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Islamophobia or Not?

June 10, 2018 Leave a comment

I just want to give some of my thoughts here on the subject of Islamophobia. I have seen those who speak out against Islamophobia — the fear of Islam and Muslims and I have seen those who want to put all Muslims in the same box with the same label on them. In all fairness we need to look at this subject realistically.

First of all, we need to define Islam. Islam means in Arabic — submission, that is, submission to God. The Bible teaches that we should submit to God.

Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. (II Chronicles 30:8, NKJV)

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (Hebrews 12:9, NKJV)

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7, NKJV)

So, there is nothing wrong from both a Jewish standpoint and a Christian one about the concept of submitting to God. Both Testaments of the Bible teach that.

The problem lies in what exactly constitutes this submission to God. What are the commandments of God that we are supposed to keep? Muslims are not unanimous on this subject. There are those who think like Anjem Choudary. There are those who think like DAESH (also called ISIL, ISIS, and the Islamic State group). There are those who think like other terrorist groups (Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hezbollah, for example). The religions that these various groups practice are to them Islam. There are those who do not think those “radical Islamists.”

One can label these groups as non-Islamic, Pseudo-Islamic, or call their versions of Islam radical Islam. However, one labels them does not matter. They still exist.

Then, there is the subject of sharia. This word means different things to different Muslims because there is more than one version of sharia. To many Muslims, sharia is nothing more than an ethical code. All it is is rules concerning fasting and prayer, and how one should treat one’s fellow man. Many Muslims believe that whenever a traveler enters a predominantly Muslim country, he or she comes under the protection of the Muslims, even if that person is “an infidel.” Many Muslims believe that whenever they enter another country they come under a covenant with that country to obey its laws. (This is sharia, believe it or not.) Many Muslims believe that they should love for their neighbor what they love for themselves. (This is an Islamic version of the Golden Rule.) In contrast to these Muslims, there are still those who believe that they should try to implement their extreme version of Islam into society. They believe that the hadd punishments — the cutting off of hands, floggings, etc. — should be inflicted upon “sinners” by the state. So, they want to change the society in which they live so that these hadd punishments become the law of the land. There are verses in the Koran which say to cut off the hand of a thief and to flog fornicators and adulterers. (Koran 5:33,38; 24:2) Not all Muslims, however, interpret those verses the same way. Some interpret Koran 5:38, for example, figuratively. They think that it means to obstruct the power and resources of a thief, not to cut off his hand. So, it is not fair to say that all Muslims believe that one should cut off the hand of a thief or flog someone for fornication. There are those Muslims who believe that adulterers should be stoned to death. This belief is derived from the Sunnah — a collection of alleged sayings and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad which were written down over 200 years after he had died. (There is no death penalty for adultery or fornication in the Koran.) There are Muslims who accept all of the hadiths (those alleged sayings and deeds of Muhammad) which are graded by the compilers as sahih (authentic). There are other Muslims who do not accept all of the sahih hadiths. They accept only the ones which do not contradict the teachings of the Koran. The Hanafi Muslims are like that. Most of the Pakistani Muslims are Hanafi Muslims. There are other Muslims who reject all of the hadiths and accept only the Koran. Those Muslims are called Koranists (or Quranists).

What I am basically trying to say here is that there is more than one version of Islam. Anyone who claims to give the Muslim interpretation of the Koran and says that all Muslims interpret the Koran that way does not know what he is talking about. Anyone who quotes from a hadith book a sahih hadith and thinks that all Muslims accept that hadith does not know what he is talking about. Still, there are those Muslims who really do accept those barbaric sahih hadiths and think that they should practice them. (I’m  not talking about the good, positive ones.)  For example, there is a sahih hadith that says that Muhammad said, “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” They use this hadith to justify killing apostates from Islam. (There is no death penalty for apostasy in the Koran, by the way.) Then, there are all of those crazy ones about drinking camel urine as a medicine and other such things. (Maybe someone invented that hadith in order to promote his business of selling camel urine. To me, those hadiths are nothing more than hearsay and fabrications.)

To some Muslims, Islam means fasting, praying, helping others, doing good deeds, and giving to the poor. All of the “radical” stuff they reject.

I remember going to see some Muslims in their apartment once. I was trying to convert one of them to Christianity. This happened during my college days. The Muslims were from Turkey. I got nowhere with any of them. They did not believe the Bible. They kept telling me that the priests had corrupted it. (I think they are in error on that subject.) As I was leaving, I asked one of them, “Don’t y’all believe that you must cut off the heads of those who refuse to convert to Islam?” He said to me, “There is no compulsion in religion.” Another Muslim has told me the same thing on another occasion. When I started reading the Koran, I found out that the Koran actually does say that. (Koran 2:256)

Then, there is the issue of abrogation. Muslims do not agree on which verses in the Koran have been abrogated. There are some Muslims who believe that Koran 2:256 which says that “there is no compulsion in religion” has been abrogated by some later verses spoken by Muhammad while he was in Medina. Some Muslims believe that there are hadiths that abrogate verses in the Koran. Other Muslims do not believe that Koran 2:256 has been abrogated at all. There are Muslims who believe that the hadiths cannot abrogate the Koran because the Koran is the supreme standard by which everything else must be judged. The Koran, in their view, is the revelation. The hadiths are not. So, they reject hadiths that contradict the Koran and accept the ones which they think help them better get at the true meaning of the Koran.

So, the point I want to make here is that there is more than one version of Islam. Whenever someone accuses someone else of being an Islamophobe, I must question which version of Islam they are referring to. There are some versions of Islam that I think any sane Western person should fear. There are other versions that no one should fear. If someone is talking about the type of Islam that involves praying, fasting, reading the Koran, and helping the poor but none of the so-called “radical” stuff like the hadd punishments, then no one should fear that kind of Islam. On the other hand, if one is talking about the type of Islam that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi practiced or the kind practiced by the Taliban, then people should fear that kind of Islam.

What about Koranophobia? I am not Koranophobic. The Koran contains a lot of good teachings in it that we Christians would agree on. “God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Koran 13:11) God is “the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” (Koran 7:151; 12:64, 92; 21:83) As for the verses that people like David Wood and Robert Spencer quote (Koran 3:28,85; 5:51; 9:5,29,73,111,123; 98:6), it all boils down to interpretation. Not all Muslims interpret those verses the way they do. Some Muslims unfortunately do, however.

Likewise, not all Christians interpret the Bible the same way.

So, should Western non-Muslims be Islamophobic? Well, it all depends on what you mean when you say Islam. Some versions of Islam we should fear. Other versions we should not fear. In some instances there should be Islamophobia. In other instances there should be no Islamophobia at all. That is the correct answer to this question, in my opinion.

