Bible Commentator

ISLAM AND THE WEST

Rabbi Moshe Reiss

moshereiss@moshereiss.org

THE QUR’AN


A. INTRODUCTION

B. THE REVELATION

C. REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

D. ANTI-SEMITISM

E. CHRISTIANITY AND JESUS

F. JEWISH PROPHETS

G. THE TEMPLE AND AL AQSA

H. CONCLUSION


A. INTRODUCTION

The Qur’an (which means ‘recital’) has 114 Suras (chapters) and depending of the edition slightly over 6200 verses. (There is no standardized text; thus numbers of verses differ in different editions.)


The Qur’an for Orthodox believers is literarily the direct world of God dictated by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. In this way the Qur’an is like the Torah to Orthodox Jews, the direct word of God dictated to Moses. 1 In this way the Torah and the Qur’an differ from the Gospels. The Gospels contain four different version of Jesus’ life written decades after his death and includes letters written by other Apostles both before and after the Gospels.


The Qur’an was dictated by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad over a twenty two year period. He related it to seven (or ten) ‘readers’ or companions of the Prophet. 2 After Muhammad’s death there were 70 oral reciters. Tradition has it that in a battle led by Abu Bakr  (Muhammad’s successor) all 70 reciters were killed. It was then decided to write down the text following at least two witnesses who heard them directly from the reciters. Thus according to this tradition the text was written.


‘It was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, interiorized by the community, then shaped by it into an earthly book contained between two covers’. 3


The text of the Qur’an was not written chronologically and thus suras that relate to later events may be placed earlier. It is important to remember that the voices came to Muhammad over twenty two year period and much happened during this period in Mohammad’s life. The text as printed is primarily with longer chapters (suras) at the beginning of the text and shorter ones at the end. This is quite confusing since the context is related to events. The most anti-Semitic suras are 2,3,4,5,9,22. If the text’s suras were printed chronologically these same suras would be 91, 97, 100, 114, 113, 107 respectively. 4 Thus all these texts were written towards the end of Muhammad’s life after the Jews in Medina rejected his being the ‘seal’ or end  of prophet-hood.. Commentators regard certain verses to be responses to specific situations. Thus it is difficult to know whether a verse is meant to a general comment or a response to a specific situation.


Islamic religious experience and Islamic identity are based on a Divine Plan. The Hebrew Bible (which is part of the Christian Bible) is based on a linear sense of history. Genesis begins with the creation of the universe by God. The Christian Bible ends with the book of Revelations; the apocalyptic end of the world. Jewish lore also assumes an end time with an eschatological solution. The Islamic holy book is not written in a linear historic sense. It may be that progress into the future is thus not an Islamic ideal.


Muhammad began his career as a prophet in Mecca. Approximately one third of the Sura’s come from this period of time. Sura  96:1-5 is universally recognized as the first revelation to Muhammad in 610 C.E.  His revelations were concluded in 632 at his death.


There seems little doubt that the Qur’anic text had several different versions after Muhammad’s death. These were collected over a period of perhaps one to two centuries until an accepted text was ‘canonized’ 5


It is clear to most scholars that the Qur’an takes parts of the Jewish and Christian Bible in terms of rituals and ethics as well as including indigenous Arabic ideas. Some of the tales coming from the Jewish and Christian history are different than they appear in the Jewish and Christian Bibles. The Christian Bible (depending on the Christian denomination) accepts the Hebrew Bible as correct; they added a few Hebrew books, not accepted in the Jewish Canon. That is because they used the Septuagint (the Bible in Greek) written before the Hebrew Bible was canonized. 


The Qur’an has many stories of Biblical personages that are different than in the Hebrew Bible and many stories simple not there. The story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son is noted, (37:100-109) but the name of the son is eliminated. The story of Joseph is changed and the hadith depicts it partially as a love story rather than a story of sibling rivalry.  The Qur’an has what can be considered midrashim from an Islamic perspective. They preferred (as opposed to the Hebrew Bible) a hagiographic interpretation of the Biblical Heroes


The Qur’an claimed the Jews and Christians distorted their books. The Shi’ites state that the standard Qur’an text was changed by the Sunnis as to exclude Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law as his rightful successor.


The Muslims rejected the Christian theology of the Trinity. While the Qur’an has great respect for Jesus and Mary – it denies anything suggesting Jesus is a god. In the 19th century Muslims adopted Anti-Semitic arguments from the Christians.


The Qur’an is primarily a book of Law (as is the Torah), a book that refers to previous prophets in the Judaic and Christian Scriptures.  Allah or God and His rules are the central theme of the Book. The law is very much related to the Torah laws and in that way differs from Christianity. Jewish rituals accepted in the Qur’an include kosher animals and their slaughtering (2:173; 5:1-3), purity regarding women (2:222); other purity rituals (4:43; 5:6) marriage and divorce (4:19-23) and inheritance (4:4-12). There is a comparison to the Ten Commandments (17:22-39). In addition some ritual symbols such as fasting are similar - particularly on the tenth day of their first month (Muharram) Yom Kippur is on the tenth day of Tishra -.  (2:183-187), pilgrimage (2:196-200), prayer (2:142-152; 2:238-239) and charity (9:53-60) are common to all three religions. The practice or the ‘sunna’ is the critical focus of Islam – at least for Sunni Islam. In this way Islam differs; n issues of faith which is the focus of Christianity and is more similar to Judaism. 6


Muslims define themselves as having five pillars: The (1) creed (shahada) ‘there is no God but  Allah (47:19 and others)  and Muhammad is the messenger of God’, similar to the Jewish Shema – ‘Here Israel, God the Lord is Our God, the Lord is One’; (also enunciated by Jesus); (2) Prayer (although not five times a day) is noted in 2:145 and 62:9; (3) Charity (zakat) (3:92; 2:219; 9:60); (4) Fasting (in the month of Ramadan 2:183-185); and (5) Pilgrimage – the ‘hajj’ (2:196-200; 5:95-97).


It is particularly interesting that the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision first accomplished by Abraham and his son Ishmael, while religiously observed in Islam is not noted in the Qur’an. A hadith notes Sarah’s jealousy after Hagar’s pregnancy and  Abraham agreeing to pierce Hagar’s ears and her being circumcised. Thus Hagar began the ritual of women’s circumcision. 7


Islamic law is defined as beginning with the Qur’an, then referring to the Sunna as model behavior as defined in the hadith, analogical reasoning and the consensus of the religious leadership. Jewish law is similarly defined; beginning with the Torah, the Talmud (the equivalent of the hadith), analogical reasoning and the consensus of religious leadership. Different versions of the law developed in Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali, schools of Sunni law and the Shi’i school in Jafari. This was in the tenth century and by then for most Islamic scholars these developments were fixed.  The oral law – in Judaism the Talmud - was considered by most Jewish leaders fixed by the 6th century.


All of the monotheistic religions were in the past influenced by Gnosticism spreading from Zoroasterism. This includes a dual belief of a good God and a bad God may have influenced Islam since for an early part of its history it was based in Persia, the home of Zoroaster. Thus good and evil; being servants of the God and light versus servants of the Devil and darkness are at least as true for Islam as for Judaism and Christianity. Because Islam at its very beginning was a military power and a political religion, its enemies became servants of the Devil. The duty of a Muslim is to attack God’s enemies. Christiandom and the West became the major enemy of Islam and therefore the enemy of God. 


Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and Jesus are specifically mentioned as being prophets.  The Jesus story is told in different suras; his being born of a virgin mother (sura 3:47 and 19:21), his signs (sura 2:253), his miracles (sura 3:49) and his crucifixion (sura 4:157-158)


Muhammad’s name is only noted four times in the Qur’an: 3:144; 33:40; 47:2; 48:29. He is considered by Muslims as the final Messenger (‘the seal of the prophets – 33:40).  It is taken to mean that he came to correct the distortions that developed in the Torah and the Gospels. He is clearly noted as mediator between God and man in ways perhaps similar to Moses and Jesus. ‘I am the right one! I am the right one [to intercede] insofar as God allows it for whomever He wills and chooses. God then says to him, O Muhammad, lift your head and speak, for you will be heard; seek intercession and it will be granted’. 8 


Both Christianity and Islam assume their founder is the final messenger. Thus all who follow the one God belief should follow the latest messenger. Judaism being the first of those religions is less prone to that idea, but most Jews believe their relationship with God is special and that Moses is their special prophet.


B. THE REVELATION:


There was no single document collecting all the revelations. Many of his followers tried to gather all the known revelations and write them down.  Soon there were codices collected by several scholars: Ibn Masud, Uba ibn Ka’b, ‘Ali, Abu Bakr, al-Aswad, and others 9 As Islam spread, there eventually were codices in the Islamic centers of Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Kufa, and Basra. Uthman (650-656) tried to bring order to this chaotic situation by canonizing the Medina Codex, copies of which were sent to all the metropolitan centers, with orders to destroy all the other codices.


The great Qur’anic scholar Ibn Mujahid (died 935) approved seven Qur’anic variant texts.  But other scholars accepted ten readings, and still others accepted fourteen readings 10


As-Suyuti (died 1505), one of the most famous and revered of the commentators of the Qur’an, quotes Ibn ‘Umar al Khattab as saying: "Let no one of you say that he has acquired the entire Qur’an, for how does he know that it is all? Much of the Qur’an has been lost, thus let him say, ‘I have acquired of it what is available". A’isha, the favorite wife of the Prophet, says according to a tradition recounted by As-Suyuti, " How many verses in the chapter of the Parties?" He said, "Seventy-three verses. It used to be almost equal to the chapter of the Cow (about 286 verses). During the time of the Prophet, the chapter of the Parties used to be two hundred verses when read. When ‘Uthman edited the copies of the Qur’an, only the current (verses) were recorded" (As-Suyuti, Itqan, part 3, page 72)


“Recite that which has been revealed to thee of the Book,  and argue not with the People of the Book, except with what is best as an argument, but what is best as an argument, but argue not at all with such of them as are just. And say ‘we believe in that which has bee revealed to us and that which has been revealed to you; and our God and your God is One, and to Him we submit’. And in the same manner have We sent down the Book to thee; so those to whom We have given true knowledge of the Book (Torah) believe in it

( the Qur’an); and of Meccans also there are some who believe in it. And you did not recite any Book before the Qur’an, nor did you write one with your right hand; in that case the believers would have cause to doubt.  No, it is a collection of clear Signs in the hearts of those who are given knowledge. And none but the wrongdoers deny Our Signs. And they say ‘Why are not Signs sent down to him from his Lord:’ Say ‘The Signs are with Allah, and I am but a plain Warner,’ Is it not enough for a Sign for them that We have sent down to you the perfect Book which is recited to them?  . . .  Say Allah is sufficient as a Witness between me and you. He knows what is in the heavens and the earth“. (29:46-53)


Commentators have noted on verse 29:49 as follows: ‘The fact that a man who could neither read nor write, and, who being born in a country, and having lived among a people, cut off from all contact with civilized humanity, could conceivably have no knowledge of other revealed Scriptures, should have been able to produce a Book which not only contains all that is of permanent value in those Scriptures but also a compendium of all universal teachings that are calculated to satisfy the moral and spiritual needs and requirements of humanity for all time, does constitute an infallible proof of the Qur’an being a revealed Book and the Holy Prophet being a Divine Teacher.’ 11


It is difficult to believe the statement that Mohammad had no connection to ‘civilized humanity’ and yet told stories full of those in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. The Qur’an is full of rituals related to Jewish rituals. John Wansbrough strongly suggested that the Koran and Hadith grew out of sectarian controversies over a long period, perhaps as long as two centuries, and then was projected back onto an invented Arabian point of origin. He further argued that Islam emerged only when it came into contact with and under the influence of Rabbinic Judaism—"that Islamic doctrine generally, and even the figure of Muhammad, were molded on Rabbinic Jewish prototypes." 12 Other scholars have agreed. 13 It is difficult to believe that Muhammad could have said ‘nor will they enter the Garden until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle’ (7:40) without having known the similar statement from Matthew (19:24).

