Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creation & Moses Part:2

Favorite Quote from Holy Qur'an

"And cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is)"
Al-Baqara 42

Favorite Quote from Holy Bible

"Moses...wet up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself."
Exodus 24:9-10

Now in between the tales of Adam and Moses in the Qur'an the author speaks of the importance of the bond that Allah has made with the Israelites. This is likely to bring to mind the covenant that every Israelite will remember and to begin a dialog with them through out the rest of the sura. This was surprising to me because of the intense level of animosity between these two groups. Perhaps because in this sura it goes on to show how Israel fell short of meeting its covenant with Allah, but both groups claim Moses as a prophet that freed Israel from the grip of Pharaoh.
Another interesting statement is contained in verse 47 where Allah asks the children of Israel to remember the special favor that was givent to them before all others, to share Allah's message on earth. This statement is also found in the Bible. Israel was to be the bearer of God's words and message on the earth to all other nations. God preferred them above all others and therefore shared his mission with them. This agreement is astoundingly powerful and should inspire respect in these two peoples for each other. I realize that I have not finished the entire book yet and am only writing in part of what I understand. The simple existence of statements like this in the Qur'an should inspire both parties to reconcile out of respect for the past even if one or the other has "strayed" in the present day. Statements such as these could bridge the theological gap between all three faith groups Christian, Muslim and Jewish. But we must be willing to accept them on equal standing with the text we each value so much, and that is the largest difficult for all of us.

One key difference in the Mosaic account in the Qur'an and Bible is the way Moses' actions are portrayed. Most of the key events in the Bible are in the Qur'an as well, but their representation and subsequent interpretation provide vastly different views of the Moses the man. Throughout the Biblical account the keys of Moses character appear when he disobeys God's command, like when he struck the rock instead of simply speaking to it as commanded. To the modern reader it almost appears that Moses has a bit of an anger management problem and is vastly over punished for a simple transgression. Due to this particular swift movement of wood God keeps Moses from entering the promised land. An apparent overreaction for a man who had shown so much patience over the rest of his 120 years on earth that he would be eligible today for triple sainthood if there were such a thing. However at the end of the account of Moses God relents and allows him to at least see his promised land before his death from the top of a mountain. This again makes God appear slightly double minded or perhaps he feels he made a mistake with Moses, either way in the end Moses at some point in his life displeased God and it was up to God to make the call on how Moses should be treated.

However in the account in the Qur'an gives does not chide Moses even once. The villain in this account is the people of Israel who continuously ask for signs from Moses and Allah. This actually not too different than the account in the Bible; it states that Israel acted while they were in the desert, so it is certainly not demonizing the people of Israel any more than Exodus does. In Al-Baqara Moses is shown as the ever faithful follower and prophet of Allah. He is the one who preforms as he is asked and because of his obedience Allah imparts the Commandments and his Word. This account makes Allah seem to be slightly more reasonable toward the 120 year old man than the account in the Bible, showing that Allah honors obedience and punishes disobedience but in light of the account of Adam it also shows Allah willing to forgive.

At this point in the Bible it has become quite apparent that God does not accept those who do not follow his will and Faith, the same is true in the Qur'an its portrait of Allah. This tends to be a position that people constantly focus on in the Qur'an, presenting Allah as quite tough handed and cruel, but for the first few books of the Bible God appears the same way. Yes, there are redemptive accounts as well but the overwhelming majority are accounts of sin an punishment, it is the same with the Qur'an. But, both books make sure to mention the Mercy of the divine, the importance of it as a part of their character and relationship to humanity. God and Allah are shown to be focused on justice but not immovable and without compassion . It is shown in the Bible by God relenting with Moses. In the Qur'an it is found often in the statement "Oft-returning, Most Merciful."

The argument needs to be directed away from which one of these tales has the most hateful deity, but most often one of the fields of argument centers on the grumpiness and immovability of each Law Giver. I would suggest that at this point neither of them have earned large points for niceness but both have shown capacity for compassion and grace to those willing to follow the leaders They had selected on the earth.

At this point I realize why many speak of the Qur'an as a hateful book toward those who do not believe. However, this point does not take into account the way the authors of the Qur'an and Bible went about literature. The Qur'an gets from Creation to Moses in less that 100 verses and it takes the Bible a full book. Apparently the difference is that the Bible and Hebrew writers want to give all the possible information and through the narrative understand the character of God, Moses and the Israelites. Oppositely the Qur'an is much more to the point about character and substance of choices. So when one reads that those who reject the Faith will burn in fire, it seems as strong language directed against the Israelites, but the exact same conclusion can be drawn from the story of God swallowing up Akin and his family for taking gold from Jericho.

Americans tend to abbreviate so it is easy to see the Qur'an as the big bully and forget that the same point is made in narrative in the Bible. We have each heard so many sermons of how some of the people of Israel were foolish and lead astray, but nobody finishes the thought - that statement would conclude they are now in the Fire with all others who do not believe. The same statement made in the Qur'an. We must be cautious when we point the finger without examining throughly what we believe ourselves, we might find we actually believe the thing were are criticizing.

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