Wednesday, August 23, 2006

1-Kings 8:41-43

I was driving and thinking about this and figured I'd run a concept or two here.

Imagine that a person speaks to an Orthodox Jew about G-d, religion, spirituality, how to relate to G-d, how to make the world G-dly, etc... Then the next week the same person goes to a religious Muslim and speaks to him about the same things and finds the answers to be consistent, even if that Jew and Muslim never met. What this means is that the Source of truth is present in both religious systems. This would be a "Kiddush Hashem" in Hebrew, or a "sanctification of G-d's Name," because it is upon the people who know that G-d is real to bring Word of Him into this world, and therefore His Presence.

Now imagine that the person got relatively inconsistent responses about the topics from both the Jews and the Muslim; this would be "Khilul Hashem," a desecration of G-d's Name, and takes G-d out of this world.

I am realizing more and more that as long as the general population of nations of the world, in all their uncontrollable variety, are covering the very basic laws of G-d, then humanity is on the right path. Jewish tradition (in Gensis) explains that this correct path for the nations of the world are the Noachide Laws and there are seven, although their application concludes to a bit more than that. Now it seems, and I don't know for sure if I am right or wrong yet, that any religion following them is a Noachide religion, i.e., it follows the Noachide Laws, the last of which is for them to set up their own courts to administer these laws. Islam seems to follow all of the Noachide Laws.

But
this isn't just about Islam. It's about every religious and spiritual movement that clings to the truth of G-dliness (of which the original revelation is the Torah), i.e., every "nation" of people whom cling to that truth and make it the center of their being. I used to think that it was my duty to try to change the way they think, but what I see more and more is that as long as they believe in the One G-d and follow those seven commandments, it's OK. Rastafari's for example, believe in the Kingdom of David and cling to the Torah and G-d through him, believing that the 225th descendant of King Solomon and his (African) wife Sheba was the emperor of Ethiopia; Haile Selassie I . A problem with them is that they believe that Haile Selassie was G-d and the reincarnate of Jesus, but I would have to confirm that. In other words, variety shouldn't scare the believer, only idolatry (or any other violation of the Seven Laws of Noah).

This brings me to Judaism and Islam. Islam seems to fall into the category of a religion that follows all of the Noachide Laws (it even takes it upon itself to follow more, which I don't think is necessarily a problem). If for the sake of the argument we can consider Islam a Noachide religion (if indeed this is an accurate understanding on my part of the laws) if there is a problem with Islam it is only that it is a Noachide religion that does not accept that its predecessor religion (Judaism) has a role to play in the world. In other words, Islam sees the relationship between Judaism and Islam that either one or the other is right; it does not believe that both can be perfectly valid G-dly religions drawing from a common Source of G-dliness, i.e., G-d's Instruction.

I think that this creates an unnecessary (psychological) stress on Muslims because they feel it is their duty to bring Islam to the entire world. But if you look at Judaism for a second (and put aside the biases), believing Jews don't want the world to be Jewish, they want the world to be G-dly, i.e., adherents to G-d's Word - this allows for a harmony between the entire humanity with itself and between the entirety of humanity with G-d. It is a commonality rooted in specific G-d-given commandments but which allows for national variety. The "Mumbutus" of Africa can jump up and down and scream in their rituals as long as they are doing it to the One G-d (and following the Seven Laws of Noah). The stress caused between Islam and other peoples in the world (both religious and not) is that Islam believes that the only commonality in the world is Islam and nothing else.

Judaism believes that the commonality has its Source in something coming before Judaism (i.e., before the 613 commandments given to Moses); Islam believes that the commonality came as Islam, i.e., and not in the universal sense of the word (submission), but in the strict and narrow sense of an adherent to the religion of Islam. It seems to be that what Judaism calls "Noachide," Islam calls "Islam." In other words, and very loosely speaking, the Noachide Laws and "submission" are two different labels for the same thing, a common G-dly Law for the entire world. The only difference is that the Noachide Laws allow for the nations of the world to embroider the Seven Laws onto their societies in light of their cultural differences, while Islam demands the adoption of Islam as a religion. Most people would recognize this as a full-scale societal or political conversion to Islam. However, Islam uses the word "reversion," a clear indication that Islam, like Judaism, believes that there was a state beforehand, in "primeval" times, in which there was a G-d-based religious and spiritual commonality. Because there is One G-d, an absolute truth, there can (and can only) be separate manifestations of the Law of G-d as long as it is fully in line with those Laws. For there to be one Law is not the same as The One G-d and is the dangerous folly of man that leads to Hitlerian totalitarian regimes - this applies to Christiandom at certain historical points as well. This would explain the ideological and theological similarities between Hezba-llah warriors and Nazi's.

