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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quran -- Some Final Thoughts & Comparisons

Finally this post is done! It's from questions asked of me when I announced I'd finished reading the Quran. Please keep in mind these impressions are mine according to my reading. You are welcome to share your own similar or vastly different impressions if you'd like. So please know these are merely my opinions as is most everything else on this blog except what I quote from others. :-)

That said, I shall now move on.

What are your impressions of the Quran as a whole?

The Quran - as a reminder - is mostly made up of very small portions of the stories Bible readers recognize from the Old Testament and Gospel. For example, while there are many references to Moses and Pharaoh, there is not much about Moses' leadership among the Israelites and God's intervening care for the people as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. And aside from Moses and Joseph, not much at all is shared from the other great Bible stories. No mentioning of Jesus' wonderful teachings or lessons you could learn from the Old Testament kings and judges and prophets. Mostly the message of the Quran was God's creative and sustaining power (which was good and often full of beautiful imagery!) and the fact that Muhammad wasn't a poet/sorcerer/madman and people who rejected his message would roast in hell while the believers would recline on couches, drink wine, eat fruit and enjoy gardens, rivers and women in heaven!

The Quran didn't really give hope for God's power in helping you overcome your wicked ways. It was more of a threat/fear-based model that if you disbelieve and disobey the prophet, you would go to hell. I didn't see any place where God said "come to Me and I will clean you and help you live a life pleasing to Me" such as He offers in the Bible. Instead striving, endeavoring, working very very hard is impressed upon those who want to be favored in God's eyes on judgment day. So maybe I should say it is a reward-based model as it did offer things pleasant to desert people as waiting in the hereafter for those who believed and obeyed Muhammad.

The Quran did away with the need for Jesus' blood. Man has become his own savior ... with some mercy of God thrown in there if you believed Muhammad.

Peace is only for believers. There is little call to show good works to your enemies and love them so they will see the divine goodness of God as He or His principles live out in you. While I do see outward goodness in Muslims and adore most of the Muslims I've met, I don't see this outward goodness to your enemies stressed in the Quran which seemed to have a more confrontational approach to unbelievers on par with the Joshua days in the OT when the Israelites were taking over the Promised Land.

Was it what you expected?

I think it was mostly what I expected as I knew going into my reading that Muslims believed strongly in working for salvation (or for God's favor) and this was only confirmed by what I read. I don't think I expected the same message over and over and over again. I felt the "Muhammad, don't worry. You are a prophet and not a poet/sorcerer/madman and We will vouch for you in this Quran" was distracting as was the constant need to threaten hell for disbelievers and promise reclining couches and big, bright-eyed maidens as rewards for believers. I read the Quran straight through so I'm sure these don't stick out to Muslims who just read favorite chapters and verses, but if you ever read the Quran straight through, you'll see what I mean. I like a little more variety and would have enjoyed hearing the stories of David, Solomon, Elijah, Jesus and others in more detail. There are a lot of life lessons to be learned from these Bible stories.

Did you like it overall?

Yeah, I enjoyed the experience of reading it and posting notes and reading the feedback from Muslims especially as they told me the background information on the verses. It was helpful in learning more about their faith and cherished beliefs.


Would you recommend the Quran to others?

I would recommend it to others so they could learn more about Muslims. I think it would be helpful to have a Muslim friend to explain some things as certain passages seem to come out of nowhere and a Muslim friend would be able to share the stories leading up to those particular revelations. This is particularly important for those passages that seem very harsh on unbelievers as the average non-Muslim reader would find this intolerance difficult to understand and merely be further proof in her mind that Islam is not a religion of peace as Muslims often say it is. A Muslim friend could provide much-needed context.

Did it give you any ideas about Muslims or Islam?

I already had ideas of Muslims and Islam from meeting people online, reading blogs and traveling to Syria last year. Most of my experiences with Muslims have been wonderful and I consider many of them as dear friends. The Quran was helpful in showing me a bit about their beliefs and where they are coming from. For instance it's not wise to expect Muslims to turn the other cheek or love their enemies as they are not commanded to do these things as followers of Jesus are. So I need to keep these things in mind when I deal with Muslims because we aren't coming from the same set standard. "The Reality" is different ... their holy book declares something different for them from what Jesus says for me and I would be wise to keep this in mind as I seek to understand my Muslim friends. That's just one example.



