Salam,

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him [Deut.18:18 NIV].

A considerate look at the overall context of this ‘prophecy’ reveals the erroneousness of both Muslims and Christians in their respective propositions. Muslims in general point to the prophetic mission of Muhammad[p] as the ideal referent, while, most Christians have always associated it with and viewed Christ[p] as fulfillment of yet another Old Testament prophecy.

In negation of my previous view, which was admittedly borne out of Muslim favoritism, I now suggest this passage concerns not a certain individual with particularity. Its immediate context, starting from v.9, points to the office of prophethood in general. Israel is admonished against turning to diviners and wizards who indulge abominable practices for supernatural commune and future foretelling [vv.9-14], hence receive assurance, out of personal request, of a continuous chain of prophets who, like Moses[p], would communicate unto them divine directives [v.15ff]. If the promise were pertaining a particular individual, the overall context would seem incoherent. The use of singular pronouns are actually collective singulars as in Isaian Servant songs [cf. v.22], and Deut.34:10 need not be seen as any hindrance either, since it magnifies Moses’[p] un-parallel dignity and status among Israelite prophets, whereas our passage merely concerns prophetic function [Ex.19:16-19].

Most crucially, this ‘prophecy’ could not be concerning Christ[p] since the very idea of a savior messiah was not yet formulated, coming to fore during the post-exile period. Jesus[p] himself never cited it in self-designation, remarkable considering Jesus[p] feels at home using, of frequency, his other messianic titles. Jn.1:45, 6:14, Act.3:22, 7:37 are confronted by Jn.1:19-21 and 7:40-41, and may well be described as devout zealousness. Neither does the Quran make any claim thereto, despite stressing the Prophet[p] being mentioned by name in the Bible. Q.73:15-17 merely stresses similar outcome of Meccan disbelievers as that of Pharaoh’s legions afore. Deut.17:15, which arguably shows the passage concerns Israelites alone, is enough in miscarrying the Muslim misconception.

Moreover, this ‘prophecy’ is no prophecy, rather, annunciation of God’s future scheme regarding the station of prophethood within Israel in compliance with her wish [Ex.20:18-21]. It is well-known that before Moses[p], prophets were appointed few and far between. The declaration concerns commencement of an un-broken succession of prophets among Israelites after Moses[p] [Q.2:87]. Hence, no particular individual is alluded here. The best inference one could achieve is an implicit one; that, since prophethood is the subject-matter and Jesus[p] is one of, if not the greatest, prophet in Israelite religious history, he more than anyone is here referenced. Yet any such deduction is naturally secondary and un-told in the text’s primary intent.

Regards.

Sawm

Posted: July 10, 2013 in Islam
Tags: , , ,

“Fasting (sawm) is the third pillar of Islam. Right from dawn till dusk, a man who is strictly on a fast will neither eat so much as one morsel of food nor drink so much as one drop of water. By submitting to this discipline, that is, by depriving himself of the prime  necessities of life, he learns the valuable lesson of fortitude. With no food and drink, he naturally feels hungry and thirsty, and his strength begins to ebb. The entire routine of his life is severely disturbed and his whole system is upset. But, out of a high sense of discipline, he braves all these difficulties and discomforts, and, remaining alert and never losing heart, he steadfastly discharges his duties. Food and drink may be temptingly placed before him, but, despite an overwhelming urge to have both, he will not even touch them. In this way, he prepares himself for a well-regulated and responsible life, doing only what is his duty and refraining from pernicious acts and  habits. He is thus strengthened to continue with his mission in life, no matter how he may be beset by adversity.

God has endowed man with innumerable gifts, but, all too often, he takes them for granted without any feelings of gratitude. Countless benefits like the air, the sun, the water, have been showered upon man, the absence of anyone of which would cast his delicately balanced system into a living hell. But because he has received these things without any effort on his part, he sets no great value upon them, and hardly ever stops to ponder upon how they came to be his.

It is only when fasting temporarily curbs the satisfying of his desires that his consciousness of the value of these divine gifts is awakened. When, at sunset, after a whole day’s hunger, thirst and the accompanying  discomfort and fatigue, a man begins to eat and drink, he becomes fully aware of his utter dependence on God’s bounty. He is then filled with gratitude towards God and the realization comes to him that, even were he to lay down his life for this Bountiful Creator, the price he should have to pay would not be too high.

The life of believer in this world is one of fortitude and forbearance, limited as it is to the enjoyment of whatever is allowed by God and avoidance of whatever is forbidden by Him. It will naturally be beset by all the difficulties encountered in the path of righteousness and truth, and the believer must staunchly face up to them. Much of his time must be given to such activity, and no precious moment can be wasted in stooping to revenge himself upon adversaries who have made him object of their spite and malice. On the contrary, the slights and injuries of this world should leave him undaunted; he should be able simply to take such untoward incidents in his stride so that he may continue unflinchingly to discharge his duties. Whenever his pride has been hurt, or whenever some unpleasantness has left him in a state of agitation, he must guard against adopting a negative attitude – for this is sheer weakness! – and must continue to devote his energies in a positive manner to worthy objectives. Nothing, in fact, should stop him, or even slow him down in his progress towards the Hereafter.

