Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ishmael/Isma'il (AS) in the Bible and the Qur'an.

by Bilal Ayyub McDaniel.

(The link to Bilal Ayyub McDaniel’s blog is here)

Before I begin explaining my theory, first I feel I should clear up that Muslims, we as an article of faith, believe in the Prophethood and righteousness of Abraham (AS), Isma'il (AS), AND Isaac (AS). Some misinformed people (especially fundamentalist Christians) are under the mistaken impression that (or at least spread untrue rumors that) we do not honor Prophet Ishaq (AS) and his descendents. This is completely false. To insult any Prophet is a grave sin within Islam, and we would never insult Prophets Ibrahim (AS), Isma'il (AS), Ishaq (AS), Yakub (AS), Yusuf (AS), or any of the Prophets born from the ranks of the Tribes of Isra'il. In the Qur'an, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, addressing the Muslim community, says:

2:136. Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)."

Though having been corrupted with the intention of lessening the position of Isma'il (AS), there still exists much evidence showing the special position of Isma'il in the Torah. Genesis 17:20 says, "And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation." All these Prophecies have undoubtedly come true. Isma'il is the father of the Arab peoples, who today number over 323 million, so certainly he has been made fruitful and been multiplied exceedingly. The Twelve Princes are none other than the Twelve Imams, the successors of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), from Amirul Momineen Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) to Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi (AS), our current Imam. The great Nation is the Ummah, the word given for the worldwide Muslim community, which literally means "Nation" itself.

When Hajar (RA) and Isma'il (AS) are "exiled" by Ibrahim (AS) in the Torah, Isma'il is portrayed as a very young child. Genesis 21:15-16 say, "And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept." Yet, we're told earlier in the Torah that Isma'il (AS) was with Ibrahim (AS) when he was circumcised, at age thirteen (Gen. 17:25)! Obviously if he were thirteen he could not just be lied under the brush (He could have easily got up and walked back to his mother), nor would his mother have been carrying him to begin with. In verse 18 of the same chapter, God supposedly tells Hajar (RA) to lift up her son. Again, it would be unneccessary to pick him up if he were over the age of thirteen.

One point Christians and Jews often dwell on, regarding the differences in belief between Muslims and themselves, is that we Muslims believe that it was Isma'il (AS) who was almost sacrificed by Ibrahim (AS), and not Ishaq (AS). Honestly, in my experience, this has not been a difference that Muslims themselves tend to dwell on, focusing more on much more important differences such as the righteousness of the Prophets and the absolute Tawhid, or Unity, of Allah. However, this story has a huge and obvious hole in it. Perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible with regard to this story is Genesis 22:2, "And he said, Take now thy son, thine ONLY SON ISAAC, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." There is no time during Ishaq's (AS) lifetime when he would have been Ibrahim's (AS) only son. Some would argue that at this point Isma'il (AS) was no longer considered as Ibrahim's (AS) son, but both before and after his supposed "exile", Isma'il (AS) is referred to as the son of Ibrahim (AS) in the Torah. In Genesis 25:9, it says, "And his SONS Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;" This verse (Gen. 22:2) has obviously been corrupted, and Isma'il's (AS) name has obviously been replaced with Ishaq's (AS).

This next part is mostly a distinct theory that I have mostly come up with on my own, though I'd be surprised if someone else hadn't also said the same things: Now I will skip forward in a manner that must seem quite abrupt, several thousand years, to the time of Prophet Isa al-Masih (AS), or Jesus the Christ. From an Islamic perspective, we believe that Isa (AS) was the last Prophet from among the Bani Isra'il, the Children of Israel, who are, from their very name, the descendents of Prophet Yakub (AS), Jacob, who was also known as Isra'il, himself the son of Prophet Ishaq (AS). In the book of Matthew chapter 21, Isa (AS), as was often the case, is giving a sermon on the Pharisees (P'rushim in Hebrew). He ends his sermon by first quoting from Psalms 118:22-23. His words, in Matthew 21:42, are, "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" He then continues by giving an explanation of this verse in verse 43: "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a Nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." This is, according to my interpretation, yet another reference to the Muslim Ummah, or Nation. The Stone which the builders rejected was Prophet Isma'il (AS), whose role was lessened by the Builders, the "lying pens of the Scribes", which are mentioned in Jeremiah 8:8 (when translated literally). In a sense, Prophet Isma'il (AS), by fathering the lineage of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and his Ahlul Bayt (People of the House; His close chosen family), functions as the head cornerstone of the fully completed religion of Islam as taught in the Qur'an and Sunnah and as preserved in the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt. Isa (AS) continues further by issuing a warning. Verse 21:44 proclaims, "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." This is a warning and a prophecy given to discourage any from making themselves the enemies of Islam, whom, if they attack the Ummah will be broken, and whom, if the Ummah attacks them (in self-defense), will be crushed. Verse 45 says, "And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them." This is important itself, because the meaning of this is that the Priests and Pharisees acknowledged that Isa (AS) was accusing them of perverting the religion, and warning them that the preferred Prophecy would depart from the Bani Isra'il and go to the another Nation, which shall bring forth the fruits of the Kingdom of God, and that to stand against this Nation will bring injury at the least, and destruction at the most. Remember also what Ibrahim (AS) and Isma'il (AS) built, and that this building has just about the most famous cornerstone in the world, the Black Stone.

