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Times for Prayer

December 17, 2017 Leave a comment

There exists some differences of opinion among those who have read and studied the Koran concerning set times for prayer. Some say that the Koran does not prescribe any set times for prayer at all. Others, like the Sunnis for instance, say the number of set times for prayer in the Koran are five. Others say that there are only three times appointed for prayer in the Islamic holy book. Some Koranists hold to that view. I think that the number of times appointed for prayer during a day are eight. I have an Orthodox Christian bias toward that number because that is the number of the offices for prayer in our Church. Actually, if one were to count one’s personal prayers along with those offices of prayers, the number would be eleven. I am going to present my view based on my understanding of the Koran and the Bible.

According to Orthodox Church tradition, the liturgical day begins at sunset and goes to the next sunset. The basis for initiating the liturgical day at sunset is found in the Bible in the Book of Genesis.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night, and there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:5, LXX)

The evening is mentioned first and the morning is mentioned next indicating that the day begins at sunset and not at sunrise. The Koran, which of course confirms the Bible, teaches the same thing. In Surah 25, it says:

And He it is Who hath appointed night and day in succession, for him who desireth to remember, or desireth thankfulness. (Koran 25:62, Pickthall)

The night precedes the day. Sunset to sunset is the daily cycle, not sunrise to sunrise. In the 17th Surah, it says:

Perform the prayer at the sinking of the sun to the darkening of the night and the recital of dawn; surely the recital of dawn is witnessed. (Koran 17:78, Arberry)

I am aware that some interpret this verse to mean from the decline of the sun from its meridian, that is, from noon, to the darkening of the night and the recitation of the Koran at dawn. That is how the translators of the Sahih International version interpreted it.

Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur’an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed. (Koran 17:78, Sahih International)

The 17th Surah and the 25th Surah are Meccan surahs. The 25th Surah chronologically preceded the 17th Surah. If Koran 17:78 were abrogating Koran 25:62 and teaching that the liturgical day begins at noon, it would not be similar to Koran 25:62 which teaches that the day goes from night to night, or rather from sunset to sunset. Abrogations are either better than or similar to the abrogated verses. (Koran 2:106) Also, if Koran 17:78 were teaching that the liturgical day begins at noon, then the Koran would no longer be confirming the Bible. (Koran 5:48) So, I disagree with Sahih International’s interpretation.

Muhammad accepted the Scriptures of Orthodox Christians. (Koran 29:46) He told His followers to believe them. (Koran 4:136) The Psalms are part of those Scriptures that Jews and Christians have accepted as divinely inspired revelations from God. In the 118th Psalm in the Septuagint (Psalm 119 in the Hebrew), it says:

Seven times in a day have I praised Thee because of the judgments of Thy righteousness. (Psalm 118:164, LXX; Psalm 119:164, Hebrew)

From this verse, the Orthodox Church has established the existence of seven of the eight canonical hours of the Church. According to tradition, an eighth hour was established during the times of the apostles. It was based on Christ’s commandment to watch and pray at night. (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 13:32-42; Luke 22:39-46) Christ prayed His high priestly prayer at this time. (John 17) This additional canonical hour is called the Midnight Office or Nocturnes.

The practice of having eight appointed times for prayer is supported by these verses in the Koran.

Allah desires to explain to you, and to guide you into the ways of those before you, and to turn to you (mercifully), and Allah is Knowing, Wise. (Koran 4:26, Shakir)

And verily We have sent down for you revelations that make plain, and the example of those who passed away before you. An admonition unto those who ward off (evil). (Koran 24:34, Pickthall)

The Koran does not teach that three of these offices of prayer have been discarded. It teaches just the opposite. By affirming the importance of believing in and accepting the Bible (Koran 4:136,137; 150-152; 29:46), it states by implication that there are eight offices of prayer and not merely three or five. The Jews had seven (Psalm 118:164, LXX) and the Christians had eight. God guided the first generation followers of Muhammad “into the ways of those before” them. (Koran 4:26)

The first hour of prayer is at sunset. It is called Vespers by Christians and Maghrib by the Muslims. The evening prayer is mentioned in the Psalms and in the Koran.

Evening, and morning, and at noon I will declare and make known my wants: and He shall hear my voice. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; Psalm 55:17, Hebrew)

Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. (Psalm 140:2, LXX; Psalm 141:2, Hebrew)

And perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and nigh of the night; surely the good deeds will drive away the evil deeds. That is a remembrance unto the mindful. (Koran 11:114, Arberry)

Perform the prayer at the sinking of the sun to the darkening of the night and the recital of dawn; surely the recital of dawn is witnessed. (Koran 17:78, Arberry)

The two ends of the day  in Koran 11:114 are dusk and dawn. “Nigh of the night” refers to the Ninth Hour or Asr.