Lastly I was asked to share the message of both the Bible and Quran in five points. I tried to summarize them with the top things that stand out the most to me. Of course my thoughts on the Bible are more complex since I grew up with it.



MESSAGE OF THE BIBLE

1. God created all things good. He enjoyed fellowship with His creation.

2. Humans sinned and these offenses against a holy God broke fellowship. Think of your spouse cheating on you and how this raises a huge wall.

3. God didn't leave man in his separated (broken from fellowship) position, but made a way to restore fellowship. Therefore, belief in Jesus' work on the Cross is necessary for restored fellowship. The Cross represents the meeting of God's justice and mercy because God is both just and merciful. And God alone is the Savior.

4. When we put our trust in God's Way for salvation, He then enables us to live in ways that please Him. Thus our good works aren't performed to save us, but they are a result of walking daily with a holy, loving God.

5. Because God is Love, people know we are His disciples by the way we love others - our family, friends, the strangers on the street, even our enemies. It takes little effort to love those who are kindhearted and treat you well, yet God enables us to love people even when they are difficult.


MESSAGE OF THE QURAN

1. God wants our worship.

2. God does not have partners.

3. Although God is the savior, we must believe Muhammad's message, obey Muhammad and do good works (give to charity, pray, fight for God's causes, strive to do good) in order to have better chances at obtaining paradise. Because there are scales to weigh your good and bad deeds.

4. Muhammad is not a poet, sorcerer or madman as God vouches for him in the Quran and gives examples of previous prophets whose messages were rejected in like manner.

5. Be good to fellow Muslims, be unified, just and peaceful amongst yourselves. Mixed message on how to treat those outside of the faith - sometimes it was with some kindness, other times it was harsh fighting and still other times it seemed just leave them alone as long as they aren't bothering you.


Any other questions? Now feel free to share your own thoughts if you wish.

27 comments:

sarah said...

Susanne,
Thanks for those interesting comments. It is reefreshing to see someone with a 'fresh' perspective as I have grown up reading the Quran I can't remember what my first impressions were!

In response to you points I just wanted to make some observations:

1) I thik Islam teaches us to be good to all. There are so many verse of 'and the kindred, needy, wayfarer, orphans' etc that it is not only for Muslims. This was also demonstrated in the practices of the prophet Muhammad where he showed humility and kindness to all - even his open enemies as at the fall of Mecca where no enemies were punished.

2) I think Muslims are told to try and reach peace in society. This is done through allowing freedom of conscience and of worship for all. Also it is clear 'fight them until there is no presecution' meaning that once freedoms are established, peace should be upheld. There is no need for more war. Peace in the Quran also refers to inner peace of the soul and not just to peace of society.

3) I feel that God makes so many promises of forgiveness that this is the incentive to change your ways. Forgiveness and mercy is more or less guaranteed.

4)God wants our worship. True I believe that is correct but He wants it so that we can attain inner peace for ourselves and live in peace - not because He needs us to worship Him.

-----------------------------------
I also agree about your perspective regarding Jesus. The Quran states that it was sent to 'clear Jesus' of the false allegations made against him (ie. That he wanted people to worship him as a god).

I think that Jesus' teachings are found in the Quran but people have to know how to recognise them! Surah Luqman sounds a lot like Jesus to me. I think Muslims' dont know exactly who Luqman was and I'm only offering it as a possibility.

sarah said...

susanne, I didn't mean to be offensive in my comment about 'false allegations' I was just citing this as the reason why Muslims and Christians would not come to a consensus over the Quran. There is a fundamental divergence of views.

I should of made that clearer but my one-year old was about to pull the keys of the keyboard!

Suroor said...

I greatly enjoyed your post, Susie, thank you so much!

