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Umm Zaynalabidin

"teleological Suspension Of The Ethical"

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Salam alaikum,

As we know, Jews and Christians in the bible somehow distorted the images of the prophets (as). Lets take the so-called zina of King David(as): according to the Bible, he had lust for Betsheba so he sent her husband to war to die, so he could marry her and she bore king Solomon (as).

Also, in the Bible we read many outragouse stories about Yacoub (as), Nuh (as), etc..Needless to repeat them, inshallah you know all.

Now this means a serious problem until now to Christian theogolist. I came across the philosopher Kierkegaard's view about this, where he claims that all these (including when nabi Abraham (as) was commanded to sacrifice his son), and he tried to solve this problem by calling these things "teleological suspension of the ethical".

This theory is widespread amongst Christians (as for Jews, I still have to do some research how they could explain the nasty stories about some of the prophets...)

I think Islam doesn't beleive in it, but could you bring me some refutations for the kierkegaardian view here? I personally don't beleive, ethics can be "suspended" for some "choosen ones". Also I know, Islam teaches the 'Isma (infallibility) of the patriarchs. But I would really like to read some point of view of ayatollahs/thinkers about this Christian concept...

Wassalam

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This is a tricky issue. You have to understand that this conceptualization is largely scriptural. Furthermore, ethics is also a shaky arena. The way I have understood Shii Islam through the law is that we have rational objective or universal principles of good and bad, but we also have what we would call customary notions of good and bad which is known as `urf in Arabic and is limited to time and place.

In other words, things such as the rate of a person's dowry, the foods you eat can be customary, but issues such as incest or slaughtering an innocent child would be problematic in an objective sense.

This being said, Kierkegaard's view is problematic as it is contradictory. As far as I know Christianity, one of its important positions is the existence of objective morality (you can see this as a constant theme in William Lane Craig's works). Now if these universal or objective notions of morality can be suspended, then in one sense they cannot be regarded as such anymore but they essentially become time-bound and thus relative/subjective. A universal principle must be true and applicable in all times and places, otherwise it is subjective and relative. To argue for both would be absurd and contradictory.

However, if you want to argue an Asha'rite position as espoused by Sunnis, then there is no such thing as objective morality i.e. whatever God does is good, whatever he forbids is bad and this can be flexible (so if God decides that murdering an innocent child is good, then it's good). If you adopt this position, then the Biblical narrative of morality can remain consistent. But obviously Kierkegaard adheres to notions of objective morality as if he adopted the Asharite position this would not pose a problem for him in the first place.

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Salam alaikum,

As we know, Jews and Christians in the bible somehow distorted the images of the prophets (as). Lets take the so-called zina of King David(as): according to the Bible, he had lust for Betsheba so he sent her husband to war to die, so he could marry her and she bore king Solomon (as).

Also, in the Bible we read many outragouse stories about Yacoub (as), Nuh (as), etc..Needless to repeat them, inshallah you know all.

Now this means a serious problem until now to Christian theogolist. I came across the philosopher Kierkegaard's view about this, where he claims that all these (including when nabi Abraham (as) was commanded to sacrifice his son), and he tried to solve this problem by calling these things "teleological suspension of the ethical".

This theory is widespread amongst Christians (as for Jews, I still have to do some research how they could explain the nasty stories about some of the prophets...)

I think Islam doesn't beleive in it, but could you bring me some refutations for the kierkegaardian view here? I personally don't beleive, ethics can be "suspended" for some "choosen ones". Also I know, Islam teaches the 'Isma (infallibility) of the patriarchs. But I would really like to read some point of view of ayatollahs/thinkers about this Christian concept...

Wassalam

Keirkegard (existentialist) is not a true representative of Christianity... You should look into Medieval Christian Philosophers if you want authentic or genuine answers to Chrisianity. I think you should ask experts on Christian medieval philosophy such questions. I am more than sure you will get a satisfiable answer. inshallah. Ill ask the ones i know in the mean time.

bye

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However, if you want to argue an Asha'rite position as espoused by Sunnis, then there is no such thing as objective morality i.e. whatever God does is good, whatever he forbids is bad and this can be flexible (so if God decides that murdering an innocent child is good, then it's good). If you adopt this position, then the Biblical narrative of morality can remain consistent. But obviously Kierkegaard adheres to notions of objective morality as if he adopted the Asharite position this would not pose a problem for him in the first place.

