Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Islam, Judaism, Christianity - God, Books, and Peace

A Muslim is a person who follows the religion of Islam. The book of Islam is the QURAN.(Koran).  It was said to be written by the prophet Muhammad but it's more likely that he dictated it as there is question of whether he himself could write.  It is nonetheless considered the Word of God 'revealed' to Muhammed.

To be a Muslim one must publicly pronounce the Shahadah (declaration of faith):

"There is no god but the God and Muhammed is the last messenger of the God."

Muhammed was born c 570 and died 632 CE in Mecca, Hejaz, Arabia.  He is the founder of the religion of Islam and known as it's Prophet. He was considered the Last Prophet of the line beginning with Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.  The Hadith are secondary teachings and writings which coupled with the Koran form the basis of the Islamic religion The collected 'laws' of Islam are called the Sharia.

Judaism also began with Adam (and Eve).  Abraham  was born 1948 BCE in Sumer and went to Canaan and made the first covenant with God. This was the basis of the "Chosen People".   Abraham is considered the Patriarch of Judaism. The Lord spoke to Abraham.  Abraham and Sarah gave birth to Moses.  Moses met Yahweh ("I am that is who I am").   In Deuteronomy,  to Moses was given the Shema:

"Hear. O Israel! The Lord is our God, the lord is one." 

The "Book" of Judaism is the TORAH. Secondary writings of Judaism are the Mishnaw, most of which are subsequent interpretations and discussions of the Torah by later scholars.  The most famous 'laws' of Judaism are the "Ten Commandments' but there are various 'laws' which are found in the Judaism and these have been the basis of western laws.

Islam and Judaism are monotheistic religions who share the patriarch Abraham.

Christianity began with the birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, son of God and Son of the Trinity, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  Muslims and Jews consider the Trinitarian God of Christianity, "three gods in one" as  polytheism. Christians believe in the one God Yahweh with three 'persons in relationship". 

The Book of Christianity is the GOSPELS (4 separate stories of the birth, teaching and death  of Jesus, as told by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  Subsequent writings of the Apostles and Paul's letters make up what is called the "New Testament" of the Holy Bible.  The Old Testament is essentially the Judaic Bible.  The Judiac Book is the Old Covenant with God whereas the Christian Book is the New Covenant with God. 

Jesus said, "I and the Father are One", "I am the way, the truth , and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Jesus taught, ""Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and all your strength and with all your mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself."

The Muslims and the Jews consider Jesus a prophet.

They are wrong.

Both the Quran and the Torah are historic "tribal" texts.  Tribalism is the organization and advocacy for a particular tribe. 

To be a Jew is to have a Jewish mother despite the option of conversion. Circumcision is central to the conversion.  To be a Muslem however is an act of public conversion.  Because God told Muhammed to follow the religion of "ibrahim' (Abraham), circumcision is also central to Islam.

Both Judaism and Islam practice 'genital mutilation'.

Thanks to the Apostle Paul, who was lead by God to make Christianity 'inclusive' or conversion 'easy' as some might say,  Circumcision and hence Genital Mutilation are not necessary to the religion of Christianity. 

The book "Evolution of God" by Robert Wright discusses brilliantly the development of our present concept today of one god and the Trinitarian God.  The idea that the 'nature' and 'meaning' and 'relationshnip' to God is dynamic not static is exciting.  Such a consideration must be made for Islamic God which no doubt has been subject to evolution and the effects of history.  Here is the issue of 'historic' and 'exclusivity/inclusivity'. 

The other central consideration of religion and indeed culture is who is considered a 'person'.  Who is the readership. Who is the writing for. And finally what is the language. Obviously, neither the Quran, Torah or Gospels were written in English yet I am writing in English. Recent study of Hebrew taught me amazingly late in life that "interpretations" or religious texts are fundamentally flawed and much affected by scholarship and language as the dyanamic or static nature of language.

While the Quran and Torah are tribal texts with much history of war with others, the Christian text is not a war history but one of spreading ideas.

However in 300 ad , at Nicea,  Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, making it the Holy Roman Empire, the basis of Catholicism.  Thereafter Christianity is very much associated with war. 

I believe that spirituality is the basis of all true religion. Spirituality and Mysticism are sometimes used alternatively because both refer to individual direct experience of God.  Religion by contrast is the groups experience with God.  Religion is the combination of 'politics and spirituality'. 

When people say Islam is the Religion of Peace they are wrong.  Muhammed was a merchant who became a great warrior.

Judaism is neither a Religion of Peace. Abraham and Moses were both great warrior leaders.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He was a carpenter and never killed a soul. He was a healer. 

