Let’s get this out of the way: I am no expert with respect to Abraham’s three great religions or any other faith for that matter. How-some-ever, I am a curious observer (to the point of being nosy), and I am a thinker. That is, I often sit in the dark and ponder. Unfortunately, most of the things I contemplate are unknown and unknowable (sigh). |
In terms of Christianity I was raised in the church, read the Bible cover-to-cover, and had two years of rigorous catechism meaning I understand the basic tenets of the faith. For Judaism I have read Torah, and have business associates I pester for Q&A. For Islam, I lived in Saudi Arabia, traveled throughout the Middle East, read the Qur’an, memorized the azan, and inquired of the faithful. Therefore, I have a decent idea of how the three faiths interconnect—where the synergy exists—and where they differ and why.
Let’s start with the most frequently asked question: Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? I’ll answer that for you: a resounding and emphatic NO freaking way!
Why not? Haven’t world leaders searched for (and promised) a solution for decades? Aren’t those fearless big-brains one hell of a lot smarter than me? Are they not more astute in geopolitics than me? The answer to all questions is an emphatic YES! Well, then what gives?
Here’s the deal. Israelis and Arabs have the fabric of their religions sewn into their souls. Each also has powerful and influential fanatics pouring gasoline on the fire. Political leaders slough off this reality. They think it’s about affairs of state not religion. After all only the uninformed and stupid believe in God. At least that’s what some talking heads in the electronic media imply, and Bill Maher loudly and profanely declares. Can’t we just get along? Why not simply divide the land (a la Solomon/Suleiman).
Here’s the problem.
The people of Moses claim the land of Canaan because of God’s promise to Abraham through his son, Isaac.
The people of the prophet Mohammed claim the land of Canaan because of Allah’s promise to Ibrahim through his son, Ishmael, who was Isaac’s half-brother and fourteen years his senior.
When it comes to religious doctrine ownership of Canaan is not a problem that can be solved as long as both advocates exist. It’s not a question of sharing; it’s a question of birthright and God’s will. That means all or nothing.
The two faiths are similar in many things, even their names. Israel = stride with God; Islam = surrender to God. Both live by Mosaic dietary and circumcision laws. Both advocate the Law as set down by ancient Pharisees, who expanded Moses’ Big 10 to some 600-plus bylaws. Several Jewish tribes even helped Mohammed during his battles to take Mecca.
Israel and Islam separate when it comes to Jesus, son of Mary/Miriam. Jews consider the man from Nazareth a wise teacher and rabbi, and maybe (just maybe) a member of the Zealots whose goal was to force the Romans from Jerusalem. After all some of his disciples were Zealots, most famously Judas Iscariot whose last name is taken from sicari, a dagger carried by all members. Remember Jesus was upsetting the social applecart by suggesting the Sanhedrin were a bunch of corrupt clowns leading people in the wrong direction for personal gain. The establishment had no choice but to frame him for insurrection. That was fairly easy since Zealots were the “suicide bombers” of their day (public assassinations common by that crew), and the Romans came down hard on those causing unrest; disturbing the Pax Romana. NOTE: In 67 C.E. the Zealots slaughtered the entire Roman guard, and it took Rome three years to retake Jerusalem.
Islam claims Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed as the four main messengers of Allah. Abraham urged the people to surrender to God (they didn’t), Moses had the same message, but included ten little pearls of wisdom of God’s Law (still no soap). What’s a Father to do?
Allah spoke with Miriam (Mary) then breathed into her, and she conceived Jesus, the third messenger, and the Jewish Messiah. According to Islam, Miriam remained a virgin all of her days with subsequent children born of Joseph’s other wives. Jesus simplified the hundreds of Laws of the Pharisees into only two constituent parts: 1) surrender completely to God, and 2) be nice to each other. For his trouble the authorities “tried” to kill him. However, on his way to Golgotha he was transformed, laughed at his captors, and Judas was crucified in his place. He was taken to Paradise alive, and will return to fight the anti-Christ. He’ll live for 40 years, marry, die, and be buried next to Mohammed in Medina.
Islam and Christianity break from each other as described in the foregoing paragraph. Also Islam believes when Jesus said surrender completely to Allah, he really intended that was to be accomplished by following the Law. Like Judaism there is no grace in Islam only atonement, which becomes the basis for Shariah Law. Christianity teaches that Christ’s death atoned for all human sin if they have faith and believe.
When I lived in Riyadh I discovered Muslims are very serious about maintaining the Peace of Islam. Every Friday “atonement rites” were carried out. An associate, Rajeeb Al Malki, would come by and say, “Abu Jaafar (what they called me), want to go see some chopping?” I refused fearing I would have nightmares the rest of my life if I observed one being separated from his head. Rajeeb claimed the sword was so sharp that no actual separation was visible. At first glance it appeared the executioner missed. Still the thought (and visual image) gave me the willies.
In Islam lawyers (as we know them) are only used for civil matters. Criminal offenses are tried by a religious court that acts very swiftly. Sentence is often pronounced and carried out within a week. The only question is whether or not the defendant did the deed. If so, there is no rehabilitation (yeah, like that works so well) only atonement; atonement according to Law of Moses as interpreted by the Prophet.
After living, observing, and thinking about Shariah I’ve concluded that it might not be a bad thing for certain crimes. Pedophiles, kidnappers, murderers, and rapists when caught and found guilty are told to make peace with God and put to death the following Friday. Same thing for dope peddlers. Why is that a bad thing?
Copyright 2012 by Gene Myers.
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