I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chapter 12: Islam - People of the Book

This chapter deals with the complicated history of a people, the brief history of a religion called Islam, which is further complicated by different factions (much like Christianity) within the groups of Moslems that is the second largest religion in the world. It is a religion founded by a prophet, deemed the Messenger of God, which was carried on by its followers who separated into factions due to philosophical disagreements, whose partial doctrine of conversion is violence (depending upon the faction), misunderstood and misrepresented by Moslem and non-Moslem alike; and whose doctrine under certain leadership within factions have led to fascism, religious fanaticism, death and destruction in the name of Allah, the Arabic word of God – despite the fact that they worship that same God as the Christians and Jews, to whom they often war with or persecute. It is because of doctrine differences that they do so, as well as believing that no person (not even their beloved prophet/founder Muhammad) or perceived deity should be worshiped instead of the one and true God; which pits them against the Christians who have deified their prophet, teacher, and reformer of the Hebrew faith, Jesus of Nazareth (Galilee) – the Christ. Other differences or similarities between the other two monotheistic religions of Christianity and Hebrew are in the rites performed, as in the Five Pillars of Islam prescribed by the founder, Mohammed.

The Middle East is often confused by many to include North African countries. It is actually an area technically called West Asia in a geographical location where Africa, Asia, and Europe meet. The Red Sea and Suez Canal (Egypt and Africa) is the border to the west and Russia, China and India are the borders in the east. While traditionally, Armenia and Azerbaijan has been considered a part of the Middle East, several sources have aligned these two countries as part of Europe. The countries that make up this area are: Turkey (this country considers itself eastern European), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. Istanbul, originally Constantinople, in Turkey has been considered to be the gateway between the East and West during its long history of existence.
North African area consists of those nations in the upper most part of the African continent: Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan.
The Arabian Peninsula is primarily Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, and Yemen.
The historical geographical name, Arabia includes nations that are part of North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East, that makes it more confusing. Those historical states of Arabia are: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq. Baghdad, Iraq was once the capital of all of Arabia and Iraq was once the center of the Persian Empire.
Historical events have changed these areas over time, empires rising and falling; however, the arid states that make up North Africa and the Middle East has its roots in tribal, nomadic cultures who have adapted to the conditions of an arid and semi-arid climate. The main reason why Egypt grew to be a successful and powerful empire was because of the life-giving Nile River that afforded the Egyptians fertile land to grow food and a major water source for supplying its great ancient cities that lined its banks. The Roman Empire spread in this region and when Christianity became accepted as the religion of Rome, Christianity also spread in this area. By that time, Israel had become lost as a separate nation and melded into the Arabian conglomerate. However, in the 7th century another empire was created, a theocracy, whose power spread through conquest and soon also geographical enlarged the area of Arabia. Turmoil has been an historical given in the history of the region. Most stability in the Arabia nations has been caused by two factors: tribal factions and religion; just as the Crusade conflicts continued off and on over a period of 100 years.
The nations that have historically been called Arabia (word means arid), and was populated by Semitic peoples that go as far back as Noah. Indeed, the term “Semitic” has its origins, as a people, with Shem, son of Noah. i The primary tribesmen were named Bedouin, who were nomadic herdsmen who loved horses, but the primary means of transportation was by camel – long caravans traveling established routes that traded with civilized nations featuring coveted rare spices like frankincense and myrrh. The camel traveled at a slow speed of eight miles per hour, but could go without water for 5 days in the summer and 25 days in the winter; it provided milk, its urine was used as hair tonic, its dung burned for fuel; when it died it provided meat, and its hair and hide were used for clothing and tents. The tribesmen left nothing for waste. The Bedouin was passionate, often entering feuds and combat against other tribesmen due to an insult; not just for himself but for the honor of his clan. They loved the freedom of the desert and felt it was there land, and would kill anyone who used their water wells in their tribal area without permission of a member of the clan. They could be kind or murderous, dishonest and yet faithful; living by a code of honor and often fierce fighters in battle. They loved their women as they did their horses and would kill to protect their honor; yet the society called for them to be chattel that was part of a father's or husband's estate. Her duty was to produce warriors, and in many cases had to share her husband with other wives – as many as a man's wealth could maintain. 
