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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 11

I'm making pretty good time reading the Quran. Really, I've enjoyed it more than I expected! (So thanks to you know who for encouraging me to read it!) I know I have a bit more critical eye than a Muslim would, however, I hope that's not an awful thing. I would be understanding if a Muslim read the Bible with a skeptical eye as well. In fact I'd expect it. The two books do differ enough that a Muslim reading the Bible and a Christian reading the Quran should have a bit of...something (scrutiny? discernment?) when reading the other text. I hope this makes sense. It does to me. :)

So this morning I read Sura 11 -- Hud who was a prophet not mentioned in the Bible. He was sent to the people in 'Ad. In my last post I mentioned not knowing of any non-Jewish prophets outside of the Bible, however, I read this sura and was introduced to at least three. Besides Hud, there was Saleh send to Thamud and Shu'aib sent to the Midianites. All three are extrabiblical. I did recognize Lot, Moses and Noah though! I enjoyed reading more of their stories as recorded in the Quran.

As an aside let me make it clear that I don't mind evangelizing others. As a follower of Jesus I believe part of his message was to share the Good News (gospel) with others so I try to do this in obedience to him. I don't force conversions (are they even real if they are forced?). I don't even try to talk people into it with my oh-so-charming ways. No bribes, no promises for money or a new life in America. :) I just present the gospel, try to answer questions and such and leave the converting to God. It's His business anyway. I'm only supposed to share the message. That said, I don't mind Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, the local Baptist church down the road evangelizing either. One of the dearest things to me ever was when my Muslim friend shared his faith because he was concerned about my soul. I saw that as true love not as something offensive. I know I am peculiar compared to a lot of folks who hate "proselytizing" but I just wanted to make my position clear and why I have it. If you felt God wanted you to do something -- even commanded you to do it, wouldn't you desire to obey in order to please Him? When I tell others about Jesus, it's not because I find them lacking or I want to increase the Christian population in the world as if we are in some numbers race. It's because I love them, their souls and I love Jesus and the hope and peace he can give them. If you choose to stay as you are, no problem. I'll love you anyway and not drop you as a friend because you refused what I had to say. Now that that's cleared up . . we can return to this sura which includes a lot of evangelizing. Thus the tangent. :)


Verse 3 of this sura is curious to me as it contains the phrase "worthy of grace." I am mulling over this as I've always heard grace explained as unmerited favor. As in getting something wonderful when we did nothing to deserve or earn it. Therefore, can we be "worthy" of it? I think I'm getting entirely too nitpicky about some phrases, don't you? :-P

6. There is not a creature that moves on the earth whose nourishment is not provided by God, whose place of sojourning and depositing is not known to Him. All things conform to a manifest law.

I thought this was a nice verse reminding us of God's provision for us - the air we breathe, the water we drink, the sun that causes our food to grow, the bees and bats that pollinate food. God really took care of the details! This is likely those things mentioned that "conform to a manifest law."

I see in verse 13 another challenge concerning the Quran's beautiful suras. Let me say that I do believe they sound lovely recited in Arabic. They make no sense to me since I don't know Arabic, however, they are hauntingly beautiful and often make me cry because they bring to mind Syria and how much I loved the wonderful people there.

15. To those who desire the life of this world and its many allures, We shall pay them in full for their acts herein and will not withold any thing. 16. Yet these are the people for whom there is nothing but Fire in the world to come. Fruitless will be what they have fashioned, and whatever they have done will perish.

I thought these verses warned us about getting overly-attached to stuff here. A good reminder in this age of rampant materialism and desire for temporal things including power, fame and perhaps even land. How much better to seek first God's kingdom and then let all these other things be added to us (Matthew 6:33). In other words, prioritize! God's kingdom is much better -- and it's eternal!

I was glad to read a few more details about the Quranic view of Noah. Much of it was familiar, however, this

38. So he built the ark; and when groups of his people passed by him, they scoffed at him. He said to them: "Though you laugh at us (now), we shall laugh at you, as you are laughing at us.

didn't sit quite right. I never thought of Noah laughing at the destruction of the wicked. Can you imagine seeing everyone in your community and your extended family perishing and then laughing about it? I know it often saddens me when someone I know dies without having a relationship with God. I even felt sad for Saddam Hussein for going out into eternity without Christ on his side (according to my view, obviously.) So I thought Noah's reply in verse 38 was rather childish and not indicative of a man found righteous in God's eyes. The Bible declares that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32) so somehow I think Noah was the same. I think he wept for those lost in their sins.

The Biblical and Quranic accounts differ somewhat in that only Noah, his wife, three sons and their wives were saved in the ark in the Biblical account. I think a few others were saved in the Quran's account. Surprisingly, however, one of Noah's sons -- in the Quran -- didn't board the ark and was drowned while trying to escape the rising waters! This is in contrast to Shem, Ham and Japheth being saved in the Bible's version. I was also surprised when I read this verse that I assumed was concerning Noah's son who drowned.

46. "O Noah", He answered, "truly he is not of your family. He is surely the outcome of an unrighteous act. So ask Me not of what you do not know. I warn you not to be one of the ignorant."

Drowned Son wasn't Noah's true son? Noah was mistaken? Drowned Son was the "outcome of an unrighteous act." Does this mean Noah's wife had been fooling around and gotten pregnant by another man, therefore, this Drowned Son wasn't truly Noah's child at all? What is the thought on this?

