Archive for the ‘Comparative religion’ Category

Does Islam prophesy an Anti-Christ?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

What do you know and what do you believe about this person whom some people claimed that Prophet Muhammad prophesied as Mahdi and this event called Dajjal Fitnah. I’m not sure but I think these are unfounded claims as far as the Qur’an is concerned. I don’t know but some people relate these things to what is happening in Syria.

There are several authentic hadeeths, reported in Al-Bukhaari and Muslim’s compilations and narrated by Al-Khudri, Ibn Umar and others, which mention Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal (the luring messiah). In these hadeeths, the Prophet (PBUH) forewarns Muslims of the coming of the Anti-Christ, a man who will possess great powers, even power to resurrect people from the dead, and succeed in luring most people away from true faith to follow him instead. He will claim to be God. The Prophet (PBUH) said that the Dajjaal Fitna (test of faith) is the greatest and that every prophet had forewarned his people against it.

While the Quran does not mention Ad-Dajjaal, there is no reason to doubt the story. It would be a different matter if the Quran has contradicted the story. One authentic hadeeth I know of is reported by Al-Bukhaari and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, in which she relates that the Prophet (PBUH) used to say in his supplication during prayer, “O God, I seek refuge in You from the trying times of the Luring Messiah.”

Several authentic hadeeths also mention the coming of the Anti-Christ as one of several grand signs of the approach of the Hour (the Day of Judgment). Most of the signs mentioned in those hadeeths are also mentioned in the Quran, such as the second coming of Jesus Christ, the release of Gog and Magog, and the animal which will preach to people. Thus, there is no cause to deny the story about the Anti-Christ while the other, equally spectacular stories are confirmed by the Quran.

There is no evidence that the war in Syria has anything to do with the Anti-Christ.

As for Al-Mahdi (the guided one), the hadeeths about him are far less authentic. Neither Al-Bukhaari nor Muslim have reported any hadeeth about him, to the best of my knowledge. Whether he will exist has no bearing on your or my faith, since we already have all we need to be true believers: the holy Quran and the authentic Sunna.

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.

A dilemma of faith?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Have you ever read Narcissus and Gouldmond by Hesse?
I think we are focusing too much on the interpretation of the scholar. I do not see a balance in the wise man. A forum I follow is stuck on scholars and fatawas. I see a lack of independent thought. That scares me. In simple words: we choose to be Believers. We have to be true to ourselves as to why we choose to be Believers. I understand that scholars help us to arrive at an understanding.

In essence faith is the most intellectual pursuit we have and at the same time faith is the most anti-intellectual endeavor we face. You need to write on this one.

An interesting characterization of faith as a dilemma. The way most people view faith, it is a dilemma. The way Islam defines it, it is far from it.

Most people, when they think of faith, they think of blind trust. They trust a book, a preacher, a parent, a peer. Most of them do not pause to ask themselves the simple question, “Do I know that this is true?” Many of them are too scared to ask that question, or too timid.

They take one side of the dilemma as you described it: the anti-intellectual side. Atheists, on the other hand, take the other side. They will tell you that there is no rational reason to believe in God and that’s why they don’t.

Islam, as usual, solves the dilemma and comes in the middle of these two extremes. In Islam, faith is not blind; it’s educated! By that I mean that you first are asked to read the Quran and think deeply about what you read. Does it ring true to both your heart and your mind? The Quran keeps asking its reader, “Little that you remember!” (27:62), “If only you would remember!” (56:62), “Should you not then remember?” (32:4), “So that perhaps they would remember” (39:27)

Remember what? Remember the truth about God which you were born with. Remember the covenant with God that you agreed to before you were born. When you do, your faith is then a confirmation of what you already know to be the truth. Nothing blind about that.

It’s not the people who make you faithful, it’s your innate knowledge.

Ark of the Covenant

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

What is the Islamic perspective on the Ark of the Covenant? When I was Christian, I was taught that it contained the original tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, but that they were smashed by Moses in anger. My Jewish friend confirms this belief.

And where is it? I heard that Solomon is the only one who knows where.

I saw a BBC documentary that asserts it’s at Axum, Ethiopia, home of King Negus. In that documentary, it was mentioned that the Jews call it Tabot, which is almost the same word the Quran uses to name it: At-Taaboot,

“Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of God”? He said, “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of God when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And God is Knowing of the wrongdoers.

And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, God has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?” He said, “Indeed, God has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And God gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.”

And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, a sign of his kingship is that the Taaboot will come to you in which is assurance from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Moses and the family of Aaron had left, carried by the angels. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.” (2:246-248)

I doubt though that the prophet referred to in these verses was Solomon, peace be upon him, because Solomon was mentioned by name several times in the Quran, so why would he be unnamed here?