So is God under a moral law? is God a creator of moral laws? or is God Himself the Moral Law(s) [usually this is called "the Good"]?

If God Himself is the moral law then obviously this must be the non-contingent, or absolute moral laws. Which is nothing like the moral laws we are familiar with. otherwise to know a moral law would be like knowing the divine Essence. which is impossible. an absolute moral law is is not limited to "this" or "that". and it doesnt fall in the relative plane at all. Maybe there are relative moral laws which God determines according to the situations and circumstances of individuals. These relative moral laws which are determined by God do not preclude an absolute moral law (which i would call "the Good") which is God Himself. whatever we call relatively moral can be called relatively good. The Good itself is neither good nor bad.

Whats the Shia position?

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As we know, Jews and Christians in the bible somehow distorted the images of the prophets (as). Lets take the so-called zina of King David(as): according to the Bible, he had lust for Betsheba so he sent her husband to war to die, so he could marry her and she bore king Solomon (as).

Also, in the Bible we read many outragouse stories about Yacoub (as), Nuh (as), etc..Needless to repeat them, inshallah you know all.

Now this means a serious problem until now to Christian theogolist. I came across the philosopher Kierkegaard's view about this, where he claims that all these (including when nabi Abraham (as) was commanded to sacrifice his son), and he tried to solve this problem by calling these things "teleological suspension of the ethical".

I dont see how you can apply this theory to these outrageous stories. The theory states that we can suspend normal ethical conduct in favour of a higher goal. In the case of Abraham [a] this was obedience to God. But what is the higher goal in those outrageous stories, for example, Lut [a] getting drunk and sleeping with his daughters? In the story of betsheba, did King David know that she would give birth to Solomon, and was this his sole reason for sending her husband to die? If his goal was only to satisfy his lust, then Kierkegaard's theory doesnt apply because there is no higher goal in mind.

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I dont see how you can apply this theory to these outrageous stories. The theory states that we can suspend normal ethical conduct in favour of a higher goal. In the case of Abraham [a] this was obedience to God. But what is the higher goal in those outrageous stories, for example, Lut [a] getting drunk and sleeping with his daughters? In the story of betsheba, did King David know that she would give birth to Solomon, and was this his sole reason for sending her husband to die? If his goal was only to satisfy his lust, then Kierkegaard's theory doesnt apply because there is no higher goal in mind.

maybe the goal is to ask for forgiveness from these outrageous sins.

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But they would have to have this goal in mind before they committed the sins wouldnt they? Like Abraham having the goal of being obedient to God in mind.

Maybe it can be said that those particular actions were predetermined by God so that they can ask God to forgive them.

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Abraham didn't disobey Allah swt, on the contrary he was ready to sacrifice his dear son in the way of Allah swt as nearness to him. that's his goal and all our goals. we are passed through trials and tribulations and different levels of tests according to our own individual capacities, for us to see whether we are deserving of nearness to Him. Prophets are incapable of sin, not because there is a secret hand preventing them from doing so, but because they have reached such a level of divine consciousness and total submission and fana' (annihaltion) in His light (noorun 'ala noor, light upon light), that they are capable of manipulating the material existence, and they are aware of everything around them (again, depending on the different levels of perfection of each Prophet).

Allah swt has created a system, and these Prophets are part of this system. They have reached these differing levels of perfection out of their own choice and will power. Allah doesn't need to predetermine anything, since this goes against His system of the universe. And part of this system is objective morality, which always existed and will always exist, and it's called complete submission to the will of Allah swt, and morality is part and parcel of this.

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Abraham didn't disobey Allah swt, on the contrary he was ready to sacrifice his dear son in the way of Allah swt as nearness to him. that's his goal and all our goals. we are passed through trials and tribulations and different levels of tests according to our own individual capacities, for us to see whether we are deserving of nearness to Him. Prophets are incapable of sin, not because there is a secret hand preventing them from doing so, but because they have reached such a level of divine consciousness and total submission and fana' (annihaltion) in His light (noorun 'ala noor, light upon light), that they are capable of manipulating the material existence, and they are aware of everything around them (again, depending on the different levels of perfection of each Prophet).

