"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Thoughts on Reading the Quran - Suras 1-3

I starting reading A Christian Guide to the Qur'an recently. It seeks to draw bridges between Muslims and Christians by showing similarities between the two texts. Well, it also shows differences, but not in an extreme, look-at-how-awful-this-is way. (We all know those exist. And this is not one of those.) It seeks more to show commonalities from what I've read so far. Anyway, as I read the first chapter, I thought perhaps this would be an excellent time to actually read a translation of the Quran for myself so I found one online by Yusuf Ali.

I had no plans to post much about my reading this, but when I mentioned I was reading a translation of the Quran someone said perhaps I would post about it. So I decided to share a few things that caught my attention. I'm trying not to further showcase the troubling issues such as a man having permission to hit his wife. Lightly or not, toothpick-size object aside, the principle of the thing angers me so I am choosing to gloss over those verses. There is enough about them on the internet and most people who know me on the blogs, fully realize I don't care a bit for polygyny, treating women as children in need of male guardians and any other topic about women being inferior or deficient. So, this will be more about other things that made me take notice for one reason or another.

Right off the bat, I want to admit that I am probably not reading in context as I am merely reading straight through. I'm not using commentary except for what little I ask my friends with Islamic backgrounds. These are just observations from an American Christian who is reading an English translation of the Quran for the first time. With that out of the way, here are a few notes I made from the first three suras. (I've read six, but will do the others in another post.)

Sura 1 - Al-Fatiha -- Lovely prayer for God to guide us to the straight path. I would like to say that we should all be open to this "straight way" not being how we grew up or how our mommas and daddies believed, but whatever GOD says is the right way -- Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Universalism, Christianity, whatever.

Sura 2 - Al Baqara -- I saw baptism (138) and the holy spirit (253) mentioned in this sura and asked a friend about them to see what the Islamic views of these very Christians terms were.

I was told baptism here was a mistranslation for an Arabic word meaning the color or mark of God.

138. (Our religion is) the Baptism of Allah. And who can baptize better than Allah. And it is He Whom we worship.

and the holy spirit referred to the archangel Gabriel.

87. We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?- Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay!

I have heard Muslims say that God wouldn't let Jesus be crucified because it was humiliating for one of God's prophets to be killed. It would show God is weak somehow. But it seems from this verse that apostles were rather routinely killed for their messages. However, I realize Muslims say Jesus wasn't crucified based on another verse which I read in another sura.

Sura 3 - Al 'Imran -- I read this verse:

3. It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).


and noted that in my opinion Islam took more of the Law as its "guide to mankind" than the Gospel of Jesus. Not that the Law is bad - it gives great moral rules about honoring our parents and not committing adultery and killing, stealing and lying. However, Jesus' teachings and summarization of the Law -- loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and loving our neighbors as ourselves -- seem much better than the Law's eye-for-an-eye mentality. I like the hard teachings of loving our enemies and overcoming evil with good, not revenge. The world's had enough of that and it hasn't gotten us anywhere...except in greater conflict, it seems. :-/



26.
Say: "O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.


There is such a strong predestination flavor to Islam that I read verses such as this one and wonder why Muslims today mourn about their lots in life. Do verses such as these teach that God is in charge of whether or not Netanyahu or Obama or Mubarak or Assad are leaders in their respective lands -- some of which are Muslim-majority countries and some of which (*ahem* USA) affect Muslim-majority countries. I guess I have a hard time wondering what is Allah's will for Muslims (and the rest of us) to suffer through and what He wants us to fight to overcome. Does He want us to overthrow our leaders who are against our "godly" principles? Or does He put us in countries and under leaders and set things in motion for a purpose -- and He wants us to ask for His strength, grace and peace in those trying times in order to grow our character and learn to rely more on Him?

55. Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.

This verse just made me smile. At times I think Jesus is quite well thought of in the Quran. :) Although he is soon "brought down to size" such as this:


59. The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was.

The Bible also compares Jesus and Adam, but in a very different way. Notice this from Romans 5 (CEV):

12Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die. 13Sin was in the world before the Law came. But no record of sin was kept, because there was no Law. 14Yet death still had power over all who lived from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. This happened, though not everyone disobeyed a direct command from God, as Adam did.

In some ways Adam is like Christ who came later. 15But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam's sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God's gift of kindness to many people.

16There is a lot of difference between Adam's sin and God's gift. That one sin led to punishment. But God's gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. 17Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings.

18Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. 19Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God.

20The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God's kindness was even more powerful. 21Sin ruled by means of death. But God's kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life.


I'll continue with suras 4-6 in another post. Your thoughts on my thoughts?

88 comments:

sanil said...

I may do the same thing this summer. :) At the least, I will probably start reading it if not posting. I've had a copy for a couple years and not found the time or motivation to read it, but now I'm inspired since I won't be the only one reading it and I can get someone else's thoughts. Also, I'm taking a class called The Bible and The Qur'an in the fall, so it can be like a head start!

I love your comments on Al Fatiha, I agree.

Interesting notes on how the holy spirit is seen, I wonder if that was just your friend's interpretation, or the interpretation of one group but not all Muslims, or if it really is the interpretation. It seems like a bit of a stretch to jump to Gabriel, unless that connection is made in another verse or something, which I wouldn't know.

Note on 3:59. (I do not know how to cite the Qur'an. But you get the idea, if that's wrong.) Do you know how that's interpreted in Islam? To me it doesn't sound like it's bringing Jesus down to size, it's raising him up. Especially since it comes as part of a section talking about his importance. It seemed to me to talk of Jesus as a special creation. It isn't like other humans where the process is set, we're all born because that's how the world works, and we live our ordinary lives. Jesus' birth was like Adam's, planned, unique, and miraculous.

But I have no idea what a Muslim would say to that, and maybe I'm reading it way wrong. I dunno.

Great post!

Sarah said...

Very interesting!

I have never heard of the holy spirit being the angel Gabriel. How can Jesus be strengthened by the angel Gabriel? I personally think that expression "holy spirit" came from Christianity.

"There is such a strong predestination flavor to Islam that I read verses such as this one and wonder why Muslims today mourn about their lots in life."

I never thought about that, but it's a really good point. You don't hear that verse being used much in the context of today's politics.

Re the comparison between Jesus and Adam, someone said to me that neither had a human father, and that might be the link.

Wafa' said...

when i read the Bible, i read it for knowledge not comparison. ( i don't mean you read the quran to compare in anyway dear) I found it interesting and found many similarities and differences with the Quran and Islam in general.

I love the idea that you are reading the Quran, not for anything but because i truly believe that this a way to understand and respect other religions and their followers.

As for what you said about verse 1- al Faitha- i agree completely it's one of the most beautiful verses and it has complete obedience to God, it's what most people want. Do you know Susanne that this verse is read in every prayer the Muslims pray, that's 17 times a day ? .

And yes, the holy spirit is what the Muslims know as the archangel Gabriel.

As for why didn't Allah let Jesus be crucified, it's not true that it's humiliating to God that one of his prophets is being killed or shown God's weakness. Because other prophet's has been killed. I have not actually read ever an explanation of why didn't Allah let Jesus be crucified.Only that he was the only prophet that has not died and that he will come back again . So this might be the reason, his coming back.

I know that the Quran sounds harsh sometimes and unexplained but a good way to understand it is to read the saying of the prophet Muhammad along with it or after it. There you can find great explaining to things you didn't get or understand the why's or the what's. and there are books for the whole sayings of the prophet but you have to find good ones cuz some are simple lies. The Quran is the most important book but the saying of the prophet goes side by side with it.

I have many questions about things in the quran and i look for the right answers on daily basis. cuz as you said i found it harsh for the beating of women-e.g. and you will find other troubling things too along the way. And even if belief means you accpet totally and don't question, i can not and that's why i just don't follow some. Maybe i am not a good Muslim
but Allah gives me the right to question and ask and look and i am entitled to my rights :)

Suroor said...

Very interesting! Thank you for posting this Susanne!

A few notes:

1) Try to find Mohammad Asad's translation. I wrote this note recently on the different english translations ( http://iqrabismirabik.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/a-short-note-on-the-english-translations-of-the-quran/). Yusuf Ali's translation has excellent footnotes but it is quite subjective. He hated the Jews (and also Christians) so you will read him saying things like "Guide us to the Straight Path. The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace , not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians)."

Such stuff doesn't exist in the original text in Arabic (which is why it *is* important to knwo Arabic; when some people argue that, I agree). This is why he has wrongly translated "sibghatullah" as baptism.

2) Rooh Al Quds (Rooh - spirit, Quds - holy) seems like a borrowing from the Gospel. Muslims believe that it could be anything:

*the most popular one is that it refers to archangel Gabriel. Gabriel is called by that name in places.

* Some say it refers to the Gospel.

* the spirit of Jesus

* Others think it is the greatest name of God.

* some say that "rooh-al-quds" is a leader of angels but not Gabriel.

3) Jesus is much loved and revered in the Quran. He is actually never "cut down to size." The idea seems to reflect the beliefs of the Ebionites that he was an amazing human being - different from everyone - but that doesn't mean you start worshiping him. He is often compared with Adam to show that both were born without a father and if no one worshiped Adam, why should Jesus be seen as divine? God was merely repeating the miracle he started with Adam. Actually Quran puts Jesus on a pedestal - he is called sinless, faultless, the Word of God, his Spirit etc. The fact that Muslims feel horrified by the thought that anyone could have had the strength to humiliate Jesus through crucifixion speaks tons about how much Jesus is revered in Islam.

To Christians this reverence seems like humiliation because the concept denies that he was humiliated, tortured and killed. However, today there are Muslims who don't talk much about Jesus because they feel angry with Christians for worshiping him. Too bad.

4)Yes, the overload of predestination in Islam baffles me :)

Really enjoyed this post, Susanne!

Thank you.

Suroor said...

BTW, I don't know if you noticed it from the translations but the word used in Arabic (adrubhunna) for wife-beating is an imperative - not a right, not a choice, but a command. Not many notice that. It was my Quran teacher who first pointed out that it was the duty of a good Muslim husband to beat his errant wife.

Sarira said...

Hey Susanne,

What an interesting interesting idea! I think that's awesome :D :) I skimmed this post to be honest cause it is almost midnight for me now, and I'll hopefully be back tomorrow morning with more detailed answers (and coherent answers, LOL), but for now, I just had to comment on "Jesus".

I have never understood why some muslims said God would not let Jesus be crucified because it would be humiliating. As you said yourself, we have many verses in the Qur'an that indicate that prophets were murdered- Jesus's cousin, Yayha (Jon), was murdered and we all know this.

Does that mean I think he was crucified? No. I don't. God chose not to let Jesus be crucified. We believe that He did not need a son to ‘die’ or be crucified in order for Allah to give mankind salvation. Instead, just as Allah can do everything He wants, He can forgive all that He wants. No sin is greater than Him; He is in fact, the Most Forgiving, the One who loves to Forgive and Blot out Sins (Al Afuw), the most Merciful and Compassionate.

We do not in fact believe in Original Sin. Adam and Eve erred but their burden is not to be shouldered by mankind. (BTW, we believe they equally erred- it was not Eve's fault, alone).To each person is their own sin, you get what I am saying?

As for 'sizing Jesus' down, here's the way I look at it. I can not believe in Islam unless I believe that Jesus truly was a Prophet, that he recieved Divine Inspiration. Even if I believe in Mohammed (pbuh), if I do not believe in Jesus, I am not a Muslim. Do you see what a great importance he does have in our religion? We do not 'exceed' in our love for him- we do not believe that he was God' son (we believe God is One and that he did not beget nor was he begotten) but we do not deny Jesus' miraculous birth, and the miracles he was capable of performing- including raising the dead, speaking as an infant, making a living bird out of clay, etc.

IF Jesus was God's son...in fact, we have written in the Qur'an:

Say, [O Muhammad], “If the Most Merciful had a son, then I would be the first of [his] worshippers.” [ Zukhruf:81]

BUT

“Say, He (Allah) is One, the Eternal Refuge, He did not beget nor was He begotten, and there is none like him”. (The Sincerity: Chapter 112)


OH and one last thing- are you sure you copied the verse number right for 'the baptism" verse? Because I 'have never read the baptism' translation and as a person who speaks Arabic, I have no idea how that was translated. I (I also have/had 30 pages memorized of Chapter 2, so I'm really confused with what verse this is referring to.I even went and checked it out but didn't find it? Try using www.tanzil.info :D It's got many different translations on the side..you can compare the different ones :D)

I'll be back tomorrow, as I said, God willing :)

But Susanne, try 'listening' as well to the Qur'an being recited. The element of the sound/rhythm is completely lost in the translation :( Hey, maybe I'll put up some recitations tomorrow in my blog :) (Wow, you really do inspire me :D)

alright, gotta sleep before my eyes pop out :P

Sarira

Sarah said...

Suroor, I don't think it's Yusuf Ali that adds the Jews and Christians bit in brackets in the Fatiha. As your blog post actually says, it's the one by Al-Hilali and Khan. I have one here and it comes from the King Fahd Complex, Madinah, KSA. It is distributed free in mosques on Saudi oil money, worryingly. :S But I heard Yusuf Ali's was actually quite good.