Concerning Lot's story ...

81. (The angels) said: "O Lot, we have verily been sent by your Lord. They will never be able to harm you. So, leave late at night with your family, and none of you should turn back to look; but your wife will suffer (the fate) they are going to suffer. Their hour of doom is in the morning: Is not the morning nigh?"

In the Bible's account Lot's family is told to leave and not look back, however, the fate of Lot's wife is not predicted. Instead she just turned back towards Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt.

From the prophet Shu'aib

88. He said: "O my people, think. I have a clear sign from my Lord, who has also given me a goodly provision, and I do not wish for myself what I forbid you: I only wish to reform you as best I can. My success is from God alone. In Him I have placed my trust, and to Him I turn.

I liked the last part of this speech very much!

114. Stand up for the service of prayer at the two ends of day and the first watch of night. Remember that good deeds nullify the bad. This is a reminder for those who are observant.

I knew a bit of the importance of good deeds in Islam, however, I never knew good deeds could invalidate bad deeds. I know this can only be on a spiritual level since one's good deeds of giving to the poor, honoring parents, providing for family and so forth can never take away one's bad deed of raping a child. It's not like our scores of good actions can take away the fact that we hurt someone in a terrible way. Am I understanding this correctly?

116. If only there had been men endued with virtue in the ages before you, who could preserve men from doing evil in the world, other than the few We saved from among them. Those who were wicked followed that which made them dissolute, and became sinners.

117. Your Lord would not surely destroy unjustly human habitations so long as the people are righteous.
118. But if your Lord had pleased He could have made all human beings into one community of belief. But they would still have differed from one another, 119. Except those on whom your Lord had mercy for which He has created them. But fulfilled shall be the word of your Lord. "I will fill up Hell with jinns and men."

This passage is full of a number of interesting thoughts. On one hand you think men are responsible for preserving other men from doing evil (vs. 116) whereas in verse 118 I understand that God makes men differ in belief. And it's our difference of belief that causes some to be saved and others to be part of the ones filling Hell.

123. To God belong the secrets of the heavens and the earth, and all things will go back to Him. So worship Him and put your trust in Him; your Lord is not heedless of what you do.

And finally, another great verse to end the sura!

Your thoughts?

35 comments:

Suroor said...

Great post, my dear Susie!

You are too sweet. I am the one who is anti-proselytizing, haha! BUT, and there is a big BUT, I am against force - physical or emotional. I don't like it when people convert and hop on the proselytizing/dawah wagon to convert their families. I know it is because they really feel they will be saving their souls, and so I understand. But we can only share the Good News, like you do. We are not prophets on a mission.

It happens - money, force, blackmail, all is used and I personally don't like it. But then I'm one of those crazies who believe there is more than one way to reach God so...

Regarding Noah's son, the concept is that his son disobeyed Noah and God and by virtue of that act of disobedience he was not Noah's son anymore. He was an unrighteous person - act :)

This concept is actually followed by many people who cut off ties with their loved ones if they apostatize.

Amber said...

'there was Saleh send to Thamud'

The only thing I remember about this guy was that God apparently got His history wrong when He relayed it to Mohammed. As I recall, they know from archaeology that the people who lived in Al Hijir were the Lihayans and then the Nabateans (the same people who produced Petra) and that there is no evidence that the Thamud ever lived in Al Hijir. Also, the time line is wrong. According to the Qur'an, the Thamud existed after Noah and before Moses - archaeology times them between 7th century BCE and 5th century CE. The Qur'an says that they built houses in the rocks. Archaeology proves that these, like at Petra, are tombs.

'I never thought of Noah laughing at the destruction of the wicked.'

No, I can't imagine a righteous man (which Noah must have been for God to spare him and his family) laughing and taking pleasure in the deaths of *everyone*. It'd take a special kind of psychopath for that.

'Drowned Son wasn't Noah's true son? Noah was mistaken? Drowned Son was the "outcome of an unrighteous act." Does this mean Noah's wife had been fooling around and gotten pregnant by another man, therefore, this Drowned Son wasn't truly Noah's child at all? What is the thought on this?'

It's been awhile, but I think that's the explanation for those verses. That the son who died was the product of an extramarital affair. I can't remember if Noah's wife was ever punished for the adultery that God just told Noah about though...which would have made more sense, since it wasn't the *kids* fault. I know that's not why he drowned, he drowned because he didn't believe, but you'd think, in the midst of all this 'comfort' that God was trying to give Noah about the death of this child he had raised as his own, that some mention would have been made about, oh, hey, soon as the flood goes down, you should probably deal with your faithless wife. Or not, since there weren't any other women left...Sorry. I think I went around in a circle there. It's just weird and boggling to me that Noah watches his son die, and God's idea to make this 'better' is to say, 'never mind, he wasn't yours anyway!' because the revelation of infidelity makes it *so* much better.

'I knew a bit of the importance of good deeds in Islam, however, I never knew good deeds could invalidate bad deeds.'

Doesn't this harken back to the balance of the scales that Usman was talking about way back? (I don't think he used the scales metaphor, but that's what it boiled down to, essentially.) That if your good deeds outweighed the bad, then you got to go to heaven?

Amber said...

