Archive for the ‘Scriptures’ Category

What does Zikr mean?

Monday, July 6th, 2015

God has vowed to preserve the Quran Himself. He says, most emphatically, in verse 15:9,
“Verily, it is We who sent down the Zikr and verily, We surely shall be of it Preservers.” (15:9)

The word Zikr (with a fricative Z as in this or that) means mention, remembrance or reminder. The syntax and context are what determines which semantic is meant. The scholars have been unanimous that the Zikr mentioned in 15:9 is the Quran. What they did not agree on is whether it is only the Quran. The reason they thought other items may be included in the Zikr in 15:9 is the apparent implication of other verses. For instance,
“And We sent down to you the Reminder that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might reflect.” (16:44).

In this verse, if the Zikr is only the Quran, then what is “what was sent down to them”? Isn’t that the Quran also? That is why many scholars have opined that the Zikr here refers to the Hadeeth.

But if the Zikr includes the Hadeeth, then it too must have been preserved by God. While the strict Muslims take that position, historical evidence begs otherwise. While the Quran was written down before the death of the Prophet (PBUH), and committed to memory by thousands of people, the Hadeeth was not written down for two hundred years after the Prophet’s death. It was only then that the Hadeeth was meticulously authenticated and less than one in ten narrations have been found to be authentic. This means that the Hadeeths evaluated as authentic can be relied on in matters of the religion, but it also means that the Hadeeth was not preserved, or else it would not have required such massive effort to authenticate.

Therefore, I respectfully disagree that the Zikr refers to the Hadeeth, or includes it. So, how can we explain 16:44?

The key to understand 16:44 is to notice the word “people” in it. People include non-Muslims! Thus, what this verse is saying is that one of the functions of the Quran is to clarify to non-Muslims the scriptures which were sent to them, e.g., the Torah and the Gospel.

This conclusion is backed up by a later verse in the same Chapter,
“By God, We did certainly send [messengers] to communities before you [, O Muhammad], then Satan embellished for them their works, so he is their ally Today and for them is a painful torment.

And We have not sent down upon you the Book [, O Muhammad], but so that you may clarify to them what they differed about and as guidance and mercy for a folk who believe.” (16:63-64)

16:63 makes it clear that the pronoun “them” in 16:64 refers to followers of prior scriptures.

A reader may jump in here and quote,
“And We certainly did write in the Zaboor (Psalms), after the Remembrance (Torah), that the land – shall inherit it My righteous worshipers.” (23:105)
and argue that the Torah has been described as the Zikr. It was. But then, it was humanly altered thus it ceased to be Zikr. Only the original, pure revelation from God qualify as Zikr. The only scripture that God has vowed to preserve Himself is the Quran.

Beliefs Muslims and Christians share about Jesus

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Egyptian Coptic Christian writer Louis Grace wrote recently, “I learned to love Jesus Christ because of the Quran!”

Did that statement surprise you? Though I was delighted to read it, it did not surprise me. Mr. Grace grew up in a Muslim country that has a 1400 year history of cordial relations between Muslims and Christians. Even though many attempts throughout the centuries tried to sew seeds of division between the two, none has succeeded.

The Quran mentions Jesus, son of Mary, peace be upon both, numerous times and always with high praise and affection. In case you didn’t know, here are what Muslims and Christians have in common in regard to Jesus (PBUH):

  • Jesus was born miraculously to the virgin Mary.
  • Jesus was “the word of God”.
  • Jesus was a true prophet and a messenger of God.
  • Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) promised to the Children of Israel.
  • Jesus received from God a holy scripture, the Gospel.
  • Jesus performed many miracles, including raising people from the dead.
  • Jesus will come back.

Did any of that surprise you? It’s all in the Quran for all to read and learn. With all this in common between Muslims and Christians, what can be between them short of a cordial relationship?

Does analytical thinking reduce religious belief?

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

VANCOUVER — A University of British Columbia study suggests analytical thinking can be harmful to religious faith. The psychology report, published Thursday in the prestigious journal Science, reveals that religious belief drops after subjects perform analytical tasks or are exposed to Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker.

However, UBC social psychologists Will Gervais and Ara Norenzayan insist they are not debunking religion or promoting atheism. Instead, they are trying to figure out the psychological origins of spirituality.

Source: UBC study | Holy Post | National Post.

