Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, August 23, 2020

Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,

Do You Need to Know More About Islam? Part 3

By Dr. and Senator Raymond Finney

I continue a brief series on certain aspects of Islam.

RANDOM COMMENTS ABOUT ISLAM: The following comments, in no particular order, may help to better define this faith:

HOUSES OF ISLAM: “House” translates the Arabic “dar.” Houses of Islamic thought and practice include: Dar al-Islam (“House of Submission”), Dar al-Harb (“House of War”), and Dar al-‘Ahd, Dar al-Sulh (“House of Conciliation/ Treaty/ Truce”). Because I need to begin concluding this series, I will not elaborate.

ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM: Muslims consider the Koran and the Hadith as their holy books, just as Jews consider the Tanakh and Christians/ Believers consider the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadashah as their holy books. Muslims consider the Koran (al-Quran) as the words of Allah, revealed from Allah to Mohammad, and the Hadith as a biographical collection of the actions and words of Mohammad. Muslims strive to emulate the life of Mohammad, and words from their holy books help shape their thoughts. 

Many Muslims may be weak or nominal (in name only) in their beliefs, just as many Jews and Christians/ Believers may be weak or nominal in their beliefs. People of all faiths who strictly adhere to the teaching of their holy books are “fundamentalists.” 

SIDELIGHT: The title “Christian fundamentalism” is used frequently– not always in a complimentary manner. There are five features of Christian fundamentalism:

** Yeshua HaMashiach is God– the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (John 1:1; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9).

** Yeshua HaMashiach is born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27).

** Sins are atoned by the blood sacrifice of Yeshua (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12-14).

** Yeshua was bodily resurrected from His death, as will those who believe in Him (Luke 24:36-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 15:14-15).

** The Holy Scriptures are inerrant and are the revelations to mankind from God (Psalm 12:6-7; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20). 

Without believing all five of these fundamental Scriptural doctrines, a Believer/ Christian would not be considered to be a fundamentalist.

Fundamentalist Muslims also have five tenets of their belief, called the “Five Pillars of Islam.” Mohammad, in the Hadith Bukhari, affirmed these pillars: “Islam has been built upon five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity but Allah and that Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakah, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.” The five pillars of Islam are:

** Shahadah– profession of faith. (Arabic Shahadah = “to bear witness.”) Upon becoming a Muslim, a person must confess aloud that Allah is god and Allah’s prophet is Mohammad. The Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar” (translation: “Allah is the greatest”) is confessed, and is repeated in all prayers.

** Salaat– prayer. Five times daily, a Muslim must face Mecca, prostrate (kneel, bow) him-/her-self, and pray to Allah. The Muslim prays in the dawn, early afternoon, late afternoon, sunset, and night. In Islamic countries, a formal call to prayer is voiced. President Obama called the Muslim call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset.” Prayers include words of praise and thanks to Allah, verses from the Koran, and personal supplications. The ritual of praying to Allah is illustrated in: https://www.wikihow.com/Pray-in-Islam.

** Zakat– almsgiving (charity). The Koran teaches that everything a person has comes from Allah, not to hoard or covet, but to share with the less-fortunate.

** Sawm– fasting. Islam teaches that fasting helps Muslims to empathize with those less fortunate, to reprioritize their lives, and to bring them closer to Allah in strengthened faith. Muslims may fast voluntarily throughout the year, but all adult Muslims of sound body and mind must fast during the month of Ramadan each year. Ramadan is only a partial, dawn-to-sunset fast (fast during the day, eat at night), and certain persons are excused from fasting. 

** Hajj– pilgrimage. The hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia). The Hajj is required of a Muslim once in a lifetime, if he/ she is physically and financially able to make the trip. END sidelight.

Politicians and news media describe fanatical Islamic violence-mongers as “extremists.” Or, they dismiss the violence as being committed by persons who have “hijacked a great religion” – a religion of “peace and love.” In my opinion, those who practice violence (terrorism) are not extremists; they are fundamentalists. Fundamentalist Muslims follow parts of the Koran, exactly as written, and follow Mohammad, as he lived his life. Some Muslims would argue that the jihadists are the true Muslims, as they strictly adhere to the words of the Koran (even difficult passages), whereas the moderate Muslims are apostate, falling away from the literal (verbatim) words of the Koran. At this point, arguments devolve into semantics and involve more emotion than logic.

