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In the Name of God بسم الله

Ibn Maymun

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    Muslim (Bani Israil)
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    Torah, Qur’an, Judaism, Devotional Poetry, Prophecy, Political Activism

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  1. Salaam, On the one hand, you’re saying that you recognize that this amazing woman has wonderful qualities that would lead her to likely be an incredible partner and mother. On the other hand, you’re saying that you have hang ups about the fact that she was previously married. Life is the great teacher. We can present a hundred reasons why divorce shouldn’t matter. Virginity isn’t purity. Novelty and innocence aren’t where intimacy comes from. Purity is good character. It’s conducting yourself with integrity before Allah and others. Intimacy comes from trust. There’s no “work to do” that’s going to teach you any of this. Honestly, it sounds like you’ve worked through this logically and it’s just not convincing you emotionally. In other words, you get it with your brain but don’t seem to buy it with your heart. Nothing that we can say will convince you. Only life experience will do that. I’ve seen a ton of guys marry great women and resent them because they had prior relationships. They married these women because they realized that the problem was internal, but that didn’t stop them from projecting their problem onto their spouse, causing pain and hurt to the person that they claim to love. If you look at this person and see their prior experience rather than thanking God that they are the person that they are now, then the best thing is to be honest with yourself about your hang up and not even think about inflicting it on them. Just because someone could be great for you doesn’t mean that you’re ready to appreciate them.
  2. Speaking as someone who worked at McDonald’s throughout high school, older folks generally preferred Hardee’s breakfasts. McDonald’s breakfast options were McMuffins and frozen biscuits. Hardee’s offered fresh buttery biscuits for their breakfast sandwiches. Also, Hardee’s would make their bacon actually crisp, so I don’t really blame people for picking them. Despite this, the Hardee’s was eventually replaced by a Burger King, and only then did we get a real morning rush (and older regulars. I started the year after the Liebeck lawsuit and I can tell you that the coffee was still lava hot and softened the styrofoam cups for the first couple of years. I burnt my fingers a few times from cups becoming misshapen and lids popping. I quickly learned to put all coffee cups (even one) in a drink carrier.
  3. First of all, lumping Jews with Zionism is just poor practice. Jews are a part of an ancient scattered religious civilization. Zionism is a modern nationalist movement stemming from the idea that national groups should hold the reins of their future by self-determining in their national homeland. Neither the religious civilization nor the nationalist movement (whatever your feelings on them) are responsible for hippies, communism, racism, etc.. As Sumerian pointed out, sinfulness is ancient. There is a tendency in among secular Jews to brag about how disproportionately influential Jews have been in any social or political movement. This is a coping mechanism from stemming from being an rejected minority for millennia. Secular Jews are (in many cases) passionately dedicated to assimilation, mostly as a way of escaping the sense of being other. “Hey look! See how influential we were? See how we’re just like you? See how we helped improve this thing about society that you like?” It’s roughly on par with the relationship that other colonized cultures have with their colonisers, especially when they lose touch with what is actually valuable in their culture.
  4. Dear Dave, Hello friend. Just a few comments in response to your statement above. I hope you don't mind a response. When you say the above, you see Jesus's reference to being the Good Shepherd as a claim to be God. After all, God reveals to Ezekiel in the passage above that He is the Good Shepherd. If Jesus makes the same claim, then clearly he's claiming to be God. Is that a fair understanding of your words? It's tight logic and I see where you're coming from. So let's look at the passage itself. In this prophecy, Adonai says that He will search for His sheep and care for them, both when they are scattered AND when they are brought home. Ezekiel's audience (and therefore God's target audience) is the Israelite exiles in Babylonia. In the earlier part of the prophecy, Ezekiel (and God) rails against the evil shepherds who have preyed upon Israel in its vulnerable state - benefiting and drawing wealth from the community but doing nothing to tend it. God sets up the idea of the good shepherd as a counterbalance and a future promise. Things will not always be bad. Israel will not always be preyed upon. In that context, this particular prophecy seems to break down to: 1.) Here's what a good shepherd would do for Israel. 