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

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"The Eds" & Notes on Quran - Sura 23

The Eds were eager to make a brief appearance!

Laughed: with friends while playing Apples to Apples at our Memorial Day gathering on Monday night

Amused: when Michael - 8 years old - recently began a sentence with "When I was a kid..."

Enjoyed: my first tomato sandwich, fried squash & watermelon of 2010 within the last few days

Visited: my grandparents & parents with Michael yesterday

Played: baseball with my 4-year-old neighbor, Walker, and Andrew on Saturday evening. Walker thought Andrew calling me "Susie" was so funny that he wanted Andrew to have an "ee" ending nickname and called him "Andrewi."

Determined: to finish my translation of the Quran, God & Government and A Christian Guide to the Quran this month

On that note here are a few thoughts from the next sura!


Sura 23 -- Al-Mu'minun

"The True Believers" was a nice sura with characteristics of the believers and some descriptions about creation and resurrection day. I liked quite a bit in this chapter and didn't make note of much for this post.

Except for this because it was a bit amusing how this translation put it.

41. So they were rightly seized by a mighty blast; and We turned them into mouldy rubbish: A good riddance of the wicked people!

See what I mean? :) Not that the destruction is funny just the wording here in English. :)

This verse:

43. No nation can live beyond its allotted time, or lag behind.

made me think of how empires have risen and fallen. Empires that were so mighty and majestic that likely no one would think they'd ever have weaknesses. It made me realize how the status of our nations are dependent on God alone. It's not because we are somehow good that we are in great nations or not. It's all in His hands and we would be wise to realize this and live according to His standards of righteousness.

78. It is He who gave you hearing, sight, and hearts, but only few of you give thanks.

This verse was convicting! How often do I take my abilities to hear, see and love and feel for granted.

102. Only those whose scales are heavier in the balance will find happiness. 103. But those whose scales are lighter will perish and abide in Hell for ever.

The scales analogy always takes my attention. I agree that we should have lots of good deeds, but not for the hopes of our salvation. I find it interesting that Isaiah has this to say about our righteous acts.

6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

As my post about the mechanic with dirty fingers described the other day, how can we clean ourselves when we are dirty?

13 comments:

Suroor said...

"When I was a kid" cracked me up :)

I love tomato sandwiches, yummy!

You know what I was thinking today, Susie? I was thinking about the differences between the three Abrahamic faiths, and I think I have come to a conclusion. I think Judaism and Islam are both too practical and lay immense emphasis on Law (rules and rituals both), while Christianity turns mysticism into practicality and balances faith or Grace with works.

I read something somewhere which made me realise that following the Law is actually not very difficult. Religions make us believe that we are inherently bad people and don't like to obey Law, but it isn't so difficult. Majority of the people will not lie, cheat or steal; they will not covet their neighbour's wife. These are Laws that are believed to guide our morals, but even those who don't grow up in any religion or grow up in some remote and *small* religion are also moral people and also believe in not stealing, cheating, lying or committing adultery. Even the pagans of pre-Islamic Arabia were very honourable and moral people.

Hence to expect people to believe in the Law and obey it is not too difficult. The difficult part is when we are told to love our enemy or to turn the other cheek, or NOT stone an adulteress, to forgive and treat your enemy like yourself; that is difficult. Very few are able to do that and those are the ones who follow both the Law and received the grace.

I'm a fan of mysticism so the message of Jesus appeals to me a great deal. I know that I can't love my enemy but Jesus set the bar so high that by following him I have come to a point in my life after more than a year that I no more hate my enemy. I never thought that was possible, but it is possible. Similarly I have noticed a sharp decline in the volatility of my temper. I believed in an eye for an eye and in that process often ripped off the nose as well :) But once I begun to *try* to turn the other cheek, I often stop with just before I claim an eye. I don't think I would ever be able to turn the other cheek but I have found ways to put a lid on my temper.

I have also learned that I am no one to judge anybody. When Jesus, who was the only sinless human did not cast the first stone, then who am I?! We often don't notice that when he challenged men who were sinless to cast the first stone, no one did, but he didn't either although he was the only sinless there and the only one who had the authority to pronounce a judgment.

So my crux is that yes, "how can we clean ourselves when we are dirty?" And only a Christian can ask that.

Carmen said...

We love Apples to Apples too. :)

I have to laugh at "Andrewi". Too funny!

Sarira said...

Awww, Susanne, it sounds like you had a nice Memorial Day! How cute of Andrewi (hehe) and little Michael. What Michal said reminds me of my (then) 5 year old cousin. She was like “when I was young”, and I was like hahaha, omG!!