Ibrahim (AS) was doubly blessed, having fathered Ishaq (AS), through whom the great Hebrew Prophets come, and through which were revealed were the Torah, the Psalms, Solomon's (AS) book of Wisdom, the Injeel (Lost Gospel of Jesus Christ [AS]), and more, and having fathered Isma'il, the father of a great multitude, the Arab peoples, and also of the fourteen Masoomeen (i.e., Muhammad [SAWS], his daughter Fatima [AS], and the 12 Imams, or 12 Princes, mentioned specifically in the Torah), the last and greatest Scripture, the Qur'an, having been revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). Both have an undeniably important role in the history of Abrahamic religion, having passed and taught monotheism down to their respective peoples (even if at times those people all but abandoned it until new Prophets came). May God bless Muhammad (SAWS) and his family the way he has blessed Ibrahim (AS) and his family. Amin.

Yaniv said:

Hey Bilal, you knew that I was going to respond to this. Very interesting reading and I thought it was thoughtful and written well.

The verse (Genesis 21:18) in the Hebrew is “Kumi, se’ee et ha’na’ar ve’hachaziki et-yadech bo ki l’goy gadol asimenu.” The translation is, “Arise, lift up the youth and grasp your hand upon him, for I will make a great nation of him.” The translation you found makes it seem like Hagar was holding Ishmael in her arms as does a woman an infant, but that is not necessarily implied in the Hebrew. The verb “se’ee” is a feminine command meaning “lift up,” and you can use it that if I make you get up, I am “lifting you up.” However, the verse says just before this, “Vayilchu ha’mayim min-ha’chemet va’tashlech et ha’yeled tachat achat ha’sichim,” which means, “When the water of the skin was consumed, she cast off the boy beneath one of the trees,” which indeed makes it seem like she lifted him and set him down as does a mother with a child.

I have a theory though of what this means and I’ll ask a Rabbi I know tomorrow. The Torah has Talmud, very much like the Qur’an has Hadith, and it reveals events that are not explicitly mentioned in the text yet occurred so I’ll see what it says about this. My theory is that Hagar set (thirteen year-old) Ishmael down underneath a tree because he was dying of dehydration (the verse says “When the water was consumed, she cast off the boy beneath one of the trees”) and then distanced herself from him to save herself the painful experience of witnessing his death. In other words, Hagar lifted Ishmael, the boy, who was thirteen, and thirteen year-old boys are not very heavy. The interesting thing is that the verse does not say whether Ishmael was conscious or not, and we can assume that he was ill due to the heat and lack of water; if he was ill, he would not have gotten up. The translation you found makes it seem like he was an infant, and that is the source for the reason you say the text was corrupted, but maybe it is the TRANSLATION that is “corrupted,” i.e., not accurate. It was at this point when she “lifted her voice, and wept.” Psalms, written by King David, says, “G-d is close to those who call Him, to all those who truly call,” and since Hagar let out a genuine cry, and this is in line with Jewish tradition, G-d was moved to mercy and saved Ishmael. This also has to mean that G-d had the intent of having Ishmael live from beforehand. By the way, if the Jews corrupted the Torah, don't you think that they would have been blatantly mean to Ishmael and Hagar? The Torah says that a great nation will be made from him and that he was an accomplished archer and that, yeah, Ishmael and Isaac buried Abraham together. It also says that Abraham had a hard time expelling Ishmael because he loved him so, but G-d told him to listen to Sarah. I can't help but to think that maybe this is just the way it all really went down.