2.) Israel doesn't have good shepherds. 3.) God will instead ensure the safety and security of His covenant people. It's a promise made to a weakened people who have been expelled from their native land. In the ancient world, gods were tied to a specific city or land. Israel's God is telling them that He will watch over them even in foreign lands and will return them home. When they return, they will know peace and healing. They will be reunited with their lost loved ones. It's a specific promise to a specific group of people. It seems to me that this leaves us with a few questions - 1.) Was this prophecy ever fulfilled? 2.) Did Jesus fulfill the prophecy? 3.) Is this prophecy setting up a figure of the "Good Shepherd"? 4.) Who would the Good Shepherd be? Let me say straight away that questions 1 and 2 are up for debate and I want to set them aside. My personal reading of history and the prophecy is that the answer is no to both (not to argue, but simply to clarify my POV). Clearly the Jewish audience of the Second Temple period (in all of its Messianic fervor) didn't think that it had been fulfilled by the time of Jesus's appearance in the world. The later Jewish community doesn't believe it has been accomplished, leading to continued Messianic expectations. The Christian community (which believes that the answer to 2 is yes) seems to feel that the prophecy was incompletely fulfilled as Revelation has Jesus returning to complete the prophecy in its plain meaning (again, let me know if you think that's an unfair understanding). Which brings us to the third question. While God claims that He will take responsibility for fulfilling the promise ("I Myself will graze my flock"), the development of this image in Ezekiel doesn't stop there. In Ezekiel 34:23, God goes to talk about David (presumably one from the house of David) as the "One Shepherd" over the land of Israel. This figure is described as "avdi" (my servant) who is established over Israel to feed, shepherd, and pasture the house of Israel. Similar promises of "One Shepherd" to fulfill this role are made in Zechariah, Amos, and Micah. So, yes, I would concur that this prophecy begins the development of a figure in prophetic literature that we can call the Good Shepherd and who is clearly a Messianic figure. This takes us to the fourth consideration - Who would the Good Shepherd be? The image of God as Shepherd over Israel begins with the literal man Israel who refers to God as his Shepherd in Genesis 48:15 and 49:24. Numbers 27:17 depicts God as directly implying that He is the Shepherd of Israel. In Psalm 23, David also declares God to be his Shepherd. Isaiah in 40:11 plays with this image, saying God will nourish, sustain, and gather Israel like a shepherd. At the same time, while "God is Shepherd of Israel", human beings are also called Shepherds in God's service. David is named by God as Shepherd over His people in 2 Samuel 5:2. The chieftains of the tribes are called Shepherds over Israel by God in 2 Samuel 7:7. In 1 Kings 22:17, the Israelites without a king are described as "without a shepherd". Shepherds are kings. The good Shepherd image is the archetype of good kingship. God is "King". We also see throughout Tanakh that He appoints kings. In numerous places throughout Tanakh, we see that when God claims something for Himself (shepherding, kingship, mercy, judgeship, and so on) it doesn't mean that if He appoints someone in a similar role, that person is also God. The evidence leads me to feel that the collective voice of the Tanakh builds a claim that the "good shepherd" figure is an appointed figure who acts on God's behalf to carry out His will. In Islam, we have a similar idea - Allah creates humanity to be His vicegerent upon the earth. The Prophets and Imams act as His vicegerent to humanity. Accordingly, we use language for them that is full of praise - even calling them "face of Allah" or "hands of Allah". Imam 'Ali (عليه السلام) said: Whoever recognizes me and my right has recognized his Lord, because I am the Vicegerent of His Prophet (S) on the earth and the proof on His creations. None of that means that the Prophet or the Imams are God. It means that they are Divinely Ordained, and that by recognizing them we can experience the Divine Will unfolding. I see something very similar with this promise of the good shepherd. And Allah knows best of all.