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The Prophet Adam

June 9, 2018 Leave a comment

The majority of Muslims believe that the first man was a prophet although the Koran really does not clearly say that he was a prophet. There are some Muslims who say that he was not a prophet. I will talk about the prophethood of Adam from a Koranic perspective here.

One of the verses which is used to support the position that Adam was a prophet is taken from the Second Surah:

Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. (Koran 2:213, Sahih International)

The word translated from Arabic into English as “religion” is ummatan. This word is translated as community or nation in other translations of the Koran.

Mankind were one community, and Allah sent (unto them) prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and revealed therewith the Scripture with the truth that it might judge between mankind concerning that wherein they differed. (Koran 2:213, Pickthall)

Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed. (Koran 2:213, Yusuf Ali)

So, this verse cannot be interpreted to mean that there was only one religion on earth and the first man was a practitioner of that religion without the use of other verses which would support that view.

In another place in the Second Surah it says:

Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the relenting, the Merciful. (Koran 2:37, Pickthall)

The words in parentheses are an addition by the translator. However, if Adam received any words from God then that would be a revelation from Him. So, those words would be words of revelation.

The next verse says:

We said: Go down, all of you, from hence; but verily there cometh unto you from Me a guidance; and whoso followeth My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (Koran 2:38, Pickthall)

Incidentally, this is one of many verses in the Koran, which in my opinion, teach the doctrine of the Trinity. God uses “We” indicating a plurality of Persons (namely, Three) and “Me” and “My” indicating that all Three Persons are one and the same God.

This verse says that Adam received guidance from God. This verse might be talking about a guidance coming from Adam and Eve’s offspring. In other words, one of their progeny is the guidance.

That would agree with the Bible which the Koran says to believe.

Believers, have faith in God and His Messenger, the Book which is revealed to him, and the Bible which has been revealed before. Whoever refuses to believe in God, His angels, Books, Messengers and the Day of Judgment, has gone far away from the right path. (Koran 4:136, Muhammad Sarwar)

If it is words given to them by God, these words were given to them after they were expelled from the garden. In verse 36 of this surah it says:

But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the (happy) state in which they were; and We said: Fall down, one of you a foe unto the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a time. (Koran 2:36, Pickthall)

The words that God gave the Serpent are the words that Adam passed onto his posterity and are probably what the Koran is referring to. In Genesis 3, it says:

So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:14,15, NKJV)

These verses are interpreted by Christians to be a prophecy of Christ. The woman is a prophetic reference to Mary the mother of Jesus. Her Seed is a prophetic reference to Jesus Christ. The Serpent is Satan. Satan bruised Jesus’ heel when He was crucified. The idolatrous Roman soldiers were servants of Satan since they were idolaters. (See I Corinthians 10:20.) Jesus said the night before His crucifixion:

I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. (John 14:30. NKJV)

The “ruler of this world” is Satan. The Jews who came to get Jesus and try Him were also servants of Satan. Jesus told the Jews who did not believe in Him that their father is the devil. (See John 8:44.)

He had also said that “the ruler of this world” would be cast out.

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:30-33, NKJV)

He was talking about His crucifixion in this context. St. John the Theologian said that Jesus “was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:8) He did this by not just being a sacrifice for sins, but also by destroying death by His death. (John 10:17,18; Acts 2:24; II Timothy 1:10)

Koran 2:38 says: “whoso followeth My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.” The guidance is to be followed by Adam’s posterity. Since a prophecy of Christ was given to Adam in Genesis 3. (His wife and he heard the words God said to the serpent.) Then the guidance is a reference to Jesus Christ in this verse from the Koran. Jesus said:

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6, NKJV)

Historically, the words of Christ, “I am the Way,” have been interpreted to mean that Jesus is our guide, teacher, and example. (I know that that is not how these words are interpreted by many in our modern times, but the Church Fathers interpreted these words that way.) If we are following Jesus’ teachings and example, then we are walking in the light and not in darkness. (See John 8:12.)

There are other words that Adam received from God before the expulsion from the Garden. In Genesis 2, God said:

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18, NKJV)

St. Paul based his teaching concerning women on this verse.

For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. (I Corinthians 11:8,9, NKJV)

Further on in Genesis 2, we read:

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24, NKJV)

St. Paul bases his teachings concerning marriage and the relationship between Christ and the Church on this passage.

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:28-33, NKJV)

Another text from the Koran that is used to say that Adam is a prophet of God is in the Third Surah.

Indeed, Allah chose Adam and Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imran over the worlds. (Koran 3:33, Sahih International)

The family of Imran is the family of Joachim. According to Church tradition, Mary’s father’s name was Joachim and her mother was Anna. Both genealogies of Christ that appear in the Gospels are Joseph’s genealogies, not Mary’s. [See The Epistle to Aristides, by Julius Africanus (200-245).] Imran, according to the commentary section of The Study Quran, comes from an Arabic root which means to “erect,” “build,” or “set up.” The name, Joachim, means “He whom Yahweh set up.” (See page 141 of The Study Quran.) So, according to this verse from the Quran, God (Allah) chose Adam, Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of Joachim. According to Church tradition, Joachim and Anna had only one child, Mary, and Mary had only one Child, Jesus. (I know Protestants will disagree with me about Mary having only one Child, but that is a subject for another blog post.)

God chose them over the worlds. In other words, Adam, Noah, Abraham and his family, Joachim, Anna, Mary, and Jesus are the most important people in the entire universe. Christians, by the way, become part of Abraham’s family through their faith in Christ. (See Galatians 3:26.)

Back to the subject at hand. Not everyone in Abraham’s family was a prophet. He had children by Keturah who were not prophets. (See Genesis 25:1-4.) Joachim and Anna were not prophets. However, we did get some words of Scripture from Mary. (See Luke 1:46-55.)

One can build arguments from the Koran which say that Adam was a prophet. These Muslims believe that Adam was a prophet: https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/31053/is-adam-a-s-considered-a-rasul and http://www.therevival.co.uk/adam-eve-quran. It is also possible to refute these arguments. This Muslim does not believe that Adam was a prophet: https://submission.org/friday_who_is_Adam.html. The Koran, as I have already pointed out, says to believe the Bible. (Koran 4:136) I think that when we look at the Bible we can see that the issue of Adam’s prophethood is clearly resolved.

Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:67-75, NKJV)

Adam was the first man who existed in the initial period of the world’s history. The Prophet Zacharias says that there have been prophets since the world began. Therefore, he was a prophet. Yes, he messed up, like a lot of prophets did, but that does not nullify his prophethood. (See Romans 11:29.)

