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Jesus, Carpet Bomb My Heart: An Undercover Muslim in Detroit

An evocative inside look into the Evangelical crusade for Muslim hearts.

Jesus, Carpet Bomb My Heart: An Undercover Muslim in Detroit

by Haroon Moghul (Religion Dispatches)

I’m the one they’re after. I’m “the enemy,” the believer in the “false idol,” “the darkness” Jesus needs to cast out of America, the reason they’re spending all night in Detroit’s Ford Field, sending prayers over Michigan mosques “like sending special forces into Afghanistan.” And there are thousands of them, come because Pastor Lou Engle asked them to.

Founder of TheCall, Engle warns that an Islamic movement is rising in Dearborn, Michigan—“Ground Zero” for America’s spiritual future (and site of a new TLC reality show, All-American Muslim). When I heard the goals for TheCall Detroit—healing America in a time of crisis, accomplishing racial reconciliation, and (here’s where I come in) bringing Jesus to Muslim hearts—I figured a Muslim in the crowd could be a nice twist.

So I was there with them for hours into the late night and hearing their ex-Muslim speaker ridiculously early in the morning, the undercover Muslim surrounded by tens of thousands beside me, praying for Jesus to invade my heart. My plan was to report from the inside, to talk to the attendees as one among devoted thousands (though probably not revealing my religious background, unless I had to and knew where the exits were).

I’d observe firsthand what goes on at a gathering like this. I’d try to understand how such Christians understand Islam. Lou Engle’s world is alien from my New England roots and New York life. I’d attended churches before, but nothing like this. We need to know where this fear and hate come from, what its intentions are, and who it appeals to.

But as the day approached, Engle’s connections to a network of right-wing activists and political Christians came into focus. From the involvement of US Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin (who has helpfully compared Islam to a diabolical religion), to a Michigan Call coordinator named Rick Warzywak (who believes that Christians should “go back and occupy or take back the land” of American Muslims), to a particularly weird twist on the theme of racial reconciliation (involving sending Detroit’s African-American Muslims, or ex-Muslims, to the Middle East), it was clear that this might be an uncomfortable assignment.

So I shaved my beard down to a goatee. Just in case.

But that anxiety only confirmed the importance of what I was doing. I needed to see this for myself. Americans, and American Muslims especially, need to know how certain interpretations of professedly apolitical Christianity become allied to a far-right agenda of foreign wars and domestic austerity, glorifying the rich while demonizing the poor.

Political Christianity’s treatment of Islam is one of the few points, and perhaps the only point, at which right-wing, political Christianity’s radical agenda is revealed, for its attitude to Islam speaks both to the narrowness of its domestic vision (America for certain Americans) and the aggressiveness of its foreign vision (going abroad to find monstrous Muslims to convert). Don’t let the language of love fool you.

A Pep Rally for Jesus

I was sure I’d be one of very few non-white folks in attendance, yet when the gates opened on Friday afternoon, I was struck by the diversity—and the juvenile vibe. I took my seat close to the stage, surrounded by people of every color, finding it hard to focus because of the pounding Christian rock music shaking the stadium. Folks were on their feet, dancing and swaying. Rather than stick out, I blended in perfectly.

People have tried to compare Islamophobia to old-school racism. And I’ve repeatedly disagreed. We have a tendency to accuse arguments rooted in religion and tradition of reaching back to the past; the truth, however, is much more complicated. As much as religion shapes the world, it is shaped by the world. Even when we invoke the past, we must accommodate the language and conclusions of today. Just fifty years ago, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann would not have been viable candidates. Hell, they wouldn’t have been candidates at all. And so too with TheCall.

The rally formally opened with a Native American band (actually, since they were Canadian, a First Nations band). Everybody seemed into it, on their feet and swaying to the beat. Judging by those first hours, this was worship at the altar of a multicultural Jesus, advertising its many ethnicities, stressing the need for racial reconciliation and forgiveness, encouraging populations pushed apart by suspicion to come together in Jesus’ name. I found it encouraging and I found it worrying.

The diversity was nice. Different languages were spoken on the stage, many different ethnicities were represented. But that diversity could be used to excuse a more subversive intolerance, all the harder to detect for the polyglot multiplicity. It’s not so different from how, since the 1960s, consumer culture has appropriated the language of diversity, and even its attitude, without dealing with its underlying and democratic point. And so we have elite institutions that are ever more racially diverse, who increasingly deploy people of different colors and backgrounds in their advertising and hierarchies, even while social mobility goes into steep decline and the middle class is eviscerated.

I’m sure Engle believes in a Christian movement that transcends race, to reach around the world. Just as I’m sure he’d be greatly pleased by my conversion to his Christianity. But this misses the deeper point, the truly political and partisan nature of TheCall; I saw this as far more than a spiritual exercise in part, I think, because I was forced to process what was happening around me as an outsider. Because, after all, religions are not interchangeable, like different color cars of the same make and model.

Raised in Sunni Muslim tradition, I always experienced worship as the effort to establish an immediate, intimate, and contemplative connection with God; in Sunni mysticism, observing the law is a necessary condition of spirituality. I say this not to establish distance, or to enforce division, but to draw our attention to how religion can be either a source of strength or a source of harm. To make a long point short, Islam is a religion of moral law; when the institutions that produce its legal scholars (who are, ideally, also spiritual authorities) are subverted, undercut, or simply insufficiently rigorous, the resulting interpretations of law become irrelevant—or dangerous.

Keeping that in mind, I found TheCall was immediately shocking.

A friend called a few hours in, concerned that I might be kidnapped (I’m sure he was joking—I hope), and asked what I made of the whole thing. And the first thing that came to mind was: “It’s like a pep rally for Jesus.”

So that Jesus Might Invade Their Dreams

Even when there were speakers, they were bookended by passionate music, deeply emotional calls to prayer, folks spontaneously joining hands and forming prayer circles, turning not to established rituals but whatever the moment led them to. A man behind me started speaking in tongues, and within a few hours, people were fainting and falling to the ground. I had never experienced anything like it.

But with all the transport out of and away from yourself, there was little time to digest what the speakers were saying, little time to think through the implications of their exhortations. In fairness, that didn’t seem to be a problem right away. As I said, the first few hours seemed to be a public relations dream come true; I heard little overtly anti-Muslim sentiment (and no mention of homosexuality).

A look at the program confirmed why. The section titled “Dearborn Awakening” was dumped in dead time, 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Since Dearborn is home to many Arabs and Muslims, as well as one of the largest mosques in America (a Twelver Shi’a mosque, incidentally), I knew this must be the part of TheCall that would confront Islam. Likely the organizers wanted to shift the more controversial stuff to when nobody would be paying attention; according to Rachel Maddow, this might also have been in the hope that, with Michigan Muslims asleep, Jesus might invade their dreams.

Engle underestimated this Muslim’s desire to see through the subterfuge.

