Abraham, Christian, Christianity, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, Islamophobia, Judaism, Misquotes, Muslim, Philosophy, Quran, Religion

The word ‘Allah’. 

I was reading through the blogs with Islam used as a tag, and as usual I saw a couple of them that raised a flag in my head. Let`s take the usage of the name ‘Allah’: 

In a blog a Christian friend wrote about muslims I noticed they made a special emphasis to use the word ‘Allah’, to refer to God of muslims. Incidentally, the word ‘Allah’ is the only arabic word they used in their article, which is otherwise written in English. Most often no one thinks there might be seeds of a misunderstanding or misuse here. However, there is: the temptation to use the word ‘Allah’ when referring to ‘God of Islam‘ is the result of a very common misconception that assumes `Islamic God is not God, it is Allah`. This is entirely wrong. 

In arabic, Allah simply means God. The God of Jesus, Moses and Abraham and of others. I really mean The God! So, why write the arabic translation of the word’God’ when writing an article in the English language? 

 In case this is hard to digest here is a fact

If you go to any arabic country and visit a church of Christianity and listen in, you will hear two things that is worth mentioning here: 1) They speak in arabic to pray and lead the worship. 2) They use the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God. Why? Because arabic is their native language, and they continue using arabic when referring to God. This is because God means Allah in arabic, for anyone. 

The two conclusions from this are, 1) arabic is not the holy language of Islam; 2)’Allah’ is the arabic translation of the word ‘God’ and vice versa. 

Should christian arabs have made an exception here and refer to God in English, just to be on the same page with English speakers? No. English speakers should not make that exception either. 

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Abraham, Christianity, Commentary, Contemporary, Hanif, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, Judaism, Philosophy, Quran, Religion

The Central Node of God`s Religion: Abraham

Abraham is the key figure of all monotheistic religions. Some may say he is the father of monotheism. If you ask my father, who was jewish, Abraham is no doubt a jew. If you ask your local christian priest, you may hear them say Abraham was a pivotal figure in christian ideals. If you ask your muslim buddy, Abraham was of course a muslim. Here is what Quran says about Abraham`s religion:

3:65-67 O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason? Here you are – those who have argued about that of which you have some knowledge, but why do you argue about that of which you have no knowledge? And God knows, while you know not. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth (hanif), a submitter to God. And he was not of the polytheists.

As you can see Quran criticizes all people of the scripture, including muslims that they argue about Abraham`s religion. It declares that he submitted to God, he was not a polytheist, and his path was of a hanif. The word hanif is originally a hebrew word, and is used in arabic as well. In hebrew it means a wicked, impious, godless person/a person who has stood up against the mainly accepted religion (see The New International Encyclopedia Vol 16 online). The latter meaning makes a person wicked or godless because when you exit the mainstream religion in your society, your society will call you wicked or godless. Interestingly, many definitions of the word hanif is now opposite of this original meaning: to incline towards the right state or tendency . This is not surprising, because Abraham was a wicked, godless person in his own polytheist society, but the religion he chose was the right one. So, he was hanif as in he picked the right path according to the view of monotheism. As he was probably the first monotheist, he was the wicked one according to the polytheistic society he was in. Mohammad – the prophet of Islam- was also in a polytheistic society and he also followed a monotheistic religion. If we extrapolate, we would also have to call him hanif. This is not surprising, because Quran`s worry about non-believers is at an absolute minimum. Whom Quran really fights against are polytheists of all shapes. Before making big conclusions, let`s see what Quran says about this:

10:104-105 Say, [O Muhammad], “O people, if you are in doubt as to my religion – then I do not worship those which you worship besides God; but I worship God, who will take your life. And I have been commanded to be of the believers and ‘Direct your face toward the religion inclining to truth (hanif), and never be a polytheist.

16:120-123 Indeed, Abraham was a leader, devoutly obedient to God, inclining toward truth (hanif), and he was not a polytheist. He was grateful for His favors. God chose him and guided him to a straight path. And We gave him good in this world, and indeed, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. Then We revealed to you, [O Muhammad], to follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif); and he was not a polytheist.