The prophecies that they relate to us say “that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” (Luke 1:71) From Adam, we get God’s words to the Serpent. (Genesis 3:14,15) That is a prophecy of Christ defeating the Devil — mankind’s greatest enemy. From Adam, we also get words which allegorically speak of Christ’s relationship to His Church. (Genesis 2:21-24) So, yes, those Muslims who say that Adam was a prophet are quite correct.

 

 

From Polytheism to Monotheism: Abraham and His Father

May 20, 2018 2 comments

One of the things that I have found to be interesting is how someone from a polytheistic background can convert to monotheism. It is interesting to note that Abraham’ father, according to both the Bible and the Koran, was a polytheist.

In the Book of Joshua, it says:

And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.” (Joshua 24:2,3, NKJV)

Abraham and his brother, Nahor, became monotheists. Their father, Terah, was a polytheist.

In Genesis, Laban, who is Nahor’s son (See Genesis 24:15,29.), said to Jacob:

The God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, and the God of their father judge between us. (Genesis 31:53, NKJV)

Here, God is the God of Abraham, Nahor, and “their father.” Their father is probably an ancestor of Abraham and Nahor, like Noah, for example, and not Terah. It was customary to refer to one’s male ancestors as one’s fathers. (See John 4:12, for example. The Samaritan woman called Jacob her father. Also, See John 8:39. The Jews called Abraham their father. In Deuteronomy 6:10, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called the Israelites’ fathers.)

In the Koran, there is similar testimony to the polytheism of Terah. Only Terah is called Azar in the Koran. The Koran often uses names which differ from those which appear in the Bible, like calling Enoch Idris, for example. The Arabic word “Azar” was simply substituted for the Hebrew word, “Terah.”

Remember when Abraham said to Azar, his father: “Why do you take idols for God? I certainly find you and your people in error.” (Koran 6:74, Ahmed Ali)

He (the father) said: “Do you reject my gods, O Ibrahim (Abraham)? If you stop not (this), I will indeed stone you. So get away from me safely before I punish you.” (Koran 19:46, Hilali & Khan)

Behold! Abraham said to his father and his people: “I do indeed clear myself of what ye worship.” (Koran 43:26, Yusuf Ali)

Terah, Abraham, and Lot journeyed to the land of Canaan, but they settled in Haran and not Canaan. Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11:31,32)

When Abraham’s servant left Abraham to find a wife for Isaac, he went to the City of Nahor in Mesopotamia. (Genesis 24:10) The city was apparently named after either Abraham’s brother, Nahor, or his grandfather, Nahor. (See Genesis 11:24,25.) Mesopotamia is the land of the Chaldeans. Today, it is called Iraq. It was also called Babylon in ancient times. The Babylonians and the Sumerians, who lived in the same region, were polytheists.

In the 60th Surah, it says:

Abraham and those with him are the best examples for you to follow. They told the people, “We have nothing to do with you and with those whom you worship besides God. We have rejected you. Enmity and hatred will separate us forever unless you believe in One God.” Abraham told his father, “I shall ask forgiveness for you only, but I shall not be of the least help to you before God.” (Koran 60:4, Sarwar)

The enmity and hatred are generated by the polytheists and not by the monotheists. In the Third Surah, it says:

Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors… Ah! ye are those who love them, but they love you not, — though ye believe in the whole of the Book. (Koran 3:110, 119, Yusuf Ali)

Those who believe in God love those who do not love them. When you look at all of the context in which these verses occur, it becomes clear that the people who did not love the monotheist Muslims were the Muslims’ enemies. The Muslims loved their enemies like Christ commanded, although their enemies did not love them. (Matthew 5:44)

The Koran teaches that God guides people into ways of peace.

Whereby God guides whosoever follows His good pleasure in the ways of peace, and brings them forth from the shadows into the light by His leave; and He guides them to a straight path. (Koran 5:16, Arberry)

There are only three reasons for war in the Koran: to exercise self-defense (Koran 2:190; 9:13), to end religious persecution (Koran 2:193; 9:12), and to liberate the oppressed (Koran 4:75). People who start wars are causing corruption on the earth. (Koran 5:64) The Koran forbids people to cause corruption of the earth. (Koran 2:11; 7:56)

Satan is the one who sows enmity among mankind.

Tell My servants, (O Muhammad), to say always that which is best. Verily it is Satan who sows discord among people. Satan indeed is an open enemy to mankind. (Koran 17:53, Maududi)

The Koran teaches us not to follow the footsteps of Satan. In this instance, do not sow discord and enmity among people like the devil does.

O believers, come to full submission to God. Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan your acknowledged foe. (Koran 2:208, Ahmed Ali)

So, Abraham, Nahor, Lot, and those with them did not exhibit enmity and hatred toward the polytheists among their people. The polytheists generated enmity and hatred toward the monotheists.

Being a monotheist involves more than simply acknowledging the existence of one God. The demons believe that there is one God. (James 2:19) Practicing righteousness and loving others is part of the practice of monotheism. In the Bible, it says:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26, NKJV)

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4, NKJV)

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (I John 3:13-15, NKJV)

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:8, NKJV)

In the Koran, the practice of righteousness and faith are joined together.

Surely this Koran guides to the way that is straightest and gives good tidings to the believers who do deeds of righteousness, that theirs shall be a great wage. (Koran 17:9, Arberry)

Except those who repent and believe, and work righteousness. Such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged in aught. (Koran 19:60, Mubarakpuri)

Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Gracious will bestow love for them. (Koran 19:96, Mubarakpuri)

But whoso cometh unto Him a believer, having done good works, for such are the high stations; Gardens of Eden underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever. That is the reward of him who groweth. (Koran 20:75,76, Pickthall)

Those who practice transgressing God’s commandments are not like the believers who practice keeping God’s commandments.

Is one who is a believer like one who is a transgressor? No, they are not alike. (Koran 32:18, Ahmed Ali)

In other words, those who do not practice righteousness are not believers. They do not know God. (I John 2:4; 4:8)

Those who commit evil deeds should not think that they will receive the same rewards from God as the believers.

Do those who commit evil deeds think that We will make them (equal) to the believers who do good works, so that in life and death they shall be alike? How evil they judge! (Koran 45:21, Qaribullah & Darwish)

We demonstrate our faith by our works. Abraham did this. (Hebrews 11:8,9; James 2:21-23)

The lesson to be learned in regards to Abraham and his father is that we should not allow our own family to separate us from our faith in God. If our own family members do not believe, we should not follow their example of disbelief. Christ quoted the Prophet Micah, saying that a man’s enemies would be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-37; Micah 7:6) Muhammad, likewise, told his followers that their own family members would be against them.