Allah swt has created a system, and these Prophets are part of this system. They have reached these differing levels of perfection out of their own choice and will power. Allah doesn't need to predetermine anything, since this goes against His system of the universe. And part of this system is objective morality, which always existed and will always exist, and it's called complete submission to the will of Allah swt, and morality is part and parcel of this.

What should we understand from this poem by Rumi.

When Iblis was sent down out of heaven, he said to God, “My Lord, for your leading me astray I shall adorn the path of error for them on earth (Koran)” In contrast, when adam and eve were sent out of paradise, they said, “Lord we have wronged ourselves! (Koran)”.

Satan said, “For your leading me astray”. The base

devil hid his own act.

Adam said, We have wronged ourselves”. He was

not like us heedless of God’s Acts,

But out of courtesy, he concealed His Act in the

sin. By attributing the sin to himself he reaped fruit.

After Adam’s repentance God said to him, “Oh

Adam, did I not create that sin and trail within you?

Was that not my destiny and decree? How is it

that when asking forgiveness you kept this fact hidden?”

Adam said, “I feared least it be discourteous.”

God replied, “I also have observed courtesy toward you.”

Whoever brings respect, receives it. Whoever

brings sugar, eats almond candy.

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What should we understand from this poem by Rumi.

if you're going to try to explain theological problems with Rumi poetry, then we are really in a sorry state of affairs..

in any case, if only people understood the status of our prophets and how rules change when Allah swt deals with them, compared to the rules and laws governing our relationship with Him.

God's prohibition to Adam and Hawa was advisory, and not juristic. Rumi wrongly understand their abode as being a heavenly paradise, whereas in reality it was a temporal earthly paradise, with the proof being that 1) there is no small-talk or lying in paradise, and 2) the heavenly paradise is an abode of permanent residence, therefore deeming it irrational for them to leave after a short period of time.

And what is that about hiding a sin from God? How does he manage to do that, when not even our intentions are hidden from Him?

And Allah swt doesn't lead anybody astray, except those that insist on transgressing his orders and laws (ie Iblis), which is usually a result of pride and arrogance.

You have to appreciate something. The levels of perfection that these individuals have reached is such that they are aware of the Malakut (hidden reality) of the 'Heavens and Earth'. Do you know what this means? It means they have attained such clarity and awareness and selflessness that even the thought of sinning doesn't cross their mind (substantial motion and the unity of the intellect and intelligible)

At our level, this analogy can be made. Would you ever think of drinking poison? Even if the whole world kept insisting that you do, you wouldn't think about it. Take it a step further and test yourself again when it comes to alcohol or adultery. And then a step further, and further, until you reach the heights of these enlightened individuals and esteemed Prophets and Imams.

I hope this explanation made more sense.

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if you're going to try to explain theological problems with Rumi poetry, then we are really in a sorry state of affairs..

in any case, if only people understood the status of our prophets and how rules change when Allah swt deals with them, compared to the rules and laws governing our relationship with Him.

God's prohibition to Adam and Hawa was advisory, and not juristic. Rumi wrongly understand their abode as being a heavenly paradise, whereas in reality it was a temporal earthly paradise, with the proof being that 1) there is no small-talk or lying in paradise, and 2) the heavenly paradise is an abode of permanent residence, therefore deeming it irrational for them to leave after a short period of time.

And what is that about hiding a sin from God? How does he manage to do that, when not even our intentions are hidden from Him?

And Allah swt doesn't lead anybody astray, except those that insist on transgressing his orders and laws (ie Iblis), which is usually a result of pride and arrogance.

