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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Fundamentals of Christianity and Islam

After reading many postings on Christian newsgroups and Muslimnewsgroups I have noticed there are many posts which are aimed at converting people from one faith to their own faith but very little effort being made to understand the differences between the Monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Above all there is a mass of postings made by Christians attempting to teach Muslims the message of Jesus and Christianity. I myself am a Muslim(Islam) and find it very disturbing that so many Christians seem to have little to no understanding of just what it is that Muslims believe.Perhaps as a Christian you have no wish to understand either since youhave found a set of teachings that you believe are the truth and have therefore dismissed all other religions as being false religions. As a Muslim my religion is Islam and the scripture that I try to live my life by is the Qur'an. In the Qur'an it is written that humans should question all things and that God expects and encourages this as the way to find truth. Like Christians we also believe that when youhere the truth (be it gods will) you will know it and recognize it if you use reason. I am sure that as Christians you will believe the samething since to encourage blind belief in something is simply to encourage mental suicide. The aim of writing this post is not to attempt to convert Christians to Islam but to point out a difference in beliefs that will hopefully bring about greater understanding and harmony between the two faiths...As a Christian you can only benefit by knowing the mindset of someone of a different faith...who knows you may even end up converting someone with this information.I know that I have benefited by reading bible text to understandwhere Christian beliefs and mentality is coming from. I am about to attempt to give a crash course on the central Muslim belief without boring you with pages and pages of detail...I am going to try to explain why I choose Islam over Christianity as my religion. Before I put my case I would like to repeat that both Christians and Muslims believe that when you here truth you know it and cannot find fault in it nor deny it. As a Muslim I believe that gods people do not live in one grouping of people on the planet...ie.....come judgment day it is not going to be all those who called themselves Muslims, or Christians,or Jews that are going to ascend to heaven but it will be a very mixed composition of people that does not take into account such superficial things as religious label be it Jew Christian or Muslim, country of residence, or color of skin, Everyone's fate will be decided by their actions and the words that flow from their hands and lips. I believe this is what the prophets were teaching in scripture...one such example being Jesus when he implied: not all who come with my message are of Gods people (or something to that effect). Everyone's fate will be determined by Gods judgment and not human judgment since God is the knower of all things both seen and unseen in the heart. To suggest such a theory as come judgment day all the Muslims/Christians/Jews living insuch and such a country will be "the righteous" and all the rest will face the punishment of God for their sins is a very simplistic black and white view and is far away from a rational mind and the teachings of any religious texts. It is also a very dangerous fanatical way of thinking. Life would be a lot easier if everyone's labels matched the way they behaved and what was in their hearts but sadly this is far from reality. I think the following quote sums up this belief:"Religion is not a club you can join. Your religion is something youwill drift in and out of throughout your life dependant on your behavior. Your fate salvation and guidance in this life and the next are not decided by the label you go by. be it agnostic Christian, Jew,or Muslim, but by your actions, the words that flow from your lips, and what you truly believe in your heart. This is my religion, your religion, and everybody's religion......the name of this religion and teaching is XXXXX" Of course this viewpoint is not unique to Islam, which is why I put XXXXX instead of Islam, I'm sure many Christians reading this can relate to this wisdom when they read it, and I'm sure many would tell me this is Christianity too.Many Christians would be surprised at reading the Qur'an.......the scripture is very much the same as the bible and tells the same stories of the profits and has the same moral messages...sometimes with slight variation in historic events but mostly the same. Muslims Claim that Mohamed was the last profit and was given the message of God so that he can correct the human Corruption of the original message of the prophets before him, much the same as Christians believe Jesus was given the message of God to confirm what the Jews had already received.........The question begs to be asked What was this message that god wants us to understand? you can only look at the scripture ofthe Jews, Christians, and Muslims to decide....what were the prophets teaching? What is the common theme found in all the prophets' teachings? Here is the Muslim Version and the crash course in Qur'an! Muslims believe that gods message was that humans should not make partners with god. And that there is only one god and all praise belongs to Him alone. As Christians I am sure this is not a new concept to you either and that you have read this many times in your own scripture. But what exactly is meant by "do not make partners with God"?. Muslims believe that by making "intercession" between a human and god is the one thing that defines being a believer or someonewho