'Regarding Noah's son, the concept is that his son disobeyed Noah and God and by virtue of that act of disobedience he was not Noah's son anymore. He was an unrighteous person - act :)'

Ooohhh...Suroor says not. Maybe her answers the right one then. But it's not the one that I learned. It makes a bit more sense, at least. :)

Also, forgot about the evangelizing thing. I don't know. I mean, I know that it's part of what we're called to do, but the people who go round to your doors annoy me. I know that they mean well, but I don't like people coming to my house uninvited. And I agree with Suroor about the physical/emotional force. Neither way is the right way to spread your faith.

Suroor said...

Amber, you heard correctly. Free Minds and Quranists who don't follow hadith do say that Yam, Noah's fourth son, was illegitimate.

But all other interpreters including the revered Ibn Kathir explain it otherwise. Ibn Kathir even mentions the hadith of companions:

Allah said: "O Nuh! Surely, he is not of your family...". This means, "He (your son) is not of those whom I promised to save. I only promised you that I would save those of your family who believe."... Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Ibn Abbas said, "He was the son of Nuh, but he opposed him in deeds and intention."

Suroor said...

BTW, it is not just non-Muslims who find it odd that Noah laughed :)

Even as a child when I first read the Quran I remember asking my father "why does Allah use bad language when He is angry?" Haha! I found it odd that God and prophets cursed, got annoyed, mocked and laughed at those who were punished, and even swore upon fruits and trees - Allah swears upon the figs and olives - a beautiful surah otherwise.

There is a hadith that after some battled when the dead enemies were thrown into a dry well Muhammad walked up to that well, laughed and mocked them at which his companions corrected him that they were dead and couldn't hear him. he replied that they could. i found that hard to digest as well.

But like I once mentioned this is a very Arabic cultural manner of talking. By Arabic I mean the Gulf area. Even today sarcasm, cursing, mocking is very much part of the everyday life and I accept this manner of narration was not to add dramatic effect but to make it understandable to an audience that was familiar with this kind of behaviour.

Wafa' said...

As always i enjoyed your reading .

I know that a lot of people goes for the idea of love when evangelizing, but i still can not see it that way. i am still convinced that it goes with being "proud and vain" in their bad meanings. But that's me. And that goes for Islam, too by the way. I like it when others read and learn and search and then find what they want and love. But you said it very beautifuly when you said that you will still love people even though they won't accept Jesus's message. I love that cuz a lot will turn to being ugly and hateful if someone refused to accept their message. Thanks again dear :)

Verse 15 shows some of things i love about Islam, We are asked to build Earth and to take care of it, yet we are asked not to get attached to it so much. contradicting maybe but very deep.

46. "O Noah", He answered, "truly he is not of your family. He is surely the outcome of an unrighteous act. So ask Me not of what you do not know. I warn you not to be one of the ignorant."
It doesn't mean that Noah's son was illegal but mostly in the Quran that your family are not your family when they are from different religion or don't follow the right path as with Noah's son. Which doesn't go at all- in my mind- with the other teachings of Islam that even if you have a non-muslims parent or siblings, you should have great respect and love for them. and you should be loyal to them no matter what, beside it's ok in Islam for a muslim man to marry a christian or a jewish woman. so how can it's ok here and there and Noah can not pray or ask forgivness for his son ?? .

And yes one's good deed can not take away the destruction he made, you will always be punished for doing the bad deed no matter of the good you did. but here's a lovely point in Islam: there are two kind of bad deeds, the one you do against your self and the ones against others. And here is the outcome:- Doing something bad against yourself like drinking and such can be forgiven by Allah if you repent , the ones against someone else WONT be forgiven unless they forgive you or you are punished for what you did to them.
So in noway you can do good deeds and then hurt others and it's ok, no it's not.

By the way, most verses end in a beautiful way. Reminding us of God's power and His mercy.

Sorry for the long comment.but it's your fault , you encourage me , lol

Thanks for being so open-minded and beautiful :)

Durriyyah said...

11:3 - The Yusuf Ali translation does not use the phrase "worthy of grace" and I'm unsure where that would fit in to the verse. Can you give the full context?

11:38 - Here's the Yusuf Ali translation, "Forthwith he starts constructing the Ark: every time that the Chiefs of his People passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. They threw ridicule on him. He said: "If ye ridicule us now, we (in our turn) can look down on you with ridicule likewise!" Whenever you come across a verse where you're thinking "I don't like the word choice used here." Remember, you aren't reading the word God picked. You are reading the word some fallible guy picked in his translation.

"Drowned Son wasn't Noah's true son? Noah was mistaken? Drowned Son was the "outcome of an unrighteous act." Does this mean Noah's wife had been fooling around and gotten pregnant by another man, therefore, this Drowned Son wasn't truly Noah's child at all? What is the thought on this?" - No, God is telling Noah that his son is not his son because of the unrighteousness he committed himself, so essentially removing himself from the family on his own accord. We do not know what these acts were, but I can only imagine they were extremely heinous in order for this command to come down.

11:114 - We can blot out bad deeds with good, but there is more to repentance than just doing something good afterwards. For instance, if you wrong a person (raping, for instance), you have to make it right with that person, if you are able. I take this as a lesson that we are never "too bad" to be worthy of the Mercy of God, and that when we change our lives for the better, we haven't been doomed by our past. It gives hope for those who have wronged themselves in the eyes of God.

Beautiful post. Sorry for the "question-answer" type of responses, but when it comes to scripture, I find that I am pretty cut and dry about what it is and is not and try not to get emotion involved unless I'm talking about that aspect. :)

Suroor said...