      The writing of the Hadith, the official interpretation of the Qur’an (as important to Muslims as the Talmud is to Jews), with its primarily interpretive statements from Muhammad was begun by Ibn Ishaq (died 750); his work has been lost and is only party known from Ibn Hisham (died 834). By then Muhammad was dead 200 years. Ignaz Goldziher the great scholar on the Hadith "demonstrated that a vast number of Hadith accepted even in the most rigorously critical Muslim collections were outright forgeries from the late 8th and 9th centuries—and as a consequence, that the meticulous isnads [chains of transmitters] which supported them were utterly fictitious."

One problem for modern critics is that many events occurred to Muhammad during the twenty two years of his revelation.  He reacts to people in Mecca not accepting him, he is invited and moved to Medina (which he names the land of the prophet), attempts to negotiate with the Jews to join his new religion and fails (also with lesser numbers of Christians), fight a war with the people of Mecca and succeeds. The Meccan Suras are different then those written when Muhammad was in Medina. History is active in the Qur’an and Muhammad reacts to it. He is not simply a passive recipient of God’s word.


“And He revealed His word when he was on the uppermost horizons. . . . Then Allah revealed to His servant that which He revealed. The heart of the Prophet lied not in seeing what he saw. Will you then, dispute with him about what he saw? And certainly he saw Him a second time. Near the farthest Lote tree which is the Garden of Eternal Abode” (53:9-16). MGF comments: ‘In his spiritual Ascension the holy Prophet had reached such a stage of nearness to God as was beyond human mind to conceive’. Moses is reputed to be raised to a level of 49 (out of a possible 50) in his revelatory experiences.


‘The Prophet explained this [revelatory] experience very simply [53:9]. He has said that if a servant of God submits himself wholly to the will of God and commits the whole direction of his life to it, he gradually achieves a condition in which God becomes the eyes with which he sees, the ears which with he hears, the hands with which he labours and the feet with which he walks. This becomes as close to expressing the mystical spiritual reality as it is possible to do within the limits of human speech.’ 14


This statement can be compared to the Talmud stating that ‘Two prophets do not prophecy in the same style’. The true prophet has a unique voice; he conveys what he has heard, according to his strength; as fully as he can bear it. To speak with the voice of another is to commit the subtle plagiarism that betrays the false prophet. 15 Even if all the canonized prophets spoke God’s true word, they cannot speak the same word. They are human beings and not God!


A text requires interpreters. Those who interpret in Jewish history are scribes - ‘the successors of the prophets‘ - the new bearers of the divine word - and like prophets depended on something like divine inspiration in order to receive God’s word’. 16


Ibn Sina (11th century) states that Muhammad ‘emerges not simply as a lawgiver, 17 philosopher-king in the Greek vein, but also as receiving the Scripture from celestial intelligences through the mediating active intellect.  18 Despite this Ibn Sina reads like Philo on Moses. 19


A reader is different from a listener. Listening requires hearing through your ears. If you were blind you would hear differently. If the listener looked like an Old Testament Prophet you would hear him differently. If you are reading a text you would be seeing it through your eyes. That is different than hearing through your ears. How that is different has to do with ones perspective and sensitivity among others. Mohammad listened to the word of God as told him by the angel Gabriel, told it to others who wrote it down (perhaps later). 20 While orthodox Islamists believe there was no messenger, simply a message, the Qur’an continually praises Mohammad as the Messenger. It is clear that the rejection of Mohammad by the community of Mecca required his moving to Medina, a more monotheistic population and his message was by definition changed. That people’s reaction to the Prophet would change the message is not surprising.


Does one time revelation mean one time interpretation?


Rabbi Babya ben Asher (a thirteenth century commentator) noted ‘The scroll of the Torah is [written] without vowels, in order to enable man to interpret it however he wishes . . . without vowels man may interpret it [extrapolating from it] several [different] things, many marvelous and sublime.’ 21  The original Arabic text of the Qur’an like the Hebrew scroll of the Bible contains no written vowels. The purpose of a text with only consonants, which is almost unreadable, if we did not have a tradition, is to create care and alertness in reading, to point out the enormous possibilities in the text, to formulate new readings which may have no resemblance to the original meaning of the author. 22 He was writing from then and there and we are here and now. Fazhur Rahman among other Islamic scholar recognizes this. 23


‘While many Muslim scholars delight in quoting extensively from Western sources on Biblical criticism . . .[it] proves for Muslims their contention that Christians and Jews have distorted their own scriptures to validate their own evil ways.’ Ms. Haddad notes ‘the paradox of the validity of one methodology for the study of the scriptures of one faith and the sanctity of the traditional method for the study of the Qur’an is not noted by a single author’. 24 She does however note that an Egyptian Muhammad Ahmad Khalaf Allah presented a doctoral thesis at the Cairo University in 1947 studying the Qur’an as ‘narratives as literature, judging them by modern standards and literary standards’. He reviewed the Qur’an as received in ‘historical context and the narratives may refer to historical events’. His thesis although approved by his advisor was controversial and rejected by the University. 25 She also notes in a book she co-edited with John Esposito that women of Islam are beginning to use feminist theology to reinterpret the Qur’an 26  as does Barbara Freyer Stowasser. 27 The latter refers to Muhammad Ahmad Khalafallah and his dissertation at the Cairo University in 1947 on ‘The Art of Storytelling in the Qur’an’ using the disciplines of philosophy, psychology and sociology. Again despite its approval by his mentor Shaykh Amin al-Khuli it was rejected by the University. Khalafallah discuss the Qur’anic stories as ‘literary pieces’ and  differentiated them from the legislative verses. 28 It is not surprising that two of the women feminists relate the story of male scholars who reject the Islamic tradition.

    

     Shabbir Akhtar a devout Muslim notes ‘that the Qur’an was, in the first instance, addressed to a group of people whose mood and temperament as well as God and perspective differed radically from that prevalent today in modern industrial societies. The Qur’an’s original audience was composed of people naturally innocent not only of modern skepticism but also of secular proclivities associated with rise of critical history and all its rigorous canons of authenticity. Moreover, today we are less willing to tolerate hyperbole or exaggeration. . . . Today there is a concern that the facts, including historical facts, be suitably isolated from sentiment and ideal. There has certainly been a paradigmatic shift in out outlook – a shift we cannot ignore if we are to make the Qur’an relevant to modern humanity’. 29 None of these analyses surprises western analysts.


C. REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY FROM AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE


Islam considers itself part of the Abrahamic covenant. ‘We believe in God, and in that which has been sent down on us and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the Prophets, of their Lord, we make no division between any of them, and to Him we surrender (Sura 2:136).  ‘Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian; but he was a Muslim [meaning one who submitted to God] and one pure of faith . . . Surely the people closest to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet [Muhammad], and those who believe’. (Sura 3:67-68).30 ‘And those who do not rule in accordance with what is revealed by God, are disbelievers (5:44). This verse begins with God having revealed the Law [to Moses]. Despite that we have ‘do not take Jews or Christians as friends or protectors (5:51). 


Judaism and Christianity were protected religions, but expected to reject their former religions for the ‘True Faith’.


The Qur’an will often claim that the people of Israel broke their covenant stating it is their own Book and consequently the covenant was given to the children of Ishmael. It is certainly true that the Israelite people as described in the Torah and the Prophets often rebelled against God. The history of Moses is replete with the children of Israel rebelling. The major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel tell us that the Temple was destroyed due to the people’s rebellion. Does this mean that 1,000 years later God will terminate the covenant and reward it to another people? Can God not add another people to his covenant? Can God not have numerous covenants with the numerous people in the world? Why do the Jews need to believe their covenant is the only one, the Christians that theirs superceded the Israeli one and Islam that theirs superceded both? (See the section on Supersessionism in the Introduction section C.)


There is much about Judaism and Christianity in the Qur’an, most of it very critical. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Mufti of Egypt and Shaikh of al-Azhar, Cairo, the oldest and most prestigious University in the Islamic world stated ten evil methods of the original Jews of Medina against Islam. These include attempts at killing the Muhammad, mocking God, attempts to dissuade Muslims from their faith, being hypocrites and conspiring with idolaters against Islam. In his book he has a whole chapter on ten Jewish vices. 31  In introducing Jewish vices he notes that ‘anyone who reads the Qur’an will clearly see that it attributes many negative moral qualities, ugly characteristics and malicious methods to the Children of Israel’. He concludes his book with an alleged statement by Benjamin Franklin that ‘the Jews are a danger to this country, and if they enter they will corrupt and destroy it.’ 32


Sharif Khalil Sukkar in his introduction to Afif ‘Abd al-Fattah Tabbara’s treatise stated as follows: ‘history is repeated itself: events that occurred during the dawn of Islam are happening again. Jews are carrying out a crazed attack on Arabs and Muslims throughout the world in the hope of stealing from them Palestine and other territories.’ 33 Tabbara also lists negative qualities of the Jews.  He elaborates on the messages of the Torah that criticize the Jews. He says of the ‘massacre’ at Deir Yassin that ‘this criminal character has not appeared newly to them – it has been inherited from their forefathers and ancestors’.34


Both Sukkar and Tabbara explain the Israeli victory as the result of Islamic religious and moral decline. The Muslims need to reestablish their connection to pure Islam. As a result ‘Israel’s dream of establishing a homeland in the heart of the Arab world will be destroyed. The Zionists will then return to a life of wilderness and wandering’. 35 Both quote extensively from Adolph Hitler and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.


