Monday, September 13, 2010

Rightness

Reading today Al-Baqara 88-160

Favorite Quote From Holy Qur'an:

...And if anyone obeyeth his own impulse ot Good-be sure that Allah is He Who recognizeth and knoweth.
Al-Baqara 158

Favorite Quote From Holy Bible:

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.
Titus 1:1-2

Ok So the reading the Bible and Qur'an in temproal order is simply not going to work so I have tailored my reading habits accordingly. Whatever topic/concepts are present in my reading of the Qur'an for the I will juxtapose them to similar topics in the Bible. I am in no way attempting to produce a holistic comparison but rather a thought for though comparison of the two.

Reading through the second half of Al-Baqara today again lead me to realize that this process will be slow if I wish to reflect on all of what I am reading, which I do. Unfortunately today I was only able to cover about 80 verses (I wised to finish the rest) before my mind was ready to explode and some precious aspect of what I have been contemplating would be lost. But I do wish everyone to take the entirety of my intellectual journey through these holy pages of Muslim and Christian so it is of no loss of time or joy to myself.

Starting around the hundredth verse of Al-Baqara it kicks into a very serious examination of the place of Allah and Muslim teachings compared to Jewish and Christian. This is extremely unique from my experience studying the Bible where there is nowhere near as direct an apologetic against other faiths, but rather naturally amuses that Christianity is the best way and the sound in heart and mind will follow Christ. Issue: as seen above the Qur'an makes the exact same claim. In fact it makes quite similar claims to the Bible through the entire section of my reading today.
The interesting assumption of the big monotheistic religions is the claim of exclusivity. Only those who are good and right and just and intelligent and holy and smart and good looking and special and unique and ......The list could go on forever this claim leads people to say quite false things about their faith. For example I was given a magazine at my workplace designed to "promote a Biblical worldview" and in that magazine they criticize Galileo for saying that scripture does not define science. I hope that shocks someone besides me, that man was persecuted because he believed that the Earth orbited the sun and the Church thought that it was the center of the universe. Who was wrong? Also in Christian circles there is the trap of attempting to claim every major advancement in humanity was caused due to Christianity. Is that wrong? Claims of exclusivity are fine when they are kept in their place but clamoring for historical figures to add to you personal agenda is not at all the idea contained in either book.

A companion of the exclusivity claim is the claim to "goodness" or "rightness" the entire social construction of the things. It can be seen then how interpreting some of the passaged in the Bible and Qur'an that make statements about these positive attributes some conclude only their side contains people who actually do good things for humanity. Conversely they assume that all others do things out of pride, lust, greed, or any other of the cornucopia of bad human behaviors and are therefore not good at all but "turned out good" because of the divine providence of their deity.
Again in this passage there is a severe chiding of the people of Israel but this time they are joined by the Christians. Just as the authors of the Bible sincerely wished to show the Jews that they had "missed" their Messiah, the author of Al-Baqara wishes to show Christians and Jews that they have missed the prophet that explained it all. I will get into this argument more fully tomorrow when I approach the defense of the Muslim faith presented in this passage, but it is plain to see that the writers of each book desired to show EVERYONE the right way to follow the divine, not just their own people.

We need to keep in mind when dealing with anyone from a different belief system from ourselves that they have their own reasons for believing they are correct. These reasons are deep and well though out at times, other times they are scattered and illogical, but neither of those approaches souls give us the right to barrel into their lives shouting and screaming about how stupid they are and how much they will suffer at life's end. Instead, we should let our own personal beliefs do the talking for us and whether that is the Qur'an, Bible, or nature each of us should be confident in what we believe and compassionate toward those who believe differently. If we act otherwise there will certainly be no conversation and definitely no conversion.

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