Genesis 22:2 says, “And He said, ‘Please take your son, your only one, who you love – Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah; bring him up there as an offering upon of the mountains which I shall tell you.’” G-d tells Abraham to take Isaac to Moriah, which is in Jerusalem and can be visited today. If the Jews really DID corrupt the text, what it means is that they didn’t just change “Ishmael” to “Isaac,” they also changed “Mecca” to “Jerusalem” because Muslims believe that Abraham actually was going to sacrifice Ishmael at the Q’aba in Mecca. So perhaps the “original and uncorrupted Torah” said that Abraham took Ishmael to Mecca, but there is no place anywhere in the entire Tanakh (“Jewish Bible”) where there is mention of Mecca. Even in the Prophets, near the end of the Tanakh where it mentions Arabs, Mecca is not referred to at all. If we hold that the Jews have corrupted the Tanakh, it means that they went through the entire thing and edited out Mecca, and quite well I might add. What an undertaking.

The other option is that Jerusalem was actually the site where Abraham took Ishmael to be sacrificed, not Mecca. I am aware that Islam says that Jews corrupted parts of the original Tanakh, but is this one of those parts, and if it is, why have I never heard that argument being made? If Abraham really took Ishmael to Jerusalem to be sacrificed, it sets Jerusalem smack dab in the middle of Muslim theology, specifically, above Mecca, i.e., Mecca is secondary to Jerusalem. Why then during the 7th Century did the Muslim tradition try to place Mecca as the establishing point of Islam? Why did Islam say that Abraham took Ishmael to Mecca? Why did Muhammad change the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca? If Abraham took Ishmael to Jerusalem, Jerusalem would have been the establishing point of Islam. It seems that something changed here, the text was changed, and the only people in this scenario who could have changed that text were the Muslims in the 7th Century because only they had a vested interest in Mecca, the Jews did not. The corruption charge applies now to those Muslims.

A quick question: if the Qur’an is really the completion of the Torah, and assuming that Muslims believe that the section of the Torah where G-d gives the commandments (mitzvoth) to the Jewish people through Moshe has not been corrupted, aren’t professed Muslims required to keep the 613 commandments which G-d gave to the Jews at Sinai? Assuming that the Jews really have lost G-d’s favor due to some unforgivable sins and that He then passed on the (uncorrupted) Torah on to the Christians and then the Muslims, aren’t Muslims supposed to be keeping and adhering to those commandments in the way that JEWS do today? If I am correct, Islam only recognizes a handful or so of the commandments in the Torah and only keeps some of them, and not even in the same way. Why is that? Has G-d changed? If a Jew is ever going to accede that the Qur’an is truly the final religion of G-d, i.e., the final revelation, that Jew better be sure that G-d actually changed His mind about the Torah lest the Jew breaks G-d’s Word. This, by the way, is why the Jews rejected Jesus and Muhammad. It was not supposed to be a declaration of war by the Jews in rejecting Muhammad; it was a declaration of loyalty to G-d. If anybody in the world should respect and understand that, it should be the Muslims but apparently they missed the point.

D’varim (Deuteronomy) 13:4-6 says, “If there should stand up in your midst a prophet or a dreamer of a dream and he will produce to you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes about, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us follow gods of others that you did not know and we shall worship them!” -- do not hearken to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of a dream, for Hashem, your G-d, is testing you to know whether you love Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul. Hashem, your G-d, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; HIS COMMANDMENTS SHALL YOU OBSERVE and to His voice shall you hearken; His shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave. And that prophet and that dreamer of a dream shall be put to death, for he had spoken perversion against Hashem, your G-d – Who takes you out of the land of Egypt, and Who redeems you from the house of slavery – to make you stray from the path on which Hashem, your G-d, has commanded you to go; and you shall destroy the evil from your midst.” How much clearer can it be? Is this a corrupted text or a pure one?

Bilal said:

Hey bro. Yes, I was hoping you'd comment, because if anyone on my friends' list could give a good counterargument, it would be you, definitely. You're probably correct about 21:18 being mistranslated, which Christians do tend to do. It's also perfectly plausible that, like you said, Ishmael (AS) was unconscious when his mother laid him under the tree. As to why the Scribes left Ishmael (AS) in at all, I wouldn't know. Perhaps they saw no reason to take him out at all once they'd turned him into a very minor figure? Perhaps there had some other justification that was only valid at that time. I don't blame you for trusting what the Torah says on this: You're a Jew. This essay really isn't an attempt to convince Jews and Christians, so much as an theory on my part to try to explain, and give some evidence for, the differences. God knows, and He guides whom He will, but I'd actually be extremely surprised if this essay won over any Jew or Christian to Islam.