A conference was held in September 1968 at the Islamic University of ‘Al-Azhar’ in Cairo on the subject of   “Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel”. Abd’ al-Halim Mahmoud, Secretary-General of the Academy of Islamic Research at the University  wrote in the forward God had presented a trial to the Islamic people as a result of their neglect of Islam and that trial was Israel. ‘It is a call of God to them to release the potential energy and fervour of their Islamic faith . . .  against this delusive Zionist creed’. 36


The then Vice President Anwar Sadat of the United Arabic Republic (Egypt) made the opening speech and seventy seven Muslim Ulemas (clergyman) and invited guests participated.


Kamal Ahmad Own, Vice Principal of Tanta Institute commented as follows: ‘Abraham was an Arabian who emigrated with his tribe from the heart of the Arabian Peninsula to Iraq whence he emigrated after his divine mission to the land of the Canaanites in Syria.  . . . He took his son Ismail together with his mother Hagar to Hijaz where he raised with Ismail the foundations of the Sacred House at Mecca. Thus Abraham was a true Arabian . . . But the Bible deliberately ignores Abraham’s journey to Hijaz with his son Ismail, alleging that Abraham sent Hagar with her son Ismail away to the wilderness of Bear Sheba”.  He concludes “The history of the Israelites smells of blood, and even the prophets who were sent to guide them were among their victims.”


He then quotes the Qur’an Sura 17:417 (sic) “And we decreed to the children of Israel in the Book. ‘Ye shall verily do evil in the earth twice, and ye will become great tyrants.’ (And when the time of the first of the two came, we sent over them servants of ours, of great might, who ravaged your country; and it was an accomplished threat. [This refers to

the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian exile.]  . . . And when the time for the second of the judgments) came (We roused against you others of Our servants) to ravage you, and to enter the Temple even as they entered it the first time, and to destroy utterly all that they laid their hands on). He continues ‘Evil, wickedness, breach of vows and money worship are inherent qualities in them. Many a time were they punished for their evil, but they never repented or gave up their sinfulness. They have usurped Palestine from its rightful owners, doing evil, shedding blood, ripping up pregnant women and blowing up villages, disregarding and defying world opinion.’ He concludes ‘Zionists now repeat the barbaric actions and horrible crimes of their ancestors in Palestine backed by imperialism, slaying women and children and ripping up pregnant women. 37


Some statements in the Qur’an are unambiguous and in response to specific questions. ‘This is a book with verses basic or fundamental of established meanings’ (11:1). Many or most are however ambiguous. ‘In the form of the book it repeats its teaching in various ways’ (39:24). There appear to be contradictions in the Qur’an. This was recognized by Islamic scholars and thus a system of ‘Abrogation’ was developed coming directly from the Qur’an.  ‘None of our revelations do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but we substitute something better or similar.’ (2:106). Or ‘of the book some are allegorical . . . no one knows its hidden meaning except God . . . none will grasp the message except men of understanding’ (3:7). Al Zarkashi (died 794) stated ‘the Qur’an is malleable, capable of many types of interpretation. Interpret it therefore according to the best type’. 38 And Sa’id ibn Jubayr (died 1217) declared ‘Whoever recites the Qur’an and does not interpret it is like a blind man’. 39


The Qur’an recognizes the validity of other holy books. ‘We send apostles before you . . .  and it was never the apostle making a sign except as God allowed. For each period a Book is revealed’ (13:38). ‘When we substitute one revelation for another – and God knows best what He reveals (16:101).


The Qur’an has statements of religious tolerance. The Qur’an states ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (2:257) and ‘I have my religion, and you have your religion (109:6). And ‘if God had wished, He would have made all humankind one community’ (11:118; 16:93; 42:8) and ‘I have created peoples and tribes so that they could get to know each other’ (49:13).



D. ANTI-SEMITISM - Sura 2 – and other suras.


As we noted the suras listed early in the book contain anti-Semitic statements (2,3,4,5,9,22) all occurred late in Mohammad’s life after his conflict with the Jews.


There is in sura 2 an infamous phrase: often quoted as referring to the Jews. ’And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them be ye apes despised and rejected’ (2:65). The term ‘apes’ is repeated again referring to Sabbath breakers (7:166).


"When will the sleepers awake?" asked Sheikh Bandar bin Khalaf Al-'Utaibi, in a sermon at the Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq mosque in Al-Damam. "Is there any kind of humiliation we have not tasted from the brothers of apes and pigs?!"  Pigs are an abomination animal to both Jews and Muslims.


Sheikh Muhammad Al-Saleh Al-'Athimein said in a sermon at the Great Mosque in Al-'Unayza: "Oh Muslims, the Jews are treacherous and deceitful people over whom lies the curse and anger of Allah. They permitted what Allah forbade, with the lamest of excuses; therefore, He cursed them and turned them into apes and pigs. Allah sentenced them to humiliation anywhere they might be…"


"Oh Muslims, see the state of the nation today, after it deviated from the path set out by the clerics," said Sheikh Mustafa Bin Said Aytim in a sermon given at a mosque in Mecca. "[The nation] has made the offspring of apes and pigs its stars; the hangers-on of the apes and pigs have become the centers of influence and power… The Jews, Christians, and the hypocrites gnaw away at the body of the nation and then carry out raids on it with the knights of the destructive media and with the deadly weapon of globalization…" 


In a sermon at the Sa'id Al-Jandoul mosque in Al-Taif, Sheikh Sa'd bin Abdallah Al-'Ajameh Al-Ghamdi stated, "The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, their violation of agreements, and their defilement of places of worship … are connected to their forefathers' deeds in the early time of Islam. This proves the great similarity between every Jew living today and the Jew living during the dawn of Islam."

40


The late spiritual leader of Hamas Sheik Ahmad Yassin has said ‘Six million descendants of monkeys [Jews] now rule in all nations of the world, but their day will come. Allah! Kill them all, do not leave even one’. 41


But reading the text it is unclear whether it refers to Jews or simply Sabbath breakers who could Jews or otherwise.


“Woe therefore to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say ‘this is from Allah” (2:80). Thus the Jews forge their own Bibles. MGF and AYA state this malpractice is common among Jews. 42


According to MGF the following verse “And our Lord raise up among them a Messenger from among themselves who may recite to then the signs and teach them the Book and Wisdom” (2:130) is the summary of the Sura. 43 He states it refers to Deuteronomy ‘I will raise up for them a prophet from among their brethren, like you, and will put my words in his mouth’ (Deut. 18:18). Despite this he states that it is a prayer by Abraham. Other commentators state the ‘Messenger’ referred to is Abraham. 44  MGF suggests that God promised blessing to both of Abraham’s sons and that Isaac’s children lost their blessing due to their evil deeds. He further states “even if the Bible be shown to contain no prophecy about Ishmael [which will then deny] . . . then if Biblical evidence can be taken to establish the existence of a promise about Isaac and his sons, why should not the evidence of the Qur’an . . .be accepted to establish the fact that promises were held out by God to Ishmael and his sons also’.” He concludes that the promise to Ishmael and Isaac are similar. But more interesting is his admission that the Bible and Qur’an are both valid covenants. This is a theology of pluralism.


“Abraham enjoined upon his sons and Jacob likewise saying ‘O my sons, God has surely chosen for you this faith, therefore do not die except as believers (muslims).

While this statement is not in the Torah, what is interesting is that the word Muslim means believer, when Muslims read these they understand the word to mean the religion of Islam and not the generic word believers (2:133).


“Were you present when death came to Jacob when he said to his sons ‘what will you worship after me’. They answered; We will worship thy God, the God of our fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, the One God” (2:134). Although Jacob according to the Torah did call his sons to his deathbed the Torah does not ask this question nor receive this answer. Despite this MGF quotes in his footnote Genesis (49:2), Midrash Rabba and Targum Jer. [sic] (Deut. 6:4) about the oneness of God. 45 This Midrash does not state what the author claims nor is there a Targum Jer. The Targum Yonatan does not state what MGF claims.


“What has turned them away from their Qiblah [Jerusalem and the Temple] which they followed? Say to Allah belong the East and the West. He guides whom he pleases to right path. And thus have We made you an exalted nation that you may be guardians over the people and the Messenger of Allah may be a guardian” (2:143-144).


The Qur’an is referring to a conflict between the Qiblah – the Temple in Jerusalem and the Qiblah (Ka’bah) in Mecca known in the tradition as the Qiblah of Abraham. According to the Qur’an Abraham went with his wife (Hagar) and sons Ishmael and Isaac to Mecca and rebuilt the sacred black stone known as the ‘Ka’bah’ and then the sacrifice took place there. Hagar the concubine wife of Abraham and mother of Ishmael (and Arabs 46) is never mentioned in the Qur’an.  47  Sarah name is also not mentioned but the story in Genesis of the angels coming to inform Abraham’s wife of a birth is told and the ‘wife refers to her being ‘a barren old woman’ (51:30) and during the story about Lot ‘the wife’ again refers to her status as an old woman (11:72-73). The exegesis continues with the story of Pharaoh, and his giving her the slave girl Hagar. The exegesis has similarities to Jewish Midrashim and no doubt the writers were aware of those ancient legends. These hadith’s include Sarah’s jealousy after Hagar’s pregnancy and Abraham agreeing to pierce Hagar’s ears and her being circumcised. Thus Hagar began the ritual of female circumcision.


The exile of Hagar and Ishmael began shortly after Ishmael’s birth and not after Isaac’s birth as in Genesis. Abraham left them in Mecca protected by God (14:37). Abraham comes home to Sarah, thirteen years later she became pregnant, gave birth to Isaac and Abraham returned to Mecca. These midrashic writers are obviously different than their Jewish colleagues; they have Jacob, during the lifetime of Abraham and Sarah building Al Aqsa in Jerusalem. 48 Sarah in the hadith is seen as Abraham’s first wife and as such is a prefiguring of Mohammad’s first wife and first disciple Khadija. 49 The conflict is seen as a necessary conflict between two righteous mothers protecting their righteous sons.


The Ka’bah became the Qiblah for all of humanity and thus surpassed the importance of Jerusalem.  Abraham prays at Mecca ‘making it a city of peace, and to preserve me and my children from worshipping idols’(14:36).  While in Medina Muhammad prayed towards Jerusalem and then changed the site of prayer to Mecca. 50 (In 2:126 Abraham makes a place of prayer which commentators state was the Ka’bah in Mecca.  In 2:127 Abraham with the help of Ishmael built the ‘sacred house’ in Mecca. 51) 


According to Wahidi Muhammad asked Gabriel if he could change ‘from the Qiblah of the Jews to Ka’bah which was the Qiblah of Abraham’, Gabriel asked God and God sent this verse. 52 This occurred after Muhammad conflicted with the Jews in Medina. The use of ‘exalted nation’ is similar to the chosen-ness of the Jewish people.


Other issues related to Judaism:


In October 1966 the “Fourth Conference of The Academy of Islamic Research” discussed various verses in sura 3.


