Showing posts with label Comparison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Comparison. Show all posts

Friday, May 10, 2019

Changing Religion & Your Future In The Hereafter: It Has Several Pitfalls

Changing religion may have legal implications in the country you live. But, those may be considered temporary, also because life itself is temporary. Your future in the hereafter, is eternal. Religions have different answers to life after death. It's wise to consider that, also related to those you might want to share it with. And, study the religion you take in interest in. As I said before, it isn't impossible to keep your rights to goodness in the hereafter, when leaving Islam. But, there's no guarantee -- nor is there a guarantee you will be reunited with those you love. Supplication for your deceased loved ones, however, will increase their (and your) chances to paradise and a reunion with those you loved.

Second aspect you may need to ask yourself, before changing religion, is this:

Was my religious conviction, so far, untruthful?

If it's untruthful, it says a lot about my whole environment: Family, upbringing, education, and religious or other scriptures and literature I may have read. Latter aspect, study of scriptures, should be done or rehearsed, before making a change as drastic as religion. Denying an aspect of your past, ie your religious outlook so far, may be denying certain parts of yourself and those immediately around you. It's not something to think lightly of.

And, there is a third aspect. In drastic, unusual situations, in times of persecution and war violence only, it is allowed to killed those who left our faith, says Qur'an. Hadiths confirm killing of apostates. It's possible to give these texts a sincerely positive twist:

It is always, always possible to return to faith, because your membership is forever, even if you have been elsewhere.

Just like the lost son, mentioned in the Old Testament. It is always allowed to forgive and re-embrace. Unless you committed atrocities and didn't intend to stop them.

Applicable Qur'anic verses:
2:62, 3:85, 5:69, 2:256, 4:451, 9:113, 13:23, 32:17, 43:70&71, 50:61, 52:21; 60:1-10.

Hadiths of Sahih Bukhari:
Book 2, Belief; Book 88, Apostates.

Sources & Further Reading:
Islam Question & Answer
Dar-Alifta.org
Islam.Stackexchange.com




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Have any deviant Qur’anic texts existed?

portalunescoorg-yemen

Christianity in the West held it’s breath, when in 1972 a manuscript of Qur’an al Kerim was found in Yemen, Sana’a’s main mosque. German scholars Gerhard Puin and H.C. Graf von Bothmer, working for Saarland University, Universität des Saarlandes, were assigned to cleanse and conserve the paper. Would at last a deviant copy of Islam’s Holy Book have been found; the book that is forbidden to question according to orthodoxy, as also many Westerners say?
For decades, both men did their job, as low key as possible, with the aid of several other experts. No sooner than 1999, Gerhard Puin opened up on the contends of the texts found, via magazine The Atlantic.com. However, Mr Puin doesn’t go beyond minor textual variations, different spelling, and text categorization: ‘Some of these fragments revealed small but intriguing aberrations from the standard Koranic text. Such aberrations, though not surprising to textual historians, are troublingly at odds with the orthodox Muslim belief that the Koran as it has reached us today is quite simply the perfect, timeless, and unchanging Word of God’. No differences, however, that would keep a Muslim awake at night; The Atlantic.com has presented the differences as more important than that they truly are. Gerhard Puin admitted this, too. Unesco apparently sells a cd of this Yemenite manuscript.
By the way, Yemeni history has known a ‘false prophet’ in the era when Islam reached Yemen, a certain Al Aswad al ‘Anzi. He claimed to have received a revelation, but he was discarded by Yemenite Muslims. As far as we know, no truly deviant Qur’anic texts have been found, and it seems unlikely that this will happen. Nevertheless, one must keep an open mind to anything at all.
Let me reiterate this: Non-Muslims have EVERY right to criticize Islamic texts. However, truth finding, proof, should be part of the effort, if they want it to move past hypothesis.


Sources:
What is the Koran? the Atlantic.com
Yemen The Sana’a Manuscripts, Unesco.org

More surprising and weird statements from Westerners on Islam: Volker Popp, Heinz Luxenburg, Eildert Mulder