I don't see how the changing from Mecca to Jerusalem in the Torah is any more different than any of the other corruptions of the text. No one said the Scribes weren't reasonably thorough. I'm not sure if Mecca is ever mentioned in the Torah, in its modern form, but if it were, the name "Mecca" would probably not be the one used. No offense, but this in particular just doesn't seem like as good as argument as you seem to think.

Can you explain why the text would call Isaac (AS) Abraham's (AS) only son?
Also, a bit leading, but can you provide me with an accurate translation of Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) 8:8, from the Hebrew?


Yaniv said:

I was pretty sure that you would bring up that (second to) last point. I think the reason, after having demonstrated (successfully or not) that the Torah records the accounts accurately without any "ancient spin" that Isaac was the chosen, explains why the Torah refers to him as the only son.

At the height of the determining event, the binding of Isaac (Akeidat Yitzchak), the Torah focuses in on him directly and then after this event and Ishmael is returned the Torah "zooms out" again and refers to both of them. Consider it like a camera panning; it focuses the attention where it needs to be.

I have another theory. G-d tested Abraham with Isaac, that's for sure. I think we can deem the event with Ishmael a test as well, and it was through tests that G-d established Isaac as the father of a great nation. Likewise, He established Ishmael in the same way. You see, in the verse when Abraham is headed up to Moriah with Isaac and the two young men, he says to them, "Stay here, Isaac and I will go and prostrate ourselves and return (this is the translation off the top of my head)." The Midrash asks (Talmud), if Abraham knew that he was going to sacrifice his son (and he believed he was going to), why did he say "WE will return" and not "I will return?" The Midrash answers that he KNEW that G-d wouldn't allow it, that He would intervene on something that Abraham was SURE he was going to do, and G-d did of course. In the same way, I think, we see in the text that when Abraham told Hagar to leave, he gave her a skin of water. That would seem like a fairly natural thing to do when sending somebody away in a desert, but, as Ishmael was dying (my theory), Hagar prayed and G-d answered and made her perceive a well and then she used that skin to rehydrate Ishmael and to save his life. It seems that this is the way that G-d saved Ishmael's life in the same manner that He saved Isaac's. In other words, He wanted Ishmael to live and through Abraham, like he did with Isaac, Ishmael lived. In a matter of speaking, and this is very subtle, Abraham sent Ishmael to his death as well but through his mercy Ishmael lived. It was not through Abraham's mercy through which Isaac lived, because Abraham was committed to carrying out G-d's Word, but an angel told Abraham to stop. The difference in the events accounts for the differences in the relationship that both Isaac and Ishmael (and therefore their descendants) have with G-d and the differences in their roles in the world.

Jeremiah 8:8 in the Hebrew reads, "Eicha tomru chachamim anachnu ve'torat Hashem itanu achen hineh lasheker asa et sheker sofrim." "How can you say, 'We are wise, and Hashem's Torah is with us'? Indeed, they made the quill for falsehood, the scribes are false.’"

Peace, Yaniv...

Bilal said:

If Muslims can indeed be charged with corruption, does this mean you acknowledge we received a revelation to begin with? If Muhammad (SAWS) was a Prophet, then why would he change the qiblah had it not been God's Will? Arab nationalism would have been completely against his character, by any means, and he never showed anything but the highest respect for the Hebrew Prophets. Why would Jerusalem be so important to Muslims even now if we had downgraded its role to uplift the role of Mecca? Why then do we, and have we always, cared so much about our beautiful city of Quds? It just makes no sense why a Muslim would change Jerusalem to Mecca in this particular story. However, it's pretty easy to see why Jewish scribes would change Mecca to Jerusalem. What does Mecca mean to Jews? Nothing. For Jewish people, how much deep meaning would it have if Abraham (AS) had almost sacrificed his son in the middle of some desert on what, from their perspective, was the Nowheresville Peninsula?

Firstly, we don't claim that all 613 Mitzvot are uncorrupted. Secondly, we believe the Torah was given to the Hebrews. Moses (AS) and Aaron (AS) were Prophets sent specifically to the Hebrew people. Infact, every Prophet before Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was sent primarily to a particular nation or tribe. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was the first universal Prophet, and the Qur'an, in taking a universal role, supercedes all previous religious scripture. Therefore, even if we had an uncorrupted Torah, there would still be differences in fiqh. For example, the Sabbath; In the Qur'an, 16:124 says, "The Sabbath was only made (strict) for those who disagreed (as to its observance); But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, as to their differences.", and 7:163 says, "Ask them concerning the town standing close by the sea. Behold! they transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath. For on the day of their Sabbath their fish did come to them, openly holding up their heads, but on the day they had no Sabbath, they came not: thus did We make a trial of them, for they were given to transgression."

