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In the Name of God بسم الله

Yesterday I finished reading the entire Quran for the first time

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The edition I have is called "The Study Quran" because it is loaded with exegesis on nearly every ayah, has an introduction for every Surah that gives the traditionally agreed upon circumstance of it's revelation to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and features essays at the end by contemporary Islamic thinkers. It is an English translation, because English is my native language, but the exegesis does give you the words in Arabic a lot of the time and delves into the definition(s) of them, how they have been traditionally understood, so on and so forth. It's a great edition that is a lot easier to read than other translations that I have seen while preserving the "thees and thous" and thus making it a beautiful read as well.

Granted I feel like I am not getting the "whole picture" because I cannot read Arabic and I've heard that reading it in Arabic and understanding the language allows it to communicate it's message to you better because Arabic words can have multiple meanings that communicate the points better, but I do feel like I've gotten a pretty clear picture of it and that this English translation is easy to apply to one's own life. I did not delve very far into the exegesis in the footnotes on this read through, but doing so is my plan for the subsequent read throughs. I also want to get one that is a transliteration so I can at least memorize and recite at least the shorter Surahs toward the end and maybe, Inshallah, pick up the ability to read Quranic Arabic.

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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. 

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3 hours ago, Ibn Maymun said:

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

Well the one thing I know for certain about the Bible, is that it didn't exist as what we now call "The Bible" prior to the 3rd century CE when it was compiled into a canon by a council that I cannot remember the name of at the moment. Sure, the individual "books" of the Torah and the Old Testament existed first as an oral tradition prior to being compiled by the aforementioned council, but they have also been copied with errors and retranslated time and again until what we got was an English "Bible" around 1611 with the completion of the King James Version. This brings me to my next point: there are many different Bible translations and each particular confession of Christianity uses it's own translation to emphasize specific theological points that said confession wants it's adherents to dogmatically hold to. For instance, the Roman Catholic (what I used to be) Bible has 7 more books than the Protestant Bible because those seven books have elements in them that are used to justify specific teachings of the Roman Catholic church.

From what I understand about the Glorious Quran and I could be wrong about this, so I apologize if I am, is that even an English translation is essentially unchanged since the time that the original Arabic recitation was revealed to The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Granted some things in an English translation are going to be different from the original Arabic Quran because this is going to happen any time you translate anything, but Quran translators do their best possible work to translate the ideas that specific ayah put forth while also working to keep the language as similar as possible to Arabic, but certain compromises inevitably have to be made.

I'm not dogging on the Bible at all, I have never read a Jewish Torah, only an English Old Testament (Which includes the books of the Torah but based off of whatever church's dogmas that the translation is being commissioned for). I am reading a New International Version of the Bible right now, and I believe that this is primarily commissioned by evangelical protestants for use in their churches but I could be wrong. I also own a New King James Version and a Catholic edition of the New Revised Standard Version. On occasion I compare the verses with one another to get a better idea. I just have found a lot of "hard to reconcile" parts of the Bible that are very violent, whereas I found nothing similar in the Quran.

I think another reason that I prefer the Quran and why I was attracted to Islam over Christianity, was because regardless of it coming down in Arabic, it really is for all people and I feel a personal connection to the words when I read them, whereas when I read the Old Testament of the Bible, I feel "left out" because I am not Jewish. The Quran, now that I have finished it once, has superseded the Bible in terms of what I feel closer to even if I cannot read or understand the language that it originally was revealed in.

Am I making sense? Because I don't want it to come off like I am dissing the Bible.

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Posted (edited)

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.

Edited by Ibn Maymun
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Thanks for your detailed response. I have definitely noticed the contradicting accounts of creation in the book of Genesis before but never really thought much about it because I was told by priests and pastors to "not worry about it".

I've read most of the Bible, but the thing that made me doubt a lot of it was the fact that there are simply so many different confessions of Christianity out there and all of them claim to have direct access to the final, undisputed truth... and most of them contradict each other. The other thing that makes me wince about the Bible is the sheer amount of violence in it and the unflattering portrayals of the prophets within it as well as the very unflattering portrayal of those it claims to be God's chosen people-- being ordered by God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to commit atrocities against the other people he created. I could never square those moments with the idea of God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that I had been sold by the Catholic Church growing up as being loving, all merciful, so on and so forth.

I also never thought in my life that I'd have read the entire Quran before I read the entire Bible. Of course, if I was fourteen years old and you told me that at 35 I'd be a Muslim, I would have laughed at you and told you that you were crazy.

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9 hours ago, Abdul-Hadi said:

I have so that I can understand it and apply it to my life better

Salam congratulations  for your finishing  entire Quran for first time , It's highly recommended that you read/recite/listen to this dua of Imam  Sajjad (عليه السلام) after finishing  entire Quran for having most benefits  from finishing  it.