The next appointed time of prayer is at bedtime. Support for the existence of this office of prayer is found in the Psalms and in the Koran.

Be ye angry, and sin not; feel compunction upon your beds for what ye say in your hearts. Pause. (Psalm 4:4, LXX)

The saints shall rejoice in glory; and shall exult on their beds. The high praises of God shall be in their throat, and two-edged swords in their hands. (Psalm 149:5,6, LXX)

So be thou patient under what they say, and proclaim thy Lord’s praise before the rising of the sun, and before its setting, and proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night, and at the ends of the day; haply thou wilt be well-pleasing. (Koran 20:130, Arberry)

O ye who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you at three times (before they come into your presence): Before the prayer of dawn, and when ye lay aside your raiment for the heat of noon, and after the prayer of night. Three times of privacy for you. It is no sin for them or for you at other times, when some of you go round attendant upon others (if they come into your presence without leave). Thus Allah maketh clear the revelations for you. Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 24:58, Pickthall)

Koran 20:130 says to “proclaim” our Lord’s “praise in the watches of the night.” Since Compline is the bedtime prayer in the Psalms (Psalm 4:4; 149:5,6), one of the prayers prayed in the watches of the night is Compline. It is called Isha by the Muslims. “The prayer of the night” in Koran 24:58 is probably a reference to Compline or Isha.

In the 39th Surah, it says:

Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding. (Koran 39:9, Sahih International)

Here, we see that the devoutly obedient pray during periods of the night. There are at least three periods since the word is plural and not dual in the Arabic. Vespers (Maghrib), Compline (Isha), and Nocturnes (Tahajjud) are the three periods of prayer in this verse. There is no fourth period of prayer because Muhammad received no new revelations and was not an innovator among the messengers. (Koran 41:43; 46:9)

In the 50th Surah, it says:

Therefor (O Muhammad) bear with what they say, and hymn the praise of thy Lord before the rising and before the setting of the sun. And in the night-time hymn His praise, and after the (prescribed) prostrations. (Koran 50:39,40, Pickthall)

“In the night-time hymn His praise,” says this verse. So, there is prayer at night-time — Isha or Compline. The words, “after the (prescribed) prostrations,” is a mistranslation. Literally, it says, “after the prostration.” The word translated “prostrations” in this verse is singular in the Arabic. Since Muhammad is a good example (Koran 33:21), glorifying God at night is something we should do, too. The commandment given to Muhammad also applies to those who seek to follow his example.

In the 76th Surah, it says:

And remember the Name of thy Lord at dawn and in the evening and part of the night; bow down before Him and magnify Him through the long night. (Koran 76:25,26, Arberry)

Remembering God “part of the night” is referring to Compline (Isha).

The Midnight Office, also called Nocturnes, is derived from Christ’s commandment to His disciples to watch and pray. (See Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40.) This time of prayer is kept in remembrance of Christ who prayed in the middle of the night before being captured by the Jews. In the Koran, it says:

The patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn. (Koran 3:17, Sahih International)

This verse is describing some of the characteristics of someone who will inhabit Paradise in the afterlife. (See Koran 3:15,16.) Since the first generation Muslims obeyed the messengers of God and Jesus is one of the messengers, they most likely prayed the “Our Father” during their prayers. (See Matthew 6:9-13; Koran 2:285; 4:171.)

Praying before dawn is one of the characteristics of someone who will inhabit Paradise. Nocturnes or Tahajjud occurs before dawn.

In the 17th Surah, it says:

And some part of the night awake for it, a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate. (Koran 17:79, Pickthall)

Praying in the middle of the night after “awaking for it” is another reference to Nocturnes or Tahajjud.

In Koran 20:130, it says to “proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night.” The word translated “watches” in this verse is plural and not dual in the Arabic. Therefore, at least three watches are indicated here: Vespers (Maghrib), Compline (Isha), and Nocturnes (Tahajjud). Muhammad received no new revelations and was not an innovator among God’s messengers. (Koran 41:43; 46:9) Therefore, only three times of prayer are indicated here.

