TRUTH or DECEPTION Elhanan- Jerusalem 11-2014
A false premise will invariably lead to a false conclusion. A building constructed upon an infirm foundation, no matter how elaborate or lovely, will collapse in time. Solid rock is a better foundation than shifting sands. An idea founded upon a lie will necessarily include also everything built on top of that foundation as a lie, even if there are apparent truths mixed into the fabric, as a natural worm with a hook embedded in it is still a deception for a fish.
Islam is one of those ideas founded upon a false premise. Historically, Islam was a new arrival on the block of religions, being birthed in the 7th century AD, some 600 years after the New Testament was written, and some 1800 years after Moses and Judaism. Muhammad, who is proclaimed by Islam to be the final prophet and the founder of the new religion, was admittedly illiterate, and so wrote none of what has become known as the Quran, but was reportedly later spoken to his followers who wrote it down, and considered by Muslims the literal and final word of God. The Quran contains a number of stories found in the Old Testament, obviously inspired by what Muhammad had learned from both the Jews and the Christians who had long been present in the Middle East, but details and names are changed from that ancient Jewish text to suit the new religion. New Testament sketches are also included, but entirely altered in their essential message, and both OT and NT personages, including Jesus, are proclaimed as Muslims delivering the message of their god named Allah.
The word “allah” is the same root in Arabic as in Hebrew and Aramaic, “el” or “elah” or eloha,” being the generic term for “god”. It is not a name or proper noun. The Islamic proclamation heard daily from every mosque, “there is no god but Allah,” is the equivalent of saying, “there is no god but god”. The Hebrew scriptures contain a personal name for God, being the unpronounced but highly significant YHVH, the God of Israel, his “name and memorial forever, to all generations” (Exodus 3:15). The central command of the Torah is, “Hear O Israel, YHVH your God, YHVH is one, and you shall love YHVH your God with all your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). YHVH is the God that Jesus the Jew (who was literate and knew the scriptures well) referred to in his teachings, confirming that first command, and that of, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Love is the foundation stone of all the biblical message, something not found as the foundation of Islamic writings, which is instead fear and submission.
Muhammad’s alleged revelation occurred while he was in a cave near Mecca in Arabia. In that experience Muhammad is reported to have said that he was visited by the angel Jibril (Gabriel, which is a Hebrew name from the OT and NT), where he was told, among other things, that ‘Allah has no son,’ a passage appearing on the Dome of the Rock mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Some 600 years prior in the Land of Israel, that same Gabriel is reported in the NT to have told the Jews Miriam and Yoseph (Mary and Joseph), “That which is to be born from you shall be called the son of God” (Luke 1:35). It would appear that there is a contradiction, one of the reports being incorrect, or untrue. It is on that same mount that a mosque now stands that Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua) entered the Jewish temple and declared it to be “my Father’s house” (John 2:16), and himself to be the son of God. In the book of Exodus YHVH declares the Jewish people to be “my firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22). And such passages in the OT as that which describe Abraham taking his son Isaac to be bound at Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount in Jerusalem) are changed in Islam to be the Muslim prophet Ibrahim taking his son Ishmael to the same place, claiming in all cases of contradiction that the Jews and the Christians had corrupted the scriptures, and Muhammad had come to correct the errors. In other words, Islam had come to correct and supersede Judaism and Christianity. Though Islam proclaims Jerusalem to be their second holiest site, having conquered and occupied the city from the Byzantine Christians in 637 AD, Jerusalem is never mentioned directly in the Quran, while mentioned explicitly 767 times in the OT and NT.
At the time of Muhammad the Arab world was a widespread camp of tribal factions, often in warring power struggles among themselves, each having their tribal gods. Muhammad would attempt to gather those tribes together under the banner of his new religion of the one god, Allah. His attempt to persuade the Jews of the region that he was a prophet and that they should accept his new religion was soundly refused, beginning the enmity that still continues between Muslims and Jews, the latter who have thus a very bad name in the Islamic writings and doctrines. Though some passages in the Quran would seem to contradict that fact, Muslim exegists often interpret the apparent contradiction by saying that earlier passages are made irrelevant by the later passages, which are the greater truth of an ongoing revelation to the prophet. Thus are all contradictions in the Quran reconciled. And the Quran, being supposedly the voice of Allah through Muhammad, is the final word and must not be debated, but memorized, whereas the Bible, including the New Testament, is a collection of many Jewish authors and prophets and chroniclers over a very long period of time, recording the history of a people with their God, with actual geography and cities, context and historical events and personages, much already confirmed by archaeological excavation and findings. Debate and discussion have always been welcome in the study of the biblical texts.
Jesus said that “a tree may be known by its fruit; a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, and a bad tree not bring good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). That is a reasonable means of measuring an idea’s value or validity. Whether it be applied to the historical abuses of Christianity or Islam, where violence of the sword has been or continues to be the means to promote their view of God to unbelievers of their religion, the verdict is the same. Modern Judaism and Jesus never call for a forced surrender or conversion, but only by example of love, truth, and persuasion. The perennial unhappiness and anger and barbaric wars in the Muslim world from its inception, the ongoing bloody conflict between Sunni and Shiite practitioners of the religion, along with its tight bonds of fear in maintaining order, the oppression of women and general freedoms, and persecution of non-Muslims in their own societies, and the chaos and fear produced when introduced in non-Muslim society, speaks for itself.
The Jews and their religion predate both Christianity and Islam by many centuries, and is the root from which both faiths have derived their being. Christianity is the outgrowth from the Jewish concept of Messiah, while Islam is an altered distortion and thus a counterfeit of the Jewish and Christian biblical worldviews. Written in the NT some 600 years before the founding of Islam, is, “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, for this reason God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11).
The longevity and survival of the Jewish people, going back at least three millennia, dispersed and persecuted many times, especially by the aforementioned two offspring religions, is nothing short of miraculous, especially considering that Jews have had no means of defense against anti-Semitism in the 2000 years prior to the 20th century. Today the Jewish people have returned in mass to their ancient homeland where they were born, have revived the dead tongue of Hebrew as a living language, have uncovered the ancient scrolls of the prophets hidden away in caves, and rebuilt the ruins of the biblical cities and towns of Israel. This is producing much dismay from the Islamic world, and even part of the Christian world (not to mention the atheistic and secular world), both who had cast in their doctrines that the ancient prophecies of this return were null and void, and would never come to pass (as many say also of the return of Jesus).
Since the re-birth of Israel in 1948, wars and threats of extermination and unremittent opposition continue, especially from the Islamic world that surrounds the tiny Jewish nation that was re-born from the destruction of the Holocaust. It is a theological clash of ideas that center on the city of Jerusalem where the idea of truth, love, and divine justice of the one God YHVH were birthed into the world, where now again the Jewish people are the caretakers, and have obtained the means of defense. Though looking forward to the promised hope of shalom (Hatikva- “The Hope”- is Israel’s national anthem), they stand in vigilance against the many continuing existential threats that surround them in overwhelming numbers, resting upon a valid premise and promise.