(also spelled Mohammad, Muhammad, Mohammed, Mahomet)
The story of Islam, or as the Catholics traditionally described as Mohammedanism, began with a prophet-teacher, Mohammed (570-632) just as Christianity began with Jesus Christ of Nazareth-Galilee. He is considered to be a messenger, prophet of God (Allah), and the last law-bearer prophet by Muslims (followers of Islam) and Bahá'is. He is considered to be the restorer of an original monotheistic faith of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets – a reformation religion because Mohammed believed that God's reverence and laws were corrupted over time after Moses and Jesus.
Five years after Emperor Justinian of the eastern Christian nations called Byzantine died, Mohammed was born into a poor family in Mecca. The Arabian region was economically poor, great civilizations like ancient Egypt and Persia had fallen into disarray and ruin – weakening just as the Roman Empire in the west.
Mohammed was orphaned when he was young and was raised by his uncle, Abu Talib. He worked for his uncle as a shepherd and a merchant and was educated, which was an opportunity for him coming from a poor family. He married around the age of 25 and found himself discontented after observing culture and society around him in Mecca. ii
When Mohammed neared 40 years old, he decided to go into the mountains to a cave for meditation and reflection. According to legend and Arabian history, it was there, during the month of Ramadan, that he received his first revelation from God, which Arabs call Allah. Three years later he began to preach among the populace, revealing his revelations in public, proclaiming that “God is One” and that the only way (dîn).
Although Mohammed is the author of the Holy Qur'an, he never learned to read and write. According to tradition, it was Gabriel, the archangel that visited him a cave in the desert that inspired the words; but apparently Mohammed was a talented manager of men. While fables relay stories of his youth, historically, we know practically nothing. 
At the age of 12 (tradition) it is said he was taken by Abu Talib on a caravan to Bostra in Syria on mercantile business for a rich widow. Then the story jumps to the age of 25, married to the widow (40 years old) who bore several children. All of Mohammed's sons died at childbirth, but he had a daughter, Fatima (who became famous) who he cherished. Grieved over losing two sons, Mohammed adopted Ali, the orphan son of Abu Talib. The adopted son married Fatima, and through the son's writing, we have a description of Mohammed:
...of middle stature, neither tall nor short. His complexion was rosy white; his eyes black; his hair, thick, brilliant, and beautiful, fell to his shoulders. Hi profuse beard fell to his breast … There was such sweetness in his visage that no one, once in his presence, could leave him. If I hungered, a single look at the Prophet's face dispelled the hunger. Before him all forgot their griefs and pains. iii
He was a serious man and rarely laughed. It was reported that he had a bad temper, but tried to keep it in control, readily forgiving a disarmed or repentant enemy.
It was during visits to Medina (Christians lived there) and Mecca (Jews lived there) that Mohammed became familiar with Christian and Hebrew scriptures. iv The Qur'an, in many instances, relays his admiration of the morals of Christians, the monotheism of the Jews, and the Scriptures believed to be revelations from God. However, he felt the need of a new religion believed so the factions could be united into a nation.
As briefly mentioned, at age 40 he became more absorbed in religion and went to a cave during the holy month of Ramadan at the foot of Mount Hera near Mecca where he would spend days and nights fasting and in meditation. As the tale goes, one night in the year 610, alone in the cave v.
His faith was provided a name – Islam – which translates “to surrender” or “make peace”. When he moved to Medina away from the tension from the merchants in Mecca, this appeared to be so. As his authoritative power grew, living in an age when secular and religious laws and conduct were combined, he drew up a concord with the Jews of Medina:
The Jews who attach themselves to our commonwealth shall be protected from insults and vexations; they shall have equal right with our own people to our assistance and good offices; they … shall form with the Moslems one composite nation; they shall practice their religion freely as the Moslems .. They shall join the Moslems in defending Yahrib against all enemies … All future disputes between those who accept this charter shall be referred, under God, to the Prophet.