A party of the People of the Book would fain lead you astray; but they lead astray none except themselves, only they perceive not.  O People of the Book! Why do you deny the signs of Allah, while you are witnesses thereof? O People of the Book! Why do you confound truth with falsehood and hide the truth knowingly?” (3:70-73) The people of the book could be the Jews or Jews and Christians. Can we not accept that Muhammad’s is the Islamic Messenger and that Moses is for the Jews? Have we not all been sinful? The translations of this last verse (73) differ significantly. Razi (died 963) translates it as ‘do not believe any prophet unless he confirms the laws of the torah. Do not believe any prophet who comes with a dispensation altering the laws of the Torah’. 53


“But they tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it”. Sheikh Abd Allah Al Meshad  further comments “The jews [sic] say: ‘God’s hand is tied up’ (3:74). They said God is indigent and we are rich’. ‘We are the sons of God, and His beloved’. 54


“And surely, among them is a party who twist their tongues while recited the Book that you may think it is part of the Book, while it is not part of the book. And they say it is from Allah; while it is not from Allah; and they utter a lie against Allah while they know.” (3:79). MGF states that the Jews lied about what was in their book, the Torah. 55


“And remember the time when Allah took a covenant from the people through the Prophets saying, ‘Whatever I give you of the Book and Wisdom and then comes to you a Messenger, fulfilling that which is with you, you shall believe in him and help him. And he said, ‘Do you agree, and do you accept the responsibility which I lay upon you in this matter? They said ‘we agree’. He said ‘then bear witness and I am with you among the witnesses “(3:82). This signifies that God sent a Messenger to all people with the truth. The same is said in 35:25.


“Say ‘We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, and Jacob and the tribes and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit. ourselves. And whoso seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him, and in the hereafter he shall be among the losers” (3:85-86).


How shall Allah guide a people who have disbelieved after believing and who had borne witness that the Messenger was true and to whom clear proofs had come? And Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.  . .  Except those who repent thereafter and amend.   Surely those who disbelieve after they have believed and then increase in disbelief, their repentance shall not be accepted” (3:87, 90-91).


MGF suggests that 3:87 may mean those who believed in the former prophets, but rejected Muhammad or those who at first accepted Muhammad and then rejected him. These are of significant difference. If the latter it can mean that once accepting Muhammad it is no longer acceptable to Muslims to reject him; that is sharia law. This would be comparable to Christians saying that once one is baptized one cannot reject Jesus. In halakhic Judaism one born as a Jew is always a Jew, even a sinful Jew can repent. 56


“Allah has declared the truth; follow therefore the religion of Abraham, who was ever inclined to Allah and he was not of those who associate gods with Him. Surely the first House founded for all mankind is that at Becca (Mecca) abounding in blessings and guidance for all people. In it are manifest Signs; it is the place of Abraham: and whoso enters it, is safe. And pilgrimage to the house is a duty which men – those who can find a way thither – owe to Allah. And whoever disbelieves let him remember that Allah is surely independent of all creatures” (3:96-98).


This is consistent which Abraham going with his son Ishmael to Mecca, rededicating the a’bah after the attempted sacrifice their as a house of the Lord. Although this is consistent in the Qu’ran, it is opposed to the history as given in the Torah.


“Say O’ People of the Book! Why hinder you the believers from the path of Allah, seeking to make it crooked, while you are witnesses thereof? And Allah is not unmindful of what you do. O you who believe! If you obey any party of those who have been given the book, they will turn you again into unbelievers after you have believed. How can you disbelieve, while to you are rehearsed  the Signs of Allah and His messenger is in your midst? And he who holds fast to Allah is indeed guided to the right path.. O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared; and let not death overtake you except when you are in a state of submission (3:100).


“You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin good and forbid evil . . .They [the Jews] cannot harm you save that they may cause you a slight hurt; and if they fight you, they will turn their backs to you. Then they shall not be helped. . . .They shall be smitten with abasement wherever they are found . . . They have incurred the wrath of Allah and have been smitten with wretchedness” (3:111-113).


According to Professor Abdal Sattar El Sayed, the Mufti of Tursos, Syria this statements (and others) prove that the Jews  are punished for being ‘piosonous [sic] thorns, and chronic diseases that spread germs into the body of their neighbours . . . [and a]  disease that plagued our lands. 57 According to MGF this latest verse ‘contains an important and far-reaching prophecy regarding the Jews, viz, that they are forever doomed to disgrace and humiliation and to live in subjection to others  . . . The establishment of the State of Israel is but a temporary phase in the life of Jewry.” 58According to Ahmad Yusuf Ahmad no matter how much support Israel receives from the United States, England and even France ‘they will on no account be able to exempt them from the divine injunction and decree that they shall have no rest or permanency or tranquility, they will be chastised with degradation and poverty and be visited by the wrath of God’ 59


According to Ishaq Musa al-Husayni the ‘religious arguments that Palestine is the promised land for the Jews is rejected as obsolete since God’s promise has been fulfilled in history and the Jews had forfeited their rights to the land having broken the covenant and committed evil. Never did the history of mankind reveal so outrageous a crime, and so glaringly an injustice, as the one that had been committed by a religious sect whose members had long been notorious for transgressing Divine commandments, disobeying Prophets, and rebelling against every country they happened to settle in’. 60


“They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book there is a party who stand by their covenant; they recite the Word of Allah in the hours of the night and prostrate themselves before him. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin good and forbid evil and hasten to vie with one another in good works. And they are among the righteous. And whatever good they do, they shall not be denied its due reward and Allah well knows those who guard evil” (3:114-116). There is nothing with this verses that denies the Jewish covenant nor suggestive that these Jews converted to Islam, although that is the interpretation of MGF. 61


“There are some among the Jews who pervert words from their proper places. And they say ‘We hear and disobey and hear us and may God’s word never be heard by you, and they say ‘Raina’. They say all this twisting with their tongues and seeking to injure the Faith. And if they had said ‘We hear and we obey’ and hear you and ‘Unzurna’ [do look at us] it would have been better for them and more upright. But Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe but little (4:47).


Shi’ite Muslim believers have also claimed that the Sunni version of the Qur’an is falsified. ‘The sixth Imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq is said to have claimed ‘Had the Qur’an been read as it was send down, you have found us in it, mentioned by name’. 62


AYA says ‘Raina ‘means with a twist of their tongue, they suggest an insulting meaning’ apparently meaning the Jews insulted God. 63 MGF similarly it means saying to God you will not be obeyed. 64 Others note the “some” of the Jews.


“People of the Book, believe in what We have now sent down fulfilling that which is with you, before We destroy some of your leaders and turn them on their backs or curse them as We cursed the people of the Sabbath [breakers]. And the decree of Allah is bound to be fulfilled’ (4:48).


This sura (called ‘Bene Israel’) includes an Islamic version of Decalogue (17:23-39).

23 – So set not another God with Allah.

24 – Thy Lord has commanded you worship none but Him

These are the equivalent of the first three of the Ten Commandments.

24,25    - Show kindness to parents

This is Commandment five

26 – He is most forgiving to those who turn to Him

27 – 31 give to the kinsman his due, and to the poor and the wayfarer, and squander not your wealth . . . squanderers are brothers of Satan, . . . even if you have to turn away [from the poor] . . . speak kindly to them

32,34 – Slay not your children . .  . slay not the soul, the slaying of which Allah has forbidden.

This is commandment five

33 – go not to adultery

This is commandment six

35 – And come not near the property of the orphan, except in the best way.

36 – Give full measure when you measure and weigh with a right balance.

This is commandment seven - not to steal.

37 – Follow not that of which you have no knowledge. The ear and the eye and the heart, all these shall be called to account.

This is commandment eight – lying and nine and ten relative to envy.

38 – Walk not haughtily

39 – The evil of all these is hateful to thy Lord.

With the exception of commandment four about protecting the Sabbath day all commandments are covered. In addition protecting the poor and the orphan, are a major ethical concerns of the Jewish Prophets. Being humble is a major motif of Moses and Rabbi Hillel, the key ethicist of the Talmud. God is noted as forgiving those who return; that is a major motif of Isaiah (see chapters 40,51,52,54,55) and other prophets.


E.  Jesus and Christianity – Sura 3 and others 65


This sura is entitled Al-Imran - Amran in Hebrew.  Amram is the Father of Moses. It is in Islamic tradition also the name of Mary’s father’s (Imram). 


The purpose of this sura is to criticize Christianity. It spends many verses discussing Mary the mother of Jesus. Both Mary and Jesus and treated respectfully. The sura begins with the story of Moses.  It ‘deals mainly with the doctrines and dogmas of Christianity some of which it criticizes. 66 Both Sura 2 and 3 describe the reasons why the Prophetic dispensation was first removed from the Jews and then from the Christians.


According to Muslim tradition a group of Christians came to the Prophet. When it was their time to pray they prayed their way. The Prophet said accept Islam. They said we are believers (muslims) long before you. The Muslims responded but your belief that God had a son, that you eat swine prevents you from being believers. After this debate God sent down the first 83 verses of this Sura. 67

 

In a famous hadith from Abu Bakr, the first successor to Mohammed: ‘If anyone worship Mohammed, Mohammed is dead, but if anyone worships God, he lives and does not die.’ 68


“He has sent down to you the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which proceeds it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospels before this as a guidance to the people and sent down the ‘Criterion”. (3:4). According to most Islamic commentators the Qur’an is the ‘Criterion’ or the ultimate truth. Why does the last have to be the ‘truth’ as opposed to different truth for different people?


“Let not believers take disbelievers for friends in preference to believers’ (3:29).

This is repeated in 5:51 “O you who believe. Take not Jews and Christians for friends.” Compare to ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Love the Stranger’.


JESUS – ‘Isa’ in theQur’an - in addition to the current sura Jesus is mentioned in  2, 3, 4, 5; 6, 19, 21, 23, 33, 42, 43, 57, 61.


“Remember when a woman of Imram said My Lord, I have vowed to you what is in my womb to be dedicated to your service. . . but when she was delivered  of it she said ‘My Lord I am delivered of a female . . . and I have named her Mary and I commit her and her offspring to your Protection“ (3:36-37). According to MGF she was named after Moses’ sister Miriam and belonged to the priestly class. (According to Jewish halakha only sons inherit the priesthood.) He asks did Mary’s mother Hannah intent for her daughter to be celibate? He suggests that she was part of the Essene’s who may have practiced celibacy (although this cannot be for women).  69 The verses continue about Mary, Zacharia, John, the Baptist and Jesus with ideas not from the Christian Bible and MGF interprets them according to his script.


“So her Lord accepted her . . . and made Zachariah her guardian. Zachariah prayed to his Lord saying grant me from Yourself pure offspring.  . . Allah grants you glad tidings of John who shall testify to the truth of a word from Allah . . He said ‘My Lord how shall I have a son when old age has overtaken me already and my wife is barren (3:38-42).