Muslims, Jews and Christians have all been great killers. Muslims have killed Muslims.  Jews have killed Jews. Christians have killed Christians. Muslims and Jews have killed each other and still do. Christians and Muslims have killed each other still do.   Christians and Jews have killed each other but frown on this today. In this political trinity, Christians and Jews have allied against Muslims. Muslims and Christians have allied against Muslims.  Muslims and Jews have Allied against Muslims. Christians and Jews aren't killing each other now. 

(Not apart of this discussion, but worthy of mention is that  eastern religions including Buddhists and Hindus have all been great killers. The greatest killers of all, though,  have been Aetheists.  Pagans were killing with gusto long before Christians. The various aboriginal pagan religions especially those of the Aztec and some Polynesian tribes have been killing well too.   Humans individually and collectively have always been great killers.)

Each religion has it's spiritual or mystical sects.  The Suffis are the most spiritual and mystical of Islam. I was priviledged and honored to meet with them in Cappadocea, Turkey.   The Jews have their Kabbalistic sects and Hasidic sects. I was honoured to meet and share Sabat with deeply mystical spiritual Jews in Safed, Israel.

Catholics have their mystical monastic orders, the Carmelites with St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross being their most famous.

Absolute non violence is not a requirement of Judaism.

The Ahmadiyya sect of Islam is a most outspoken about the message of peace and Islam but violence is not rejected. Indeed the message of Jihad is far more deeply entrenched in Islam than that of non violence.

Franciscan monasteries might well be the most pacific of Catholic Christians. However, the catholic monastic tradition has generally been non violent.

The most peaceful of all religious sects are the Christian Quakers and the Mennonites. They were as pacific as the Tibetan Buddhists who the Aetheist Chinese killed en mass.  Quakers are wholly non violent and the Mennonites are alike in their unwillingness to kill.

Roughly, the number of Muslims in the world is about 1.6 billion or 23%. The number of Christians is 2.2 billion or 32%, with only 14 million or .2% Jews.  (PEW Research).

There are definitely radical groups within each of the religions. 

Jihadists are best described as Radical Muslims.  The You Tube Video "By the Numbers' hosted by Raz, is a conversation about Radical Islam. It states that there are 3 spheres of Radicalization, the Violent Jihadists, the Violent Muslims and the Fundamentalists.  The world number of Violent Jihadists is anywhere from 500,000 to a million.  This are ISIS and other muslim terrorist groups.   
Islamists are radical muslim who want to change the other systems of government around the world working within those systems.  Examples are Hammas and Moslem Brotherhood and CAIR.  ( In the cold war the communists called their 'invaders' of this ilk, the fourth column)  The final sphere is the Fundamentalists. Fundamentalists believe other countries  should have Sharia Law.  Sharia Law includes killing of women who have premarital or extramarital sex, suicide bombing is justified, chopping off the hands of thieves etc.   Radical Muslims therefore may make up roughly a half billion muslims.  Not all believe in all the radical tenets of radical Islam but hundreds of millions do.  (www.ClarionProject.org/Numbers)

Of the 13 million Jews in the world 10 % might be ultra orthodox and/or Zionists. That means there's maybe a million 'radical' Jews.  The highest figure I could find scanning the internet was 3 million.  This is roughly one hundredth the number of radical muslims and despite Jewish penchant for genital mutilation of men, Jewish laws are overall modern and the Zionist position is solely in defence of Israel.  By that token , I might well be considered a radical Canadian as I would, despite being a healer physician, take up arms in defence of my own country. If the displaced Aboriginals attacked me like the displaced Palestinians attack individual Jews I'd use lethal force in defence of my person and family too.  In contrast to the Offensive Jihadists with a doctrine of violence Jews, and certainly Canadians aren't likely to invade and colonize other lands. 

Christians have their radicals.  Evangelical Christians account for 25% of Christians. Christians account for  2.2 billions so like radical Muslim there are millions of radical Christians.  They're not particularly violent, not nearly as offensive as the aetheists but nonetheless they condone violence. It was the Crusaders indeed who blocked the Offensive Muslim explansion that had Muslims invading Spain and Italy and only being stopped at Vienna.  A similar invasion of India with hundreds of thousands of Sikh's killed was only barely stopped.  Christians collectively don't have what in Canada have been called 'barbaric cultural' practices and the Modern World is really an evolution of the Christian European World with the laws we generally know today deriving from this religion. We did burn witches at the stake 5 hundred years ago but Jews and Muslims were doing worse things to women back then. These days even burning Feminists at the stake  would be seriously frowned upon and likely lead to the man being killed by the state if such provision was allowed in that Christian land. 

I will continue. 

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