Posted by: mystic444 | May 9, 2011

My First Mosque Visit

This blog article will be of a lighter nature than my usual fare. Instead of commentary on Bible or Qur’an verses, or political commentary, I’ll comment on my first visit to an Islamic Mosque.

I’ve been telling myself for some time that I need to attend a Mosque service and actually make the acquaintance of Muslim believers; but I kept ‘chickening out’. Finally last Friday (5/6/2011), after arguing back and forth with myself all morning (“I will; no I won’t; yes I will; no I won’t”, etc.), at the last minute I decided to go ahead. I drove about 30 miles to a Shia Mosque for the Friday prayer service.

I decided to go to that one for a couple of reasons. I had recently come across a Shia web site when I was searching for information on Muslim eschatology (the coming of the Mahdi). I read one article defending the idea of the ‘occultation’ of the Twelfth Imam (the idea that this descendant of Muhammad and Ali [peace be with them both] has been in seclusion somewhere on earth – observing events, but himself unobserved – for the past 1200 or so years; awaiting the proper time to reveal himself and bring to pass the promise of the righteous inheriting the earth). I found it so fascinating that I decided to read more about Shia beliefs. (I found it fascinating – but that doesn’t mean that I’ve been convinced. I have a lot of questions to consider before I adopt Twelver Shiite belief.) Anyhow, I started reading a Shiite version of Islamic history – from the birth of Muhammad to the death of Ali (Muhammad’s first cousin, adopted son, and son-in law).

While I was reading this history – which I found very interesting, and which to me makes more sense than certain other material I’ve read – I decided to see if there is a Shia Mosque anywhere nearby. When I found one, I began to debate visiting it.

There are Sunni Mosques closer to me, and in fact I had written an e-mail to one of the Imams at a relatively close Mosque. I explained a little about myself, how I became interested in Islam, and my current desire to visit a Mosque; and I asked for any information I might need prior to making my first visit. Unfortunately, I had not had any response after a couple of weeks (and still haven’t). I’m sure there must be a very good reason; I sincerely doubt they make a habit of snubbing prospective converts to Islam! 😆 Nevertheless, I began to wonder if perhaps there was a Providential reason behind the lack of response: perhaps I was supposed to visit the Shia rather than Sunni Mosque.

I don’t know for sure about that ‘Providential’ business, but last Friday I decided to go ahead and visit the Shia Mosque.

Their service was from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there, and whether I would have any difficulty locating the building, so I left plenty early. I wound up arriving about 30 minutes early. There were 3 people outside talking: 2 young people about college age (I later found out they were indeed University students who had just finished their exams) and an older man about my age. (That is, not exactly “as old as Methuselah”, but no “spring chicken” either.)

I screwed up my courage, and walked over to greet them: “Peace be with you” (in English, since I didn’t know how to say it in Arabic). They smiled and responded with “Peace be with you also”. Then the older man (Harun, or Haroon – he didn’t spell it, just said it) befriended me. I explained that this was my first visit to an Islamic service, and I didn’t know much at all about the proper procedures. About all I knew was that I had heard that one was supposed to remove one’s shoes upon entry to the Mosque. So Harun (which he explained is the Arabic equivalent of the English ‘Aaron’) said not to worry; just follow him and he’d walk me through everything I needed to know or do.

One of my concerns had been my need for a chair to sit on during the service; if I got down on the floor, it’s unlikely I could get up again due to my neuropathy. Harun assured me that there were chairs available for visitors – especially for the elderly or disabled. So there was a chair near the door to sit on while I removed my shoes, and he placed a chair for me to sit on for the service.

The congregation, which was not very large, was very friendly. I think I was introduced to most of them, but I certainly don’t remember all of those ‘strange sounding’ names. I remember a ‘Hasan’ and an ‘Amir’. There was a “Mike”, though – even though he was originally from Iraq, he had taken an English name apparently.

I stood out like a sore thumb. Most everyone else was dark skinned (various shadings), while I was ¾ “WASP”. I’m definitely “White Anglo-Saxon”, but “Protestant” hasn’t applied to me for a long time. (Neither has “Catholic” been applicable to me). Despite this disparity in skin pigmentation, though, there did not appear to be any discomfort on anyone’s part. As I said, they were very friendly people.

The service was certainly different from anything I’ve ever experienced. 🙂 I’m used to very non-ritualistic Christian services (Baptist and rather informal Presbyterian, as well as extremely informal Pentecostal meetings), where the only real ‘ritual’ is standing to sing a few hymns – and those were in English, my native language, with hymn books to read the words and music. If there was a “responsive reading” (where the pastor reads a statement, and then the congregation responds), it was printed out in the back of the hymnal so the ‘uninitiated’ could follow along with no trouble.

At the Mosque, everything was highly ritualized; and there were no instructions for the ‘uninitiated’. The prayers were all in Arabic, so it would have been impossible for me to follow along even if they had been printed out. There was nothing to tell the newcomer when to stand, bow, or kneel and prostrate oneself. I was completely clueless! 😀

Nevertheless, it was interesting to observe. And I actually found that I did recognize a few isolated words and phrases in the Arabic prayers. I guess it is obvious that I would recognize the phrase “Allahu Akbar” which was repeated many times. I also recognized the “Bismillah” – also repeated many times – with which every Sura (except one) in the Qur’an begins. The transliteration of this phrase, as it appears in my Muhammad Asad English version, is: Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim. It is rendered in English as “In the name of God [Allah], the Compassionate, the Merciful” or something similar in meaning.

I also recognized the phrase “Al Haqq” which means “the truth” – or as a name of God, it would mean “the Truth”, “the (supremely) Truthful One”, or “the (supremely) Trustworthy One”. In addition, I recognized the names “Muhammad”, “Ali”, and “Fatima”. (Fatima was Muhammad’s daughter, and the wife of Ali – the cousin of Muhammad. Peace be with all of them.). Shia Muslims have great respect for the family of the Prophet, and believe Ali is the one who had been designated by Muhammad to be his successor. (This is one of the primary differences with Sunnis, who deny that Muhammad appointed any successor, much less a somewhat hereditary succession within his family.) Therefore, they mention the names of Ali and Fatima in their prayers. (Obviously, they wouldn’t be addressing their prayers to Muhammad, Ali, or Fatima; but out of respect they would be invoking God’s blessing on these outstanding leaders of Islam).

The talk given by one of the leaders was in English so at least I could understand that part of the service. Even then, though, references to the Qur’an were given in Arabic first, usually followed by an English interpretation. The talk was in two parts. First was an emphasis on the necessity of trusting and serving God ALONE – something with which I very much agree. Nothing and no one else can help us at all, without God’s permission; and nothing and no one else is worthy of our worship, service, and dependence. Second, in light of recent events concerning the (supposed) killing of Osama bin Laden (and they seemed to accept his recent killing as a reality, contrary to my “conspiracy nut” theory that he has actually been dead since December 2001), the leader spoke about what true “Jihad” is – in contrast to the ideas of extremists. The ‘greater Jihad’ is our personal struggle against our own lower nature; the struggle to subdue our own selfish desires in submission to the will of God. This Jihad has nothing at all to do with armed conflict. And while Islam does allow for armed conflict as a defense against the aggression of evildoers, it only allows fighting against combatants; indiscriminate killing of noncombatants, and especially women and children, is simply not permitted in Islam. Therefore, assuming that those terrorist activities which make the news so much are in fact being carried out by ‘Muslim’ extremists, there is nothing ‘Islamic’ about it at all. It is a flagrant violation of the most basic principles of Islam. It is condemned by all who follow God and his Prophet (or Prophets), whether they are Sunni or Shia.

I agreed wholeheartedly with everything which the leader said in his talk (at least everything he said in English. 😀 I assume I would agree with the Arabic portion if I understood it.)

It was all very interesting. But while I would very much like to go back at least to get to know these fine Muslim people with whom I share at least basic beliefs, I don’t know that I’m ready for regular attendance when I’m unable to actually participate. And I don’t know that I’m up to learning Arabic and memorizing the prayers and proper ritual motions. So I don’t know whether or not I’ll start attending Mosque services regularly.

Perhaps I’ll attend a service at one of the relatively nearby Sunni Mosques before I make a definite decision.

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Responses

  1. Many Thanks for your quick response.

    Moses (pbuh)
    Jesus (pbuh)
    Gabriel (pbuh)
    Moses and Jesus and Muhammad (peace be unto them)

    Muhammad and his family (peace be unto them)
    Muhammad and his companions (peace be unto them all)
    Muhammad and Ali and Fatima (peace be unto them)

    Muhammad and Ali (peace be unto them) … whoa whoa wait a minute I prefer :

    Muhammad and Ali (ra) – (peace be unto them)

    I think it more about mentioning TWO names from different category in WRITTEN form, but You were right about “peace be to you” is the usual greeting among muslim including Ali (May God Almighty be pleased with him). So you may continue doing so and keep on the good works. peace.

    • Peace, mercy, and health to you. Thanks for your very respectful response, Surya.

      I have appreciated – from the very beginning of my reading of Muslim articles and listening to Muslim audios – the way people in general are greeted with politeness; and particularly the honor with which the outstanding leaders in the history of the Religion of God are treated. When the honor is expressed in the Arabic language, I of course don’t know what is being said; but I still recognize that the person (Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and others – peace be with them all) is being ‘blessed’.