Believers! [Even] among your wives and your children you have enemies: so beware of them. But if you overlook their offences and forgive and pardon them, then surely, God is most forgiving and merciful. (Koran 64:14, Wahiddudin Khan)

Jesus said to love your enemies. (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27) This was the practice of Muhammad’s followers. (Koran 3:110,119) Both Jesus and Muhammad said to forgive them. (Matthew 6:14,15; Mark 11:25,26; Luke 6:37; Koran 2:109; 3:134; 24:22; 45:14; 64:14) According to the Koran, Abraham practiced peace and forgiveness towards his idolatrous father.

And mention in the Book Abraham; surely he was a true man, a Prophet. When he said to his father, ‘Father, why worshippest thou that which neither hears nor sees, nor avails thee anything? Father, there has come to me knowledge such as came not to thee; so follow me, and I will guide thee on a level path. Father, serve not Satan; surely Satan is a rebel against the All-merciful. Father, I fear that some chastisement from the All-merciful will smite thee, so that thou becomest a friend to Satan. Said he, ‘What, art thou shrinking from my gods, Abraham? Surely, if thou givest not over, I shall stone thee; so forsake me now for some while.’ He said, ‘Peace be upon thee! I will ask my Lord to forgive thee; surely He is ever gracious to me. Now I will go apart from you and that you call upon, apart from God; I will call upon my Lord, and haply I shall not be, in calling upon my Lord, unprosperous. So, when he went apart from them and that they were serving, apart from God, We gave him Isaac and Jacob, and each We made a Prophet; and We gave them of Our mercy, and We appointed unto them a tongue of truthfulness, sublime. (Koran 19:41-50, Arberry)

The continual move away from polytheism to Abrahamic monotheism will eventually result in peace among mankind.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Micah 4:1-3, NKJV)

It is amazing how God can bring monotheism out of a polytheistic society. How can this happen? Through divine revelation to someone chosen to be His prophet.

Koran 4:24 and the Treatment of Female War Captives

There is a verse in the Koran which is frequently cited by critics of the Koran. It is also, in my opinion, misinterpreted by Islamic scholars, especially by the so-called “extremists.” When one reads it, one would immediately think that this verse is giving men permission to marry another man’s wife who has been captured in war without her having obtained a divorce and without her permission. In other words, it appears to be teaching sex slavery. I do not think that is the case. When one looks at the bigger picture and looks at what the Bible teaches and what the Koran teaches in other places, one can get a better understanding of this verse.

Before looking at the verse in its context in the Koran, I think that it would be a good idea to look at some passages in the Bible. The first passage I want to show is in the Book of Numbers.

And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive? Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.” (Numbers 31:15-18, NKJV)

According to the teaching of the Torah, married idolatrous women were killed during war. Only the young virgin women were allowed to live. The Israelite men were commanded to keep them alive for themselves. So, if a married idolatrous woman is allowed to be a war captive, that is a step up in showing mercy. Jesus said:

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36, NKJV)

In the Catholic Epistle of St. James, it says:

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13, NKJV)

In the text from the Book of Numbers, it says: “And Moses said to them.” In the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus quoted from the Torah, and then gave other commands to replace the former ones in the Old Testament. (See Matthew 5:21-48.) So, “Moses said,” but Jesus said something else later which replaced Moses’ commandment.

This is the principle of abrogation.

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things? (Koran 2:106, Yusuf Ali)

The replacing revelation is always better than or similar to the replaced revelation. If a revelation is not better than or similar to a previous one, then it is not an abrogating revelation. It is time-specific. It pertains to circumstances in a particular time and place.

Allowing married idolatrous women to live instead of being killed during war is an act of mercy.

In the Old Testament, a slave woman could be forced to have sex with her master and bear his children. Sarai (Sarah) compelled Hagar to have sex with her husband Abraham. (Genesis 16) Rachel compelled her slave woman, Bilhah, to have sex with Jacob and bear his children. (Genesis 30:1-8) Leah compelled her slave woman, Zilpah, to have sex with Jacob and bear children for him, too. (Genesis 30:9-13) Hagar, Bilhah, and Zilpah did not have a choice respecting marriage and sex. Their mistresses had already made those choices for them.

In Deuteronomy, it says:

When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hand, and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall put off the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you have humbled her. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14, NKJV)

The Torah allowed the Israelite men to marry young virgin idolatrous women after having killed her parents in war. She had no choice. She had to marry her captor and have sex with him. She was given one month to mourn the deaths of her parents before becoming the man’s wife.

This is basically the only instance in which an Israelite would be allowed to marry an idolatress. If the woman is a virgin, her parents are dead, and she is a war captive, then he could coerce her into becoming his wife. Otherwise, marriage to an idolatress was forbidden.

When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire. (Deuteronomy 7:1-5, NKJV)

The practice of monogamy and the clear cut prohibition against marrying unbelievers in the New Testament abrogated this Old Testament practice of forced marriage. The New Testament teaches monogamy in these passages.

Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. (I Corinthians 7:2, NKJV)

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33, NKJV)

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach (I Timothy 3:2, NKJV)

Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (I Timothy 3:12, NKJV)

These passages forbid believers from marrying unbelievers.

A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (I Corinthians 7:39, NKJV)

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18, NKJV)

So, a Christian man can have only one wife and he can marry only a believer.

The Koran forbids Muslims from marrying idolaters, too.

Do not marry pagan women unless they believe in God. A believing slave girl is better than an idolater, even though the idolaters may attract you. Do not marry pagan men unless they believe in God. A believing slave is better than an idolater, even though the idolater may attract you. The pagans invite you to the fire, but God invites you to Paradise and forgiveness through His will. God shows His evidence to people so that they may take heed. (Koran 2:221, Muhammad Sarwar)

Slavery existed in ancient times, but now is prohibited by international law. The New Testament taught that slaves and their masters are equal before God.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28, NKJV)

Jesus taught the Golden Rule.

And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (Luke 6:31, NKJV)

A master should treat his slave girl as he would want to be treated. If he wants to have the freedom to marry whomever he chooses without be coerced to do so, then he should allow his slave the girl the choice to marry whomever she pleases. He should not coerce her into marry him against her will.

The Koran forbids Muslim men from coercing their slave girls to have sex with them.