projekte


In 2007, I wrote a review in online Islamic newspaper 'Nieuwsfeit.nl' on a column, written by a columnist of Dutch Christian newspaper Trouw, Eildert Mulder: ‘The four rightly guided caliphs were no Muslims, they were Christians’. Eildert Mulder wrote several similar columns for this newspaper, of which the majority have been wisely deleted, also this one. Yet, they are rather exemplary for the way 'Islamists' and 'Arabists' in the West operate and try to influence opinions. This time, Mulder used a few coins to illustrate his case. German Islam-expert Volker PoppOnline publishing office of the German Saarland University, Universität des Saarlandes, had written a few things about these coins, one of which supposedly displays khalifa Muawiyya with John the Baptist’s head in his hand. Professor Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Christoph Luxenberg are connected to this university, too. The latter has a publication, it’s name is Der Koran zum ‘islamischen Kopftuch’. Firstly, Volker Popp says in his article, 'Bildische Darstellingen aus der Frühzeit des Islam', that the coin ‘definitely’ must date from the era of the four righteous caliphs, the period 632 – 661 AD. ‘Ali ra’s caliphate indeed was contested by Abu Sufyan’s son Muawiyya, who resided in Damascus. Muawiyya may have had his own coin, however, how likely is it that he allowed himself to be immortalized with John the Baptist’s head? Would a Christian monarch be portrayed with the head of a man as important to Christianity as John the Baptist in his hand? Volker Popp must admit that the head in the man’s left hand, a ruler figure with a lance ‘might as well be an censer’. Thus the object is described in art catalogues too. The coin’s backside shows a letter M with a cross. This could, says Popp, refer to its value, a thousand talents, which could make it a Roman coin. However, the letter could also mean something else, like ‘Muawiyya’, perhaps even ‘Muhammad’. The letters DAM are mentioned on it, which must imply that the coin has been struck in Damascus, however, Popp denies the Romans had their coining production there. Thus the suggestion is made that Muawiyya very well might have been a Christian Roman ruler and not ‘Ali’s Saudi rival. Question remains whether the coin may at all be Muawiyya’s product. The exegesis by both Volker Popp and Eildert Mulder is highly speculative and is by no means supported by evidence or findings. The coin may very well represent nothing more or less than a ruler figure with a censer and it’s financial value.
On the same website, Luxenberg says, in his article ‘Der Koran zum ‘Islamischen Kopftuch’, that Qur’anic verse 24:31, which says that women should cast veils over their bosoms, in Aramaic truly means that women should 'cast a belt over their loin’. A belt around their waist. Also in Christianity, the belt is a signaficant symbol of chastity for not only women, but monks too. Also, from hadith 318 Book 60 Volume 6 by Sahih Buchari, would appear, that women used to wear a cloth around the waist covering the hips:
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 282:
Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba:
‘Aisha used to say: “When (the Verse): “They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,” was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.”
Shortly, Luxenberg thinks we should stop making things difficult, and we should read the Qur’an the Aramaic way. It’s not necessary to consider the new Islamic duties mentioned in this hadith, in his eyes.
All these efforts by Christians and other Westerners to re-write Islamic history indicate a non-acceptance of religiously-inspired records of history. For them, it is decided, that such scriptures are fabricated myths, fairy-tales, and miscellaneous gathered facts and narratives that may be fine sources for inspirational purposes, so-called allegories or deeper truths. Incessant efforts are made to parallel Islam with Judaism and Christianity. The big difference, however, is that especially Christianity, has a much less reliable historic record. Romans, the popes and other rulers destroyed much of its inheritance. Furthermore, Jewish history has a much longer time span. It is true, that the Bible holds the same narratives of the same events, but then we see that names, dates and events do not quite match. Judaism and Christianity, therefore, had to rely a lot more than is the case for Islam, on interpretation by scholars from later eras. Islam has a much clearer defined area of study with Qur’an and ahadith. One must acknowledge, that Islam has a different origine than Judaism and Christianity and also among different people. Thus, early on, one single qur’an could be recorded and memorized, which is still used by the entire Islamic umma, without modifications. Something similar goes for the recording of ahadith, however, it must be admitted, that only part of them was written down immediately, and part of the most authoritative ahadith were recorded only two centuries later, from many oral sources. This happened, though, in a way that they indeed can be used for historic reference. They may not each and everyone of them be infallible, but we can safely conclude, that the memorized events indeed took place. However, the conclusion that the Prophet pbuh indeed received Divine Revelations, is even with the ahadith at hand impossible to prove. Not often supernatural events, in the sense of spectacular ‘miracles’, took place; then to be reliably recorded. Meaning, events like walking on a water surface, apparitions of angels or Allah swt showing Himself. This aspect of it all definitely is a question of faith. Westerners try to ascribe the Prophet epilepsy or other illnesses--he underwent ‘a seizure’ at the moment he received a new Revelation. Islam, however, sees creation and the Scripture as miracle enough and has no need for stunts.
Sources:
'Bildische Darstellingen aus der Frühzeit des Islam' Volker Popp. Further reference: http://www.europainstitut.at/upload/publikationen/publikation_32.pdf or http://www.aai.uni-hamburg.de/voror/Personal/heidemann/Heidemann_Texte/Heidemann_Quran_in_Context_2010_Representation.pdf
(The links mentioned in my blog aren't always current, as they are based on a newspaper article of five years ago, but if you type the titles in your browser, you get many articles with this same content.)
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Christoph Luxenberg, Patricia Crone, Michael Cook, Eildert Mulder: 'Shiites have older credentials than Sunnis' meaning Muhammad & `Ali never existed