      But I have to admit that any details of distinction in the way various people are ‘blessed’ have not made an impression on my mind. So, although I have read writings from both Sunni and Shia authors, I not only fail to ‘catch’ any distinctions in the way different individuals are referred to; I also failed to notice any differences that may exist in the way Sunnis and Shias referred to them.

      So when you made your original comment about how to refer to Ali (may God be pleased with him), I was initially taken by surprise; and then I thought that perhaps it might be a difference between Sunni and Shia ways of speaking. But I simply didn’t notice, and I don’t remember, any such distinctions if they exist.

      While it didn’t make sense to me that the “greeting of peace” would not be applicable to Ali, I didn’t want to be writing or speaking in a way that would offend my Muslim friends if that can be avoided. Of course, it that was one of the differences between Sunni and Shia, I suppose it wouldn’t be possible to please both. 🙂

      But I talk too much. Thanks again for you thoughtful response; and so long as my manner of speech is not offensive for some reason or other, I’ll probably continue to use the PBUH; but perhaps I’ll also try to mix in some of the other respectful terms.

  2. Please don’t use (PBUH) on Ali … please use : “May God bless his face” or “May God be pleased with him”

    • Thank you for your polite admonition. Would you mind explaining, though, why you consider it inappropriate to wish peace to Ali? I know that the Qur’an says (in Sura 37 at least) that the various Prophets referred to were to be remembered in later generations with that statement: “peace be to” him. I also know that “peace be to you” is the usual greeting given to “ordinary” Muslim people (not just Prophets). And again I am aware that many Muslims (I believe from both Sunni and Shia), after referring to Muhammad, say “peace be to him and his family“. So since Ali was at the very least an “ordinary” Muslim, and was a member of the family of Muhammad, why would it not be appropriate to use that phrase (“peace be unto him”) when speaking his name? If the Shia are correct in their understanding of a large number of the “authentic” hadith recognized by Sunni Muslims, Ali was much more than an “ordinary” Muslim; he was the God appointed successor to Muhammad (peace be to him and his family) in every way except Prophethood. Certainly the ‘greeting of peace’ is applicable to him as well, it would seem to me.

  3. Gosh, 36 comments?? This article seems to be attracting a lot of debate Mr. Parker 🙂 Frankly tho, I am not going to go through the trouble of reading all of your opponent’s comments fully. Like mansubzero himself admitted, his arguments are taken from Bible bashing websites and I am not sure how different those sites are from sites like JihadWatch. One must be careful about where your information is coming from.

    Anyways, I will be looking forward to your next article Mr. Parker. Tc!

    • as-Salaamu Alaykum, iSherif.

      Yes, there was indeed a good bit of debate in the comments section of that article. 😆 Unfortunately, it was totally unrelated to the article itself. A lot of the information used by such arguers is derived from atheist/agnostic/Deist sites which totally oppose all religion (or at least, all ‘revealed’ religion; Deists accept “natural religion” as opposed to “revealed religion”). For a Muslim to go to such sites for ammunition against the Bible seems counterproductive, since such sites will ridicule Islam as readily as they do Christianity – and frequently the very same arguments used against the Bible are equally useful against the Qur’an. It would seem to me that Muslims who go to such sites for ammunition are in violation of the Qur’anic prohibitions against taking for friends/allies/protectors those who ridicule and mock the faith of Islam. (Even if they’ve referred to Muslim sites, those sites frequently refer back to the atheist/agnostic/Deist sites). Strange bedfellows indeed. Interestingly, a lot of “modern” Christian leaders have more in common with Deism than they do with Christianity.

  4. here is till’s analysis of the aorist tense

    O’REILLY

    There seems to be an opening here for further investigation with Greek experts regarding the use of “having come down” as an ‘aorist participle’ ( http://biblos.com/matthew/28-2.htm), which per Daniel Wallace “usually denotes antecedent time to that of the controlling verb” ( http://www.crosscountrysoftware.com/greekparticiples.html). Thus, apparently suggesting the participles in Matthew 28:2-4 refers back to an earlier time, for example, as per Wllliam L. Banks in Three Days and Three Nights (p. 129). (on Google Books).

    TILL
    They don’t refer back to an earlier time but rather to whatever events were related after the aorist event. In other words, the angel had come down [aorist] and had rolled away [aorist] the stone before he sat on it. In other words, the descent of the angel and rolling away of the stone had happened before the sitting on the stone. Before O’Reilly tries to base too much on the aorist usage in this verse, he should take into consideration that this tense was used throughout Matthew’s narrative. The following quotation from Young’s literal translation identifies the aorist participles, which I will also emphasize in bold print.

    5 And the messenger answering said to the women, `Fear not ye, for I have known that Jesus, who hath been crucified, ye seek; 6 he is not here, for he rose, as he said; come, see the place where the Lord was lying; 7 and having gone quickly, say ye to his disciples, that he rose from the dead; and lo, he doth go before you to Galilee, there ye shall see him; lo, I have told you.’ 8 And having gone forth quickly from the tomb, with fear and great joy, they ran to tell to his disciples; 9 and as they were going to tell to his disciples, then lo, Jesus met them, saying, `Hail!’ and they having come near, laid hold of his feet, and did bow to him. 10 Then saith Jesus to them, `Fear ye not, go away, tell to my brethren that they may go away to Galilee, and there they shall see me.’

    Would O’Reilly argue that the aorist in verse 7 [having gone] meant that the women had gone quickly to the disciples before they had seen and talked to the angel or before the earthquake and descent of the angel had happened? Not at all, the aorist here simply meant that the women would have to go quickly before they could tell the disciples what they had seen.

    Would he argue that the aorist in verse 8 [having gone forth] meant that the women had gone forth before the angel had told them to and before the angel had descended and rolled away the stone and before the earthquake had happened? No, it simply meant that they went forth quickly before they ran to tell the disciples.

    Would he argue that the aorist in verse 9 [having come] meant that the women laid hold of Jesus feet and bowed down before they had even met him or talked to the angel? Certainly not, it meant only they the women came close to Jesus before they took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

    The aorist usage continues.

    11 And while they are going on, lo, certain of the watch having come to the city, told to the chief priests all the things that happened, 12 and having been gathered together with the elders, counsel also having taken, they gave much money to the soldiers, 13 saying, `Say ye, that his disciples having come by night, stole him — we being asleep; 14 and if this be heard by the governor, we will persuade him, and you keep free from anxiety.’ 15 And they, having received the money, did as they were taught, and this account was spread abroad among Jews till this day.

    Even O’Reilly should be able to see that the aorist merely indicated that an event happened before the one related after it. For example, the guards in verse 11 had come into the city before they told the chief priests what had happened. In verse 12, the chief priest had gathered together with the elders before they gave them money. In verse 13, the guards were to say that the disciples had come by night before they stole the body, and in verse 15, the guards had received the money before they did as they were taught. The aorist, in other words, sequentially dated an event with reference to the one that happened after it and not the ones that had happened before it

    • I’ll just be honest, without any intention of being rude – hopefully it will not even appear to be rude. This conversation is getting tiring. I’m not interested in the back-and-forth debate between ‘O’Reilly’ and ‘Till’, and probably the readers of this blog are not either. I think the whole argument is both irrelevant and futile, from both sides. They are arguing as if the Gospel writers were attempting to write with the precision of detail of Ph.D Professors writing scientific and scholarly papers. That is simply not the case. They were writing for ordinary everyday readers, in ordinary every day ‘koine’ Greek. They weren’t expecting their readers to parse their nouns and verbs for precise and detailed meanings.

      When ‘Matthew’ said that the women came/went/walked/rode on donkeys or whatever to the tomb “toward the dawn of the first day of the week”, I’m pretty sure he didn’t expect his readers to consult almanacs to determine the precise time of the day that “the crack of dawn” occurred. It was simply around the time of dawn, like saying “first thing in the morning”. In fact, it’s a possibility that ‘Matthew’ did not literally intend ‘sunrise’, but was using a figurative expression to mean “around the time of the beginning of the first day of the week”. As you know, in Hebrew tradition the day begins in our ‘evening’, approximately 6:00 P.M. His meaning may well have been “as the Sabbath ended and the first day of the week began” – which would have been approximately 6:00 P.M. on Saturday evening, by our reckoning.

      When ‘Matthew’ used the word “erchomai”, he meant neither “departed from home to go to the tomb” nor “arrived at the tomb”. It was just a general expression meaning that they traveled to the tomb. Certainly there was a beginning point, and an ending point; but the verb does not refer to either. It simply refers to the process of getting from home to the tomb. This journey took place either around sunrise, or in the evening as the new day (in Hebrew calculations) began.

      All of the verbs in verse 2 appear to me to be in the aorist tense (though I’m no Greek ‘scholar’ and I’ve forgotten most everything I knew about Greek grammar). There “was” an earthquake, and the angel “descended”, “came”, “rolled back”, and “sat”. All of those verbs appear to me to be aorist, and it simply means that “it happened”. You cannot tell, by the aorist by itself, when those events happened in relation to the arrival of the women at the tomb. Nevertheless, there’s plainly a logical order involved in ‘Matthew’s’ report. With regard to the angel, the order began with his “descent” and ended with him “sitting” on the stone.