is astray. In other words by assigning authority/power to anything other than god is in direct contradiction of gods will and message of unity. When humans assign symbols, statues, create hierarchies insociety with saints and kings, and create semi gods like the goldencalf the Jews created when Moses went up the mountain or are tempted byother values such as Abraham was we are at the same time creating division among people and causing people to see others as different dueto the limitations of our senses. If you take away Christian crucifixes, saints (holy men), statues of Jesus, (holy buildings andshrines), semi gods, nationalism, pictures of idol worship and allforms of "Partners with God" what differences are remaining between mankind???......... NONE! If these semi dietys were removed the world would have only one religion and total unification. All religions seem to be preaching the same fundamental beliefs of right over wrong, good leads to good and bad leads to bad (karma), love concors hate,generosity, charity, and abandonment of the things of this world that corrupt us. There are countless expressions of the same feelings mankind experiences to be found in a huge variety of separate religious groups. Does any one religion have the arrogance to claim to have the monopoly on believing in such things as peace, love, forgiveness,patience, perseverance, etc?..........How many wars have been foughtand how many lives have been lost because of power being assigned to the things of this life and people assuming they must be different because they have different titles but are in fact feeling the same universal thoughts? .....When you look around you will find that this is the root cause of all segregation and evil...People kill to protect(so called) holy buildings and shrines, they will kill to protect their fellow man and community because they have the same religious label as him with no regard for the fact someone's true religion is based onhis behavior actions and attitude. Even the instincts of atheists willsay that this is what turns them away from religion. One such examplewas when the French government recently gave an order to ban all religious symbols in schools because they said it was the root cause of all conflict between the different faiths.... They even went to the extreme of banning Muslim women from wearing head scalfs because they said it made them stand out as being different from others.....The very reason Muslims dress as they do is because Islam teaches them to dress with plain modest clothing that will guard against being seen as a sexual object and so that people will more easily judge you for your character over the pressure of superficial beauty. Dress must also not draw attention with fancy clothing!...So who is to decide what dress should be the standard and is the most modest and the norm? If you go so Saudi Arabia all people ware the same modest Muslim clothing andthere is no one person standing out from the rest!. ...Muslims believe that in order to find guidance to the truth you must first give up all forms of "shirk" (partner worship) and connect with Gods guidance directly without any intercession. Muslims believe Gods central message was the concept of unity and that this can only be achieved by giving up the catalyst "shirk" in all its forms. It is the defining line between devotion to God and those who have gone astray with temptation to invest in something other than God. To become a Muslim, Muslims must say in the company of other Muslim witnesses, "There is no God but God and Mohamed was the last messenger of God" and also carry out this creed in practice by avoiding all forms of shirk
Here are some other examples of "shirk
1. Listening to the directions of another person including religious directions before listening to your own instincts.
2. Nationalism...since this involves following orders given by another person's beliefs before listening to your own conscience given by God
3. Promoting someone or something above the level of ordinary man (the opposite of modesty)
4. Promoting anything above its natural level....rocks, symbols,statues and buildings etc which many people have been known to defend with their lives and kill for.
5. Debating with another suggesting that you both believe in differentGods....hence the saying: "Your God is my God, and My God is yourGod" which is to be said when another person tries to engage you inreligious debate.
6. Giving admiration to another because of the position of authority over others simply because of wealth, fame, or blood line etc.
7. putting your love and admiration into a sports team to the extent that you will be hostile to others to protect your love of it.
8. The protection of a group of people based on their title.Ie...taking the side of a person or nation of people simply because they call themselves Muslim or Christian.
The shirk in this example is a case of black and white generalistic group mentality thinking that all the good people live in one place under one title and all the bad people live someplace else under another title. A kind of tendency tojudge someone/something as good or bad because of the label associatedwith them. Idealistic thinking can be a dangerous thing. In this case the mere word "Muslims" or "Christians" can become the idealistic object of shirk An imaginary purist army of true believers that people will support without question. The side you take in adispute should be based on the persons actions rather than their titles, since somebodys religion is their action rather than their title.Muslims believe that Jesus was a Prophet of God and that he taught theabove message of unity and love to mankind. Muslims believe that Jesus was not the "son of god" or God himself, but was a man who had weaknesses as we all