I left Ford Field after five hours, frankly exhausted by the emotional commitment requested by TheCall. A friend took me to an Arab restaurant, where all the waitresses wore hijab. That, and seeing Arabic signs and advertisements everywhere, only fifteen minutes from Ford Field, was pleasingly jarring (and strategically reassuring: In case things turned ugly, I knew where to run, and had a reasonable sense of how fast).

I explained to one of the friendly, all-American, veiled waitresses what I was doing in Dearborn. She seemed skeptical. So I shared TheCall’s promotional literature, and she was stunned. This poor girl hadn’t realized she was part of any “Islamic movement in America” (in America, but not “American”). That night, I spoke to other Muslims about TheCall. They were either deeply concerned or just shrugged it off. As of Friday night, I would’ve been with the second group.

At midnight, I was back in my hotel, stuffed full of shish tawouk, Arab pastries, and chai. I took a two-hour nap, and then went back for more.

Like the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood used to have a popular slogan: “Islam is the solution” (Islam huwa al-hall). “Jesus is the answer” is the same kind of sloganeering. I’m not just saying that because I know it would drive Engle nuts. It is an overly and therefore problematically easy answer to some very knotty problems. And hearing Engle insist on this point brought me back to the very format of TheCall, which rushes through speakers, condenses their points, and squishes them between loud music and unreflectively emotional appeals. There’s little time to ponder what it means for America if only Jesus can solve our problems.

In an introduction found in the event program, Engle wrote:

Revolution is in the air. But the revolution that is needed is not a revolution of snarling protesters or angry mobs; it’s a Jesus revolution, a revolution of forgiveness, racial reconciliation, compassion.

It’s one thing if he genuinely disavowed politics, but time and time again his supposedly apolitical efforts have an undeniable political goal. In fact TheCall is deeply and suspiciously political, and—at least here he is honest—revolutionary. It seeks to heal America by making a different America in its place, one whose moral conversation displaces its political discourse, one whose reference point is Jesus. Rick Perry’s prayer rally The Response was modeled on Engle’s interpretation of the solemn assembly described in Joel 2, which in turn shaped TheCall. Engle himself has traveled to Sacramento, Washington, and Kampala to praise efforts to restrict the rights of LGBT people and has led elected Republicans in a prayer session that predicted God would punish America for passing health care reform.

But most relevant here was the vacuity of the content: The solution to America’s great crisis was prayer, from start to end, and apparently little else. Any religiosity that encourages worship without broader social engagement—non-Christians were barely acknowledged over the course of an event designed to heal America’s profound crisis—while allying with those who seek to do away with much of our government is anything but apolitical. It just doesn’t have the courage to admit it.

Engle argues that America is in crisis. So do a lot of folks. But then he argues that the only way out is through Jesus. Undoubtedly every political and social crisis has a moral dimension, though to admit that means little. What matters more is to think this logic through: How will we solve political and social crises if we read them through religious lenses? While a universalized, transnational Christianity has its appeal, it doesn’t leave much room for other Americans—or America as a political project. The more I listened to Engle diagnosing America’s problems, the more I thought of old-school Islamists.

Moozlums Allergic To Jesus

Of course, I had come to hear what TheCall would say about Muslims. Engle’s disavowal of any political agenda is, on this point, either evidence of duplicity or naiveté. We are at war in numerous Muslim-majority countries, facing an America in fiscal crisis, fighting a magnificently costly war on terrorism with no defined end, and watching a movement to ban Shari’ah law to save the Constitution while our civil liberties are increasingly challenged. There is no way that any conversation about Islam in America cannot have political implications. Long story short, I’m glad I was wide awake and raptly attentive at 3 a.m.

“Dearborn Awakening” began with a preacher who could not pronounce “Muslim.” He seemed to think it was “Mooz-lum.” I wanted to raise my hand to correct him, but everyone else had his or her hands raised (for different reasons). In the singing, one of the chorus lines was “Gather the remnants/among the Muslims”—a reference to the remnant of Christians remaining during the Tribulation who will evangelize the non-Christians so they will be saved before Jesus’ return. Another speaker clued us in on Jesus’ attitude to the Muslims: “You love them, and there’s nothing they can do about that.” Leave it to TheCall to make love sound alarming, even terrifying.

But the best was yet to come, and his name was Kamal.

Kamal was the reason we were here (and awake). I didn’t know who Kamal was, and would only later learn his identity, although while he was speaking, I suspected he was a fraud. (I’m not the only one who finds Kamal Saleem dubious). Kamal introduced himself as an ex-terrorist, which usually makes me wonder, considering how others have made lucrative careers profiting from ignorance, paranoia, and naïveté. (Imagine how much money I could make as a “former Muslim” on the incestuous right-wing circuit. I’m imagining it right now, and am mildly depressed.)

I’m not saying Kamal Saleem is definitely a fraud; it may simply be that he was raised by one of the dumbest Muslim families in the world.

Kamal claimed that he was raised in “jihad” in Lebanon, and kindly shared the implications with an audience that knew no better. For example, he said, when a Muslim’s blood is first shed in the path of God, he becomes a Messiah. (Unfortunately for Kamal, there is only one Messiah in Islam, and it’s Jesus—who, to take the previous speaker’s logic to its conclusion, loves us even if Lou Engle doesn’t want him to.) Kamal then told us that Islam teaches that there is only one way to go to heaven, and that is war. In fact, he shared many “facts,” the full effect of which was to convince the audience that Islam is purely demonic. Indeed, numerous references were made to “the darkness,” “the enemy,” and “false idols,” oblique enough to avoid outright outrage, but obvious enough to anyone more than half awake.

Stressing his Muslim credentials, Kamal said that one of his uncles was “the holiest of holies,” the Muslim Pope. There is no Muslim Pope, though to be fair, Kamal’s uncle might just have been lying to the poor boy. Kamal then told us that he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO (a secular organization) and went on his first mission into Israel—we’re assuming that this was a military operation—at the age of seven. At the age of eight, he went on his second mission. Years later, when he first met Christians in America, Kamal was repulsed. His initial reaction was: “I’m allergic to Jesus.” (The audience loved this part.) Unfortunately for the supposed former Muslim, nobody taught Kamal that a Muslim who does not honor Jesus is by the consensus of every school in Islam not a Muslim.

Kamal then turned his sharp mind to theology, and distinguished the Muslim concept of God from the Christian, arguing that what Muslims believe in is a false idol. Christians, on the other hand, believe in the true God of love. Nobody told Kamal that one of Islam’s ninety-nine names of God is al-Wadud, the Loving, and that many other names express compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Pretty much everything Kamal praised about the “Christian” God, short of the Trinity, could easily square with Islam’s understanding of the Divine: God is loving, forgiving, merciful, and personally concerned with us. Kamal closed with his conversion story, and a reminder that since converting, Saudi Arabia, the PLO, and the Muslim Brotherhood had all put a price on his head.