      As I have said, it appears to me to be a very reasonable interpretation that all the action had taken place by the time the women completed their journey, and they found the angel sitting on the stone in front of the tomb. Now Mark’s account does indeed have the women entering the tomb and then seeing a ‘young man’ sitting on the right side. Luke’s account says that two ‘men’ in ‘dazzling apparel’ stood by the women while they were in the tomb. The ‘dazzling apparel’ seems a pretty obvious reference to the fact that they were “angels”, but they were nevertheless called “men”. As I said before, that is a common occurrence both in the Bible and extrabiblical sources: angels can take a human appearance and are called “men” even when they are so obviously angels (“brightly shining” and “dazzling apparel”) that they amaze and frighten their observers. Yes, there would appear to be discrepancies between these accounts: the details of the story became confused in the telling. But that is nothing out of the ordinary, and does not detract from the reality of the main event.

      There is a small possibility that there is a ‘logical explanation’ which would resolve the ‘apparent’ discrepancies, but it’s not necessary for my “peace of mind”. Muslims, at least, should not make a big deal of the question of whether there was only one angel, or two; because in the Qur’an Sura 3 it says “angels” appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus (PBUH), while in Sura 19 it would appear to be only one angel (Gabriel). Yet I don’t believe my Muslim friends will acknowledge that as a contradiction in the Qur’an. However you explain the “apparent discrepancy’ in the Qur’an would be equally applicable to the Bible. Nevertheless, there does appear to be a genuine discrepancy in the accounts as to whether the angel was (or angels were) encountered inside or outside the tomb. It’s a very minor thing which doesn’t bother me at all. If it bothers my ‘fundamentalist’ friends, that’s their problem, not mine.

      I don’t have an agenda to push, so it doesn’t bother me one bit whether everything you call ‘contradictions’ are so in fact or not. I don’t have any theological agenda which makes it necessary to ‘prove’ the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It appears to me to be a historical fact; but it would not upset my theology if the traditional Muslim view is correct. If Jesus traveled to India after the “supposed” crucifixion, and lived to a ripe old age there before finally dying a natural death (as some traditions maintain), it would no be any major upset to my theology. But it appears to me right now that the crucifixion and resurrection are historical facts.

      Since none of this has anything at all to do with the topic of my article, please don’t make any further comments on discrepancies in the Gospel narratives. I’m quite happy to let you believe as you will on that subject. I won’t be accepting any further comments about it, though I still welcome anyone’s comments about my reaction to my first Mosque visit. 🙂

  5. TILL

    Well, let’s see how many translators agree with O’Reilly.

    KJV: In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

    NKJV: Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

    ASV: Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

    NASV: Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

    NIV: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

    ESV: Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

    CEV: The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

    HCSB: After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb.

    GNB: After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

    WE: The Sabbath day was past. Morning light was beginning to shine on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the grave.

    YLT: And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.

    Darby: Now late on sabbath, as it was the dusk of the next day after sabbath, came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to look at the sepulchre.

    The Message: After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb.

    Douay-Rheims: And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.

    None of these versions say that the women “set out for the tomb” as the first day began to dawn. We will see O’Reilly trying to quibble that some of them used went instead of came, but that is of little help to them. If I said that I went to town at noon, the meaning would be no different from if I should say that I came to town at noon. Furthermore, if verses 1 and 2 in these various translations are read together, you will find a smooth transition from one verse to the other. They do not imply that the women “went” to the tomb at the dawning of the first day but that before they arrived, an earthquake happened.

    O’REILLY

    Your citations of bible translations proves my point that the verb’s meaning is not a straightforward “came.” The verb is variably translated as ‘go’, ‘come’ as well as some other meanings beside.

    TILL
    You are trying to make a distinction based on what is linguistically true in English. We make a distinction in coming and going, but in Greek erchomai merely meant to move from one place to another. Therefore, you cannot base an argument on whether the Marys came or went to the tomb. Since this word meant to move from one location to another, it denoted completeness. In other words, unless one completed movement from location A to location B, the action denoted by erchomai would not have been accomplished. If you were bilingual, perhaps you would understand that distinctions, like the difference in coming and going, aren’t always present in another language, although they are common place in our language. Thus, in Matthew 28:1, whether you want to understand erchomai as coveying coming or whether you want to understand it as conveying going, completeness of the action is inherent in the verb. Hence, whether you want to think that the Marys went to the tomb or to think that they came to the tomb, the action was completed, so they had arrived at the tomb when the erchomai was completed. Otherwise, they could not have moved from one place to another.

    you wrote:

    One can always say the writer “could have” used another word, and ask “why didn’t he?”

    yes, why didn’t he ?
    there were other VERBS in Greek that meant to leave or depart: exerchomai [Strong # 1831]; apochoreo [Strong # 672]; aperchomai [Strong # 565]; metabaino [Strong # 3327]. Matthew used all of these in his gospel

    why were the women afraid?
    well they’re NOT afraid WHEN they enter the tomb and see a young man, they are just amazed, not afraid. in johns account , the woman does not even enter the tomb and sees 2 angels at the place where jc’s body was laid.
    any honest reader will see that there is absolutely nothing supernatual in the man located in the tomb, according to mark’s account ,even though mark elsewhere knows how an angel functions and what lights he gives off.
    it get worse and worse. matthews glowing angel INVITES the women to see where the body was IN the tomb. he says, ‘COME…’ This only makes sense if he is away from the tomb and haD asked the women to follow him in the tomb.
    the tomb was not a mansion, according to john the location of the body could be viewed outside of the tomb. if the women and the glowing angel are away from the tomb, then it makes sense why he is saying ‘COME…’
    in mark, the women are amazed because of the MISSING body
    in matthew they’re afraid because of the APPEARANCE of supernatual BEING.
    in lukes account, the 2 men SUDDENLY appear, like a genie out of a lamp. if luke knew matthews version then the sudden appearance is actually the KAI IDOU /lo behold i.e the women CAME , then ALL OF A SUDDEN LO/behold AN angel came FLYING DOWN…
    Luke does not want to throw away marks account and neither does he want to throw aways matthews KAI idou, he combines the two.

  6. may God bless you and give you peace. you know i’m going to drop out of this conversation brother, because islam teaches that if you don’t have knowledge (refering to myself) its best to keep silent (refering to myself). i sincerely apologise if i came across as rude person. assalamualaykum
    i think its time i stop hanging around on bible bashing forums and focus more on Qur’aan

    • Thank you, friend and brother, for even bothering to read and comment on my blog. And I appreciate the sincere kindness of your last comment. Hopefully you won’t mind if I respond to the previous comment, though, to show why that kind of argument is not convincing to me. I leave others, of course, to make up their own minds about it. What seems reasonable to me obviously won’t necessarily seem so reasonable to someone else.

      As I said previously, the whole argument over “erchomai” seems frivolous to me. The idea seems to me to be just that they journeyed to the tomb. I don’t think it means either “departed for” or “arrived at”. “Exerchomai” was not used because it was not being said that they came (or went) from the tomb. That’s what would have been meant if “exerchomai” had been used, as you pointed out from verse 8.

      One can always say the writer “could have” used another word, and ask “why didn’t he?” But we must allow the writers to select their own wording from the vocabulary available to them; and allow them the use of synonyms instead of insisting that they repeat the same word over and over. So perhaps Matthew “could have used” “poreuomai” instead of “erchomai”. I don’t thing the meaning would have been much different either way. With both words available to him, I think he could choose either one and the difference in meaning would not be significant. I expect he could have used “erchomai” in verse 11 also, but he chose “poreuomai” for variety with perhaps a very slight variation in meaning.

      The reason for the fear of the women would have been the appearance of the angel, as told by Matthew, not the earthquake. According to Matthew it was the appearance of the angel which had caused the fear of the guards; and according to Biblical accounts, that seems to be a general reaction to “shining angels”. It is not at all uncommon to read of an angel telling someone “fear not”, even though there was no earthquake accompanying his appearance. I might be a bit frightened if a brightly shining angel appeared in my presence also (or if I came upon a brightly shining angel sitting in my path)! 😀

      It’s been 40 years since I studied Greek at a Bible School; and while I’ve referred to the Greek New Testament many times since, I remember very little of the grammatical rules at this time. I do seem to recall that my instructors said that the Greek aorist tense is a rather “uninteresting” tense. It simply means something happened; it doesn’t even necessarily indicate a “past tense” action. Present tense events can be referred to with the aorist as well as past tense actions. So verses 2-4 merely indicate that the earthquake happened at some point, and the angel appeared at some point. It is an interpretation (and in my opinion, at least, a very valid one) to read it in a parenthetical way as referring to events that happened prior to the arrival of the women at the tomb. The tense of the verbs by itself does not tell us anything about precisely when the events happened in relation to the other events.

      Regardless, like you I don’t see any convincing reason to believe that either Mark or Matthew were “eyewitnesses” of the events they recorded. I believe they both were just writing down versions of the “Jesus story” which they derived from what they believed to be reliable sources (whether verbal or written). Perhaps Matthew and Luke used Mark as one of their sources, and then decided that Mark version was mistaken on some points based on other information they had. It just doesn’t get me all “hot and bothered” when I see variations in their accounts.

      May you journey always with the awareness of God – as the Spanish say, “vaya con Dios”.