la-ilaha-illaallah

inscriptie-imam-ali-moskee
Another reply to Dutch Christian newspaper Trouw and its speculative series on critical Islam researchers and their ‘spectacular’ questions on the early days of Islam. Here follows a translation of an article by Eildert Mulder claiming that Shiites, not Sunnis, possess the oldest Islam and then my reaction in online newspaper Nieuwsfeit.nl. This is what I think they really try to say: Muhammad saws and `Ali ra haven't existed, and Jesus, `Issa saws, was Islam's real prophet ;) Okay, the part on Jesus isn't said out loud in Trouw. But it feels very much, like it is what they want to say :) Trouw wrote these articles in 2006; I wrote my reply in 2007; Trouw has been wise enough to delete most of it; and me, I read all of it now with a smile. I hope it brings my reader today a smile, too.
Eildert Mulder said:
The majority decides, this also goes for the design, structure and image of Islam. Shiites are a worldwide ten percent minority of Islam. Sunnis hold with their ninety percent an overwhelming advantage. This may explain the tendency, also among Islam studies in the West, to discard of Shiism as a younger aberration of Sunni, ‘orthodox’ Islam. Critical Islam experts resist this temptation, however. Some think that precisely Shiism has reserved an older form of Islam. Under-appreciation of the Shiites may also be caused by the fact that the main European colonizers mainly found Sunni Muslims in the conquered territories. This went for the Britisch in India, the Dutch in Indonesia, the French in Northern and Western Africa, and the Russians in Central Asia. Sunni confession of faith says: ‘There is no deity than Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger’. The Shiites lengthen it: ‘And ‘Ali is His Wali’. Wali can mean ‘guardian’. The result could then be ‘the guardian appointed by Allah’. This addition to Sunni confession sounds slightly artificial. It appears stuck to it and this strengthens the idea of a later aberration of the Sunna. ‘Ali Wali was, according tradition, Muhammad’s son in law, married to his daughter Fatima. Muhammed supposedly appointed ‘Ali as his successor, not as a prophet, but as leader of the young Muslim community. Muhammad further would have decreed that future Imams (this is the name Shiites give to the leaders of the Muslim community, Sunnis speak of Khaliphas) must descend from ‘Ali and Fatima. Sunnis disagree with this. When Shiites then add ‘Ali being ‘wali’ of God to the confession, it appears overstated. But another explanation is possible, without a person named ‘Ali added. That gives the Shiite ‘addition’ another dimension. The linguistic phenomenon of an adjective changing into a first name in people’s experience may have happened with ”Ali’. German linguist Christoph Luxenberg says this happened to ‘Muhammad’. Muhammad literally means ‘(intensely) praised’. The confession’s original confession cannot have been ‘Muhammad Messenger of God’, says Luxenberg, but: ‘Praised be God’s Messenger’. Luxenberg doesn’t mention ‘Ali, but analogy is obvious. ‘Ali means ‘exalted’. Also ‘Ali may originally have been an adjective, therefor one mustn’t read ”Ali God’s Wali’, but ‘Exalted is God’s Wali’. The Shiite confession no longer answers the question who should be king of the Muslims, but which (high) status he enjoys. Assuming that ‘God’s Guardian’ indeed refers to the imam or caliph, as Shiites believe. This other interpretation cut the unfortunate tie with the apocryphal narrations on Islam’s beginnings, part of which is the history of Muhammad’s promise to ‘Ali. Whether the Shiites add another sentence to the confession, remains to be seen. Perhaps it is the Sunni who deleted the second part. The difference in opinion seems obsolete and theoretical anyway. For centuries no caliphs or imams have been in power and for over a thousand years no descendants of ‘Ali and Fatima have been spotted. The twelfth and last Imam is hiding in the Iranian mountains, according to Shiites, and will appear with Jesus at the end of times. It is no more than bawls from a distant past that have little to do with reality today. Yet this doesn’t quite add up. Remnants of the conflicting views on imams versus caliphs seem to live on in the clergy’s organisation in Islam’s two main schools of thought. In Sunnism, clergymen are, at least in theory, peers. Shiism, however, knows a hierarchy, with supreme ayatollah’s at the top. Since the Islamic revolution in 1978 initiated by ayatollah Khomeiny the ‘Wali al Faqih’, which means something like ‘spiritual guide’ is (Shiite) Iran’s supreme leader. The Wali al Faqih resembles a priest-king (without inherited leadership), who leaves daily leadership to the president, but keeps a sharp eye on the Islamic course and, in the end, holds power. This, perhaps, approaches the position of the first eleven imams. Especially ‘imam’ Khomeiny (he didn’t call himself imam, but allowed others to do so) was subject of intense worship. Yet the Wali al Faqih is not on the same level as the first twelve imams, according to Shiites these men also possessed spirtituals qualities, had received divine inspiration in their exegeses of revelations. In Sunni Islam the caliph is more modest. He is ‘the prophet’s successor’, but only politically. However, had the caliph in the very first days this limited meaning as well, or did he more resemble the Shiite imam? The Qur’an gives no definite answer. ‘Caliph’ appears eight times, twice single and six time plural. Both Adam and king David are ‘caliphs on earth’. This latter statement could imply that caliph indeed is a monarch’s title. It is not certain though. Mystical sufi poet Ibn Arabi, for instance, gives another, non-political explanation. In his eyes, caliphs are people with a soul thus pure is seems a perfectly polished mirror that shows God. Danish Islam expert Patricia Crone, now working in the USA, put the cat among the pigeons with her book God’s Califf. She discovers something in the book: old texts don’t say ‘the Prophet’s caliph (successor)’ but ‘God’s Caliph’. This means two things. The idea that ‘caliph’ means ‘Muhammad’s successor’ is of newer date. In this connection caliph can hardly mean ‘successor’, because you then may talk of ‘God’s successor’. Crone concludes that ‘God’s caliphs’ must have had a religious function too. They were Gods ‘governors’. This resembles the Shiite imam and corresponds fairly well (Crone doesn’t put it that way) with the Shiite confession of faith. It may imply that the Shiites represent ancient Islam on important issues.
Crone’s intentions become more obvious in another book that she wrote with another author, Michael Cook: Hagarism. With aid of documents from Christian contemporaries of the first Muslims they conclude that the word Muslim was not yet in use. Followers of the new religion are called mahgraye, an Aramaic word meaning something like migrants, call them migrants from the desert. It is related to the Arabic word hijrah, according to orthodox exegesis Muhammed’s and his followers’ ‘flight’ from Mecca to Medinah in 622. These migrants meet, when arriving in Palestine, first the Jews, from whom they adopt many things. Later they oppose themselves against the Jews. They find a new role model, the Samaritans, related to the Jews, but fiercely rallying against them. From them the migrants adopt high priesthood, according to Crone and Cook, namely ‘God’s Caliph’. ‘God’s Caliph’ goes astray when halfway the eigth century the center of the Arabian state shifts towards Irak. The new religion meets once again a rich Jewish tradition, with scholars in religious law as its leading characters. Scholars in Islamic law developed themselves in scholasticism after their example. Through time they laid the fundament for the shariah legislation to come according to Qur’an and transmitted traditions of the Prophet. The scholars of law become the professional explainers of God’s Will. Therewith the spiritual function of the caliph diminishes. He degrades into ‘Prophet’s Caliph’, who, like everyone else, lives under shariah law. From now on he is a ‘constiutional monarch’ and not a priest or half-prophet with his own, direct line to God. The attenuation continues. The caliphs later loose their worldly power to soldier-kings (sultans), usually Turks and sometimes Kurds. The symbolism, however, remains forceful, sultans fight for the honour to ‘protect’ the powerless caliph. But the revolution of scholasticism against ‘Allah’s exalted Guardian’ is irrevocable. And the ancient essential conflict over the leadership of the ummah has been congealed in a tale of Muhammad’s promise to ‘Ali. Eildert Mulder (With special thanks to Thomas Milo.)