Quote

Sahifa Sajjadiya - Supplication 42

Dua 42 HIs Supplication upon completion of Reading of Quran

دُعَاؤُهُ عِنْدَ خَتْمِهِ الْقُرْآنَ

https://www.duas.org/mobile/sahifasajjadia-dua42-completing-quran.html

https://www.al-islam.org/sahifa-al-kamilah-al-sajjadiyya-imam-ali-zayn-al-abidin/42-his-supplication-upon-completing-reading

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11 hours ago, Abdul-Hadi said:

I read the final twenty five or so surah within about 45 minutes. I have never even read the Bible cover-to-cover before as I am currently stuck on Ezekiel and then have the entirety of the New Testament to read (most of which I have read before).

Personally now that I have finished a complete read through of the Quran, I have can say for certain that it is far less of a violent book than the Old Testament of the Bible. Matter of fact, there was barely any violence in it and the little bit that there was, when read in context of the time when it was being revealed to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), it comes off far differently than what I was told about it in American high school. Upon having finished my first read through of the Quran, I can say that it is structured in a way that is superior to the Bible as it frequently reiterates theological points that it wants to make in each Surah and this makes these points easier to remember and not burdensome. This structure, like a series of concentric rings, definitely leads me to believe that the Quran is most certainly of divine origin and that no human being would have been able to just "make it up as the go along". It has a way that it flows that the Bible simply doesn't have.

It was nowhere near as challenging for me to read as I thought that it was going to be, and as someone who came out of the Christian tradition and is at least familiar with the Bible, I can say for certain that I enjoyed the Quran much more. There's something about it that is simply indescribable in a good way and I challenge anyone who has never read it and thinks that they understand Islam, to give it a read through and judge it for themselves. I have restarted it and am going to be reading the exegesis in the footnotes of the translation that I have so that I can understand it and apply it to my life better. My goal is to eventually be able to read through it in an entire month and to be familiar enough, at least with the English translation, to tackle reading it in the original Arabic.

May Allah bless you and grant you intercession! Here is a great website for Quran tafsir (exegesis):

https://www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-1/surah-al-fatihah-chapter-1

You’ve probably already come across it, but just in case you haven’t.

May Allah keep you on the Path of Muhammad wa al i Muhammad (عليه السلام)

Wassalam.

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11 hours ago, Ibn Maymun said:

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.

Thanks for this comment.  It is so helpful to recognise that when we come to these books we need to recognise the different aim, genrea, method of writing etc. 

Seeing the "Old Testament" as a history of events with God's comments and response to what was happening is helpful as it shows that the violence and immorality that is recorded is not prespcribed by God per se but is an historical record which God engages with and shows his truth and character above the actions of people and nations.  It is important too to recognise that it is a long story pointing to a culmination which is seen in Jesus the Messiah.

10 hours ago, Ibn Maymun said:

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. 

This too is a very helpful comment recogising the acent text of the Old Testament.  It shows that the writers of the New Testament had a recognised cannon of scripture to refer to.  It's good to remember too that the Dead Sea scrolls agree to a very large extent to the Masoretic text.

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13 hours ago, Abdul-Hadi said:

I read the final twenty five or so surah within about 45 minutes.

Me and the kids do 15 ayats a night before going to bed. It's a manageable number and it's a length that we can do everyday.

We use Quran explorer, so it helps with the pronunciation and has a translation too.

We started a couple of years ago and in the beginning we'd follow the recitation with  the commentary from al-islam. But it's not ideal. More recently we've been following up the Qur'an recitation with readings from the Izutsu book, I've previously mentioned.

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I re-started today and read through al-Baqarah this morning. That's always one of the hardest ones for me to get through for some reason, but luckily I did not nod out or fall asleep this time when I was reading it. I've found that it's easier for me to read Quran in the morning and then do my pleasure reading (sci fi, history, etc) at night so that if I start falling asleep, I can just forget about it and go straight to bed. I do not know why I have the tendency to nod out/fall asleep when I read books, but I think it's because it focuses my mind so it's not jumping around between 300 different thoughts and that relaxes me in combination with reclining.

I might read al-Imran tonight as well, but it depends on how tired I am after I hit the exercise bike, make dinner, do chores, etc.

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On 6/16/2021 at 12:50 AM, Abdul-Hadi said:

've read most of the Bible, but the thing that made me doubt a lot of it was the fact that there are simply so many different confessions of Christianity out there and all of them claim to have direct access to the final, undisputed truth... and most of them contradict each other. The other thing that makes me wince about the Bible is the sheer amount of violence in it and the unflattering portrayals of the prophets within it as well as the very unflattering portrayal of those it claims to be God's chosen people-- being ordered by God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to commit atrocities against the other people he created. I could never square those moments with the idea of God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) that I had been sold by the Catholic Church growing up as being loving, all merciful, so on and so forth.