The verses quoted above from Chapter 2 clearly state that the Ark contains some items left by the families of Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them. It is therefore quite possible that it has the original tablets on which the ten commandments were inscribed. The Quran also tells us that Moses “threw” the tablets in anger at the relapse of faith of his followers (7:150), but it doesn’t say that the tablets were smashed as a result. So, they could be in one piece still.

BTW, the word means coffin or casket, so I’m not sure why it was translated in English as Ark.

Another interesting bit of information in the documentary was that Ethiopian Jews believe that the Queen of Sheba was from Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and that she married Solomon and that’s how the Ark ended up in Ethiopia and not in Jerusalem.

But the same documentary concluded that the Queen of Sheba was from Yemen.

Questions from my Christian brother-in-law

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

My brother in law is Christian. I am Muslim. We were talking religion and a number of questions were asked. Can you shed light on them? Thanks.

1. Where did Jesus get his blood from? Meaning his DNA? A woman who bears a child needs a certain chromosome to produce a child, and that other chromosome is found In a male.

How did Adam and Eve get their chromosomes? God is able to create without limitation. He is the maker of the laws of genetics and can overrule them at will.

2. Does the Quran teach to hate the Hebrew people or shall I say Israel?”

Neither. The Quran tells us that of the people of Moses are a large community that guide with the truth and with it they judge (7:159). It also tells us that God’s choice of the Hebrews to receive His Message was deliberate (44:32). That privilege was not because of their race or lineage, as they have come to believe, but was because of their potential for executing His commands. To the extent they complied with His Message, He blessed them (32:24). When they rebelled, violated their Covenant, edited the Torah and started killing the prophets and rejected Jesus (PBUH), He cursed them (4:155).

Muslims do not hate the Jews and never did. Muslims and Jews lived peacefully for 1300 years.

3. Adam & the Angels were once called the Son or Sons of Yahweh.

Not in Islam. Everybody is a creature and worshiper of God. God has no sons, literally nor figuratively.

4. Yahweh is Spirit

No. God is above and beyond spirit. He is the creator of spirit. The Quran tells us that “like His simile is nothing” (42:11)

5. The serpent in the garden was Satan (meaning he had to inhabit a body to do his bidding)

Not in Islam. There is no mention of a serpent in the story of Adam and Eve in the Quran.

6. Yahweh sent his Word in the form of Flesh which was and is Yeshua.

Jesus is the word of God, because he was created with one word: Be. He is not a flesh representation of God; he is a creature of God like everybody else.

7. Messiah was to be born in bethlehem: OT Micah 5:2 NT Matthew 2:1-6 & Luke 2:1-20

Messiah was to be born of a virgin: OT Isaiah 7:14….. Matthew 1:18-25 & Luke 1:26-38

Jesus is indeed the Messiah promised to the Jews. Messiah simply means an anointed one. He was so nicknamed because he had very oily hair that looked like it was always dripping. It is a sign for the Jews to recognize him when he came.

8. Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses: OT Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19 ….

These verses do not talk about the Messiah; they talk about the final Prophet, whom Jesus foretold. You may remember a scene form the movie “The Passion of Christ” where Jesus tells the disciples about the comforter (Paraclete) who will come after him whose name in Aramaic is HMD? Only one man fits the description: Muhammad, peace be upon him. For more details, refer to a booklet by ISNA called “What the Bible says about Muhammad (PBUH)”.

Questions from a Christian

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

I read the Quran over three years ago and I’ve asked these questions about Islam before and did not get an answer. Maybe you can answer them?

  • Why is Mohammed called a Prophet when he has apparently not prophesied anything?

The Quran has plenty of prophesies. Did you actually read it, or did you just skim through it?

  • Why is the Quran such a small book after 23 years of revelation?

Teachings that guide humanity to truth and justice are simple. They do not take up many pages. What takes up pages is the correction of false doctrines that people keep developing, which lead them astray from the straight path.

  • WHY, do Muslims think they need to pray to Mecca when God is everywhere and actually the earliest discovered mosques were directed towards Palestine?

Muslims don’t think that; God told them that they must. Mecca is the direction of prayer commanded to all the Prophets. Jews and Christians who prayed toward Jerusalem did that in violation of God’s orders. God never ordered any people to direct their prayers toward Jerusalem. One of the primary objectives of the Quran is to restore the laws of God which people keep changing.

If a Muslim cannot tell which direction is Mecca, he is allowed to pray in the direction he thinks it is, precisely because God is everywhere. The uniformity of the direction is intended symbolism to unite Muslims toward the One True God.

  • Why do Muslims and many other religious people think the enemy is other people?