The first part of this article is the most bizarre part. Trouw has claimed before that the name Muhammad didn’t exist yet in the known Prophet’s era and would be an adjective or honorary title, with the meaning of the praised one. According Trouw the name Muhammad might as well refer to Jesus. Now they say that the name ‘Ali didn’t exist yet in those days and would also be nothing more than an adjective meaning protector, guardian. They relate this to the speculation that the Shiite confession of faith could be older than the Sunni and not just that: The Shiite may very well be the right one. After all the word khalifa, leader, is not connected to a specific name in Qur’an al Kerim and is also used for Prophet Dawud for instance, king David. They forget, however, that Qur’an also gives the word ‘messenger’ and this happens to be reserved for the prophets, among whom Muhammad. For good reason Qur’an dedicates an entire chapter to Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Trouw just about doesn’t proclaim ‘Ali ra to be Islam’s real prophet, which is something Shiites happen to proclaim neither, for those among us who happen to not know. We may even conclude from the article that there wasn’t at all a prophet of Islam. Shortly, what is it that Trouw really wants to say?:)
This cat among the pigeons is a bit weird too, in my opinion. As if Muslims didn’t know yet that the word khalifa, caliph, figures in their Book and if they didn’t know that indeed it means ‘leader’. Shiites indeed believe that Allah wouldn’t leave man without guidance after the Prophet’s death. Leadership in the sense of approved and inspired leaders by Allah swt Himself. By the way: ahadith recorded by Sahih Buchari, which are important to Sunnis too, confirm this issue:
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, “Allah never sends a prophet or gives the Caliphate to a Caliph but that he (the prophet or the Caliph) has two groups of advisors: A group advising him to do good and exhorts him to do it, and the other group advising him to do evil and exhorts him to do it. But the protected person (against such evil advisors) is the one protected by Allah.’ ”
Volume 9, Book 89, Number 329:
Narrated Jabir bin Samura:
I heard the Prophet saying, “There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world).” He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, “All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish.”
The fact that Qur’an gives no definite answer, is not surprising either. Later leaders after the Prophets have a lower status than the Prophets. Their names aren’t mentioned. This is why the majority of Muslims, nowadays, criticize the efforts to re-instate the four schools, maddhahib, of Sunni law in their former high status. Their wisdom may very well be followed. However, since they aren't seen as infallible, following a maddhab and pledging it an oath of allegiance, can never be imposed on us. Only those leaders explicitly mentioned in Qur'an and ahadith as infallible, can be seen as integral part of Islamic teachings. Secondly, the majority of Muslims criticize the Shiite practice to proclaim the traditions transmitted from ‘Ali ra and the ten Imams into compulsory religious ahadith. The sayings and practices of these people have, to my best knowledge, been recorded and are teached by the Shiites. Large part of Sunni criticism focuses on this special status of the Imams.
Sunni main criticism, however, deals with the misunderstandings concerning ‘Ali’s caliphate. Shiites are not justified, when they suppose that  ‘Ali ra doesn't receive enough honorable credit in Sunni Islam. ‘Ali was made caliph and belongs to the four righteous caliphs. So he does receive great honor. Secondly, just before his passing away, the Prophet appointed not ‘Ali but Abu Bakr to lead to people in prayer:
Narrated Anas:
The Prophet did not come out for three days. The people stood for the prayer and Abu Bakr went ahead to lead the prayer. (In the meantime) the Prophet caught hold of the curtain and lifted it. When the face of the Prophet appeared we had never seen a scene more pleasing than the face of the Prophet as it appeared then. The Prophet beckoned to Abu Bakr to lead the people in the prayer and then let the curtain fall. We did not see him (again) till he died.
Apparently, someone other than ‘Ali was allowed to lead the faithful. Neither had the Prophet saws appointed a successor or caliph, also according ‘Ali’s own words:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Abbas:
Ali bin Abu Talib came out of the house of Allah’s Apostle during his fatal illness. The people asked, “O Abu Hasan (i.e. Ali)! How is the health of Allah’s Apostle this morning?” ‘Ali replied, “He has recovered with the Grace of Allah.” ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib held him by the hand and said to him, “In three days you, by Allah, will be ruled (by somebody else ), And by Allah, I feel that Allah’s Apostle will die from this ailment of his, for I know how the faces of the offspring of ‘Abdul Muttalib look at the time of their death. So let us go to Allah’s Apostle and ask him who will take over the Caliphate. If it is given to us we will know as to it, and if it is given to somebody else, we will inform him so that he may tell the new ruler to take care of us.” ‘Ali said, “By Allah, if we asked Allah’s Apostle for it (i.e. the Caliphate) and he denied it us, the people will never give it to us after that. And by Allah, I will not ask Allah’s Apostle for it.”
Shiites themselves, however, see this differently. They say, that the Prophet saws did introduce his son in law ‘Ali as the people’s future leader during his farewell sermon after his last pilgrimage to Mecca. Who likes to know more of it, should visit search engines and follow the name Ghadir Khumm… that should give you quite some hours of reading material.
Patricia Crone and others seem to ignore, that Sunni development took another path after ‘Ali’s death than Shiite. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs named themselves 'caliph', but Sunnis themselves don’t recognize them as righteous caliphs. ‘Ali was their last one, and he died less than thirty years after his father in law. ‘Ali was to Shiites, however, the first of eleven righteous, infallible caliphs, who swiftly succeeded each other. Already early in their history, the eleventh caliphate was over. The twelfth caliph, whom they await now, disappeared as a child in 941 AD and will return some day in the future. However, their caliphate era had, indeed, ended then. This is how caliphate ended.
Whoever likes to read more of Trouw’s unrealistic, unproven, and therefore unfounded views on the birth of Islam, and masters Dutch, should look under the head De Verdieping.(Indepth)
Trouw sees itself as quite the scholar now, but with what evidence--especially when we check Shiite statements, where `Ali and his sons were not seen as prophets:
Imam Hussayn
The Imam was one of Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) much beloved grandsons. As soon as he heard of his grandson’s birth, he ran to Fatima’s (ra) house and shouted immediately: ‘bring me my son!’ Asma came with Imam Hussein to the Prophet, he kissed him, covered him with a white cloth and read adhan into his right ear and iqama into the left. The Prophet was full of joy, but also full of sadness. He knew what was to happen to this Holy Imam in Karbala and could not hold his tears. Imam Hussein holds an important position in Islam that only few, the Imams, could achieve. Imam Hussein was brought into mubahala by the Prophet. Mubahala is the state where a person has a strong conviction and believe it to be true, but cannot persuade others. They then pray to Allah to curse the one who lies, or holds the wrong view. On this occasion the country’s best people are chosen to perform this Mubahala. Those who like to read more in Dutch, can find more with Ahlubait Jongeren, or in English, with Al-Islam.org.
It is fascinating and entertaining to philosophize on how Islam might alternatively had developed, however, we are still bound to existing historic records. It concerns onetime events and they can only be proved by witness. The arrival of Islam under Prophet Muhammad saws has extensively been recorded by many speaking and writing witnesses. And many of the Prophet’s, and his near companions’, personal belongings have been carefully conserved. It is hard fighting such large legacy. Christian and Jewish efforts to do so, cannot be seen as highly professional or scientific. It is allowed of course, however, they are stuck in the level of childish and hobbyist efforts leading to nothing tangible.
Sources:
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje
Al-Islam.org http://www.al-islam.org
Ahlalbait Jongeren Organisatie http://www.ahlalbait.nl