The reason I feel I love religions but also that I don't favour any organised religion is because while they give us so much beauty, they are not perfect either. Scriptures remind me that so often. Anyway, I digress...

You have often mentioned the Christian teaching of "love your enemy" while discussing the Quran. I was wondering if Christians really follow that teaching? The greatest example that comes to my mind is that of the Amish who forgave the man who killed their children. That was brilliant. It wouldn't happen in a Muslim community since Shariah calls for blood money etc so I know what you mean - scripture *does* guide our behaviour.

However, the Amish reaction is NOT the norm. Bush called the War on Terror a crusade. I wonder why he couldn't forgive his enemy Bin Laden?! Was Bush, and the whole of America actually, offering the other cheek or are they claiming an eye for an eye?

What I am saying is that the message of the Bible is great but it is not always followed. We can certainly say that it is wrong not to follow the message, but the fact is it is still not followed so why blame Muslims who actually ARE following the message of their Book and claiming an eye for an eye?

I know I have often said that Jesus raised the bar too high - definitely higher than Muhammad did - and so when you try to reach the stars (as Jesus wanted) you may just hit the ceiling. In the end I may not love my enemy but not hate him/her either. And I HAVE done it; it CAN be done. I have reached a point where I don't hate my enemy anymore. I'm not sure if I would have been as forgiving as the Amish. But they did it too and marvelously!

I feel the message of the Quran of pursuing your enemy until you have either subdued him/her (after which you MUST maintain peace) or taken an eye for an eye is a very universal lesson. It is not unique to Islam although I will also give credit to Christianity in that the message of loving your enemy is quite unique and as far as my knowledge goes only also exists in Buddhism. Even Hinduism doesn’t preach that much tolerance and patience.

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Many thanks!

Susanne said...

Sarah, I enjoyed reading the observations you had on my post. Very nice thoughts! Oh, no offense taken about the allegations re: Jesus. Ha! I've heard those before so it wasn't fightin' words! ;)

I'm glad you enjoyed my 'fresh perspective.' :D Thanks much for your comments!

Susanne said...

Suroor, lots of good stuff in your comment. The Amish example you gave was a good one. I know of others who have forgiven wrongs against them. The guy who started Voice of the Martyrs regularly loved his enemies even as they tortured him in a Communist prison in Romania. And I've read of plenty of others like him. I don't think loving our enemies is practiced enough. Of course not...otherwise society would be vastly different. Remember we talked about how Christians were not truly following Jesus and why I take the whole "Christian" label with a grain of salt these days?

Samer asks me about the America/Bush thing occasionally as well. I understand his and your perspective and I would prefer to try overcoming evil with good, but others will argue that Jesus' teachings were given to individuals not nations/governments. And one role of government is to protect its citizens. So I don't know if we can say Bush must forgive OBL because it's "the Christian thing to do." Bush as an individual, YES; Bush as "America," not sure. Many people mistakingly say America is a Christian nation as if we must be living under Christian shariah law, but we have no Christian shariah as you know. America has had a lot of Christian influence, but a Christian nation we are not. Have you seen the filth that comes out of this country? I can't see Jesus OKing this.

Crusade to us isn't a dirty word. We don't live in the centuries past and we use "crusade" for goals, campaigns, events...not as a Muslim/Christian battle. We are a young nation and most of us don't identify with European Crusades from centuries ago. It was an unfortunate word choice since Muslims never ever ever forget. It seems they pass grievances on from generation to generation thus the reason I feel they need to stop this cycle of vengeance and hurt and MOVE ON and progress in this world.

I didn't realize I was "blaming" Muslims for following the eye for an eye thing when I was contrasting it with the Bible (Jesus). It's also a very Jewish thing (Moses Law followed this). Yes, Jesus raised the bar. He raised it to God's standard. We don't believe we must do this in our own power thus why I constantly stress God's enabling us to do these things. Jesus said in John 15 without him we can do nothing. He thus tells us to abide in him, to walk closely with him. He is the vine and we are the branches....the branches produce fruit when attached to the vine...not when they are uprooted and left as mere twigs on the road. When a flower is uprooted, it dies because it's unattached from the root. Thus when we walk away from God, we are like cut branches lying on the ground dying. When we walk closely with God, we are living, vibrant, fruit producing because we are attached to the Power Source (God). HE is the one who enables us to love our enemies. It's not something He asks us to do alone and in our own power. I can't do it.