And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), write it for them if ye are aware of aught of good in them, and bestow upon them of the wealth of Allah which He hath bestowed upon you. Force not your slave-girls to whoredom that ye may seek enjoyment of the life of the world, if they would preserve their chastity. And if one force them, then (unto them), after their compulsion, lo! Allah will be Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 24:33, Pickthall)

If a slave girl wants to remain chaste (that is, not have sex), a Muslim man cannot force her to have sex with him or anyone else for that matter. If he has sex with her against her will and he has not married her, then he will be guilty of committing zina, that is, sex outside of wedlock. In such an instance, this would be called fornication. Since it was against her will, it is rape. God forgives the rape victim (It is really not her fault.), but the rapist could end up in Hell.

And those who cry not unto any other god along with Allah, nor take the life which Allah hath forbidden save in (course of) justice, nor commit adultery — and whoso doeth this shall pay the penalty; the doom will be doubled for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein disdained for ever; save him who repenteth and believeth and doth righteous work; as for such, Allah will change their evil deeds to good deeds. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 25:68-70, Pickthall)

The Arabic verb translated “commit adultery” could also be translated “commit fornication.”

Fornicators and adulterers are destined for Hell. The Bible teaches the same thing. (I Corinthians 6:9,10; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4)

The Koran, like the Bible, forbids adultery and fornication.

And come not near unto adultery. Lo! it is an abomination and an evil way. (Koran 17:32, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “adultery” has a broader meaning. It includes in its meaning all kinds of sexual immorality. So, fornication is forbidden in this verse as well as adultery.

Having sex with a slave girl who wants to preserve her chastity is rape and also fornication. Having sex with a woman who is married to another man is adultery. God does not take pleasure in wickedness. (Psalm 5:4) God does not command people to commit immoral acts.

And when they commit an immorality, they say, “We found our fathers doing it, and Allah has ordered us to do it.” Say, “Indeed, Allah does not order immorality. Do you say about Allah that which you do not know?” (Koran 7:28, Sahih International)

In order for a Muslim man to have sex with another man’s wife who is an idolater, the woman must first divorce her husband and convert to monotheism.

Whenever we read ancient texts like the Bible and the Koran, we often try to impose our culture on the text. When we think of divorce, we think of going to court and suing for divorce. However, in ancient times, divorce was much simpler. One could divorce his wife just by giving her a bill of divorcement and sending her out of his house. (Deuteronomy 24:1) In the case of the war captive who became a man’s slave wife (i.e., concubine), she was given her freedom and sent out of his home. (Deuteronomy 21:14)

There are two grounds for divorce in the New Testament: adultery and desertion. Jesus permitted divorce on the grounds of adultery.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9, NKJV)

St. Paul mentions desertion by an unbelieving spouse as grounds for divorce.

But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. (I Corinthians 7:12-15, NKJV)

The Koran, like the Bible, permits divorce on the grounds of adultery.

O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately), their prescribed periods: and fear Allah your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by Allah: and any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul: thou knowest not if perchance Allah will bring about thereafter some new situation. (Koran 65:1, Yusuf Ali)

Now, let us look at Koran 4:24 in context.

Forbidden unto you are your mothers, and your daughters, and your sisters, and your father’s sisters, and your mother’s sisters, and your brother’s daughters and your sister’s daughters, and your foster-mothers, and your foster-sisters, and your mothers-in-law, and your step-daughters who are under your protection (born) of your women unto whom ye have gone in – but if ye have not gone in unto them, then it is no sin for you (to marry their daughters) – and the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins. And (it is forbidden unto you) that ye should have two sisters together, except what hath already happened (of that nature) in the past. Lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise. And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. Allah knoweth best (concerning) your faith. Ye (proceed) one from another; so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct. And if when they are honourably married they commit lewdness they shall incur the half of the punishment (prescribed) for free women (in that case). This is for him among you who feareth to commit sin. But to have patience would be better for you. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 4:23-25, Pickthall)

If a Muslim man captures another man’s wife in war in the 7th century (not the 21st century), he can marry her, but first she must convert to monotheism if she is not a monotheist (Koran 2:221), she must divorce her husband on legitimate grounds like adultery or desertion, a much simpler process in ancient times than it is today, and she must be willing to marry her master (Koran 24:33). If she were a polytheistic idolater and she converted to monotheism, it is quite likely that she would want to leave her husband since he would have become her enemy. The polytheists attacked the Muslims because of their monotheistic religion. To the polytheists, the monotheists were their enemies. They did not like being told to abandon polytheism and worship one God. Also, her husband would probably want to desert her since she had adopted his enemies’ religion. So, divorce in this instance is most likely on the grounds of desertion. (I Corinthians 7:15)

After getting divorced from her husband (a much simpler process back then), her only other logical alternative for having a husband would be to marry her Muslim captor or else stay celibate. If he set her free, she could not go get a job at the convenience store located at Main Street and Fourth Avenue. Remember that this is all happening in 7th century Arabia. A lot of women back then had to resort to prostitution if they had no husband or no means of support. Of course, the Koran commands Muslims to help the poor. (Koran 2:215, for example) So, if she converted to Islam and her master set her free the Muslim community would have a Koranic obligation to help her by making sure she has food to eat and the other necessities of life.

Koran 4:25 in this passage sheds some light on this verse.

And whoso is not able to afford to marry free, believing women, let them marry from the believing maids whom your right hands possess. (Koran 4:25, Pickthall)

The married woman mentioned in verse 24 of this chapter is a believer, and if she is a believer, she is not a transgressor.

Is one who is a believer like one who is a transgressor? No, they are not alike. (Koran 32:18, Ahmed Ali)

That means she is not an adulteress. If she marries her captor, she does that after divorcing her husband on legitimate grounds. She can initiate the divorce, because women have rights similar to those of men.

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

I am using the Bible to help interpret this verse. The Bible gives light and guidance. That is what the Koran teaches.

And if they deny you, those before them also denied. Their Messengers came to them with clear signs, and with the Scriptures, and with the Book giving light. (Koran 35:25, Mubarakpuri)

Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light. (Koran 5:44, Pickthall)

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus Son of Mary, confirming the Torah before Him and We gave to Him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. (Koran 5:46, Arberry)

Say, “Who revealed the Scripture which Moses brought — a light and guidance for humanity?” (Koran 6:91, ITANI)

The Koran says to believe the Bible. In chapter 2 of the Koran, it says:

This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah; who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) [the Koran] and that which was revealed before thee [the Bible], and are certain of the Hereafter. (Koran 2:2-4, Yusuf Ali)

The disbelievers “believe not.”

As for the Disbelievers, Whether thou warn them or thou warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur). (Koran 2:6,7, Yusuf Ali)

The do not believe in the Unseen, the Koran, and the Bible.