6:161-163 Say, “Indeed, my Lord has guided me to a straight path – a correct religion – the way of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif). And he was not an idol worshipper .” Say, “Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.”

According to Quran (and history) It is clear that Mohammad was also hanif, as Abraham was. You could probably say the same thing for Jesus and Moses as well. Quran verses above clearly orders Mohammad to follow the religion of Abraham, but in addition he is also the first of the Muslims (note capital letter. Here Muslim is used as a private name, as in follower of Islam. Otherwise muslim [lower case] literally means “submitter to God”). This means, according to the Quran even though Mohammad is to follow Abraham`s religion, he is also first member of a new religion. This new religion Islam, follows the same principles and in fact is the same religion that Abraham followed. We would expect the same God, to always have the same religion. Can you imagine the same God, creator of the heavens and the earth, introducing essentially different religions to different people? No. This would have to follow that Judiasm and Christianity or at least the religion of Moses, and of Jesus and of Abraham, and of Mohammad were essentially the same. Again before making big conclusions, let`s see Quran: 

2:130-136 And who would be averse to the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, “Submit”, he said “I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds.” And Abraham instructed his sons and Jacob, “O my sons, indeed God has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you have submitted.” Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac – one God. And we are in submission to Him.” That was a nation which has passed on. It will have what it earned, and you will have what you have earned. And you will not be asked about what they used to do. They say, “Be Jews or Christians you will be guided.” Say, “Rather, [we follow] the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth (hanif), and he was not of the polytheists.” Say, [O believers], “We have believed in God and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are in submission to Him.”

As we can see here Mohammad is ordered by the Quran to tell believers (this implies anybody who believes in God, usually means monotheists) that we (followers of Mohammad) believe in all the prophets and the religion they brought to their societies, and that we make no distinction and the essence of our religion is submission to God with no trace of polytheism. This of course begs the question: why did we need so many prophets or why did we need a new religion – Islam?

The answer is rather plain: Information age. In the past most of God`s religion was made known locally, from word of mouth by a prophet. Some of those prophets are listed in the verse above. Quran declares that all societies were sent a prophet. We have accounts for many, but not for all. Let`s take Noah, we know of his religion not through an immense mass of written books or movies left from his time. No doubt he was a prophet of God, and received instructions for a monotheistic religion, and he declared this to his society. He was of course declared wicked, and persecuted by his society, just like Abraham. We know about Noah only through scripture: from the followers of Moses (Torah), Jesus (Gospel) and Mohammad (Quran). This is only becuase these three prophets came late enough in history to allow for written documents, which have been passed through generations. This is how we know about Noah, Abraham and other prophets. As we know Judiasm is a tribal religion. You have to be born to a jewish mother to be a jew. So, if Moses’ religion is the only true religion, what about other people who are not born to a jewish mother? That`s why Jesus came. He invited all to the monotheistic religion of God. However, for some reason he also did not leave a written document. History tells us that his followers (ex. St. Paul) wrote the Gospel after his death. Many Gospels were written, 4 was chosen by committees many years after Jesus had come. This always remains an uncertainty. Which bible was better explanation of Jesus? Could it be one that was not chosen by the committee? What if the writers of the Gospels were wrong in some instances? That is why Mohammad came. He came late enough in history to be the only prophet who left before he died a written book of God`s religion. We have the same written document he left us before he died. Let`s not make a mistake, he brought essentially the same religion as Moses and Jesus did, except that his document (Quran) is the only one we can trace back to the source. There are also many signs and indicators that the Quran we have now is the same word by word as the book Mohammad had shortly before he died. In addition, according to Quran Mohammad is the last prophet, and Islam is the last of God`s revelation. Why? Because, God has completed his responsibility to leave people with a direct written source of his religion, as opposed to a religion that is propagated through prophets’ own example when they were alive and after the prophets, word of mouth or secondary written sources alone. Quran, as the only direct written source will be available as far as the humanity as we know it exists. 