Thanks for your thought-provoking comment! Loved 'em! :)

truerivers said...

It was great reading your perspectives on Quran so far and the effort you've put are commendable indeed!Great work,Suz!

Not everyone who reads a book comes out with the same ideas so it's acceptable and fine to me how you feel about the Quran.And probably you'll feel the same if I were to be equally disturbed about reading the Bible.I've read it before but not like you,one read thru' :)

I believe all holy books including Quran,preach universally good messages.Whether for one relations,friends or even enemies.

Suroor mentioned about blood-money.I think even that could be written off as bad-debts if the victim concern agrees to let go.And I also think I've read it somewhere that this blood-money thing is an Arabic practice.So they're following custom.

We need to know the audience and know how the message is understood by them.Perhaps the Arabs were reward based kind of people,just my thoughts here.And Jesus didn't had to deal with that with his audience.To me he seems more like a mystic master than a actual reformer sent to society.To me prophets are different in ways but the same in unity.

I want to reiterate the statement that "No one can enter paradise only as a reward of his deeds." An hadith by the prophet."Unless His blessings,mercy and forgiveness cover me,I will not be allowed to go to Paradise.My deeds will not be sufficient to save me...." This and the Quran does speak of divive grace.
Just wanted to clear things,that's all :)

sanil said...

I felt the "Muhammad, don't worry. You are a prophet and not a poet/sorcerer/madman and We will vouch for you in this Quran" was distracting as was the constant need to threaten hell for disbelievers and promise reclining couches and big, bright-eyed maidens as rewards for believers.

Are the reassurances for Muhammad only applicable to Muhammad or do they double as a reassurance for Muslims who may face similar accusations? I guess I could probably just wait till I read it for myself, but it just occurred to me and made me wonder. :D It does seem weird that it would keep coming back to that. Very interesting.

sarah said...

Sanil,
That's an interesting point. Also, I think I posted somewhere else that Muslims believe the Quran to be the direect word of God, not Muhammad. All of God's communication to Jesus (and other prophet's) has not been recorded in the same way but my personal feeling is that such repetition is to reassure Muhammad and that other prophets may have had exactly the same reassurance throguh revelation but it just hasn't been recorded/reported.

As for the hadith - yes it is true that ultimately God may forgive us our sins and that the final judgement liess with Him. But Islam teaches that bad deeds are punished to the extent of their wrong but good deeds are rewarded many times over. So the scales are tipped in favour of the good deeds!

Susanne said...

Lat, thanks for your great comment!

I really liked this:

"Unless His blessings,mercy and forgiveness cover me,I will not be allowed to go to Paradise.My deeds will not be sufficient to save me...." This and the Quran does speak of divive grace.


I'm glad to know this! I realize Muslims believe it is the mercy of God that saves them, however, my impressions of the Quran and Muslims' fervor to do good (because of that dreaded scale) makes me see how huge good works plays into their salvation. But it's fine in the sense that doing good makes society a better place to live!

I appreciate your comments!

Susanne said...

Sanil, yes, maybe they are reassurances for Muslims today as well. I'm glad you wondered out loud. :-)

I will be interested in hearing your thoughts whenever you read the Quran. Again, I read it straight through so if I were a Muslim just reading my favorite chapters, I'd likely not notice. It just became almost monotonous to read these assurances to Muhammad, the examples of Noah, Moses, Lot, Abraham, the prophet to the Talmud and the promises of hell or heaven in so many chapters. I was wanting some principles for good living or more stories or something. There were some like the cave story and Luqman, a mention of David and Solomon and Mary, and the chapters that I didn't care for as much (33, 47, 48), but you'll see this reassurance to Muhammad and talk of heaven/hell a lot. And in the first third of the book, you'll see Moses mentioned a LOT which was fine in getting more of his story. I did like the sura on Joseph and wrote a big post on that one comparing and contrasting it to the Bible's version.