  7. i believe that “eyewitness” matthew was no “eyewitness” but dependant on marks work which he (matthew) wanted to make changes to.

    matthew says that the women erchomai/came to the tomb
    he did not say that they exerchomai/depart /set out for the tomb
    matthew used exerchomai in 28:8
    the women “departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy”
    so why he did not use exerchomai 7 verses before 28:8?
    my friend, if you just had matthews gospel and did not know about anyother gospel would you assume that matthew 28:1 meant that the women WENT to the tomb?

    11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.

    “were going” is another verb which is poreuomai
    so matthew could have choosen DIFFERENT verbs to convey the idea that the women set out for the tomb, but he didn’t, he used a verb to convey the idea that the women CAME TO THE TOMB.

    I QUOTE something relevant to help expain the point

    “If the women were not at the tomb when there was an earthquake, when the angel came down and rolled the stone away, sat on it, then why would the angel tell the women not to be afraid? Be afraid of what if they were not there in the first place? If all of this was done, and the women just walked up at some time later, why should they have been afraid?

    The only reasonable explanation is just as Matthew gives it…the women WENT to the tomb and then these things happen. There is no indication there is any time lapse in this sequence. It is given in the past tense as Barker points out:

    “Some bible defenders assert that Matthew 28:2 was intended to be understood in the past perfect, showing what had happened before the women arrived. But the entire passage is in the aorist (past) tense, and it reads, in context, like a simple chronological account. Matthew 28:2 begins, “And, behold,” not “For, behold.” If this verse can be so easily shuffled around, then what is to keep us from putting the flood before the ark, or the crucifixion before the nativity?” “

  8. “Certainly, there is much disagreement within the adherents of Islam as to what it means that Jesus was neither crucified nor did he die – it was only made to appear that way. There are many stories about one person or another being substituted for Jesus – and God performed some sort of mass hypnosis whereby everyone was convinced that it was actually Jesus being crucified. Some say it was Judas who was actually crucified, others claim someone else (even someone from among his followers who volunteered to take his place). Others say that Jesus was actually crucified (though they may, like Mr. Deedat, invent another term – “crucificted” – to avoid the obvious contradiction with the Qur’an which says he was not crucified), but did not actually die. He was supposedly taken down from the cross before he died, and God only “made it appear” that Jesus was dead. I doubt you would say that all of this confusion and disagreement among Muslims as to the meaning of “made it appear” means that the verses in the Qur’an are themselves an invention of man”

    but note that all these people are creating interpretations of what the qur’an said centuries later? in the same way matthew, mark , luke and john were not eyewitnesses , but interpreters. they were reading ‘victory over death’ in an account they picked up from oral traditions. what method of verification they used to verify what they picked up from oral traditions we would never know.

    • Wow, mansubzero, you’ve really overwhelmed me with arguments! 🙂 There’s no way I will be able to respond to each individual argument. I’ll comment about a few things, though.

      You began the first of today’s comments by disagreeing with me over the discrepancies in details among the Gospel writers. That is an area in which we’ll probably just have to disagree. You maintain that the writers deliberately and maliciously changed the account in order to promote lies; I continue to believe that at worst they just reported different versions of the story. Surely we both know how easily facts get twisted and changed during the process of word-of-mouth transmission – without needing to charge deliberate falsification, or denying the historicity of the event being reported. So I’ll continue to believe that Mark, for instance, reported one version of the events, and Matthew reported another version; but I’ll continue to believe in the historicity of the main event being reported (the death and resurrection of God’s Prophet, Jesus).

      Next, you seek to infer a contradiction between Matthew and Mark as to whether the women found the stone rolled away when they arrived, or actually observed the rolling away of the stone by means of the earthquake and the ‘flying angel’. I referred to the first link you gave, to a forum discussion, and read part way through it. I got bored though when I saw that it was just a matter of quibbling over the meaning of the Greek word ‘erchomai’, and whether it indicated that the women began their trip to the tomb at dawn, or arrived at the tomb at dawn. I find the whole discussion irrelevant. If they took a trip to the tomb at dawn, it just doesn’t matter whether they began the trip at dawn, or completed it at dawn. “Erchomai’ would indeed indicate a complete trip (it didn’t get interrupted or postponed), but whether the trip began at dawn or was completed at dawn is not indicated, it seems to me – and as I said, it simply doesn’t matter.

      What is more important is the relationship of verses 2-4 to verses 1 and 5. I read verses 2-4 as a parenthetical statement, describing something that had happened prior to the arrival at the tomb (whether that was a dawn or sometime later), and explaining why the women found the stone rolled away – with an angel sitting on it – when they arrived. To my way of thinking (and that of many others), that is a very legitimate reading of the passage. The only reason I can see for dogmatically insisting that it can’t be parenthetical is if one feels a desperate need to prove another discrepancy between the writers of the Gospels. For my part, even though I believe it is parenthetical, it wouldn’t bother me if it is a discrepancy; I would just accept it as another indication of different versions of the story circulating.

      Concerning whether it was a man or an angel which the women encountered at the tomb, that is no difficulty at all. Surely you realize that it is quite common in accounts of angelic visits for them to appear as humans. There was, for instance, the 3 visitors to Abraham – and then Lot – to warn of the imminent destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were angels, but they appeared as men. Another illustration concerns Gabriel himself, as reported by the Prophet Daniel in 9:21 – “While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice.” Even though he flew, he was called a man. This was so well understood that the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews commented (13:2): “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” I can think of at least one illustration of this in the Qur’an concerning Gabriel. In 19:17 it is written concerning Gabriel’s visit with Mary the mother of Jesus (peace to both of them): “then we sent to her our angel, and he appeared to her as a man in all respects“.

      It’s amazing to me that Muslim believers will so often use arguments against the Bible which can be turned back on themselves (as the above argument about man versus angel). You linked to a video by a man named Richard Carrier whose aim is to deny the historicity of Jesus himself (not just the death and resurrection of Jesus). No one can be a Muslim who denies the historicity of Jesus, a man whom God chose to be one of His Messengers. Yet you are willing to use his crude and vulgar video which seeks to disprove the very existence of Jesus as a support for your viewpoint. That’s simply beyond me. I just tend to ignore vulgar bigots like him, with his crude mockeries. I say let them continue on in their mockeries; God will set them straight soon enough. As for his vulgar language, I don’t want that kind of thing on my blog site. Had you yourself used that kind of language in your comments, I would have just deleted the comment (or at least edited out the crude vulgarities). I was tempted to delete the comment so the video wouldn’t show up on my blog. In the future, I’ll delete such videos if I can figure out how to do so; otherwise I’ll delete the whole comment.

      As to the testimonies of early non-Christian writers, people can argue back and forth about them. The ‘testimonies’ exist; if you wish to just assert that they must be “Christian interpolations”, go right ahead. I can refer you to sites that “demolish” the arguments of the skeptics (such as this one ); but in the end it comes down to a matter of personal preference. I find the arguments in favor of the validity of those testimonies (in general at least) to be convincing. You no doubt will continue to find the arguments against their validity to be convincing. God knows best.

      When all is said and done, I do acknowledge many errors and contradictions in the Bible; but that doesn’t mean that everything that is produced by someone as an error or contradiction is so in reality. I examine them (sometimes), accept what appears to me to be actual error, realize that such things are a fact of life, and move on. I don’t have to deny the historicity of Jesus, or of his death and resurrection, just because the stories have become confused in the telling.

      God bless you and give you peace.

  9. i don’t understand why you want to see death and ressurection of jesus in the qur’aan. is this christian hegemony or something? qur’an say not only did they not crucify him or kill him, but for a surety they kill him not.

    now you can look at the usuage of the word yakeen in arabic language and the qur’aan and see that it would kill any idea that there was a ressurection of jesus. why? because those who are not killed do not ressurect. simple

    same with the jewish scriptures. there is absolutely no prediction of a ressurected messiah. the only game christians play is by christianizing a wholly jewish text.

  10. about the crucifixion.think about this. matthew says that jesus’ fame spread in different parts of jerusalem and all over syria. so why is that 1st century historians are absolutely silent about this crucifixion event? why is it that ROMAN sources are completely silent about this so called big event? wouldn’t the most famous guys execution send shockways all over syria back then? or was matthew lying when he said jesus’ fame spread like wild fire? if the jews weren’t able to prevent jesus’ fame from spreading and weren’t able to kill of the christian movements in israel, how is it that no mention of this alledged crucifixion event?

    tacitus and josephus do not mention about jesus’ crucifixion

    http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?p=6614766&highlight=christus#post6614766

    it is a historical fact that when christians know that their heroes weren’t known or weren’t popular they forge LETTERS in the name of thier heroes to try to make it look like they were known and famous.

    was it (crucifixion)even a big event? is it possible that the jewish people grabbed jesus, took him to an isolated place and then stonned him to death? very possible, why ? because they do attempt to stone him to death in johns account, but jesus runs away. the truth is that the jews had enough power to execute jesus, they would not need the pagan romans to do thier job.

    the jews have ample time to debate with jesus
    jews can send out jewish police to monitor jesus (john 18)
    jews are able to turn entire crowds against him in 2 days
    talked with jesus face to face daily mark 11:27
    all these jewish people had to do was follow jesus outside of the city and take him out.if they tried to kill him in the city, they would attract attention.

    in this video ,richard carrier says that the jewish judges were astonished by peters claim that the jews killed jesus and dismissed it as the illiterate ramblings of an illiterate commoner.

    the jews say
    “you even want to lay this mans blood on us”

    if the crucifixion was an event of public note and exposure, how is it possible that the jewish religious leaders forgot about the jews crying out “crucify him” and ” his blood be upon us and our children” ?