In the 25th Surah, the servants of God are described as those “who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing.” (Koran 25:63,64)

In the 50th Surah, it says:

Therefor (O Muhammad) bear with what they say, and hymn the praise of thy Lord before the rising and before the setting of the sun. And in the night-time hymn His praise, and after the (prescribed) prostrations. (Koran 50:39,40, Pickthall)

Hymning the praise of God “before the rising of the sun” is a reference to Nocturnes (Tahajjud).

I have already mentioned Koran 39:9 as indicating the existence of three times of prayer at night: Vespers (Maghrib), Compline (Isha), and Nocturnes (Tahajjud). Further evidence for the existence of the Midnight Office in the Koran can be found in the 51st Surah.

And in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness. (Koran 51:18, Sahih International)

Also in the 52nd Surah, there is evidence for this practice.

And proclaim the praise of thy Lord in the night, and at the declining of the stars. (Koran 52:49, Arberry)

In the 73rd Surah, it says:

Lo! thy Lord knoweth how thou keepest vigil sometimes nearly two-thirds of the night, or (sometimes) half or a third thereof, as do a party of those with thee.

Later, in this same verse, it says:

And seek forgiveness of Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 73:20, Pickthall)

The “Our Father” was most likely prayed in obedience to Jesus’ commandment in the Gospels. This was one of the prayers prayed during the Midnight Office (Tahajjud) by the first generation followers of Muhammad. Vigils are a practice of Orthodox Christians, too. Nocturnes and Matins are prayed together before the Divine Liturgy at Pascha.

In Koran 76:26 it says, “Bow down before Him and magnify Him through the long night.” (Arberry)

The practice of praying Matins (Fajr) is found in the Psalms. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; Psalm 55:17, Hebrew)

King David, who was one of God’s messengers, prayed in the morning. The Koran says that God guided the followers of Muhammad into the ways of those before them. (Koran 4:26) Therefore, first generation Muslims prayed the prayers of Matins (Fajr).

In Koran 11:114, it says “perform the prayer at the two ends of the day.” The two ends of the day are dusk and dawn. Matins is prayed at dawn. In Koran 20:130, it says to “proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night, and at the ends of the day.” The word, translated “ends” is plural and not dual in number. Therefore, three ends or more are implied. The three ends are dawn, noon, and dusk. Notice the night prayers are mentioned before the day prayers. The liturgical day according to the Koran begins at sunset, not at dawn. In Koran 24:58, the prayer of dawn is mentioned — another reference to Fajr or Matins. In Koran 30, it says:

So glory be to Allah when ye enter the night and when ye enter the morning. (Koran 30:17, Pickthall)

Entering the night is referring to Vespers (Maghrib). Entering the morning is referring to Matins (Fajr).

In Koran 48, it says:

That ye (mankind) may believe in Allah and His messenger, and may honour Him, and may revere Him, and may glorify Him at early dawn and at the close of day. (Koran 48:9, Pickthall)

Glorifying God at early dawn is the office of Matins (Fajr). Glorifying Him at the close of the day is Vespers (Maghrib).

In the 52nd Surah, it says:

And proclaim the praise of thy Lord in the night, and at the declining of the stars. (Koran 52:49, Arberry)

Proclaiming God’s praise “at the declining of the stars” is a reference to Matins (Fajr).

In the 76th Surah, it says:

And remember the Name of thy Lord at dawn and in the evening. (Koran 76:25, Arberry)

Remembering the Name of God at dawn refers to praying Matins (Fajr). Remembering the Name of God in the evening refers to Vespers (Maghrib).

The First Hour of Prayer is in the Psalms.

In the morning Thou shalt hear my voice: in the morning will I wait upon Thee, and will look up. (Psalm 5:3, LXX)

But I cried to Thee, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent Thee. (Psalm 87:13, LXX; Psalm 88:13, Hebrew)

This is a very short series of prayers which come immediately after Matins.

One of the seven appointed times of prayer kept by the Jews and also by Christians is the Third Hour. In the Book of Acts, one can see that Jesus’ apostles and disciples kept this time of prayer.

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers… When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place… For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. (Acts 1:12-14; 2:1,15, NKJV)

The first generation followers of Muhammad most probably kept this time of prayer, too. (Koran 4:26; 24:34)

The Sixth Hour (Dhuhr) is mentioned in Psalm 54:17 in the Septuagint. (Psalm 55:17, Hebrew) King David prayed at this time.

It was the practice of St. Peter to pray at this time, too.