  5. Dearest Abdul-Hadi, I would never take someone having reservations as "dogging on" a text. The canon of the Bible (depending on whose point of view you're looking at) seems to be under constant revision. That said, the earliest clear picture of core canon seems to emerge with the Septuagint - a Greek translation of the Hebrew text created by the Jewish community sometime between 300-200 BCE. The first century Jewish historian Josephus also testifies to a core canon, who wrote: For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as the Greeks have], but only twenty-two books, which contain all the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death… the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. Other Israelite groups stemming from the earliest schisms have bodies of literature that are largely similar to the texts of the Jewish canon. The Samaritans, for example, have a Torah that is largely similar to Masoretic text. The Beta Israel of Ethiopia have Torah and several other prophetic works (along with many books of their own). In addition, the earliest fragments of the Tanakh that we have (such as from the Dead Sea Scrolls) largely line up with the modern text (although, where they don't, it's actually pretty interesting). None of this is to say that you shouldn't have reservations about the Bible. However, rather than basing your concerns on canonization of texts and possible scribal errors (which are relatively minor), I'd suggest that you look to the incoherence of the text itself. If one knows Hebrew well, Torah clearly appears as a compiled, composite text with numerous problems of internal coherence. To give you an example, I'd point you right to the creation narrative itself - or rather to the two separate creation stories. In the first (Genesis 1:1-2:2), Elohim (the name used for God in this story) creates the world by giving order and shape to a dynamic chaos, in a deliberate stage-by-stage (or "day-by-day") process. On each of the six days of Creation, He creates increasing complexity. The day before lays the foundation for the day to come. God takes creation from an immense deep water (the chaos of tohu v'vohu) and into it introduces space and time. From the waters, He brings forth land, then vegetation, then fish, birds, and animals. Only then does Elohim create humanity (both male and female) in the divine image, to rule over the Creation. On the seventh day, He refrains from giving forth new life, setting the world in motion and allowing it to unfold. And at each step of the way, God calls His creation good. In contrast, the second story of Creation (Genesis 2:3-3:24) is a single day operation and is almost an exact opposite of the first narrative. At the beginning the world is described as a barren, dry stasis. Into this ugly empty world, Y-H-W-H (the name for God in this narrative) creates only Adam. Then God realizes that Adam needs a place to be and a purpose, so then God creates the Garden. As an afterthought, He looks at Adam and basically says,"Oh wait... it's not good for the man to be by himself. I should really create more beings." Only after that does God create the animals. He realizes,"Huh. What about that? Animals aren't good enough to keep the man company. I'll have to get creative." So then He draws Eve out of Adam's body. And then the story ends on a sour note with Adam and Eve tasting the fruit of the tree and being kicked out of the garden. In this story, in the one day creation, God creates Adam and then everything else is almost an afterthought. In the first story, Humanity is created as a vicegerent to care for Creation. In the second story, the world is created to fulfill Adam's selfish needs. These are radically different stories and are completely incoherent when thrown together. Whoever laced them together considered each source to be authoritative and inspired (and so kept them intact without attempting to smooth them over and have them make sense). This isn't mere conjecture, by the way. This notion is rooted in Jewish tradition. The sages of the Talmud preserve a tradition from Ezra the scribe where he discusses how he "might have put passages in incorrect places" and is waiting for confirmation of his edition of the Torah from Elijah the Prophet. Accordingly, Ezra put dots above the passages of whose placement left him feeling uncertain. In other words, Ezra tells us that he wove the text together, putting passages from various sources in particular locations. In one place, Numbers 21:14-15, the Torah text itself quotes its post-Sinai source (The Book of the Wars of the Lord). People can argue about how the history of canonization unfolded, but the text of Torah itself reveals itself to be redacted from earlier sources (some of which I have no doubt were revealed - and so the text receives nothing but respect from me) which in many places seriously conflict. wa Allahu 'alam.
  6. Dear Abdul-Hadi, I think it’s important to recognize that the Torah and many of the Biblical writings are different in both form and function from the Qur’an. Where the Qur’an comes specifically as Revelation, and refers to stories that it assumes the listener knows to drive home points, a major purpose of Torah is to convey the national story of the people of Israel, providing a context and justification for the laws that form the national covenant with God. Qur’an, on the other hand, stands as a witness to the Divine. It speaks to people across generations in an infinite array of circumstances with directness and immediacy. It’s purpose isn’t to tell a story, nor does it merely provide a code of law. It awakens humanity to the Divine Reality and insists upon a response. We see echoes of this in Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah perhaps, but the Israelite prophets were clearly speaking to the Israelite community of their time. In contrast the Qur’an speaks to humanity. For this and for so many other reasons, I’ve come to prefer the Qur’an and have taken it as my starting point. Congratulations on completing a reading! An eternity of delving into its layers awaits.