I wonder what Islam would look like if it laid to rest its insistencies that Judaism should bleed into Islam and in doing so become Islam. Judaism, obviously, lacks nothing - every theological concept in Judaism has its Muslim paralle - search if you want, you will find that nothing in Islam is original. Mind you, this is not an attack on Islam; it is the dream of every believing Jew that the world be turned to the Truth of G-d - Muslims, despite some serious problems, have done that especially well. The only problem, and this is the really annoying part, is Islam's interpretation of the narrative in the Torah which says that Isaac was the chosen son. The Torah says that Ishmael was chosen for his own specific purpose, a positive purpose in G-dliness, so the grievance that Muslims have towards the Torah and towards Judaism is baseless. I wonder what Islam would look like if it allowed Jews to take care of their religious observances in Jerusalem and to live in Israel without interference. That would be a great world and it is a possible one if only people made proper use of their free will.

King David, in 1 Kings 8:41-43 says, "Also a gentile who is not of your people Israel, but will come from a distant land, for Your Name's sake - for they will hear of Your great Name and Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm - and will come and pray toward this Temple - may Your hear from Heaven, the foundation of Your abode, and act according to all that the gentile calls out to You, so that all the peoples of the world may know Your Name, to fear You as [does] Your people Israel, and to know that Your Name is proclaimed upon this Temple that I have built."

It is one of the ironies of ironies that a memorial to intolerance was erected on top of the house of tolerance by those acting in the name of universality; is this not an insult to King David (whom Muslims label "Muslim")? The political strategy is to populate it as thoroughly as possible in order to make it impossible to be open to Jews. Is not an insult to G-d?

8 comments:

Bilal's Boulder said...

Assalamu alaikum/Shalom aleichem.
This is very well written; Much of it I agree with. I think especially insightful was your equation of Noachide and Muslim, which is to some degree true; At least Muslims are a type of Noachide according to the Jewish definition (though as you said, there are other Noachides by the Jewish definition, some of whom even call themselves by that name.) Likewise, Hanif is a similar word to Noachide.
You say that Muslims want to force everyone to become of their religion; Now, I understand that some definitely have this desire, but a Muslim is not allowed to force a conversion; Only Allah guides. Ahlul Kitab (People of the Book) are specifically allowed a place in Islamic society. Honestly, the essays I write for dawa (informing people about my religion, and giving a case for my religion being right) is actually directed, believe it or not, primarily at Christians. I don't worry so much about Jews; I certainly believe a pious Jew can go to Heaven. This is true with Christians as well, but gets complicated because the vast majority are blasphemers.
Yes, the Islamic perspective is one of objective truth; Either Islam is right, Judaism is right, or neither are completely right.
My advice to any Jew is, if you believe your religion is right, follow it, and follow it well. Keep kosher, keep the sabbath, and don't allow the Enemy to take you off the right path. If, however, you believe Islam is the right religion, then it becomes obligatory on you, and only you, to become a Muslim.
I know though, Yaniv, that you too believe in absolute truth; You accept the position I take that only one can be completely correct. I can tell this in the way you argue. If I'm wrong, you really shouldn't argue at all about religion.
What do you mean by a "memorial to intolerance"? We both know Jews are allowed at the wailing wall. Regarding this area, we only ask to keep completely intact our holy sites. Do you know something I don't, that you aren't mentioning? If Jews are correct, then I'm sure that the Moshiach will fix the whole situation (I'm not being sarcastic); Likewise if Muslims are correct, then the whole matter will be cleared up by Imam Mahdi (AS) and Isa al-Masih (AS).
Until then, I pray for peace,
Wasalam,
-Bilal.

jjew said...

Shalom aleychem and assalamu alaykum,

Thanks for writing.

OK, check out this quote, "At this hallowed site, known in Arabic as Haram al Sharif, the 9th Caliph, Abd al-Malik, built the great Dome of the Rock between 687 and 691. Besides its association with the `Night Journey' of Muhammad, Jerusalem was also chosen as the site of this first great work of Islamic architecture for political reasons. For a brief period between 680 and 692 Mecca had become the capital of a rival caliphate established by Abd Allah ibn Zubayr who controlled most of Arabia and Iraq. Following the retreat of the Umayyad army from its siege of Mecca the construction of the Dome was undertaken in order to discourage pilgrimages to Mecca."