78. It is He who gave you hearing, sight, and hearts, but only few of you give thanks.

I thought this might interest you- Islamically we believe that there are certain ‘things that only the heart does (e.g. ‘an intention is formed by the heart’), certain things that the lips do (‘e.g. praising Allah verbally), certain things that the body does and certain things that requires all the body and heart . One of these is giving thanks.

For us, giving thanks is not only a matter of turning to Allah and saying “Thank you”. We thank Allah for the gift of eye sight by lowering our gaze from all that He has forbidden/evil. For the gift of our mouth, for example, to thank Him, we would , do dhikr (remembrance of Allah verbally), eat and drink only what He has allowed, refuse to speak ill of others or curse, etc. For the gift of the heart, we can thank Him for it, by loving all that He loves. For the gift of time, we can show our thanks by making use of it- remembering every day, through out the weeks, months, years that we live…you see what I am saying?

As my post about the mechanic with dirty fingers described the other day, how can we clean ourselves when we are dirty?

Only a blabber mouth like me would take this (most likely) rhetorical question and answer it!! Haha!
But seriously, Suzy, did you happen to see the comment in the post about St. Paul where I quoted a Christian explaining that ‘works was needed’ not to ‘clean ourselves’ but because He lovingly put that standard and appreciates what little work we do? The ‘art example’ vs. filthy rags’?
Although I liked the other example more, I’ll try again. It’s sorta like this. Let’s imagine a teacher whose entire class is failing. The teacher, rather than failing them, tells the students that there are ‘bonus projects’ and all they have to do is do the projects and they will ‘pass’ at the end of the year. The ‘more projects they do, the better their grade will be’.
Now, let’s think about this logically. Is it their works that is the reason for their ‘being saved in that class’ or the teacher’s mercy and kindness for putting such an easy standard and even accepting these ‘projects’?
Again, we believe that none of us deserves heaven and none of us can earn heaven without God’s Mercy, including Prophet Mohammed, as I told you before.
It is out of His Mercy, that He appreciates any ‘willingness’ we demonstrate that we truly desire to be near Him, (His Throne is the roof of Heaven).

Our willingness is demonstrate d through our actions-

Faith= input, Good deeds= output.

Those who are truly eager to meet God and love Him will ‘race’ to meet Him by doing good deeds.
Input + Output + God’s Mercy (which is in the first place needed for us to have faith and to do good deeds)= going to heaven

Sarira said...

Here’s another way to think about it (Islamically, though, I’m not sure what you guys believe):
Shaitan or Satan believed
in Allah- we have no about that.

He was actually in jannah with Allah. So of course, he knew Allah existed. Not only that but Shaitan actually said (and it is recorded to us by the Qur’an):
[Iblis (Satan)] said: "My Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are resurrected."
(79) (Allah) said: "Verily! You are of those allowed respite
(80) "Till the Day of the time appointed."
(81) [Iblis (Satan)] said: "By Your Might , then I will surely mislead them all.

So Shaitan called Allah His Lord and also swore by Allah's might. He knew/knows that Allah is Powerful and Mighty!

Here is belief then.

But Shaitan is not promised jannah- for his actions, and his insistence to deviate mankind, take them away from the Path, for his refusal to bow down to Allah’s commandment, he is not promised jannah. Why? Because all though “he knew” and “believed in God”, his actions did not demonstrate any true ‘belief’ (output= obedience to God).

One other thing I wanted to mention- not everything to us has to do with atoning from sins/cleaning ourselves. As I told you before, we believe that we are already in debt to God just for the life He gave us- living my life the way that pleases Him, then, and doing as many good deeds as possible again shows that I really do realize how in debt I am and how grateful I am…how much I love him.

Again, ‘doing’ and not only ‘believing’.

I have more to say on this topic but I am not trying to ‘convince you’- only explain the Islamic way of thinking, so I’ll leave it at that. However, I did come across a website which was discussing the divide between believing ‘in salvation alone’, ‘salvation with works’ using Christian verses which I wouldn’t know if they are taken out of context or are wrong translations or not- for this reason, I am referring it to you:
http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/mine/salvation.htm

I thought this one was
interesting James 2:14, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

p.s. I hope you accomplish all that you plan to :D

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for your great comment. I enjoyed reading how you thought of the 3 Abrahamic religions and what conclusions you reached. I understand your thoughts that most people are basically good. I don't know if that is true or not. Maybe we do good because we are taught we must in order to please God/family/society. If we had our own ways and didn't fear a God or the police or disappointing someone maybe we would be more likely to steal something we wanted or sleep with some handsome dude who interests us. Lying seems to come easy when it's convenient for covering my tracks. And I know of remote places where it seems thievery is common, actually. Some believe playing games while at work and checking personal e-mail and Facebook is thieving from your employee so there are a variety of ways we do cheat in some way or another, I suppose. I don't know. I guess I only parrot that which I've been taught and believe that we are **prone to** doing bad things. Like we don't have to be taught to do the bad stuff. Rather we are generally taught how to be good - how to share, look out for others and not lie or speed or whatever. Maybe people on your side of the world are just good and I am in a bad state. We'll chalk it up to that! :)