The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. (Acts 10:9, NKJV)

In the Koran, it says:

Be guardians of your prayers, and of the midmost prayer, and stand up with devotion to Allah. (Koran 2:238, Pickthall)

The “midmost prayer” is probably a reference to the Sixth Hour (Dhuhr). However, many Islamic scholars think that this is a reference to the Ninth Hour (Asr).

I have already mentioned Koran 20:130 as teaching to pray at Matins, the Sixth Hour, and Vespers. It says:

Proclaim thy Lord’s praise in the watches of the night, and at the ends of the day. (Koran 20:130, Arberry)

The “ends of the day” is plural, not dual in the Arabic. The three ends of the day are dawn, noon, and dusk. King David prayed at those three ends of the day. (Psalm 54:17, LXX; 55:17, Hebrew)

The apostles and the Jews kept the Ninth Hour of prayer. The Muslims call it Asr.

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. (Acts 3:1, NKJV)

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”… So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. (Acts 10:1-3,30, NKJV)

The Koran says that we should follow the example of Jesus’ apostles. (Koran 4:26; 24:34)

In Koran 11:114, it says to “perform the prayer at the two ends of the day and nigh of the night.” “Nigh of the night” is referring to the Ninth Hour or Asr.

In Koran 20:130, we are commanded to proclaim God’s praise before the setting of the sun. This is a reference to the Ninth Hour or Asr.

In the 30th Surah, it says:

Unto Him be praise in the heavens and the earth! — and at the sun’s decline and in the noonday. (Koran 30:18, Pickthall)

Praising God at the sun’s decline is a reference to the Ninth Hour (Asr). Praising God in the noonday is, of course, the Sixth Hour (Dhuhr).

So, this is my view on the subject of the times for prayer in the Koran. I believe that the Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.

And that We have revealed to thee of the Book is the truth, confirming what is before it; God is aware of and sees His servants. (Koran 35:31, Arberry)

It, therefore, teaches us to observe the eight canonical hours of prayer. Doing this can be difficult for most people. Among us Orthodox, monks are usually the only ones who do all the prayers. We should not lose heart and fall into despair if we are unable to pray eight times a day. Jesus said:

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32, NKJV)

Despite all of our efforts to do well and try to obey God, we must always remember that we will never be good enough.

If Allah were to take mankind to task for their wrong-doing, he would not leave hereon a living creature, but He reprieveth them to an appointed term, and when their term cometh they cannot put (it) off an hour nor (yet) advance (it). (Koran 16:61, Pickthall)

It is in the end only by God’s mercy that we will ever obtain Paradise (Jannah). God is the most merciful of those who show mercy.

He said: Have no fear this day! May Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (Koran 12:92, Pickthall)

So, we should do our best and hope for God’s mercy. Anyone who gets to Paradise is there, not because he earned his way there. He is there because of God’s mercy. Salvation is a paradox. We cannot earn it, but we must still work for it!

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Faith and Disobedience

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

It is interesting to read in the Koran similar teachings which one can find in the Bible, but expressed in a new way. I recently came across this verse in the Koran and I immediately remembered similar words in the Catholic Epistle of St. James.

Is he who is a believer like unto him who is an evil-liver? They are not alike. (Koran 32:18, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “an evil-liver” is translated as “defiantly disobedient” by Sahih International. Using that translation in this verse, it would read:

Is he who is a believer like unto him who is defiantly disobedient? They are not alike.

St. James said:

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

Genuine faith is accompanied by good works. A true believer, therefore, is not one who practices evil. The Koran says that someone who defiantly disobeys God is not like some who believes in God. Anyone who defiantly disobeys God should not think that he will have any share in the good things God has promised those who inherit eternal life.

I went through the Koran to see how the word, “fāsiqun,” is used in other places in the Koran. Here are some things that I discovered about the defiantly disobedient. The defiantly disobedient reject God’s revelations, not just the Koran, but also the Bible.

Say, “Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur’an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah, confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and His messengers and Gabriel and Michael — then indeed, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers. And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient. (Koran 2:97-99, Sahih International)

The word translated “verses” in the previous passage could be translated “revelations.” This passage is talking about the Koran. The defiantly disobedient reject the Koran. Muhammad received no new revelations (Koran 41:43) and was not an innovator among the messengers of God (Koran 46:9). Therefore, I have no problems accepting the Koran. I only have problems with interpretations of the Koran which contradict the teachings of the Bible. The Koran confirms the Bible. (Koran 5:48) It does not contradict it. It is not possible to truly accept the Koran without accepting the Bible. (Koran 4:136,150-152; 29:46)

The defiantly disobedient do not judge by what God has revealed in the Gospel.