You have to appreciate something. The levels of perfection that these individuals have reached is such that they are aware of the Malakut (hidden reality) of the 'Heavens and Earth'. Do you know what this means? It means they have attained such clarity and awareness and selflessness that even the thought of sinning doesn't cross their mind (substantial motion and the unity of the intellect and intelligible)

At our level, this analogy can be made. Would you ever think of drinking poison? Even if the whole world kept insisting that you do, you wouldn't think about it. Take it a step further and test yourself again when it comes to alcohol or adultery. And then a step further, and further, until you reach the heights of these enlightened individuals and esteemed Prophets and Imams.

I hope this explanation made more sense.

First of all I need to make it clear that i am not fond with Kierkegaard's philosophy. and I dont at all intend to equate Rumi's poetry with Keirkegard's telelogical suspension. This should be obvious given my first post on this thread.

Secondly, I didnt expect you to philosophize and attempt to disprove Rumi since i assumed you knew that Rumi is not talking about things that he has philosophized on. But I was wrong about my assumption. I therefore need to tell you that Rumi is talking about basic universal or axiomatic principles. For Rumi the existence of paradise adam was in is not something that can be the subject of a debate. In other words, Rumi is not talking a disinterested historical fact. He is talking about something relevant to our lives here and now. So Adam is all of mankind (and in some cases, adam represents what the ideal man ought to do). The paradisal state adam was in is the paradisal state all of us were in as well; for that paradise is none other than our original human nature (our spirit breathed into us by God) which we all have latent within ourselves. It is something which needs to be manifested in order for us to return to it. If it is not manifested then we do not return to it, but enter Hell.

I thought you would be knowing that Rumi doesnt believe that anything can be hidden from God. I think you need to understand what Rumi is trying to say in another light.

Your missing the point of the entire poem when you think Rumi believes that God leads people astray unjustly.

Even though they are sinless, that doesnt mean they are absolutely free. Maybe God predetermined some things for a greater cause (asking forgiveness from God for a sin).

Its possible God can make someone perform a sin for a greater good. thats what I am saying.

a good counter you can at least try to give is that Prophets are perfect guides and perfect role models to be followed. If they make a mistake or if they sin, then how can they guide?

But then one can easily say that God wouldn't allow such mistakes to interfere of get in the way of our guidance. so to draw the conclusion that they are not perfect role models to be followed is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. For example which christian do you know says that it is if one commits adultery once in their lifetime since a prophet committed adultery! No one says that.

Now, I am not saying you are wrong to think the Prophets and the Imams are sinless to the extent that you describe. I think its good for us to think as highly as we can about them. But we shouldn't ignore the point that their sinless and immaculate reality is such that it is not subject to any debate. It is a self-evident truth that we all affirm within ourselves whether we are aware of it or not. The Prophet (S) as a perfect role model (i.e. the Divine Logos) is within all of us. we just need to conform ourselves to his reality (S). and same goes for the reality of the Imams (as) and the rest of the awliya. Once we try to understand this fact, then we may be able to come to understand for the dogma concerning their immaculate nature as commonly taught.

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First of all I need to make it clear that i am not fond with Kierkegaard's philosophy. and I dont at all intend to equate Rumi's poetry with Keirkegard's telelogical suspension. This should be obvious given my first post on this thread.

Secondly, I didnt expect you to philosophize and attempt to disprove Rumi since i assumed you knew that Rumi is not talking about things that he has philosophized on. But I was wrong about my assumption. I therefore need to tell you that Rumi is talking about basic universal or axiomatic principles. For Rumi the existence of paradise adam was in is not something that can be the subject of a debate. In other words, Rumi is not talking a disinterested historical fact. He is talking about something relevant to our lives here and now. So Adam is all of mankind (and in some cases, adam represents what the ideal man ought to do). The paradisal state adam was in is the paradisal state all of us were in as well; for that paradise is none other than our original human nature (our spirit breathed into us by God) which we all have latent within ourselves. It is something which needs to be manifested in order for us to return to it. If it is not manifested then we do not return to it, but enter Hell.

I thought you would be knowing that Rumi doesnt believe that anything can be hidden from God. I think you need to understand what Rumi is trying to say in another light.

Your missing the point of the entire poem when you think Rumi believes that God leads people astray unjustly.

Even though they are sinless, that doesnt mean they are absolutely free. Maybe God predetermined some things for a greater cause (asking forgiveness from God for a sin).