However, this accord did not prevent clashes between Moslems and Jews.
Two hundred families had immigrated to Medina from Mecca to live in the City of the Prophet, and starvation resulted. To answer the call to provide for his followers, Mohammed conducted a series of raids, where four fifths of the plunder went to the raiders and one fifth to the Prophet. The raids were conducted against the trade caravans of merchants, who sought revenge.
In 623, Mohammed organized a raiding party of 300 warriors to raid a caravan traveling from Syria to Mecca. The leader of the caravan received news of the impending raid and changed his route and sent a messenger to Mecca to provide reinforcements. The Quraysh sent 900 warriors and the two armies met at a Wadi. vi If Mohammed had been defeated, his career, along with the newly formed religion would have most likely ended. But victory was on the side of Mohammed that day.
Victory inflated morale as well as the boldness of the prophet. People that spoke insulting against the Prophet or wrote poems and other text against his goals and religion – some being Jews – were murdered as they slept by the prophet's devoted assassins. To the Moslem this was retribution against those who committed treason, for by that time the Prophet not only led the people at the religious level, but the secular level as well.
The Jews began changing their minds about the new war-like faith that had been made to look much like their own – both factions worshiping the same God. The Jews began to make fun of the Islamic scriptures as well as his claim to be a prophet instructed and guided by God through the archangel, Gabriel. vii In retaliation, the Jews were charged by the Prophet through the wrath of Allah, that the Jews corrupted the Scriptures, were accused of killing prophets and rejecting the self-proclaimed Messiah of the Moslems. In 624, Mohammed changed the point toward one faced to pray from Jerusalem to Mecca where the Kaaba was located. The Jews then accused him of returning to the practice of idolatry.
In 625, Abu Sufyan, who had waited one year to hope there would be reconciliation between Moslems and Jews, led an army of 3,000 to the hill of Ohod, three miles north of Medina. Fifteen women, including Sufyan's wives accompanied the army. The Moslems were forced to retreat and Mohammed who had received several wounds was carried from the battlefield unconscious. Abu Sufyan thought that Mohammed had died, returned to Mecca triumphant. Six months later when the Prophet recovered from his wounds attacked the Banu-Nadhir Jews he had made accords with, claiming they aided the Quraysh and plotted to kill him. After a three-week siege, the inhabitants were allowed to emigrate form the city and the Prophet appropriated most of the orchards to support his household. viii Mohammed now considered the situation as war against Mecca. He led an army against the Jews of Bangui-Kuraiz and won. They were given the ultimatum of choose Islam or death. They chose death. Six hundred men were slain and buried in the market place of Medina and the women and children sold into slavery.
The Prophet was now a seasoned general and during the ten years in Medina he planned 56 raids and campaigns, personally leading 27. Yet, he also knew how to be diplomatic. The populace had grown to view him as their apostle and Messiah, like the Christians viewed Jesus the Christ – a reformer of Judaism. Of course, the big difference being that Mohammed was a warrior prophet like Elijah had been. He retained the legends and the stories of the prophets of old, especially Moses, and viewed Abraham as the patriarch of the religion that now worshiped Yahweh in the Arabic word of Allah. Muhammad recognized the heritage of the Semitic peoples who became known as Arabs – all genealogically related from the same origins. However, the gist of his message was that others had fallen by the way when worshiping the one true God, and others having reverted to paganism.
He was and is considered to be the messenger of Allah, and it is written:
... to pay the zakat, to fast in Ramadan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so. And in number 2 of the Hadith, Jabreel (Gabriel) stated so that this is what shall be. Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, to perform prayers.
The Hadith is the tool that teaches the understanding of the Qur'an, evaluated and gathered after Muhammad's death into large collections, much ascribed to the Prophet, during the 8th and 9th centuries. In Arabic it refers to reports of statements or actions of Muhammad, and the literal meaning of the word refers to the speech of a person. The Hadith Qudsi (Sacred Hadith) is a sub-category of the Hadith of Muhammed. They are regarded as words of Allah. Here is an excerpt from the Hadith Qudsi: 
When God decreed the Creation, He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over My wrath. ix
After the death of Muhammed, the differences of narrations became the reason for dividing into factions of Islam. One one side was Aku Bakr (father-in-law of Muhammed) and Umar (primary companion of Muhammed) who became the founders of Sunni Moslems and on the other side is Ali of the Shia (Shiite) faction.