And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient. (Koran 5:47, Sahih International)

So, someone who rejects the four Gospels in the Bible is “defiantly disobedient.” In the Sixth Surah, it teaches that those who reject God’s revelations in both the Bible and the Koran are “defiantly disobedient.”

We send not the messengers save as bearers of good news and warners. Whoso believeth and doeth right, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. But as for those who deny Our revelations, torment will afflict them for that they used to disobey. (Koran 6:48,49, Pickthall)

Sahih International translated Koran 6:49 as:

But those who deny Our verses – the punishment will touch them for their defiant disobedience. (Koran 6:49, Sahih International)

The word, “messengers,” is plural indicating that those messengers who brought us God’s revelations in the Bible are included, and not just Muhammad.

Hypocrites are among the defiantly disobedient.

The hypocrites, both men and women, proceed one from another. They enjoin the wrong, and they forbid the right, and they withhold their hands (from spending for the cause of Allah). They forget Allah, so He hath forgotten them. Lo! the hypocrites, they are the transgressors. (Koran 9:67, Pickthall)

The word translated “transgressors” in this verse is usually translated “defiantly disobedient” by Sahih International.

Those who falsely accuse honorable women of having committed fornication or adultery in public are defiantly disobedient.

And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony — they indeed are evil-doers — save those who afterward repent and make amends. (For such) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 24:4,5, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “evil-doers” in this passage is translated “defiantly disobedient” by Sahih International. Liars are “defiantly disobedient” (Koran 5:107,108; 9:95,96) The testimony of the defiantly disobedient must be verified.

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Koran 49:6, Sahih International)

The defiantly disobedient unwillingly give to charity and are lazy in prayer.

Say, “Spend willingly or unwillingly; never will it be accepted from you. Indeed, you have been a defiantly disobedient people.” And what prevents their expenditures from being accepted from them but that they have disbelieved in Allah and in His Messenger and that they come not to prayer except while they are lazy and that they do not spend except while they are unwilling. So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart [at death] while they are disbelievers. (Koran 9:53-55, Sahih International)

The defiantly disobedient do not think about God as they go through their lives. They forget Him.

O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient. (Koran 59:18,19, Sahih International)

The Koran teaches:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities — what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (Koran 6:151, Sahih International)

Idolaters, people who mistreat their parents, people who kill their children (for example, by abortion), people who “approach immoralities” (fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins), and people who kill innocent people (for example, terrorists) are rejecting this revelation in the Koran and are, therefore, defiantly disobedient. (Notice that the doctrine of the Trinity is implied the words: “We will provide for you and them.”)

The final destination of the defiantly disobedient is Gehenna.

But as for those who defiantly disobeyed, their refuge is the Fire. Every time they wish to emerge from it, they will be returned to it while it is said to them, “Taste the punishment of the Fire which you used to deny.” And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent. (Koran 32:20,21, Sahih International)

And the Day those who disbelieved are exposed to the Fire [it will be said], “You exhausted your pleasures during your worldly life and enjoyed them, so this Day you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation because you were arrogant upon the earth without right and because you were defiantly disobedient.” (Koran 46:20, Sahih International)

So, those who profess faith should accept God’s revelations in the Bible and the Koran and obey those revelations. Faith without works is dead. The believer and the defiantly disobedient are not alike.

 

An Atheist Who Believes in God

July 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I have watched a video this afternoon which has inspired me to write this blog post. Frank Schaeffer tells about his spiritual journey and his new belief in a paradox. He believes that God does not exist and God does exist. He talks about the “certainty addicts” who seem to think they have all of the answers. He is still a member of a Greek Orthodox Church in Massachusetts. I can see some of the traces of the Orthodox way of thinking in some of his reasoning. However, although I can agree with him on some points, I cannot fully agree with him on everything.

Here is the video. It lasts about an hour.

As far as certainty is concerned, I think that Jesus taught that it is possible to be certain of some things. He taught that we can know the truth.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31,32, NKJV)

Even the Koran teaches that one can be certain of the truth. It says:

There is no compulsion in religion. Certainly, right has become clearly distinct from wrong. Whoever rejects the devil and believes in God has firmly taken hold of a strong handle that never breaks. God is All-hearing and knowing. (Koran 2:256, Muhammad Sarwar)

The prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament demonstrate that the Bible is the Word of God. The mathematical miracles in the Koran demonstrate that it is a work of Divine Providence and therefore a revelation from God.