Thanks for your comment. You always have good angles to things!

So when are you planning to read the Quran? :-D

Susanne said...

sarah,

"but my personal feeling is that such repetition is to reassure Muhammad and that other prophets may have had exactly the same reassurance throguh revelation but it just hasn't been recorded/reported."

Yes, perhaps so. I still found the recorded repetition distracting after a while. It's kind of like reading the Prophets and seeing Israel needing the same message over and over and over again because they were turning their backs on God and following false gods. It's like "Can't you people just get the message?" Ha, ha! Then again, we often need reminders over and over again. I'm sure you can relate to that with your one year old. :-D

Good to know that good deeds are weighed more than bad - nice perk! :)

I appreciated your comments - thank you!

Suroor said...

@ Lat, Yes blood money is part of Arab custom and has existed from before Islam, but that custom is now part of the Quran so it is an Islamic Law, a basic part of Shariah. I have heard of people giving up blood money but it is very rare and in all the cases it was never an Arab who gave it up. Mostly Indians and Pakistanis do that if their relative was a victim. Sometimes they insist on life for a life. About 20 years ago one of my second cousins accidentally killed an Emirati in Dubai. It was a motorbike accident and he was put to death because the Emirati family asked for revenge and rejected the blood money option. On the other hand, a Muslim killing a non-Muslim does not warrant such strict punishments. The Pact of Omar II that I keep bringing up like a broken record is very clear about it. I wouldn’t disagree that pardoning is encouraged in Islam but it is not equal to loving your enemy.

Suroor said...
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Suroor said...
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Suroor said...

@ Susanne, “Jesus' teachings were given to individuals not nations/governments… Bush as an individual, YES; Bush as "America," not sure. Many people mistakingly say America is a Christian nation.”

Yes, that is why I said in the beginning that religions are not perfect. Message to individuals is good, but individuals live in nations, groups, societies and if there are no lessons on how they should behave as a society then I’m afraid the war on terror will seem justified. However, my argument is that Bush is a self-confessed practicing Christian. As an individual, as a Christian, what happened to the teachings of Jesus to him? You can protect your country but to ruin two Muslim countries and to side with a Jewish power to ruin a third is shameful. That is NOT a Christian thing to do whether or not we want to enter the debate that the US is Christian. Bush is Christian and so were the recruits who tortured tons of Muslims in Abu Ghuraib. That was not loving your enemy.

In all my life I have personally never heard of any Muslim who follows the Quran or even one who doesn’t follow the Quran to show the kind of inhumane behavior that the officials showed towards Muslims in Abu Ghuraib. No matter how much hatred a non-Muslim may see coming from the Quran (and there are verses on smiting necks and chopping fingers, I agree), in the end human beings are only a couple of random DNA strands different from animals and when they want to be hateful like animals they don’t need excuses from any scripture. We can always argue that these acts have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus, but in the same way Muslims have been turning blue in the face saying that the actions of a few Muslims have nothing to do with the majority of Muslims.

If that hatred is passed on from generation to generation, there is a reason. Those who are the victims understand. Every year on 9/11 when we remember our dead we too unconsciously pledge never to forget. My Jewish friend once said to me that today Palestinians are hurt when they are being driven out of their *homes* but centuries ago their Prophet had done the same to the Jews of Yathrib and turned them out of their *homes* and killed so many. That day I realised that the Jews have not forgotten what happened 1400 years ago. Those at the receiving end never forget.

Crusade to Christians isn't a dirty word, but jihad to Muslims isn’t a dirty word either. It is a dirty word to non-Muslims because they are at the receiving end of that word put into action. Similarly, ask an Iraqi how he feels about Bush’s *crusade.* I agree that it was a wrong word. I also agree that it wasn’t a *crusade* crusade, but whatever it was it was very similar to how some idiotic terrorists call their actions jihad.

I feel sad, Susie. I feel like there are very few good people in this world and those few good people don’t necessarily find the inspiration to love from scripture. Sorry about my long rant.

sarah said...