Mohammad wrote the Koran in two phases. In the early (Mecca) phase, as he attempted to recruit Jews and Christians to Islam, his rhetoric was kindly disposed toward “People of the Book” (Jews) and “Polytheists” (Christians). In the second (Medina) phase, after Islam was rejected by Jews and Christians, his rhetoric became more vitriolic and hateful toward Jews and Christians. It is from this second writing phase of the Koran that jihadists may find justification (holy justification) for war against non-Muslims, whom they regard as infidels.  

No accurate census of Islam exists, but some persons estimate that ten percent of Muslims are fundamentalists. This minority is huge, given the total number of Muslims in the world (more than 1.8-billion). That is, if approximately ten percent of Muslims are fundamentalists, there may be approximately 180-million  fundamentalist Muslims in the world. This number is more than half the population of the United States. The remaining Muslims would be considered moderate or nominal (in name only) – or even apostate.

There is approximately the same breakdown in Christianity, with ten percent being fundamentalists, and the rest being moderate or nominal in faith.

THE KORAN’S “WAR VERSES:” A fundamentalist Muslim can find passages in the Koran (Qur’an) which justify killing non-Muslims (infidels). See this site: https://thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx in which are quoted more than one-hundred verses of the Koran, which encourage and glorify violence against non-believers. Each citation includes the surah (equivalent to our chapter) and verse quoted directly from the Koran. Muslims do not have the concept of sin, as do Jews and Christians. Anything that Mohammad said or did is permitted for a Muslim to say or do.

Examples include [numbers in brackets = surah (chapter) and verse in the Koran; example: 2.244 = surah 2, verse 244].

[2.244] “Then fight in the cause of Allah,….”

[2.216] “Fighting is prescribed for you,….”

[3.151] “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers,….”

[4.74] “… Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.”

[4:76] “ “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of [Satan]. So fight you against the friends of Shaitan [Satan].”

[4.101] ”… disbelievers are ever unto you open enemies.” 

[5.33] “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger [Mohammad]… is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.” 

[8.12] “… Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of [the disbelievers].” 

[8.67] “It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land….” 

[8.65] “O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight….” 

[9.5] “… slay the idolaters wherever you find them,….”

[9.30] “… may Allah destroy [Jews and Christians]; how they are turned away!” 

[9.73] “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.” 

[9.123] “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” 

[17.16] “And when We wish to destroy a town,… We destroy it with utter destruction.” 

[47.35] “Be not weary and fainthearted, crying for peace, when ye should [have the upper hand] for Allah is with you,….”

[61.4] “Surely Allah loves those who fight in His cause….”

[61.10-12] “O You who believe! [If] you believe in Allah and His Messenger [Mohammad], and… strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives,… [Allah] will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of [Paradise]….”
[66.9] “Hell will be the home of [disbelievers and hypocrites]….”

Other jihad (war) verses are present in the Koran, but are not herein reproduced because of space limitations.

You may read the Koran online, including all verses of the 114 surahs (chapters), at: http://www.wright-house.com/religions/islam/Quran.html  .

RAMADAN: Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This month, said to celebrate Allah’s first revelation to Mohammad, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam to be celebrated by all Muslims throughout the world.

Ramadan fasting from sunrise to sunset is mandatory for adult Muslims, who are not acutely or chronically ill, traveling, elderly, diabetic, breastfeeding, or menstruating. Regular meals may follow in the evening hours (between sunset and sunrise). Ramadan ends with Eid al-Fitr (“Festival of Breaking of the Fast”). 

ISLAMIC DIETARY RESTRICTIONS: To a Muslim, foods may be halal (“lawful,” allowed) or haram (“unlawful,” forbidden). Halal (allowed) foods can be a little complicated. Slaughtering of an animal must be in accordance with strict rules. See https://www.whyislam.org/faqs/diet/  for halal conditions of slaughtering an animal. Pork and pork products (such as some gelatin products) are forbidden. Seafood (from the sea) is almost always acceptable for Muslims to eat, but alligator, crocodile, and frog meat are prohibited. 

All forms of alcohol, whether used for drinking or cooking, are forbidden. An Islamic principle, which applies to alcohol in any amount, is: “If something intoxicates in a large amount, it is forbidden even in a small amount.”  Interestingly, though, Muslims drink wine in Paradise.

I conclude Part 3 at this point. In next Sunday’s RR, I will discuss more reasons all Believers should know more about Islam. Shalom and Maranatha.