Susanne, in Arabic the word used in verse 3 is فضله (fadlahu) which best translates to bounty or maybe favour but not grace and it is certainly not the Christian grace that you are familiar with; in Islam that concept does not exist. You earn God's grace/favour/bounty by good deeds and wrath by bad deeds. God does not grant you bounty without hard work.

Suroor said...

Amber you said:

"The only thing I remember about this guy was that God apparently got His history wrong when He relayed it to Mohammed."

I read that history article as well, and many other articles on the area and its people and it does seem there are glitches. I don't know how Quran readers explain that or understand those gaps, though.

Sarira said...

Me again!

Ma’shaAllah, Susanne, your idea that good deeds erase bad deeds but not like raping a child is exactly correct! Ma’shaAllah. (Fitra, eh :P Your innate disposition that guides you to Allah :D)

Here's the thing. We believe in Islam that sins are of two kinds. Those against God and those against people. For example, if you backbite, you are committing a sin against another person. It is not God you’re talking badly about, after all. So what happens?

Well, the general rule is this: God overlooks the sins you commit against Him and your good deeds erase them, but the sins you dare to commit against His servants- He does not forgive. He leaves it up to them to forgive. If they forgive you, you’re forgiven. If not, you’re held accountable for it!

See, this hadith:
Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah, said:

"Do you know who is the one who is bankrupt?" They said, 'The bankrupt is the one who has no money and no possessions.' He said, 'Among my Ummah, the one who is bankrupt is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer and fasting and Zakah (to his credit), but he will come having insulted this one, slandered that one, consumed the wealth of this one and shed the blood of that one, and beaten that one. So they will all be given some of his hasanaat, and when his hasanaat run out, before judgment is passed, some of their sins will be taken and cast onto him, then he will be cast into the Fire.'" (Muslim: 4/1998, Hadith no. 2581)

Also:

"Whoever wronged his brother with regard to his honor or any other matter, should seek his forgiveness today, before there are no longer any Dinars, or Dirhams; and if he has any righteous deeds, they will be taken from him, in accordance with the wrong he did; and if he has no hasanaat (good deeds), some of the sayi`aat (bad deeds) of his counterpart will be taken and added to his burden:" (Bukhari: Kitaab al-Mazaalim, Baab man kaanat lahu mazlamah 'inda rajul, Fath al-Baari, 5/101)

I'll be back tomorrow to answer about Prophet Nuh, inshaAllah. My family's BACK from the restaurant <3 Hehe! Well, at least I got to write a bit :D

Sarah said...

One very positive thing I got from the Quran was the inspiration towards letting go of earthly material things. I'm glad you got that here too.

I think with good deeds nullifying the bad, I thought about this in terms of the effect on one's character - replacing a bad habit with a better one so that you become a better person. I don't know if any Muslims ever saw it that way, but that's the way I was inclined to think of it at the time!

Sarira said...

I’m back to discuss Prophet Noah - first of all, we have to remember that Prophet Noah preached for 950 years (Qur’an). Who were the people who used to scoff at him? They were each generation. Each generation would come and actually teach their kids to mock Prophet Noah and his followers. But what did he do? Did he just say “haha, we’re gonna laugh soon”, right away? No, he waited, patiently, and continued to call them to the ‘way’…

Let’s take a look at these verses:

We sent Nuh to his people and he said, “My people, worship Allah. You have no god other than Him. So will you not guard against evil?" (Surat al-Muminun, 23)

We sent Nuh to his people: “I am a clear warner to you. Worship none but Allah. I fear for you the punishment of a painful day." (Surah Hud, 25-26)

The people of Nuh denied the Messengers. Their brother Nuh said to them, “Will you not guard against evil? I am a Messenger to you worthy of all trust. So fear Allah and obey me." (Surat ash-Shu‘ara', 105-108)

“I do not ask you for any wage for it. My wage is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds." (Surat ash-Shu‘ara', 109)

[Nuh said, “My Lord,] I said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Truly He is Endlessly Forgiving. He will send down abundant rain from the sky for you and bestow upon you more wealth and sons, and grant you gardens with running brooks.'"

[Nuh said, “My Lord, I said to my people,] 'What is the matter with you that you do not hope for honour from Allah, when He created you by successive stages? Do you not see how He created seven heavens in layers, and placed the moon as a light in them and made the sun a blazing lamp? Allah caused you to grow from the earth like a plant, and to the earth He will restore you. Then He will bring you back afresh. Allah has spread the earth out as a carpet for you so that you could use its wide valleys as roadways.'" (Surah Nuh, 13-20)

He [Nuh] said, “My Lord, I have pleaded with my people night and day, but my pleas have only added to their aversion. Indeed, every time I called on them to ask Your forgiveness, they put their fingers in their ears, wrapped themselves up in their cloaks, persisting in sin, and were overweeningly arrogant. Then I called upon them openly. Then I appealed to them in public and in private." (Surah Nuh, 5-9)

See how Prophet Noah used every means possible to deliver the message to the people- demonstrating the signs of Allah's existence, talking to open publicly, privately, telling them that he didn’t want money and that this wasn’t about getting a wage, warning them of a punishment, etc. He did this for 950 years! Can you imagine?

After doing all this, they continued to ridicule and taunt him and his followers. This is why Prophet Nuh finally answered that ‘one day we will ridicule you too’. But was he actually rejoicing in what he knew would be their punishment? NO, he obviously wasn’t. If he was actually rejoicing in their punishment, he would have said, ‘oh baby, can’t wait” after 50 years of preaching, not 950! But to have preached that long and still be met with such opposition- he told them this.