The Jews have not committed unforgivable sins. They, as any other people, can turn to Islam. Those who truly followed the Torah and Tanakh in the times past recognized Jesus's (AS) Prophethood, and they were Muslims. Before him, they recognized all the other Prophets. If they did not recognize these Prophets, they weren't true Submitters. If they had no knowledge of those Prophets, then no blame lies on them. A person isn't better or worse because of their ethnicity. Who is a Jew? From what you say, a Jew is a person with a Jewish mother. According to your rabbis, I am a Jew. I don't mean to discount the religion of Judaism, but am I correct that a Jew who doesn't practice Judaism or even practices another religion is still a Jew, and a Gentile who believes in and practices Judaism and observes all 613 Mitzvot, but does not make a formal conversion, is not a Jew? This tells me that, in the modern definition, 'Jew' is an ethnic label, so a person can be a Jewish atheist, Jewish Judaist (for lack of a better word), Jewish Muslim, or Jewish Christian.

It's not that, before the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), Christianity was the correct religion, and that before the time of Prophet Jesus (AS), Judaism was the correct religion. It's that Islam (Submission) was always the correct religion, and those who followed Moses (AS) and Jesus (AS) were Muslims (Submitters). If you don't believe that Prophets Jesus (AS) or Muhammad (SAWS) were Prophets at all, then by all means, don't become a Muslim. That would be the silliest thing in the world, to follow a Prophet or a Book you don't even believe in. But a Jew who is already a Muslim (and there are some of these), will know.

Concerning the quote in Deuteronomy, I completely agree with that particular quote. But one good quote doesn't make a document uncorrupted. If Muhammad (SAWS) had asked you to worship other gods, Muhammad (SAWS) would not have been a Prophet. But if the Torah is completely uncorrupted and if it is the only Law and final word, then why did God send you Prophets after Moses (AS)?

It still doesn't explain why Isaac (AS) is referred to as the only son: Even if the Torah "zooms in", did Ishmael (AS) cease to exist at that time?

Yaniv said:

Ah, I understand. How can Islam exist if there is no mention with Abraham in the Torah that Ishmael received a revelation? It seems that the Qur’an, and I say this without bashing, please understand, explores Ishmael’s revelation from G-d given that the Torah doesn’t refer to it. This is part of the design of the Torah, it seems, every nation is supposed to connect to G-d through it, it is universal. However, in Islam's case, it does this by “rethinking” the text of the Torah; it had to place Ishmael’s events inside the Torah retroactively, which necessitated the introduction of the corruption charge. What this means is that it had to refurnish much of what the Torah said in order to make the existence of Islam make sense. This is kind of like a branch on a tree, which is good, but this branch wants to suck all the water from the trunk. However, I think it’s quite possible that Islam, the religion, did not exist until the 7th Century when Muhammad arose as a leader. As you said, “Islam/submission” refers to Judaism until the time of Christianity and then the actual religion of Islam. The Arab tribes-people that Muhammad was successful in convincing of G-d’s existence were polytheists until that time. The Torah doesn’t describe in detail step-by-step someone’s life; it refers to events that are central. For example, it talks about the birth and life of a major “figure” and then jumps to the day of their death and its significance. Here’s a possible parallel; when Abraham and Sarah left their homes the first time, the Torah says that they left “with the souls that they had made in Haran,” which the Midrash explains were the people that they converted; the Torah actually considers them to be “true humans” once they understood that G-d Alone was real. Perhaps that’s why the descendants of Ishmael were not mentioned in the Torah -- Muhammad introduced them to the concept of G-d in a very similar way that Abraham and Sarah did. Therefore, the first mention of them is the Qur’an. Ishmael himself always believed in the One True G-d, he was Abraham’s son, there is no other way that he could have been, but somewhere along the way his descendants strayed (which also happened with a number of Jews throughout the entire Tanakh). Those of his descendants that did not stray, and there were likely several, maybe are the people that the Qur’an refers to as non-Hebrew monotheists before the advent of Islam; I forgot what they are called – Sabateans?

By the way, there were several important converts in the Torah that were not Hebrew; Yitro (Jethro), who was Midianite, and Ruth, (King David’s grandmother), who was a Moabite woman, and others.