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Those who question the authenticity of the Islamic heritage: Christoph Luxenberg & Eildert Mulder

shahada-fout-uitgelegd

Safeguarding Islamic cultural heritage was considered a sign of ‘shirk’ by some; worship of objects is indeed prohibited in Islam. However, cultural heritage is also testimony and proof of Islamic history, and nowadays it seems necessary to safeguard items of which the historic value is undisputed. In recent days, non-Muslim scholars question the truth of Islam and its history. Professor of Arabic language and religious history Karl Heinz Ohlig, University of Saarbrücken in Germany, thinks that Prophet Muhammad pbuh never existed, and that the Qur’an al Kerim was copied from an existing Bible, written in Aramaic. He has no solid proof for this claim. However, Christians seem to follow his line of thinking, not hindered by the lack of any proof.
Aramaic is an ancient Semitic language, it’s writing was, as Hebrew and Arabic, developed from Phoenician script. The language has existed, even today, in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Irak and, until circa 200 AD, also in the northern Arabian Peninsula (the Kingdom of Petra). From then, the language was used among Jewish writers in Irak and in small local communities in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. In these countries, several villages  exist where Aramaic is still spoken. As far as Aramaic is still in use, its importance has been limited to that of a local tongue spoken among the elderly, and to Jewish religious circles as a written language. As we know, small local languages as Frisian and Basque, are struggling to survive all over the world. In its peak days, Aramaic was the official language of the Babylonian Empire. The language was used in the Torah also--however, mainly before Christianity. Much is known of Aramaic history, many documents are still there to witness to it. As long as no real archeological findings of even older Qur’anic copies in Aramaic have been found, it is not necessary to assume there are any. No doubt Arabic is interlarded with Aramaic words and expressions, because the Aramaic language area borders to Arabic spoken lands. Thus, also Dutch has many German, French, English, Italian expressions and a grammatical relatedness exists between these Indo-European languages. That does not automatically make Qur’an a newer and revisited translation of an older Aramaic version. (For now) no proof to this exists. In 2007, I wrote a few articles for online Dutch language news site Nieuwsfeit.nl on a few Christian exclamations on Islam. Here follows a translation of the first one:
Tsunami of westerner’s right-mindedness floods the history of the development of Islamic Scriptures
We Muslims are wrong to believe in an Arabic Qur’an, because German linguist Christoph Luxenberg says that Qur’an was written in Aramaic. Can we compare this tale with a record played backwards?
Turning records backwards meant something to a minority of Dutch Christians in the seventies, last century; they claimed to hear Satan’s voice, especially when turning backwards stout rock music. A record cannot be turned backwards, a phonograph was not made for that… national scorn for these Christians. It strongly seems that this Mr Luxenberg deserves the same treatment from the ummah, considering his stiff tenacity in favor of his hypothesis that Qur’an was written in Aramaic and all we have to do is wait for this ‘pre-Qur’an’ in Aramaic. Dutch newspaper Trouw devoted an article well worth reading on Luxenberg: ‘Like a detective searching for Pre-Koran’.
Trouw is wise enough to acknowledge that, without truly finding this pre-qur’an, any scientific evidence for the theory is missing for now and states that Luxenberg even found an ‘error in writing’ in his Aramaic Pre-Qur’an. Nevertheless, the article in Trouw is tough reading stuff, because they try to give Qur’anic exegesis with their own confusing twist. Qur’anic texts are present on tile works in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, among which verse 72:19&20. This text narrates, according any other Qur’an-commentator of Muhammad pbuh, however Mr Luxenberg says, according to Trouw, that it might very refer to Jesus: ‘… when the Devotee of Allah stood up to invoke Him, they fell on their knees for him and worshipped him, almost as if he were a god’ at which he said ‘I do no more than invoke My Lord and I join not with Him any’. The word in question, Devotee, `abd in Arabic, is written in Arabic from the root AynBeDel. Aramaic also possesses the letter Ayn, however, its is written in almost the same fashion as the letter Lam. Then the Arabic copyist might accidentally have written EBD and not LBD. What should this imply, according to Trouw and Christoph Luxenberg? Al Ben D’Allah, God’s son? This is not possible, because the Arabic Ayn doesn’t resemble a Lam (L) at all. What’s more, the Nun (N) is missing and Del (D) doesn’t belong there. Any other Qur’an, even those of Christian translators, doesn't speak of ‘they fell on their knees for him’, but ‘they (the people) pushed forward into a big crowd around him’. Trouw calls this translation, without any clarification, ‘a dark solution’ of ‘other translator’. This all makes the Trouw article quite unreadable. Whoever knows Arabic, may find out what was meant. Trouw elaborates on the word ‘push forward’, in Arabic libada. It isn’t written with an Ayn, the well-known Semitic guttural resembling a deep aa-sound, but with a common vowel a. Luxenberg says it means that in truth the text says ‘ibada and not libada, which means ‘treat like a god’, ‘serve God’ and such. Nevertheless, ‘abdallah may still refer to no one else than Prophet Muhammad pbuh. The people worship God’s devotee, not Allah’s son. Is this good enough for our new Qur’an-virtuosi? Translators in the West came to oracle-resembling exegeses, however, doesn’t Qur’an-exegesis by westerners become any less than a match of who places the best accusation, especially in view of Christian newspapers pontificating with their incomprehensible mumbles. A childish pissing contest, in other words. The question rises, whether the man who shares my name, understands what Luxenberg tries to say.
Christoph Luxenberg worked as follows: he thinks that Qur’an was written in Aramaic, a language which, apart from the written language, shares many same words with Arabic, however, their meaning differs in both languages: So-called false friends. This way the word ‘bellen’ means ‘to bark’ in German and ‘to tinkle’ or ‘to sound a bell’ in Dutch, which is linguistically related. This is how Luxenberg reads Qur’an and thinks that the Arabic word for ‘virgin’ should have been ‘grape’, as that same word has this meaning in Aramaic. Luxenberg focused his view often on the Jerusalem Dome of the Rock, which, in his opinion, was Islam’s first monument. The Qur’anic texts written on the walls in- and outdoors, are really Aramaic texts in his opinion. Here he finds companions: Israeli archeologists Judith Koren and Yehuda Nevo. They think, that the word ‘Islam’ in the Dome really means ‘unity’ or ‘union’. The word ‘din’ means ‘religion’ in modern Arabic, but, according to this thinking, it should mean ‘the correct procedure’. A text on one of the walls meaning in Arabic ‘Muhammad is God’s Servant and His Messenger’. The religion with God is Islam’. What might that imply, according to these hyper-renewing scientists? ‘The praised one is God’s Servant and His Messenger. The correct procedure is unity’. Islamically speaking, a translation into Aramaic meanings might be just acceptable. However, how it then continues towards Christianity, as if it ‘truly’ were an Aramaic-Christian texts, needs hard evidence. And there isn’t any. Eildert Mulder palavers a little further on how the construction year of the Dome of the Rock, that is 72 Anno Hijrah, which is mentioned in one of the wall carvings too, corresponds so nicely with the 72 virgins in Paradise, Jesus’ 72 disciples and Zaratustra’s 72 students. Further, Mulder thinks that the texts on the building’s indoor walls ‘narrate extensively of Jesus’. Jesus’ name is mentioned indeed. This view is supported by Luxenberg thesis that the name Muhammad, mentioned everywhere in- and outside the Dome of the Rock, means ‘the praised one’ as an adjective only. And Luxenberg would try to prove now, that all those places where the Prophet pbuh is addressed directly, as the person spoken to, in reality refers to a Christian monk, but might also refer to Jesus. In his eyes, there is enough reason, therefore, to reduce Muhammad to an anonymous ‘you-figure’. He also thinks that--in this he might be true--that each ‘community member’ might feel addressed when the Qur’anic text uses the word ‘you’.
It is a pleasant pastime, when a certain Mr Luxenberg, some fourty years ago, tried to read and interpret Qur’an in Aramaic. However, it is slightly alarming, when Christians now try to take over his, for sure unproven, views as ‘scientific Qur’an exegesis’. The fear arises, that where Christians were scorned for their silly fluff twenty years ago, they now might gain a cheering mob behind them, if Muslims don’t keep their finger on the pulse of each and every publication. Might Christian radicals be in for a re-conquest of the building they name the Temple?
Sources:
http://www.nieuwsfeit.nl (Article apparently gone now)
Trouw 5 May 2006
Trouw 26 April 2006 (Article apparently gone now)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How Some in the West try to lash back: the Prophet Muhammad never existed: Eildert Mulder, John Wansbrough, Yehuda Nevo, Judith Koren, Abu Zeid