I think the very reason Jesus challenged us to do things differently - almost radically - is because he knew it wasn't something normal for us. It's not normal to "go the extra mile"especially when this meant a Jew had to carry the backpack of his Roman oppressor. Who does that willingly? Only someone who is obeying his Lord's instruction and following his example. You are SO RIGHT in saying it takes receiving grace. Excellent point and this is what I mean when I say God has to work through us. No one naturally loves her enemy. It's a work of God in us.

" I believed in an eye for an eye and in that process often ripped off the nose as well :) "

Ha, ha...You are so cute! I love your examples!

"but he didn't either although he was the only sinless there and the only one who had the authority to pronounce a judgment."

Exactly!! Jesus extended mercy to her so this is an example for us to also be merciful to people when they sin. After all the next one needing mercy and forgiveness might be me or you!!


The reason I emphasis the whole cleaning deal is this. Most people think if they are good enough they can be ushered into God's heaven. This essentially boils down to you being your own savior. You are doing the good deeds, therefore, you deserve (have earned) a good spot in God's eyes. By contrast I argue that God is our savior, He cleans us and He does good through us. Yeah, maybe mystical it is. :) Who knew I was a mystic! Ha, ha!

I enjoyed your comment. So interesting as always. I appreciate the thought you put into your replies. I always look forward to reading what you have to say! :)

Susanne said...

Carmen, it would be fun to play that game together! Andrewi would love it as well! Ha, ha!


I loved your recent post on redemption! So encouraging!

Susanne said...

Sarira, I love kid stories of "when they were young"! Ha, ha. Sounds like your cousin thought she was so grown! :-D That's what I told Michael...."what are you now? A teenager?" ;-)

LOVED the explanation of honoring God with sight, mouth, heart, etc.! That was really nice! I'm glad you explained it more fully!

"But seriously, Suzy, did you happen to see the comment in the post about St. Paul where I quoted a Christian explaining that ‘works was needed’ not to ‘clean ourselves’ but because He lovingly put that standard and appreciates what little work we do? "

I saw new comments, but haven't had time to review them all yet, but I plan to do so,Lord willing. I appreciate so much your taking time to write them!

"Again, we believe that none of us deserves heaven and none of us can earn heaven without God’s Mercy, including Prophet Mohammed, as I told you before."

I agree. None of us deserves heaven.

"Those who are truly eager to meet God and love Him will ‘race’ to meet Him by doing good deeds.
Input + Output + God’s Mercy (which is in the first place needed for us to have faith and to do good deeds)= going to heaven"

Cute equation! :)

This is what I believe as well.... ---------------> James 2:14, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?


I always said good deeds were a result of salvation. If you have no deeds then your faith is dead. We also have a verse which I've quoted on my blog or somewhere before (ha!) that even the devil believes in God and trembles. So yes I hear you on that. Actually it's in James 2:19

"You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

We do good works BECAUSE of God's salvation. This is why if we have no works, James says our faith is dead. A saving faith works! God saves and works though us so that our good deeds are radically good deeds like loving our enemies and so forth! That's my POV anyway!

Thank you for explaining the Islamic POV. I really appreciate that! You are a good teacher. :)

Suroor said...

Susanne, I wanted to mention that I do believe in laws. I think we should all have laws and rule to follow. But what I mean is that it is not difficult to obey laws (unless you are a woman, lol, because then the laws are different and in favour of men, haha).

But most religions teach that you have to have faith in God as well as follow the law and that is something I like. But for that you have to be convinced that the man bringing you the law is a good human being with a sound character and is not a cult leader of sorts. And that is where we all differ from each other in our belief: a Jew would claim Jesus lied that he was the Messiah, but a good Jew who believes in God and follows the law and is not a terrorist is a good believer whether or not he believes in Jesus.

A Christian thinks Muhammad was a false prophet but if he does good in this life and believes in God and is not a terrorist then he is a good believer whether or not he believes in Jesus.

A Muslim believes in all previous prophets but insists that Muhammad was the Last Prophet while Jews think it was Moses and Christians claim it was Jesus, but if a Muslim believes in God and follows the law and is not a terrorist then whether or not he believes in Jesus as the Messiah and the Final Prophet or Moses as the Last Prophet, he is a good believer.