 “And remember when the angels said ‘O Mary, Allah chose thee and purified you and chosen you above all women of the time’ (:43). MGF states that use of the word angels (plural) means in Qur’anic idiom a ‘great change in the world’. This phrase is also used for the Children of Israel (2:48) signifying that at some time the child of Mary will also be overcome. 70


“This is the tidings of things unseen” (3:45). MGF tells us that the coming information was not found it ‘previous Scriptures’. 71


“Allah gives you glad tidings of a son through a word from Him, his name shall be the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, honoured in this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to God. And he shall speak to the people in the cradle and when of middle age and he shall be of the righteous’ (3:46-47).


MGF says Mary was dedicated to the Temple and became pregnant. The priests found her a husband Joseph. Jesus was born without a ‘male parent’. But he makes clear this does not give Jesus any divinity, if fact we states that the ‘word’ of truth comes through all prophets. 


”She said, ‘My Lord how shall I have a son when no man has touched me? He said ‘such is the way of Allah. He creates what He pleases. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, Be’ and it is.” And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel.” And I will send him as a Messenger to the children of Israel” (3:48-50).

MGF states that Mary had taken a vow of celibacy which was to remain all of her life. He quotes the ‘Gospel of Mary’ where this is stated. But because of her pregnancy she was required by the Priests to marry. 72  (The Gospel of Mary appears nowhere else.)  The words ‘to the children of Israel suggest that the message of Jesus was only to Israel. 73


Mary is in fact the only women named in the Qur’an and mentioned more often than in the New Testament. Her name is titled by one of the Sura’s – 19.  Other persons used as titles of Qur’anic titles are all prophets – does this imply Mary is a Qur’anic prophet?

She is celebrated for her chastity, obedience and faith (66:13). Her guardian is named Zacharia and his son from a barren wife (Ishba in the hadith – Elisabeth in the Gospels) is John (the Baptist). Elizabeth sister is Anna, the mother of Mary. All this comes from the New Testament. 74

 

“And I come fulfilling that which is before me, namely the Torah; and to allow you some of that which was forbidden to you, and I come to you with a Sign from your Lord; so fear Allah and obey me” (3:51).


“And Jesus’ enemies planned and Allah also planned and Allah is the best of Planners. Remember the time when Allah said “O Jesus, I will cause the to die a natural death and will raise you Myself and will clear thee of the charges of those who disbelieve and will exalt those who follow you and those who disbelieve until the day of Resurrection; then to me shall be your return, and I will judge between you and concerning that wherein you differ” (3::55-56, (underline added)


The comment by MGF is as follows: The Jews had planned that Jesus should die an accursed death on the Cross (Deut. 21:24), but God’s plan was that he should be saved from that death. The plan of the Jews miscarried and God’s plan was successful, because Jesus did not die on the Cross but came down from it alive and died a natural death in Kashmir, full of years, and far away from the scene of his crucifixion. The Qur’an in as many of 30 verses, has completely demolished the absurd belief of the physical ascension of Jesus to, and his supposed life in heaven’. 75 There are different Islamic views about Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Al-Baidawi (13th century) stated that Jesus did die and was raised ‘in rapture to heaven’. 76 Al-Jahiz (9th century) stated that ‘Inasmuch as God took one His servants as a friend, is it possible that He should take on His servants as a son, so intending to signify God’s pity and love for this servant’. 77 Abd al-Jabbar (11th century) said ‘son or sons could be applied to individuals or people in the sense of righteous  obedience’. 78


The Hebrew Bible refers to Angels, the Israelites, Kings of Israel, and Jewish holy men as sons of God. 79 In the Psalms God says: "you are my son, today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I shall make nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potters vessel' (Psalm 2:7-8). For Jews this refers to the Messiah. It is one of the God's promises to the Davidic dynasty.


Some of al-Jabbars comments come from 4:157-159. “And for their [the Jews] disbelief and for their uttering against Mary a grievous calumny. And for their saying  “we did slay the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah; whereas they slew him not, nor did they bring about his death on the cross but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; the have no certain knowledge thereof, but only pursue a conjecture; and they did not arrive at a certainty concerning it. On the contrary Allah exalted him to Himself and Allah is most wise.” 80


MGF continues his commentary stating Jesus ‘Being a Divine prophet could not have died on the cross because according to the Bible ‘he that is hanged is accursed of God (Deut. 21:23). . .  Pilate had believed Jesus to be innocent and had, therefore, conspired with Joseph of Arimaethia; a respected member of the Essene Order to which Jesus himself belonged before he was commissioned as a Prophet to save his life. . . . When after three hours suspension he was taken down from the cross in an unconscious state . . . Pilate readily granted Joseph of Arimaethia’s request and handed over his body to him. 81


The Islamic commentators have two theories, Jesus was substituted by another person – Judas Iscariot according to Al-Sahhar (a 20th century commentator 82or the crucifixion itself was only apparent.


The problem is that other verses suggest Jesus death. :God said Jesus I will take you and raise you to myself” (3:55) and “and I was a witness over then while I dwelt among them” (5:117) and “so peace is to me [Jesus] the day I was born, the day I die and the day I shall be raised up’ (19:33). In another verse the Qur’an wishes to not that the Jews killed Jesus and has them say “We killed The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God though they did not kill him and did not crucify him’ (4:157). This is a blatant attempt to both blame the Jews (including Judas being his betrayer) and claim be was not crucified.


The Trinity

“Say O People of the Book! Come to a word equal between us and you – that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah. But if they turn away, then say “bear witness that we have submitted to God” (3:65).


This verse under which the unity of God is recognized as Judaism does and some Christians who see Jesus as a ‘intermediary’ rather than divine could provide a basis for a pluralistic understanding between the three Abrahamic faiths. Both the more universalistically inclined Maimonides and the more nationalistically Judah Ha’Levi were inclined to accept Christianity as well as Islam as monotheistic religions.


MGF who does not believe in that concept tell us that’ it is unthinkable that the idea of compromise in matters of faith could ever have been encouraged with a people who, in the immediately preceding verses have been severely condemned for their false beliefs . . . the Christians, in spite of professing belief in the strict Unity of the Godhead, believed in the divinity of Jesus ; and the Jews notwithstanding their claim to be strict monotheists, gave blind allegiance to their priests and divines, practically placing them in the position of God himself’ . . Thus instead of seeking a compromise with these Faiths the verse virtually invites their followers to accept Islam by drawing their attention to the doctrine of the Oneness of God which being, at least in its outer form, the common fundamental doctrine   of all, could serve as a meeting ground for further approach’. 83 Despite MGF’s earlier statements on this verse his latter statement does offer a ray of light.


Despite the honor offered Jesus and his virgin mother Mary the Qur’an is careful to reject the idea of a Trinity. In 4:156 the Jews are considered sinful in rejecting the virginity of Mary. But then the Qur’an notes that “Verily the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary was only a Messenger of Allah, and a fulfillment of His word which He send to Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His Messengers And say not ‘They are Three. Desist it will be better for you. Allah is only one God. Holy is He, far above having a son” (4:172). It continues “They indeed have disbelieved who say Surely Allah – He is the Messiah, son of Mary. Say who then has any power against Allah, if He desired to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary, and his mother and all those that are on earth?” (5:18). This is repeated in 5:73-77. In it interesting to note that Mary’s father is named as Amram in the Qur’an; he is unnamed in the New Testament. In Exodus Amram is Moses father. Is an intentional comparison being made between Jesus (Isa) and Moses (Musa)?


Another interesting hadith shows the knowledge of Jewish and Christian texts. In a recently published text of Abu ‘Ubayd (d. 838) 84 ”man came to Jesus, son of Mary and said ‘ . . . teach me something which you know but I do not, which will serve me well but not harm you . . . How can the servant be faithful to God’. Jesus replied “That is simple. You should love God truly from your heart, work for God through your exertion and strength as much as you are able, and treat your brothers compassionately through your mercy and selflessness’. The man said . . who are my brothers?’ Jesus replied ‘All the offspring of Adam. Whatever you consider to be inappropriate for yourself, do not inflict upon others. In this\way, you are truly faithful to God.” The term stated by Jesus ‘you should love God from your heart, work for God through your exertion and strength’ comes as Jesus knew, as the first paragraph following the Jewish doxology and comes from Deuteronomy 6:5. The ending statement ‘whatever you consider to be inappropriate for yourself, do not inflict upon others’ comes from great Rabbi Hillel who died when Jesus was a boy and whose theology Jesus seems to have followed.


In a hadith Mohammad is asked what ‘are the three qualities by which any who has these characteristics will cherish the sweetness of faith: (1) he to whom God and His messenger are dearer than all else; (2) he who loves a man for God’s sake alone; (3) he who has as great an abhorrence of falling back into his own unbelief as he has of being cast into  Hell’. Which sin is the gravest in the eyes of God; That you associate a partner with God?.  85 The association with a partner is obviously against the Christ version of God. But the Love of God and His messenger creates a relationship between God and His messenger; as does the expression ‘having faith in God and His servant Moses (Ex. 14:19).


“O People of the Book! Why do you dispute concerning Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him (3:66)?  . . . “Abraham was neither Jew nor Christian; but he was sound in the faith but a believer.  . . . Surely the nearest of men to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe in him and Allah is the Friend of believers” (3:68-69) . . .


The word ‘believer in Arabic is ‘Muslim” Thus Abraham is called a ‘muslim’. The tradition claims Abraham and Hagar went to Mecca where they raised Ismael and where the attempted sacrifice of Abraham’s child took place. The Qur’an does not state which son was bound, the tradition claims it was Ismael. Some Islamic sources cite Isaac (al Kisa’i) , some Ishmael (Ibn Kathir) and at least one both. 86 No one doubts that Ishmael and Isaac are the children of Abraham; is it so difficult to recognize their children as believers? 


“It does not befit a truthful man that Allah should give him the Book and Wisdom and Prophethood and then say to men, ‘Be my worshippers instead of Allah’” (3:80).

This appears to be a criticism of Christian’s worshipping Jesus.


Mary

Sura 19 is named Maryam – The Sura is named after Mary – she is the only woman used as the name of a sura. - does that make her a Prophet?


“When he [Zachariah] called upon his Lord in a low voice” (19:4). MGF tells us “Zachariah understood from biblical prophecies and heavenly warnings that were administered to the Jews because of their repeated rejection of God’s Prophets that Prophet-hood was soon to be transferred from the house of Isaac to the House of Ishmael”. 87


“He said ‘My Lord, how shall I have a son when my wife is barren and I have reached the extreme limit of old age” (19:9). Zachariah is being compared to Abraham and his barren wife Sarah.


“Zachariah said ‘My Lord appoint for me a commandment’. God said ‘The commandment for you is that you shall not speak to the people for three days’.” (19:11).