In the fourth chapter, it says:

Believers, have faith in God and His Messenger, the Book which is revealed to him, and the Bible which has been revealed before. Whoever refuses to believe in God, His angels, Books, Messengers and the Day of Judgment, has gone far away from the right path. (Koran 4:136, Muhammad Sarwar)

If I do not believe the Bible, then I have “gone far away from the right path.” By using the Bible, I am not one of those who disputes about God without “a Scripture giving light.”

And among mankind is he who disputeth concerning Allah without knowledge or guidance or a Scripture giving light. (Koran 22:8, Pickthall)

So, the Bible is a great aid in understanding the Koran.

To summarize, the married woman that the Muslim is allowed to marry in Koran 4:24 is one who became divorced on legitimate grounds and became a believer. He does not force her to become his wife. She voluntarily agrees to do so. Sex slavery is forbidden in the Koran. (Koran 24:33) The Bible is very useful in helping one understand this Koranic verse.

 

Will There Be Hedonism in Paradise?

Hedonism is a philosophy that teaches that the supreme goal in life is the experience of physical pleasure. The hedonist devotes his life to experiencing various physical pleasures. One of the sins that God saves people from is idolatry. Idolatry exists in many forms. It is unreasonable to believe that those whom God has saved from idolatry will spend an entire eternity in Paradise practicing this sin. One can make carnal pleasures into a god. So, will people who live in Paradise indulge themselves in carnal pleasures? Will hedonists inhabit Paradise? I do not think so.

First of all, it is important to see that everything that God has created is good. So, God’s creation is not the problem. The Bible says:

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:31, NKJV)

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving. (I Timothy 4:4, NKJV)

The Koran confirms the teachings of the Bible regarding the goodness of creation in these verses from the 32nd Surah.

Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay. (Koran 32:6,7, Pickthall)

So, the Paradise spoken of in the Bible and in the Koran is good since it is part of  God’s creation. Not only is it good, but we may enjoy it. St. Paul in his First Epistle to Timothy wrote:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. (I Timothy 6:17, NKJV)

Food, recreational activities, and all sorts of things which are part of God’s creation are here for our enjoyment. Conjugal love between a man and his wife is also acceptable with God. The Bible does not condemn it. It says that it is honorable and undefiled.

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4, NKJV)

Even in Isaiah, it says that we will enjoy God’s creation.

They shall no means build, and others inhabit; and they shall no means plant, and others eat: for as the days of the Tree of Life shall be the days of My people, they shall long enjoy the fruits of their labours. My chosen shall not toil in vain, neither shall they beget children to be cursed; for they are a seed blessed of God, and their offspring with them. (Isaiah 65:22,23, LXX)

In Isaiah, it says that we will be at peace with all of God’s creatures.

And the wolf shall feed with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the young calf and bull and lion shall feed together; and a little child shall lead them. And the ox and bear shall feed together; and their young shall be together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And an infant shall put his hand on the holes of asps, and on the nest of young asps. And they shall not hurt, nor shall they at all be able to destroy any one on My holy mountain: for the whole world is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as much water covers the seas. (Isaiah 11:6-9, LXX)

The Koran, likewise, speaks of the bliss of the afterlife for the righteous. In the Second  Surah, it says:

Give the good news to those who believe and do good works, that they will have Gardens through which rivers flow: whenever they are given fruit to eat they will say, “This is what we were provided with before,” because they were given similar things. And there will be pure spouses for them, and they will abide there forever. (Koran 2:25, Wahiduddin Khan)

In the 52nd Surah, there is more detail about the bliss the immortal righteous will enjoy.

Truly, the God-fearing will dwell [on that Day] in gardens and in bliss, rejoicing in whatever their Lord has given them. Their Lord has saved them from the torment of the Fire, “Eat and drink with good cheer as a reward for your good deeds,” reclining on couches arranged in rows. And We shall wed them to fair maidens with large beautiful eyes. To those who have attained to faith We shall unite their offspring who have also followed them in faith, and We shall not let any of their good deeds go unrewarded; every human being is a pledge for whatever he has earned. We shall provide them in abundance with such fruit and meat as they desire. There, they shall pass from hand to hand a cup which does not lead to any idle talk or sin. They will be waited upon by immortal youths, like pearls hidden in their shells. They will converse with one another, putting questions to each other, “Before this, when we were among our families, we were full of fear of God’s displeasure — God has been gracious to us and has saved us from the torment of Hell’s intense heat — before this, we used to pray to Him. Surely, He is the Beneficent, the Merciful.” (Koran 52:17-28, Wahiduddin Khan)

Both Scriptures mention the enjoyment of carnal pleasures in the afterlife. However, one needs to temper all of these physical pleasures with spiritual ones. If we are destined to go somewhere, where we can indulge our carnal appetites, and our carnal appetites then become our new god, then God’s work of salvation has been done in vain. I do not think that God’s work of rescuing humans from sin is in vain.

Both, the Bible and the Koran, teach that one’s carnal desires can become one’s god. St. Paul said that a covetous person is an idolater.

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:5,6, NKJV)

St. Paul says that some people’s bellies are their god.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18,19, NKJV)

St. Peter says that whatever overcomes us, becomes our master.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. (II Peter 2:19, NKJV)

So, if we are addicted to various carnal pleasures (sex, eating, etc.), then those carnal pleasures have become our masters. Jesus said that no one can serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) Therefore, it is not possible for us to serve carnal pleasures and God.

St. Paul, in his Epistle to Titus, says that, prior to becoming Christians, St. Titus, other Christians, and he used to serve various lusts and pleasures.

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. (Titus 3:3,NKJV)

St. Paul gives this description of people who will live in the last days prior to Jesus’ Second Coming.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (II Timothy 3:1-5, NKJV)

Such people lived in the first century and St. Paul told St. Timothy to turn away from them. One of the characteristics of these people is that they are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Such people will end up in Gehenna unless they repent. It does not make much sense to think that people who love pleasure more than God will inhabit both abodes: Gehenna and Paradise. Those who love God more than pleasure will get Paradise. Those who love pleasure more than God will go inhabit Gehenna.

Even the Koran speaks about one’s carnal desires becoming one’s god.

Hast thou seen him who chooseth for his god his own lust? Wouldst thou then be guardian over him? (Koran 25:43, Pickthall)

Have you considered him who has taken his desire for his god? God has knowingly led him astray, and has sealed his hearing and his heart, and has placed a veil over his vision. Who will guide him after God? Will you not reflect? (Koran 45:23, ITANI)

Those who have adopted carnal pleasures as their god will be excluded from Paradise.