I can second the Muhammad Asad recommendation although with all the commentary it took me months to read! Both him and Yusuf Ali have used ye olde English which I dislike. For a plain modern English translation Tarif Khalidi gets a good write-up.

kat said...

I agree with this comment
"2) Rooh Al Quds (Rooh - spirit, Quds - holy) seems like a borrowing from the Gospel. Muslims believe that it could be anything:

*the most popular one is that it refers to archangel Gabriel. Gabriel is called by that name in places.

* Some say it refers to the Gospel.

* the spirit of Jesus

* Others think it is the greatest name of God.

* some say that "rooh-al-quds" is a leader of angels but not Gabriel."

I am a Muslim but I had an opportunity to talk with a Jewish person. Ruach Ha Kodesh is the Hebrew word for Holy Spirit and in Judaism it refers to the "force/spirit of Prophecy/Prophethood" and I think that would work well with the Quran......

Also ---crucifixion---Deuteronomy(?) has some verses about how Jews should kill false prophets---that they would know a false prophet-----etc. Had the Jews actually managed to kill Prophet Jesus(pbuh) it would have just proven that he was a False Prophet. The Quran shows he was not a false Prophet as the Jews claimed.

By the way, Muslims understand Prophet Adam(pbuh) to also be a Prophet---so that is another similarity with Prophet Jesus(pbuh)

Suroor said...

"Both him and Yusuf Ali have used ye olde English which I dislike."

@Sarah, Haha. I don't know why I found that so funny.

Actually Yusuf Ali's recent edition is a lot more neutral, but the earlier edition which the Saudis liked were awful towards Jews and Christians which is something Hilal/Khan copied! Why add words that don't exist?! After the Palestine/Israel conflict many editions were diluted so as not to sound provoking. It was after 1980s that Yusuf Ali's translations seem better and more tolerant.

Asad is wonderful because he refers to the Judeo-Christian Texts but he doesn't believe in miracles so he explains all the miracles differently from others. I don't believe in miracles either so he suits me fine :P

Sarah said...

Suroor - so Yusuf Ali started it then with the Jews and Christians thing? I didn't know that!

Yes, it's very dangerous adding these provocative phrases. As if there isn't already enough in there to provoke people as it is.

Sarira said...

Hey Susanne,

I’m back!

I see you’ve already posted your other thoughts on Surahs 4-6 and I’m still here replying to this one, hehe! I have to warn you. You brought up some really GREAT points and I wanted to address each one—so basically, I’m going to be spamming your comment section, LOL.

Anyways, in the middle of the night (a little after I fell asleep, hehe), I remembered one of my friends (I met her like 2 or 3 years ago on a forum) had written her thoughts actually about the Gospel! I thought you might be interested in reading it as you do your comparative study- she only wrote a ‘draft’ and never ended up writing her detailed thoughts but I thought it might still be interesting to you (like your thoughts of the Qur’an are interesting to me :D)
http://www.muslimasoasis.com/2010/02/my-thoughts-on-the-gospels/

Anyways, about which translation to read. I see my fellow Muslims are not really in agreement, hehe. If you want a very simple translation, check out Sahih International on the website I put above (www.tanzil.info). Today, being more awake I checked through each of the translations and did find the translation ‘baptism’ in Yusuf Ali’s as you had said- but I found it strange that he chose to call it that. The word is actually ‘sibgha’, sibgh comes from ‘dye’ and ‘color/mark’, as you said. So if you look through the other translations you will find that many say ‘hue/color/indelible mark/etc.)

As for the “ruh” confusion, I wasn’t aware (LOL) that there was a disagreement among Muslims on the matter. Anyways, I do follow that it was the archangel Gabriel. We have other verses which refer to “Al Ruh” that have nothing to do with Jesus.

For example:

The Ruh [Trustworthy Spirit (Gabriel)] has brought it down (193) Upon your heart, [O Muhammad] - that you may be of the warners - (194) (Chapter 26)

Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree. (1) And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? (2) The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. (3) The angels and the Ruh [Spirit] descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.

The question you may have is ‘how did Gabriel help Jesus’? We believe that Gabriel, the archangel was entrusted with delivering the word of God to each of the Messengers. All of them. Gabriel was the one who sent down the revelation. Since Jesus also came with a Book, as we believe, then Gabriel had to ‘strengthen him’ in that sense. Just as he strengthened Prophet Mohammed.

(18) [That] indeed, the Qur'an is a word [conveyed by] a noble messenger (Gabriel) (19) [Who is] possessed of power and with the Owner of the Throne, secure [in position], (20) Obeyed there [in the heavens] and trustworthy. (21) And your companion is not [at all] mad. (22) And he has already seen Gabriel in the clear horizon.


(Part 2 is coming up :)

Sarira said...

As for this “Loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and loving our neighbors as ourselves “- this is beautiful. You know, the Law of Islam can also be summarized in one line. It is known as “Ihsan”.

What does it mean? Literally ‘ihsan’ means to seek perfection, to do goodness. Technically or Islamically: "It is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for even if you cannot see Him, He is seeing you. That is, Ihsan is to know that God is with you when you are talking to your mother, when you are doing your business transactions, when you’re with your neighbors, whatever you’re doing. He is there, watching you. This brings us closer to Him and His love and it also keeps us in check.

We also have this other single Prophetic tradition: None of you are believers until you love for your brother what you love for yourself. (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Also, regarding neighbors and with also the idea of eye to eye, let me share this story with you.
It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had a non-Muslim neighbor who used to harm him and insult him at every encounter. Some days elapsed without the man ‘abusing’ the Prophet. Thinking that there must be some reason behind the man’s absence, he (peace and blessings be upon him) paid him a visit and found him sick. The man wondered how the Prophet could meet his bad treatment with such great behavior. The Prophet explained to us the significant status of neighbors and he showed us, in action, how to repay ‘bad behavior’ with good behavior.

(Neighbors have such a high status in Islam but since this comment is getting pretty long, let me just say: "By Allah, his faith is incomplete; by Allah, he is not a perfect Muslim; by Allah, he does not believe." He was asked: "O! Messenger of Allah, who is he"" He said: "One whose neighbor is not immune against his mischief." (Bukhari)

As for verse 3 that you mentioned from surat Al Imran, let me put some others verse from that same surah that shows what we believe about ‘the eye to eye mentality”:
And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous (133) Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people - and Allah loves the doers of good; (134) And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins - and who can forgive sins except Allah? - and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. (135) Those - their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.

Therefore, we believe that forgiveness and paradise is given to those who control their anger and pardon others. We also believe in ‘repelling evil with what is better’.

41:34 "Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with that is better: Then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate!

28:54 "Twice will they be given their reward, for that they have persevered, that they avert evil with good, and that they spend (in charity) out of what We have given them."

Allah (swt) also says in 42:40 "The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation , his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) Loves not those who do wrong."

So yes, we do have that it is alright to ‘recompense’ an injury for an injury, but what is better, is to forgive and pardon.

in the following comment, I'll give you another verse and the background behind it that also tells us to ‘forgive’.

Sarira said...

“And let not the ones endowed with the Grace (of Allah) and affluence swear off bringing (charity) to near of kin (Literally: endowed with kinship) and the indigent and to the ones emigrating in the way of Allah; and let them be clement and let them pardon. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful” (22)

At the time of this verse revealed, a big problem had occurred known as the “Ifk incident” , in which certain people decided to spread awful rumors about Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, daughter of Abu Bakr (the Greatest Companion of the Prophet). One of the persons who slandered Aisha was actually one of Abu Bakr’s relatives, Mistah Ibn-Uthatha (Radiya Allah Anhuma), whom Abu Bakr in fact, used to give charity to! After the incident occurred and Allah cleared Aisha’s name, Abu Bakr took the decision to no longer give Mistah charity - a decision any one of us might have taken. Yet, Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala, revealed this verse showing us what He thought of Abu Bar’s decision.

Thereofre, God told Abu Bakr, the Greatest Companion (the one where we have Prophetic traditions saying that if his faith were to be put on a scale and the entire Islamic nation’s faith to be put on a scale, his would be heavier )to forgive/pardon/do what is better and continue to give charity….We all know that none of us could compare to Abu Bakr’s toe nail and if he were told to do that, we should do that.

In fact, in the good old days, when we followed Islam properly, we applied this even to war. Check this famous saying out:

After Sultan al-Kamil defeated the Franks during the Crusades, Oliverus Scholasticus praised the Islamic laws of war, commenting on how al-Kamil supplied the defeated Frankish army with food:

"Who could doubt that such goodness, friendship and charity come from God? Men whose parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, had died in agony at our hands, whose lands we took, whom we drove naked from their homes, revived us with their own food when we were dying of hunger and showered us with kindness even when we were in their power.”

(more coming up :P)

Sarira said...

So then, why do we say that an injury can be repaid for an injury? This is because in Islam, we have two very important and critical notions of Islam.

The first is that of justice. Justice is extremely important in Islam. Islam recognizes that a society cannot prevail without justice. That is why the Qur’an commands that we are just, even if we have to stand against our own families or ourselves. The second important concept of Islam is that of choice and responsibility. As I said before does not believe in original sin; instead, we have the exact opposite. in Islam, we believe that every person is born pure and free of sin. Every person is born on the ‘fitra’, an innate disposition that guides him/her to the right way to God. And yet, every person has also been given ‘free will’; this means that we have the ability to live our lives as we wish whether according to our fitra or against it, but we must abide by the consequences of our choices. We alone are responsible for our actions and decisions.

Therefore, if a person chooses to ‘forgo’ God’s laws and kills a person on purpose- then the ‘eye’ to ‘eye’ mentality or ‘qisas’ is applied. This is because this person has put the entire society at jeopardy; it is also a way for the victim’s family to feel that justice has been carried out. But do we have to kill that murderer? From what I know, the injured person in his turn may forgo his right to retribution by forgiving, or may agree to accept a monetary or token recompense instead.

It’s sorta like how many states do apply the death penalty: to punish the murderer, let the victim’s family get some rest and peace, and to act as a deterrent to crime, protecting society at large.

BUT, in normal day to day relations, as I mentioned before, we are told to ‘repel evil with that which is better’, forgive, pardon, etc.

As for the ‘pre-destination’ point, let me just put two verses (and these will hopefully also explain why we are mourning our lot in life) :

Indeed, Allah (God) will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (13: 11)
That is because Allah would not change a favor which He had bestowed upon a people until they change what is within themselves. And indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing (8:53)

See, that’s why we mourn where we are today, because we realize that change will not happen by itself. We mourn the fact that many of our leaders do NOT follow Islamic teachings, that corruption is rampant in many countries, etc.
You see, at one point in time, we were truly players on the global stage and political arena. We were researchers, inventors, philosophers, etc. Have you heard of the Islamic Golden Age? This doesn’t talk much about it but it does list 10 inventions Muslims made that shaped the modern world. Check out this link:
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/01/29/muslim.inventions/index.html?hpt=C2

That’s what we’re so angry and frustrated with. These days, we’re just ‘followers’, not ‘leaders’, you know what I mean?

However, in Islam, we do believe that we should ask Allah for His strength. We believe that we should pray for our leaders, not to curse them, and that we should ask God to guide them to His way, etc. However, does that mean that we just sit down and leave it all up to God? We believe that we should ‘tell them the truth’

The Prophet said “The greatest jihad is to speak a word of truth in the face of a tyrant”. So we are to say the truth, but we are not to revolt against them.

For me, I know that I am not the best Muslim out there and that all I need to do is focus on being a better person- if each of us were to do that, then change would occur :D

Susanne said...

Sanil, I bet your class "The Bible and The Qur'an" will be interesting! You'll have to post about that if you find some good things to discuss.

"Jesus' birth was like Adam's, planned, unique, and miraculous."

That's a great point! I'm really glad you shared that. I suppose I was thinking of it from a different angle so thanks for what you said. :)

I appreciate your comment and am eager to read your own posts on this topic if/when you decide to start reading the Quran, too. :)

Susanne said...

Sarah, oh, thank you, too, for the Jesus/Adam link you shared. Mostly I was going off my personal impressions and asked no one about these chapters. Just very few things I asked about. I didn't really want to read a lot of commentaries and such - at least not yet. I just wanted to mostly read through the Quran and see what impressions I got FROM IT. Not from all the hadiths and scholarly opinions. (Although I love my blogging friends' opinions!) That's why I put the disclaimer in my post about this being an American Christian's perspective...blah, blah, blah. :)

Thanks for your great comment! I always like hearing your perspective. :)

Susanne said...

Wafa', I'm so glad to read your comments! I agree that it's OK to question things and, in fact, I believe that is wise for ALLLLL of us! (see my 2nd post on the Quran because I pretty much said this, too!)

I'm not trying to necessarily compare the Quran and Bible though there are obvious things that have stood out that I've drawn comparisons to. I guess it's just part of me to compare the two since I'm very familiar with one and not familiar with the other. And since the two differ, I have to choose which is God's truth - if either. When both are claimed by its followers as the "right book" (so to speak) yet they disagree, I must try to understand why the difference and find out if I can reconcile the two. I hope you understand.