Just as a side note - I noticed in Saudi Arabia that they have now got a reconciliation comission. It works specifically on trying to get families to accept blood money rather than see a person sentenced to death. It is done between all nationalities. Sometimes people accept and sometimes they dont but it is good (I feel) that they have started actively trying to get people to forgive each other and take compensation rather than vengence.

sanil said...

Susanne - I'll be reading the Quran in the fall when I take my class on it. So it's awhile away yet.

Lat said...

@Suroor,

Thank you for the blood money info.Appreciated it and the long rant! :)
You said,

"in all the cases it was never an Arab who gave it up." I read something about the nature of Arabs being weak :) I'll look it up and perhaps post it.

Suroor said...

Sarah, that is true. It is happening in KSA and is encouraged in other parts of the GCC as well.

The problem I personally see with Shariah is that only a very small fraction of Shariah is Muslim innovation while most of it consists of laws that entered Islam from pagan Arabian traditions. Thus, on the surface as a Muslim one can argue vehemently that Shariah is “Allah’s Law” but if we read the history of Arabia in depth we will find that most of the laws are in fact inherited from pagan Arabian custom. I can think of three major examples:

1) Jizya – this was an ancient pagan custom where one big tribe looking after a smaller tribe expected a *tax* in lieu of protection. Jizya was taken from Muslims by Muslims in pre-oil-boom GCC countries between tribes. It is not a Muslim innovation.

2) Blood money or diya is not a Muslim innovation either. It existed as an excellent form of life insurance so when a pagan killed another pagan he had to offer money to the family so that a tribal feud didn’t start and more lives were not lost.


3) Stoning for adultery was borrowed from Judaism (I wrote on that as a comment in one of Susanne’s earlier posts and how it probably started and why it escaped the mention in Quran).

Even a cap on polygamy wasn’t a Shariah invention. It was first established in 200 BC in Hinduism and brought to Arabia from India. According to Hinduism a man from the highest caste can have the maximum number of wives which is four and men from lower castes can have three, two or one wife depending on their status in society. The manner in which the rule exists in Baudhayana Prasna is even similar in syntax to the Quranic verse limiting/allowing polygamy. There was no limit on concubines. Most pagans didn’t follow this rule but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

That is my major issue with Shariah. These laws existed before Islam. They were sanctioned by Islam, often refined, and allowed to enter the religion but they weren’t divine laws; they were made by men – pagan men and I don’t know if those laws can always make people happy almost 2000 year later. To me, diya allows a rich man to get away with murder and it is not something I have liked when a man who raped and killed a four year old boy offered it to the boy’s family.

sarah said...

Suroor,
Thanks for those interesting comments. I don't have a problem with things of shariah being found in other religions. As long as they are equitable for all and are sound. I don't think Islam claims it is exclusive in all things.

The problem I have with shariah is the interpretation. There are so many different ideas around some lenient bust most harsh. When harsh interpretation becomes law then it creates problems.

Susanne said...

sarah,

"Sometimes people accept and sometimes they dont but it is good (I feel) that they have started actively trying to get people to forgive each other and take compensation rather than vengence."

That's wonderful! Thanks for letting me know!

Susanne said...

Suroor, I'd like to hear more of that Pact of Omar II ... a potential blog post one day? It sounds interesting. Yikes about your cousin! I didn't realize they could kill someone for an accidental killing! I think in the Mosaic Law it's only if you deliberately killed someone - wow. That's harsh that those people refused to forgive. I can understand their being upset, but if it were truly an accident... Surely hope they never need forgiveness. :-/

" my argument is that Bush is a self-confessed practicing Christian. "

And there are many self-confessed practicing Christians who do horrible things. Like I've said before, you walk away from God and start doing your own thing, "following your heart," doing what seems right to you, you do some truly awful awful things! This is why Paul says we "die daily" meaning every single day sometimes every single hour we "die" to what SELF wants to do and follow the Spirit - what GOD - wants us to do. Did Bush do this? You can say you are devout 'til you're blue in the face, but Jesus said "people will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another." There's the proof. If people do otherwise, you can say they are not following Jesus. Most people today live the way THEY want to live and "follow their hearts" and their hearts lead them astray. You can look at the world and see proof of all these people following their own ways and how that has often been detrimental to society.