do and was a "messenger for God". The same goes for the last prophet Mohamed who warned his followers not to worship him or his grave when he died. Muslims believe Mohamed was born so that mankind was given Gods message of unity one last time and awarning for those who had and will go against this message of love andunity by practicing shirk. Muslims believe that the only true guidancein this life is found through giving up all forms of "Shirk" inword and practice. It is the defining line between receiving guidance and being on the strait path and being missguided. Muslims believe that when some Christians say: "Jesus the son of God" or "Jesus isGod" this is assigning special power to an object/person of this life(shirk/ Making Partners with God). It is a strong temptation in life for a person to want to find the comfort of a symbolic focus point of some kind to express their natural tendancy to give worship and prayer and request guidance. The Qur'an teaches that this is Satan trying to tempt mankind with the easy option away from Gods will instead of the more difficult path of abandoning all "shirk" by worshipping directly. One such funny example of this can be found in the MontyPython movie "the life of brian", everywhere Brian goes he has crowds of followers trying to worship him as a God. When he trips and stumbles and his shoe falls off, his unwanted followers are quick to pick it up and raise it to the sky and call it "the HOLY shoe".Mankind has been inventing religions this way since recorded history.It is the law of association and invention and is defined by the human trait of wishing to find what it is the soul is looking for in this lifetime by creating a symbolic reference to an idea we all feel inside(God). In an abstract way this is the direct opposite of the word"faith" which is what the prophets taught us to have. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus was a Prophet of God and that Jesus gave a message of love, peace, unity, and an example to not Split Gods Divinity withshirk. Muslims believe that man with human invention has corrupted certain parts of scripture in the bible. Qur'an teaches that mankind does NOT know what God is , he is unlike anything to which you will hear, smell, see, or think of...Muslims believe God is above the level of human comprehension,. When you take the belief of "Not making partners with God" and "Recognising but not claiming to know what God is" you have a very simplistic teaching:.....God exists!, there is only one correct answer/reality and one God which is the seat of all creation and events, , there is the creator and the created, unity and peace to all through not worshipping anythiny but God directly.....FULLSTOP!....to simplify this message further you can say: Something exists, and we can argue forever over which religion is the truth butat the end of the day there can logically only be one correct answer.to what creation is all about...An intresting point to the gravity of shirk is found in the observation of disputes between people. The next time you witness a debate ask yourself the question: Is their any shirk being practiced by either side? .....you will find that "Shirk" it is the number one catalyst of difference and dispute in the world in one form or anouther. I have included at the bottom of this article some examples from the bible, which in my opinion confirm the scripture has been altered to contradict other parts which have remained authentic to Gods message of unity. Muslims believe that Mohamed was the last prophet of God sent to conclude the message of unity that Jesus and the prophets before him taught and to put right those that had strayed once again into partner worshipping in all its forms but hewas rejected by many without the chance of explaining that he was not teaching a new religion but simply confirming once again the original message given to the Jews and Christians and to warn those who had corrupted scripture and unity with idol worship teachings and human invention. You can even find the Christian Ten Commandments in the Qur'an. As a Muslim I see a lot of idol worship being practiced by Christians (not all Christians) as well as other religions...i.e.superstition in crosses, the hierarchy of church organisations, and all worship being channeled in the direction of messengers, shrines,semi dietys. This to a Muslim is a direct contradiction to Islam since God expects his followers to set the example of unity in their actions and teachings and all power and Prayer belongs to God alone.Was Jesus the "Son of God" or "God Himself" or "a messenger prophet of God"?
The bible:
WORDS
Joh 7:16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
Joh 14:24 "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
Joh 12:49 "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.WILL
Joh 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.
Joh 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
Lu 22:42 saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me;nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done."POWER
Joh 5:30 "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgmentis righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
Joh 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me,for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord,but he sent me.KNOWLEDGE
Mr 13:32 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Mt 24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Joh 7:16 So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me;
STATUS
Mt 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Mr 10:18 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 8:50 "And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.
And So you have understood the fundamental message of Islam and the Koran.