I'm truly trying to do it in a nice way though. I pray that I can be considerate even if I sometimes sound challenging. I just think things of eternal importance need to be challenged whether it's the Bible, the Quran, whatever. When our eternal fates are in the hands of "books" and what they teach us to do or how they teach us to please God, we need to be sure!

It's great that that prayer (Al Fatiha) is said 17 times a day. I hope everyone is open to God leading them to truth whether that is found in Islam or animist or Pagan beliefs. :)

Thanks much for your thoughtful comment. I really enjoyed what you had to say. :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, I should have asked you about a good translation before I started reading. I don't know why Yusuf Ali stood out to me as someone good to read. I must have seen his name somewhere. So far, it's not so bad. I know there are some favorable things in the Quran towards Jews and Christians as well as some unfavorable things. I've seen both already in the first 6 suras and I'm prepared for the contradicting views. They don't really bother me. I hope not to make a huge issue out of them. They -hopefully- will fall into that category of hitting your wife and polygyny that I'm choosing to gloss over. :)

Thanks for the additional information on what the "holy spirit" could be. I just found it a bit eye-opening to see the very term we often use in Christianity. Of course for us, the Holy Spirit is "holy" because it's the Spirit of God.

"The fact that Muslims feel horrified by the thought that anyone could have had the strength to humiliate Jesus through crucifixion speaks tons about how much Jesus is revered in Islam."

Aw, I've never thought of it that way...hmmm. That's really touching.

And I didn't realize our thoughts on Jesus is why they refused to discuss him. Hmmmm... but it's hard to deny one of the most basic things in our faith. In fact Jesus' death and resurrection is what gives power to our faith. Without it, why have our faith? Besides the fact that Jesus' teachings are nice. *sigh* Anyway.

Your mentioning Jesus on a pedestal in the Quran reminded me of something I read about two years ago in a magazine. It was actually for a healthy eating magazine, but a Christian-based organization ran it. They ran Letters to the Editor and one of them caught my attention in a huge way. The lady said she previously wanted to cancel her (free) subscription to this publication because it was Christian based and she had converted to Islam. But then she said "even the Quran couldn't stop praising Jesus" so she started following him again and left Islam. I'd forgotten about that until you wrote what you did.

I appreciate your thorough answers to many things in this post. I was hoping you'd chime in on this topic so I could learn from your understanding of the Quran and Islam and Muslims. Many thanks! :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, sorry I just saw this:

"It was my Quran teacher who first pointed out that it was the duty of a good Muslim husband to beat his errant wife."

A duty? :( This reminds me of a "spare the rod, spoil the child" argument in the Bible concerning disciplining children. A good parent has a duty to discipline her children so the children will - for one thing - NOT grow up to be terrors on society! I can understand this for ***children*** because kids often need instruction on what is right or wrong.

But grown women??? :( Or maybe their wives were still children thus their need for disciplining. Ugh. Either way...ugh.

As if men always obey God's commands. Uh huh...let's see HOW many of them have gone against their religious teachings and done haraam things? Especially those who've gone west and tasted a bit of freedom from cultural pressure to conform. Hmmm.

OK...this was exactly why I wasn't going to post about such issues. They just make my blood boil! Women are not children whom you can hit and discipline. :( :( :(

But thanks for pointing this out. Maybe I'll have a "Controversial Quran Topics" post sometime to vent on these issues. :-D :-D :-D

Susanne said...

Sarira, how nice that we met just in time for you to offer me your insights on this topic! :-) I really enjoyed what you had to say.

I understand why you said Jesus didn't *need* to die. According to Islamic understanding of sin and redemption this makes perfect sense. I'm glad you could relate to my confusion over the "it would be humiliating to Jesus" argument since as I pointed out, it was pretty routine for previous prophets to be killed for their messages. Including John the Baptist! :)

I agree that each of us are accountable for our own sins. Yet I believe we did inherit the tendency towards sinfuless. That's how I view original sin. Like I don't have to teach my nephew to lie or not share as that comes naturally. My mom never taught me to bite as a toddler, but I did it anyway in the church nursery. :) However, we often have to teach our children to share or to not react with biting or temper tantrums. The good doesn't tend to come as naturally as the bad...at least that's how I've experienced things here in the US. :-) Maybe it's more cultural and in other parts of the world people don't have the same struggles as I've found here. I hope that makes sense. Also quite often Adam is also held responsible for eating the fruit of the garden. In fact I was talking about this not so long ago with my Syrian friend. I showed him from Romans - actually the passage I quoted in my post - how Adam was mentioned over and over for bringing sin into the world. It seems Paul forgot to accuse Eve. ;)

Thanks for what you said about Jesus. I did find it wildly cute though that even when you wrote this sentence:

" Even if I believe in Mohammed (pbuh), if I do not believe in Jesus, I am not a Muslim."

You chose to differentiate Muhammed and Jesus by offering "pbuh" to one and not the other. ;-) That's some of what I was talking about. It may be silly to notice and mention, but FOR ME it proves that Muhammed is the most favored prophet. And, it's fine, really. I just find it cute since the Quran says no distinction yet Muslims make it even when writing a sentence.

Yes, the Quran is beautiful recited... MOST definitely. However I don't understand Arabic so as far as imparting some divine thing on me, no. It's just lyrical words that I can't understand. :( Too bad. We visited Wasim's house in Syria and he's even traveled to competitions in Sudan for Quran recitation. He recited some for us and it was extremely lovely. (See my post about our visit to his house here -- http://susanne430.blogspot.com/2009/04/damascus-wasim-sami.html) Samer has sent me recitations in the past which I listened to over and over again. He even put some on YouTube for me. They were beautiful!

Thanks for the website you recommended to do comparisons of translations. I'll have to check it out! Sorry to keep you up so late, but I'm really happy that you shared what you did in such a sweet way! Many thanks!

(By the way, I'm reading and responding as I read so I haven't yet read what you wrote this morning. Sorry if I write something you addressed later, but this is the easiest way for me to keep things straight. Off I go to read some more from you. . . :-))

Susanne said...

Sarah, I'm giggling at "used ye olde English." Too cute! Thanks for your recommendations on translations!

Kat, welcome! Thank you for the comment and for your understanding of the Holy Spirit especially since you got the Jewish perspective. I really appreciate that and appreciate your adding to the discussion!

I understand what you are saying about Jesus being killed, but I disagree that all who were killed were false prophets. I consider John the Baptist as a genuine prophet, but he was killed because someone didn't like his message! But thanks for what you shared. Perhaps you were referring to a verse in Deuteronomy 18...I'd have to check for sure.

Hope to read more from you on other posts if you have additional comments! Thank you!

Susanne said...

Suroor, the links in my post go to the Yusuf Ali translation. I wonder if it's the more neutral one. I'll have to see if I can find a date on it. Thanks for the recommendations though! Maybe I'll switch to another translation for my next reading.

Sarah, now I'm wondering how I ever thought Ali's translation was a good one to read. :-/ I agree that purposefully provoking is not a good idea *especially* in regards to what is considered the Word of God!

Amber said...

Susanne,

This'll be interesting, to say the least. :)

Okay, I *know* you said you weren't going to go into the wife beating thing, but you *did* mention it, and it reminded me of something I read a little bit ago - of course I can't remember where, so take it as you will since I can't substantiate it. Supposedly, the verb that Mohammed used in that verse is...'daraba', which connotes a 'strong blow', so the argument that it means 'lightly tap' is false.

'fully realize I don't care a bit for polygyny,'

*puts on shocked face* Really? I hadn't noticed....

'I have heard Muslims say that God wouldn't let Jesus be crucified because it was humiliating for one of God's prophets to be killed.'

One of the commentors (sorry, I forget who), mentioned that they thought Jesus wasn't really crucified because that was how the Jewish Law executed false prophets, and so if He was crucified then He would have been proven to be a false prophet. Which doesn't really work for me, even if that is true about Jewish Law, which I can't recall if it is or not. Just because a person is treated as one thing, does not automatically make it so. For instance, all the people killed as 'witches' in Salem - just because they were executed as witches doesn't mean that they *were* witches. Just that the people, mad with hysteria and some accidental drugging, thought that they were.

Anyway. I've never really understood the Muslim issue with the crucifixion. As you pointed out, the Qur'an acknowledges that prophets were killed for being prophets. And the explanations that I've heard for 'what really happened' all either make no sense, or leave me with the conclusion that God lied to humanity with what He supposedly did to spare Christ, and therefore isn't God...

Heh. The predestination that I see in Islam is actually what made me stop worrying about it when I was trying to decide between it and Christianity. I figured, if, as I understood Islam, I was destined to be a Muslim, then I would be, without any help from me. :) But then, you know I think predestination in any theology is bunk anyway...

Susanne said...

Sarira, thank your for your additional comments. It is really sweet that you took the time to address many of my issues! I'll have to check out your friends' thoughts on the Gospels - how cool!

I'm sorry you had to go searching for the translation I used and where "baptism" came from. It was right there on the link to the sura! Oh well! I'm glad you found it. As I said it caught my attention, but I asked someone who helped me realize it was a wrong translation. That's understandable. :)

Thank you for the examples you provided concerning the "Ruh" or Spirit. Why could that not be the Spirit of God? It seems the part about Gabriel was added so maybe it was just a guess? Anyway...I appreciate the verses and explanation you gave.

" It is known as “Ihsan”. "

I didn't know this term, but I totally agree with this:

"Ihsan is to know that God is with you when you are talking to your mother, when you are doing your business transactions, when you’re with your neighbors, whatever you’re doing. He is there, watching you. This brings us closer to Him and His love and it also keeps us in check."

We believe the same thing! Samer and I were talking about this just recently in regards to people we know who behave when they are in their own countries, around their families, but then go to the West and so all sorts of, er, evil things. As if God cannot see them in Germany as well as he can see them in Syria or Saudi Arabia! So those people it seems care more about what mom and dad say than God. But I agree that God sees all so no matter where we go in the world, we should seek to please HIM and do His will. Great point!

Nice story about Muhammad and his neighbor. I'm sure you are aware of the parable of the Good Samaritan and how Jesus shocked his Jewish listeners by declaring their hated Samaritan enemies were, in fact, neighbors whom they should love and serve! Hehehe... I love how Jesus did that to them. :-D Of course I find it a challenge to realize my enemies are counted as my neighbors and I am commanded to love them all. Sobering thoughts! Great story though...I'm glad you shared it here.

"So yes, we do have that it is alright to ‘recompense’ an injury for an injury, but what is better, is to forgive and pardon."

Yes, Samer had actually told me this before and I find it sweet although I wish for more forgiving and pardoning and less repaying evil for evil (revenge). :-/


To be continued ... had a brief commenting problem with Blogger.

Susanne said...

Finally! I can comment on my own blog again! :)

Sarira, great stories about Abu Bakr and also the Franks! Yes, this kind of stuff is what really shows we are children of God. "44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Jesus in Matthew 5). Thanks for sharing those!

I appreciate your explanation of being born pure, free will and justice. You are a good teacher in sharing these matters - thank you! :)

And, yes, I see your point about why you mourn how you are today. It seems the secret though is each individual doing his or her part to please God and make sure his or her own life is clean. THEN God will maybe change things for you. It reminds me of a verse from the Law that God gave to the children of Israel. I think it's applicable to all nations today that need healing.

"14 If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (II Chron. 7)

So if Muslims are people who are called by God's name or if Christians, Jews, Buddhists, whomever .. if they do as God says here then HE will heal their lands. That's a big difference than wishing your leaders were more righteous. God can raise up good leaders and tear down bad leaders and maybe He will if our ways please Him. What do you think?

"The Prophet said “The greatest jihad is to speak a word of truth in the face of a tyrant”."

I liked that! :)

Thanks again sooo much for your wonderful thoughts! I truly do appreciate ALL that you've shared. You are very kind!

Susanne said...

Amber, so glad you could join us! Interesting about that verb....hmmmm. I need to ask Samer about this since he's my native Arabic speaker. :) It's fine that you brought it up. I don't care if others do and I may at some point. I just wanted to say that I wasn't planning on making my posts solely about those things. I'm going to try to not focus on those truly troubling passages in order to find some other topics to discuss. But I'm fine with discussing them lightly. ;)

Yes, good point about the Salem witch trials. Well, I don't think all prophets put to death were false. Some people died because others couldn't handle the truth...it made them uncomfortable to say the least.

"I figured, if, as I understood Islam, I was destined to be a Muslim, then I would be, without any help from me. :) "

Ha! Yes, that's true. If I'm meant to be Muslim, God will lead me that way so I can't help with it in any way nor can I reject it in any way. If we are truly predestined that is.

I knew my stance against polygyny would come as a shock! ;)

Thank you ALL for your wonderful comments. I enjoyed them so much!

kat said...

Just wanted to make a quick clarification---
Ruh=Spirit or "God's breath" is What God blew into Prophet Adam(pbuh) to animate him.
Ruh Al-Qudus=Holy Spirit is Generally assumed by most Muslims to be used interchangeably with Angel Gabriel---and this is the most understood interpretation.

However, the Quran has many levels of meaning---and as we grow in spiritual understanding, we are able to appreaciate the deeper nuances more.