It sounds to me, actually, taking all these verses into account, like one last desperate approach, one last approach to get them to wake up. Like, ‘you think that by ridiculing us now, you’re the ones with the power, but don’t you understand that a day will come when you won’t be ridiculing us? Why aren’t you scared of that day? Why aren’t you scared of God”. I see that this 'threat' actually had an element of mercy- if he really wanted to rejoice in their punishment, he would have been all secretive about it and then that day of punishment been like "hahahha, suckers, eat our dust". But again, he warned them about that Day, trying to get them to come back to God's way.


continued

Sarira said...

As for Prophet Noah’s son, it is as Suroor said. The English translation really does sound like it is saying that he was illegitimate, but that’s only because of that translation. He was his legitimate son as Suroor said. So what happened here?
What happened here is that Prophet Noah almost seemed to be moaning the ‘loss’ of his son. He as a grieving father and human being seemed to be asking Allah about his decision to let his son suffer the fate of the disbelievers. Allah then let Prophet Noah realize that the spirit of Islam breaks down the barriers or race, color, origin. It transcends all of this and filial relations (kids and parent relations, not sure I’m using this word correctly, hehe). Our shared faith takes us to a whole level of sisterhood and brotherhood. If Prophet Noah was moaning the loss of his son, he only had to remember that all the rest of the Muslims that were to come would be his children/brothers and sisters. He may not know it yet, but soon, Prophet Noah will be able to call nations of people his ‘sons’ and they would be righteous people who serve Allah correctly and live upon His message.
In fact, I see this actually as a consolation for every single convert, Muslim out there. We are all one family, united in our faith. In fact, during the time that the Pagan Arabs persecuted the Muslims in Makkah, the Muslims had to leave ‘their families’ and ‘close relatives behind’. They also went to Madinah where the Prophet paired up a Muslim from Madinah with one from Makkah and they were their ‘new brothers’. They shared everything with each other as true brothers and even for a while, inherited from each other. Again, showing that Islam makes us family. Be you a white/black/European/asian/middle eastern/whatever you are, you are family.

I have a question though that I wanted to ask you but I need to look up something :D Be right back!

Sarira said...

Oh goody! I found it real fast!

See, one day my friends and I were discussing religion and one of my Muslim friends, let's call her Farah, was asking a christian friend how come they believed that Prophet Nuh would get drunk and the like?
Can you explain to us, cause honestly I did not get their explanation about this in the Bible:

What the Bible Says:
"And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered (naked) within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." Genesis 9:20-25

She also asked things like David (I don't know if I remember this correctly or not) but about the bible saying he committed adultery??

Susanne said...

Sorry for taking awhile to respond to these comments. I am going to reply as I read so bear with me. I'm sure there will be lots of good stuff to read! :)

Suroor, thanks for accepting me even though I am an evangelist at times! Ha, ha!

"It happens - money, force, blackmail, all is used and I personally don't like it. But then I'm one of those crazies who believe there is more than one way to reach God so..."

Yes, I don't like nor accept the money, force and blackmail used. I don't think those are genuine conversions either. That's why I don't like when people change faiths *so they can marry*! You change because you believe GOD wants you to not because you are in love with someone. I am quite a stickler on that. I don't want people to follow Jesus because they love me, but because they love HIM. I am not claiming to be your Savior. :)

I hope one day to be one of those "crazies who believe there is more than one way to reach God" IF God convinces me of the fact. Like I've told you before, it would be FINE with me if I am wrong and there are many ways to reach God. I'm not "Jesus is the ONLY way" because I am intolerant and want MY way to be the RIGHT way so I can mock and jeer when I'm proven correct. As Paul said about his people, "I wish all of them could be saved." I'd be A - OK with that!

Thank you for explaining about Noah's son and the ties to apostasy...hmmm! You know, I don't like when ANYbody cuts ties with family members for changing faith though I know it happens, sadly. :-S

Susanne said...

Amber, cool facts re: history and archaeology! Thanks for sharing those. Interesting!

"No, I can't imagine a righteous man (which Noah must have been for God to spare him and his family) laughing and taking pleasure in the deaths of *everyone*. It'd take a special kind of psychopath for that."

Yeah, the response struck me as one a child would make, "Stop teasing me! Stop it! You'll see! One day I will laugh at you when you drown!" Not something I would think a godly person would do. Most godly people I know show sincere grief for those whom they consider are dying without a relationship with God.

Wow, interesting that you did hear about Noah's wife's supposed infidelity. Well, it shows that that version must be out there somewhere because I seriously doubt you'd just make it up! I'm glad you shared it as that's how I interpreted it in my reading.

"God's idea to make this 'better' is to say, 'never mind, he wasn't yours anyway!' because the revelation of infidelity makes it *so* much better. "

Ha! You make me laugh! :)

Yes, that does seem very much like the scale-balancing thing...true.

"but the people who go round to your doors annoy me. I know that they mean well, but I don't like people coming to my house uninvited."

Just do like I do and don't answer the door if you don't want to talk to them. :) I'm not saying it's pleasant to have people come to your house or talk to you about God elsewhere, however, I do respect that they are taking their faith seriously enough and their concern for people's souls so I don't mind it. No force though. That should go without saying. :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, I can understand why a child would have problems with God using swear words. :)

" Even today sarcasm, cursing, mocking is very much part of the everyday life and I accept this manner of narration was not to add dramatic effect but to make it understandable to an audience that was familiar with this kind of behaviour."