All the friendly diversity from Friday night, the warm and smiley openness, had vanished. Love and freedom were convenient catchphrases justifying the identification of nearly one-quarter of humanity with the demonic. It’s one thing to say that you’d like Muslims to convert to Christianity. Fair enough. Many Muslims want Christians to convert to Islam. It’s another thing to so brazenly misrepresent Islam. Conflicts in the past could be safely broached, but when it came to today’s war on terror, the disingenuousness and ill-spiritedness of choosing a former Muslim with the worst possible perspective on Islam revealed Engle’s agenda and its overlap with fearmongering Islamophobes.

After Kamal, there was mostly prayer and music, and prayerful music, until 6 a.m., at which time the first prayer of the day came in (I prayed at the hotel, just to be safe). Afterwards I took a long nap and came back to TheCall by late morning. But by then much had changed. Ford Field, which at best was half full, was empty and dulled. And it was hard to talk to people. Folks were friendly, but rarely chatty—though to do them justice, most of them were fasting, and probably hadn’t slept the night. The conversations I had with participants and performers were generally rushed. I didn’t want to be too obvious by raising the topic of Islam, and so it never came up.

Meanness of Spirit

Even back at the hotel, I didn’t get much traction. Most folks focused on the intensity of the experience, although my coming all the way from New York intrigued some. While taking a shower on Sunday morning, I heard a man in the room next door passionately scream Jesus’ name, but on reflection, that might have been something else entirely. There wasn’t much else to do, and I wanted the other side of the story. Saturday afternoon, I headed for Dearborn’s giant mosque, the Islamic Center of America, where I spent an hour asking the folks I met what they thought about TheCall. One activist noted that he hadn’t made any initiative to reach out to Engle; as an African American, he noted, he wouldn’t reach out to David Duke. For him, Engle was another piece of the Islamophobia puzzle.

After praying at sundown—the first time, incidentally, I’ve prayed in a Twelver Shi’a mosque (this trip was full of new religious experiences)—I visited a mosque in Rochester Hills, this one mostly South Asian and Sunni, where I was also able to get some local Muslims’ reactions to TheCall. There was of course concern, and some surprise. Many had heard, but many had not. More of the Muslims were more interested in hearing what it was like to be there. I’d live-tweeted TheCall and issued far too many Facebook updates, so some looked for clarification or explanation of certain points. I went back to the hotel by midnight and fell asleep fast, and didn’t begin to reflect on the whole experience until Sunday morning.

I was naturally disheartened, considering that the participants probably thought Kamal Saleem represented Islam. But on the drive to the airport that disappointment lifted. America is in crisis, as Engle warned, but its solution can be intimated in the popular energy that has animated engagement from Wisconsin to Wall Street to Tahrir—on the way to the airport, I drove past Occupy Detroit.

Our imaginations are once more open, as we consider the incompatibilities of unchecked capital and genuine democracy. In this time of reconstructing the way our world works, a polarizing and exclusive religious vision is not particularly relevant. America is also inescapably and increasingly diverse, and its domestic and foreign policy requires finding a method of engagement with difference that is reasonable and respectful.

But there is a more inescapable truth about Engle’s “Dearborn Awakening.” He chose a speaker who lied, obfuscated, and confused. Should any of the participants want to learn more about Islam, if even to bring Jesus to Muslims, they have already heard the worst of the worst. And they’ll quickly find out that Islam is very different from what they were told it is. All the passionate music, jubilation, and spiritual energy cannot hide the meanness of spirit that would perpetrate this kind of fraud.

As much as TheCall prayed for “Jesus to cover Dearborn in light, and cast out the darkness,” Kamal Saleem was the one speaking in the dead of night. Engle should pay more attention to his own moralizing etiology of America’s crisis. Democracy, like a free-market economy, operates on trust, and when that trust is lost, it is very hard to recover. The relationship of the faithful with their leaders is much the same. Those many thousands who were clearly lied to on Saturday morning will find out. Perhaps not immediately. But eventually. And then they’ll begin to wonder what else was a lie.

Be careful, Lou Engle.

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  • Susanna

    @IbnAbuTalin

    You said:Regarding the qualities of God, there are many. I noted immutability, but since you insist on knowing others, how about omniscience? There are many instances in the Gospels where Jesus displayed a lack of knowledge, such as when he curses a fig tree for not growing figs even though it wasn’t the season for figs, or when he predicted that Judgment Day would occur during his time when in fact it never happened. Clearly Jesus lacked omniscience. Another quality is omnipotency. An omnipotent being cannot die because if it dies it is not powerful enough against death. Jesus died; hence he was not omnipotent.

    God is spirit, he cannot change his character or essence. But he is immanent and can enter into his creation. This is seen over and over again in the Bible. God was able to incarnate into human form. Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (the spirit of God) into Mary. His divinity did not change, God is God. As his creation, we have the likeness of God in our spirit. God breathed into man his breath that made him alive. We are created spirit, soul and body. After the fall when sin entered the world the body began to decay and the spirit within man was separated from God. The only way a virgin birth can occur if there is no human father. Jesus incarnated into human flesh but in that human being his was sinless.

    In John 17, Jesus’ prayer is a reflection of his mission and who he is. v.3-5: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN.

    Colossians 1: 15-16: He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created….by him and for him.

    Have to go but will reply to the other things. Jesus did give up his spirit and he died a physical death, but he overcame that death by resurrection. What happens to the spirit and soul after death?

  • http://www.muslimamerica.net/mp/stranger.htm Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Correction: penultimate paragraph should read

    … did not leave behind a religion that said he was not the Messiah (i.e., was “hung on a tree”) …

  • http://www.muslimamerica.net/mp/stranger.htm Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Sir Stephen wrote to HICtMW (which I abbreviate “HICM” without implication or prejudice):

    I do hold beliefs that are not traditionally known as “Islamic” … I accept certain ‘Eastern’ beliefs such as reincarnation … I believe that hell is the “lasting abode” of sinners in the sense that punishment lasts until it accomplishes its purpose … The question is really as to whether or not muslim people wish to accept me as one of their own who happens to be somewhat ‘strange.’

    The key here is not traditionally known. It appears that two hundred years after the death of the Messenger, the “scholars” could not actually read the Arabic Qur’an with more than a very low degree of understanding. The Abbasid Tyranny virtually rewrote it using “legal” and “technical” definitions of Arabic words that were derived from the demands of coercive government, and are not supported by the mathematical grammar and vocabulary of the Arabic language. In some significant cases this forgery altered the religion, but the Abbasi murdered all dissenters who weren’t able to escape their thought police and counterintelligence apparatus.

    You’re a “nonpracticing muslim” who remains confused about the complete fiction that the leaders of Temple Israel used to completely discredit Jesus as “The Messiah” in the eyes of anyone who read the Torah, setting up an absolute division between pre-Messianic Judaism (now zionism) and Messianic Israel (“Christianity”). You will find that Jewish people also believe Jesus was crucified ~ it’s fundamental to their denial of their Messiah and an article of faith, just as the “atoning sacrifice” of six million “consumed by fire” is an article of faith even for the most orthodox such as the Neturei Karta who deny that the modern state of “Israel” is in any way religiously legitimate.