Interesting study, but notice how it does not name the religions espoused by the participants? It means that they bundled all religions together versus atheism. That is an assumption on their part whose validity they first had to prove. Was a wide spectrum of religions represented in the survey takers? If not, the results would be biased.

Those snags aside, it is particularly profound to observe that the Quran keeps prodding its readers to think, reflect, examine, analyze, reason and adopt sound logic in conjunction with having faith and consulting ones heart, conscience, guts and feelings. That is the consistent message of Islam: Balance. Things in life are not “either or”, but rather “both and.” The challenge before each of us in life is how to correctly balance the seemingly opposite demands of aspects of our lives all of which we need. A Muslim finds enormous help on this tough task through the guidance of the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Sunna. In Islam, there is no conflict between science and faith, between scripture and history, between the individual and society, or between the spiritual and the material. They can all coexist and must. So can and must the heart and the mind just like the left brain and the right brain coexist and cooperate!

Blind faith is as bad as atheism. The former cancels the mind. The latter cancels the heart.

My aunt keeps telling me about Jehovah

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Hello, I have a Jehovah’s Witness aunt whom I think is trying to convert me. No one in my family knows that I’m a Muslim, being that I’m only a 15 yrs old convert. My aunt who’s a Jehovah’s Witness gave me a Jehovah’s Witness book for young people which I still read, because it has good moral messages which comply with Islamic morals and I find nothing wrong with them. But I just feel a lil uncomfortable when she’s telling me about Jehovah God and how he’s blessing me etc. What should I do? How should I respond to this? Should I tell her I’m Muslim and talk to her about the Quran? Thanks

Your aunt loves you and if she’s trying to convert you, she’s doing it out of her belief and out of her love for you. You should be kind to her as you have been. You are probably too young to tell her about Islam though, but it’s your call. If she’s a supportive kind of person, you may tell her. But bear in mind that many people nowadays have a negative view of Islam because of the media, so if she’s the kind of person who believes what she hears on TV, you’d be better off not telling her.

Jehovah did bless you! The name Jehovah is the English pronunciation of the Hebrew word Yahweh, which means “O You who is He!” The reason for this name is that many Jews took the third Commandment very seriously and thought it meant to never say God’s name. What the commandment actually teaches is that a believer should not swear by God’s name unless he means what he says and will honor what he promises. This is the same teaching in the Quran,

“And do not make God a subject to your oaths…” (2:224)

And God explains this verse further in the following verse,

“God does not chastise you for what is unintentional in your oaths, but He chastises you for what your hearts have earned. And God is Forgiving and Forbearing.” (2:225)

And the Prophet (PBUH) explained oaths etiquette by saying, “Whoever is going to swear, let him swear by God or be silent.” (Narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar and reported by Al-Bukhaari who rated it authentic).

So, Jehovah is Allah and He blessed you by guiding you to Islam.

Do Muslims have a covenant with God?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

The Jews believe that they have a covenant with God. Do Muslims believe they have a covenant with God? What does Islam say about God’s covenant?

God’s covenant with people has been the same since He created Adam. It is that we believe in Him alone, do not associate anything or anybody with Him in worship, uphold His laws, follow His Messengers, and honor His scriptures. That is Al-Amaana (the Trust) which God speaks about in this key verse,

“We offered the Trust to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains. They declined to carry it and were apprehensive of it. But man carried it; he is ever unjust and ignorant.” (33:72)

We volunteered for the job, but we haven’t done it too well!

The first obligation of the covenant is made clear in this verse:

“When your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.” (7:172)

The belief in the One God is in our DNA!

Whenever God sent a Messenger to a people, He had them testify that they would uphold the Covenant. That is why many scriptures are called Testaments. There are many verses in the Quran which speak about that, for instance:

“And [recall] when God took the covenant of the prophets, [saying,] “Surely whatever I give you of the Book and wisdom and then comes to you a messenger confirming what is with you, that you [will] indeed believe in him and support him.” [God] said, “Have you acknowledged and taken upon that My commitment?” They said, “We have acknowledged.” He said, “Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.” (3:81)

Thus, the Covenant was taken by all prophets and part of it was that all future prophets must be followed.

“And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except God; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give alms.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, with refusal.” (2:83)

The covenant included God’s moral teachings as well as theological fundamentals. The Children of Israel were one of the earliest people who did not uphold the Covenant.

