spirit, the third hypostasis of the Trinity. He neither begets, nor was begotten. He is unique. He is God in His entirety. There is only one God. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. The mystery of the Trinity is that three wholes make one whole. God, of course, never had sex with anyone. So, the Maryamites and the polytheists are in grave error.

Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?

May 14, 2016 Leave a comment

In this blog I am putting up three videos in order to answer this question. The first video deals with the question: “Should We Fear Islam?” Some people who had lost their loved ones in the 9/11 World Trade Center incident in 2001 respond to this question. Also, some Muslims speak out about their faith. In the second video, there is a debate between two moderate Muslims and an ex-Muslim and an atheist. The last video has an explanation of one of the war passages in the Koran as given by an Islamic sheik. I will provide some comments between videos.

Here is the first video, “Should We Fear Islam?”

One of the Muslim ladies in the  video says that there are as many interpretations of Islam as there are Muslims. That is true, but there are different schools of theology and Islamic law among the Muslims. Some schools of Islamic law have very harsh and, by Western standards, brutal forms of punishment inflicted on people. For example, the hands of thieves are cut off. Some schools of Islamic law require that someone who apostatizes from Islam be put to death. These schools of Islamic law are based on certain Islamic clerics interpretations and/or misinterpretations of the Koran and the Hadiths.

Rev. Franklin Graham brings up the subject of honor killing in this video. An imam in the audience asks Rev. Graham, “Where is that in the Koran?” The Protestant preacher gives no answer. Probably, he never read the Koran. The answer is that honor killing is not in the Koran. Actually, it is forbidden in the Eleventh Surah.

They said: O Shu’eyb! We understand not much of that thou tellest, and lo! we do behold thee weak among us. But for thy family, we should have stoned thee, for thou art not strong against us. He said: O my people! Is my family more to be honoured by you than Allah? And ye put Him behind you, neglected! Lo! my Lord surroundeth what ye do. (Koran 11:91,92, Pickthall)

Killing someone in order to maintain one’s family’s honor and putting Allah behind oneself neglected (that is, ignoring Him and His commandments) are forbidden in the Koran. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that a woman who commits adultery or fornication should be stoned. Honor killings are a Pre-Islamic tradition. They are not Islamic.

In the case of adultery or fornication, there are penalties prescribed in the Koran (Koran 4:15,25; 24:2-10), but forgiveness and patience toward the adulteress, adulterer, or fornicator are encouraged to be practiced instead of punishment.

Kind speech and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury; and Allah is Self-sufficient, Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Shakir)

But to be patient is better for you. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 4:25, Sahih International)

If someone is trying to increase the amount of good that one does and follow the best revelations of Allah, then no punishment would be inflicted on the adulterer, adulteress, or fornicator, because no charges would be brought before an Islamic judge. The offended Muslim spouse would be forgiving and patient instead of vindictive.

Every one pursues his goal. Compete with each other in performing good deeds. Wherever you are, God will bring you all together. God has power over all things. (Koran 2:148, Muhammad Sarwar)

And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly while you do not perceive. (Koran 39:55, Sahih International)

A radical, extremist Islamic cleric is questioned near the end of the video. He talked about an Islamic flag flying over the White House one day. Apparently, he does not think that the words, “There is no compulsion in religion,” are applicable today. (Koran 2:256)

The next video is titled “Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?” In this video there is a debate between two moderate Muslims and a former Muslim and an atheist. Zeba Khan is a Muslim woman who attends a mosque with a female imam who does not wear a hijab (that is, the head scarf). Maajid Nawaz is a former Islamic extremist who left Islamic extremism in order to adopt a more moderate version of Islam. He tries to promote the pleasant version of Islam among the radicals. Ayaan Hirsi is a former Muslim. She apparently had grown up among some Islamic extremists and that is the version of Islam with which she is most familiar.

The side that took the position that Islam is not a religion of peace won the debate among the audience. Actually, it is not really possible to get a definitive answer on this subject by observing a debate. One must travel around the world spending time with Muslims in order to get a better picture of how people practice Islam. Zeba Khan, in her opening statement, says that there are just as many versions of Islam as there are Muslims. She apparently follows a gentle, pleasant version of Islam. Anyone who spends time among the members of her mosque would say that Islam is a peaceful religion. Maajid Nawaz says that the passages from the Koran and the Sunna need to be contextualized. One must put everything in its historical context. If one does that, then one will have a peaceful version of Islam. I agree with him. One of the problems is not the Koran, but the interpretation of the Koran. One can take the Koran and interpret it in such a way that one thinks that it is encouraging Muslims to spread Islam through violence. One can do similar things with the Bible. There are war passages in the Bible and some of them are more gory than the ones in the Koran. However, most Christians do not believe that we should practice some of those Old Testament war teachings today. Ayaan Hirsi says that if Islam were a peaceful religion she could get rid of her bodyguard. There are Muslims who believe that anyone who leaves the Islamic religion should be put to death. Someone in the audience asked Zeba Khan to interpret one of the war passages in the Koran, Koran 2:190ff. She apparently had not studied that text and could not answer the question. She sort of side-steps it.

I have provided another video in this blog where an Islamic sheik explains that passage. Many people from various different religious faiths have engaged in warfare. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims have all fought in wars. Many clerics of these different religions have devised reasons to justify warfare based on their religious traditions and sacred texts. I have already talked about this subject in my blog, “War and Peace in the Koran.” I got the perspective on war in that blog from reading what moderate Muslims had put up on the internet.

Here is the video in which the Islamic sheik explains the war passage that Zeba could not explain.

In answer to the question, “Is Islam a Peaceful Religion?”, I would answer it this way. There are peaceful Muslims in the world like Zeba Khan and Maajid Nawaz and there are extremist, radical Muslims like Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. If one were to ask the question, “Is there a peaceful version of Islam in the world?”, I would say yes. Zeba Khan and Maajid Nawaz are proof of that. Is there a violent version of Islam in the world? Yes, there is. The terrorist attacks in Europe and America are proof of that. However, according to many moderate Muslims, those terrorists are not practicing Islam.

I read something on the internet recently. It was written by a Muslim journalist after the Brussels terrorist attacks. He called ISIS NISIS. (The Non-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) He also said that ISIS is Satanic. So, it is really unfair to judge all Muslims by the actions of a few. Still, there are those who practice honor killings, executions of apostates, female genital mutilation, and other atrocities in the name of Islam.

To conclude, I quote the Koran. “Peace is better” (Koran 4:128, Pickthall) “and follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord.” (Koran 39:55, Sahih International) Islam can be a peaceful religion. The problem is the interpretation of the sacred texts and not the texts themselves.