Its possible God can make someone perform a sin for a greater good. thats what I am saying.

a good counter you can at least try to give is that Prophets are perfect guides and perfect role models to be followed. If they make a mistake or if they sin, then how can they guide?

But then one can easily say that God wouldn't allow such mistakes to interfere of get in the way of our guidance. so to draw the conclusion that they are not perfect role models to be followed is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. For example which christian do you know says that it is if one commits adultery once in their lifetime since a prophet committed adultery! No one says that.

Now, I am not saying you are wrong to think the Prophets and the Imams are sinless to the extent that you describe. I think its good for us to think as highly as we can about them. But we shouldn't ignore the point that their sinless and immaculate reality is such that it is not subject to any debate. It is a self-evident truth that we all affirm within ourselves whether we are aware of it or not. The Prophet (S) as a perfect role model (i.e. the Divine Logos) is within all of us. we just need to conform ourselves to his reality (S). and same goes for the reality of the Imams (as) and the rest of the awliya. Once we try to understand this fact, then we may be able to come to understand for the dogma concerning their immaculate nature as commonly taught.

dear brother, first of all I don't even know kierkgaards philosophy well enough to challenge it (don't think it would be hard though..there's a multi-part series discussion going on on the guardian.co.uk news paper on his thinking, check commentisfree/belief)

second, i have absolutely no exposure to Rumi. therefore, whatever i challenged was purely from a qur'anic perspective. and i also think that it's wrong to explain important things like infallibility through poetry. especially for the OP's sake, to avoid confusion.

why not use the qur'an which has explanations for everything in existence? i appreciate the story of Adam can be seen as both historical fact (Adam the prophet and father of mankind), and as a lesson to humanity, and i don't dispute that one bit. and i've written about this enough (through listening to hawza seminars relating to Allamah Tabatab'i exegesis of the Qur'an) to understand the message the qur'an is trying to convey when it comes to stories of prophets.

thirdly, the matter of infallibility is a huge subject, and for the benefit of the OP, i tried to refrain from digressing deep into the subject and tried to put forth as straight forward an explanation as possible. of course what you added is valid and a good point and I always use it in my debates, in this case I didn't (best excuse I can give is I was in a rush and forgot..), and thank you for clarifying for the OP's sake.

fourth, i'm going through hawza seminars on the subject of Imamah at the moment, and according to Allamah Tabataba'i (i.e the Qur'an), the Imams and the Holy Prophet have vilayah takweeniyah, which means control over the world of existence. also, they are aware of what has been and what will be. they say to a thing be, and it is. are you telling me such beings are not aware that an action emanating from them would have this effect or that in the future?

not performing sin, and not even thinking about committing sin, IS the greater good. what greater good is there from having perfect guides of absolute infallibility? and i'm all for debating this point further, as I never said that these subjects are beyond debate. we have to question everything to reach ultimate truth.

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from Tafseer Al Mizan: '' the verse 7:20 (and he said: "Your Lord has not forbidden from this tree except that...") also show that the Satan had visited then near that tree in the Garden. He entered the Garden, talked to them and put evil suggestion before them. He was able to do so because the Garden was not the Garden of eternal abode. The Qur'an also says that Adam, his wife and the Satan all were removed from the Garden together. (Of course, Allah had said to the Satan: "Then get down from this, for it does not befit you to behave proudly therein" (7:131). But the pronouns "this" and "therein" may refer to the angels or to the heaven. It may mean: Get down from the company of the angels; or, get down from the heaven as it is a place of honor.)''