However, both the Bible and the Koran teach that we cannot know everything. God is incomprehensible. We can never know everything that there is to know about God.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” (Romans 11:33-35, NKJV)

Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous. (Koran 2:255, Pickthall)

We cannot analyze God in the same way that we can analyze the parts of a frog after dissecting it. We always encounter a mystery whenever we encounter God. God is far bigger than we are.

There are two types of theology: apophatic theology and cataphatic theology. When we use apophatic theology, we define God in terms of what He is not. When we use cataphatic theology, we define God in terms of who He is.

Nature itself teaches us that there is a God. We should not doubt His existence.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21, NKJV)

The created world in which we live points to a Creator — an Intelligence behind it all. The Contemporary Islamic Music artist, Maher Zain, has expressed this truth regarding the existence of God well in his song, “Open Your Eyes.”

God is in all places at all times. He is everywhere we are.

To God belong the East and the West; whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God; God is All-embracing, All-knowing. (Koran 2:115, 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)

Hast thou not seen that Allah knoweth all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth? There is no secret conference of three but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, nor of less than that or more but He is with them wheresoever they may be; and afterward, on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Lo! Allah is Knower of all things. (Koran 58:7, Pickthall)

We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein. (Koran 50:16, Arberry)

God “fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:23)

Faith is necessary in order to draw near to God in prayer. If one wants to know God, he must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)

Genuine faith is faith without doubt. It is faith that manifests itself in good deeds.

The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah. It is those who are the truthful. (Koran 49:15, Sahih International)

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. (John 20:27, NKJV)

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

Those who do not strive to keep God’s commandments do not genuinely know Him.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:3,4, NKJV)

Not through science, not through philosophy, but through prayer prayed in faith do we discover God. The words of this song by the Contemporary Christian Music artist, Pat Terry, illustrate this point quite well.

Both the Koran and the Bible teach that there will be a final judgment. God will judge everyone at the end of this age.

O ye who believe! Come, all of you, into submission (unto Him); and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you. And if ye slide back after the clear proofs have come unto you, then know that Allah is Mighty, Wise. Wait they for naught else than that Allah should come unto them in the shadows of the clouds with the angels? Then the case would be already judged. All cases go back to Allah (for judgment). (Koran 2:208-210, Pickthall)

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31, NKJV)

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. (Matthew 25:31-33, NKJV)

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7, NKJV)

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31, NKJV)

There can be no paradox that states that God exists and He does not exist. Both Christianity and Islam are revealed religions. Both teach that there is a God who created everything. Both teach that God is omnipresent. Both teach that genuine faith lacks doubt. Truth can be known. There are certainties. We cannot know everything, but we can be certain of some things. The existence of God is a certainty. The knowledge of God is possible. We discover God through prayer prayed in faith that He is there listening to our words. Maybe someday Frank Schaeffer will rethink his theology or the lack thereof. God is his judge. We should not judge him, but we should reject his error.

 

Why Rape is Haraam

December 21, 2016 Leave a comment

Rape is Haraam

Last year in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve, several women were raped by migrant refugees. They even raped a volunteer female police officer. This rape epidemic has spread all across Europe. Pseudo-Islamic extremists rape and even gang rape white, European women and girls. What is so sad is that many of the rapists are committing these crimes with impunity. In many Middle Eastern countries, the rape victims are blamed for being raped and the rapists are excused. If a woman is outside her home in Saudi Arabia without a male relative as a chaperone, she can be raped with impunity. If a woman is not wearing enough clothing to cover her body and her head sufficiently according to the opinion of some religious scholars, she can be raped with impunity. None of these reasons for rape are justified by the Koran. Actually, any sexual activity outside of marriage is haraam according to the Koran. So, raping a woman who is not one’s wife is against the teachings of the Koran. All rape including domestic rape is in fact haraam according to the Koran.

A man must be married to a woman before he can have sexual intercourse with her. Four things are required in order to form an Islamic marriage.

First, both the man and the woman must be monotheists.

Wed not idolatresses till they believe; for lo! a believing bondwoman is better than an idolatress though she please you; and give not your daughters in marriage to idolaters till they believe, for lo! a believing slave is better than an idolater though he please you. These invite unto the Fire, and Allah inviteth unto the Garden, and unto forgiveness by His grace, and expoundeth His revelations to mankind that haply they may remember. (Koran 4:32, Pickthall)

A Muslim may even marry a virtuous Jew or a Christian.