I need to keep this in mind that the Quran was written for ARABS so it should be read with an Arab mindset. It's not as universal as they want us to believe. I've always thought Islam was for the Arabs although I know most Muslims today are not Arabs. Still it takes an acceptance of the Arabic language and culture to fully 'get' it, IMO. In that sense it's not western-woman friendly although I know there are many western women who would disagree since they are converts to Islam. But how many of those have changed their names to a more Arab one and started saying things like "Inshallah" and ""Maashallah" instead of their English equivalents? See what I mean?

Susanne said...

Wafa', thanks for sharing so candidly your views of evangelizing. :) I'm really glad when you speak out about these posts I'm writing about Islam. You always have interesting points to add so thank you for taking time to do this.

"I like it when others read and learn and search and then find what they want and love. "

That's so sweet! :) It reminds me though of a story in Acts where a man was reading the book of Isaiah and he really wanted understanding. God sent Philip to speak with him and explain the verses so the Ethiopian would understand. It's kind of like what you and others are doing in helping me understand the Quran. So I think God prepares hearts sometimes of people who truly want more understanding and in His goodness, He sends people such as Philip to help them understand. NOT and NEVER in an effort to force conversions. Maybe you've read about people who have done such hideous things. I strongly reject those and don't think they are true conversions anyway. But if someone is searching for truth and prays for help in understanding, what's so wrong about GOD sending a person to explain things to them? Not that all evangelism is this way, but that's one example.

"Verse 15 shows some of things i love about Islam, We are asked to build Earth and to take care of it, yet we are asked not to get attached to it so much. contradicting maybe but very deep."

No that makes a lot of sense. We are put on the earth and are stewards of it so we should take care of it. At the same time, we realize this is NOT our final destination so we don't get attached to the *things* here. Thanks for sharing that! Loved it!

"beside it's ok in Islam for a muslim man to marry a christian or a jewish woman. so how can it's ok here and there and Noah can not pray or ask forgivness for his son ?? ."

Excellent point. So do you think this has been misinterpreted somehow? I never fully understood the whole Muslim man marrying People of the Book thing either. Why would you marry someone not of your faith when your religion teaches they will be damned and counted as an unbeliever? I never liked that.

Thanks too for your explanation of the good and bad deeds and the two kinds of bad deeds. See now, you are a wonderful teacher on these things. I am SO GLAD I encouraged you to speak up. I realllllllllllllllly enjoyed what you had to say! Thank you, Wafa'!

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, thanks for your comments!

"Whenever you come across a verse where you're thinking "I don't like the word choice used here." Remember, you aren't reading the word God picked. You are reading the word some fallible guy picked in his translation. "

Good point! :) Thanks for providing another translation for me.

" I take this as a lesson that we are never "too bad" to be worthy of the Mercy of God, and that when we change our lives for the better, we haven't been doomed by our past."

That is a really lovely way to put it! Thanks much for your explanation of many of my points. I enjoy learning from your perspective!

Susanne said...

Suroor, thank you for the explanation re: "worthy of grace." Makes much more sense!

"You earn God's grace/favour/bounty by good deeds and wrath by bad deeds. God does not grant you bounty without hard work."

This is somewhat different than the Bible where God emphatically tells the nation of Israel that He did not choose them because of their goodness or lovely ways. Neither did He chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau because Isaac and Jacob were somehow better. In fact He chose them prior to their births so how could they have done anything to merit God's favor? Interesting differences to me!

Susanne said...

Sarah, yes, I think there IS a good focus towards letting go of the hold of materialistic things.

"I think with good deeds nullifying the bad, I thought about this in terms of the effect on one's character - replacing a bad habit with a better one so that you become a better person. "

Loved this thought! Very beautiful!

Susanne said...

Sarira, "He leaves it up to them to forgive. If they forgive you, you’re forgiven. If not, you’re held accountable for it! "

Does this mean their lack of forgiveness could make you end up in hell?

Thanks for your explanation about Noah. Very interesting thoughts! Just for information-sharing sake, Genesis 9 says this about him:

28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.

" I see that this 'threat' actually had an element of mercy- if he really wanted to rejoice in their punishment, he would have been all secretive about it and then that day of punishment been like "hahahha, suckers, eat our dust"."

Ha, ha....cute! :D

" Again, showing that Islam makes us family. Be you a white/black/European/asian/middle eastern/whatever you are, you are family."

Yes, I understand. I love this concept in Christianity too. The "family of God." But still I can honestly understand Noah's sadness for his son. I love my blood family and would be heartbroken for one of them to die without knowing God.

Re: your question...this is what I meant when I told you that God didn't "whitewash" the Old Testament. We do not believe people are sinless - even prophets. This is NOT so we can use their sins as excuses, but so we can learn from them that - wow! - sins have *serious* consequences. We think ONLY GOD is perfect. ONLY GOD is without sin. To say that prophets are basically sinless is putting them pretty close to deity levels. So, yes, those accounts are in the Bible and, yes, they were shocking to my friend Samer somewhat, too, when we first talked about them. He said the Jews did it to excuse themselves when they did wrong, however, as I explained just now when you see the consequences of their sins, you would be really stupid to do the same things just because David or Solomon or whoever did it. As if God uses that excuse anyway! :)

I *love* the fact God uses sinful people to do His will. It gives me *hope* that God can use me. Even with the bad things I have done, God can redeem me. Redemption is a huge concept in Christianity. Great questions! I hope that was helpful in a small way. Please ask more if you have them.