de-quran-blijft-altijd

Columnist Eildert Mulder wrote 12 April 2006 in Dutch on (and off-)line Christian newspaper Trouw that Prophet Muhammad pbuh never existed, according ‘dissident Islam experts’. Any solid evidence for this claim is missing, however. These claims are real old news, but annoyingly enough this newspaper, which is widely read in the Netherlands, tried to revitalise their own urban legend to this effect. Their columnist Eildert Mulder, no relative, said, that 'Muhammad' was an honorary title for Jesus, and not a name. He also said, that the prophet Muhammad hadn't existed. Here follows a translation from Dutch of my own responsive article in online newspaper Nieuwsfeit, 2006:
Friend and foe of Islam agree on one thing: That Islam existed in the seventh century AD and that the religion had as good as reached its final shape. Opinions differ, says Mulder, on the period in between: seventh until ninth century. German author Christoph Luxenberg, who is often quoted in Trouw, also in other articles, would have said that Qur’an has ’emerged’ from a ‘lengthy’ process, at least a century would have lapsed between the ‘Meccan’ and ‘Medina’ era. This same Eildert Mulder says, however, two weeks later, on 5 May, that this Mr Luxenberg has claimed that Qur’an al Kerim has been copied from a ‘pre-Qur’an’ in Aramaic and that therefore ‘many Aramaic words’ appear. And on 26 April he said that Qur’an ‘according to Luxenberg’ must have emerged in the fifth century AD. No evidence of these ‘pre-qur’ans’ has been presented. It sounds contradictory at first sight, as Aramaic is an ancient Semitic  language which lived and lives in the northern Arabic countries, being Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and also in Irak. The language has existed thousands of years and in its glory days it was court language of the Babylonian Empire and lost its importance after 200 AD. Luxenberg, however, appears to have kindred spirits who try to elaborate on the Aramaic story line. The American author John Wansbrough says that Qur’an al Kerim is an adapted scripture of a Jewish-Christian sect and that Muhammad is a fabricated figure and according to this mr Wansborough, too, Qur’an would have emerged in a centuries long process. Egyptian professor Abu Zeid, teaching in a Netherlands university, is said to be among his followers, according Wikipedia. If such is the case, this kind of opinions will gain unassailable status among the Dutch. However, the words by a refugee from a country with questionable governance need not necessarily be true. Nevertheless: on first hearing one might think: plausible, if it weren’t that quite a lot of Qur’anic contend differs from Biblical text and this alone makes such statement hard to believe.
Mulder shows his true colors when we see the evidence he produces for his theory. What is it that he says? ‘Luxenberg and Wansbrough are supported by archeology. Israeli archeologists Yehuda Nevo and Judith Koren investigated religious writings on buildings. It appears that more than a century after Muhammad died, according to biographers, that the official inscriptions are clearly Islamic ones. The writing of ordinary people in caves follow this development some forty years later.’ We call such writings graffiti. These two published their conclusions in the book ‘Crossroads to Islam’. What must those inscriptions prove? For a starter, that Muhammad hasn’t existed. The Caliphs, however, have existed and fabricated a carefully orchestrated publicity campaign where the name ‘Muhammad’ was introduced. A lengthy text in Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock was its first proof, say Nevo and Koren; at that time the slogan ‘Praiseworthy is God’s Messenger’ was introduced. Trouw readers are familiar with the paper’s view that the name Muhammad is not the Prophet’s own first name, but an honorary title meaning ‘praiseworthy’. Mulder goes a step further by adding, not hindered by any academic standards such as proof, that the rest of the text in the Dome ‘further writes about Jesus only’. We may wonder why. Based on other articles from his hand, this seems unlikely. Nevo and Koren, too, call this inscription in the Dome of the Rock a ‘good summary of Jewish-Christian religion’. As long as we confine ourselves to these generals, nothing can be said to discredit that, Qur’an itself confirms that ‘this Scripture was brought as a confirmation of the previous one’. Open door kicked open, but no proof of Muhammad’s non-existence. Nevo and Koren said further that the East-Roman empire gladly and voluntarily surrendered its possessions in the Middle East to the Arabs, which enabled them to build the Dome of the Rock. It wasn’t until later that the Arabs were expelled by the East-Roman Empire towards Syria, whence they could pass on their Bible knowledge to the Arabs.
The truth, however, is that not one single archeological finding, nor any literature from that era, is able to prove a fabricated marketing tool in the sense of a ‘product Prophet Muhammad’. This much Trouw cannot but, and does, admit. More so: the found cave writings and paintings seem to confirm that an Islamic presence has been present in the Negev Desert just after the Prophet’s death. As ahadith already state, when they narrate the conquests made under the four righteous Caliphs.
Eildert Mulder's article appeared in Dutch newspaper Trouw, on 12 April 2006. Apparently, it's
 not available anymore. However, Mulder has written a book on the subject, called 'De omstreden bronnen van de Islam', 'The questionable sources of Islam', may be available at GoodReads.com.

Professor Abu Zeid is deceased now.

Stuff like this, inspired me to start a blog on Islam, a few years ago. It disappoints me, why westerners have such hard time reading the Qur'an's contents objectively, without cultural and local coloring, and without competitive edge. I've read several westerners claiming, that Islam is a rewrite of the Bible or of Persian and Greek philosophy. They think, that Qur'an is no renewal at all. I've tried to compare Qur'anic texts with other ancient texts; a lengthy task, that is by no means finished yet. It may take me several more years of interesting read, of which the outcome isn't pre-set.