    Interesting that the Jews would try and discredit the crucifixion, even though according to the new Testament they were involved in trying to get him crucified? How logical would that be? Considering further that the only alleged witnesses to this event were NONE from among the Jews. Really, why would the Jews have to deny it when there were his small handful of followers that saw him after this alleged event.

    Why would other theories become more popular unless there was already a cloud over the disappearance of Jesus?

    and paul says NOT A WORD about pontius pilate . says not a word that the jews manipulated him or tried to do him over. this paul praises worldly leaders and says they are in their position because of god. paul is selling his crucified saviour to pagan roman people, but he totally forgot about pilates involvement?

  11. “It would be more suspicious if all of the Gospel writers said exactly the same thing. That would indicate willful collusion in deception. Nothing is more common in ‘eyewitness’ accounts than to have differences in the details; but no one doubts the validity of the event which was witnessed just because of those discrepancies”

    this is not ‘difference in detail’ this is about changing detail because you don’t agree with it.

    in marks account ,the women ask, ‘ who is going to role away the stone’
    the women enter the tomb and c a young man who speaks to them and informs them about where jc is

    in matthews account, matthew omits the question the women asked because matthew wants the women to witness the FLYING angel zap the soldiers and ROLE AWAY the stone. the ‘kai idou’ which mean AND BEHOLD
    SO the women CAME TO THE TOMB AND BEHOLD the event takes place.after the angel does his job, he , according to matthew, says to the women , ‘do NOT BE afraid…’

    the christian apologetic arguments to try to reconcile these contradictions have been destroyed here

    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.islam/msg/73a61cef70aec027?dmode=print

    and here
    http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.islam/msg/da6ab70fdfb1475b?dmode=print

    why did not matthew stick to marks version? why did he morph a human being into an angel? did he have a problem with marks man in the tomb? if all the christians in marks community knew that the man was an angel in DISGUISE , why didn’t matthew stick to marks version? this is not about eyewitnesses having ‘differences in detail’ this is about a christian called matthew making massive changes to the original version which he did not like.

    you know whats funny, luke RETAINS marks version and DROPS matthews versions. but luke does an editing job aswell .

    Mark 16:8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

    Matthew 28:8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

    it is quite abvious that matthew flipped the womens action.had matthew have had another ending available to him , he would have no need to reverse the womens action .
    had matthew known about pauls 500, he would have no need of the empty tomb story which he plagiarised from marks .

    and if christians , like modern day christians , assumed that mark 16:8 does report to the deciples AFTER the women were no longer afraid, why didn’t matthew say something like

    “after they were no longer afraid ,they went to tell the deciples ” ? no, what he does is stick to 16:8 because he has no other ending available to him.

    think about it, according to matthew, the women leave the tomb then LO AND BEHOLD /KAID IDOU they crash in to the man himself (jesus)

    if mark knew this, why DID he lie to his readers when he said that the women SAID nothing to anyone? the meeting just occured while they were RUNNING from the tomb, BUT mark decides to deceive the readers by telling them, they did not say anything to anyone.

    such an embarassing was marks ending that christians had to create an ending (an ending which has ABSOLUTELY NO MARKAN STYLE) to fix the problem.

    http://www.errancywiki.com/index.php?title=Legends2#Testing_the_Reverse_Thesis

    if forgeries like these can go undetected even by todays christian people, how about people who were illiterate and had no way of knowing how to detect forgeries? the forger didn’t even try to mimick markan style, but what about forgers who did try to micmick markan style? it is only 21 century detective work which is exposing the forgeries in the christian new testament. we have the tools but for the ancients it would be really difficult

  12. http://unveilingchristianity.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/critique-on-the-crucifixion/

    http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=294463&highlight=historical+crucifixion&page=3

    so what do you think about these discussion on jc’s crucifixion?

    • May God be pleased with you, mansubzero.

      I read the article in the first link you gave, but I didn’t take the time to read through all the back-and-forth discussion in the forum at the second link. I found the article to be itself full of errors and illogical assumptions – the kind of article ‘conservatives’ could use to build a straw man to easily demolish. I myself recognize plenty of errors and contradictions in the Biblical Gospels; but I find that a good bit (or perhaps most) of what this author presented as discrepancies were not discrepancies at all.

      For instance, in point number 1, he asserted that while John says the events of the crucifixion happened on the day before the Passover, the synoptic Gospels say the events occurred on the first day of Passover. Yet when I checked out the passages, each one of the Gospel writers clearly said the crucifixion happened on the “day of preparation” for the Passover; there was no discrepancy on that matter at all. The only ‘difference’, if you wish to call it that, is that Matthew added the detail that on the day after the crucifixion, the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to seal and guard the tomb so that the disciples couldn’t steal Jesus’ body and then claim Jesus had risen from the dead. All of the crucifixion events had happened on the previous day – the “day of preparation”. Any ‘scholarship’ which can discover a contradiction in the Gospels on that matter is very spurious ‘scholarship’, in my opinion.

      Things just got worse from there. One of the most absurd claims regards the hypothetical ‘Q document’. Despite all of the hype about this ‘document’, and the ‘reasonableness’ of the assumption that there must have been preexisting material which the Gospel writers used in compiling their narratives, there has never been one piece of objective evidence for the existence of a particular manuscript which modern scholars can conveniently refer to as ‘Q”. But allowing for the hypothetical existence of this document, and that ‘scholars’ may be able to discern some of the things included in this document, it is pretty much the height of absurdity (in my opinion) to claim that they can discern what is not in that document! 😆 To claim that the Q document didn’t include the crucifixion story because all 3 synoptic Gospels (and John also, of course) do contain the story, is simply laughable.

      A lot of confusion would be eliminated by acknowledging that the Jews have more ‘sabbaths’ than just the weekly sabbath (our Saturday). The first day of Passover is a ‘High Sabbath’, no matter on which day of the week it falls. Suppose the Passover Sabbath occurred on Thursday of the year that the crucifixion (supposedly) took place. Then the crucifixion would have occurred on Wednesday -which would be both the day before the Passover and the day before the Sabbath. Does anyone have any real evidence that Jesus was (supposedly) crucified in a year in which the Passover Sabbath coincided with the weekly Sabbath? I don’t think so; it’s just an assumption of Traditional Christianity. Some Christians have gone to great lengths to prove that the Passover that year was earlier in the week than Saturday. While I can’t say for sure that their ‘evidence’ is correct, it would certainly be very much within the realm of possibility; and I don’t think anyone has conclusively proven that Passover was on Saturday of that year. (If Passover was on Thursday, then the “three days and three nights” prophecy attributed to Jesus would have been accurate).

      I’m not going to attempt to evaluate every claim made by the author. Certainly he was correct about the discrepancy in the story of Judas’ death and the purchase of the Potter’s field.

      The point I would be most concerned to make is that even if one were to grant the accuracy of all the accusations of errors, it would not disprove the primary story of the crucifixion. That was something about which the Gospel writers and Epistle writers were unanimous. They may have differed in the details, but there was unanimous consensus about the event itself (both the death and resurrection). Even if God only “made it appear” that way, His deception was convincing enough that it was indelibly written on the minds and hearts of Jesus’ disciples.

      In fact, as a New Testament professor at a Jr. College I went to over 40 years ago said (and I – being a ‘fundamentalist’ at the time – disagreed with him), the existence of those discrepancies actually supports the primary story. It would be more suspicious if all of the Gospel writers said exactly the same thing. That would indicate willful collusion in deception. Nothing is more common in ‘eyewitness’ accounts than to have differences in the details; but no one doubts the validity of the event which was witnessed just because of those discrepancies.

      I remember watching an episode of “NCIS” on TV in which someone had been shot to death in the course of a bank robbery. Of course, “NCIS” is fictional – though with a lot of factual basis. Anyhow, when the NCIS team was interviewing the witnesses to the bank robbery, the discrepancies between the witness accounts were quite amusing (I’m sure it was intended as a humorous exaggeration of witness discrepancies). They disagreed as to how many robbers there were, the color and type of vehicle used to escape after the robbery, and other things. Yet there was no question that the robbery and murder had actually taken place and that those people had been present when it occurred. It is obviously quite frustrating to have such disagreements when one is attempting to find out the ‘historical truth’ of a given event – but that’s a fact of life we just have to live with.

      One thing such errors in the Gospels do show is that the Bible writers were not ‘infallibly inspired’. But the fact that they were fallible in their reporting does not mean that they just made the whole thing up.

      Certainly, there is much disagreement within the adherents of Islam as to what it means that Jesus was neither crucified nor did he die – it was only made to appear that way. There are many stories about one person or another being substituted for Jesus – and God performed some sort of mass hypnosis whereby everyone was convinced that it was actually Jesus being crucified. Some say it was Judas who was actually crucified, others claim someone else (even someone from among his followers who volunteered to take his place). Others say that Jesus was actually crucified (though they may, like Mr. Deedat, invent another term – “crucificted” – to avoid the obvious contradiction with the Qur’an which says he was not crucified), but did not actually die. He was supposedly taken down from the cross before he died, and God only “made it appear” that Jesus was dead. I doubt you would say that all of this confusion and disagreement among Muslims as to the meaning of “made it appear” means that the verses in the Qur’an are themselves an invention of man.