The internal stuff that Islam faces is not my business. However, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are like stakes that a person sticks into the ground which says "my land." The whole Jewish religion and all Messianic expectancies revolves around that very center of Jerusalem and has throughout Jewish history. Nothing can happen and Messianic Redemption cannot occur until the Temple is rebuilt; Jews believe that this will be the unifying event of the entire world under G-d (see 1 Kings 8:41-43). A political phase can be shown to have begun in the same years that Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock were built on top of the Temple site; a phase where Jewish sites (and the most important Jewish site) are incorporated into Muslim land. Looking at contemporary politics, much is the same. Muslim politics in the Middle East in our generation (starting before it) has shifted towards new developments in the Middle East, primarily the establishment of the State of Israel. It's like, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody heard it, did it make a sound? Conflict was already going on in the Middle East but once Israel came onto the scene, i.e., the Jews, it took on a different "feel" because now Jews were involved in the state of affairs of their own sites. That Muslim politics claim Jerusalem as their own (through the presence of the two structures there) plays into Israeli-Arab politics through the claim that Jerusalem is a holy site to Muslims as well. True, fine, but to Jews it is THE holiest site (comparable to the place Mecca has in Islam) and to Muslims it is the THIRD holiest site, and only due to internal politics in Islam. Even the third holiest site in JUDAISM is a point of contention for Jews to be able to visit; I believe it's the Cave of Machpela in Chevron, where Abraham and Sarah were buried. The overarching policies enacted by Muslim leaders in the Middle East, heads of Arab states, is to place the Palestinians in strategic positions in Israel. This is a very transparent tactic (for some) with the obvious goal of using Palestinian nationalism, i.e., human rights, as a goal for Muslim control over, yup, Israel. Just to show how closely these goals line up with Palestinian nationalism, Yasser Arafat has quoted numerous times that he will accept a united Jerusalem, and only an united Jerusalem, as the capital city of the State of Palestine. G-d forbid that ever occurred, I don't believe that he would be allowed to keep the Palestinian State with a united Jerusalem as its capital for too long; he would have completed his goal and "Palestine" would bleed into the rest of the Muslim Middle Eastern lands, the spoils divided, and Palestinian Arabs would (ideally) be restored to their state before the creation of the State of Israel, as citizens of either Jordan, or Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc... The region of Palestine was always a subsection under the rule of another Muslim ruler and Palestinian nationalism only began to formulate once the idea of Israeli nationalism began to stir. Anyway, that's why I call it a memorial to intolerance. Imagine the angst you would feel, as a Muslim, had Jews built a synagogue (which is not a major religious site) on top of the remains of the destroyed Q'aba and used it as a claim for political control of the area. You would be outraged, and rightfully so, and I would too as a Jew. THIS is the situation today and for a little more than one thousand years. The Jews have been very patient.

jjew said...

It's like my heart wants to beat but a box has been placed around it not allowing it to swell. I can't feel fully complete, like I'm half a person, until we have the rights to our holiest site - it's the source of a lot of angst for believing Jews. Muslims don't know how that feels at all; they can to go Mecca without interference at all - for you guys it's like your Temple is standing and uncontestedly in your hands - that must be an incredible feeling - Jews don't know that feeling. We really DON'T have religious freedom in our own land - it's a horrible feeling, and your co-religionists are directly involved. We can go to the Wall, sure, but that's the area that we have been allowed to visit, and the Wall is just the outermost wall surrounding the area inside, which is the area of importance. We have Israeli politicians, diplomats, who are forced (and some want) to negotiate with Arab heads of state and international politicians as to the proper set up of the Israeli state and some just care about themselves. The Jewish and Muslim thresholds for injustice are much different; Jews tolerate (unfortunately) this horrible scenario and are much more adept at dealing with injustice, but Muslims can't even tolerate listening to Wafa Sultan. My friend, there are many Wafa Sultans in the Knesset.

Bilal's Boulder said...