Please note that I picked the above mentioned verses only because they all have the word “hanif” in them. There are 9 verses in the Quran that has this word. As an appendix to this article, I will publish a supplement that has the translation of all these verses within their context. This way the reader can go and read these without my comments in between, and decide what they may mean for themselves:

The Central Node of God`s Religion: Abraham – Supplement | It is not Islam-ic.

https://itisnotislamic.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/the-central-node-of-gods-religion-abraham-supplement/

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Christianity, Commentary, Contemporary, Interfaith, Islam, Islamic, Judaism, News, Philosophy, Quran, Religion, Uncategorized

The Source of the Word ‘Islam’

If you are following my blog, I have written about the misuse of the word Islam and it`s derivatives. I find this to be a very important topic because the truth of a concept is lost if new meanings are assigned to it. This has been done very conveniently to the word ‘Islam’. Today, Islam is perceived as a religion, a terrorist movement, a source of backwardness and brutality, a political movement among others. But, what is the real meaning of this word? Are all of these true?
As in any other concept, and especially a contreversial one, the source of the concept is one of the best indicators of its pure meaning. Going to the source, would help us focus on the intended meaning, help us get rid of the baggage that has been assigned to it. 
The source of the world ‘Islam’ as we know it first appeared in the Quran. According to tradition and the Quran, The Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of 22-23 years starting in 610, and concluding in 632. This is explained in the Quran; Here is an example:

17:106: “We have divided the Quran into many segments so that you would read them to the people in gradual steps as We reveal them to you from time to time.”

The word “Islam” as we know it as a religion most definitively goes back to the Quran. However, note that Islam actually means submission in short, and in this context submitting oneself to the law and ideals of God. It is both a noun and a verb at the same time. In other words, the religion is an act of submission to God. Please notice that this makes it very difficult to find this word in the Quran to mean the religion of Islam (vs. Judaism for example) as we know it today. That is because the Quran does not bother with classifying a new religion for muslims, but it tries to get people to submit to the laws of the Eternal Creator, as other monotheistic religions do. Therefore, Quran does not truly bring a seperate religion, it rather clarifies or emphasizes the same religion that is God’s religion that was brought by the prophets (Jesus, Moses etc.). 

Let`s examine this verse:

3:85: “If anyone desires a religion other than submission to God/Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost.”

Here, “a religion other than submission to God” could mean submitting to wealth, reputation, bad deeds, or man made and mystisized idols etc. instead of the Eternal Creator. Basically, this command is the command of all monotheistic religions including Chritianity and Judaism. Except, this act of submission to God is referred to as “Islam” in the Quran. 

There is a place in the Quran that refers to the religion as literally “The Islam” (Al-Islam in Arabic), as though it was referring to the Islam religion as we know it today:

3:19: “The religion before God is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the signs of God, God is swift in calling to account.”

Notice, however, that the translator felt the need to put in parenthesis the verbal meaning of Islam: submission to His (God’s) Will. That is because even the word “Islam” here coming close to the meaning of the religion of Islam (noun) as we know it today, it is impossible to refer to it without also meaning the verb – submission. If you look at this verse again, submission to the religion of the Eternal Creator would be the claim of all monotheistic religions. The rest of the verse is interestingly referring to the People of the Book, who are the people that received written message from God (Christians, Jews etc.). The verse goes on to say they dissented due to envy of each other, even though they knew right from wrong. So, the verse calls on them and all humanity to submit to the laws of the Eternal Creator. This is NOT saying Jews and Christians need to convert to Islam (noun usage only). 

In conclusion, Quran considers itself a unifier, a clarifier, and a reminder or approver of the true path that was sent to humanity beforehand. That path here is called submission to the rules and laws of the Eternal Creator (God). The word “Islam” -a verb and a noun- exactly means that. It does not really refer to a different religion that is segragated or in competition with other monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism etc.). One should consider the real meaning of Islam when they are making it to mean a terrorist movement, a source of backwardness and brutality, or a political movement etc. 

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