  7. as-Salaamu alaykum, Dear friend, Torah reveals itself to be a composite text right from the beginning. I don't know if you've noticed (because it isn't immediately obvious), but there are two creation stories. In the first, God creates the world by giving order and shape to a dynamic chaos. The world is covered by an immense deep water. God creates the light of being and separates it from the darkness, in the process also bringing forth time. Then He draws forth land from the midst of the cosmic waters. Out of the land, He calls forth vegetation, fish, birds, and animals. And after His process is complete, He crowns Creation with Humanity, creating male and female in His image. The whole process takes six days. On the seventh day, He refrains from giving forth new life, setting the world in motion and allowing it to unfold. At each step of the way, God calls His creation good. In contrast, the second story of Creation is a single day operation. The world is described in opposite terms. Where it was covered in a water and the land had to be drawn from it in the first story, in the second story the world is described as being barren and its dryness is only occasionally covered by an irregular mist. Into this ugly empty world, God creates Adam alone. Then God realizes that Adam needs a place to be and a purpose, so then God creates the Garden. After that, He looks at Adam and basically says,"Oh wait... it's not good for the man to be by himself. I should really create more beings." Only after that does God create the animals. He realizes,"Huh. What about that? Animals aren't good enough to keep the man company. I'll have to get creative." So then He draws Eve out of Adam's body. And then the story ends on a sour note with Adam and Eve tasting the fruit of the tree and being kicked out of the garden. This second story is the polar opposite of the first. Story one takes seven days. The world begins in a fertile and dynamic state, covered in water and described as tohu v'vohu - implying chaos and movement. God moves deliberately through a creation plan. He lays a foundation to the world, beginning with the creation of space/time, then land and vegetation and the heavenly bodies, the fish and birds, and land animals. Increasing complexity comes forth from the preceding simplicity. Then and only then is Humanity introduced. Story two is a one day rush job. The world is barren, dry, and static. God's first creation is Adam. Only after creating Adam does God seem to realize that He isn't prepared to actually take care of him, though. So God plants vegetation for food and creates animals to keep Adam company. Although, it doesn't seem like God understands Adam very well, because the animals don't really bring joy into Adam's life. For that, God needs to create another human being. And rather than shape another human being, God decides to extract the next human being from the pieces of Adam's body. The second story paints an image where chaos emerges from the introduction of humanity into the world, while the first one gives hope that an orderly, ethical world is the divine intention. Add into this that God is known in the first story solely as Elohim, while in the second He's known by the personal Yod-Hey-Waw-Hey, and it becomes clear that we're dealing with two very different stories. There are also striking contradictions in the biblical account of Nuh. How many animals should be brought into the Ark? Nuh is to bring two of each kind says Genesis 6:20. However, 7:15 says that the animals will come on their own, while 7:2-3 says that seven pairs of pure animals and birds, and a single pair of unclean land animals. Strange, right? Even stranger is a comparison of Genesis 6:5-8 with Genesis 6:11-14. Genesis 6:5-8 - And YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and every imagination of his heart was but evil always. And YHWH regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and He was pained in His heart. And YHWH said: ‘I will blot out man, whom I created, from upon the face of the earth, from man to cattle to creeping thing, to the fowl of the heavens, for I regret that I made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH. Genesis 6:11-14 - And the earth had become corrupt before Elohim, and the earth had become filled with injustice. And Elohim saw the earth and behold it was corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. And Elohim said to Noah: ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with injustice through them, and behold I am about to destroy them from the earth. Make yourself an ark. They're virtually a repetition of one another with the exception of the name used for God. These aren't the only contradictions. Did the Israelites of the Exodus die in the desert during the 40 years of wandering as Numbers 14:29-33 states they will, or does the generation of the Exodus enter the land of Israel as is implied in Deuteronomy 4:20, 4:34, and 29:1? Why are there different versions of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5? Why are there so many narrative problems in the story of Joseph? Why does a book of supposed divine revelation direct from the hand of God cite a non-canonical book of history (The Book of the Wars of the Lord, mentioned in Numbers 21:14-15)? An honest analysis can only leave us with the conclusion that the extant Torah is a text cobbled together from a body of Israelite texts and traditions. Why would this be necessary? From Moses to the Babylonian Captivity, the Tanakh itself tells us that the Israelites were given to sinning and largely hostile to the Prophets. They were so ignorant of Torah itself that they completely forget that it even exists. Just before the Babylonian Captivity, a priest rediscovers hidden in the Temple what is described as the Book of the Law when King Josiah orders a refurbishing of the Temple. When it's read, Josiah rips his garments, declares a fast, and orders that the nearby people join him in relearning the Divine commands. When Josiah reads this book, he orders that all pagan gods and idols be removed from the Jerusalem temple. Meaning that up until then the people didn't even know that Torah existed and felt it was totally normal to worship idols. They even had them in the Temple. During Josiah's reign, there's a short period where people worship the one God. Immediately following Josiah's death, though, evil kings ascend to the throne of Judah. When Judah is conquered by Babylon, Israel has returned to its state of rebellion and is ruled by an evil king. Not only this, but the stone tablets of Moses are carried off to Babylon with the Ark when the treasures of the Temple are pillaged. How can we seriously rely upon the Israelites to deliver to us the perfect Torah when they: 1.) have gone through periods of time where the Torah inhabited exactly zero space in their national consciousness 2.) were in a state of rebellion and ignorance when conquered by Babylon, making it likely that scrolls of the Torah text were probably few and possibly destroyed by the invading armies 3.) lost their standard and permanent text of the Torah (the tablets in the Ark) After reflection upon the contradictions in the text as well as upon the historical circumstances described by the books of the Tanakh, it seems more likely to assume that the Torah represents the best effort of a later generation to recreate the Revelation of Sinai out of preexisting sacred sources. Whoever did this work respected the sources enough to not smooth out the inconsistencies and repetitions, and so we see the evidence of multiple sources just by reading the text. Even more conclusive, though, is that Jewish tradition itself straight out tells us that Ezra the Scribe edited the Torah. In the Talmud (Avot d'Rabbi Natan), there is a discussion about ten passages in Torah which have dots placed above them. It discusses each passage and alludes to why it might be problematic. It concludes with a tradition from Ezra where it says: And why all these dots? Thus said Ezra, ‘If Elijah will come and say to me, “Why have you written these words?” I will reply, “But I have already placed dots over them”. And if he will say to me, “You have written them correctly”, then I will remove the dots from them. In other words, when Ezra was cobbling together the Torah, he had serious doubts about where some passages should go. He didn't have a standard text in front of him to rely on. So he placed dots above the words in the places he had doubts, hoping that the Prophet Elijah (Nabi Ilyas) would return and either confirm Ezra's Torah or restore the correct Torah to Israel. The rabbis were well aware that the Torah we have today is problematic. That awareness has been largely forgotten over the generations. Modern Biblical criticism, though, is bringing it back into view. wa Allahu 'alim.