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when God took a covenant from those who were given the Book, [saying], “You must make it clear to the people and not conceal it.” But they banished it behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. Then how wretched is what they purchased!” (3:187)

The covenant included spreading the word of God to all, but people have hidden it, or worse, altered it.

What do people get when they stick to their end of the Covenant? God explains clearly in this verse,

“And God had already taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We delegated from among them twelve leaders. And God said, “I am with you. If you establish prayer and give alms and believe in My messengers and support them and loan God a goodly loan, I will surely remove from you your misdeeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the level road” (5:12)

We get the company of God! We get expiation of our sins. We get the ultimate reward in the Hereafter. May God enable us to uphold His Covenant and not deviate from the level road.

In case you’re wondering whether Christians were exempted from the Covenant, I invite you to read Mathew 5:17-20, in which Jesus (PBUH) is reported to have said that any talk about him abolishing the law is nonsense, that the law stands as long as the heavens and the earth stand, and that those who do not uphold the law will not enter the Kingdom of God. The law of God has been, and always will be the same, and it applies to all people without exceptions. Upholding it is the covenant we made with God.

God reminds Muslims in the holy Quran of their covenant with God. He says,
“And remember the favor of God upon you and His covenant with which He bound you when you said, ‘We hear and we obey’; and watch out for God. Indeed, God is much Knowing of that within the bosoms.” (5:7)

Is Hadeeth like scripture to Muslims?

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I heard in a kuthbah (sermon) that hadeeth to Muslims is equal to scripture. That one puzzled me. Is my definition of scripture skewed to mean holy words?

I think maybe the preacher was referring to the similarity between the Hadeeth and the Gospels or books of the Bible. What they have in common is that they are mostly narrations of followers of what the Prophet they follow has said, taught and did. The style of the Quran is markedly different; it is a first-person speech by God to Muhammad (PBUH) or to people. Quite often in the Quran, you read verses that command the Prophet (PBUH) to say something, e.g., “Say: He is God, Unique.” (112:1). If Muhammad (PBUH) were the author of the Quran, he would not have mentioned the command “Say:”. When Muslims recite this verse, they do not say, “He is God, Unique,” they say, “Say: He is God, Unique.”

The polytheists of Mecca once made fun of the Prophet (PBUH) because of this! They said that he is “an ear”, meaning he only repeats what he’s been inspired to say. God answered their mockery saying,

“And among them are those who abuse the Prophet and say, “He is an ear.” Say, “An ear of goodness for you; he believes in God and has faith in the believers and [is] a mercy to those who believe among you.” And those who abuse the Messenger of God – for them is a painful torment.” (9:61)

I find this phenomenon, that the Prophet (PBUH) repeated what God revealed to him verbatim, to be fascinating, especially when one reads the Old Testament and encounters the prophecy about him that identifies him so fittingly and among the signs identifying him is that “God will put His words in his mouth”! Read it in Deut 18:15-23 if you’re curious.

Will Jews and Christians go to Heaven?

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Verse 5:69 says,

“Those who believe, those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), the Sabians and the Christians, those of them who believed in God and the Last Day and worked righteous deeds, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

Does this mean Jews and Christians go to Heaven too?

What is there on the Day of Judgment beside Heaven but Hell? If they don’t go to Heaven, then they go to Hell. That can’t be because then they will fear and grieve!

But the verse is specific and clearly says, “those of them who…”, so there are conditions and God spells them out.

Belief in God is more than just believing He exists; it means obeying Him in what He ordered and prohibited. One of the things He ordered is that we must follow His prophets and messengers whom He sends to us and abide by the scriptures He sends down with them. Therefore, any Jew or Christian to whom the message of the Quran has reached, but chooses not to follow it, is not covered by 5:49 and only God knows what his destiny will be.

Muhammad was foretold in the Bible

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I came across this book online, which shows plenty of evidence that prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was foretold in the Bible. You can download the book at
http://www.scribd.com/doc/40093482/Who-is-the-Promised-Prophet-of-the-Bibile, or at
http://msacalgary.com/books/prophet/The Promised Prophet of the Bible.pdf

Thank you for sharing. I also recommend two booklets: One, published by the Islamic Center of St. Louis, called “The Bible’s Preview of Muhammad“. The other, written by Dr. Jamal Badawi and published by the Islamic Society of North America, called “Muhammad’s Prophethood – An Analytical View“.