OK, I think I'm all caught up on comments from this sura! Thanks everyone! Loved 'em all!! :)

I AM NOBODY said...

OH MAN! The posts...the comments?! I am learning alot and see my own thoughts are being repeated here. I think this is such a wonderful thing-this dialog(if you could call it that) and all it's positivity and calmness...the way that each person is explaining, questioning, is such a positive way of going about this and is really a breath of fresh air. It's so wonderful to read both sides-you really do learn more this way.

I will try to be more active and leave my comments and understanding of things as well...each time I read a post I have all this stuff pop in my head to say but rarely have the time to stop and comment. As it is, I am making it a point to read them everyday-or when I see a new one-as fast as I can because I am usually in the middle of something.

Lots of love
Hope you're doing great and had a wonderful weekend...mine was extended by a day-out of town visiting my parents-and I have SO much to do...but ahhh...I am truly blessed for the people in my life-and you're one :)

Susanne said...

Sweet Shell, your comments always warm my heart! Thank you! <3

I would love to hear your thoughts, but realize you are a busy mother and don't always have time. If/when you get time, please share. If not, please enjoy. I'm so happy this dialogue has been helpful. :-)

I agree that gracious people have been involved in this discussion and although we don't always agree, I am grateful for the respectfulness in sharing.

Thank you ALL for such wonderful, thought-provoking, question-inducing (ha!) comments!

Sarira said...

Does this mean their lack of forgiveness could make you end up in hell?

This is an AWESOME awesome question. Ma'shaAllah. The answer is not, necessarily. See, what's we're saying is this. Let's say on the Day of Judgment I show up with 10 good deeds. Unfortunately, I back bit against you- you get one of my good deeds. Now my reservoir of good deeds has gone down 1....Will that lead me to hell? Only if I did more bad deeds than good. Does this mean that heaven relies on peoples' forgiveness? No, it means it relies on God's justice and His protective nature of His servants. God has said this- if you do something to one of my servants, justice must be accomplished- He will personally oversee that it does, even if it happens on the day of Judgment. He cares so much about us, He does not dismiss our feelings. It's not enough that a person just prays and fasts and believes in God- but goes around treating people badly- where is the consciousness that He created everyone and that when you treat someone badly, you are treating one of God's creatures badly?


To explain this point, my twin wrote 3 posts on this since many Muslims themselves don't realize the seriousness insulting/treating a fellow person badly. Part 1 is here:
http://www.muslimasoasis.com/2010/03/good-manners-part-1-of-3

(click on "Amina and Mariam" and you'll see the other parts; they're really important and really really short :D)

I'll be back to comment on your explanation to my question <3

Sarira said...

We think ONLY GOD is perfect. ONLY GOD is without sin

First of all, Susanne, thanks so much for replying to my question. I can understand what you are saying:D Second, I’ve just typed up my comment and I see it’s pretty long and full of q’s, again. I also want to say I honestly apologize if I offend you at all in these next comments.

Of course, we as Muslims, believe that God alone is PERFECT- in every way. (Oh, but it should be noted, that we believe that angels do not sin. Again, they have not been given 'free will', the test that we have been given. Does 'not sinning' make one a deity or divine? No, because the angels have no power (on their own), and could not even worship God without God granting them the leave to do so, + a million other differences between God and them, like God created them, lol. )

As for us humans- like you said- none of us are sinless/perfect- and for this reason- we strongly believe that not one of us will enter paradise without God's mercy , including Prophet Mohammed (from a hadith).

So, definitely, I can see why a Divine book would need to stress that these prophets were only human, as well, who also erred and were not 'perfect'. Definitely, these men were just that- men and this is a recurring theme in the Qur'an "am I not but just a man". There are also many verses in our Book, too, that show us their humanity, including the one we said earlier where Prophet Noah was sad about his son (and you could even chalk up the 'we'll scorn you back' comment to just a moment of humanity-again not that he actually meant he'd rejoice in their torture). We know that Moosa alyhee as salam felt a bit of fear when he came to throw his staff (that turned into a snake) in front of the other magicians. We now that Sulemain alyhee as salam made a small mistake in which he became distracted by the beauty of some horses, etc. We know that Prophet Mohammed once frowned when a blind man interrupted him in the middle of his conversation with very influential people (and God revealed the surah "Abasa"). So yes, we do not believe that the Prophets are sinless; only that they are the most steadfast in God's way. It is their character, their resolve, their sheer devotion to God that made Him chose them to lead others to the way.

That's why the concept you are saying makes sense to me, but the 'implementation of this concept' in the Bible, having the Prophets commit 'major' sins and heinous crimes-- I'm not really convinced of it. I went and read up the story of Prophet David (just the story not the Bible) before replying and I was seriously disturbed because he 'killed' a man out of lust for his wife. (I also saw a few other stories that shocked me.) When it comes to the prophets, I see that there is a difference between a sin and a 'crime'; killing is a crime. Doesn't the Bible say you should not murder? Isn't one of the Commandments also not to commit adultery? So we're looking here that Prophet David 'broke' 2 of God's 10 Commandments. That to me is a pretty big number!