  8. I’ve studied the Jewish Bible in depth, as well as many of the major sources of Jewish tradition. I’ve read through the Gospels and most of the Epistles, as well, but don’t know them in depth.
  9. I like the Study Qur'an and the translation by Ali Quli Qara'I.
  10. @baqar A very fair and good point. However, your question wasn’t “is the Shia community perfect?”. Your question was “isn’t just wanting to grow closer to God enough”? I didn’t offer a detailed critique of their approach. I offered a response to your question and said that only some Sufis took the attitude that I described, while others were exemplary in their conduct. Saying that we should focus on ourselves is true, but it doesn’t actually address the central question of whether wanting to serve God is enough to turn an action into a bonafide way to serve God. Please also note that I’m not Shia. I’m not making any claims on behalf of your community about its internal state. I’m Jewish and this debate occurs within my community as well.
  11. Hi @baqar This is usually the question - if I’m intending to serve God and show Him that I love Him, what’s the harm? Doesn’t that make it okay? I could completely ignore my family. I could quit my job, run out on all of my social obligations, and go to a cabin somewhere and spend my days praying. I’d be abandoning young kids and my wife. Would that be okay if I did it to show God that I loved Him? What if Ibrahim went to sacrifice his son, and then heard the command to stop, but then sacrificed his son anyway because he just wanted to show God how much he loved him? Would that be okay? What if I knew that my wife wanted a certain book as a present, but I bought her a dress she was uninterested in because I thought she’d look beautiful in it? Would that gift be to give her what she desires or what I desire for her? God doesn’t just give us commandments so that we can be solely in a relationship with Him. He establishes us in a society, and tells us that how we treat each other is an obligation to him. He gives us boundaries, so that our worship promotes healthy relationships and reinforces His moral will for us. Not only that, but He communicates clearly what He wants from us and how to grow close to Him. How can we grow close to anyone only by selfishly doing what we feel like doing? I’m very sympathetic to the aspirations of the Sufis. Some are cling to the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet as a way to grow close to God, but too many invent too much and neglect what God has already asked them to do. And that’s what’s problematic.
  12. I find this passage particularly helpful in illuminating the understanding of Sufism from a Shia perspective, as well as the relationship between the two schools of thought. https://www.al-islam.org/light-within-me-mutahhari-tabatabai-khomeini/preface-allamah-muhammad-husayn-tabatabai
  13. @Mohamed1993 @Haji 2003 I’m not advancing those arguments. I’m describing a type of uneducated political activist that I’ve interacted with and whose opinion will shift with the political wind. I bring them up to see what kind of education is being done - because conviction is rooted in knowledge - and to get a sense of how deep that conviction runs.
  14. @Mohamed1993 I’m talking about Palestinian supporters who are unable to address the fact that over a million Jews were displaced from Arab countries, the argument that Jordan was the Palestinian state, who look dumbfounded when you talk to them about Amin al-Husseini’s collaboration with Hitler. There are people who claim to support Palestine but who have no comprehension of the Israeli counterargument. I know because at one point in my life I used to argue with such people and would watch them either crumble or revert to getting loud. As I said, this isn’t all or even most supporters - it’s a lot of them, though, and Israeli supporters are just as susceptible to mindlessly repeating propaganda. Such support is fickle and only effective as long as a cause is popular.
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