A truce was made for ten years with Mecca and Medina prospered and grew in the meantime. However, the truce was broken when allegedly the Quraysh attacked a Moslem tribe in 630. Muhammad led an army of 10,000 to Mecca and there he took it. Idols were destroyed that had been placed around the holy Kaaba and all that remained was the Black Stone, which was covered to be protected from the elements. Muhammed proclaimed that Mecca was the Holy City of Islam and decreed that no unbeliever would be allowed to set foot on its sacred soil. He had conquered the tribe, Quraysh, that he himself had been born into.
In the last two years of the Prophet Muhammad's life, was a period of triumph, peace settled across the Islamic land, except for a couple of minor skirmishes. Christians were left in peace and protected by Muhammad. They were allowed to worship as Christians, as long as they paid tribute, but they were forbidden to charge interest on loans. Muhammad sent envoys to Persia to invite them to join the religion, but there was no reply; and it was left at that. Muhammad did not seem interested in expanding the power of Islam beyond the traditional Arabic lands. He occupied much of his time with the details of government. Much of everything he decreed was considered revelations from Allah. And yet despite his elevation within society, he remained humble in the fact that only Allah should be worshiped and that he was merely a mortal man, chosen to be the Messenger of God. x
After Muhammad's first wife died, he took on one wife every year for fifteen years – most of whom were gained by his conquests, and one an arranged marriage to a six-year-old girl, who was “admitted to his house at the age of nine, which means he “consummated the marriage to a 9-year-old girl. Muhammad made an exception to what was written in Surat 33:50:
O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the rest of believers.
In Maududi vol. 4, p111:
O Prophet, We have made lawful to you those of your wives, whose dowers you have paid, and those women who come into your possession out of the slave-girls granted by Allah, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you, and the believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet may desire her. This privilege is for you only, not for the other believers. …
Mohammed's personality was also recorded as being a simple man with simple needs, but indulged in women and power. Will Durant wrote: xi
The apartments in which he successively dwelt were cottages of unburnt brick, twelve or fourteen feet square, eight feet high, and thatched with palm branches; the door was a screen of goat or camel hair; the the furniture was a mattress and pillows spread upon the floor. xii He was often seen mending clothes or shoes, kindling the fire, sweeping the floor, milking the family goat in his yard, or shopping for provisions in the market.xiii He ate with his fingers, and licked them thriftily after each meal. xiv His staple foods were dates and barley bread; milk and honey were occasional luxuries; and he obeyed his own interdiction of wine. Courteous to the great, affable to the humble, dignified to the presumptuous, indulgent to his aides, kindly to all but his foes – so his friends and followers describe him. He visited the sick, and joined any funeral procession he met. He put on no pomp of power, rejected any special mark of reverence, accepted the invitation of a slave to dinner, and asked no service of a slave that he had time and strength to do for himself. … But like all men he was vain. He gave considerable time to his personal appearance … wore a ring inscribed “Mohammed the Messenger of Allah” … he could not bear evil odors, jangling bells, or loud talk. … He was nervous and restless, subject to occasional melancholy, then suddenly talkative and gay. He had a sly humor.
In the eleventh year of the Hijra, Muhammad fell ill with pneumonia, allegedly caused by an attempt to poison him by Zainab, his adopted son's ex-wife who lost her husband, father, and brother in the Holy War in the Battle with the Qurayza Jews. She tried to poison Muhammed out of revenge, but he spit out the food before it had effects upon him.
Muhammad was 64 years of age when he died.
Emphasis in his life, as well as his death was the fact that Muhammad, unlike the followers of Christ proclaim, was a Messenger of God, a true prophet – but mortal. He was commissioned by God through archangel Gabriel to deliver a message to humanity; and in that his purpose is equal to Christian traditional history. However, dedicated Christians will die for their faith and attempts to convert; while a Moslem is obligated to kill unbelievers or commit them to slavery if they do not convert.