MGF compares this to the statement in Luke 1:20 where Zachariah is punished to his interpretation that he needed to recuperate his physical strength. 88


“We send Our angel to her and he appeared to her as the form of a well proportioned man. She said “I seek refuge with the Gracious God from you if indeed you fear Him. The angel said ‘I am only a messenger of the Lord, that I may give you glad tidings of a righteous son’. She said, “how can I have a son when no man has touched me, neither have I been unchaste’. The angel said ‘Thus it shall be’. But says the Lord ‘It is easy for Me, and We shall do so that We may make him a sign unto men, and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing decreed’. So she conceived him and withdrew with him to a remote place” (19:17-23).


MGF comments as follows: [N]o spirit entered Mary’s body, but only an angel appeared to her in a vision in the form of a man. As to Jesus fatherless birth ‘if we dismiss all these possibilities [medical science] Jesus’s birth will have to be regarded, God forbid, as illegitimate. Christians and Jews are both agreed that the birth of Jesus was something out of the ordinary – the Christians holding it as supernatural and the Jews as illegitimate (Jew Enc.). Even in the family birth of Jesus was recorded as such (Talmud)(sic) This fact alone should constitute a valid proof of Jesus’s birth being out of the ordinary. This information in the Qur’an and the traditions is new, particularly her vow of chastity, her being dedicated to the Church by her mother.  ‘This procedure was adopted to bring about the transfer of the prophethood from the House of Isaac to the House of Ishmael, since there remained among the Israelites no male from whose loins a Prophet of God should have been born’. 89


Mary about to give birth sat under a palm tree. “And shake towards yourself the trunk of the palm-tree; it will drop upon you fresh ripe dates” (19:26).Since the date of dates is August – September this verse proves to MGF that Jesus could not be born on Christmas day. This is a very extensive commentary. 90


Mary brought the child to her people who complained about her being responded unchaste. The infant “I am a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book and has made me a Prophet.  . . . That was Jesus, son of Mary. This is a statement of the truth concerning which they entertain doubt. It does not befit the majesty of Allah to take unto Himself a son. Holy is He. When He decrees a thing, He says it, Be and it comes into being. Said Jesus, Surely ‘Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him alone, this is the right path” (19:31, 35-37).


There are other Sura’s which discuss Mary:

“Indeed they are disbelievers who say ‘Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Mary, whereas the Messiah himself said ‘O children of Israel, worship Allah, Who is my Lord and Your Lord’. Surely whoso associates partners with Allah, himhas Allah forbidden Heaven and the fire will be his resort. And the wrongdoers shall have no helpers. They surely disbelieve who say Allah is the third of three, there is no god but the One God” (5:73-74).


“The Messiah, son of Mary was only a Messenger; surely Messengers like him has passed away before him. And his mother was a truthful woman.  . . Say will you worship beside Allah that which has no power to do you harm or good? . . . Those amongst the Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of David and of Jesus son of Mary.  . . . You shall certainly find the Jews and those who associate partners with Allah to be the most vehement of men in enmity against the believers. And you shall assuredly find those who say ‘We are Christians’ to be the nearest of them in friendship to the believers. That is because amongst them are servants and monks and because they are not arrogant” (5:76-77, 79, 83).


This seeming respect for those called ‘Christians’ who apparently believed in Jesus ‘as a partner’ to God did not last. By the time of 21:97 we have “It shall be so even when Gog and Magog are let loose and they shall hasten forth from every height and from the top of every wave. As MGF tells us these refer to the Christian nations of the west. 91


“When Allah will say, ‘O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My favour upon you and upon your mother . . . when I restrained the Children of Israel from putting you to death when you did come to tem with clear Signs; and those who disbelieved from among them said This is nothing but deception. . . . And when Allah will say ‘O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to men “Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? He will answer ‘Holy are You I could never say that. If I had said it You would surely known it. You know what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Your mind. It is you alone Who are the Knower of all hidden things. I said nothing to them except that which You did command me – Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord“ (5:111, 117-118).

MGF refers to Pope Pius XII ‘incorporating the ascension of Mary as an infallible doctrine of the Church. He notes that Protestants ‘denounce this as Mariolatry’. 92


“Surely the Messiah disdains not to be a servant of Allah, nor do the angels who are near to him, and whoso disdains to worship Him and is proud, He will gather them to Himself”  (4:173).


This double negative suggests servant-hood is intended as a compliment (as in the Hebrew Bible references to servants of God Abraham, Moses and David are clearly very complimentary). In Sura 21:106 there is reference to the Psalms ‘the Book of David, ‘after the Reminder, that My righteous servants shall inherit the land’ which also implies the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:5).


The story of Jesus as described in the Qur’an is primarily the nativity story with its virgin birth (2/3 of the verses); told with great respect and grants Jesus a unique, but not divine status. There is little about Jesus, the miracle worker, his mission is described as reforming the ‘hypocritical’ Jews, not a universal message for the nations. In fact the statement in Matthew about not taking the message to the ‘nations’ is noted. It is clear that for Mohammmad the pagans were his main concern. Mohammad is more like Elijah killed the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:40) than like Jesus. The universalism of destroying Idol worship (known as ‘shirk’ in Arabic) can be considered his major concern. There is nothing about the Kingdom of God eschatology (despite Mohammad being an eschatological prophet writing often about the end of days). Nor di we have the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount. This despite the hadith recognizing and even quoting the ethics of the beatitudes – see Al-Muhasibi  and Al-Yaqubi (both ninth century). 93 The Trinity itself is severely criticized. ‘He is One, the One’ (112:1). Or the ‘shadhada’ – There is no god save Allah’. (This is the same of the Jewish ‘shema’.) This due to the concern over ‘shirk’ or idol worship.


Jesus son of Mary (always tied into the Messiah) is an almost new title created by the Qur’an. Cragg suggests that the use of the virginal birth in the Qur’an suggests ‘a word is born’ rather than ‘the word is made flesh’. 94 Perhaps words, made individually, can be born without a male partner (which the Qur’an insists upon), but flesh cannot.


Yet at one phase Christians, an unusual term in the Qur’an, ‘nearest in friendship to the believers’ . . . ‘servants and monks and because they are not arrogant’ are praised. Despite their being ‘not arrogant’ they would clearly believe in the ‘sonship’of Jesus.


There is nothing in the Qur’an about Easter, the resurrection , the ascension and the faith that became Christianity. The blind poet philosopher Abu-I Alaal-Maari (973-1058) was one of Islam sceptics ‘How could it be that one whom Christians believe to be ‘divine’ and ‘son’ to God, should be ignominiously deserted by his ‘father’, and/or that God, his protector and Lord, should be worsted and defeated by a Jewish conspiracy?’ 95 The  Qur’an does not deny the crucifixion, but rather Jesus’ death upon it (3:55-56).


What of the New Testament was available to the Qur’anic writers? Did they have only the synoptic Gospels, did they have the Gospel of John, how many of Paul’s letters were they aware of and what of the other letters? Some Muslims knowing that Jesus did not dictate the four gospels have asked ‘what guarantee is there of exact reporting in the biographies which constitute the present Gospels’ 96 Others have suggested that a different Gospel, not in the New Testament is referred to in the Qur’an. ‘It is the single Gospel which Islam teaches was revealed to Jesus, and which he taught. Fragments of it survive in the received canonical Gospels’. 97


Do we have an attempt to seduce the Christians into Islam by using respect of Jesus as bait?


We have in both early and modern commentaries a sadness and sorrow of Jesus failure. Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) in an early hadith writes of a prayer by Jesus. ‘O God I have reached a point where I am unable to repel what I abhor or to accomplish what I hope. Things have passed into the hand of others. I have become prey in my task. There is no poor man in a poorer state than I. O God, do not let my adversaries gloat over me or my friends think evil of me. Do not allow my piety to be my calamity nor let this world be my maximum distress. Do not give me into the hand of those who will have no mercy on me, O Thou ever-living one, O Thou eternal abiding’. 98


A 20th century commentator Al –Sahhar concludes ‘Jesus departed. He did not establish truth on earth. His enemies broke him. But the final one, the servant of God and His chosen, will not be weary nor will he be broken before he has set truth in the earth, and until the kingdom of God holds sway over this world. Isa (Jesus) came finally into the heavy dark of night whence God raised him to power and glory and immortality’. 99 This despite sura 61:6 stating that “Jesus, son of Mary, said ‘O children of Israel, I am God’s messenger to you, confirming the Torah which was before me, and announcing the good tidings of the messenger who will come after me, bearing the name Ahmad’”. This the last message noted in the Qur’an from Jesus.


F. JEWISH PROPHETS


ABRAHAM

Abraham is called a muslim meaning a believer and not a Muslim as a religion. .While Ishmael and Isaac are noted in the Qur’an, the name of the son in the sacrifice story  is not noted. It is noted as Ishmael in the hadith. Abraham traveled to Mecca which created the pilgrimage as one of Islam’s pillars of faith. There he built or rededicated the Ka’bahh. (2:27; 14:36).  Sarah is not mentioned by name although a barren old woman is noted as being jealous of Hagar (11:72-73).


MOSES

The story of Moses is related in numerous Sura’s -  2,6;7;10;11; 17;18; 20; 23; 26; 27; 28; 33; 46; 58; 61and 66.


The story includes the evil Pharaoh (the Qur’an includes Haman from the Book of Esther as one of Pharaoh’s evil conspirators 28:7) and includes his infanticide against Israelites (7:127,141; 14:6; 28:4-6; 40:25). Pharaoh’s wife rescued the baby and Moses’ sister provided her with a wet nurse who was Moses’ mother (28:10-14). Pharaoh’s wife is a righteous woman named Asya in the hadith and is one version an Israelite. She is eventually tortured by the Pharaoh for saving innocent children. She becomes one of Muhammad’s celestial wives and considered with Mary and Khaddija (Muhammad first wife) among the best women on earth. 100  Moses father Amram is Chief of the Israelites. Most the stories follow Exodus and some of the Midrashim. Some differences include Amram becoming the Vizier of Egypt and Moses therefore being born in the Palace.


JOSEPH 101


When Joseph relates his second dream to his father (and his brothers) Jacob says do not tell your brothers stating ‘Satan is the sworn enemy of man’ (12:5). Whether the Qur’an is suggesting that Joseph’s brothers represent Satan can be debatable; what is clear is Jacob does not reject prostrating himself to his son.  In the Torah the story like many others is about sibling rivalry (see the author’s website on ‘Messengers of God’ chapter 5). In the Qur’an Joseph is the heir to the prophecy. In the Qur’an the sons convince Jacob to send Joseph to them (12:11-12).


When Potiphar’s wife (he is called by the title Aziz in the Qur’an, she is called Zulaikha in the hadith although unnamed in the Qur’an) accuses Joseph of attempting seduction Joseph convinces Potiphar that she is lying (11:28). After she attempts again to have him imprisoned God arranges his imprisonment (12:33-35). She later attests to his innocence in front of the Pharaoh (12:52). .