And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when ye give them their marriage portions and live with them in honour, not in fornication, nor taking them as secret concubines. (Koran 5:5, Pickthall)

“Those who received the Scripture” before them are the Jews and the Christians.

Secondly, there must be mutual consent on the part of both the man and the woman to enter into a marital relationship. Women, according to the Koran, 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. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

A woman can, therefore, choose which man she wants to marry. A man can choose which woman he wants to marry. A Muslim woman can even marry a virtuous Jew or Christian since she has “rights similar to those of men.” (See Koran 5:5.) A woman cannot be inherited against her will from a deceased relative.

O ye who believe! It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen). (Koran 4:19, Pickthall)

Obligatory levirate marriages existed in Old Testament times (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), but according to the Koran such marriages are no longer obligatory on the part of the woman. Slave-girls could choose to remain chaste and their owners had to respect their choice. So, even a slave-girl could refuse to marry her master.

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)

A divorced woman can marry whoever she wants. This verse from the Fourth Surah implies that she has a choice in the matter when it speaks of “an agreement between them,” that is, between the divorced woman and her new fiancé.

And when ye have divorced women and they reach their term, place not difficulties in the way of their marrying their husbands if it is agreed between them in kindness. This is an admonition for him among you who believeth in Allah and the Last Day. That is more virtuous for you, and cleaner. Allah knoweth; ye know not. (Koran 4:232, Pickthall)

The Pseudo-Islamic practice of arranging forced marriages is, therefore, contrary to the teachings of the Koran. In some Middle Eastern countries, young women are forced into marriages with men without their consent.

Thirdly, if a man intends to marry a woman, he must utter “a recognized form of words.”

But plight not your troth with women except by uttering a recognised form of words. (Koran 2:235, Pickthall)

The Koran does not explicitly say what those words should be. It says “recognized” meaning that he should use words that are recognized as expressing an intention to marry by the vast majority of the people within the society in which he lives.

Finally, he must give her a dowry.

And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth). (Koran 4:4, Pickthall)

If these four Koranic requirements are not met, then a man and a woman do not have a legitimate right to have sexual intercourse with each other. Since rape is sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, the second requirement for marriage has not been met. Pseudo-Islamic extremists probably rape polytheistic women, too. When they do that, the first requirement for marriage has not been met. Rape is unlawful sex.

The Koran is not the only holy book that forbids rape. The Bible does, too. In the Torah, which is “a light and guidance for mankind” (Koran 6:92), it says:

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 22:23-27, LXX)

Death by stoning was abrogated by Jesus. (See John 8:1-11.) There is, therefore, no death penalty for adultery or fornication. Adulterers and fornicators are supposed to be disfellowshipped, not put to death. (Koran 4:26; I Corinthian 5:11) A rapist needs to be excluded from society by being exiled or imprisoned. The principle for excluding him from society can be derived from this verse in the Koran.

If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four (reliable) witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way. (Koran 4:15, Yusuf Ali)

The four witnesses in this verse are probably four men who had sexual relations with the woman who may very well have been practicing prostitution. They probably repented and testified against her. Four witnesses are not needed in the case of rape, because the woman who was raped in the field in the passage from Deuteronomy did not need four witnesses. (Deuteronomy 22:25-27) Most rapes do not happen in front of four men. They usually occur in a secluded location where  no one is watching. The rape victim’s testimony is sufficient to convict her rapist in many cases, because if the sex were consensual she most likely would not testify against him. Requiring four witnesses to convict every rapist would not be an abrogating revelation of Allah. Abrogating revelations are better than or similar to the abrogated ones. (See Koran 2:106.) Requiring four witnesses is not better than the revelation of Allah in Deuteronomy 22:25-27.

Four witnesses are needed to convict prostitutes and those who have had sex in public (Koran 4:15; 24:4), but not rape victims. Witnesses need to be cross-examined in the same way that the Holy Prophet Daniel did in the case of Susanna. (Koran 4:26. See the History of Susanna. In the Septuagint, this is the first chapter of the Book of Daniel.)

A prostitute is a menace to the social order of a society. Therefore, she should be excluded from society in order to prevent further damage to the moral fabric of society. The rapist is a threat to society as well. Therefore, he, like the prostitute, should be excluded from society by either imprisonment or exile.