I see great women commenting on your blog and I *do* see goodness in them, some are Muslim, some Christian (from different denominations), some UUs or agnostic. I see goodness in them all. I see them believing in God and doing good and in my eyes they are all equal. It doesn't matter WHO they follow as God's message bearer as long as they follow the message to do good.

I agree that the Quran has some passages that would make you cringe (Ahzab anyone? lol) but if a Muslim does not kill his enemy, or chop off some kafir's fingers, or conduct raids, or keep female slaves for sex - something which the VAST MAJORITY of Muslims today don't do - should we still look down upon them because they don't follow OUR law?

I am not a strict Muslim like my father. My thinking is very different from his but I really think he was a good human being and definitely not the kind many non-Muslims think traditional Muslims are like. It may have to do with the fact that he totally ignored volatile passages from the Quran. In all my life I never heard him ONCE refer to such passages. He only mentioned the good and the beautiful both from Quran and hadith. I tend to look at the whole picture, though.

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for your follow-up comment. Yes, I see your point. I hate I come across that look down upon people who don't believe in "my Law." I guess I need to work on that and that's one reason I definitely need that "Judge not" verse tattooed on my hand to remind me alllllll the time.

I agree that there are lovely people from ALL walks of life. I've never said otherwise. I hope all good people will make it to heaven no matter what religion they follow or don't follow. I'm not convinced of that, but I hope for it! I am fine with being wrong thinking Jesus is the only way if it means God's mercy includes (good) people no matter how they believed. I think I've told you this before.

I like hearing about your dad. :)

Thanks much for all you said. I enjoy what you have to share with me.:)

And I totally agree that there are all lovely women who comment here. They are truly THE BEST! :)

Durriyyah said...

Ha! I was wondering what "the eds" was… fun!

23:43 - Ahhh, I wish more people thought the way you do. It is hard to listen when people say that we are "losing America" through whatever ails us in our day and time… it seems to change through the decades. Yes, there have been great empires and countries, but the fact is that it is a locality and that we should work on our surrounding communities first and make sure we are walking in the footsteps of those we hold as role models. The name of the place you live could change, the social climate could change, but that doesn't mean all that we know is gone.

23:78 - It is convicting! How often do we even think "My, how great it is to have both lungs working" or anything of the like. God willing, we can remember our health before our death and be grateful.

23:102 (actually the Isaiah verse) - When I read that, it reads to me that the righteous acts are actually impure, so with impure intentions. They would be empty and void of any real righteousness. God knows best. I keep thinking to myself that I need to read the OT so I have more solid, recent knowledge to pin point exactly what I'm trying to say, with examples and such. That though, is quite a daunting task in itself, which other things are pretty high on my "to do" list. Maybe after Ramadan (after two classes I'm taking now are done, then Ramadan, Eid, and then I will be taking it easy - good time for reading - while I get ginormous before having the baby in late Oct, inshaAllah (God willing)). In short, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that we are not "clean" enough to have our sins forgiven, and how this is a solid statement by Jesus in the Gospel(s). I understand the OT account, to which Muslims believe they were tested with something very valuable to them to make them think twice before committing the act, but I just don't see this concept in the NT Gospels. You've stated somewhere (sorry, I can't pinpoint where it was) that there are some concepts that are repeated over, and over, and over in the Qur'an. I know this repetition in the OT, and in the Gospels as well with some very key pieces of doctrine, which is why I hold the expectation that it would be clear and explicit when talking about us being "unclean" in which we can not gain repentance without the blood of a sacrifice.

Ooookay, I'll leave it at that. Sorry to keep bringing that subject. *blush* I just can't hold it in! :P

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, it would be neat if you read the OT eventually just to get a better understanding of others out there. ;) But yeah I can see how it would be daunting, but maybe one day.

" In short, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that we are not "clean" enough to have our sins forgiven"

Yes, I understand. Maybe having God as the Hero/Savior of the story is wrong and doing good works is enough. I'm not saying that sarcastically, but really considering other points of view.

"Ooookay, I'll leave it at that. Sorry to keep bringing that subject. *blush* I just can't hold it in! :P "

No problem! I love your honesty and enthusiasm. :) Thanks much for your lovely comments!

Durriyyah said...

Oh, God being the Hero/Savior is not wrong at all! I just believe he was always the hero in allowing us to repent for our sins. We show our love to Him through our deeds, but he opened the door from the beginning of time for us ask for forgiveness. :) Sometimes we have had to pay the price and we are tested with what we love (OT sacrifice of animals as an example), but we have always been good enough to ask for this forgiveness directly from the Creator, Sustainer, Judge... God.

I have read a large part of the OT, but the knowledge is old and starting to fade, so I need to regroup my brain around it. :)

Susanne said...

Thanks for your further comment. I DO understand where you are coming from! Sleep well and hope to talk to you again soon! :)