Most Muslims don’t think so. The enemy is people who fight us. Everybody else is a brother or sister in humanity, which the Quran instructs us to get to know.

  • What NEW Wisdom (no scientific knowledge is not the same as wisdom so) is in the Quran that was not already in the holy bible?

The New Testament reversed many teachings of the Torah and added blasphemous dogma. The Quran came, in part, to restore the original teachings of the Torah and the Gospel which the Jews and the Christians changed.

  • WHY is the Koran supposed to be only beautiful in Arabic?

Because any translation is a human effort, while the Quran is divine providence.

  • WHY IS Mohammed not in the line from Noah down through Solomon to Jesus not from the same line as any other prophet?

He is from the same line. He is a descendant of Ishmael and Abraham, who trace back to Shem, Noah and Adam.

But what if he wasn’t? What difference does that make? A prophet is not respected because of his lineage, but rather because of his message.

  • WHY, when the Bible is apparently a complete Book about this eternity and this universe and the whole history of life did we even need an extra book?

Because the Bible contains a mix of what God revealed and what people changed, added and deleted. The Quran confirms what was from God and corrects what was from people.

Are inter-faith debates worthwhile?

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I’ve been discussing Islam with my Christian friend and he Christianity with me. Lately, he seemed to agree that he has been wrong in many of his assumptions about his religion, but he would not say that I’m right about mine.

Not totally unexpected. I myself believe that most debates are a waste of time. That’s because they arouse the ego. Once the ego gets into the room, guidance flies out the window. I suggest that you wish your friend well and assure him that you will always be there for him if he needs you to answer questions about Islam. Leaving him to reflect on your conversations may just be the thing to do. Who knows, maybe God will open his eyes once the spirit of challenge which the ego brings forth cools down.

BTW, are there any credible books written by Christians that prove that Christianity has been changed from the original teachings of Jesus, peace be upon him. This is the subject that interested my friend the most and the one where he agreed he was wrong about. Thanks.

One book I know of and can recommend is “From Jesus to Constantine – How Christianity was changed from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus,” written by Dr. Bart Ehrman, M.Div., Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary. He is highly respected Bible scholar and is the head of the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. It is published by The Teaching Company.

Another scholarly work you may consider is, “Misquoting Jesus“, also by Dr. Ehrman.

Can we ever find the truth?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

How do we know what the truth is if we were not there when Adam was created or when scripture was revealed?

I want to know the truth, but I think that no one will ever know the truth.

Ask yourself this question: Would God leave people unguided all these centuries? If He is there and if He wants us to know Him, He must make Himself known and do so in such a way that the simplest human can understand Him.

The truth is out there but to find it you must be truthful about trying to find it! By checking out Islam, you’ve done more than most people usually do. My reading of your message is that you are truthful about trying to find the truth.

God sent scriptures and prophets to every township throughout human history to let us know He is there and what He wants us to do and what He wants us to stay away from.

We have been endowed with a mind and a heart which give us the capacity to tell what’s truthful and what’s fake. That is why we have expressions like “the moment of truth” and “that rings true!” All a truth seeker needs to do is to check out the scriptures and the religions that are out there. They will undoubtedly figure out which is true. The challenge is whether they’ll admit it.

As you do this, remember that God is there to help you find Him. Call upon Him with sincerity and humility to help you. He most certainly will.

Did Muhammad learn from his Christian uncle-in-law?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Waraqah, who was the uncle of Muhammad’s wife Khadija, was Christian and he was with Muhammad  all along for at least 15 years before he announced he was a prophet. So,  Muhammad learned all about Christianity and used it to form Islam.

If that was the case then why did Waraqa tell Khadeeja and Muhammad, peace be upon them, that Muhammad was a true prophet and was THE prophet foretold in the Torah and the Gospel?

And if Muhammad (PBUH) learned from the Jews and the Christians then why did he change their teachings? He changed the Jewish teaching about Jesus being a heretic and changed the Christian teaching about Jesus being divine.

Muhammad (PBUH) was known, even to his enemies, to be “the trustworthy one”. Then why would he lie about where from he got the teachings of Islam? And would he start lying by lying against God? Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers spent 13 years in non-stop torment and harassment by the Meccan pagans, why would he hold on to a falsehood in such a situation?

What if we applied the same logic to Jesus, peace be upon him?  We all know that Jesus lived among the Jews (in fact most Christians believe he was a Jew), spoke Hebrew fluently and was a recognized scholar of the Torah. Thus, applying your logic, Jesus must have learned all from the Jews and used it to form Christianity! God forbid.

The bottom line is this: The message of God is spelled out in the Quran. I invite you to read the Quran, if you haven’t done so already, then decide for yourself if it came from other than God.