The word qur'ân means reading or discourse and applies and is the sacred scriptures of all Moslems. It is an accumulation of text of Mohammed's revelations and divine revelations that is divided into Sura (chapters), much like the Jewish scriptures of the Old Testament and the Christian Gospels of the New Testament. Everything written in the Qur'ân is an inspiration by God through the archangel, Gabriel, passed on to Mohammed, the Messenger of Allah, the One, true God. In the last twenty years of the Prophet's life, he dictated his revelations; each written on parchment, leather, palm leaves, or bones – anything available at the time. His followers, many who were not literate, took to memory its passages. It was recited to an assembly of people who were followers of Islam and who called themselves Moslems.
The Qur'ân was not written nor put together in any logical or chronological order and no collection of fragmented text written on various materials were collected in Mohammed's lifetime.
In 633, the Caliph Abu Bekr ordered one of Mohammed's chiefs, Zaid ibn Thabit, to search out the Qur'ân and bring it together. From the scribes manuscript, completed in 651, copies were made and sent to Damascus, Kufa, and Basra; and ever since that time the text has remained preserved and pure of original content.
Each chapter of the Qur'ân fulfills a purpose, covering a myriad of subjects: emphasizes doctrine, dictates a prayer, dictates law, identifies enemies, explains procedure, tells a story, concerns of warfare, tells of a victory, formulates a treaty, appeals for funds, regulates rituals, dictates conduct, morality, industry, trade, and finance. The Qur'ân is a notebook or diary that was not written like one book. There are 114 Suras and the history within the Qur'ân is in reverse as well as not in order. The book and its poetic entries is best understood and appreciated for its beauty in the original Arabic language, and the Qur'ân represents the first complete book of literature of its caliber among the Arabian tribes of the time.
Islam is not just a religion, but a code of moral government that supersedes any civil law that is not contained within its scriptures – and to be followed explicitly by believers.
The three major religions: Judaism, Christianity; and Islam are monotheistic, and helped to develop the medieval mind with the help of Hellenistic philosophy. The three religions agree that the sole cosmic intelligence, the Creator, is one entity called Yahweh, God or Allah. Despite different descriptive names, the entity is one and the same; however the major differences is within the doctrine of each. Christianity adds an additional aspect in its concept of the Trinity, where God is actually three distinct entities. The other two religions, Judaism and Islam, consider that doctrine to be a disguise for polygamy. Indeed, the Christian Church experienced a schism in its early history because of the concept of adopting pagan symbolism and plurality between the Church of the East and the Church of the West; where the Roman Catholic Church of Rome established a tradition of statuary that Christians would pray before, like the statue of Mary and the sculpture of Christ on the Cross – symbols of worship and therefore a transition from the paganism the Christians persecuted and wiped out in the eternal city of Rome, once the greatest empire in human history.
One particular sura (cxii) in the Qur'ân is devoted to the unity and singularity of Allah, God, and chanted daily from every mosque minaret in the Islamic communities around the globe. Allah is first before everything, and the source of life and all the blessings that can be experienced in the heavens and Earth.
Allah, through Gabriel, according to Mohammed:
Thou seest the earth barren, but when we send down water theron … it doth thrill and swell and put forth every lovely kind. (Sura 22, 5).
Look upon the fruit therof, and upon its ripening; lo, herein, verily, are portents for a people who believe. (Sura 6, 100).
Allah! There is no God save Him, the living, the eternal! … His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them … (Sura 2, 255).
Along with the power and justice of Allah there is everlasting mercy.
Every chapter of the Qur'ân, except the ninth, begins with:
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
The Qur'ân describes the supernatural world that is comprised of angels, jinn, and the devil.
The angels are like Allah's secretaries and messengers, recording good and wicked deeds and relaying and enforcing the law and will of Allah through his archangels.