In a midrashic hadith Joseph was auctioned off when he first arrived in Egypt and Zulaikha bought him. Her husband the Aziz was a eunuch and she a passionate virgin was seeking a lover. By the time Joseph is Viceroy of Egypt she is old and her husband has died. Joseph then marries her returning her to her youth and beauty. This is interesting comparison to the Bible’s having Joseph marry her apparent daughter (Gen. 41:50). 102 Whether the authors of this hadith were aware of the ancient (pre common era) text of the idealistic love story between Joseph and Aseneth is unknown.


In the Qur’an Joseph meets his brothers when they come seeking food and he independently asks about another brother, saying bring him next you come  (12:60).When they tell Jacob he refuses to send Benjamin (the unnamed youngest brother). Jacob repents but they develop a plan to come with Benjamin but through another gate to Egypt. But Joseph is not deceived. After selling then the grain Joseph arranges for his drinking cup to be put in their saddle bags and they are returned as robbers. Joseph sends them back keeping the unnamed brother in whose bags the cup was found. They are told by Joseph to bring their father if they wish to have their brother returned. After being told the story Jacob’s sends then back to Egypt and ask him for God’s mercy. When they return (without Jacob) the Viceroy tells them he is Joseph. When they return to Jacob (the Qur’an does not state whether with Benjamin or not) Jacob’s tell his sons he knew the viceroy was Joseph. They all return and we are told that Joseph provided housing for his brothers and ‘parents’. (Whether ‘parents’ means two is debatable among Arabic commentators.)


G. THE TEMPLE AND AL AQSA


Sura 17 is named ‘Bene Israel’. It discusses Muhammad’s travel or ‘Ascension’ from the ‘Sacred Mosque’ at Mecca to the ‘Farthest Mosque’ at Jerusalem called the ‘Night Journey’. The ascension is considered a journey of the human soul to its eventual final place. It is comparable to many mystical journeys in both Judaism and Christianity from earth to heaven.


This journey precedes the Prophet’s emigration (Hijra) from Mecca to Medina. It is a major Islamic belief.


"'Praise be to Him who took His servant for a journey by night  from the Sacred Mosque [Al Haram in Mecca] to the 'the most distant' Mosque [Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem] which He did bless, so that We might show him some of Our signs, for He is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing One” (17:1). The city of Jerusalem is not actually mentioned in the Qur’an. The Qur’an refers to the holy places of Jews as ‘synagogues (22:40) and of Christians as ‘Churches’.  The Al Aqsa Mosque began to be built in 66 of the Hijra- the emigration noted above and the beginning of the Islamic era as Islam had not conquered Palestine.


There is an Islamic exegete, Ahmad Muhammad 'Arafa, who writes for the Egyptian weekly Al-Qahira, published by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture who claims the night journey was from Medina where Muhammad had established a Mosque to Median where he was to establish a Mosque at the Ka’bah. .


He concludes that the “Night Journey was not to Palestine; rather, it was to Medina. It began at the Al-Haram Mosque [in Mecca] after the Prophet had prayed there with his companion, and both of them had left it, and the journey ended at the mosque of As'ad ibn Zurara, in front of the house of Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, in Medina, where the Prophet built the mosque known as the Mosque of the Prophet. The details of the journey of the Hijra are the very same details of the Night Journey (Isra'), because the Night Journey is indeed the secret Hijra." 103


H.. CONCLUSION

 

Let is accept that Muhammad believed he was a prophet and God communicated with him through the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty odd years. Moses was also a prophet who communicated with God over forty years. Moses did not write down what God told him but communicated the words orally to Joshua who further transmitted it to others. It was eventually written perhaps by Ezra several hundred years later. The written text we currently have is different that the Hebrew Bible that was known two thousand years ago. We know that from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Bible) written as early as the third century BCE and the Dead Sea Scroll documents. The Saadia Goan’s (tenth century) Bible differed from the masoretic text approved by Maimonides (twelfth century). Biblical historians believe the prologue and epilogue of Job were not written by the poet/author of the main text. 


The tradition accepted by Muslims has it that Muhammad told his conversations with the angel Gabriel to his disciples who transmitted it to others. In the century after Muhammad’s death there were several codices of the Qur’an which differed from each other. The critical study of the Jewish and Christian bibles has been going on for a century and a half; similar Qur’anic studies are in their infancy.


We have already reviewed Radical Islam and fundamentalism as well as suicide bombing in previous chapters. Some of those who support these movements are Islamic clerics. Does this mean that the Qur’an preaches Radical Islam and suicide bombing? In the chapter on suicide bombing we suggest that the later is an Arabic culture and not necessarily an Islamic doctrine. However despite that the great majority of Muslims are not Arabs, Islam was born out of the Arabic culture. Judaism, the founding religion of monotheism was born out of the children of Jacob and the Mid East. Was it influenced by that culture? Christianity was born out a Jewish sect; was it influenced by Judaism? All these questions must be answered in the affirmative. Shortly after the change to the common era Judaism became a minority religion with its people living in diasporas. It thus developed under cultures in which the vast majority of the population were Christians or Muslims. Thus it had to be defensive and tolerant. towards others despite feeling that were chosen. Christianity for centuries was a European based power. The enlightenment, modernity and globalization have changed all that. The Christian churches have apologized for their centuries old anti-Semitism. The Jews were liberated by the enlightenment, Christians after and as a result of the Shoah. Islam was subjected to colonial imperialism of the west. Islam after being the center of world civilization was roundly defeated by the west.


Each of the scriptures has statements that in the light of history and depending on how interpreted have difficulties to the modern reader. The story of Amalek is described in the Book of Exodus; it ends with ‘The Lord will be at war with Amalek generation and generation (Ex. 17:16). While is described as a particular historical the end can and has been interpreted by some to describe their current day enemies. When the capture of Jericho is described in the Book of Joshua the people of the city are called cursed and all ‘men and women, young and old, including the oxen, the sheep and the donkeys slaughter them all’ (Josh. 6:21). Can this be used to justify indiscriminate killing? The statement penned by the author of the Book of Matthew “the people [Jews] every one of them, shouted ‘let his blood be on us and on our children’” has been used to justify the slaughtering of Jews (Matt. 27:25). The Gospel of John is the most anti-Semitic in the Christian Bible. John claims that the Jews rejected Jesus (17:9), they refused to believe in him (10:31), they persecuted him (5:16), and they attempted to kill him on several occasions (5:11; 7:1,20,25,; 8:37,40,59). This created in some readers minds a hatred for the Jews. 104  Similarly in the Qur’an we have noted the anti-Semitic statements. But each of the Jewish 105  and Christian 106  scriptures also note the commandment to love your neighbor and the stranger as yourself.



Tolerance in the Qur’an


The idea of religious tolerance is a new idea. For centuries the Christian church burnt people at the stake for being Jews or Muslims. Since the enlightenment and modernity this behaviour has been considered inappropriate.


The Qur’an told its believers to ‘slay polytheists wherever you find them’ (9:5) unless they convert. The term polytheist probably applies to Christians who believe in Jesus as a God. According to Michael Cook the Arabic word mushrik may even apply to Jews. 107

However another verse establishes different categories of believers; ‘people of the Book’ (9:29) who are not to be killed but to pay tribute. We are told ‘these are of the righteous’ (3:114). The latter can be considered conditional toleration. Even intermarriage with Christian or Jewish women who remained in their religion was accepted (5:5). Muslims are told to ‘believe in what has been revealed to us and in what has been revealed to you [the people of the Book] (29:46). The people of the Book are to seek ‘guidance from the Torah and the Gospel’ (5:68, 44,47)   


The Qur’an states ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ (2:257) and ‘I have my religion, and you have your religion (109:6).   When the Qur’an declared that Muhammad is a messenger, before whom other messengers were sent (3:144) these verses suggest that despite non-Islamic religions being ‘false’ they can be tolerated. Even the Qutb, the theoretician of modern day fundamentalist accepted this as meaning freedom of belief. 108


‘If God had wished, He would have made all humankind one community’ (5:48; 10:99; 11:118; 16:93; 42:8), He chose not do.


Every nation has a messenger (10:48).


“We still sent you down the Reminder (Qur’an) so you may explain to mankind what was sent down to them (before), so that they may meditate (16:44). 


Those who have believed, those who have Judaised, the Nasar (Nazarenes) and the Sabin, whoever has believed in God and the Last Day, and have acted uprightly, have their reward with their Lord; fear rests not upon them, nor do they grieve. (2:59-60 and similarly (5:69).


A Book of Scriptures needs to be interpreted. The Torah was interpreted primarily in diasporas. The Christian Bible was interpreted in a culture of intolerance, but that has changed. While there are a small minority of Jews and Christians who still believe in the hatred part of their scriptures they have little or no political power and no longer (with few exceptions) attempt violence against their ‘enemies’. It may well be that in Islam there is a similar small minority that believe in the hatred part of their scripture. This minority however has undertaken a violent opposition to the rest of the world.

.



1 Jewish Orthodoxy is defined by itself as requiring the belief that Moses literally wrote what God dictated.

2 Al-Khu’I, chapter 4.

3 Ayoub, Mahmoud, The Qur’an and its Interpreters, Vol. I (SUNY, Albany, 1984)  pg. 1.

4 Rodwell, J.M., The Koran, (J.M.Dent, London, 1909) Introduction.  In the Koran translated and edited by N.J. Dawood (Penguin Books, London, 1958) the editor dates the same six suras respectively as  105, 112, 106, 108, 104, 111. Both agree that these particular suras came at the end of Mohammad’s life.

5 Rippin, Andrew, Muslims, Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Vol. 1, The Formative Period (Routledge, London, 1990) pg. 24 and Hourani, A., History, pg. 20.

6 Rippin, Muslims, 1, pg. 75.

7 Stowasser, Women, pg. 45-47

8 From the Sufi master al-Ghazzali (d. 1111) quoted in Ruppin, Muslims, 1, pg. 43.

9 Jeffery, Arthur, The Koran, (Limited Edition, N.Y., 1958) chapter 6.

10 Ibn Warraq, ed. The Origins of the Koran, (Prometheus, N.Y., 1998).  Other references include: Wansbrough J.E., Quranic Studies, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977); Cook, Michael, The Koran (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000); Early Muslim Dogma, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1981), Studies in the Origins of Early Islamic Culture and Tradition, (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004), with Pat. Crone, Hagarism, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1977), Hinds, Martin, J. Bacharah,  L.. Conrad, Pat. Crone eds., Studies in Early Islamic History, (Darwin House, London, 1996), Hinds, Martin, and Crone Pat., God’s Caliph, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1986) and Wellhausen, J., The Religio-Political Faction of Islam, (North Holland Publishing, Amsterdam, 1975).