Bilal said, "If Muslims can indeed be charged with corruption, does this mean you acknowledge we received a revelation to begin with?"

No, I don’t think that there was a revelation in the form of an “uncorrupted Torah,” because the existence of it is only theoretical. Looking at it from the angle that there actually was one, however, if there was, then the place that Mecca holds in Islam is a corruption because the “true version” names Moriah, in Jerusalem. Islam would HAVE to say that the naming of Moriah is also a corruption. However, in the century that Islam was established, Muhammad had to change the qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca; this serves as THE LITMUS TEST showing us that Jerusalem had been the center of monotheism for the some 3,000 years until Islam arrived on the scene. There is evidence that Muhammad originally wanted it to also be the center of Islam, i.e., the first holiest site in Islam and Mecca and Medina being second and third, but it didn’t work out that way and it was “demoted” to third place while Mecca and Medina became number one and number two. However, my theory that Islam is guilty of falsification is also theoretical because it is based on a theoretical “pure Torah.” Instead of being “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,” that revelation would have been “Abraham, Ishmael, ____, _____,” and so on. Instead, history has shown us “Abraham, Ishmael, skip 40 centuries, Muhammad.” Islam doesn’t even show that lineage from Ishmael to Muhammad, which that “original Torah” would have recorded, so where is it? You can’t tell me that the Jews corrupted it or destroyed it, because ISHMAEL’S descendants would have HAD and PRESERVED it!

IF that Torah existed (Ishmael, Jerusalem), then the Muslims are guilty of corruption because they changed it to say Mecca. But that Torah never existed, so the charge is irrelevant. That “original Torah” would have said that Abraham took Ishmael to Jerusalem (since Muslims only negate the son, not the location), and later the Muslims claimed that it actually said that Abraham took Ishmael to Mecca. But, since Muhammad changed the qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca, we know that Abraham took SOMEBODY to JERUSALEM. It couldn’t have been Ishmael because Muhammad would have honored that! It had to have been Isaac. The original Torah, therefore, is what we have today; we preserved it.

Muhammad was very successful in changing it: in 715 the Ummayads (a Syrian dynasty) saw it fit to bring Jerusalem back into the spiritually very significant fold of Islam, some say for political reasons. The Ummayads are the ones who built the Mosque of Omar and the Dome of the Rock there for the very reason of re-establishing Jerusalem in the heart of Islam and Muslims; they tried to re-include Jerusalem in Islam, until then it had become a backwater region. It wasn’t until that point in history where the Night Journey came to symbolize Jerusalem; until then, the “Sacred Mosque” in that verse referred to the Sacred Mosque that was in Mecca, right outside of the Q’aba (I’ve seen the pictures). Also, the verse of the Night Journey reads “Glory to He who took His servant by night from the Sacred Mosque to the furthest mosque.” (Subhana allathina asra bi-‘abdihi laylatan min al-masjidi al-harami ila al-masjidi al-aqsa.) The Ummayads claimed that the furthest mosque (al-masjidi al-aqsa, Al-Aqsa Mosque) was in Jerusalem, but it was in Medina. According to an article I read by Daniel Pipes;

“When this Qur'anic passage was first revealed, in about 621, a place called the Sacred Mosque already existed in Mecca. In contrast, the ‘furthest mosque’ was a turn of phrase, not a place. Some early Muslims understood it as metaphorical or as a place in heaven.14 And if the ‘furthest mosque’ did exist on earth, Palestine would seem an unlikely location, for many reasons. Some of them:

Elsewhere in the Qur'an (30:1), Palestine is called ‘the closest land’ (adna al-ard).

Palestine had not yet been conquered by the Muslims and contained not a single mosque.

The ‘furthest mosque’ was apparently identified with places inside Arabia: either Medina15 or a town called Ji‘rana, about ten miles from Mecca, which the Prophet visited in 630.16

The earliest Muslim accounts of Jerusalem, such as the description of Caliph ‘Umar's reported visit to the city just after the Muslims conquest in 638, nowhere identify the Temple Mount with the ‘furthest mosque’ of the Qur'an.