al-Qummi ('Ali) narrates, in his at-Tafsir, from his father (Ibrahim ibn Hashim) who narrates, from as-Sadiq (a.s.) (omitting the chain of intervening narrators, although it was fully described by his Shaykh). He said: "as-Sadiq" (a.s.) was asked about the Garden of Adam whether it was a garden of this world or one of the hereafter's. He (a.s.) said: 'It was a garden of this world, wherein the sun and the moon rose. Had it been a Garden of the hereafter, he would not have come out of it.' He (a.s.) further said: 'Allah placed him in the Garden and allowed him its freedom with the exception of the tree. (It was done) because here was a creature of Allah who could not survive without (some) enjoinment and prohibition, nor (could it continue) without food, cloth, shelter and marriage; nor could he know, without divine help, what was beneficial to him from what was harmful. Then came to him Iblis and told him: "if you (two) ate from this tree, which Allah bas forbidden You, You (two) would become two angels and would abide in the Garden for ever, and if you (two) did not eat from it, Allah would turn you out from the Garden;" and he swore to them that he was a sincere adviser to them; as Allah quotes his words: Your Lord has not forbidden you from this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of' the immortals. And he swore to them both: "Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you." Adam believed in his words, and they (i.e. Adam and his wife) ate from the tree; and they became as Allah says: their nakedness became manifest to them; what Allah had clothed them with of the (attires of the) Garden dropped away from them, and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the Garden; and their Lord called out to them: Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Satan is your open enemy? They said, as Allah quotes them: "Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves; and if Thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers." Thereupon Allah said to them: "Get down, some of you being the enemies of others; and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time. He (the Imam) said: "that (time) is the Day of Resurrection." He further said: "Then Adam descended on the (hill of) as-Safa – and it got this name because Safiyu'llah (the sincere friend of Allah, i.e. Adam) came down on it; and Hawwa' (Eve) descended on the (hill of) al -Marwah - and it was named al -Marwah because al-mar'ah (the woman) descended on it. Then Adam remained in prostration for forty days, weeping for the Garden. So Jibril (Gabriel) came to him and said: 'Did Allah not create you with His hand, and (did He not) breath into you from His spirit, and (did He not) made His angels prostrate before you?' He said: 'Certainly.' (Then Jibril said:) 'and He ordered you not to eat from the tree and you disobeyed Him?' Adam said: 'Iblis swore to me falsely.'

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Salam alaikum,

As we know, Jews and Christians in the bible somehow distorted the images of the prophets (as). Lets take the so-called zina of King David(as): according to the Bible, he had lust for Betsheba so he sent her husband to war to die, so he could marry her and she bore king Solomon (as).

Also, in the Bible we read many outragouse stories about Yacoub (as), Nuh (as), etc..Needless to repeat them, inshallah you know all.

Now this means a serious problem until now to Christian theogolist. I came across the philosopher Kierkegaard's view about this, where he claims that all these (including when nabi Abraham (as) was commanded to sacrifice his son), and he tried to solve this problem by calling these things "teleological suspension of the ethical".

This theory is widespread amongst Christians (as for Jews, I still have to do some research how they could explain the nasty stories about some of the prophets...)

I think Islam doesn't beleive in it, but could you bring me some refutations for the kierkegaardian view here? I personally don't beleive, ethics can be "suspended" for some "choosen ones". Also I know, Islam teaches the 'Isma (infallibility) of the patriarchs. But I would really like to read some point of view of ayatollahs/thinkers about this Christian concept...

Wassalam

None of those crazy incestuous things that are in the bible happened in Islam so there was no suspension of ethics.

Secondly, Abraham (as) was ordered by God (SWT) to sacrifice his son (as), before he was killed, he was substituted BY GOD (SWT)

So again no suspension of ethics occurred. Rather one should see it as a test of fealty.

Edited by JawzofDETH

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Salam alaikum,

Thank you, Thecontentedself..I will carefully study your reply, and inshallah will be able to reflect on it...my delay is due to the mess of my pc:( :/

Jawzof...Yes, I know..Islam is way more logical than that...subhan Allah, jews and Christians must had had a lot of headaches until they could make up some reasonable explanations for all those Bible-stories...

Christians overall have some weird ideas about deen...Like the religion for them is not a GOAL but a TOOL to reach God..and as you know, tools can be substituted if you find better/newer/etc...Have you ever heard about the concept in oethodox greek christianism of yurodyiviy (dunno how to spell...)? The "saint fool": he, through his spirit, which is - as they say- "full of Christ" is able to transgress the laws and rules...like he walks around naked, curses, etc...until the point he says, he is god himself/herself...it reminds me of Hallaq. But thats a totally different story and sorry for venting here.

Wassalam

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