It is my opinion, that if God had wanted to specify Angel Gabriel, he would have done so---the use of a different word---Ruh al-Qudus therefore, may imply a different aspect/nuance. The Quran in Arabic is very specific and concise in its use of words.

Susanne said...

Kat, thank you for that clarification about the Arabic words. That's quite interesting what you shared about spirit vs. Holy Spirit vs. possibly Gabriel, possibly another nuance. That's neat!

Thanks much!

Sarira said...

Susanne, I’m also really glad that we met in time for me to join in the conversation (destiny, huh;)).

I truly appreciate you reading all of my comments thoroughly and responding to each and every one of them. I remember when I used to be on an inter-faith forum how people would ignore my responses and continue to repeat the same thing over and over again- it would really frustrate me. I’m so glad that you show such respect and consideration for each and every one of us commenting. Plus, I know it must have taken time- and like you noticed, I also had ‘comment’ problems on my blog.
I was planning on tackling some issues of the next surahs, but your answers to my points are so ‘good’ that I’ll stick to answering them. (By the way, I’m thinking of also starting to read the Bible- I’ve only read excerpts here and there, but I have no idea with where to begin? The Old Testament? The New Testament? ….)


Anyways, about inheriting the tendency towards sinfulness. I won’t disagree with you there. I said that we are all born pure of sin. That means Adam’s sin did not affect us and that God did not need to ‘die’, “be crucified” himself (Jesus) in order for us to be saved. We are not held accountable for Adam and Eve’s mistake. But we do believe as you said we are born with two tendencies- the tendency to do good (think of our conscience and how we morally know, without having to be taught, certain things are completely wrong/etc.) and the tendency to do ‘evil’. God created these two tendencies for us, but He only judges us on what we actually do. He doesn’t judge us (need to crucify Himself) just because we have a tendency to do bad since technically He instilled it in us. If He did judge us on the tendency He would be an unjust God, but God is Just.

(You might ask, but why did He instill it? f He had instilled in us only to be good- then there would be no purpose in life. We’d all be destined to heaven, right. But for us, we believe that heaven is promised to those who refuse to submit to their evil inclinations, and evil tendencies, etc. It is promised to those who put God above their own ‘desires’...

This is the central point of a surah known as “AsShams” or the “Sun”. Let me put it up here:
By the sun and its brightness (1) And [by] the moon when it follows it (2) And [by] the day when it displays it (3) And [by] the night when it covers it (4) And [by] the sky and He who constructed it (5) And [by] the earth and He who spread it (6) And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it (7) And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, (8) He has succeeded who purifies it, (9) And he has failed who instills it [with corruption]. (10)

What needs to be pointed out here and stressed is that these verses are referring to people who have ‘matured’ (hitting puberty, in other words). This is again, related to what I said earlier. The moment that we are born, not one of us has done bad and thus we are born free of sin. That’s why, any still born or child who passes away, immediately goes to heaven for s/he has not sinned in any way. Again, God is Just and He is Loving.

This brings me to another point-since God knows our tendencies and He created them, He does not ask ‘for perfection’ from us. That’s why to us,it didn’t matter that Adam and Eve sinned. God did not need to crucify ‘a son’ of His in order to save mankind. He created us and knows our deepest desires and thoughts. In fact, in Islam, we believe that a ‘sin’ is not bad, if we turn back to God and repent.

The Prophet said: "If you did not commit sins, Allaah would sweep you out of existence and replace you by another people who would commit sins, ask for Allaah's forgiveness and He would forgive them.

(continued)

Sarira said...

That’s great that it’s not only Eve who is blamed. I guess I was hanging around Christians who weren’t that familiar with the Bible because (I know this is weird) but I had even been told that we girls get our period because of that. They told me something about Eve having bitten the apple….Anyways, I’m really glad you’ve cleared that up for me.

AS for the Qura’n being beautiful when it is recited- Oh no! I didn’t mean that you just listen. LOL. I meant, while reading, play it in the back too (like using the website I told you about). It’s just a suggestion so it doesn’t sound ‘as dry’.. Ma’shaAllah at Wasim even going all the way to Sudan and entering Qur’an competition. I’ll check out the post, soon, God willing :)

About ‘making a distinction when I write Prophet Mohammed’s name”. I can see how that would seem like I’m contradicting the Qur’an’s statement , but what that verse says is that the believers say that we “do not make a distinction between the Prophets”. That is not our job. We don’t decide which Prophet to favor, which one to imitate how he prayed/how he talked to his wife/etc.

However, does that mean that God did not make a distinction? No, He did and He has the right to do so. HE made a distinction/favored some over others because He knows what exactly their degrees of purity.

"We (God) gave some of Our Messengers preference over others. To some of them God spoke and He raised the rank of some others…(2: 253)

Who did God speak directly to? To Moses.

Who did God give a kingdom that He gave no one else the likes of? Soloman. He even gave Soloman the ability to ‘travel using the winds’ and let him be in charge of the ‘jinns’.

Who did God give the ability to resurrect the dead? Jesus (btw, one of the reasons why writing ‘alyhee as salam’ after Jesus doesn’t come to me as naturally is because we don’t call him Jesus but Isa, so whenever I say Isa, it comes out automatically, but since in my day to day life I don't say Jesus, it's not really a habit ;)).

He granted Mohammed the favor that of all of his followers ask God to bless him and send his grace, honor and mercy upon him (while we ask God’s peace for the other Messengers.).

It’s a bit more complicated than that, though. You see, whereas He gave Jesus the ability to resurrect the dead, He ‘restores’ Mohammed’s soul to him to return our blessings to him:

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no one who sends salaams upon me, but Allaah will restore to me my soul so that I may return his salaams.”
(Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 1795)
So yeah, the Prophet answers me when I ask God to send His blessings on Him. That’s why I don’t waste an opportunity to say it in his case, but may be a bit lazy to do it with the other Prophets.

Sarira said...

I completely agree with you about the secret of how change will come. That is why I said, ‘for me, I know that I’m not a perfect Muslimah and that I need to focus on myself.

That is such a beautiful verse that you shared and it reminds me of two that we have:

And Allah had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And Allah said, "I am with you. If you establish prayer and give zakah (charity) and believe in My messengers and support them and loan Allah a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way." (5:10)

Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me…(24: 54)

Well, I think that's about all the major points covered :)

Thanks so much for giving me a chance to explain, Susanne.

Durriyyah said...

Peace and blessings,
You have a lot of comments already, so I will try to keep it brief. I read through most, but not all, the responses thus far and I see you have gotten varying responses to your questions. Just as there are all different types of humans, we will give slightly different responses or explanations.

Guidedways.com has a Qur'an search engine, and you can switch from one translation to another fairly easily. This has helped me as a non-Arabic speaker to understand words that are translated, such as baptism. Another translation uses the word "colour", for instance.

One thing about a comment you made:
"It may be silly to notice and mention, but FOR ME it proves that Muhammed is the most favored prophet." - If the actions of a Muslim are different than what is stated in the Qur'an, it does not prove that the Qur'an is incorrect. It instead shows that we are erring human beings that either forget, or could be misguided. My guess is forgetting is the culprit here. If we listen to lectures by scholars, or read literature professionally published, there will be (pbuh) or something of the like after all Prophets, including Jesus (pbuh).

I love that you listen with an open mind and open heart. That is so crucial. One thing about predestination... we still have free will, and this can not be denied. This is what makes us different than the plants and animals. Predestination however, is set in stone for things such as the day you will die and situations you may face, but how you choose to react to those situations is up to you. For instance, I met a Muslim and this caused me to read the Qur'an. I chose to become a Muslim, but this is my choice. God brought me to the choice, this is predetermined. We can not lay down and say we are not responsible then for making the decision. Does that make sense?

Ugh, this wasn't short at all. You sure are getting a lot of reading in though. :)

Suroor said...

Sarah, Arthur Arberry’s 1955 translation was the first without personal biases, and Yusuf Ali was certainly not the first translator who disliked the Jews. But I noticed that converts to Islam are more open to Jews/Christians when they translate the Quran than born Muslims from Arabic/South Asian backgrounds. That is also one reason I like Mohammad Asad better even though Salalfis got him banned in the KSA.

Sarah said...

"Salalfis got him banned in the KSA"

Haha, why am I not surprised?!
The copy I have was printed in UAE, so at least that country must be a bit more open. I think it should be the standard translation and every mosque should have them available for people to read, rather than this Al-Hilali and Khan one. (Although I think there needs to be a more compact version, maybe without the Arabic and on thinner paper. ;o) )

Susanne said...

Sarira, of course I love reading through your comments and not just dismissing them! If anyone writes in a respectful way such as you did, I will gladly read what they wrote. I know it takes time and I hate being ignored myself so I will gladly read what you write. :)

I'm presently reading through Matthew and doing a study on my blog. I've been doing it since March 1 -- that's how slow I've been going. :) I can read it much quicker, but my desire to write about it here has made me slow down and maybe look for things I would usually just read quickly and not meditate upon.

If you wanted to read the Bible, I personally like starting in the New Testament in order to read about Jesus' life and teachings, however, to fully understand things a reading of the OT is also important. Actually as I've read the Quran (only 7 suras thus far), I've noticed how many details are left out. Like it assumes you know more details already and it (Quran) just gives vague references back to the full story. Samer read the Bible through with me a year or so ago and he agreed that the Quran is much more of a summary than the Bible. So if you want more of the details of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Moses, Noah, David and so forth, you'd likely enjoy the OT. It's not whitewashed though. It's not always pretty. In fact some parts are really gory and ugly.

And you'll likely find some of the ceremonial law detail and building the tabernacle details boring to wade through. However to the Jews at that time, I suppose direct instruction from God was pretty important so . . . :) Psalms is a beautiful book with real emotions. Proverbs has many wise sayings. The Prophets are full of warnings mostly for the Israelites who were turning away from God and serving false gods and treating people poorly.

Amber, Sanil Suroor,Sarah? Do you ladies have any recommendations on where Sarira should start reading in the Bible?

I'll reply to your other comments here in a bit. I think this one is long enough. :)

Susanne said...

Sarira, I think I understand what you mean about the tendency to sin and God not judging us for that. And I do understand why Muslims believe God didn't have to die for sins. Thanks for your explanation of that and why God instilled both the tendencies toward good and evil.

"In fact, in Islam, we believe that a ‘sin’ is not bad, if we turn back to God and repent."

That's interesting! Well, I can honestly say most people don't think sin is that bad any more. Or it seems that way in my culture with how we often glorify sinfulness. But if you read the OT, you'll notice how sin is such a huge offense to God. He likens it to a stench in his nostrils. (I always think of a dead animal smell which is horrid!) So I believe sin is horrible. It's anti-God, therefore, it's terribly bad. BUT God is merciful and forgiving if we repent, He forgives and forgets and holds it against us no more. It's interesting to compare the two views!


I'm sorry you were told women get periods as part of some curse on women! As Amber would do: *head desk* -- meaning she just slammed her head against a desk at this stupidity! :-D I always found it interesting how Adam often was held more accountable than Eve. Maybe I've missed all those references to Eve. I'm not saying she was not held accountable or mentioned, but for sure Paul used Adam in Romans 5 and didn't say "Look what this woman did in bringing sin upon the whole world!" Some people are just weird. They even think sex is sinful when the Bible never ever ever portrays sex within marriage as sinful! Anyway!

Ah, I see what you mean about playing Quran in the background. Then I tend to get distracted by the hauntingly beautiful sound and can't concentrate on what I'm reading. Hehehe. Music affects me like that so I think recitations would as well. We'll see. You don't have to see the Wasim post. I just put it there in case you like to put faces with names. :)

Thank you for your explanation re: the distinctions GOD made between the prophets and why it's hard for you to remember "as" after Jesus since you call him Isa. Ha! That's cute. :)

"the Prophet answers me when I ask God to send His blessings on Him."

Hmmmmm, OK. I thought he was dead though. Maybe his soul answers you?

Thanks for the verses you shared that were similar in thought to II Chronicles 7:14. I enjoyed your explanations. Thanks much for taking time to write those!

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, welcome to the blog and thank you for your comments!

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on predestination and freewill and also your views about Muslims being faulty, but not the Quran. I agree. I understand that followers aren't always in line with what they claim to follow. Thankfully Sarira gave an explanation for the distinctions they have and she even justified it from a Quranic verse so it's all good now. :)


I enjoyed your comment. Thanks much for taking time to read and respond. I appreciate it! :)


Suroor, I looked up the translation you prefer. Maybe I'll start reading from it now. Thanks for the suggestion!

Sarah, LOL @ "(Although I think there needs to be a more compact version, maybe without the Arabic and on thinner paper. ;o) )"

Ha!

Sarira said...

Hey Susanne!

I’m back! OMG, I so did not mean “Ugh, yeah, whatever, I’ll take a look at that post later” if that’s what you thought I meant! I meant “I’ll take a look at it later cause right now I’ve got something to do but have to quickly comment on this”. I really did want to see it and I did come back just to check it out. (I commented there btw).