The Qur'anic inscriptions that make up a 240-meter mosaic frieze inside the Dome of the Rock do not include Qur'an 17:1 and the story of the Night Journey, suggesting that as late as 692 the idea of Jerusalem as the lift-off for the Night Journey had not yet been established. (Indeed, the first extant inscriptions of Qur'an 17:1 in Jerusalem date from the ELEVENTH CENTURY.) [my emphasis]

Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiya (638-700), a close relative of the Prophet Muhammad, is quoted denigrating the notion that the prophet ever set foot on the Rock in Jerusalem; ‘these damned Syrians,’ by which he means the Umayyads, ‘pretend that God put His foot on the Rock in Jerusalem, though [only] one person ever put his foot on the rock, namely Abraham.’17

Bilal said, “Why would Jerusalem be so important to Muslims even now if we had downgraded its role to uplift the role of Mecca? Why then do we, and have we always, cared so much about our beautiful city of Quds? It just makes no sense why a Muslim would change Jerusalem to Mecca in this particular story.”

Because the Ummayads did a good job.

Bilal said, “However, it's pretty easy to see why Jewish scribes would change Mecca to Jerusalem.”

Everybody would have exposed the Jews as frauds if they had changed it. They also would have exposed them for frauds for claiming that the Sea of Reeds split in half if it hadn’t really. There is no evidence that the Jews changed anything, not one shred.

Bilal said, “For Jewish people, how much deep meaning would it have if Abraham (AS) had almost sacrificed his son in the middle of some desert on what, from their perspective, was the Nowheresville Peninsula?”

Hehe, good point, but take a look at a map; from Haran, where Abraham was, to Jerusalem is also “Nowheresville!”

Bilal said, “Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was the first universal Prophet, and the Qur'an, in taking a universal role, supercedes all previous religious scripture.”

Says you. The first universal Prophet according to Midrash was Noach, who repopulated the entire world after the Flood. G-d gave him and his family seven laws to follow, a set of laws for the Gentile population of the Earth that they could administer to themselves in their way as long as they were fully compliant with it. They are called the Seven Noachide Laws. That Law was a general yet demanding monotheistic ethical Law for the entire nations; the Muslim religion is an extremely narrow religion requires submission to the Muslim state as a prerequisite to submission to A-llah. (By the way, I believe in theocracy, just stating a fact). It is a dominating religion. Islam seems to be a religion fully in compliance with the Noachide Laws, and under the Noachide system it is perfectly valid and actually good. The problem IS that it believes to have superceded all previous religious scripture; it should have left well enough alone and let monotheists be monotheists without having to change. Jews think that Islam is perfectly valid, but Islam has to mind their own business. As long as others are being monotheists we are perfectly happy; Islam isn’t even happy with other monotheists, and Jews are basically the only other monotheists in the world today, except for maybe B’hai’s and Sikhs.

Bilal said, “In the Qur'an, 16:124 says, "The Sabbath was only made (strict) for those who disagreed (as to its observance); But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment, as to their differences."

Again, note Deuteronomy 13:4-6, we HAVE to keep the commandments of the Torah in the form that G-d gave them to us. Nobody is our arbiter on how to keep them except Moshe and then the preceding Prophets. Note, EVERY Prophet in the Torah tells the Jews to return to adherence of the mitzvot, because we had strayed; Muhammad had a whole different plan in mind for us. The Jews would have let him and his descendants be with their new monotheistic religion, but the Muslims weren’t satisfied with harmony, they wanted dominance. We have our Torah, we don’t need a Christian Bible and we don’t need the Qur’an. If we go wrong, let our Prophets and Rabbi’s correct us, not anyone that claims to be a Prophet. By the way, Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah are OBVIOUSLY universal in scope. Isaiah says that the entire world will come and bow in Jerusalem and that that “from Zion will come instruction (Torah) and the Word of G-d from Jerusalem.” He also says that the knowledge of G-d will cover the Earth like a sea. Have Muslims ever stopped to think about what the Prophets were actually saying before deeming them Muslims? The only reason those Prophets are in there is because they didn’t say contradictory things to observance of Torah; there were self-proclaimed prophets that didn’t make it. The Jews have been mature enough to realize that Muslims are monotheists and we would support them if they didn’t want to take everything from us and/or told us what to believe and how to act.

Bilal said, “According to your rabbis, I am a Jew. I don't mean to discount the religion of Judaism, but am I correct that a Jew who doesn't practice Judaism or even practices another religion is still a Jew…”

You said it yourself, G-d gave a Prophet to every nation; ours is Moses, forever. We are a nation with a religion. It started with just the Hebrews, but if you look at Jews today they came in all shapes, colors, and sizes; it has transcended the borders of ethnicity long ago. However, we are considered a nation by our unity under G-d; so a black Jew, for example, has become like my blood-brother. It’s like he’s from the same mother, and he is, Sarah. That’s why ethnicity is irrelevant to real Judaism and the Torah has no color.