You are right there is a lot of violence in the Bible.  As I read the accounts of the rise and fall of empires in the Old Testament I see an historical account of things that happened to real people in a real world.  Much of the violence is carried out by people who don't acknowledge God.  Often the prophets speak out against these nations in judgment from God because of their inhumane violence.  It is also clear that many times God's chosen people don't follow his direction and standards and they too are called to account for that.

The prophets are described as they were as normal people who God chose to use and engage with.  It gives me hope to see that they had dysfunctional families and tried to avoid the implications of righteous living because I too struggle with the same things.  God, who was willing to use them, is willing to use me too.  Abraham, who despite his faith, lied and deceived, was called God's friend this gives me hope and assurance that despite my failings God delights to call me his friend too.  The prophets are not put on a pedestal because only God is perfect and he engages with real people like you and me in our real messy situations.

Just an aside - You may not have found much violence in the Qur'an, but what about the Hadith and the Sira of the Prophet?  How many wars and battles are recorded there?

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34 minutes ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

but what about the Hadith and the Sira of the Prophet?  How many wars and battles are recorded there?

All of them were either defensive battles or justified (enemies brokes treaties, or killed neutral messengers, for example). If any of the prophets were in his place, even Jesus (عليه السلام), they would have done the same thing.

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Posted (edited)

I have not read the Hadith or the Sira of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) yet, I do not own editions of them but I highly doubt that I'm going to see supposed commands from God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) for the ummah to kill entire races and cities of people and all animals within them, burning the cities, so on and so forth like I have seen in the Bible (and I'm only up to Ezekiel, the New Testament from what I remember is nowhere near as violent as the Old Testament but I also tend to believe that Paul wasn't in line with the original message of Jesus (as)).

Although personally? I don't believe that God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) commanded the Israelites to kill the way they killed. I believe that those commands are put forward by men and these men are saying "God told us to do this!" to justify their behavior. It makes absolutely no rational sense for God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to create everyone on earth and then demand that his "set apart people" kill all of these people that he created just for the sake of giving them land when He simply could have willed that these people pack up and leave the land for someplace else. And you can see this predisposition for violence on behalf of "God" in the state of Israel today. Many true believers in Judaism do not believe that the state of Israel is legitimate, as it was partitioned out by men in an attempt to force the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy rather than being established by God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) but that's a whole different can of worms.

Edited by Abdul-Hadi
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On 6/18/2021 at 1:54 PM, Mohamad Abdel-Hamid said:

All of them were either defensive battles or justified (enemies brokes treaties, or killed neutral messengers, for example). If any of the prophets were in his place, even Jesus (عليه السلام), they would have done the same thing.

When we look at the life of Jesus recorded in the Holy Injil.  We see the eyewitnesses and reporters of his teaching showed that he was completly against violence.  When he was insulted he refused to be draw into retaliatory argument.  When he was arrested he told his disciples not to fight.  Matthew 26

52 ‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Jesus the Messiah gives us an example of facing violence with kindness and hate with love.  This way of life reflects God's charater of generous hospitality to all.  He welcomes us, those who have not hnoured him by living as he wants, into his kingdom and to become members of his family.

Let's read the whole Bible with this perspective rather than imposing our own limited understanding and 'rational' argument on the text.

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Posted (edited)

I get it that he was against violence, all prophets were, as we all know the Qur'an speaks very highly of our Holy Prophet (S) to the extent of declaring that "he was sent as a mercy to mankind".

But you must understand that the conditions between prophets Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them both) were very different. Jesus (عليه السلام) didn't have much followers, and if he were to tell his followers to draw their swords, they all would have perished, and his message would have been in vain. The complete opposite happened to prophet Muhammad (S), he gathered so much followers that he was able to create a city state with tens of thousands of Muslims (by the end of his life, these numbers grew to hundreds of thousands). Naturally, this created many enemies from all sides, so it was only logical that he ordered the Muslims to defend themselves and take arms. Remember, all of them were either defensive battles or justified, so he didn't start any violence. What do you think would have happened if he adopted the same attitude of Jesus (عليه السلام) in the Bible ? They would all have been exterminated and his message would have been in vain.

Imagine if Jesus actually managed to gather far more followers and if he even converted all of the Roman empire to Christianity, becoming its leader. Now imagine if the Persian empire next door declared war: was Jesus just going to sit down, do nothing and let the Persians kill thousands of Christians, all while saying: "Love your enemies ?".

There's a clear difference between being insulted/arrested and doing nothing, and getting invaded and doing nothing.