About reading the Bible. Yes, I’ve read a lot of the Pslams- we often had various ones of them in our literature books, so I think instead, I’d rather start from the beginning. Hopefully maybe starting in June I’ll start going through it (because my older sister is coming to visit us this week- she lives in a different country and I haven’t seen her since august 2009. I don’t think I’d be able to concentrate on reading the Bible when she’s here ;) But, I am curious though- since you referred to parts of it as ‘ugly’. Is it not considered Divine to you?

The Qur’an is in many ways a summary of the stories of the Prophets/etc, but much of the information that we get, for example about Cain and Able comes to us also from Prophet Mohamed’s saying and traditions. (The Qur’an also although ‘short’ is pact with information and visual pictures that can really only be felt in Arabic. However, if you’re ever up to it, there is a great young lecturer who is an expert on the Arabic language and I think an American citizen who goes through surah by surah explaining each actual verse, its linguistic meanings, how the Arabs at that time would have understood it, stylistics, etc. But he’s only done the smaller surahs so far….and he takes like an hour and half for each surah even though they’re like only 20 verses, max, heheh. Anyways, you can find these ‘tafsirs’ at http://bayyinah.com/media/) OH I also encourage the Muslims who read this to check it out.

So yeah, about the Prophet having passed away and his soul answering us- that’s exactly it. That’s what I meant. He is of course dead. This is the way I have always understood it.

And about SIN. OH my! I reread my comment and I can see how it sounded like I was saying “sin is fine’, ‘there’s no problem with it’ in Islam, but actually I meant “it’s fine so long as you repent”. Like a sin is not the end of the world if you repent. One of God’s attributes in Islam is that He is the One who Blots out Sins- that means, if you repent sincerely and stop doing the sin, then God erases the sin from your book of deeds, conceals it even from yourself, and never asks you about it. He is the One who loves to forgive.

It’s like this. One of the scholars once said that a ‘sin’ can actually let you enter paradise if you repent from it and if remembering it constantly makes you seek God’s forgiveness…if remembering your own sin brings you shame and humbles you before God, then it is not necessarily a bad thing. (ON the other hand, we have that if a good deed is done to ‘show off’ and be ‘arrogant’ that could lead you to hell!).
Now does that mean that we think sins are totally okay? If you’re not repenting, it’s not okay. Like you said, it’s against God. We even have this saying that goes like “Do not look at the size of the sin but look at who you have sinned against”, meaning no matter how small your sin is, you have sinned against the Almighty! So definitely, we don’t encourage people to do sins or anything, hehe.

We also have a verse in the Qur’an that tells us that we may think a sin is small and it’s really not:
When you received it with your tongues and said with your mouths that of which you had no knowledge and thought it was insignificant while it was, in the sight of Allah, tremendous. (surat Al Nur: 15) (This is referring to gossip and slandering others.)

Also, Prophet Mohammed, who didn’t ‘sin’ in the sense, used to ask God’s forgiveness every day 70 times +! So definitely sins are not to be taken lightly and I definitely agree with your ‘view’.

*continued*

Sarira said...

Unfortunately for you though, I’m still not done. As I was looking for the link you provided for me, I noticed one of the earlier comments which I can’t believe I forgot to address.

I am so shocked that Suroor’s Qu’ran teacher would say that it is a command to hit wives? This is extremely shocking to me. As we Muslims all know Prophet Mohammed was described as the walking Qur’an. We have the theoretical foundation in the Qur’an and we have its actual implementations in the Prophet. Before I continue, let’s agree that we as Muslims believe that Prophet Mohammed lived his life in the best manner and that we are to emulate his teachings and behavior.

That said, we Muslims all know that he never hit any of his wives! EVER! We also all know that Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The most perfect believer in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best toward their wives." (Al-Tirmidhi)

How could anyone who has understood this saying, think that Islam ‘commands’ hitting one’s wife?

And what about this verse: they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness…) (Al-Baqaraqh 2:228)

And this one: And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.) (Ar-Rum 30:21)

And one more verse: They are your garments and ye are their garments….) (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

Commentators on the Qur’an understand this to mean that husbands and wives are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection.

They are supposed to protect one another.

How could anyone discard all of this and simply say that ‘one has to hit their wife”?

Let’s take a specific story that occurred to the second greatest companion of the Prophet. His name was Omar bin Al Khatab and the Prophet called him “Al Farok”- or the “One Able to Differentiate Between Truth and Falsehood”. Let’s see what he thought of ‘hitting women’.

Once a man came to Omar (who at the time was the Caliph, the leader) to complain about his wife’s yelling at him. When he stood on the door, he caught Omar’s own wife raising her voice at Omar, despite Omar having the title of “Ameer Al Mu’mineen” or “The Prince of the Believers”. Hearing her voice, the man decided to leave; Omar called him back. The man told Omar that he had come to complain of the same problem that Omar himself had.

To this, Omar replied that his wife tolerated him, washed his clothes, cleaned his home, made him comfortable and took care of his children. If she did all of this for him, how could he not tolerate her when she raised her voice over him?

He didn’t say, “Look buddy, let’s do what the Qur’an commands and hit our wives. That’ll teach them”. This should be obvious proof then that is not an ‘order’/ ‘a must do thing’.

Not only that, but also during his rule, a woman publicly corrected him by reciting a verse that contradicted what he had said. Omar responded with
a smile and said: “The woman is correct and Omar is mistaken.”
(Al-Qurtubi, 99). He did not say “Where’s this woman’s husband. Let her beat her up for talking back to the leader of this nation!” He instead ‘agreed’ that he was wrong. My point- Susanne, there is no problem whatsoever in Islam, in a wife/a woman correcting a man/husband. We do not think that men are infallible!

*continued*

Sarira said...

In fact, we have a story in the Qur’an decided to a woman who went the Prophet and turned to Allah to complain of her husband’s injustice to her. Allah not only heard her calls, He even revealed verses in the Quran to respond to her.

Allah says:
[Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to Allah. And Allah (always) hears the arguments between both
sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things).] (Al-Mujadilah
58:1)

The next verses actually reveal that the husband was wrong and what he has to do to atone for the grave sin and injustice he committed!

Besides all of this, I would like to add that in Islam we have this very important hadith. “Be afraid, from the curse of the oppressed as there is no screen between
his invocation and Allah.” That means, if someone is oppressed, s/he has only to raise their hands and whatever they ask God to do for them, He will do for them/bring them victory at the expense of the oppressor. Keeping this statement in mind, how can we think that it is alright to ‘beat’ one’s wife? Beating implies oppression, doesn’t it?

That just doesn’t make any sense.

The fact of the matter is that this verse does refer to ‘lightly tap’ and it refers to not just any ‘mistake’ but to a woman who has really gone very ‘far’. How do we know that it’s about a woman who has gone ‘really far’? Because the Qur’an uses the word ‘nushoozahun’ meaning ‘rebelliousness”. (Also keep in mind that it listed two other ways to deal with it and then said it can be used as a last resort).

But when we look at the Prophet’s example, when his wife Aisha was slandered and accused to have committed adultery, we see that he did not strike or hit her at all. Rather, he simply told her, ““Thereafter, O ‘Aisha! I have been informed such and such a thing about you; and if you are innocent, Allah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then ask for Allah’s forgiveness and repent to Him, for when a worshiper of Allah confesses his sin and then repents to Allah, Allah accepts his repentance”.

(Ha, we’re back to sin, again, aren’t we?)

So there we have it- the greatest follower of Islam, the Prophet (yes, a follower, not a ‘founder!) and how he acted towards his wife. We have also the example of his great companion Omar! We are supposed to follow their examples!
Well, I know I talked every one’s ear off and I apologize for that !


P.S. LOOOOL at the head desk :P

Susanne said...

Sarira! *hands on hips* Girl! Did you really think I thought you meant “Ugh, yeah, whatever, I’ll take a look at that post later”? :-P I so did not get that impression from you! I only meant it was yet another thing to check out so please don't feel obligated. Although, admittedly, I'm delighted you did since I adored your comment! :-D

Yes, I consider the Bible divine, but that doesn't mean God whitewashed the sins and affects of them. And really even some of the things He instructed the Israelites to do... well, they just seem a bit "ugly" to my 21st-century, non-divine (I don't know how God thinks) point of view. Does that make sense?

I hope you have a great visit with your sister! :)

Thank you for the recommendation about the tafsirs. It will come in handy perhaps when/if I decide to become an expert! Ha, ha...kidding! ;) I do think it's important to understand things in context and that's why I know my reading and writing on merely a straight-through reading falls short. Thus the "disclaimer" of sorts on my first post - oh, this one. I forgot that I've only written two thus far. Heh.

Neat about Muhammad's SOUL answering you! Seems rather cool, but souls live forever, no?

Aha....thanks for clarifying what you meant about sin. That makes much more sense! I was like "wow, they are really lenient on sin being offensive to God," but I see what you mean. Yes, God forgives when we repent - agreed!

Love this:

“Do not look at the size of the sin but look at who you have sinned against”, meaning no matter how small your sin is, you have sinned against the Almighty!

Thanks for the stories you shared about wife beating - or not, as the case may be. :)

"We do not think that men are infallible!"

It's cute that you said this because I told Samer yesterday what Suroor's Quranic teacher said and how I hated this thought that women were like children needing discipline. Then we both agreed that MEN usually misbehave way more than women so they deserve to be disciplined if we are going to chose one or the other! ;-) And, yeah, Samer is a good sport to put up with me. He is a real treasure. :-D :-D

Thanks for what you shared on this topic and all the others. I enjoyed reading your points of view! :)

You can thank Amber for the head desk. She truly cracks me up! :)

OK...off to bed, I think. Enjoyed it!

Susanne said...

Sarira, something you said in your last comment caught my attention.

"As we Muslims all know Prophet Mohammed was described as the walking Qur’an."

I mused over this a bit and got to thinking how this was so similar to how we think of Jesus. Get this....

You believe Muhammad was "walking Quran" and the Quran to you is the Word of God, right? So in a sense Muhammad is the Word of God in the flesh.

Christians often say Jesus is the Word of God...the Word of God made flesh. See this from John 1:

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

It's quite amazing how similarly we think of our respective "prophets of most distinction," isn't it? This came to me more after I'd already replied to you and I thought later maybe it was worth sharing. I do realize Christians think of Jesus as God, and Muslims don't think of Muhammad that way so there is that HUGE difference, however, this "Word of God made flesh" similarity between the two was quite interesting. :)

Suroor said...

Susanne, Interesting observation!

I was just thinking about Jesus in Islam and how he is often compared with Adam. Now that is done to show that he was born without a father and anything is possible for God.

However, we also know that Adam "was with God in the beginning"!! Isn't that interesting?

I mean if Jesus is just like Adam and Adam was with God in the beginning, then Jesus was was with God in the beginning - according to the esoteric meanings of the Quran :)

Suroor said...

BTW, this reminds me - I was once talking to a Turkish Sufi dervish and she said she believed from her reading of the Quran that Adam was Jesus, the first creation. Allah asked every angel to prostrate to Jesus, the perfect creation and all but Satan prostrated. Hence from that day Satan became the enemy of God and Jesus.

She believed that Jesus was sent to earth twice, once in the beginning that we call Adam and second time as Jesus, the symbolic son of God (as he was the first creation). She believes that Jesus will return again for the last time just before The End. Hence he would be sent to earth thrice - in the beginning, the middle and the end.

Sufis look for esoteric meanings of the Quran and their interpretations rely on comparisons with other Texts and Scriptures so it is quite interesting.

If what she said is true then I can see a lot of similarities between the Quran and what Christians believe about Jesus.

Suroor said...

Susanne,

You know I have been thinking about wife-beating that you mentioned. (This can get loooooong).

It has been argued that there are several meanings of the Arabic word used (adrubbhunna) including ‘abandon them/leave them.’ I reposted Edip Yuksel’s argument here that I liked very much (http://iqrabismirabik.wordpress.com/2009/05/12/beating-women-or-beating-around-the-bush-or/). But let’s also not forget that this interpretation was put forward by a woman – 1400 years after this verse was first written down. For 1400 years the only way in which this verse was understood was that it meant beat your errant wives.

I don’t think my Quran teacher was wrong in teaching that to me when I was only 12 years old. I grew up to believe otherwise, I argued otherwise, but today I don’t know which one of us is truly right. Honestly, I don’t.

We can’t bring in the argument of the Prophet because:

1) He did in fact hit Aisha once – Bukhari, Book 004, Number 2127 (and raised his hand to strike the woman who wanted a divorce from him but did not hit her in the end and let her go). Now one can argue that he didn’t *beat* Aisha and merely pushed her very hard, but the fact is he did it to discipline her and it did hurt her. That therefore negates the argument that you can only hit your wife with a toothbrush.


2) Umar himself actually narrated ahadith in which the Prophet allowed men to beat their wives:


- Abu Dawud, Book 11, Number 2142: Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: The Prophet said, A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.

- Narrated Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab: Iyas ibn Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab reported the Apostle of Allah as saying: Do not beat Allah's handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Apostle of Allah and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to beat them. Then many women came round the family of the Apostle of Allah complaining against their husbands. So the Apostle of Allah said: Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining against their husbands. They are not the best among you.

The Prophet didn’t condemn wife beating but condemned women who complained about it!