Among the Pseudo-Islamic extremists in Europe is the practice of taharrush. To the Pseudo-Islamic practitioners, this is a game which results in the gang rape of a woman. It is a part of Pseudo-Islamic Arab culture. It is haraam because the men who violate these women are not married to them. The Koran says:

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Koran 17:32, Sahih International)

Sexual Immorality Forbidden

In the Bible, it says:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality. (I Thessalonians 4:3, NKJV)

Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (I Corinthians 6:13, NKJV)

God Forbids Immorality

 Here is a video showing this barbaric Pseudo-Islamic practice of taharrush.

The CBS News reporter, Lara Logan, was a victim of this Pseudo-Islamic practice of gang rape. She talks about her experience in this video.

In the video Lara says that the men called her an Israeli and a Jew, although she is neither of these. Even if she were a Jew or an Israeli, they should never treat her the way they did. In the Koran, it says:

Let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. (Koran 5:8, Pickthall)

The first generation Muslims loved those who did not love them (Koran 3:119) and were called by Muhammad “the best community that has been raised up for mankind.” (Koran 3:110) Those Pseudo-Islamic extremists clearly were not living up to this ideal by sexually assaulting Lara Logan.

The Devil Encourages Immorality

Not all rapes carried out by these Pseudo-Islamic extremists are done collectively as gang rapes. Here are two videos about Muslim hypocrites who are raping women in Sweden and Norway.

In the last video, the rapist told his victim that “he had the right to do exactly as he wanted to a woman.” Well, we have already seen that the Koran forbids sex outside of marriage and it clearly forbids rape when it calls the Torah a light and guidance for mankind. Rape is forbidden in the Torah. Therefore, the rapist was not practicing Islam. He was practicing Pseudo-Islam.

Hypocrites

Many of the Pseudo-Islamic extremists blame the woman for not covering her body sufficiently, but that is still not the woman’s fault. The woman is still the victim. The Koran provides two things that men can do to keep from falling into the sin of sexual immorality (zina). They can “lower their gaze” (Koran 24:30) and pray (Koran 29:45).

Lower Your Gaze

Prayer Preserves from Sin

The example of Joseph is also given in the Koran. The Koran says that Joseph did not commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife because he had seen “the proof of his Lord.” (Koran 12:24) Knowing that there really is a God who is watching our actions can help one to be more vigilant against sin.

Joseph and Potiphar's Wife

There is really no excuse for this kind of behavior. Those Pseudo-Muslims cannot say that Islam teaches them to behave this way. The Koran clearly forbids sexual immorality. A man can only have sex with his wife. He cannot force a woman to become his wife. Women can choose whom they want to marry. (Koran 2:228; 4:19,232; 24:33) If they are using any of those unreliable hadiths written down over two hundred years after Muhammad died to support this barbaric and criminal practice, well, I think you know what I think about that if you have been reading my blogs. Is it really possible to produce a reliable nine volume encyclopedia of stories telling about what someone said and did two hundred years after he has died? Is it possible to produce six different encyclopedias like that one two hundred or three hundred years after someone died? What does the Koran say?

And follow not that of which you have not the knowledge; surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that. (Koran 17:36, Shakir)

And they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and lo! a guess can never take the place of the truth. (Koran 53:28, Pickthall)

I am very skeptical about any hadith that clearly contradicts the teachings of the Bible and the Koran.

Are You Missing a Prayer during Salat?

December 4, 2016 Leave a comment

This blog post is directed toward my Muslim readers, primarily. I am saying this only to get you to think and not with malicious intent.

I have wondered what exactly it is that Muslims pray during their prayers. So, I went to a few Islamic websites and I read the prayers. It was interesting. The prayers seem to be very good prayers. (To calm the fears of fellow non-Muslims, they do not pray that God will help them kill more Jews and Christians. So, there is no need for Islamophobia whenever you see them pray.) There is one prayer that is prayed quite frequently. It is the Fatihah. This is the first chapter of the Koran. It is very short — only seven verses.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
The Beneficent, the Merciful.
Master of the Day of Judgment.
Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
Keep us on the right path.
The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray. (Koran 1:1-7, Shakir)

Jesus said:

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:7-13, NKJV)

In the Koran, it says:

The Messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers — we make no distinction between any of His Messengers — and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying. (Koran 2:285, Pickthall)

The Koran says that we should obey Jesus.

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)

When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), He said: I have come unto you with wisdom, and to make plain some of that concerning which ye differ. So keep your duty to Allah, and obey Me. (Koran 43:63, Pickthall)

It also says that the Gospel is “a guidance to mankind” and in it is “guidance and light.” (Koran 3:3,4; 5:46) So, shouldn’t you be praying the prayer that Jesus told us to pray when you pray as well?