    In short, according to Torah/Talmudic Law, if Jesus was “hung on a tree,” then he could not possibly have been The Messiah; and if “six million” were not “consumed by fire” during The Holocaust™, then reconstituting Israel to begin “the Millennial Kingdom” has yet to happen.

    I no longer accuse Saul of Tarsus, the pharisee and Roman citizen and chief of the Temple’s secret police, of knowing deception in his professed belief that Jesus was the Messiah. He clearly preached that Jesus was the false “Messiah” of the Talmud, conflating the Messiah of Israel with the Messenger of the Covenant to maintain the pretense that the Kingdom of God was eternally and exclusively of Israel, and to pit the children of Japheth against their heritage in Abraham ~ which is what we’re watching play out today. But Paul would not have believed that if he knew or believed that Jesus had been crucified, not without believing that the Torah had been utterly abrogated by the Gospel rather than made “optional” for non-Jewish proselytes to Christianity. He preached “The Lie,” that “the Messenger of the Covenant comes in Israel,” and preached that Jesus was that Messenger (which Jesus had explicitly denied). Was he assigned by the Temple, after he had failed to eradicate the faithful of Jesus, to basically write the “redemption” foundation of Roman Christianity for Europe, or was he driven insane by the contradiction, by the reality of Jesus, of what he had been taught as a pharisee?

    Fortunately, we do not have to answer that question. But a Messiah who explicitly said that he had done what he had been sent to do, who did everything the Old Testament says the Messiah would do, and who did nothing that the Old Testament says the Messenger of the Covenant would do, and explicitly denied that he was the “Mashiach” of the Talmud, did not leave behind a religion that said he was not the Messiah (i.e., was not “hung on a tree”), but would be coming back as the Messenger of the Covenant to “rule the nations with a rod of iron.” That’s what Paul preached, and every detail of this is in the Bible we have today.

    So I’d suggest that you do your homework add determine whether you really believe the Qur’an in its entirety, as you say you do, and if so, then we can start talking about “He is no yogin who lights no sacred flame or tends no sacred fire.” You appear to have the spark ~ let’s ask for a breeze of paradise to bring it alive.

  • http://www.muslimamerica.net/mp/stranger.htm Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Sir Stephen writes: Jesus prophesied that another Prophet, the “Desire of all nations” of Haggai 2:7, would come who would judge “the prince of this world”, particularly that 4th great “beast” of Daniel 7 (Rome) which not only destroyed the Jewish nation but persecuted God’s true saints also.

    Please see, first, Malachi 3:1, then Genesis 25:12-16 (noting “Kedar” and “Tema”) and Genesis 49:10; and then, seriatim, Deuteronomy 18:18 (quoting God’s words, not Moses’ words at 18:15); Deuteronomy 33:2; Isaiah 21:13-17; Isaiah 42:1-16 (note 42:11); Habakkuk 3:3; Zephaniah 3:8-9 (noting that “serve Him with one consent” is the idiomatic meaning of the common Semitic-language phrase “pray shoulder-to-shoulder,” which is the actual Hebrew translated here); and (your citation) Haggai 2:7 (in conjunction with Genesis 49:10), and Haggai 2:9; and then Malachi 3:1-6 (again; which explains why Israel has not and will never be utterly destroyed). And then read The Distinctive Character of Tradition for a narrative summary. (end Scriptural “proof-texting”)

    Every Scripture sent down or inspired by God mentions Muhammad, the Qur’an, Islam, the muslims, our practices, the places and events of the revelatory period, or some other uniquely identifying feature seen in Makkah or Madinah during the life of the Messenger. That includes some Hindu Scriptures, the Tibetan Buddhist “Afterlife on the Bardo Planes,” most Books of the Bible, “heretical” early Christian writings that were not included in the Roman canon, and the archeological Dead Sea Scrolls including the Qumran manuscripts. The Song of Solomon, recited in Hebrew, clearly and audibly says “[He is] Muhammad” at Song 5:16, where the translators write “He is altogether lovely.”

    Sir Stephen later writes:

    I say that I am muslim in “spirit” if not in “letter”.

    I recognize that (1) it is possible to have “the form of godliness” without having its inner power; (2) it is also possible to have the inner power of godliness without observing the outward forms; and (3) it is certainly possible to have both the outward form and inner power of godliness. At present, I consider myself to belong to the second category: I don’t observe the outward formalities, but I believe the inner ‘power’ has taken root in me. If a person believes that it is impossible to be a ‘true’ muslim without observing the outward formalities, then he/she certainly will not consider me to be a muslim at present.

    Again I would use different words, but you identify yourself, with (2), as a “Christian” muslim. It is not necessary for people to adopt the practices (most of which are common to Judaism and Islam in virtually identical form) to participate in Jesus’ (i.e., Israel’s) ministry.

    I still believe the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ was an actual event – although I emphatically deny the theological interpretations about ‘atonement’ which have been built on the foundation of that crucifixion – so I approach the verses in Sura 4:155-158 in a less than literal fashion. I’m still open to changing my mind on the matter though. For right now, I just say “God knows best” and He is the best to judge on the matters on which we differ. I seek His continuing guidance.

    Then read an accurate translation of Q4:155-158 …

    155. Then because of their breaking of their Covenant, and their denying the Signs of ALLAH, and their slaying of the Prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened, Nay, but ALLAH has set a seal upon them for their denial, so that they deny save a few;
    156. And because of their denial and of their speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny;
    157. And their saying “Surely we killed the messiah Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of ALLAH,” and they did not kill him and did not crucify him, but it is obscure to them. And surely they quarrel about it, surely in doubt about it. They have of it nothing of knowledge, but pursuit of speculation. And they certainly did not kill him.
    158. But ALLAH took him up to Himself. ALLAH was ever Mighty, wise.

    Note that Q4:157 does not say “it was made to seem like it to them.” That requires an indirect object, and there is no indirect object in the Arabic words of the Ayat. The flat, unequivocal statement is “they did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it is obscure to them.” Elsewhere in the Qur’an, this “vicarious atonement” foundation of Roman Christianity is said to be “not a thing” ~ the Arabic for “nonexistent.”

    What, where, when, how and why you can figure out for yourself ~ basically, mammon was the motivation, but the scheme is certainly clever: it has deceived the children of Japheth, who are the final heirs of Abraham (see through the standard mistranslation of Genesis 9:27), for two thousand years.

  • http://www.mystic444.wordpress.com Stephen G. Parker

    @ “How Islam Created the Modern World”: Peace to you; and thanks for the clarification. I admit that I can be very confusing – shucks, I’m even confusing to myself!