3) Regarding the incident of the Ifk – I used that often in the past to argue that Muhammad didn’t hit Aisha but merely removed her from his household, and hence wife beating is not allowed. However, after much pondering over it I am compelled to must note that Aisha was NOT proved guilty. If she was guilty, I don’t think the situation would have been the same; it would have required the next step in disciplining. For one, even without proof there were people who urged Muhammad to divorce her; something Aisha never forgot or forgave Ali for doing. Second, she was Abu Bakr’s daughter which increased the social tension. But in any case, she didn’t rebel so there was no question of beating. When she did rebel and followed Muhammad out in the night, she was slapped on the chest and disciplined.

Suroor said...

What we must note is that physically beating people was not seen as something as terrible as it is seen today. In Islam, if a child doesn’t pray by the age of ten, parents must beat him/her. In early Islam Umar used to beat men who prayed two Rakats extra after Asr (Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 22, Number 325), he used to ‘beat with a stick and throw stones and put dust over the faces (of those who used to wail over the dead)’ (Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 23, Number 391). The Prophet beat slow camels – Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 38, Number 504 (I mention this because a commenter on my blog once claimed that the Prophet never even hit a camel); he asked people to hit a drunk man with shoes and stalks (Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 38, Number 509).

My whole dilemma was that where one can find ten ahadith to claim a point supporting the Quran, one can also find ten other ahadith to counter argue. Yes, women and men are called each other’s garments in the Quran and scholars use it to talk about mutual respect and love, but in the Arabic language a garment is used as a metaphor to indicate righteousness (see even Quran 7:26). The verse is always cited out of context and always cited incompletely. The complete verse is: “On the night of the fasts, you are allowed to approach your wives. They are your garments and you are their garment” – (2:187) which can be read as ‘you can have sex with your wives on the night of the fast (when you are not fasting) because lawful sexual intercourse is always between a husband and a wife.’

Again 2:228 is often not cited completely – the verse is about divorce and states “…and women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.”

Does the verse show equality? I don’t think so. It is quite openly telling us that men have a degree of advantage over women in divorce.

The problem is that while an angry man has to right to beat his wife and has the right to divorce her by merely proclaiming it thrice, an angry woman does not have the same rights. If she is angry to the point that she wants a divorce, even then she must approach others in the community first. By that time any woman’s anger would simmer down considerably! But a man may beat or even divorce his wife in the heat of the moment, which is what happens so often.

We can argue that a man and a woman have equal rights over each but in many important areas they don’t: a man can refuse sex, a wife can’t or angels curse her; a man can divorce a wife verbally, a wife has to ask for divorce through the community; a man can discipline his wife by various degrees, a woman can’t; a husband has the right to take the children after divorce, a woman doesn’t; a man can marry up to four times simultaneously, a wife can’t; a husband can also sleep with as many slaves as he can afford, a woman is not given that right; a Muslim man can marry Jewish and Christian women, a Muslim woman can’t marry Jewish and Christian men.

Are the rights the same or equal? I don’t think so. So why do we claim otherwise? I think because we want to make sense of things in the present times.

I feel that in Islam there is a requirement for mutual respect and love and kindness, BUT if a wife is errant, her husband is allowed to discipline her whereas, if a husband errs the wife does not have the same right. It doesn’t suit our modern sensibilities or Christian sensibilities, but it doesn’t have to :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, I'm glad you came back to leave some more comments. :) I found your discussion of Jesus and Adam very interesting *especially* what the Sufi dervish said. I disagree that Jesus and Adam are the same, however, the part about worshiping is a point I wanted to discuss from my reading of sura 7. I have read and taken note of verses to blog about, however, I've not written the post. But this very thing (God commanding worship of Adam) WAS something that took my attention! Highly interesting to me that you mentioned it and I hope we can discuss this more when I finally wrote a post about sura 7! It's intriguing indeed to me! I'm finding that I tend to enjoy the Sufi's interpretations of things. Not that I know a lot of them, but they are definitely food for thought.

"The Prophet didn’t condemn wife beating but condemned women who complained about it!"

Hmmmm. :-/ Thanks for the further clarification of this viewpoint. It's interesting to read them all and see how various Muslims feel about topics in Quran and its accompanying books including the "walking Quran."

Maybe Muhammad hit Aisha because she was a child and disciplining children is sometimes necessary. Heh...you know I'm not for wife disciplining though. Anyway!

"But a man may beat or even divorce his wife in the heat of the moment, which is what happens so often."

That's so unfair! Well, many things pertaining to men and women are. Especially, it seems, in ancient times. Although it does still happen today. Thanks for sharing more about those verses in context and also what you said about beating not being so badly thought of in old times. Hmmm.

"It doesn’t suit our modern sensibilities or Christian sensibilities, but it doesn’t have to :)"

Yes, true. As long as Muslims are OK with it, it'll go on regardless of what modern or 'Christian' sensibilities desire.

Thanks for your thought-provoking comments!

Suroor said...

Susanne, I look forward to your post on Satan and Adam :)

That should be so fascinating!

Sarira said...

Hey guys!

I only just checked back the comment section :D I think I’ve got a LOT to write—I’m thinking 10 comments this time, Hahahhaha!

Susanne, the hands and hip was so cute!!! Hehe! I liked your thought about the word of God. That was an interesting comparison! Of course, as you said, though, we don’t believe that Mohammed (sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam) was God, though. Oh and Samer, your friend, does sound like a treasure. Do you mind my asking how you met? :D

As for the Turkish Sufi thought of Jesus being Adam and vice versa, the fact of the matter is that this is not a traditional line of thinking in Islam. This reminds of the Bahai’ who have gone so far as to say that Mohammed was God in the flesh (ha, the Word of God, again, Susanne :P). Suroor, you said that your Sufi friend understood that from her own reading, right? I find this is strange because the fact of the matter is that I have Sufis in my own family and they have never said that.

Anyways, the question I have for your friend is this, why is it that Allah almost every single time defines Jesus in the Qur’an as the son of Mary? To me, it was like He wanted to reinforce again and again and again that Jesus (who she sees as Adam/Jesus/symbolic son of God) was just a human being, the son of a [great] woman, but not the son of God.
As for the idea of Satan being the enemy of Jesus. Satan was the enemy of Prophet Jesus, Prophet Noah, Prophet Ibrahim (Abrahim), Prophet Dawood (David), Prophet Soloman, etc. and Prophet Mohammed…all of them! Does that mean that each one of them was Jesus/Adam? The truth is Satan was their enemy, simply because he decided to be the enemy of God. He refused to ‘worship God’ by refusing to prostrate to Adam; therefore, he is my enemy, too. With the sorta thinking that she has, I could sit down and irreligiously say, that it was me who Satan refused to bow down to! Of course, that’s not true. In fact, we have authentic Islamic traditions that say that Prophet Mohammed went to jannah in the Isra and al Mi’raj as he saw Adam as well as Jesus.

I know this may sound like I am attacking your friend but the reality is that I know once an idea settles in a person’s mind, it brings with it other ideas that can, without meaning to, take us away from God.

About the hadith that you put that Umar said that a man would not be asked about beating his wife. *HEADDESK* as Susanne and Amber said. This hadith is weak due to a weak narrator by the name of Daawood ibn Abdullah al Awdi. See Sheikh Albani's detailed discussion in Erwaa Al Ghaleel, Hadeeth no. 2034. (Unfortunately, many ‘non-Muslims and anti-Islamic sites have been spreading it all over the net, so I’m glad you brought it up so that we could point to the reality of the matter)l

For me, though, the first time I saw it on the net, I heard a loud ‘beeeeeeeep’ go in my head. This whole “not being asked about something” was not in line with Islamic thinking at all. Let’s take a look at Islam’s view of accountability:

First of all, the Qur’an says even our ‘greetings’ are accountable and that everything is accountable- this ‘weak hadith’ then contradicts that Qur’anic ayah (biggest evidence that there’s something fishy about it!):
When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things. (4: 86)

Also, it was Umar bin Al Khatab, the so called narrator of that “ hadith”, who when he was Caliph (May Allah be pleased with him) said: ”By Allah, if a mule in Iraq fell, I am afraid Allah will ask me about it and why didn’t’ Omar pave her way".

(continued)

Sarira said...

Another example of accountability: the famous hadith where the Prophet was talking to Muad bin Jabal, “So he took hold of his tongue and said: "Restrain this." I said: "O Prophet of Allah, will we be held accountable for what we say? The Prophet answered, " ...... Is there anything that topples people on their faces (or he said, on their noses) into the Hell-fire other than the jests of their tongues?"[Al-Tirmidhi]
How could he then say that a man would not be asked if he beat his wife?
What about the hadith that tells us to protect ourselves from the hell fire by even a whole date- half of one ( we will be held accountable for!).
‘Adi b. Hatim reported that he heard Allah’s Messenger (way peace be upon him) as saying: He who among you can protect himself against Fire, he should do so, even if it should be with half a date (Sahih)
Now, let’s take the hadith that you put regarding Aisha Radiya Allah Anha. I’m not really sure why you think that hadith has to do with divorce?

This is it:
Muhammad b. Qais said (to the people): Should I not narrate to you (a hadith of the Holy Prophet) on my authority and on the authority of my mother? We thought that he meant the mother who had given him birth. He (Muhammad b. Qais) then reported that it was 'A'isha who had narrated this: Should I not narrate to you about myself and about the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)? We said: Yes. She said: When it was my turn for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi'. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O 'A'isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me?
I said: Yes. He pushed me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you? She said: Whatsoever the people conceal, Allah will know it.
He said: Gabriel came to me when you saw me. He called me and he concealed it from you. I responded to his call, but I too concealed it from you (for he did not come to you), as you were not fully dressed. I thought that you had gone to sleep, and I did not like to awaken you, fearing that you may be frightened. He (Gabriel) said: Your Lord has commanded you to go to the inhabitants of Baqi' (to those lying in the graves) and beg pardon for them. I said: Messenger of Allah, how should I pray for them (How should I beg forgiveness for them)? He said: Say, Peace be upon the inhabitants of this city (graveyard) from among the Believers and the Muslims, and may Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those who come later on, and we shall, God willing, join you."

Sarira said...

Imagine a teacher whose top top student had fallen asleep during the class. The teacher might push the student a bit to wake him/her up. The Prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salaam ‘pushed’ Aisha because he didn't want her for one second to harbor a thought that Allah or his apostle wouldn't treat her fairly- so he pushed her to ‘wake her up’. It wasn’t a push to get vengeance or because he was in a bad mood and just had to take it out on somebody. Actually, what I find interesting is that the Prophet was married to 9 women (at least) and besides this “instance” (which Aisha, herself, described it as a push), there is no other incident that records the Prophet “hitting” a woman.

Again, the Prophet gave permission to husbands to lightly tap their wives to admonish them but at the same time, he encouraged his followers to be patient with their spouses. This can be seen in Zaid Bin Harith’s story with Zeniab (radiya Allah 3anhum). Zeinab and Zaid were married though they were from very DIFFERENT worlds- Zeinab was part of the elite, rich class of the Quraysh, beautiful and well-desired by the whole community. Zaid, on the other hand, was a former slave who the Prophet freed and treated as his own son (originally he had adopted him but then Allah forbade adoption). Now, Zeinab couldn’t help but feel she had married someone below her status and she would constantly make Zaid feel like that (remember, they were Companions but they were also humans who couldn’t help themselves at times). Zaid would try to bear her attitude with patience since it was the Prophet who had arranged their marriage but when it got to be too much, he complained to the Prophet. What did the Prophet advise him to do? To keep being patient…that’s right; he didn’t tell Zaid, “Just give her a good smack! That’s teach her not to be arrogant”. Instead, he just kept telling Zaid to keep being patient with her.

Also, Suroor, I see that you say that the concept of beating wasn’t considered that bad in Islam. (OH by the way! You said that you had to answer a commentator on your blog about the camel thing- I got curious and tried to visit your blog but there was only one post in the entire thing ? Did you delete it?)

But let’s take a look at these points:
In the Qur’an:
Allah tells Prophet Moses in the Qur’an to go to Pharaoh, the worst tyrant, who set himself up as ‘god’ on Earth : “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]” (20:38). Allah did not command Moses to go and whip Pharaoh and kick his butt. He said to speak gently; this is the manner of dawa’ah and the essence of Islam.
What about:
It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him) (3:154- yes, it is speaking about the Prophet but it is speaking about the Prophet that was sent as an example to mankind!)
Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching (16: 125- yes, I know this verse has to do with ‘inviting non-Muslims, but if we are to treat non-Muslims like that, what do you think of our fellow Muslims who have believed in Allah?)

Allah has revealed to me that you should be modest, so that no one shows conceit over another, and no one tyrannizes another. [Muslim]

*continued

Sarira said...

The fact of the matter, children are told to pray at the age of 7. You are not to ‘hit’ them (again tap them) to pray until they are 10. That means, that you would have gently advised them to pray literally 5475 times before you are allowed to hit them. How did I reach that number? because you are supposed to tell them to pray each prayer- 5 times a day- for 365 days x 3 years. The end result is 5475 times! Do you see where I am getting at?

There’s a lot more that I want to comment on but I really don’t have the time but there is one thing that I must address.