      I’m personally pretty much convinced that the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus is an historical reality – and I have an explanation for the verses in Sura 4 which in my mind make the two to be consistent. If you wish to see my explanation you can check out The Death of Jesus in the Qur’an . I still acknowledge, though, that I may be wrong and leave myself open to convincing evidence contrary to my position. (I just didn’t find the link you gave to be ‘convincing evidence’).

      Having said all that, though, please understand that I do appreciate your desire to give me evidence in support of your position. Anything else you may wish to send, please do so. I may not bother with it if it’s a forum discussion, but otherwise I’ll probably be quite willing to consider it. I completely deny the ‘vicarious atonement’ theories of Traditional Christianity; and if good evidence were presented that the crucifixion itself was untrue, – especially if it also showed how that didn’t conflict with any of the Hebrew Prophets’ predictions – I think I would jump at it. (I read the author’s commentary on Isaiah 53, and found that unconvincing also).

  13. “The only way Jesus’ death on the cross can affect our sinfulness and after death state is if one looks at the death metaphorically as a moral lesson for us to emulate. That is, Jesus was dramatically demonstrating what each of us must do in order to return to conscious favor with God: we must take up our own cross (metaphorically speaking), putting to ‘death’ our sinful impulses and materialistic nature and ‘rising again’ in a new spiritual life of righteousness. ”

    a soldiers sacrifice would work instantly , but jesus’ ‘sacrifice’ would not work instantly , christians still have to battle with thier sinful thoughts. for example , there is a lovely looking christian girl in church. christians have no segregation in church. so one christian looks at another christian girl in a bit of sleezy way. how did jesus’ sacrifice kick in for that situation? rather it is the islamic path which is the real way and that is to ‘lower ones gaze’

    • Peace be with you, mansubzero; and thanks for your comments.

      Your point about the necessity of personal sacrifices is very apropos. That was precisely what I was getting at when speaking of Jesus’ death and resurrection – as presented in the Bible – as being a moral or spiritual example for us to follow. Except that in this figure of crucifixion, it is not just ‘sacrificing’ some things in our lives; it is ‘sacrificing’ our whole materialistic and ungodly way of life and thinking for the kingdom of God. This presents a daily challenge of ‘mortification’ on our part – it’s not simply a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ decision.

      I had in mind statements made by Jesus and Paul. There is Jesus’ statement in Luke 9 (with parallels in Matthew 16:24-26 and Mark 8:34-37):

      Luk 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
      Luk 9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
      Luk 9:25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

      I also had in mind Paul’s treatment of the death and resurrection of Jesus as it relates to us in Romans 6:1-14. He wrote there that we must consider ourselves to be united with Christ Jesus in his death, and also in his resurrection. To quote just 2 verses from that passage, which show the practical effects Paul believed we should manifest from consideration of Christ’s death and resurrection, consider verses 11 and 12:

      Rom 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
      Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

      To use the illustration you gave concerning sexual temptation, it’s fine to lower one’s eyes, but one also has to guard his inner thoughts. The illustration of daily self crucifixion addresses this need by telling us we must constantly be ‘putting to death’ both the actions and the thinking which is contrary to the ways of God – even though such thoughts and actions seem so enjoyable and pleasing.

      The death and resurrection of Jesus certainly had a theological significance for his disciples and apostles; but I don’t think I can agree with you that they just made up those events. It appears to me that those events were “all too real” to those believers. Thirty some years later, during “the last days” just prior to the Roman army conquering and destroying Jerusalem, Jesus’ death and resurrection was still vivid in their minds, and still formed the foundation of their teaching in their letters. I believe that the events were very real – or at least it was “made to appear” to them that it was very real, if the Muslim understanding is correct; but the spiritual eye sees spiritual and theological significance in all events – particularly major events. When the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman armies conquered the Jewish people, it was understood by those “with eyes to see” that this was God’s judgment on the nation for their sins. Those armies constituted the “armies of God”, even though the armies themselves were not aware of it. Paul could say that all the events of the Old Testament Scriptures were lessons for believers of his time (and later times).

      It’s the theological significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and our emulation in personal ‘self crucifixion’, which is of importance to us though. Whatever one may believe about the literalness of the events, it’s the ‘theology’ of a spiritual and moral example to follow that matters.

  14. “The only way Jesus’ death on the cross can affect our sinfulness and after death state is if one looks at the death metaphorically as a moral lesson for us to emulate. That is, Jesus was dramatically demonstrating what each of us must do in order to return to conscious favor with God: we must take up our own cross (metaphorically speaking), putting to ‘death’ our sinful impulses and materialistic nature and ‘rising again’ in a new spiritual life of righteousness. ”

    many people can make many different interpretation of jesus’ death. the gospel writers tried to view his death in light of the korban sacrifices in the torah.
    but to one standing by the cross it would be plain old 1st degree murder, not sacrifice .

    i think the point is missed. psycologists will tell you that when you witness a murder or when you see someone being burnt to death it has painfull affects .

    i quote an example:

    The answer is that MANKIND needs sacrifices to understand the value of life. By giving something of value and realizing that it could easily have been our life that was forfeit instead of the sacrifice. Via kosher sacrifice we experience the emotional response that mortal life is fleeting and can be gone in an instance. We may only sacrifice things we OWN — thus giving up something of value for the betterment of our spiritual selves.

    The value in sacrifice is in giving of ourselves (the best of our selves, read Genesis 4:7) and the understanding that we owe everything, including our very lives, to Him.

    This is why we sacrifice to G-d. Man is the one who NEEDS, not G-d. If the value in sacrifice is in the experience of giving of OURSELVES…

    what christians have done is used the jewish ideas in the torah and applied them to jesus’ ‘sacrifice’
    but you will note that the sinner is the one placing his hand on the animal which is about to be sacrificed.
    and when the poor animals life disappears this would bring about GUILT in the person then he would REPENT. no jew in torah LOOKED back at a sacrifice, he had to WITNESS one.

    there are hundreds of death which are taking place right now, surely they should create a feeling of guilt in us and cause us to repent?

    i am being to think that the whole crucfixion event might be an invention created by the gospel writers. it seems to be more related to theology than an actual event.

  15. Carlson, your posts are a bit too long for me to read, but if you are wondering if our God is a forgiving God, then yes, absolutely. If you would like to know Mr. Parker’s views on specific aspects of religion, please do read his previous articles. Thanks 🙂

  16. last thing. i know in torah the crime for murder is death , no atonement. i know in the qur’aan it is kind of similar to torah, but thier are earthly punishments and repentance . if i murdered someone, is God is loss or am i? God can restore the life i took. He can ask that life if it wants to forgive me. what if that life asks for my forgiveness? if forgiveness for me accompanied with my repentance is not acceptable to God, then what is? i know if i was rude and arrogant and didn’t believe in God , then punishment is deserved , but what if i am repentant sinner who BEGS god for forgiveness, surely God would forgive?

    • Peace be with you, Carlson.

      In the Qur’an, the family of a murder victim may request that the murderer not undergo capital punishment. In that case, monetary compensation would be made by the murderer. “[2:178] O YOU who have attained to faith! Just retribution is ordained for you in cases of killing: the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the woman for the woman. And if something [of his guilt] is remitted to a guilty person by his brother, this [remission] shall be adhered to with fairness, and restitution to his fellow-man shall be made in a goodly manner. This is an alleviation from your Sustainer, and an act of His grace. And for him who, none the less, willfully transgresses the bounds of what is right, there is grievous suffering in store.” In this verse we see first that God’s justice requires that only the person who commits the crime may be punished. The free man is punished for the crime he, the free man, committed; the slave is punished for the crime he, the slave, committed; and the woman is punished for the crime she, the woman, committed. This is in contrast with the practice of family feuds and vendettas which were common then (and have not been unknown in later times, including in the USA – a famous feud between the Hatfields and McCoy’s in West Virginia, for instance). When someone was murdered, the family of the victim might seek revenge on the whole family of the murder, or at least more than one of that family’s members. It might be decided that the murderer was not important enough to compensate for the value of the person who was murdered, so more than one person might be required to suffer revenge for the murder. God says such practices must cease, because it defies justice. But it is more pleasing to God when the family of the victim is willing to show some mercy toward the murderer – not even seeking the full punishment available in the law for the murder.

      Another verse calling for mercy toward the murderer is: “[5:45] And We ordained for them in that [Torah]: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and a [similar] retribution for wounds; but he who shall forgo it out of charity will atone thereby for some of his past sins. And they who do not judge in accordance with what God has revealed – they, they are the evildoers!”

      This foregoing of capital punishment by the family of the victim is before human tribunals only, though. When brought directly before God’s tribunal, the decision concerning who to forgive and who to punish is God’s alone to make. It is said, both in the Bible and in the Qur’an, on many occasions that God has mercy on whom He will, and he leaves to stray whom He will. This decision in never “arbitrary” though; it’s always in keeping with God’s knowledge, wisdom, and justice as well as His mercy. Any time an ‘evil’ person is brought to repentance and the desire for mercy and change, God stands ready to grant His mercy.

      I don’t know how many of my blog articles you have read; but I seek to consistently defend the idea of ultimate universal ‘salvation’. When God ‘punishes’ – both in this life and in the ‘afterlife’ – the punishment is always of a corrective nature. That of course means that God is actively seeking to bring the evildoer to repentance whenever He administers punishment (even those punishments figuratively referred to as the fire of hell). When that goal is achieved, punishment ends and the former evil doer can then be remade into a ‘vessel of righteousness’ pleasing to God.