The jinn is an group of genii, made from fire and unlike angels, they eat, drink, copulate, and die; some are good, but most are bad; and spend time getting humans into trouble with Allah. The leader of the jinn is Iblis, (Satan) who was once an archangel, but was condemned for refusing to respect Adam and Eve as Allah's creation, as well as their descendents. Iblis is mentioned within Judaism and Christianity as Lucifer, the fallen archangel whose Hebrew name means Morning Star, once favored by God. The story of Lucifer is much the same as Iblis and both are often referred to as the devil or Satan.
The theme or central ethics of the Qur'ân, much like other religious scriptures, was based upon fear of punishment; yet with hope of reward when mortal life ends.
Resurrection is believed by Moslems to arrive in an unsuspected time, and that day is referred to as Judgment Day, just as in Judaism and Christianity (Last Judgment). The main difference here with Christianity is that Judgment Day is when Jesus the Christ returns to make a final stand against evil and those alive at the time. Contrary to the other two religions, Christianity is unique in that those who die before Judgment Day do not have to wait, but will enjoy a spiritual world according to their actions while alive. Resurrection concept is not the same as reincarnation.
Unlike Dante, Mohammed's description of heaven is as vivid as his description of hell. Good believers – those who die for the cause of Allah and the poor, who will enter heaven 500 years before the rich.
Like the Talmud, the Qur'ân dictates law and moral conduct incorporated into one philosophical concept. There is no division between theological and civic law, and if there is, theological law is supreme. There are social rules for manners and hygiene, marriage and divorce; and treatment of children, slaves, and animals. There are rules for commerce and politics, interest and debts, contracts and wills, industry and finance, crime and punishment, war and peace. All those rules of the law are based upon pleasing Allah. Mohammed was a merchant in his youth, so understood the schematics of business and trade.
Mohammed, through the Qur'ân, improved the social position of woman compared to their plight in life in the Arabic pagan community; but not in views of civilized human rights. While he bestowed upon women as persons of beauty and importance in society, he also emphasized that they be subjective according to the law of Allah. Mohammed allowed women to worship at the mosque, but suggested that their homes are better for them.
Mohammed put an end to the Arab practice of infanticide Sura 17, 31). He abolished the Arab custom of buying and selling women as property from father to son – without abolishing slavery. Women were to inherit half as much as male heirs.
Mohammed developed social customs from the suras in the Qur'ân that regulated the way women dressed in public. This, he surmised, was for their own protection to prevent the transgression against their honor and obedience to the laws of Moses and Allah.
Divorce was permitted to the male in the Qur'ân, as in the Talmud, for any reason the husband determined to be justified; and the wife proclaims divorce by returning her dowry to him (Sura II, 229). However, Mohammed discouraged divorce saying that such an action displeases Allah, so efforts to reconcile must be made (Sura VI, 35). Three successive declarations of divorce, at monthly intervals, were required to make divorce legal; and the husband cannot remarry the divorced wife until she remarries and divorces another man. This, Mohammed surmised, would make men think deeply before deciding to divorce. The wife must obey her husband in all matters and forms, and if she disobeys he should banish her to a bed apart, and scourge her (Sura IV, 34) - “scourge” meaning beating or whipping. The wife must always recognize her husband's superior intellect and authority of the husband (Sura 4, 34).
The Qur'ân for thirteen centuries has remained the holy guidance and wisdom of Allah that provides a set of rules that believers must obey as well as converts. The Qur'ân defines religion in terms any Christian or Hebrew (Jew) might accept:
Righteousness is not that ye turn your faces to the East or West, but righteousness is this: whosoever believeth in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Book, and the Prophets; and whosoever, for the love of Allah, giveth his wealth unto his kindred, unto orphans, and the poor, and the wayfarer, and to the beggar, and for the release of captives; and whoso observeth prayer … and, when they have covenanted, fulfill their covenant; and who are patient in adversity and hardship and in the times of violence: these are the righteous, these are they who believe in the Lord! (Sura II, 177)
The Qur'ân is based on Hebrew concepts from the Creation to the Last Judgment; yet Mohammed believed that the old, original and true ways, were being lost; for Allah is Yahveh and Allah is God. (See:To God belongs 99 names)
Sura 112:
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone.