Susanne, I noticed your comment that maybe Aisha was a child. I would like to put here what my good friend once wrote (addressing this issue):

"My friend, I want to remind you that whenever we look at a different culture or a different time period, we need to remove our own social prejudices. It’s not something easy to do, but it needs to be done. As Sheik Hamza Yusuf said, we need to try our best not to superimpose our own traditions and what’s acceptable in our cultures onto other cultures.

Now, let’s try to look at the Prophet’s marriage to Aisha. First of all, we know this happened at least 1,400+ years ago, right? Did you know that before the Prophet proposed to Aisha, she already had another suitor and was engaged? Clearly, then, she was considered old enough to get married. This is hardly surprising especially considering the fact the life span of people was much shorter than today- probably around 60 years if not less. Childhood just did not last that long. Early on, children were given serious responsibilities. (This still happens today in pre-industrial societies). Thus, whereas, today, a nine year old girl would be considered a child, one thousand and four hundred years ago, she would not have been considered a child, especially if she had had her first menstrual cycle. She would have been considered a woman.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Let’s look at how people 1,400 years ago viewed the union between Prophet Mohammed and Aisha. Nobody said anything about it. That in, itself, is very significant. The people of Mecca tried their best to smear the reputation of the Prophet, calling him a “liar”, accusing him of being possessed, and never letting an opportunity escape when they could ridicule him. Yet, not a single Arab ever said anything about the Prophet’s marriage to Aisha. No one felt that it was unordinary or strange. This doesn’t mean that there weren’t some sexual taboos- there were. A person wasn’t supposed to marry his adopted son’s ex-wife, for example.(In fact, that is something the Arabs did say about Prophet Mohammed when he married Zainab, May Allah be pleased with her.) Clearly, then, if they thought his behavior was immoral, they would have spoken up. But they didn’t think there was anything unusual about it.

Maybe you don’t care about what Aisha’s society thought…or that she had been previously engaged. Maybe you think she was still forced into it and had no say…How about we look at Aisha, herself, more closely. Surely if she had felt physically exploited, there would have been something that indicated her anger/ fear/ repulsion…the reality, however, is that all she displayed was love. Even years later, after the Prophet died, she never said anything at all that indicated she felt she was a victim. On the contrary, she was very jealous of the other wives of the Prophet- does that seem like the attitude of a victim? Moreover, she used to ask the Prophet for reassurance about his love. See, the Prophet once described his love to her as a knot- meaning something that could never be broken. Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) would say and “how is the knot?”, essentially wanting reassurance the bond between was as strong as ever.

*continued

Sarira said...

Maybe you think “Okay, she loved him, but she didn’t know any better…maybe she loved the idea of being a Prophet’s wife or she couldn’t even recognize she was being abused.” Let me make it clear that all of the wives of the Prophet lived very simply. Though the Prophet was the Head of State, they would go many days without food and when they had food, it was the most basic essentials. Thus, there was nothing glamorous about their lives. It was full of hard work and toil. Secondly, Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) was a very intelligent woman, strongly opinionated and capable of thinking for herself. This is very clear in the way she expressed herself. For example, when the Ifk incident happened (when she was accused of having committed adultery), Aisha stood up to her parents and said:

She told them, “By Allah, I know that you heard this story (i.e. of Ifk) so much so that it has been planted in your minds and you have believed it. So now, if I tell you that I am innocent, and Allah knows that I am innocent, you will not believe me; and if I confess something, and Allah knows that I am innocent of it, you will believe me…”

This is very articulate and shows a mature mind. The fact that she had very strong opinions is also evident when she stood up against Ali (May Allah be Pleased with both of them). She realized that he was correct, though, and changed her mind afterward. Thus, she was a strong woman.

It should be obvious, then, that the Prophet’s marriage to Aisha was one based on love and mutual respect and that there wasn’t anything strange about her age. If the age difference seems odd, this is because we are taking our own conceptions of what is a normal age difference- this differs from society to society. And from person to person…the Prophet was able to meet the needs and desires of both a woman older than him (Khadijah, his first wife, was 15 years older than him and had already been married 2 times before him) and a woman younger than him (he would race with Aisha and joke with her). Again, we can’t judge a marriage 1,400 years ago with our own modern cultural ideas. Just look at Lady’s Mary’s marriage…

The 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia records that Mary, was between 12-14 years of age, when she married Joseph, who was 90 years old and had 6 children. (If you want to read from the Gospel of James about it, see below):

Sarira said...

The Infancy Gospel of James, Chapter 8 verse 2 to Chapter 9 verse 11

“When she [Mary] turned twelve, a group of priests took counsel together, saying, ‘Look, Mary has been in the temple of the Lord twelve years. What should we do about her now, so that she does not defile the sanctuary of the Lord our God?’ And they said to the high priest, ‘You have stood at the altar of the Lord. Go in and pray about her. And if the Lord God reveals anything to you, we will do it.’ And the priest went in taking the vestment with twelve bells into the holy of holies and prayed about her. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before him, saying, ‘Zachariah, Zachariah, depart from here and gather the widowers of the people and let each one carry a staff. And the one whom the Lord God points out with a sign, she will be his wife.’ So the heralds went out to the whole surrounding area of Judea and the trumpet of the Lord rang out and all the men rushed in.

Throwing down his axe, Joseph went out to meet them. And after they had gathered together with their rods, they went to the high priest. After receiving everyone’s rod, the high priest went into the temple and prayed. When he was finished with the prayer, he took the rods and went out and gave them to each man, but there was no sign among them. Finally, Joseph took his rod. Suddenly, a dove came out of the rod and stood on Joseph’s head. And the high priest said, ‘Joseph! Joseph! You have been chosen by lot to take the virgin into your own keeping.’ And Joseph replied, saying, ‘I have sons and am old, while she is young. I will not be ridiculed among the children of Israel.’ And the high priest said, ‘Joseph, fear the Lord your God and remember what God did to Dathan and Abiron and Kore, how the earth split open and swallowed them because of their rebellion. Now fear God, Joseph, so that these things do not happen in your house.’ Fearing God, Joseph took her into his own possession.”

We’re not trying to be critical of this- all that we’re trying to point out is that we can’t judge a society using our own cultural norms especially when Aisha was clearly happy with the Prophet.


Okay guys, thanks again for bearing with me. There's still some major points that I feel need to be addressed but I really felt this was long enough (plus I gotta sleep ;)). I may just make a post on my blog about some of the issues rather than spamming your comment section- :D

Amber said...

From my point of view, Mohammed's behavior in regards to women, or really anything, only becomes problematic when he is treated as the perfect example for all of humanity. When people look to him to determine how to live their lives through all ages.

What he did, marrying very young women, waging war, sleeping with slaves and concubines, hitting women, having people assassinated, all of it was typical behavior for the time and the place. Yes, he went to some 'extremes' in many areas, but for the culture and the era, it was common place. He wasn't any better than any other man of the age.

Suroor said...

Amber, I may have missed the post if you ever blogged about it, and I don't know if you'd mind my question, but I noticed you once mentioned that you studied both Islam and Christianity for converting, what made you choose Christianity over Islam? Please feel free to ignore this if it's too personal.

I just want to understand people who grow up believing Bible is the Word of God and then abandon that belief and start believing Quran is the Word of God and Bible is corrupted. But since you were neutral, I was interested in knowing what made Bible more appealing than the Quran to you.

Suroor said...

Sarira, The Infancy Gospel is not canonized so Christians don't believe in it. Most of the verses about Jesus' childhood in the Quran are actually stated in the The Infancy Gospel but that has been proved to be an apocryphal text.

In Islam it is believed that Mary secluded herself in a deserted place for many days to give birth to Jesus. It is very hard for me to accept that she was a young girl. This makes the Gospel of Infancy even more doubtful for me - not that I believe it to me the truth anyway.

Also yes theoretically parents must remind a child 5000 times before resorting to hitting them but any parent would tell you it doesn't happen like that :-) There are ahadith that Abu Bakr hit Aisha a couple of times when she was already married and hadn't even done something terrible to deserve a smack. From the hadith it seems that people were always hitting each other and it wasn't such a big deal. I see young Arab men wrestling and slapping each other for fun all the time. Afghani men do that a lot too. Certain cultures are like that. I have seen Khaleeji men beating their kids in public, pushing their wives to hurry up. It is very common.

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks! I'm still thinking of how to address that issue about Adam and the command from God for angels to bow to him. It's a puzzle to me. :)





Sarira, welcome back! :-) No, I don't mind telling you how I met Samer. The short story: he found me on MySpace. Ha, ha! Yeah, one of *those* kinds of meetings! Ones I tend to think of as incredibly weird, but, hey, I firmly believe God brought us together as friends. He's like a younger brother to me. :) I can give you the longer version later. I'm not on my home computer so the link isn't handy, but hopefully later I will remember to send it to you.

"This reminds of the Bahai’ who have gone so far as to say that Mohammed was God in the flesh (ha, the Word of God, again, Susanne :P). "

Funny how that keeps coming up and amusing us! :-D

LOL @ your using "head desk" now! I'm just going to "listen" to you and Suroor for a bit now. I'm enjoying hearing both of your views on these issues.

Thanks for what you said about Aisha and her being married at a young age. True, it was likely just an acceptable cultural norm. I should try not to think of it from my "now" point of view. It's just something gross thinking of a 9 year old with a man over 50, but, eh, as you said, culture, culture, culture. :) I really need to keep this in mind. Oh, interesting about the Gospel of James. I'm totally unfamiliar with that story of Joseph being 90. Ick. Thanks for sharing your point of view. :)





Amber, interesting point. I agree that people can be looked upon with favor without implementing his every behavior even in the 21st century. Kind of like marrying 9 years old was fine for 50 year olds THEN, but today is gives us (me!) the heebee jeebies. And we all know creeps justify doing this now because of Muhammad's example.



Suroor, I like your question to Amber. I hope she will answer. :)

(No pressure, Amber! :-))))))


Thanks everyone for all the follow-up comments. It's been a great learning experience for me. :)

Amber said...

Suroor,

You didn't miss it - I've never written a post about it. :)

I'm...actually going to have to get back to you on that. I've tried answering it here, but nothing that I've written is quite the whole answer. I don't mind the question at all, it's getting my thoughts into a place where the answer might be coherent I'm having an issue with right now.

Soon as I get all my ducks in a row, I'll do a post. For posterity, of course. :)

Amber said...

Susanne,

As Suroor pointed out, the Gospel of James is extracanonical. Anything it says has to be held up to the canon for comparison.

It's an interesting text, but nothing that should be taken with any weight.

While it's true that Mary was likely between 12-14 years old, and that Joseph was older, we have no idea how much older he was. 90 is so very unlikely I can't even begin to express it. It is tradition that he had children from a previous marriage, though. :)

Susanne said...

Amber, be sure if/when you write a post about that, that you let us all know! :)

Thanks for the info on Joseph and Mary. I didn't realize tradition said he had children from a previous marriage. Interesting indeed! :)

Suroor said...

Amber, what you said about Joseph being not as old; I agree for a number of reasons, but let's assume that he was 90 years old and that Mary was not 14 but 12, does it make it alright to say child marriages are OK - sorry, not child marriages but marriage of a child to an old man?

I would expect a natural progression in 600 years.

The other thing is that Joseph is considered a prophet (Yusuf) by Muslims, but not a prophet or even a symbol of moral excellence by Christians. I would have been devastated if Jesus had done that or even John the Baptist. They were religious figures and Jesus is someone even non-Christians try to emulate.

I once heard an imam (a Christian convert to Islam) lash out that Aisha was not 6 but 9 years old and that there is a difference of 3 years, 3 years between them! Then he mentioned Mary (which I thought was totally unnecessary - different cultures, different times - a difference of 600 years - Joseph not being a religious authority) and insisted she was 12 and not 14.

Fine enough, but there is a difference of 3 years between 9 and 12, three years!

And we are talking about a time 600 years back into history!

Anonymous said...

2. EVE'S FAULT

The three religions agree on one basic fact: Both women and men are created by God, The Creator of the whole universe. However, disagreement starts soon after the creation of the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. The Judaeo-Christian conception of the creation of Adam and Eve is narrated in detail in Genesis 2:4-3:24. God prohibited both of them from eating the fruits of the forbidden tree. The serpent seduced Eve to eat from it and Eve, in turn, seduced Adam to eat with her. When God rebuked Adam for what he did, he put all the blame on Eve, "The woman you put here with me --she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it." Consequently, God said to Eve:

"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you."

To Adam He said:

"Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree .... Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life..."

The Islamic conception of the first creation is found in several places in the Quran, for example:
I found this on website. Is it true?
"O Adam dwell with your wife in the Garden and enjoy as you wish but approach not this tree or you run into harm and transgression. Then Satan whispered to them in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them and he said: 'Your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you become angels or such beings as live forever.' And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: 'Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?' They said: 'Our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost' " (7:19:23).

A careful look into the two accounts of the story of the Creation reveals some essential differences. The Quran, contrary to the Bible, places equal blame on both Adam and Eve for their mistake.Nowhere in the Quran can one find even the slightest hint that Eve tempted Adam to eat from the tree or even that she had eaten before him. Eve in the Quran is no temptress, no seducer, and no deceiver. Moreover, Eve is not to be blamed for the pains of childbearing. God, according to the Quran, punishes no one for another's faults. Both Adam and Eve committed a sin and then asked God for forgiveness and He forgave them both.