The Ten Comandments in the Koran
1. Thou shall not take any god except one God."There is no other god beside GOD,"(47:19)He is the one God; there is no other god beside Him. ......(28:70)
2. Thou shall make no image of God There is nothing that equals (like) Him. (42:11)No visions can encompass Him, but He encompasses all visions. He is the Compassionate, the Cognizant.[6:103]"My Lord, make this a peaceful land, and protect me and my childrenfrom worshiping idols. (14:35)
3. Thou shall not use God's name in vain.Do not subject GOD's name to your casual swearing, that you may appear righteous, pious,or to attain credibility among the people. (2:224)
4. Thou shall honor thy mother and father.. ....and your parents shall behonored. As long as one or both of them live, you shall never say to them, "Uff"(the slightest gesture of annoyance),nor shall you shout at them; you shall treat them amicably. (17:23)
5. Thou shall not steal.The thief, male or female, you shall mark their hands as a punishment for their crime, and to serve as an example from GOD. GOD is Almighty, Most Wise. (5:38 -39)
6. ..... incur GOD's condemnation upon him, if he was lying. (24:7)Do not withhold any testimony by concealing what you had witnessed.Anyone who withholds a testimony is sinful at heart. (2:283)O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether the accused is rich or poor, GOD takes care of both. Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If you deviate or disregard (this commandment),then GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.[4:135]
7. Thou shall not kill.....anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder orhorrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. (5:32)"You shall not kill any person - for God has made life sacred - exceptin the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give hisheir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder, he will be helped."(17:33)
8. Thou shall not commit adulteryYou shall not commit adultery;it is a gross sin, and an evil behavior.(17:32)
9. You shall regard the parents, the relatives, the orphans, the poor,the related neighbor, the unrelated neighbor, the close associate, the traveling alien, and your servants. (4:36)And do not covet what we bestowed upon any other people. Such are temporary ornaments of this life, whereby we put them tothe test. What your Lord provides for you is far better, and everlasting.[20:131]
10. Thou shall keep the Sabbath holy.*the Sabbath was relinquished with the revelation of the Quran. We are told in the Quran that the Sabbath was only decreed for the Jews. (16:124)God, however ,ordered us to make every effort and drop all businesses to attend the equivalent congregational (Friday) prayer. This difference in day is to distinguish Muslim belief from other beliefs.O you who believe, when the Congregational Prayer (SalatAl-Jumu`ah) is announced on Friday,you shall hasten to the commemoration of GOD, and drop all business. . (62:9)
If you wish to find out more about Islam, I would suggest posting your questions to "mainstream" Islamic websites (sunni) to avoid dangerous sects which promote shirk and miss information.Placing questions in Google newsgroups is not always the best idea since the various faiths in the world go to great lengths to spread miss information about each other in the replies you will receive....much of which will be Qur'anic quotes taken completely out of context and twisted to give different meaning from people of other faiths. If you come across such quotations that seem to imply imoralityI would urge you to consider the following question: Is it likely that a prophet teaching love, peace, forgiveness, etc would be at the same time be teaching people to act in a unethical way?....or is it morelikely that such quotations such as speaking of lawful tactics ofwarfare or law system are to be used in only a last resort situation inthe protection of Gods message?....If you study the Koran you will notice that Koran does talk about law and punishment which to a Muslim are a necessary way of bringing about a just society and protecting fundermental beliefs...It must be noted that such laws have a strictlegal framework for deciding when enforcement becomes the last option available much as people understand the concept of self defense in Christianity in certain curcumstances. Such chapters in Koran are easily miss understood if taken out of context and missing the relevantinformation that accompanies them. Much of the information, which is taken as being harsh by other faiths, is in actual fact describing historical events rather than describing legal rulings which apply to modern times. Islam is a religion of peace and not a religion of hate as many will try to promote. If Muslims were to Judge Christianity's message by the standards of a few people called the Klu Klux Klan WHOBELIEVE ITS Gods work to burn black people alive at the stake we would be fools, ignorant, and unjust to do so, much the same as those who associate Islam with the actions of a hanfull of misguided fanatics are fools and unjust. I think it is much smarter to judge a religion through its text rather than through those who show the worst example as well as judge people on an individual basis rather than as a group.I would suggest avoiding all teachings that contradict the above principles of mono worship if you want to learn more about authentic mainstream Islamic beliefs.
PS. A FINAL NOTE: If this article has offended you in any way I would like to point out this was not my intention to cause offence. I have received a number of scathing attacks from those following various Christian theologies accusing me of posting miss information about Christianity. If my opinion does not conform to the same ideas you have yourself about how to interpret bible scripture then this is because each individual has his own mind and capability to understand concepts in different ways.... Only God knows which translation of scripture istrue and so I suggest we leave it up to him to put things right when weall reach the big upstairs instead of attempting to insult and attack.I have no interest to engage in religious debate with other faithssince I don't believe this is Gods will and the only reply you are likely to get is "Your God is my God, And My God is Your God" also this article is mass posted by multiple people and the poster is probably not the original author anyway...The intention of this article was to point out the many things Christianity and Islam have in common as well as highlight that much of the dispute between the different faiths is due to the limitations of understanding each other, which can be found in the communities of all world faiths. I invite you all to do the same as I have done and publish your own opinions on what scripture means to you in the newsgroups of your choice.Kind Regards...and hope my article inspired you with new ideas.........A.
KUR'AN
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
[3:64]Say, "O followers of the scripture, let us come to alogical agreement between us and you: that we shall not
worship except GOD; that we never set up any idolsbesides Him, nor set up any human beings as lords besideGOD." If they turn away, say, "Bear witness that we are submitters."
If you have mass mailing software please put it to good use and massmail this article to as many Islamic and Christian websites and newsgroups as possible to help bring about a greater peace and understanding between the different faiths of this world.

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