    I do hold beliefs that are not traditionally known as “Islamic”. I’ve said frequently that I am rather eclectic in my religious beliefs: I will call myself a “Christian Buddhist Hindu Muslim”. 😀 While I am emphatic in acknowledging “One God”, and refuse to bow to images, stones, trees, etc., I accept certain ‘Eastern’ beliefs such as reincarnation. Since I acknowledge the metaphorical nature of the Qur’anic descriptions of “the Garden” and “Hell” (as well as the Biblical references to the Afterlife), and believe that the word “eternal” just means an undefined length of time, I believe that hell is the “lasting abode” of sinners in the sense that punishment lasts until it accomplishes its purpose. “Hell fire” is meant to purify the sinner of the “dross” of his sins; afterward the “ore” can be fashioned into a useful vessel. I see reincarnation as part of the scheme of Deity whereby this purifying nature of “punishment” is accomplished.

    I like to use, as an example illustrating that “eternal” means “it lasts UNTIL its purpose is accomplished”, the statement of the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah:

    Isaiah 32:14, 15: “Because the palaces will be forsaken, the bustling city will be deserted. The forts and towers will become lairs FOREVER, a joy of wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks – UNTIL the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest”.

    Anyhow, I can’t blame anyone who finds me confusing, or should just decide that I’m ‘obviously’ not a muslim. I do appreciate your openness on the matter, though. (And you’re quite right that at an earlier time I did openly state that I was not muslim – but considered myself a friend of mulsims. My views have developed since, so that I no longer hesitate to identify myself as muslim – even if I qualify that by adding that I’m also Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish. :smile: The question is really as to whether or not muslim people wish to accept me as one of their own who happens to be somewhat ‘strange’.)

  • http://www.muslimamerica.net/mp/stranger.htm Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    HICMo wrote: Shaykh … The leaders of Temple Israel ~ the pharisees and scribes ~ had betrayed their trust long before Jesus arrived. Knowing perfectly well who he was, they denied him and, after they were sure he was gone, falsified him.

    Stephen Parker is not a Muslim.

    Sir Stephen exhibits characteristics of a “Christian” muslim.

    Try Muhammad and the Believers at the Origins of Islam, by Fred M. Donner (Harvard University Press 2010, ISBN 978-0-674005097-6; “Though Donner isn’t entirely persuasive (and surely many Muslims would be stunned by some of his assertions), he … argues (and proves) that Muslims are not, by nature, anti-Jewish and also that, based on archeological evidence, Muslims did not routinely tear down churches. The early Muslims, though brutal in war, created a sophisticated and organized civil system. For those curious about Islam’s beginnings, no book is as original and as evenhanded as this succinct read.”)

    I don’t believe the Pharisees deliberately rejected, I believe they did not believe he was the Messiah. The Messiah is supposed to fulfill certain criteria in his lifetime, which is why Jesus and all the other Messiahs have been rejected by Jews.

    They knew perfectly well that he was not the “Messiah” of their Tradition that Jesus denounced as false, by which they “set the Law aside.” They also knew that Jesus was the Messiah of that Law.

    But more importantly, it’s not for you to know what was in the minds of the pharisees.

    To the contrary, the purpose of the Hebrew Scripture is exactly that. See Deuteronomy 31:24 ~

    “Then when Moses had finished writing the words of this Torah in a book until they were complete, Moses instructed the Levites, carriers of the Ark of the Agreement of the Lord, saying Take this book of the Torah and put it by the side of the Ark of the Agreement of the Lord your God, that there may be a Witness over you; for I — I know well your arrogance and your obstinacy. That is — and I yet live among you today — already you have begun to resist the Lord; then how much rather after my death?”

    The rest of the Scripture details “how much” after Moses’ death, bearing witness against their denial of their Covenant and their Messiah, and the reasons for those denials. It is not only “for me,” but for everyone to know “what was in the minds of the pharisees.” The Covenant, and the Torah and the Law that are a part of that Covenant, was and is forever exclusively for the Children of Israel ~ but the Witness of the Torah is for everyone. What we have to keep in mind when we read that Witness is that those against whom the Scripture bears witness are all dead and in the Fire, and have been for two thousand years, and that the Scripture also speaks of the “Faithful Remnant of Israel,” who are alive today, in quite different terms.

    What you said above is what some Christians use to ‘prove’ Jews are blind.

    They were not blind. They were “blind guides.” They knew exactly what they were doing, although Paul himself may not have known.

    The same they say to all who reject son of god, including Muslims.

    You will find no muslims who deny Jesus.

    The Jews were clearly told in the Torah to reject false Prophets. Put them to death. They also had the burden of recognising the Messiah, whilst been given freedom of will.

    The pharisees and scribes had the burden of recognizing the Messiah from clear Signs that only they knew, kept secret from the rest of the Children of Israel so there could be no impostors who could fool them. The Law required them to identify the Messiah to the people when he arrived. They recognized Jesus, but refused to identify him to the people as The Messiah, because he refused to pretend to be the “Messiah” of their False Tradition.

    Jesus was the not the only Messiah, they have had about 40 or 50 others, Bar Kochba, Shabti Tzvi. Those Jews who accepted them, believed they were the Messiah. Those who didn’t rejected.

    There is only one Messiah of Israel, and that is Jesus. Some people of Israel called Cyrus of Persia “Messiah.” Others called some Jewish leaders “Messiah.” Today the late Lubavitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of blessed memory, is being called “Messiah.” But Jesus is the one and only Messiah of Israel.

    Remember we as Muslims have one advantage, we were told clearly, Mohammed is the final Prophet.

    We were and are told clearly that he is “the seal of the prophets.” We were also told that all of the prophets will be gathered together on The Day.

    Imagine this: Had the Almighty decided us send many Prophets unto Muslims, telling us one would be the Messiah, don’t you think some Muslims would have rejected what others would have called the Messiah?

    He didn’t do that, and there are some muslims today who say that Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, was “The Promised Messiah.” Others think that Noble Drew ‘Ali, Elijah Muhammad, and Rashad Khalifah of Tucson, Arizona, were prophets ~ all three of them, and Ghulam Ahmad, said they were. We were also told “There will people among my community to whom Allah will speak, although they will not be prophets.” Such muslims are called “muhaddatheen.”

    An answer lies in the Sunni Shia split, so give the ‘pharisee’ a break.

    I don’t need an answer to an irrelevant hypothetical question, and I couldn’t give the pharisees a break if I had one ~ they’re dead and in the Fire because knowing who Jesus was, they Denied him and betrayed all of humanity.

  • http://www.amazon.com/How-Islam-Created-Modern-World/dp/1590080432/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317406530&sr=1-3 How Islam Created the Modern World

    Stephen Parker

    For the record, I believe in the interpretation of Islam that recognises all the Kibaabi people as amongst the believers. so if you’re a Muslim, I retract what I said, but i think you yourself once said you’re not.

    I wasn’t putting you down, when I said you’re not Muslim, I said it so that Shaykh would understand where you’re coming from. The distinction is there merely for theological purposes. God is one, and there are a number of routes to reach God.