Amber said...

Suroor,

Not even a little bit. It doesn't really matter what age Joseph was or what age Mary was. That was 2,000 years ago. This is now. If a grown man, whatever his age, came and told me he was going to marry my *child*, I wouldn't even bother with the police. I'd deal with it immediately and with extreme prejudice.

'The other thing is that Joseph is considered a prophet (Yusuf) by Muslims, but not a prophet or even a symbol of moral excellence by Christians.'

Really? I knew that Muslims considered the Joseph of the Old Testament to be a prophet, but not the Joseph who married Mary.

'I would have been devastated if Jesus had done that or even John the Baptist. They were religious figures and Jesus is someone even non-Christians try to emulate.'

That is a key difference. Christians don't have to try and justify certain practices or acts of Christ, because He did nothing wrong. And the *only* reason we believe He was capable of not sinning was because He was God. And for the men that Christians do consider prophets, we don't have the rule that they were sinless, so when they sinned or did something wrong, we don't have to make it somehow not a sin.

I really think that Muslims should stop trying to make it 'okay' that Mohammed married and had sex with a 9 year old. Look, it's *never* going to be 'okay' by modern standards. If they'd just admit that it was a practice of the time, but that it's *not* something that should be practiced for *all time* just because Mohammed did it, they might stop tripping over themselves. But then you run into the problem of Mohammed's 'perfection'. If he did it, then it *can't* be wrong!

So you get people who try to justify that Aisha (and all girls of that era and area) were *mature* at 9, and *ready* to have sex with someone who is likely three times their size, at least. That the very act wouldn't tear them apart, causing massive damage and then, God forbid they actually get *pregnant*, the chances of them dying in childbirth at that age? Ugh. Or you get people who move Aisha's age up from 9 to a teenager, 16 or 17. Which is far more palatable to modern sensibilities, but directly contradicts pretty much everything that's been known for 1400 years. It contradicts what Aisha herself is reported to have said.

And...here endeth my rant. *sheepish grin* Sorry.

Durriyyah said...

The requirement for a woman to marry and consummate her marriage is that she is physically and mentally mature enough to handle the responsibilities of a marriage (including childbirth). Islam places no minimum or maximum number on age because the fact is, our physical and mental maturity changes through time. Thus, God set a standard that will remain. When Muslims fight for people to understand that Aisha was physically and mentally far more mature, they are fighting for this point... for people to recognize that they can not look at people of our age and make the same judgment. No one is asking for the right to marry what we now consider a child.

Susanne said...

Suroor, I think I've shared this with you before, but based on what I've read on blogs and in books, I've often thought Islam was more of a regression than progression from Jesus' teachings. It was step back into the law - lots and lots of rules - whereas Christ made us free from the bondage of sin so we could serve him and do God's work. It seems Islam is more about keeping rules of outward piety.

Anonymous, thanks for the information on Adam and Eve according to the Bible and Quran!

Amber, I *loved* your "key difference" paragraph. That's exactly true! That paragraph deserves its own post instead of being buried in the comments. :-) You were right on in what you said. I wish people would just admit that it's not acceptable today to marry 9 year olds and stop following Muhammad on such matters which sicken most of us nowadays.

Durriyyah, I wish you were right in what you said, but I've read too much that made me conclude that indeed there are men who use Muhammad as a justification for their own marrying of children. They need to just admit it was OK back then, but not now and put this issue to rest. I can't imagine any 9 year old now wanting some old hairy Arab guy to come to her bedroom for pleasures. Makes me sick just thinking about it.

Durriyyah said...

With all due respect, what those men do has nothing to do with what Islam allows. I'm not speaking based on my own opinion or a book I read by some guy who has some thoughts on the matter. This is scholarly opinion based on the authentic Qur'an and hadith transmitted to our times. If the person married someone, and consummated this marriage, that is not physically mature enough nor emotionally or mentally mature enough to handle marriage, then he is sinning in the eyes of God.

A sinning Muslim, in the area they are sinning, does not speak for what is allowed... essentially his words on the matter do not matter.

Susanne said...

Yes, that makes sense. Thank you for pointing this out.

Sarah said...

What is the definition of when a girl is ready for marriage? Traditionally there was no such concept as adolescence and a girl who got her period was a woman. Now it is recognised that such a girl is still not physically mature enough to safely handle a pregnancy. But Sunnah cannot be updated along with the advancement of science, so... Amber's point about the problematic notion of "prophetic perfection" is completely valid I think.

Durriyyah said...

The girl has a decision on the matter (pay no mind to what "some Muslims" have done in the ways of forced marriages, again, we can't use what "some Muslims" have done to determine what is actually allowed) along with her parents, close relatives, and the surrounding community.

In our day and times, this typically falls near the time a girl goes to college, or finishes college. At the earliest, most people find it to be no earlier than 16 because of the level of maturity of humans currently.

True enough, there is no measuring stick or rubric to determine the scientific and mathematical perfect age. When it comes down to it, we much use our senses. One who defies their use of intellect and instead goes with their carnal desires, they will be responsible on the Day of Judgment for their actions, even if they "get away with it" in this world.

I have to mention... I thought this was going to be something not discussed? I tried to stay out of it, but there was so much discussion happening, I couldn't keep quiet any longer. Forgive me for continuing the conversation and straying topic.

Amber said...

Durriyyah,

As has been pointed out, there are people who are fighting for the right, the acknowledgment of what they see as their right, to marry a child.

You see it as wrong. I'd say that the vast majority of people see it as wrong, as a remnant of the past. But there are those who argue that because Mohammed did it, it is, at the least, permitted. They would argue that what you, and others who argue against marriage of children to adults are doing is caving into 'western ideologies' and making haram what is halal.

The problem remains, in my view, the 'prophetic perfection' clause of Islam.

Also, Susanne said *she* wasn't going to discuss Aisha's marriage in her post, but that we were free to discuss it in the comments. :)

Sarah said...

Durriyyah,

"The girl has a decision on the matter"

That is encouraging to hear as it really does improve on the prophetic precedent. Aisha could not have made a decision like that at age 6, and it seems she didn't have much say in the matter at age 9 either:

http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/058.sbt.html#005.058.234

Amber said...

Susanne & Suroor,

Okay, I did the post.

http://littlestepshome.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-i-didnt-choose-islam.html

Suroor said...

Amber, yes it is the Joseph of OT that is believed to be the beautiful Prophet Yusuf in Islam but I know a few Muslims who confuse the two Josephs. In any case that is even more complicated since Joseph the foster father of Jesus is not a religious figure in Christianity and is not the one in Quran either so who cares what he did?!

Sarah, I have always wondered that – if Aisha didn’t even know that she was getting married, how did she consent to the marriage? I have heard it countless times that she gave approval to the marriage but the hadith says the opposite.

Thank you for the post, Amber. I left a comment and a question :)

Suroor said...

Durriyyah, I completely agree with your comment. I think what many Muslims, rather most Muslims, would do is say that it happened a long time ago and can't be legalised now.

But Amber is right too - there are still many Muslims who claim that child marriage can't be banned because the ban would be against Islam and Sunnah - see this:

http://business.maktoob.com/20090000450034/Yemen_women_protest_child_marriage_ban_plan/Article.htm

Amber said...

Suroor,

'In any case that is even more complicated since Joseph the foster father of Jesus is not a religious figure in Christianity and is not the one in Quran either so who cares what he did?!'

While Joseph (who is appellated 'the Bridegroom' in Orthodoxy, to keep Saints straight...) is not considered a prophet in Christianity, he is still considered to be a holy man. A righteous, devout man.

I really think that Muslims only bring up the marriage of St. Joseph and Mary because of the attacks on Mohammed and Aisha's marriage. So many people run around calling Mohammed a pedophile, judging based on modern sensibilities, so to be able to turn around and say, but look, it happened in *your* faith too. Sort of a pot, kettle thing. Proving that it was acceptable in the time period.

Suroor said...

BTW, Amber do you know about St. Joseph in Indian Catholicism? I think he is treated with immense reverence in India. Most Indian Catholics I know have his paintings in their homes. There are so many Indian Catholic churches names after him.

Yes, the pedophilia blame is something that makes me very angry. He was not a pedophile and it is very sad when people say that with no respect for feelings of a billion Muslims. He married a child but that doesn't make him a pedophile.

Amber said...

Suroor,

No, I'm not really familiar with Indian Catholicism and their relationship with St. Joseph. I'm going to see what I can find though, thanks.

It stems from people being unwilling to accept that the world was not always the way it is now. A lack of historic understanding, at the best. Plus, pedophilia is certainly a button that ensures a strong, negative reaction. Nobody wants to be associated with a pedophile. And I think, if you have to resort to scare tactics, then you've already lost the argument.

Suroor said...

"I think, if you have to resort to scare tactics, then you've already lost the argument."

Very well said!

It is strange that for as long as I can remember, I have always imagined Aisha to be a young girl, a teenager, not more than 16 years old. Even when I read her hadith which she narrated in her 50s, I see a child. I saw her in a dream once, not long ago, and she was beautiful, but again not more than 16-17 years old.

Suroor said...

I have nothing to say but want to be the 80th comment :)

Susanne said...

Sarah, thank you for the link sharing how births to very young mothers can be deadly. :-/ I wish Sunnah would go more with the "spirit" rather than "letter of the law" so it *could* be updated as more is known about these things. Maybe in the old days, people lived much shorter lives so they had to start having children between 9 and 14. However today we are living much longer and don't need to start breeding quite so early, IMO.

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, I'm glad you entered the discussion with your point of view. I didn't want to make it a major topic of any *post*, however, *comments* can flow however. I try not to censor people's thoughts and words on my blog so everyone feels free to share their opinions.

Again,I realize the majority of Muslims wouldn't practice such things, however, for the ones who do and justify it because of Muhammad...THAT's what I take issue with. And, sadly, it seems some "Islamic" countries OK this because how can they fight the argument "Hey, this is Sunnah of the Prophet" since Muhammad's actions trump *everything* -- even modern sensibilities?

"One who defies their use of intellect and instead goes with their carnal desires, they will be responsible on the Day of Judgment for their actions, even if they "get away with it" in this world."

I'm happy to know this for the sake of all those little girls who have been raped by brutal old men who were only after the fulfillment of their carnal desires.

Thanks for your comment.

Susanne said...

Amber, yes...thanks for clarifying my position! All thoughts are welcomed to be discussed.

And this is so true, sadly.

"They would argue that what you, and others who argue against marriage of children to adults are doing is caving into 'western ideologies' and making haram what is halal. "



Sarah, wow...thanks for sharing that hadith. Interesting! I never picture a 6 year old choosing to marry a 50 year old, but, hey, that's just me.




Amber, yay for your post! Thanks for letting us know that it was hot off the press! :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, about Joseph the (step) father of Jesus....I remember mentioning him to Samer a few years ago (*ahem*...well, a couple) and he seemed surprised to know Mary was even married! I thought maybe there was no New Testament Joseph in Islam.

Yes, indeed how does one (Aisha) consent to a marriage when it is sprung upon her? And who would take the word of a SIX YEAR OLD in matters such as this? "Will you marry this man?" Child: "Sure!!....What's marry mean?" :)

Six year olds can be talked into just about anything...including keeping it a secret that someone molested them! My precious nephew is only 8 and he is so innocent. I think this is why this talk of children marrying saddens me. I can't imagine if he were a girl, he could have been married to some 50+ year old man by now. :( (In another life, I mean.)



Amber, I agree: Joseph is considered a good man in our faith. In the little that is recorded about him, he demonstrated so much obedience, faith, kindness, trust in the Lord.


Suroor, congrats on nabbing the 80th comment spot! :-D


Thank you all for your great comments! I've enjoyed the discussion!

Suroor said...

And I shall be the 85th as well :)

Susanne, there is no Saint Joseph in the Quran and I don't remember reading anything about him in hadith either so yes, that could be a reason of this confusion.

BTW, even my BIL's Arab Muslim wife didn't know that Mary was married to Joseph!

Susanne said...

Suroor, yes, Samer was genuinely surprised. Like, "Mary was married?"

Maybe he thought she stayed a virgin the rest of her life which meant she never married. Or maybe he thought, "how was she a virgin though married?" Though we know from the Bible that she was "found with child" BEFORE Joseph and Mary were married. That's why Joseph was thinking of putting her away quietly instead of going through with the marriage.

I found it interesting and your talk with Amber brought it to mind.

And Samer grew up in a Sunni Muslim family in Syria so he's about as Arab Muslim as they come. ;)

Congrats on nabbing the 85th, too! Ha!

sanil said...

Weird, I think my translation left "baptism," but I don't remember seeing "holy spirit." It's possible I just missed it and didn't think anything of it. But I'm pretty sure mine referred to the angel like your friend said.

Susanne said...

Sanil, it's likely the translation just used a different word. The "Noah's Other Son" book I'm reading uses "holy spirit," but now when I read that term I remember this means an angel or spirit that is holy ...not necessarily the same way that I believe it in my faith.

Thanks for the feedback!