Friday, September 10, 2010

Creation & Moses Part:1

Holy Qur'an 1-2.88

Favorite Quotes from the Reading:

"Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful" Al-Baqara 37

"Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, - any who believe in Allan and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." Al-Baqara 63

Holy Bible Genesis 1-3 & Exodus 16-20

Favorite Quotes from the Reading:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27

"And the Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a suitable helper for him.' " Genesis 2:18

So I can already tell this experience will stretch my understanding of history. The record in Genesis and in Al-Baqara are in quite different histological order. Of course they both start with a statement on how man was made and fallen, which we will get into later, but then Al-Baqara skips on ahead to Moses. In light of these differences my examination will attempt to be, for as long as possible, synced to the history in the Qur'an so I can examine the stories that are told side by side from the different perspectives and as each respective book represents the story morally and photographically.

Another note I would like to make is that I am not a scholar on Islam but I am a low ranking Biblical scholar, if there were such a thing. I spent four years in college studying the Bible and have a strong grasp on the stories and precepts contained inside of its pages. To that end I will obviously be covering a lot more biblical ground on some days that seems possible in one reading, but rest assured it is not because I deem it less important rather it is because I have devoted my life to studying it for four years and understand it quite well and can therefore cover much more ground in a shorter period of reading.

Of course the Bible starts directly into the story of God creating anything and everything, the first verses are filled with picture and beauty as God calls out an brings order and life into the chaos of the universe. I assumed that the Qur'an would start in similar stride, I could not have been more wrong. Perhaps because it was written later, but most certainly because of different authorship, the Qur'an starts with commands. It gets to Adam eventually but not without before laying out the "ground rules" about itself. Before the story of Adam and creation there is first a prayer, the first Sura is a prayer. This caught me off guard as I began to read something I assumed would be much like the Bible. There are prayers contained within it but they are far between. However different the approach the focus in the Qur'an's first page just as the Bible's is placed directly directly on God/Allah.

In the first sura of the Qur'an there is no question of who Allah is as a being. The words directly attributed to him are merciful, gracious, cherisher, sustainer (of all worlds) and Master of the Day of Judgement. These images certainly do not summon images of violence to the mind, but rather of a Creator who desires to interact with humanity. The prayer is one of guidance, so that the mind of the reader will be trained on what they are to do. It is also a prayer of comfort, denoting that the portion of those abide in the way of Allah will have a portion of grace not of wrath.

The first verses of Al-Baqara (the second sura) again do not tell the story of creation but rather chide those who can see Allah as the divine way but reject him. It describes them as lost in a thunderstorm, metaphorically representing Allah . When the lightning strikes near them they move around and see, and the thunder frightens them but they still do not believe even though Allah is all around them. These verses strike hard the first time they are read, not one of us wish to be so dense as to ignore the thunderstorm of truth surrounding us. It brings a sense of urgency to the reading of the passages, a hunger for the truth of them, at least that is what occurred as I read them.

The first verses in the Bible paint a bit more nebulous picture of God. This is could be due to the poetic nature of the Hebrew language and author. God is not hammered down in concrete and concise terms but the imagery bears to mind a Creator who is intelligent and compassionate. One who has thought of the purpose for the creation and designed it accordingly. This creator has given humanity a choice to follow him or to disobey, and humanity choses the latter. Blame for the event is placed on Eve's shoulders though it is also a choice that was made by Adam, a key difference in the Qur'an account. The result of their fall into the temptation of Satan was a separation from God and the Garden where they were placed to live. They are cursed because of their actions and their redemption is placed as a far off hope of the serpent being crushed under the heel of their decedents.

According to the Qur'an humanity was also created to dwell with God in the Garden. The difference being that the Garden here is in direct contact with God and is described as the place that the faithful will return to after they pass from resistance on earth. After creating Adam the Lord teaches Adam the names of everything, I suppose this represents Allah's impartation of himself to the newly created human because after doing so he commands all of his host of angels to bow to the man, but Iblis (also Satan) would not bow due to his pride and was placed with the others who reject faith. Satan then lures Adam and his wife Eve to the tree that Allah told them never to approach. Due to this transgression, that is faulted just as much to Adam as to Eve, humans are banished to Earth where they will now have to dwell and from which they will gather their livelihood. However as soon as Adam and Eve repent Allah restores them to their original place and gives them holy words of inspiration.

These accounts have interesting agreements in the fall of man due to temptation by Satan, Santa's fall (though it is discussed at a later point in the Bible) due to pride. The Qur'an and Bible agree than when Adam was created he was good, and able to do the work that the Creator assigns to him, they also show that an outside force acts on humanity to remove it from its intended place of peace and union with God. This entity, Satan in both texts, has rejected the Creators order of things and desires to destroy mankind because of their relationship with the Creator that no longer accepts Satan.

Both holy books also agree that when humanity was created it was a peak achievement for God. The Creator was more than happy with his creation he desired to place all things under it and to remind the lesser beings be they angels or animals that they were not as special as this new man. Some Muslim scholars point out that this event of Man being elevated to such high stats shows that the most tempting sin for humanity is pride, in fact in both accounts the party that assumes they can be greater than God, whether Satan or humanity, is cast aside illustrating equality with God and pride to be the greatest fault of all. A beautiful warning for every person that walks this planet.

This is already far longer than I originally assumed it would be so the discussion of Moses will have to wait for Part 2. I want to leave you with the quotes from the Qur'an at the top, if you are a Christian please consider these passages from a people's Holy book, a people that you are told want nothing but to destroy Christianity. It appears, in their on book's words, to not be the case at all.

1 comment:

  1. Ben! You are NOT a low-grade biblical scholar! Don't call yourself that!

    This is excellent work so far. I love the prayer in Surah 1. As I understand in the full Salat (which is the Muslim discipline of prayer) they recite Surah 1 in the beginning and end. I too hope that Christians will read the Qur'an before just discarding it. It is a sad thing to see two brothers fighting and these two religions are definitely brothers.