Verily whoso associates with God anything, God shall prohibit him entrance to Paradise, and his refuge shall be the Fire. (Koran 5:72, Arberry)

Both the Bible and the Koran teach that spiritual pleasures are better than carnal ones. In the Psalms, King David, who was one of God’s prophets, said:

One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4, NKJV)

His greatest desire was a close relationship with God. Asaph wrote in one of the Psalms that God is his supreme desire.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. (Psalm 73:25, NKJV)

Both King David and Asaph exemplify the type of lives we should strive to live — lives that put God first. We should desire nearness to God.

The Koran, like the Bible, teaches that we should desire God more than the things of this world.

The satisfaction of worldly desires through women, and children, and heaped-up treasures of gold and silver, and pedigreed horses, and cattle and lands is attractive to people. All this is the provision of the worldly life; but the most excellent abode is with God. (Koran 3:14, Wahiduddin Khan)

But if you desire God and His Messenger and the Last Abode, surely God has prepared for those amongst you such as do good a mighty wage. (Koran 33:29, Arberry)

The Koran speaks of the spiritual blessings of enjoying God and His mercy in the afterlife in these verses.

The people whose faces have become white will enjoy the mercy of God with which they will live forever. (Koran 3:107, Sarwar)

Say: Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who keep from evil, with their Lord, are Gardens underneath which rivers flow wherein they will abide, and pure companions, and contentment from Allah. Allah is Seer of His bondmen. (Koran 3:15, Pickthall)

God has promised the believing men and the believing women Gardens with rivers running below, to abide therein, and goodly dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. But Contentment from God is greater; that is the great triumph! (Koran 9:72, The Study Quran)

The Arabic words translated “contentment from Allah” and “contentment from God” in verses 3:15 and 9:72 of the Koran can be translated “pleasure of God.” Pleasure of God is greater than the carnal pleasures one will experience in Paradise.

Both the Koran and the Bible teach that there will be physical pleasures in the afterlife. Both also teach that the spiritual pleasures that come from knowing God will be superior to the physical ones. So, although we who attain to Paradise will get to enjoy food, various activities, and various other physical pleasures, we, like Asaph, will say, “There is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”

Creation in Six Days in the Koran

In both the Bible and the Koran, it says that God created the heavens and the earth (i.e., the entire universe) in six days. It is interesting to note that the Koran states that God did this in six different places and God says that He did it once.

Here are the six places where it says that God created the heavens and the earth in six days.

Surely your Lord is God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days — then sat Himself upon the Throne, covering the day with the night it pursues urgently — and the sun, and the moon, and the stars subservient, by His command. Verily, His are the creation and the command. Blessed be God, the Lord of all Being. (Koran 7:54. Arberry)

Surely your Lord is God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then sat Himself upon the Throne, directing the affair. Intercessor there is none, save after His leave that then is God, your Lord; so serve Him. Will you not remember? (Koran 10:3, Arberry)

And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and His Throne was upon the waters — that He might try you, which one of you is fairer in works. And if thou sayest, ‘you shall surely be raised up after death,’ the unbelievers will say, ‘This is naught but a manifest sorcery.’ (Koran 11:7, Arberry)

Put thy trust in the Living God, the Undying, and proclaim His praise. Sufficiently is He aware of His servants’ sins who created the heavens and the earth, and what between them is, in six days, then sat Himself upon the Throne, the All-compassionate: ask any informed of Him! (Koran 25:58,59, Arberry)

God is He that created the heavens and the earth, and what between them is, in six days, then seated Himself upon the Throne. Apart from Him, you have no protector neither mediator; will you not remember? (Koran 32:4, Arberry)

It is He that created the heavens and the earth in six days then seated Himself upon the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes forth from it, — what comes down from heaven, and what goes up unto it. He is with you wherever you are; and God sees the things you do. (Koran 57:4, Arberry)

Here is the only place where God Himself says He created the heavens and the earth in six days.

We created the heavens and the earth, and what between them is, in six days, and no weariness touched Us. (Koran 50:38, Arberry)

The mathematical coincidence is with the phrase “six days.” The Koran says that God created the heavens and the earth in six days in six different places. God, in the Koran, says that He created the heavens and the earth in six days once. When God speaks He uses the first person plural pronouns, “We” and “Us,” because He is tripersonal. Look at this verse from the Septuagint version of the Psalms.

By the Word [Greek, Logos] of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the host of them by the Spirit [Greek, Pneuma] of His [the Father’s] mouth. (Psalm 32:6, LXX; corresponds with Psalm 33:6 in the Hebrew)

In the Greek New Testament Jesus is called the Logos and the Holy Spirit is the Pneuma of God. This verse from the Psalms teaches the same thing that the Koran teaches. The Holy Trinity created the heavens and the earth.

We know from the Books of Moses that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11; 31:17) God rested on the seventh day although no weariness touched Him. (Genesis 2:2; Koran 50:38)

Of course, God does not literally need to rest nor did He literally rest like humans do. The language used in Genesis is figurative.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28, NKJV)

The six day creation is not a literal six 24 hour period of time event. This language is also figurative or symbolic. There are ancient Church Fathers who did not interpret Genesis chapter 1 as teaching that the universe was literally created by God in 144 hours (6 x 24).

144 is 12 times 12. 3 times 4 is 12. 3 plus 4 is 7. God rested on the seventh day. 7 symbolizes perfection. Do you see the symbolism? God created everything perfect.

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31, NKJV)

Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay. (Koran 32:6,7, Pickthall)

He blessed His creation. Then, we made wrong choices and messed things up.

Surely, God does not wrong people at all, but people wrong themselves. (Koran 10:44, Wahiduddin Khan)

So, even those verses from the Koran which speak of a six day creation should not be interpreted as a literal six day history. (See Koran 3:7.) The creation of the heavens and the earth by God, however, is history.  The length of time He spent creating is, according to science, about 14 billion years.

 

 

I do not think that one should use the Bible and the Koran as scientific textbooks, although these Scriptures may agree with science in certain places. These are books about theology, morality, spirituality, and prophecy. The purpose of the books is not to provide scientific knowledge.

The interesting detail I wished to point out is that the Koran says that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. There are six places in the Koran where it says this. In another place in the Koran, God says that He created the heavens and the earth in six days. He used the first person plural pronouns, thus indicating that He is tripersonal. Both the Bible and the Koran teach that God, the Holy Trinity, created the heavens and the earth in six days and He created everything good, indeed very good!