Source:
http://www.Trouw.nl 2006
http://hajarmulder.wordpress.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Intimate Relationships with Muslim People




This isn't the easiest topic to deal with, because it meets controversy. But when we dare to honestly look at it, more is possible than meets the (traditional) eye. It's helpful to ask yourself these questions: Where do I place myself, on the large field of spirituality, religions and philosophic ideas? And where precisely on this field does the mate of my choice stand? What does the law say? If indeed we look honestly, we can reach only one conclusion: Only myself and my partner can answer these first two questions. An imam, religious leader, family member, or friend can't answer this, they can only help in general, but usually not on the specifics. Personally, I regret, that orthodoxy in Islam still tries to prevent free partner choice, because it isn't as necessary as some people think. And it's a lot simpler than that it's being made to look like. When it comes to selecting a partner, these are the very first basics, that all Muslim people must consider, according to the Qur'an:
O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you. Give unto orphans their wealth. Exchange not the good for the bad (in your management thereof) nor absorb their wealth into your own wealth. Lo! that would be a great sin.  And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice. 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). Give not unto the foolish (what is in) your (keeping of their) wealth, which Allah hath given you to maintain; but feed and clothe them from it, and speak kindly unto them. Prove orphans till they reach the marriageable age; then, if ye find them of sound judgment, deliver over unto them their fortune; and devour it not by squandering and in haste lest they should grow up Whoso (of the guardians) is rich, let him abstain generously (from taking of the property of orphans); and whoso is poor let him take thereof in reason (for his guardianship). And when ye deliver up their fortune unto orphans, have (the transaction) witnessed in their presence. Allah sufficeth as a Reckoner.
Qur'an 4:1-6

Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. Qur'an 2:62

Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise.
Qur'an 2:221

He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. Qur'an 3:2

O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if ye have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if ye are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end. Qur'an 4:59

This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. 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. Whoso denieth the faith, his work is vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter. Qur'an 5:5

The adulterer shall not marry save an adulteress or an idolatress, and the adulteress none shall marry save an adulterer or an idolater. All that is forbidden unto believers. Qur'an 24:3

And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our Allah and your Allah is One, and unto Him we surrender.  In like manner We have revealed unto thee the Scripture, and those unto whom We gave the Scripture aforetime will believe therein; and of these (also) there are some who believe therein. And none deny Our revelations save the disbelievers. Qur'an 29:46,47

And there are hadiths saying that a woman can't marry without consent of a male relative. This has led to controversy, as Qur'anic verses 2:230, 2:232, 33:50, and 60:8-10 clearly state that women can marry irrespective of male consent, even more so but not exclusively if they have been married before. The Hanafy School of Law, therefore, gives sane, adult women the possibility to marry without male consent, though sometimes not in case of her first marriage. Countries and scholars differ in their approach, however, most Islamic countries allow women to seek a marriage guardian outside their family, should they otherwise be stopped from a suitable marriage for no good reason. And mostly, marriage without wali approval is allowed for widowed and divorced women. There's a lot of information online on this topic, showing that in some countries fathers are even allowed to marry off their virgin daughters without the daughter's consent. Truth is also, that women themselves can propose to a man, and nothing indicates, that it isn't allowed in Islam. The Prophet himself received wedding proposals:


Volume 7, Book 62, Number 24:

Narrated Sahl bin Sad As-Sa'idi:

A woman came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have come to give you myself in marriage (without Mahr)." Allah's Apostle looked at her. He looked at her carefully and fixed his glance on her and then lowered his head. When the lady saw that he did not say anything, she sat down. A man from his companions got up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! If you are not in need of her, then marry her to me." The Prophet said, "Have you got anything to offer?" The man said, "No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet said (to him), "Go to your family and see if you have something." The man went and returned, saying, "No, by Allah, I have not found anything." Allah's Apostle said, "(Go again) and look for something, even if it is an iron ring." He went again and returned, saying, "No, by Allah, O Allah's Apostle! I could not find even an iron ring, but this is my Izar (waist sheet)." He had no rida. He added, "I give half of it to her." Allah's Apostle said, "What will she do with your Izar? If you wear it, she will be naked, and if she wears it, you will be naked." So that man sat down for a long while and then got up (to depart). When Allah's Apostle saw him going, he ordered that he be called back. When he came, the Prophet said, "How much of the Quran do you know?" He said, "I know such Sura and such Sura," counting them. The Prophet said, "Do you know them by heart?" He replied, "Yes." The Prophet said, "Go, I marry her to you for that much of the Quran which you have."

The Scripture, also called the Book, is traditionally seen as the monotheistic trilogy of Torah (Tawrah), Bible (Ingil), and Qur'an. The Qur'an doesn't exclude, nor does it by name include, scriptures of other creeds. That doesn't mean, that those have no chance to be recognized as genuine religious works, revealed by God. We simply don't know. As we see, the Qur'anic texts don't always specify which religious scripture is meant in a verse. Anyway, traditional scholars have always said, that Islamic men can marry Islamic, Jewish, and Christian women, and that Islamic women can marry Islamic men only. Marriage with a polytheist, staunch atheist, or a known sex offender or adulterer, is forbidden to all Islamic people. Hadiths exclude such marriages and other important ties from inheritance:

Volume 8, Book 80, Number 756:

Narrated Usama bin Zaid: the Prophet said, "A Muslim cannot be the heir of a disbeliever, nor can a disbeliever be the heir of a Muslim."


Truth is, however, that there is a large gray area here of in-betweens, that traditionalists close their eyes to. Truth is also, that there are three authorities Muslim people have deal with: Traditional scriptures and fatawat; the law of the country or countries they are bound by; and, most of all, their own conscience. Only you can decide, if the man you desire to marry, thinks and lives by the same religious standard as you do. And: if you are not strictly religious, then why marry a religiously strict man? You may make each other's life hell. A father or an uncle can't decide of foresee that for you. However, they have an advantage over female relatives, because they may know the candidate from social life among men. This is one of the reasons, why male guardians have been considered important for especially young women.

Qur'anic verses 2:62 and 5:69 expand the category of 'believers' to those who believe. No more and no less. Without specification of scriptures, scholars, or other religious traditions that 'believers' may adhere to. That can be understood very widely. Clearly, a staunch Muslim would encounter many challenges with an orthodox Jew or puritan Protestant. However, very similar challenges may arise between a Muslim traditionalist and a modernist, liberal Muslim. Therefore, why not look further, and if you're a liberal, modernist Muslim (m/f), why not also include believers outside Islam in your search for the perfect partner? A reason to include them lies in modern times and legislation in many countries that liberated women from male authority, where in the past, religious laws that gave men authority, made part of the country's law. This is the case in the West mainly. In the past, a Muslim woman would give up too much of her own freedom, if she would marry a Christian man. Therefore, that wasn't a wise thing to do, and the ulema have tried to protect us from such choice. Nowadays, we can afford to look at both the Qur'an and the country's law, notice that it allows men and women equal rights, and as Muslim women, consider men who believe in God but don't belong to the Islamic umma. Why don't people grant each other freedom, when the Qur'an and today's law do so. To illustrate the point, look at these Biblical verses:

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
Genesis, Chapter 3:14-17 This is the most classical story of man listening to his wife's undisciplined speech, leading to the original sin. Man from then on had to rule over woman, in all matters.