I personally think Bush knew he wasn't a foreign policy person and let his VP and advisers (many of whom are neo-conservative Zionists) influence his policies in the Middle East. He wrongly allowed them freedom to do whatever they wanted and of course their advice to him was slanted in their favor. Israel has a lot of control in the US in both parties. This is why AIPAC is voted as one of the top ten lobbying groups by members of Congress. And more conservative American Christians often favor Israel for their own reasons. The media- both liberal and more moderate - is also biased in favor of Israel for the most part. The one thing most (not all) every group in America can agree upon is they favor Israel over the Arab nations.

Susanne said...

"That day I realised that the Jews have not forgotten what happened 1400 years ago. Those at the receiving end never forget. "

That's true and why I don't understand why people today feel the Jews are wrong to want to go back to Palestine when they hold onto their own grievances from the past. I often find them (Palestinians) longing to go home (and I understand since it's more recent), but it's like they don't want the Jews to have this same longing. If one group can hold onto its grievances (e.g. Crusades), why not another? I say, screw it all! That land belongs to God and He can divvy it out however He wants. I'm tired of people fighting for dirt and I wish the whole of Palestine would just disappear some days. I think we all need a healthy dose of forgiveness and allow God to heal our hearts so we can move on and progress in this world as friends. I know, I know...I'm just a stupid white, privileged American who has never had anything wrong done to her so I don't understand the past wrongs, blah, blah, blah. What do I know about how hard it is to forgive others and move on? I know... I am so disqualified to speak on this. And what does Jesus know about it? He's goofier than I having the audacity to require such things as loving your enemies and returning good for evil! Who does that? How unrealistic and silly and downright not human! If the Gospel were corrupted, I for sure wouldn't have written THAT statement in the Bible. Goodness! How many *Christians* have followed it?? Your examples are case in point!


Nice to read your rant! Seems your heartfelt-emotions/frustrations were poured out in that one!


Thanks also for sharing what customs of shariah were borrowed from others and not original with Islam.


Thanks,all, for your thought-provoking comments!

Suroor said...

You know what my husband once said? He said if someone came and destroyed a wall in his house like the Twin Towers, he would have done exactly what Bush did. One of my husband's dear childhood friend was killed in the London bombings. He was VERY angry. I don't have sympathies for terrorists and if I ever found out that anyone dear to me was a terrorist, I would be the first to report him/her.

I also feel that Jerusalem to Jews is like Mecca to Muslims. Can we imagine Mecca being occupied by Jews who then claim it to be their home? I know that thought itself would kill many Muslims. To expect Jews to give up Palestine is unfair. It belonged to them as holy *dirt* for centuries before Islam and for centuries before Caliph Omar attacked and occupied it.

However, I don't think you are a "stupid white, privileged American" :-) OK, you are white and an American but I don't think you are stupid :-) As far as Jesus is concerned, I don't think he was goofier either. In fact his message is so dear to my heart simply because he DID suffer. He was persecuted, he had to run from city to city, he was poor and hungry, he didn't have support from tribes or influential family members, and he was much-hated by his enemies, YET he chose to forgave. He was hanging from the Cross and praying "Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do." This is why I KNOW that it CAN be done. Eye for an eye is therefore not a better lesson when we can see that Jesus DID turn the other cheek. I support the message and I know it is doable, but that people don't do it.

Since it is the message of Christ I would like Christians to set a good example for all of us to follow. As a non-Christian if I can strive to follow Jesus, then why can't those who call themselves Christian? I guess what I'm saying is that Christians who hold Jesus' message dear to their heart should stand up against Christians who do not follow Christ and are on the other hand barbaric and hateful.

Suroor said...

Sarah, if those laws are borrowed then their source is not divine; if their source is not divine then they can be interpreted in anyway and no one way is thus right, which is why some laws seem harsher.