All of this demands enormous fortitude, and, without it, no one can travel along the path of Islam. The annual month-long period of fasting builds up the strength of character which is essential, if devout Muslims are to tread the path of righteousness for the rest of  the year, avoiding impatience, cruelty and all such evil acts, and making no attempt to meddle with divine commandments. While in its outward form, fasting means abstinence from food and drink for a given period, in essence, it is training for a whole life of self-denial, inculcating patience, fortitude and forbearance”

[Wahiduddin Khan, Islam, the Voice of Human Nature, pp.68-71].

Sog

Christians regard the ‘Son of God’ phrase used by Jesus[p] as a personal pronoun in the New Testament (four Gospels) as self-consciousness of deity on Jesus’[p] part, whereas, Muslims have contrastingly seen the term carrying no more significance than mere expression of servitude, righteousness, and God-affiliation. At our previous attempt of expounding ‘What Son of God Really Means…’, we presented that very custom Muslim stance, but have since discovered that sonship in Bibliology means more, a lot more, hence this work, which might be read as emendation of our previous views. Herein, we’ve alluded the origin, nature, and history of the phrase in a simple and concise way, yet evoke Scripture familiarity and background knowledge about the contention. All in all, this presents Christians a new but quite inherent way of interpreting the term, placing the Son of God in his ‘proper’ religious and historic context.

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An Islamized exposition of the Transfiguration narrative.

transfiguration

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Muslims in general hold wishing “Merry Christmas” abominable since it ‘implies’ attesting God’s incarnation in Christ[p] on the 25th of December. However, in my personal opinion, this implication is implied not inherent. “Merry Christmas” only pertains to greeting Christians on the occasion of festivity upon their designated date for the birth of Christ[p]. As such, Christmas compliments are equivalent to any Eid greeting and therefore not detestable.

Is it adviseable to offer respects and hold non-Muslims in regard? I believe so. Most significant part of being Muslim is to be at peace with God, and one cannot be at peace with God so long as he is not peaceful and concerned toward others, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. God does not discriminate as to who be recipient of divine favor – whoever does good shall reap its reward – Muslims are likewise required to spread peace and guidance to all yearners regardless of their prior commitments.

Moreover, greetings bring people closer and how are we to invite and aware Christians to the Islamic Christ[p] if we distance ourselves from them? Wishes are also a way of expressing one’s concern for the other, and often bring opportunity for dialogue and da‘wah. Who knows a Christians, if Allaah wills, may well end up receiving guidance as a result?

In general, Christians to their credit find no hindrance in wishing us “Eid Mubaarak” even though it could mean to imply validity of prophet Muhammad’s[p] prophet-hood, Muslims are obliged by the Qur’an to give back something in a more handsome gesture [4:86].

Worship is a reality, not just an outward form. What is true worship? It is an attachment to one object above all else.  It presupposes such overwhelming preoccupation with that one object that everything else is reduced to insignificance. Claims to spiritual allegiance are of no value if one’s chosen object of worship is other than spiritual.

When one considers a person worthy of being bowed down to, one is actually worshipping that person. When one attaches so much importance to some worldly gain that one tends to overlook all other considerations in order to achieve it, one is actually worshipping that gain. When one associates all one’s hopes and ambitions with wealth, one is worshipping wealth.

In like manner, one is worshipping custom when one places it above all other demands. One is worshipping one’s own self when, overwhelmed by selfishness and antipathy, one blindly seeks revenge. One is worshipping the standard of living when one is so obsessed with the idea of improving it that one devotes one’s entire time and earnings to that end. One is worshipping fame if one is so greedy for rank and prestige that one will do anything to raise one’s status in life. One should never forget that man is being tried in this world to determine whether he is willing to devote himself entirely to God to the exclusion of all else, and to give proof of whether he dedicates himself to God, revering Him, depending upon him and serving Him as he should.

When a Muslim wakens early in the morning, he thanks God for putting him to sleep and awakening him. After his ablutions, he leaves for the mosque in order to join his brethren in attesting to God’s divinity and his own willingness to serve Him. He then ascertains what his Lord expects of him by reading an excerpt from the Qur’an. Then he starts the day’s work.  There  are three prayer times during the day: afternoon, late afternoon and evening. By leaving his work and standing his Lord at these times, he shows that he gives precedence to God above all else in life.

While satisfying his hunger and thirst, every fibre of his being gives thanks to God. “Lord,” he exclaims, “I am wonder-struck at the water you have created for me to quench my thirst with, and the food you have provided for the satisfaction of my hunger!” When  success  comes his way, he  considers it be a gift from God and offers thanks for it. He considers failure to be the result of his own errors, so he seeks to make amends. When dealing with others, he is conscious of God’s presence, which makes him aware of the fact that one day he will be held to account for his actions. When night falls, and he is free of all commitments, he once again washes and, after offering the night prayer, goes to bed. As he drops off to sleep, this prayer is on his lips: “Lord, my life and death are in Your hands. Forgive me and have mercy on me.” It is evident then that a Muslim does not organize his life-pattern independently. When he arranges his life, it is with God clearly before him.

Wahiduddin Khan, Introducing Islam.

A look at some Christian heresies adopted by Sufis.

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