The Biblical Book of Numbers, Chapter 27, explains how women were excluded from inheritance, unless there was no son. This rule doesn't exist in Islam, as shown in Qur'anic verses above.

And the same Biblical Book of Numbers, Chapter 30, explains that women are not bound by their promises, unless their father or their husband allows them to make such, or stays silent. Another rule that doesn't exist in Islam and that made it for Islamic women possible to do business, acquire property, or work.

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1 Corinthians 14:34,35

The Islamic woman, however, is allowed to speak and teach. Everywhere. The only exception is, that she can't lead men in prayer.

 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

These Biblical verses didn't lead to a happy, content, and workable society. That's why they're gone now. Not from the Bible, but from everyday life.

Also here, it's easy to turn this into a battle between the scriptures. There's no need to change other nations--a thought that should set free. It's best to stick to Qur'anic verses 2:62, 5:69 and 4:59: Allow believers more freedom outside tradition, and stick to the law of the country. How hard can it be, after all.

Sources:
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje
Marrying without a Wali http://mathabah.logicsoft.ca/20120809733/hanafi-marriage-nikaah/marrying-without-a-wali-guardian-hanafi.htmlThe Official King James Bible Online http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Male & Female and what Islam says about it's existence



If ever a topic in Islam gets people's attention, it's this: The relation between men and women. At some moment, it's unavoidable. But where to start... and where to finish. It's tempting to enter worn out, overly treaded routes, too, and resort too much to other commentators, which is not always helpful in today's much changing world. It's best to start with the most obvious topics,

How, firstly, are we described in the Qur'an, as men and women?


'O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you'. Qur'an 4:1

'O mankind! if ye are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, that We may make (it) clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward We bring you forth as infants, then (give you growth) that ye attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dieth (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that, after knowledge, he knoweth naught. And thou (Muhammad) seest the earth barren, but when We send down water thereon, it doth thrill and swell and put forth every lovely kind (of growth).' Qur'an 22:5

Lo! men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty), and men who remember Allah much and women who remember - Allah hath prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward. Qur'an 33:35

'He created you from one being, then from that (being) He made its mate; and He hath provided for you of cattle eight kinds. He created you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, in a threefold gloom. Such is Allah, your Lord. His is the Sovereignty. There is no Allah save Him. How then are ye turned away?' Qur'an 39:6

'And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect.' Qur'an 51:49

'Was he not a drop of fluid which gushed forth?

Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned

And made of him a pair, the male and female.' Qur'an 75:37-39

These verses could describe the very first human beings. They also describe us as individuals, who receive in the human growing process qualities that make us man or woman, and ready to be the partner of another woman or man. Many commentators, among who Harun Yahya and Maurice Bucaille, wrote extensive works emphasizing how these verses comply with today's scientific knowledge about the human pregnancy and procreation. The verses themselves, however, give little detail and no hierarchy between men and women. The Qur'an does mention the first humans, too:

'And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth, they said: Wilt thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee? He said: Surely I know that which ye know not. And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful. They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise. He said: O Adam! Inform them of their names, and when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the secret of the heavens and the earth? And I know that which ye disclose and which ye hide. And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis (Lucifer, Satan). He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever. And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely (of the fruits) thereof where ye will; but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers. 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. Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the relenting, the Merciful 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. But they who disbelieve, and deny Our revelations, such are rightful Peoples of the Fire. They will abide therein.' Qur'an 2:30-39

What do these verses tell us? Firstly, Qur'an mentions in several verses the polarity in nature, 'everything was created in pairs'. Some of these verses deal with gender--not only in humanity--and some deal with other kinds of polarity in nature. Secondly, man and woman were created equally, without hierarchy, and each person is personally responsible for his, or her, relationship with Allah, God. And Adam, most likely, was the first human and scholars also see him as the first prophet. Several Qur'anic verses refer to mankind as 'Adam's Children', too:

'O Children of Adam! We have revealed unto you raiment to conceal your shame, and splendid vesture, but the raiment of restraint from evil, that is best. This is of the revelations of Allah, that they may remember. O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your (first) parents to go forth from the Garden and tore off from them their robe (of innocence) that he might manifest their shame to them. Lo! he seeth you, he and his tribe, from whence ye see him not. Lo! We have made the devils protecting friends for those who believe not. Qur'an 7:30,31.

True, hadiths mention creation of woman from 'a rib'. Nothing of its provenance is said. It could be anything; the X-chromosome, or even a metaphore:


Volume 7, Book 62, Number 114:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (trouble) his neighbor. And I advise you to take care of the women, for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of the women."


If you're a non-Muslim and would like to know more about Islam, it's helpful to also read the scriptures of your own creed--if you have one. If you live in a predominantly Christian environment, you may compare these Qur'anic verses with applicable Biblical verses. (There's nothing wrong in doing this anyway, considering the similarities between both, and their intertwined history.) Bible Book Genesis, Chapter 2 and 3 describes the creation of man and woman, and their expulsion from the garden. The first man was created first from the soil. He was allowed to live in the garden of Eden. Then the animals were created to help and accompany him. Adam was the one to give the species their names. Finally, for the same purpose, the first woman was created from the man's rib. Chapter 3 describes how the woman was seduced to eat from the tree, which led to the downfall of humanity from the garden. Their life would from now on consist of hard work, worry, and man would rule over woman.

Now you may say 'what does it matter' what those books say. I think it matters, even if only indirectly. The image men and women have of their own status in the bigger picture, has been determined by religious scriptures. These have had their impact on legislation, and on general ideas of male and female capabilities and roles. The Bible primarily blames woman for the original sin, and her entire posterity will be tainted ever since, especially her female posterity. Islam doesn't share this thought. It's true, that we don't know which is right. This may be a reason to avoid the temptation to turn this into a contest. All we can say here is, that Islam gives no details about the creation of man and woman. And Islam does give details about human pregnancy and growth that fairly well approach real life. Islam has an advantage here. Let's at least admit that much.

The reason I took up writing these articles, is my hope to show where Islam reaches out to people of all creeds. People travel more today, the world has become a global village. Many people, me included, have friends and family members with different religions. Islam deserves to be seen as s free, happy religion that promotes love. Especially gender is a topic that left too many people in a situation of limitation, where it isn't needed. I'm convinced of that. Read the scriptures, think about them. It gave me new perspectives on this topic.

Sources: 
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje  
The Official King James Bible Online http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/