I think, since you seemed rather shocked at Prophet Noah's sentence, you must understand my shock at such (so called) actions, especially given the fact that in Islam Prophet David was very pious and we are told to imitate his fasting (according to our beliefs he would fast every other day).
Therefore, this ‘story and the story of Noah getting drunk’, to me, like Samer said, would fall under the category of the Bible (even if its the OT) being altered/corrupted.

*continued

Sarira said...

But again, I do want to stress that we do not believe that any man is perfect. Only God is. If you remember when I explained the crux of Surat As Shams, I said that we believe that God created us with the inclination to do both good and evil, but He bestowed us with an innate disposition, the fitra, that points us to His path -therefore, yes, the Prophets could sin but to sin to that extent?

This also bring me to one of the major reasons why I can't get myself to accept the idea of original sin and the crucifixion of Jesus (God). I mean this part of the comment may be taken very offensively by the Christians on board but I am simply voicing aloud my questions. Since even the prophets, apparently (not that I believe this) could fall into such sin as 'committing adultery', why does God, who does not err or sin obviously, have to sacrifice himself (Jesus) for the (imperfect) nature of man which they did not create for themselves? When I asked this before, I was answered because the imperfect nature of man/his wanting to incline towards sin is the result of Adam and Eve’s sin, but I don’t really understand that. How could one personal sin by one couple ‘doom mankind’ and make mankind’s nature turn towards ‘sin’. Why did God have to sacrifice Jesus so that others (who didn't commit the particular sin that Adam and Eve committed) could be forgiven and saved? Does this mean that He thought about punishing all of mankind for one sin, in the first place? Why does mankind need to be forgiven for something they didn't do- they didn’t create the inclination to sin, they didn’t commit Adam and Eve’s sin, they didn’t choose ‘that nature’? And if Adam and Eve committed the first sin, what about Satan? He did not sin?

Redemption is a really big thing in Islam, as well. We actually believe that it is a sin to think that God is not capable of forgiving your sins/despairing of His mercy. To us, you have only to sincerely repent (which Adam and his wife obviously did) and you are forgiven.

I mean, remember when you asked about the 'eye to mentality' in Islam? To me the idea behind the crucifixion of Jesus is like the eye to some one else's eye mentality- Adam did a mistake (one eye), all of mankind is in trouble (someone else's eye) except that God sacrificed Himself (someone else again) to ‘redeem’ mankind. Why can't "God" implement the same mentality you were saying earlier- to just forgive when someone wrongs you? Why did He have to sacrifice this ‘son’, ‘a part of Him’, for such a simple human sin as eating a forbidden fruit?

I guess this has to do with what I told you earlier- we believe that God doesn't expect perfection from us, including Adam and his wife, etc, so He didn't need to sacrifice Himself in order to forgive us. He never expected perfection in the first place. He only expects that we sincerely repent continuously to Him. (remember that hadith I showed you where it said that if we did not err or sin, God would have created another people that did and who repented to Him and He would have forgiven them.)

I hope I didn’t sound all ‘ranting and screaming here’. I honestly am just ‘asking’ because I don’t understand these points. I’m taking your blog as my chance to finally ask straight out what I’ve really wanted to ask some people. I hope you don’t mind and you understand where I am coming from.

Oooooo but, I really liked what you said about 'using these people' who sin for His service. In Islam, we do believe we are all working in His service- we are all vicegerents on this earth, as faulted as we may be. We are His Servants. Glory be to Him !

Sundus said...

Hi, there!

I have looked through a few posts here- it's interesting to see a Christian's idea of the Qur'an.

But I thought that since Sarira's has brought the topic to this, I could ask you somethings. What is your understanding of accountability in Christianity? Are you absolved from all acceptability and responsibility because Jesus paid for your sins? Or are you actually held accountable for the sins that you do here on Earth? And if you are held accountable, then how did he pay for your sins? And if you are not held accountable, what is the purpose of life?

Those have always been my questions on this matter.

LOL, don't blame me. Sarira is the one who changed the topic.

Susanne said...

Sarira, I appreciate your coming back to answer my question about whether someone's lack of forgiveness could make you go to hell. Your answer was very clear and thank you for the link to your sister's blog so I could read for more information on the topic. The Islamic point system is rather intriguing!

"I think, since you seemed rather shocked at Prophet Noah's sentence, you must understand my shock at such (so called) actions, especially given the fact that in Islam Prophet David was very pious and we are told to imitate his fasting"

Ha, ha...point taken! :D I suppose I was just used to the Bible stories. I am grinning as I imagine your shock. Sorry. :)

Good follow-up questions. I'll have to think about doing a post concerning them as it seems a bit much to type here. Hmmm, I think I wrote about this on another blog in the comments one day. Maybe I can find it and post it if I recall which post it was. I know which blog. Great questions.

Sundus, welcome! I laughed at your statement about Sarira being the one to change the topic. That girl! ;-) Lots of great questions. I should start a post for people who want answers to questions such as you two have posed. They are wonderful questions. Stay tuned. I'll see if I am up to helping you with them in the coming days. I don't think I can start an adequate reply this time of night, but soon...if I can tear myself away from the translation of the Quran that I am reading. ;-) Thank you both for your interest and great questions!

Susanne said...

Sarira, and Sundus --OK, y'all check the Christian Q&A Session post inspired by your questions!

http://susanne430.blogspot.com/2010/05/christian-q-session.html


:-)

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