Edited by Mohamad Abdel-Hamid
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There's a contradictory part in the Gospels where Jesus (عليه السلام) says in Luke 22:36 (Luke was writing at earliest 80 years after Jesus (عليه السلام) and the gospel was still being revised as late as the second century CE) "...if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one" and then two verses later, some disciples say "Look, here are two swords" and Jesus (عليه السلام) replies "that is enough". I never understood the point of this, especially when the high priests' council is coming to arrest Jesus (عليه السلام) and Peter takes off an ear, then Jesus (عليه السلام) reattaches it. I mean, I get the main point "mercy, bless those who oppress you" and all of that stuff but specifically the part about "Sell your cloak and buy a sword" "We have two swords" "That is enough" is what makes about as much sense to me as "Alif. Lam. Mim." opening chapters of the Quran. It's something that I don't know if I am supposed to understand and it's meaning is probably known only to God (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى), if it even happened that way and this was not one of those parts of the Bible that was mistranslated or added in after a few hundred years.

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@Abdul-Hadi Please don't go down the road of trying to authenticate your weak arguments by discrediting the date of the writing of the Injil.  It is accepted by contempory scolars that the Gospels are early and authentic accounts of Jesus life and teaching.

The account of the swords is interesting.  Undoubtably if we see Jesus' reaction to Peter's attack on the servent of the High Priest it is clear that Jesus was not talking to his disciples about using the swords to defend himself.

Jesus and the disciples understood the swords to have a different meaning.  One explination could be that the word used is for a small dagger - it wasn't useful for warfare so Jesus could be endorsing the legitimacy of self-protection.  Or he could have been explaining that he had been their protector and supplier and now, for a while at least, they would need to fend for themselves.

Using this small incident to negate the whole teaching and life style of Jesus the Messiah shows a complete disrigard for any ligitimate interpretaion of the text of the Holy Injil.

Let's ask the question does our relationship with God lead us to want to fight and seek revenge or does it call us to love those who rise against us and seek to bless them?

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9 hours ago, Mohamad Abdel-Hamid said:

What do you think would have happened if he adopted the same attitude of Jesus

Jesus the Messiah explained his life style and that expected of his followers in these verses - The Holy Injil Luke chapter 22

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Jesus the Messiah was the Servant King.  This mindset permiates his teaching and action and was seen in the way his followers down the centurys have lived and served others.  When Christians moved away from this principle the result was war and discord.  However there are many examples of Followers of Jesus who served the poorest and the worst off and cared for the marginalised and in doing so brought in God's Kingdom of love, justice and righteousness.

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4 hours ago, Dave follower of The Way said:

It is accepted by contempory scolars that the Gospels are early and authentic accounts of Jesus life and teaching.



Most biblical scholars accept that the gospel of Matthew was written between 80 and 90 CE with a possible range being between 70-110 CE. These scholars also reject the idea that the apostle Matthew wrote it and believe it was some Jewish male who was at least familiar with the legal aspects of scripture being debated in his time and that he drew on the Gospel of Mark as a source. Most scholars date Mark from 66-74 CE and reject the idea that it was Mark the Evangelist who wrote it, and that the name arises from the early Christians desire to "link the work to an authoritative figure". I've already covered Luke, but John reached it's final form around 90-110 CE and like the other three Gospels, is anonymous.

When Muslims mention the Injil, they're talking about the exact message that Jesus (عليه السلام) himself would have taught. We do not have this. It did not survive, as the writings that Christians call the Gospels all began to be developed 70 years or more after him. The books commonly referred to as the "gospels" are not the Injil, because it's highly unlikely that the Injil was ever written down.

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On 6/22/2021 at 11:55 PM, Abdul-Hadi said:

Most biblical scholars accept that the gospel of Matthew was written between 80 and 90 CE with a possible range being between 70-110 CE.

Please my friend don't get duped by people writing with their own sceptical agenda to defend.  These so called scholars are not looking at the facts.

Acts does not contain the death of Paul.  Historians suggest that he died around 65 CE.  This would suggest that Acts was written before 65 CE.  Acts is the second part of Luke's account of the start of Christianity.  This would indicate that his first part - the Gospel of Luke - was written well before 65 CE.

It would seem that Luke used Mark's account as a basis for some of his writing which moves Mark's Gospel even further back to a time close to the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah in 33 CE.  This shows that these Gospel accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus the Messiah were written close to his life and while eye witnesses were around to attest to the truth of what was written.

We also have names of incidental people in the Gospels - for instance the names of Simon of Cyrene's sons  Mark Chapter 15:21 says A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.

This would show that these two men were alive and important at the time and you could go to them and ask if this account was true.

There is a lot of evidence about the role of oral transmission and the power and context of Jesus the Messiah's teaching containing repetition, rhyme, OT allusions and alliteration all indicating that his students (after all he was a teacher) would be able to remember and learn and pass on accurately what he said.

For me the exciting thing about reading the Gospels is that I know and walk with this same Jesus the Messiah each day.  This morning as I prayed he was there, as I walk out of my front door I know him with me.  His teaching and example guide, encourage and empower me to face the questions and challenges of each day.

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