I know what you mean by the harsh interpretations :( Stoning just tears my heart.

BTW, I was reading this excellent article about how Pakistani Muslims persecute each other (Sunni Vs Shias, Sunni Vs Ahmedis, Sunni Vs Ismailis, Sunni Vs Sufis) based on *their* interpretation of Shariah and that is an excellent example of what you are saying. For instance a Sunni may argue that all other sects of Islam (Ahmedis, Shias, Sufis) are apostates or Mushrikeen and therefore deserve death penalty for apostasy/shirk which is why Ahmedi Muslims are persecuted and no Sunni even attempts to protect/save them lest the same happen to them. Today's bomb blast at a Sufi shrine in Lahore is another horrific example of bad interpretation of Shariah.

It just upsets me so much :( I feel helpless.

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for your follow-up comment. I apologize if I sounded overly-aggressive yesterday. I have argued with Samer about this stuff so much and I just feel very very helpless to do anything so I just want to go hide under a rock. Maybe you noticed it was a bit touchy subject with me. Yeah, almost three years of having to explain things and comfort hurting people just makes me this way. It's not that I don't sympathize with people, I do. I just have NO CLUE how to help you heal except point you to God and what the Bible says about Him. He will give you rest, He will give you peace, He will make things right (give you justice), but vengeance belongs TO HIM! You have to let go of these desires for revenge and this cycle of retaliation and let God divvy out His dirt. I just get soooooooooooo frustrated. I see my country do the same thing and the cycle continues on and on and on. I argue with my own people: "hey y'all,let's give Jesus' words a chance! Let's love our enemies and overcome evil with good and see if Jesus knew what he was talking about!" I've said this more and more to friends on Facebook and through e-mail exchanges and forums since meeting Arabs and hearing their grievances against the US and Israel. I do try to understand and make my voice heard, but I feel helpless most of the time.

"I also feel that Jerusalem to Jews is like Mecca to Muslims. Can we imagine Mecca being occupied by Jews who then claim it to be their home? I know that thought itself would kill many Muslims. To expect Jews to give up Palestine is unfair. It belonged to them as holy *dirt* for centuries before Islam and for centuries before Caliph Omar attacked and occupied it."

How refreshing to see someone who finally gets it! I'm not saying what the Israelis have done is right. NOT AT ALL! Once I found out how they really were (and this revelation did not come by American media which is strongly pro-Israel), I hated what I learned about them. On the other hand, you are right. I can't imagine Muslims giving up Mecca to Arab Pagans who wanted to go back to their roots that Muslims took over from them. If Muslims can have ONLY MUSLIM holy areas, then why not the Jews? Muslims want to have *everything* yet get angry when they aren't welcome. Look how welcoming other religions are in KSA. I told Samer I would fully support Muslims' rights to Jerusalem when they decided they didn't have Muslim-only areas of the world. He hated Israel wants to be a "Jewish State" yet look at Saudi.....no other religions can openly practice. Is this not a bit hypocritical? You can't have it both ways. It should be open for all.

Susanne said...

"Since it is the message of Christ I would like Christians to set a good example for all of us to follow. As a non-Christian if I can strive to follow Jesus, then why can't those who call themselves Christian? I guess what I'm saying is that Christians who hold Jesus' message dear to their heart should stand up against Christians who do not follow Christ and are on the other hand barbaric and hateful."

Amen! I can't agree with you more. I struggle with this following Jesus thing as that SELF wants to rear its head so often and have its way. But as you said those who say they follow Jesus SHOULD be the ones leading the way in demonstrating HIM to the world. Yet we often are not! And this is our great great great great great great great SHAME! This is taking our Lord's name in vain! And it's truly awful. I'd rather people never claim to be Christian than to say they are and then live like so many "Christians" do. What a joke! A really NOT funny one at that. You are so right.I should get you to preach a sermon in my church or do one of those Billy Graham evangelistic crusades (hehehehe) to give supposed followers of Christ this VERY important challenge!

I appreciate your comments, as always!