Mohammed accepted the fact that God (Allah) provided sacred scriptures that comprise the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and as divinely revealed. (Sura III, 48). Four revelations have been preserved: Pentateuch to Moses, Psalms to David, Gospels to Jesus, and Qur'ân to Mohammed; and whoever rejects the revelations are infidels. However, according to Mohammed the first three revelations have undergone changes, corrupted from the original, which the Qur'ân replaces them. xv
The Qur'ân recognizes the prophets: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Enoch, Christ, and Mohammed – all Semitic people. Mohammed accepted the narratives of the Holy Bible, but with occasional amendments. The Prophet (Mohammed) alleged that agreement of the Qur'ân and the Bible verifies its divine mission.
Many elements of the doctrines correspond with the Talmud. The Moslem fasts as the Jew does and other doctrines and rituals have been recognized and established as compliant.
The greeting of the Hebrew sholom aleichem is part of the prayer in Sura 1.
Mohammed acknowledged Jesus as a teacher, prophet, and messenger of God and publicly accepted this. However, the veneration of historical figures like Mother Mary that is viewed as much of a pagan idea as the concept of Trinity where God is three personages (Sura V, 116). Mohammed accepted the Virgin birth story (Sura III, 47; Sura 21, 91). He acknowledged the miracles performed by Jesus; but denied the idea that Jesus was the “Son of God”. Mohammed looked upon unification to discourage complications that may have occurred, and didn't view himself as divine – and discouraged any attempts. Despite certain disagreements, Mohammed stated:
Consort in the world kindly with Christians (Sura 21, 15).
Despite those quarrels and armed conflicts with certain bands of Jews, he still taught tolerance toward Christians and Jews, referring to them as the people of the Book. It is interesting to note that during my research I discovered that Mohammed had considered at a later date from which the “people of the Book was recorded, that he had found that Persians had a sacred text (book) called the Avesta; which he extended the term and policy to the Zoroastrians as well. Mohammed told the Jews that they should obey the Talmud, Old Testament; and that the Christians should obey the Gospels and the laws of the Old (Sura V, 72) Testament; but he also added that they should accept the Qur'ân as God's latest revelation – for earlier revelations had been corrupted and abused; now the new covenant in the form of the Qur'ân would unite and cleanse them, and offer humanity an integrated faith.
Mohammed succeeded to take the Holy City of Mecca from the pagans, just as the Christians did in Rome; and it was apparent that he only intended to rule Arabia and unite the tribes of the region into one people who worship only the One true God.
Sadly, his goal would be extended and corrupted by future successors, leadership of the Moslems that acted under the banner of Islam, whose depiction changed through the course of its history. A great religious war would ensue between the “people of the Book” - primarily Moslems and Christians.
The next chapter deals with those changes in doctrine and purpose, as well as provide a history of the Crusades through the eyes of each side with what truth we know about those events in history.

This chapter is a series of digests from the copyrighted manuscript: Phenomenology of World Religions.

iii Al-Tabari, Abu Jafar Muhammad, Chronique, Part III, p. 202.
iv Pickthall, Marmaduke, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, NY, 1930, p. 2.
v According to his primary biographer, Muhammad ibn Ishaq.
vi Wadi: A river bed or valley that is usually dry in the summer months.
vii It might be noted here that it was his wife who convinced Muhammad that the visions were divinely inspired and that he was destined to become a true prophet. She saw the advantage of her husband being viewed as the Messenger of God. [Boer, T.J., History of Philosophy of Islam, London, 1933.
viii Al-Biruni, Chronology of Ancient Nations, London, 1879; India and London, 1910.
ix Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.
Holy Qur'an, .
xi Will Durant, The Age of Faith, NY, 1949; pp. 172-173.
xii Sir W. Muir, The Caliphate, London, 1891; p. 201.
xiii S.K. Bukhsh, Studies: Indian and Islamic; London, 1927; p. 6.
xiv Ali Syed Ameer, Spirit of Islam; Calcutta, 1900; p. 100.
xv E.M. Wherry, Commentary on the Qur'ân”; London, 1896; p. 122.


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