11 MGF, Pg. 865

12 Wansbrough, John, Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977).

13 Schacht, Joseph, Introduction to Law and Islam, (Maisonneur, Paris, 1985),  Torrey, Charles, C., The Jewish Foundation of Islam, (KTAV, N.Y., 1967), Goldziher, Ignatz, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, (Princeton University Press, Pronceton, 1981).

14 Muhammad Zafrullah Khan in Islam, its meaning for Modern Man London, 1962, pg. 76 in Cragg, Christ, pg. 51, underline added.

15Zorenberg,  Exodus, pg. 277, quoted from Rashi on I Kings 22:7. 

16James Kugal, Two Introductions to Midrash, Prooftexts 3, :pg. 136-137, quoted in Davis, Exum, Signs, pg. 232-.

17 A major Title of Moses.

18 Cragg, Christ, pg. 62.

19 Philo, the great Jewish leader of Alexandria wrote a biography of Moses. Philo suggests that Moses was the 'greatest and most perfect of men'.  Philo, De Vita Moyesis, trans. F.H. Coulen, (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1935) Pg. 1:1. He also calls Moses `the most excellent king' and the `the most perfect ruler'.

20 Sura 29:48. Since Muhammad was a successful businessman, the illiterate, I believe means composing a poetic piece of theology. It is to attest to the God-writing and not human writing of the Qur’an. Jews and Christians are referred to in the Qur’an as ‘People of the Book’ and the Qur’an was intended to allow the followers of Muhammad becoming ‘People of the Book, a God written book.

21Quoted in S. Parpola, The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy, JNES 52, 1993, pg. 206.

22 We are aware that for well over a millennium there were several systems of vocalization and cantiliation in the Biblical Hebrew text; the Babylonian system, the Land of Israel system and the Tiberian system. The chosen system used in the masoretic text was the Tiberian system authorized by Maimonides in the twelfth century. During the times of the Saadia Goan – the tenth century – the conflict was very serious. Saadia Gaon accepted the Babylonian system and the text he read and taught his students was a different text than the Maimonides authorized masoretic text which we read today

23 See his Islam and Modernity, (Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1982).

24 Haddad, Y.Y., Contemporary Islam and the Challenge of History, (SUNY, Albany, 1982) pg. 53.

25 Haddad, Comtemporary, pgs. 46-53.

26 Haddad, Y.Y. and Esposito, J.L., eds. , Daughters of Abraham’ (University Press Florida, Gainesville, 2001)

27 Stowasser, B.F., Women in the Qur’an Traditions and Interpretations (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994.

28 Stowasser, Women, pgs. 18-20. It is not surprising that two of the women feminists relate the story of male scholars who reject the Islamic tradition. None of these analysis would surprise western analysts.

29 Shabbir Akhtar, ‘Critical Qur’anic Scholarship and Teological Puzzle, pg 127, in Vroom, H.D. and Gort, J.D., Holy Scriptures in Judaism, Chrsitianty and Islam, (Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1997).

30 Quoted in Denny, F.M., and Taylor, R.L., eds. The Holy Book in Comparitive Perspective, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, S.C, 1985. Translations from A.J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, (Macmillan, N.Y., 1955).

31 Suha Taji-Farouki, A Contemporary Construction of the Jews in the Qur’an, in Nettler, R.L. and Taji-Farouki, S., eds. Muslim-Jewish Encounters Intellectual Traditions and Modern Politics, (Harwwod Academic Publishers, 1998) pg. 18.

32 Taji-Farouki, pg.  20

33 Taji-Farouki, pg. 19.

34 Taji-Farouki, pg. 24.

35 Taji-Farouki, pg. 26

36 Taji-Farouki, pg. 27.

37 Green, D.F., ed., Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel, Extracts from the proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, (Editions de l’Avenir, Geneve, 1974) pgs. 14-17.

38 Quoted bu Aymoud, M., The Quran and its Interpreters, Vol. I, Suny, Albany, 1984) pg. 23.

39 Quoted in Aymoud, pg. 40.

40 www.alminbar.cc/alkhutab/khutbaa.asp?mediaURL=4331. 

41 Hoffman, Bruce, Inside Terrorism, pg. 99.

42 The Holy Qur’an, Edited by Malik Ghulam Farid (wherein referred to as MGF), from the work of Hadrat Mirza Bahir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad (The London Mosque, 1981).  The editor has used 43 Arabic commentators in writing his own commentary, pg. 41, The Holy Qur’an, Text, translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (wherein referred to as AYA), (Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc., Elmhurst, N.Y., 1943, 2001) pg. 38.

43 MGF, pg. 56

44 Ayoub, Interprters, Vol. I., pg. 151.

45 MGF, pg. 58, ft. 151

46 From Ibn Ishaq (d. 767), quoted in Stowasser, Women, pg. 47

47 Hagar is never mentioned in the Qur’an although she is referred to in Sura 14:38 when Abraham prays to protect his progeny settled near the Sacred House. According to a hadith she is buried next to Ismael next to the Ka’bah, see H. Abugideiri, in Haddad and Esposito, Daughters, pg. 83-88.

48 Stowasser, Women, pg. 45-47

49 Stowasser, B., F. . Women, Pgs. 43.

50 MGF, pg. 60.

51 Ayoub, pg. 157,158,162.

52 Ayoub, pg. 173.

53 Ayoub, Interpreters, Vol. II, pg. 22.

54 Green, pg. 23.  translated by Sheikh Abd Allah Al Meshad.

55 MGF, pg. 148

56 The argument has been made by halakhic authorities that by accepting another religion one gives up Judaism; see the case of Brother Daniel in the Israeli Supreme Court – 1958. This appears to the author against the Talmudic idea of repentance always being possible.

57 Green, pg. 37-38.

58 MGF, pg. 157.

59 Quoted in Harkabi, pg. 92.

60 The fifth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, (Cairo, 1971), pg. 88, quoted in Haddad, Contemporary, pg. 36.

61 MGF, pg. 157.

62 Ayoub, Interpreters,  Vol. I, pg. 36..

63 AYA, pg. 194

64 MGF, pg. 204.

65 See Parrinder, G., Jesus in the Qur’an, (Faber and Faber, London, 1965).

66 MGF, pg. 120.

67 Ayoub, M., The Qur’an and Its Interpreters, Vol II, (SUNY, Albany, 1992) pg. 1-2.

68 Shadid, A., Legacy of the Prophet, (Westview, Boulder, Colorado, 2001) pg. 20.

69 MGF, pg. 134

70 MGF, pg. 136-137.

71 MGF, pg. 137.

72 MGF, pg. 139.

73 MGF, pg. 139.

74 Stowasser, Women, pg. 67-73

75 MGF, pg. 142-143.

76 Cragg, Jesus, pg. 177.

77 Cragg, Jesus, pg. 290-291.

78 Cragg, Jesus, pg. 291.

79 Angels (Gen. 6:2, Deut. 32:8), the Israelites (Ex. 4:24; Deut. 14:1.), Kings of Israel (II Sam. 7:4, Ps. 2:7).

80 The underlined clause has been variously translated but all have the same implication: They were under the illusion that they had – Cragg, K.

Only a likeness of that was shown to them – Arberry

It only seemed to them as if it had been so – Asad

He was counterfeited for them – Bell

It appeared so unto them – Pickthall

So it was made to appear to them – Yusuf Ali

It was an illusion for them – Abd al-Latif

The matter was made dubious to them - Muhammad Ali

They thought they did – Dawood

81 MGF, pg. 232-233

82 Quoted in Cragg, Jesus, pg. 171.

83 MGF, pg. 144-145.

84 Kitab al-Khutab wa‘l-mawa’iz, quoted in Hawting, G.R., and Shareef A.K.A., eds, Approaches to the Qur’an, (Routtledge, London,   ) pg. 252.

85 Cragg, Muhammad, pg. 70.

86 Rippin, Andrew, ed., The Qur’an: Formative Interpretation (Ashgate, Aldershot, 1999) in Calder, Norman, From Midrash to Scripture: The Sacrifice of Abraham in Early Isalmic Tradition, pg. 83-99. Also Stowasser, Women, pg. 49.

87 MGF, pg. 641

88 MGF, pg. 643

89 MGF, pgs. 640,644,646.

90 MGF, pg. 647-648

91 MGF, pg. 708

92 MGF, pg. 276

93 Cragg, Jesus, pg. 50.

94 Cragg, K, The Christ and the Faiths, (SPCK, London, 1986) pg. 39.

95 Cragg, Jesus, pg. 166.

96 M. Hamidiallh, The Islamic Quarterly, 1956.

97 Yusuf Ali, Commentary on the Qur’an, (Tahrike, London, 1987) pg. 287.

98 Al-Ghazali, Ihya Ulim al-Din, quoted in Cragg, K., Jesus and the Muslim, (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1985) pg.56.

99 Al-Sahhar, A.H., Isa the Christ, Son of Mary, (Cairo, n.d.) pg.  256, quoted in Cragg, Jesus, pg. 55.

100 Stowasser, Women, pg. 59.

101 See Halmmen, M., A., Understanding The Quran: Themes and Style (I.B.Tauris, London, 2001).

102 MGF, pgs. 592-600.

103 Al-Qahira (Egypt), August 5, 2003

104 See the author’s website ‘www.moshereisss.org’ Christianity: A Jewish Perspective, chapter 7.

105  105 The word ‘other’ or ‘stranger’ is noted 74 times in the Books of Moses. Thrice we are commanded to ‘love’ the stranger (Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:18,19); nineteen times we are told that the same law that applies to native applies to the stranger (Ex. 16:29; 20:10; 22:21; 23:9,12; Lev. 19:33; 24:22; Num. 9:14; 15:15,16,26,29,30; 35:15; Deut. 1:16; 5:14; 24:17; 27:19; 31:12); eighteen times we are told to treat the stranger as we treat others of the poor or other natives (Lev. 19:10; 23:22; 24:16; 25:6,35,47; Deut. 14:29; 16:11,14; 23:7; 24:19,20,21; 26:11,12,13; 28:43; 29:11. As the native cannot eat blood for it is an abomination neither can the stranger (Lev. 17:12). We are to treat his death as our own (Lev. 17:15) and not do an abomination to him (Lev.18:26). The only differences in Jewish law that differentiates the other from the native are the following: he cannot eat of the Passover lamb (unless he is circumcised, Ex. 12:43), or other holy food (Lev. 22:10) although he can bring an offering in the Temple (Num. 15:14). He cannot approach certain parts of the Temple perhaps because he cannot be a Priest (Num. 1:51; 18:4,7) or approach the High Priest (Num. 3:10; 3:38) but he may marry a Priests daughter (Lev. 22:12). He can be charged usurious interest while a native cannot (Deut. 23:20).

106 Mark 12:31,33; Matt. 5:43, 19;19, 22:39; Luke 10:27.

107 The Koran: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000) pg. 34.

108 Cook, Koran, pg. 35.