      I have written a number of articles on reincarnation, the ‘resurrection’, what ‘everlasting punishment’ means, etc. A few you might be interested in reading (if you wish to really get a grasp of what I believe) are: “Christian Universalism“; “Christian Universalism, Part 2“; “Everlasting Punishment?“; and “Who Will Be Saved?“. I believe all except the last one were written before I began ‘investigating’ Islam, so their arguments are derived simply from Biblical texts. The last one (“Who Will Be Saved”) contains an argument from the Qur’an, though.

  17. a soldier might step on a grenade to instantly save a humans life. the soldiers life is taken instantly and blood and flesh of the one who was in danger is INSTANTLY saved. now we all know that christians are not SAVED instantly from SIN, they still SIN. we all know that their flesh is not SAVED from PAIN and suffering because they still suffer.the questions becomes, what was the need of god to wear blood and flesh when neither of these items saved anyone or anything HERE ON THIS EARTH? put all your sins on a goat and let it go in scourching heat in the desert . the goat would eventually die . how does its death really fix things up for you on earth? it doesn’t , does it?

    christians STILL HAVE to follow instructions of the man-god bEFORE he died.

    we are told that the SPIRITUAL part is MORE important than the flesh and blood BECAUSE both flesh and blood can be REKNEWED 1000 TIMES.

    now jesus’ sacrifice was not of infinite worth.

    jesus says god DESTROYS BOTH flesh and SOUL in hell

    but in christian doctrine the son did not infinitely destroy his FLESH or soul in hell
    on the other hand , humans soul will be destroyed in hell as well as the flesh, according to jesus.

    what is more nonsensical is that God applies his OWN wrath upon himself and then he REWARDS himself by allowing himself to take off TO himself.

    and if the divine part is AFFECTED by the human part, then does that mean that the romans were able to split the trinity when they torchered the flesh and nailed it to a cross?

    if the divine part is not affected, then does this mean God calms himself down because he used his HUMAN DEED as an intermediary i.e looks at the wrath he applied on his flesh 2000 years ago?

    there is a bit of double standards i have noticed. human being deeds are not impressive, but god doing a bloody sacrificial deed is impressive?
    i’m talking about when they say , ” faith, not actions”

    the truth is brother, judaism and islam and parts of the christian testament say that God is mericiful and quick to forgive and will take his time in punishing someone. God giving us time CAN be seen as a mercy/forgiveness

    john the baptist used to forgive by telling the sinner to dunk himself in water or something like that and jesus did not have a problem with what jtb did.

    what has God got to lose when He forgives? Money? power? does He have to HARM someone before He forgives? forgiveness is free and for God it is easy.

    • Peace be with you, Carlson.

      I think, as a general response to all of your statements/questions, that the whole system of ‘redemption’ as presented by Christian orthodoxy presents a multitude of absurdities. One can no doubt go on ‘endlessly’ producing examples of those illogical and unreasonable ideas. Redemption by payment of the ‘debt’ and forgiveness are mutually exclusive. The idea of “God/man” is filled with contradictions and is really a slander against God. It’s definitely untrue. Your point about ‘splitting the Trinity’ is well taken; what one comes down to is 3 ‘gods’, not 3 “persons” constituting One God. Otherwise, Jesus’ cry asking God why He had forsaken him could have no conceivable validity. If the 3 are somehow 1, then one ‘person’ of that Trinity could not possibly forsake another of the ‘persons’. It’s all a mass of confusion – and “God is not the author of confusion”.

      The only way Jesus’ death on the cross can affect our sinfulness and after death state is if one looks at the death metaphorically as a moral lesson for us to emulate. That is, Jesus was dramatically demonstrating what each of us must do in order to return to conscious favor with God: we must take up our own cross (metaphorically speaking), putting to ‘death’ our sinful impulses and materialistic nature and ‘rising again’ in a new spiritual life of righteousness. When one is willing to ‘repent’ (change one’s mind and way of life) and turn to God, by the mighty help of the Merciful and Kind One, then the Ever Forgiving will freely forgive all the waywardness and wrongheadedness which has gone before. And so long as we maintain that attitude of seeking God and His ways wholeheartedly, any sins we slip into will also be forgiven. By viewing Jesus’ death as a moral example rather than as a ‘ransom paid to God’, one’s life can be tremendously changed.

      Of course, the accepted Muslim position – based on some verses in Sura 4 – is that Jesus did not die by crucifixion; it was only made to appear that way. Therefore the whole question of the significance of Jesus’ death is made irrelevant. I personally still don’t accept that Muslim viewpoint – I still attempt to explain the verses in Sura 4 in another way. I think a beautiful metaphorical picture is lost when the crucifixion is denied. Still, I can admire how the Muslim view obliterates the whole absurd issue of ‘vicarious atonement’.

      I admire your statement that flesh and blood can be renewed 1000 times; it fits very well with my belief in reincarnation. God uses as many lifetimes as it takes to purge His creatures from their waywardness and corruption and renew them in God consciousness and righteousness.

      I believe there is too much literalness in interpreting both the Bible and the Qur’an. When Jesus spoke of God destroying both body and soul in hell, it is my belief that he meant that God’s ‘fiery’ judgments (over the course of many lifetimes as well as the ‘between lives’ state) purge all of the corruption produced by our physical actions (body) and thoughts/attitudes (soul). We should not imagine a literal fire that literally consumes our physical bodies and our souls.

      I don’t know whether or not this comment satisfies your ‘questions’; but I read what you said more as statements pointing out absurdities than as questions. And I certainly agree that the harder one tries to defend the “God/man” and “vicarious atonement” ideas, the more one flounders in confusion.

      God’s kindness and blessing be with you.

  18. thank you very much brother for your reply. if you don’t mind i will post few more questions inshAllah

    • Questions are never objectionable. I can’t guarantee my ability to answer them, but I’m willing to try.

  19. i want your help brother in answering christianties claim that god killed himself to appease himself. he killed himself and this would prevent him to kill you in hell . that is if you believe he killed himself.
    do you get this nonsense?

    • Carlson – Peace be with you.

      Thanks for reading my article, and taking the time to reply and ask a question. I may (or may not) attempt to make an article (or articles) in reply to the orthodox Christian viewpoint on ‘atonement’ and ‘redemption’. However, just to at least provide a ‘beginning’ of an answer to your question: I agree with you that the idea of God killing Himself (or even killing a mere man) to placate His wrath against human sin – so that He can then ‘forgive’ the sin – is absurd nonsense. I rejected this notion almost 25 years ago, even though I had believed it up until that time.

      First of all, “atonement” as Christians understand it is completely contradictory to forgiveness. One can either forgive a wrong, or he can exact just payment for the wrong; but he cannot do both. Once a debt has been paid in full (as Christians believe Jesus [PBUH] did for the ‘debt’ of sin), there can be no more room for ‘forgiveness’. If the debt has been paid, there does not remain any debt to be forgiven. If the debt is forgiven, then there remains no need to pay off the debt. The two ideas are mutually exclusive.

      I probably don’t need to tell you that the Bible, in both “Old” and “New” Testaments, emphasizes strongly God’s free forgiveness of the sins of those who turn from sin to faith and obedience. God is a God who FORGIVES sin; and by that forgiveness He gives up any claim on ‘payment’ from the sinner or a substitute/representative for the sinner. Those whose sins are not forgiven, will of course have to pay the penalty themselves – there will be no one to do it for them.

      Therefore I conclude that either Christians have misunderstood the Biblical texts about ransom/redemption and atonement, or the Bible writers have shown themselves to be confused and self contradictory. I prefer the former alternative; but I recognize the presence of error and contradiction within the Biblical texts, so that the second alternative would not overly surprise me either.

      I do deny outright that Jesus (PBUH) is God, and I deny that the Bible anywhere teaches such a thing. I believe one of the major parts of the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) was to confirm the truth which is in the Bible, and expose the errors either within the texts or the interpretations of the texts. When the Qur’an proclaims that Jesus (PBUH) was an ordinary human spirit who was selected by God to be His messenger, I recognize this as truth and sensible. When the Qur’an says that each person bears the consequences of his own actions (whether righteous or unrighteous), and no one can ‘bear the burdens’ of anyone else, I recognize this also as truth and reasonable. I also find both of those truths to be taught in the Bible.

      Of course the very idea that the Eternal One who has neither beginning nor end could “kill Himself” is a complete absurdity, and one of the most ridiculous and offensive claims of orthodox Christianity. If Jesus actually died on the cross, it proves that he was a human being like you and me – not God. This also points out the contradictions inherent in orthodox Christianity.

      First they tell us that no man is capable of bearing the fullness of God’s wrath for sin; Jesus had to be God to be a sufficient sacrifice for sins. But then when people point out the absurdity of God dying – even temporarily – or “one part of God” killing “another part of God” – they change their story and tell us that it was as a man that Jesus died; his “divine nature” could not die. So I just say: which is it? Was Jesus a “Divine Sacrifice” – God dying in our place; or was it only his humanity that died – because it’s impossible for God to die? You can’t have it both ways. (And of course if it was only the humanity of Jesus that died, what does that do for the contention that only one who is God could fully bear the consequences of sin?)