    It doesn’t matter, where sincere friendship is concerned, because everyone has the right to follow whatever religion they want. That is their right, as enshrined in Muslim law too.

  • http://www.mystic444.wordpress.com Stephen G. Parker

    @ “How Islam Created the Modern World”: You state that I am not a muslim. I respond: that probably depends on how one defines what it means to be “muslim”. When I began writing articles about my “investigations” into Islam, I did state that I was not a muslim, but desired to be a friend of muslims. Since then I have more and more come to identify myself with Islam. I say without hesitation that there is no god but the One God, and Muhammad is His Prophet; and I say that I am muslim in “spirit” if not in “letter”.

    I recognize that (1) it is possible to have “the form of godliness” without having its inner power; (2) it is also possible to have the inner power of godliness without observing the outward forms; and (3) it is certainly possible to have both the outward form and inner power of godliness. At present, I consider myself to belong to the second category: I don’t observe the outward formalities, but I believe the inner ‘power’ has taken root in me. If a person believes that it is impossible to be a ‘true’ muslim without observing the outward formalities, then he/she certainly will not consider me to be a muslim at present.

    As will probably be observed from my comments, however, I have come to accept the Qur’an as fully God’s message; and I have come to interpret certain important Biblical passages from an Islamic perspective.

    I still believe the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ was an actual event – although I emphatically deny the theological interpretations about ‘atonement’ which have been built on the foundation of that crucifixion – so I approach the verses in Sura 4:155-158 in a less than literal fashion. I’m still open to changing my mind on the matter though. For right now, I just say “God knows best” and He is the best to judge on the matters on which we differ. I seek His continuing guidance.

    So am I a muslim? Maybe and maybe not; but I have reached the point where I don’t hesitate to say “we muslims” when I am countering some genuine criticism of, or illegitimate attack against, Islam. It gives me pleasure to take my stand with those whom I believe to be God’s servants and loved ones, sincerely devoted to Him; and it doesn’t matter to me if those who hate Islam despise me for it.

  • Just Stopping By

    @How Islam Created the Modern World: Very well said.

  • http://www.mystic444.wordpress.com Stephen G. Parker

    @ Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.: Peace and blessings to you, brother. Thank you for your comment, and especially this statement: “So although I agree with what you mean to say here, I would use different words.” It is, unfortunately, far too often that ‘fights’ get started over words; when if the two supposedly ‘opposing’ sides would just evaluate what the other said, it would be discovered that in reality they had just used differing words and symbols to express the same thing!

    I certainly agree with what you have said – or at least most of it. Some of it I couldn’t quite follow, probably largely because I’m just not familiar enough with Jewish history and traditions. But I am personally convinced that when Peter is reported to have said (Acts 4:12)”And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”, he was speaking primarily to his Jewish hearers of that generation who had rejected Jesus (PBUH) as being God’s anointed – and perhaps by extension he included Jews of future generations who continued to refuse to acknowledge God’s anointed, Jesus. (It was not meant as a universal statement for all people of all future times). And I believe the salvation he spoke of was from the national destruction which occurred in 70 A.D, and which had been prophesied by Hebrew Prophets like Daniel in chapter 9:24-27 (particularly verses 26 and 27) and was confirmed by John “the Baptist” and Jesus (peace to both of them). When God had sent His Christ to them, and they had rejected him (thereby rejecting God Who had sent him), they couldn’t expect deliverance from anyone else.

    It was this coming judgment on that generation to which Peter had referred when in Acts 2:40 he exhorted his hearers to “save yourselves from this crooked generation.” Jesus had prophesied that God’s judgment would come on that generation (referring not, as is commonly imagined, to the end of time and of the world, but to the end of the Jewish national existence brought about by the Romans under Nero and then Vespasian and his son Titus). Peter called on his hearers to save themselves from that coming judgment. The only way to do that was to turn around and acknowledge and obey God’s Christ.

    Many of the Jews heeded the exhortations of Peter and the other apostles (including Paul); and when the time of judgment arrived they obeyed Jesus’ command: Luke 21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies [referred to in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 as “the abomination of desolation” which Daniel had prophesied in 9:27], then know that its desolation has come near. Luke 21:21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, Luke 21:22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.”

    Jesus prophesied that another Prophet, the “Desire of all nations” of Haggai 2:7, would come who would judge “the prince of this world”, particularly that 4th great “beast” of Daniel 7 (Rome) which not only destroyed the Jewish nation but persecuted God’s true saints also. That Prophet, the “desired” and “praised” one, was of course Muhammad (peace be with him and his family). He is now “the way, the truth, and the life” for all nations; because embracing his message means also embracing the message of that great Prophet of God, Jesus Christ. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God).

  • http://www.amazon.com/How-Islam-Created-Modern-World/dp/1590080432/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317406530&sr=1-3 How Islam Created the Modern World

    Shaykh

    The leaders of Temple Israel ~ the pharisees and scribes ~ had betrayed their trust long before Jesus arrived. Knowing perfectly well who he was, they denied him and, after they were sure he was gone, falsified him.

    Stephen Parker is not a Muslim. I don’t believe the Pharisee’s deliberatley rejected, I believe they did not believe he was the Messiah. The Messiah is supposed to fulfill certain criteria in his lifetime, which is why Jesus and all the other Messiahs have been rejected by Jews.

    But more importantly, it’s not for you to know what was in the minds of the pharisees. What you said above is what some Christians use to ‘prove’ Jews are blind. The same they say to all who reject son of god, including Muslims.

    The Jews were clearly told in the Torah to reject false Prophets. Put them to death. They also had the burden of recognising the Messiah, whilst been given freedom of will.

    Jesus was the not the only Messiah, they have had about 40 or 50 others, Bar Kochba, Shabti Tzvi. Those Jews who accepted them, beleived they were the Messiah. Those who didn’t rejected.

    Remember we as Muslims have one advantage, we were told clearly, Mohammed is the final Prophet.

    Imagine this: Had the Almighty decided us send many Prophets unto Muslims, telling us one would be the Messiah, don’t you think some Muslims would have rejected what others would have called the Messiah?

    An answer lies in the Sunni Shia split, so give the ‘pharsee’ a break.

    Allahu wa alam.

  • IbnAbuTalib

    Susana: Wow, is that your only proof? And what are are the qualities of God? And please don’t give me the 99 names of allah.

    That wasn’t my only proof. I made two arguments and you didn’t respond to either of them. I don’t think you realize the import of my second contention. As I said, if Jesus is God, then rationally it is not possible to conceive of a being greater than him. This argument is a modification of the ontological argument for the existence of God, BTW. On what basis can you say that it is not at all possible to imagine a being superior to Jesus?

    Regarding the qualities of God, there are many. I noted immutability, but since you insist on knowing others, how about omniscience? There are many instances in the Gospels where Jesus displayed a lack of knowledge, such as when he curses a fig tree for not growing figs even though it wasn’t the season for figs, or when he predicted that Judgment Day would occur during his time when in fact it never happened. Clearly Jesus lacked omniscience. Another quality is omnipotency. An omnipotent being cannot die because if it dies it is not powerful enough against death. Jesus died; hence he was not omnipotent.