Categories: Christianity, Islam Tags: , , ,

Science and Sacred Books

April 22, 2018 Leave a comment

If all the trees on earth were pens, and the sea [were] ink, with seven [more] seas added to it, the words of God would not be exhausted: for, truly, God is Almighty and Wise. (Koran 31:27, Wahiduddin Khan)

It is interesting how people can find verses from their sacred books which indicate to them that their books agree with science. People have done this with the Koran and also with the Bible. I have discovered a Youtube channel where there are uploaded videos demonstrating from the Koran that there are scientific facts in them that could not have been known 1400 years ago. Christians have also uploaded videos on Youtube showing that there are scientific facts in the Bible that could not have been known when the books that make up it were being written. Perhaps God has left some scientific markers in these sacred books to show that they come from Him.

Here are some videos about scientific facts in the Koran. The first video is about the seriousness of accepting the message of the Koran. The woman in the video, Clare Forstier, cites these verses from the Koran:

We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things? (Koran 41:53, Hilali & Khan)

And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge. (Koran 29:43, Hilali & Khan)

And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down to Our servant, then bring a surah like it, and invoke your helpers besides Allah, if you are truthful. (Koran 2:23, Qarai)

She also cites these verses, but her translation does not agree completely with how many translators have translated it.

By the sky which returns [rain] and [by] the earth which cracks open, indeed, the Qur’an is a decisive statement, and it is not amusement. (Koran 86:11-14, Sahih International)

Here is the video.

 

 

Many tranlators or interpreters of those verses from the 86th Surah think that the verses are talking about the sky returning with rain and the vegetation cracking the earth open when plants sprout. The word she interprets as bounce is a genitive case noun that is usually translated into English as return. The commentaries mention nothing about quantum physics. Maybe the commentators and translators were not knowledgeable about that branch of science. A physicist would bring his background to the text and see physics in the text.

The Bible records an incident where the earth cracked long before the cracking of the earth that happened in Arizona in the 20th century. (Numbers 16:31,32)

The next video is about the theory of relativity in the Koran. She cites these verses, but from another similar translation.

Do you not see how your Lord extends the shadow? Had He willed, He could have made it still. And We made the sun a pointer to it. Then We withdraw it towards Us gradually. (Koran 25:45,46, ITANI)

 

 

The pronoun it  in these verses is a masculine pronoun in Arabic. So, it refers to a masculine noun. The sun (Arabic, al-shamsa), is feminine. The shadow (Arabic, al-ẓila) is masculine. A pointer (Arabic, dalīlan) is also masculine. So, the pronoun it in the sentence, “Then We withdraw it towards Us gradually,” could refer to the shadow or the pointer (i.e., the sun).

Here is another translation of  these verses.

Have you not seen how your Lord lengthens out the shadow? Had He willed, He would have made it constant, but We have made the sun its pilot; then (as the sun climbs up), We roll it up little by little towards Ourselves. (Koran 25:45,46, Maududi)

These verses might just be talking about a common everyday phenomenon that people witness daily. The shadows are long in the morning and shorten as the sun approaches its zenith in the sky. As for the shadow being constant, that would occur if the sun “stood still” as it did in the miracle in the Bible. (Joshua 10:12,13)

Incidentally, I see the Trinity in these verses. “Your Lord” and the pronouns, “He,” indicate that God is one. The pronouns, “We” and “Us” (or “Ourselves”), indicate that God is tripersonal.

So, when Muhammad told the People of the Book (the Christians), “Our God and your God is one” (Koran 29:46), he was telling them that he was a Trinitarian, too.

In the next video, Clare Forestier cites this verse from a similar translation.

God is the light of the heavens and the earth. His light may be compared to a niche containing a lamp, the lamp inside a crystal of star-like brilliance lit from a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west. The [luminous] oil is as if ready to burn without even touching it. Light upon light; God guides to His light whom He will. God draws such comparisons for mankind; God has full knowledge of everything. (Koran 24:35, Wahiduddin Khan)

 

 

This video is particularly interesting and there may be some unknown scientific knowledge regarding light that God may have actually revealed to Muhammad in this verse.

In the next video, she cites this verse from the Koran to demonstrate that God had revealed to Muhammad some knowledge about mountains that would not have been discovered until modern times.

And among His Signs are the ships, in the sea, like mountains. (Koran 42:32, Hilali & Khan)

Here is the video.

 

 

Of course, the verse might be simply referring to the size of the ships as being like mountains. Ships are not as large as mountains, but a figure of speech called hyperbole could be used here. The Koran often contains poetic language. It even says that one should not always interpret it literally. (Koran 3:7) Then, on the other hand, perhaps God did reveal some scientific knowledge to Muhammad in this verse and in some others. Like the prophets who prophesied about Jesus and did not know all the details regarding His Advent into this world, Muhammad may have been at the time he was receiving the revelations unaware of the scientific knowledge contained in the verses.

Regarding science and the Bible, I will say, first of all, that I am familiar with one verse in the Book of Job which does contain scientific truth in it. It is in the 26th chapter.

He hangs the earth on nothing. (Job 26:7)

The earth is in space revolving around the sun. So, it hangs on nothing. There are other verses that Christians cite in these videos which, in their opinion, contain scientific knowledge or are based on science. You can be the judge of them here.

 

 

 

 

I believe the Bible, not because of scientific evidence that supports what it teaches about certain things, but because of the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament. That is the convincing proof for me. St. Paul always used the Old Testament to convince others that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 17:2,3; 26:27,28)

The Koran claims to confirm the Bible (Koran 2:41,89,91,97,101; 3:3,4; 4:47; 5:48; 6:92; 35:31; 46:12) The Koran tells me to believe the Bible. (Koran 2:2-5; 4:136,137,150-152; 5:68) Muhammad received no new revelations and was not an innovator among the prophets. (Koran 41:43; 46:9) He claimed to worship the same God that I worship and accepted the Bible. (Koran 29:46; 42:15) I, therefore, understand the Koran in the light of the Bible and the Church Fathers. (The Bible is of no private interpretation. — II Peter 1:20 See also Koran 10:94.)

There are mathematical coincidences in the Koran. Those mathematical coincidences point to the book as being a work of divine providence.

Should I “convert to Islam?” What I see as being “Islam” is very unkoranic in my opinion.  The Koran already teaches my faith and contains no new revelations. It is only a confirming revelation of previous revelations. It teaches Trinitarian theology and rejects the heretical Christian doctrines of the Sabellians, Nestorians, Paulinianists, Arians, Maryamites, Bitheists, and Tritheists. So, there is no need for me to convert to anything.

As for science and these Sacred Scriptures, I say that none of these books are scientific textbooks. They are books about theology, prophecy, morality, and spirituality. Figurative language frequently occurs in such books. To me, the science and Koran videos and the science and the Bible videos are interesting, but I do not think that they are necessary for me to “have faith.”