Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sin of Omission

Muslim religious tradition states that "the Jews" falsified the texts of the Torah in order to "elect" themselves as the Chosen People. The content of this fable notwithstanding, this declaration has two problems; 1) who are "the Jews" when it was not "the Jews" that wrote the Torah, but Moses, and 2) what did the "original texts" say and where are they now? I suppose the reply to that would be that they were preserved in the Q'uran, a text that was produced nearly three thousand years later. A Muslim with whom I was once speaking, when I asked him that question, told me that the original copy was most likely destroyed, which would have removed any evidence of its existence and with it the validity of his argument. A third problem with this belief is that one of the primary beliefs of Islam is that the concept of a "Chosen People" is anathema to G-d's Plan: either He chooses everybody or chooses nobody. However, this is fallacious because they believe that "the Jews" cheated Ishmael out of the birthright that was properly his, which would have rendered his descendants "the Chosen People." Therefore, as long as "the wrong people" are the Chosen ones, then the "Chosen" concept does not exist. Nevertheless, Muslims do believe themselves to be G-d's Chosen People.

To reply to the cheating claim, did G-d not, at every step of the way, choose the younger brother to be the recipient of His instruction? G-d chose Abraham, not his older brother Nachor, He chose Isaac, not Ishmael (although the Torah says that G-d would make a great nation from Ishmael), He chose Jacob, not Esav, Joseph, not his ten older brothers, and Moses, not Aaron or Miriam (although they did have their purposes). What about Jacob's wanting to marry Rachel, the sister younger to Leah, when it was commonplace to marry off the first-born daughter first? We see a pattern here. Would a Muslim honestly apply the criteria that the Jews twisted the texts in order to elect Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, and Moses, when it is part of their religious tradition that G-d called upon those people to do great things? As much as Islam (claims) to detract from the concept of a chosen lineage, we see that Abraham's lineage is passed on to every subsequent matriarch and patriarch through him - all of the aforementioned people are from the lineage of Abraham. We also see that lineage plays a big part in Islam when we consider that the two dominant groupings of Islam, Sunni and Shi'a, are based on disagreements as to who was Muhammad's rightful heir - each believed that it was a different person in the royal line. Who came directly after Ishmael that we know about? Muhammad was born thousands of years later, which Muslim tradition explains is a descendant of Ishmael.

Part of the Covenant between G-d and the Jews was the Land of Israel, and the Q'uran as well says that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, "Bani Israyeel," the Childen of Israel, rightfully inherited it. Does the Q'uran say anywhere that Ishmael's descendants inherited the Land? There is almost no basis to the claim that "the Jews" corrupted the "original text" of the Torah to "write Ishmael out" because we see that even the Q'uran insists that the Land of Israel was to be their land as the heritage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - not Abraham and Ishmael. As an aside, Muslim tradition says that Abraham did not take his son Isaac to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice him at G-d's command, but that he took Ishmael to the future sight of Mecca in order to sacrifice him. We can hardly imagine what, in that place and time, importance Mecca contained, and it is not realistic that Abraham and Ishmael ventured to a place so far out of the locality to make a Covenant with G-d, even though it is noble (and necessary) to think so.

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