  • http://www.muslimamerica.net/mp/stranger.htm Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Sir Stephen wrote: That also explains Jesus’ statement, in the same context in John 14, that he was “the way, the truth, and the life”: his life and teaching were so completely the manifestation of the will of God his Father, that it displayed the way to God, the truth of God, and the life of God. To hear and see Jesus was to hear and see God, because he perfectly represented his God and Father.

    We are created in His image ~ we are His reflection in the mirror of creation. Although we are not like Him, we seem like Him before we seem like anything else. Jesus was the perfect reflection ~ the only perfect reflection, without flaw or seeming like anything else. When you saw Jesus, you saw God.

    All life is the life of God ~ there is no other source of life. He breathes into us of His Spirit, and it is this that makes us alive. Without Him, we are nothing but clay pottery.

    So although I agree with what you mean to say here, I would use different words. But allow me to add another dimension to these words of Jesus:

    The leaders of Temple Israel ~ the pharisees and scribes ~ had betrayed their trust long before Jesus arrived. Knowing perfectly well who he was, they denied him and, after they were sure he was gone, falsified him. Those words were spoken to them. They had invoked the curses of Deuteronomy and the Wrath of God ~ and the only way for them to return was through repenting of their treason against God and affirming to the people, as their Covenant required them to do, that Jesus was the Messiah for whom Israel had been waiting for a thousand years. For them, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” had special meaning ~ it was only through Jesus that they could return to God’s Favor on Israel. For the rest of humanity, Jesus was a way to God, a Word of truth from God, and a means of life with God ~ for the Deniers, he was the only way out of The Fire that they had bought by their betrayal of all humanity.

    God brought His Command to pass despite them, and delivered the Good News without them, and in spite of their falsification of that Good News to the people of Rome, Greece, Europe, and the Americas. And despite their corruption of the faith of Jesus, in league with Rome, and their substitution of the religion of Nimrod in its place, Jesus has remained with his faithful to this day and will remain with them forever. It remains true that for the lost of Israel, Jesus is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” ~ the only way.

    The “Good News” has not been “news” for over a thousand years ~ except for those from whom lost Israel prevented it. The lost of Israel cannot fulfill their original bargain with God except by delivering the whole of the Good News to those from whom their ancestors withheld it ~ which they intend to pretend to do by “miraculously” converting to their falsified “Christianity” when they raise their False Messiah that Christians will imagine is Jesus. Now that the prophecy that “Six million will be consumed by fire” has been fulfilled, as certified by their Talmudic rulers, the stage is set for a “return of Jesus” planned before the evangelists were born, “proven” by the “miraculous conversion” of the lost of Israel.

    According to the Greek Scripture, he said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Everything else that came from the scribes and pharisees of Temple Israel is not. And the lost sheep of the house of Israel remain deceived by those who say they are Jews, but are not.

  • http://www.mystic444.wordpress.com Stephen G. Parker

    @ Susanna – You wrote: ‘Well, I have to ask “Where did Jesus say, I am only a prophet, don”t worship me”’? While you won’t find precisely those words in the “Gospels”, let me give you a couple of instances where Jesus (PBUH) said things which are the same “in spirit”.

    In John 10, Jesus called God his Father (which was a common saying of Jesus), and said he and his Father are one (verse 30). The Jews immediately picked up stones to stone him, because they said he made himself out to be Deity (verse 33). Christianity has assumed the the Jews understood Jesus’ meaning correctly, but were just wrong in thinking that was blasphemy. But Jesus himself denied the charge that he had made himself out to be Deity, by referring to Psalm 82:6 – which reads in full: ‘I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”‘. So Jesus said that he, by calling God his Father and saying that he and his Father are one, was claiming nothing for himself which their own Scriptures (which they believed could not be broken) ascribed to humanity in general (and particularly to those who believe and obey God). He maintained that his relationship with God his Father was precisely the same relationship his “brothers” had with God the Father: “… go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'” (John 20:17)

    Jesus was “one” in will and purpose with his Father, because he always did his Father’s will, spoke the words his Father told him to say, and did the works his Father gave him to do. But he was not one in “being” or “person” with the Father, because he always was careful to distinguish himself from the Father. Any Trinitarian has to recognize this fact, even in the face of John 14:9 where Jesus said “He who has seen me has seen the Father”. Since no Trinitarian will accept a ‘confusion’ of the “persons’ in the ‘Trinity’, they have to admit that Jesus did not mean by that statement that he WAS the Father; but only that in his life and teachings he so clearly and completely made manifest his Father’s will that seeing him was the same as seeing the Father. (And Jesus maintained that the Father is “the ONLY true God”, John 17:3; so that eliminates Jesus God’s son from being “true God”).

    That also explains Jesus’ statement, in the same context in John 14, that he was “the way, the truth, and the life”: his life and teaching were so completely the manifestation of the will of God his Father, that it displayed the way to God, the truth of God, and the life of God. To hear and see Jesus was to hear and see God, because he perfectly represented his God and Father.

    Now, the second instance I will produce of Jesus’ denial that he was Deity can be found in Mark 10:17 and 18 (with parallels in Matthew 19 and Luke 18). A “rich young ruler” approached Jesus and courteously addressed him as “good master”. Now normally Jesus did not rebuke people when they used common manners of speech or action – such as addressing him as “lord”, which was a common way of addressing any human having authority; and bowing before him, which was a common way of honoring people, especially people in authority like kings and governors (see my article “Worship of Jesus?” http://mystic444.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/worship-of-jesus/). However it appears that Jesus on occasion “bent over backwards” to make the point that he was not to be considered Deity, and honored (worshiped) as Deity; and this was one such occasion. Jesus rebuked the young man for calling him “good”, because God is the only One Who is “good”. So this is a direct statement by Jesus that he is not God, and therefore should not be addressed as “good”.

    What then about Revelation 1:17, to which you referred, where Jesus is made to say that he is “the first and the last”? We who are muslim know that we are required to use our reason and logic. In verses 4 and 5, the One “who is and who was and who is to come” is distinguished from “the seven spirits who are before His throne”, and from “Jesus Christ the faithful witness”. It is God who is and who was and who is to come, and Jesus Christ is His witness.

    In verse 8, it is “the Lord God” who is the Alpha and Omega, who is and was and is to come, and the Almighty.

    Now certainly there can be only One who is “the first and the last”; it is not possible that multiple beings (or “persons”) can legitimately claim that attribute. So when we read in verse 17 that Jesus supposedly claimed that title, we affirm that it is clear that a later Christian editor or copier has wrongly slipped in that statement. It simply is not possible that Jesus Christ or his apostle John would make such a blasphemous statement.