      Frankly, that ‘orthodox’ Christianity which began to be officially formulated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. is just one huge mass or absurdities, contradictions, and slanders against God. Muhammad (PBUH) restored pure Christianity, by God’s will.

  20. salaam brother

    this is about atonement in christianity.
    the creator told the created beings to give up things for him. warriors of god give up thier life for god to bring good in this life. so they have to fight thier attachments and wordly wishes before they give up thier life for god. jews say animal sacrificies symbolize the fact that one is ready to give up everything for god almighty. and when the animal life disappears in a second this is supposed to bring an instant result of guilt and pain to the one who sacrificed the animal.
    the question is, why would god appease/satisfy himself by making sacrifice to himself? why would he give his life to himself by offering it to himself via brutal torcher by the pagan romans?

  21. Regarding doing Salat in English, my opinion is that it would defeat the purpose of Salat. The Quran is to be recited during Salat and the Quran is written in arabic. No translation, no matter how beautiful, can cover the entire meaning of the original words used in the Quran. The language of Allah is certainly superior to the language of humans (Quranic Arabic, not just simple, classical Arabic, is superior to English)
    Also, as a Sunni, following the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is very important to me. Reading the Quran in Arabic and doing Salat in Arabic are part of the example set by the Prophet (PBUH). In other words, I don’t recite the Salat or Quran in Arabic—I recite it in the language of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
    For Muslims like myself, preserving the original Quran and Sunnah is a very important aspect of Islam. One of the reasons why Christianity has lost it’s “original meaning” (term used loosely) is because it’s followers have been forced to rely on translations that may or may not accurately convey the original meaning of the scriptures. We Muslims are fortunate to have the original language and thus access to the original meaning of our scripture and we must preserve it by using, understanding and teaching it to each other and our children.
    Doing the Adhan and Salat in Arabic is a powerful uniting force for Muslims and bonds English-speaking Muslims with Urdu-speaking Muslims in an international Ummah. The sense of community that Salat is supposed to foster is also reflected in the Sunnah–your encouraged to pray in groups rather than praying alone. You state that doing the Salat in Arabic diminishes Islam into a regional Arab religion. However, from experience I can assure you it does exactly the opposite. People of different cultural backgrounds, different native tongues and different skin colors 🙂 gather to prayer together in Arabic at Mecca during the Hajj pilgrimage. You may travel to Indonesia and not understand a single word spoken by your Indonesian Muslim brothers and sisters but you will share Salat and understand each other because Mosques are not nationalised or regionalised.
    Also, there is a difference between Salat (worship) and Dua (prayer/ supplicatioon). As Dua can be done in whatever language you chose.
    Nevertheless, I understand you concern about not being able to understand what is going on. If we look to the Prophet (PBUH) and the Quran it becomes apparent that simply reciting the Surahs in Arabic without understanding their meaning is worthless (refer to the stages in which alcohol was banned in Medina).
    Converts generally begin reciting the prayer in their native tongue and gradually introduce arabic as they learn the various Surahs that we Muslims recite during prayer. I know the task seems daunting but there is a lot of repetition in prayer and the amount of Arabic recited is probably about a page or two.

    • Peace be with you, Blue.

      Thanks for your input. I definitely value it, even though I don’t at this time agree with all of your reasoning. Your response helps me understand, at least, why you would insist on maintaining the Arabic of the original revelation of the Qura’n in your Salat recitations. So I appreciate your thoughtfulness in speaking up. 🙂

  22. Stephen,

    I wanted to point out a few things. As you would know we, Sunnis, believe in the Mahdi too but in a different way. Imams are usually not good in checking email. Also, visit a few mosques and see if any of them have more diversity (people from different countries because then they speak in English with each other) and more converts. I being a woman in a hijab in my all white neighborhood am less apt to get out for a walk. You being a white guy among all brown guys would be less apt to go to the mosque. So the discouraging factors should be to a minimum. As you did already, Fridays are good days to go to mosques since there are more people. Best Wishes.

    • Peace be with you, AJ; and thanks for your comment.

      I found the Shia article on “the Twelfth Imam” interesting; but I’m not getting overly involved with Muslim eschatology because I’m very skeptical of all “end times” scenarios. I rejected popular ‘Christian’ eschatology a long time ago, as being a terrible perversion of the actual Biblical texts – I’m of a “preterist” (“past tense”) viewpoint about Biblical prophecy. Even though I have come to accept that some of the Biblical prophecies had to do with Muhammad (PBUH), they’re still now ‘past tense’ to us. I’m skeptical of Muslim eschatological scenarios because they depend, so far as I can tell, solely on ‘hadith’; the Qur’an seems to be silent on “end times” details. And I consider that there are too many uncertainties about ‘hadith’ to have them as a foundation for any teaching or practice. I may change my mind on that with more study, but that’s where I am right now.

      There was quite a bit of diversity among the people at the Mosque I attended last Friday, even though there weren’t a large number of people present. There were people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, African nations – and even an Irish American – that I know of. But they were all raised as Muslims, and from childhood had learned to read the Qur’an in Arabic and pray the ritual prayers in Arabic. Conversation was in English, though, so I had no trouble communicating with them.

      I have no difficulty at all with worshiping with a congregation of people who are darker skinned than I am; and I was of course quite gratified to find that the feeling was reciprocated by those worshipers. Yeah, objectively I stood out; but there was not a bit of discomfort on anybody’s part (so far as I could tell) because of it. I probably will visit another Mosque or two, but I wouldn’t have a bit of hesitation about going back to the Shia Mosque I visited last week just because of skin pigmentation. 😀

      The things that made me feel uncomfortable and out of place had to do with my lack of knowledge of the rituals, and the fact that everything except the sermon was in Arabic (with which I am extremely unfamiliar). Maybe I need to find a congregation of 3rd or 4th generation ‘American Muslims’ and recent converts – no matter what the color of their skins – who aren’t so familiar with Arabic (if such an Islamic congregation exists). Then maybe they would be open to the idea that God doesn’t require prayer to be made in Arabic to be acceptable. 🙂 We could agree upon an acceptable English version of the Qur’an and prayers, and recite them in unison in that agreed upon English version. I think that would be awesome; and people wouldn’t think that Islam is just a weird Arab religion. 🙂

      • First of all I apologize if I sounded a little patronizing regarding the skin color thing. As far as prayers in English are concerned, I would tend to disagree not because I think Arabic is superior but because doing so leaves room for various translations or interpretations. Any act that could even have a miniscule chance of further dividing the Muslims into sects, I am afraid of that but I understand your logic.

  23. Here’s an interesting website I came across in that article I linked to in my previous comment. This site is a guide to mosques and schools and allows people to review them:

    http://salatomatic.com/

  24. Wooo, that was one cool story….I enjoyed reading this post 🙂

    Perhaps you could visit a bigger mosque sometime where there would be more people who could help you Mr. Parker. And yes, the language barrier can be a problem! I really do hope Imams and scholars would change their outlook on language to help people such as yourself (and young Muslims).

    Here’s an interesting article I found on precisely this topic:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35505097/ns/us_news-life/t/us-mosques-debate-use-english/

    • as-Salaamu Alaykum, iSherif. (I learned how to say that phrase at the Mosque last Friday. 😀 )

      Thanks for giving the link to that article. I did note that the controversy among Muslims in the USA is not over saying the prayers in Arabic; that is apparently a ‘requirement’. The controversy is over whether the sermon can be given in English. At the Mosques in my area, they’re apparently all ‘progressive’ enough to have English sermons. That was definitely the case at the Shia Mosque I attended.

      My concern remains over the performance of the ritual motions, and saying the prayers. If they have to be said in Arabic, I’m just left out; and I don’t feel a great incentive to attend the prayer services. The sermon in English is the only thing to attract me to such a service.

      I don’t believe that God is an Arab, and I don’t believe that Arabic is ‘God’s language’. If ‘Islam’ is truly a universal religion, then Allah must intend that His message be communicated in every place and in all languages. God revealed the Qur’an in Arabic because Muhammad (PBUH) and the first hearers were all Arabs and Arabic was their language. If He had revealed His message to them in Hebrew or Latin, they could not have understood it. But the revelation was not in Arabic because Arabic is a ‘heavenly language’! 😆

      So the question I have to ask of Muslims is: do you really believe that Allah is the Creator, Cherisher, and Sustainer, of “all the worlds”, or is He just a tribal Deity for Arab speaking people only? If it’s the former, the Muslims had better learn to translate His message into every language, and let everyone know that Allah can hear and understand their prayers in whatever language He has caused them to speak! There’s nothing special about Arabic that God is unable or unwilling to hear people’s prayers in any other language. God is just as comfortable with hearing me say “God is Greater than anything I can imagine” (or simply “God is Great”) as He is with hearing me say in Arabic, “Allahu Akbar”. There’s no reason I should have to say “Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim” rather than “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”. It does not edify me to pray in “an unknown tongue”, and God is quite adept in all languages.

      Still, attending Mosque services just for the purpose of becoming acquainted with, and having ‘fellowship’ with, others who serve the One God only is itself probably sufficient reason to do so.

  25. Stephen,

    Congrats! May Allah give you guidance!

  26. I couldnt agree with you more regarding the language barrier. I have also spoken about that with Muslims who do not understand Arabic. They say their religious men are fluent in Arabic and translate the passages for them but still I feel the message could be lost in the translation. Anyway good on you for attending.


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