1) Even if Jerusalem comes in third place, the fact is out mosque is there, and you can't just bulldoze it because it's your number one. It's not about intolerance of Jews, it's about keeping our holy site - If the place were in ruins and abandoned, building the temple over it would be justified, but it's been in use since it was first built.
2) It's not that we can't tolerate Wafa Sultan; It's that Wafa Sultan isn't a Muslim, and hence can't be described as a Muslim dissident, or a pro-Israeli Muslim, or whatever.
3) I do believe that the tomb at Hebron should be shared more with the Jews.
4) As I understand, the temple is supposed to be rebuilt at the time of the coming of the Moshiach. I'm sure that if this is true, he'll definitely work something out.
Wasalam,
-Bilal.

jjew said...

I don't propose that it get bulldozed or anything like that, I propose that Muslims interested in peace, real Muslims, make a responsible and compassionate suggestion that it should be left to Jews. Afterall, it's a mosque, that's it, not a major religious structure, like the Q'aba. There doesn't need to be a mosque in the heart of Jerusalem anymore than there needs to be a Jewish settlment in Ramallah. You can say, "But Muhammad ascended to Heaven from Jerusalem," and even though I don't believe that he did, I can respond by saying that G-d gave us the entire Land of Israel, including Ramallah (see the Torah), so we should be able to settle there. You believe that Muhammad ascended to Heaven from Jerusalem, we believe that G-d gave us all of Israel, yet it is only the Jews that have had to make the concessions - that doesn't seem fair to me. One occupation ended but the other continues and occupations are never just. Usually they aren't legal either, in the books, but apparently this occupation is legal and nobody ever thinks about the injustice that it has been.

I was referring to Wafa Sultan metaphorically; there are many "Jewish Wafa Sultans" in the Israeli Knesset, why do we have to tolerate opinions damaging to our well-being when Muslims excommunicate Wafa Sultan the second she's brought a grievance against Islam?

Slightly related, are there any pro-Israel Muslims that you accept?

I believe that the Mashiach will make it better, but it will come with the full restoration of Israel's (the peoples') sovereignty over her holy sites. I think Muslims will be able to pray there, for sure (remember 1 Kings 8:41-43), but they will have to make the concession that Jerusalem and the Temple are Jewish, i.e., not a Muslim site in the sense that Muslims must control it. Think about it, Muslims can still believe that Muhammad ascended to Heaven from Jerusalem and pray there freely while it is under Jewish control. We have every reason to believe that the Mashiach will allow (peace-loving) Muslims total freedom to pray in the Temple.

What do you think?

Peace, Yaniv...

Bilal's Boulder said...

Because Islam requires belief to be considered a Muslim, and Judaism does not require belief to be considered a Jew. It's that simple. There are pro-Israeli Muslims who I consider Muslims; I just completely disagree with them. Right now, the Dome of the Rock is a Muslim holy site, even if one on top of a previous Jewish one; I do understand why Jews have strong feelings regarding this, but it's still out holy site as well. I do believe that well-meaning Jews should be be to pray in our mosque, if they aren't already allowed to. Could the temple just be built around the mosque?
Wasalam,
-Bilal.

jjew said...

You said, "even if on top of a previous Jewish one." The holiness of the site has not deminished due to its destruction - it's about the future and present, not the past. The mosque was built right in the exact spot where the people brought the animal sacrifices commanded in the Torah to be forgiven for sin. Yes, we have strong feelings regarding this because the mosque was built so clearly deliberately on the exact site of that spot. Its grandeur and luster is not an accident; everything about the mosque is to show greatness with the intent of dwarfing. Further, right in the center of that area is the Holy of Holies, the Kadosh Kedoshim, where Aaron (Moses' brother) the High Priest would go once a year on Yom Kippur to bring atonement for the entire Jewish people. He was the only person that was allowed to do it. We can't do these things properly until we can resume all of those religious requirements there so that leaves us in a state of wanting. If I have a house and you move into my kitchen while I'm gone do I have to get your permission to eat there? A rabbi I spoke to about this years ago actually said that the Temple should be built around the mosque and that it does not need to be destroyed. The question is, will the Arabs in the Middle East accept that?

By the way, the Temple, like the Dome of the Rock, is a proper name and should be capitalized; it's not a synagogue.

jjew said...

Also, how can two Muslims (by your definition of a Muslim) disagree on anything if they are both submitters? Two people who have reached submission should reach very similar conclusions on most things, if not all - is that wrong? If absolute truth drives both of them, their should not be much variation between their opinions.

Yaniv...