    We have, just a few verses prior to that in verse 11, an illustration of this happening. The “Textus Receptus” (“Received Text”) reads: “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest…”. But in fact, not only the so-called “oldest and best” manuscripts, but the overwhelming majority of all manuscripts do not contain the phrase “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the Last”. Some copier had wrongly inserted that phrase there; but fortunately it did not make it into most of the manuscript copies. We maintain that in 1:17 “I am the First and the Last” was wrongly inserted by a copier, but unfortunately in this case it found its way into all the existing copies. (Of course, not all muslims will even recognize the book of Revelation as legitimate apostolic Scripture. It was only with great difficulty that it even made it into the accepted Christian ‘canon’.)

    We muslims, of course, while believing that there still exists some of the “Word of God” in the Christian Scripures, do not accept that they ARE the “Word of God” and infallibly/inerrantly inspired. We believe the Qur’an is given to us to confirm the remaining truth in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and to guard against the errors they contain. So, as I said, when we read such a statement attributed to Jesus as Rev. 1:17, we just say it is clearly in error and not to be accepted. It contradicts many other statements in the Christian Scriptures where Jesus made it clear that he was God’s messenger, but was not himself God; so no Christian should have the slightest hesitation in rejecting the validity of such a blasphemous statement.

    Regarding Jesus forgiving sins: it is clear that he was acting as God’s messenger in proclaiming that forgiveness and doing the miracle. He did nothing of himself, but only what he was commanded by his Father. Many times in the Qur’an we are told to obey “God and His messenger”; we are to obey the messenger just as we obey God. But no one imagines by that that we are claiming that the messenger IS God.

    As an example of this consider 33:36 (Yusuf Ali): “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by God and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys God and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” “God and His messenger” make the decision, and are to be obeyed. Yet no Muslim will claim that the messenger (Muhammad – peace be with him and his family – in this case) is God, or God’s equal.

    Jesus forgave sins as God’s representative, not by his own inherent authority (all the authority he had was God’s gift to him); and the miracles he did were done by God’s authority GIVEN to him (not an inherent authority). Notice that, according to “Mark”, Jesus claimed to heal as a MAN (“the son of man”), not as being God or “the Son of God”.

    This is a long comment, but I think it covers everything in your comment. If I missed an individual point, I believe I have given the principles by which it would be answered.

  • http://www.muslimamerica.net/mp/stranger.htm Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad, M.S.J.D.

    Jack Cope wrote on 11/18 (first quoting “Proverb”): “And yes, Jesus is the Answer.”

    ‘To you be your faith and to me be mine’ as the Quran goes.

    The faith:

    He sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was talking about The Hour and about the Days of ALLAH, the coming Days mentioned in The Book … and he talked about how Islam would raise up his people, the Arabs, beyond what anyone could imagine, and how their success would become disaster and yet a blessing to all the peoples of the world.

    And he talked about the End of Days and the Last Day and all of the things that would happen until then, how Islam would disappear from the world of men and then, later, be sent down again.

    Strange things. New things. “… a Day the measure of which is a thousand years as you reckon” and “… a Day the measure of which is fifty thousand years” and “The Hour” and a Day “After.”

    And how Islam would again ~ at that then-distant time ~ be a “new thing” as The Hour approaches and as the new Day begins with a new Dawn, like a sunrise in the far west where the sun sets … and he said

    “Islam began a stranger and, then, it will return as it began. Then bliss to the strangers!”

    And people began to ask him about these “Strangers” he had mentioned …

    I was at the Messenger of God’s salallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and the sun rose, then he said, “There shall come to God some people on the day of resurrection whose light is like sunlight.” Then Abu Bakr said, “Are we the ones, O Messenger of God?” He said, “No, and you have much goodness. But they are the poor and the immigrants who will be gathered from the ends of the earth.” Then he said, “Bliss to the strangers. Bliss to the strangers. Bliss to the strangers.”

    Then it was said, “Who are the strangers, O Messenger of God?” He said, “Good people among many bad people. Those who will disobey them are more than those who will obey them.”

    Strangers the Prophet salallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam called “my brothers” and of whom he said

    “They will believe in me without ever having seen me.”

    And they continued to ask “Who are the strangers?”

    “They are those who follow my ways when my ummah is corrupt.”

    “They are of those who will have moved away from their clans.”

    “God will bring them together to join Jesus the son of Mary.”

    ** *** ***** ******* *********** ************* *****************

    And what do we see today? Muslims …

    Feeding the hungry …

    Healing the sick …

    Clothing the naked …

    Sheltering the homeless …

    Giving good news to the faithful …

    … and Christians doing the same thing. We just don’t see it on television ~ it’s not “news.”

  • Skhan

    @Susanna:

    Lol, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in Iran? Someone has already responded to this myth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cEhJOlLiBU

    Contrary to what you may believe Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwsxJq9itwM
    among many nations, especially the U.S.

    As for not hearing love on multi-faith forums from Islam, have you been on every multi-faith forum in the world?
    Here is a discussion about loving one’s parents from sunniforum.com
    http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-50386.html

  • Susanna

    @ IbnAbu Talin:

    Also, if Jesus is God, then no being greater than him can be conceived. In fact, it is very easy to imagine many deities who are greater than Jesus, for instance, a man-God that does not die, than can fly, that requires no food or drink, etc. Hence, Jesus is not God.

    Wow, is that your only proof? And what are are the qualities of God? And please don’t give me the 99 names of allah.

  • http://bandofstrangers.org Jack Cope

    “Why is it that in any multi faith forums, every other religion speaks of love to others, but you never hear that from Islam. Why is that?”

    No idea, depends who’s doing the talking right? I seem to reacal that you clashed with rather large numbers of what, for want of a better word, we call ‘Wahhibis’ so that’s probably your answer. We should all ‘love’ each other, even if we don’t agree.

    Jack

  • IbnAbuTalib

    Susana: Can a mere prophet claim to be the “first and last”?

    People can claim a lot of things but what matters is do they actually possess the things they claim to have? For instance, what divine properties did Jesus possess that would make him a God? It does not matter if he claimed to be the first and last, or the Son of God, or whatever; if he does not exhibit the qualities of Divinity, all such grandiose claims that we find in the Gospels (mostly in the Gospel of John) mean nothing.

    My argument is, if Jesus is God, he exhibited all the qualities of God. He did not exhibit all the qualities of God. Hence, he is not God. All you have to do to disprove my argument is to show that he DISPLAYED all the essential qualities of divinity. As I said before, you can show me claims like “I and the Father are One” or “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, etc. but these are just claims. On what basis should I believe that he and the father were actually one? For instance, God is immutable. Was Jesus immutable? Nope. Just like any other human being, he was once a baby, then an adolescent, then an adult.

    Also, if Jesus is God, then no being greater than him can be conceived. In fact, it is very easy to imagine many deities who are greater than Jesus, for instance, a man-God that does not die, than can fly, that requires no food or drink, etc. Hence, Jesus is not God.

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