A Gentile can keep the entire Torah if he wants but he has already been given a Law so it’s extra-meritorious. If a Gentile wants to become a Jew he needs to make a profession of faith, which takes about a year of study of the essentials and basics of Judaism and then he/she needs to dip into a mikvah (ritual bath), which is like “being born again,” as a Jew. Also, a man who has not been circumcised needs to get one, and if he has (since most boys get one when born), there is a process where he gets a small poke with a needle down there.

A Jew has the ABILITY to do whatever he wants, i.e., he was endowed with free will, but he is NOT FREE from keeping the Torah, he HAS to do it! He has to submit his free will to G-d’s Will, for as the Talmud says, “He who makes G-d’s Will his own, G-d will make his will His own.” Atheist, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever: all these practices and ideologies are foreign to the Torah, a Jew has to keep the Torah. Submission, right, everybody is born and dies in submission according to Islam right? Yet much of humanity does not submit to G-d. Doesn’t Islam pass down through the father? Are there not atheists with Muslim fathers? It’s the same thing.

Bilal said:

You're incorrect on this point because SOMEONE did not have to be almost sacrificed in Jerusalem for it to have been the Qiblah at all. This is an irresponsible assumption, and I don't even understand your reason for making it. So no, we do not "know that Abraham (AS) took somebody to Jerusalem". Muhammad (SAWS) had nothing but the highest honour for Isaac (AS) and would never have corrupted anything.

Jerusalem was never "the Sacred Mosque"; It was always "the Farthest Mosque", Masjid al-Aqsa. Oh, you say there was no masjid in Jerusalem? Masjid means, "place of prostration", so yes, Masjid al-Aqsa was already a masjid at that time, and Masjid al-Aqsa in the Qu'ran always referred to the masjid in Quds. To claim that this was a later invention is simply untrue, and there is no historical basis for that claim whatsoever. Daniel Pipes claim that "Masjid al-Aqsa" is a turn of phrase also has no historical basis, besides his obviously biased opinion, as anyone who knows who Daniel Pipes is, will admit. 30:1 is "Alif Lam Mim". After that, in 30:3, which is the verse being referred to, this is not even a reference to Palestine.”

Yaniv said:

It’s a very responsible assumption because 1) the Torah says it (regardless that I believe that the Torah is from G-d, Isaac is documented), and 2) something made Jerusalem the center of the monotheistic world. The Torah says that King David chose that site for the capital of the Land of Israel, i.e., the site of the Temple, based on the merit of Isaac’s near sacrifice there. There is a direct line from Mt. Moriah to Jerusalem, or in other words, from Isaac’s near sacrifice to the site of the Temple. The only way to read what you are saying is that the theocratic monarchy started by King David was a sham built on a site where nothing happened because Abraham didn’t really take Isaac there. Are you ready to concede that King David (the Muslim) was guilty of this sham himself, or perhaps that he too was fooled by “the Jews?” Are you saying that King David should have built the Temple in Mecca? Can you give me just two believable and/or documented things that would have made Jerusalem “eligible” for being the center of the entire G-d-believing world for some 3,000 years? I have no reason to believe that anything of import happened in Mecca other than the establishment of the religion of Islam in the 7th Century.

Bilal said:

No actually what I said was a denial that Islam refers to Judaism until Christianity or Christianity until the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). For example, there would have been many Muslims around the world who were neither Christians nor Jews, BUT the true followers of Moses (AS), Jesus (AS), and all the other Prophets, were Muslims (Submitters). Muhammad's (SAWS) complete lineage is not necessary, nor would it have necessarily been predicted in the pure version of the Torah. I personally think it's quite likely that many of the lineages given in the Jewish scriptures are a much later work, by scribes, added either maliciously or well-intentioned to the Torah. There is a lineage that scholars have pieced together for Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), but it works under the assumption that the lineages in the Torah are correct. Their motivation anyway, would be supported by the emphasis put on lineage in Judaism. There is no evidence to suggest that this was deemed AS important by the Ishmaelites. The Arab monotheists were called Hunafa (plural of Hanif). Jethro (AS), or Shuaib, was not a convert to Judaism but a Muslim from among the seed of Ishmael (AS), already both a monotheist and a Prophet before he met Moses (AS).

Yaniv said:

You’re defining Islam as a theoretical religion; there is no evidence that such a religion existed. If it did, it was Judaism, i.e., the Israelite religion, i.e., adherence to the commandments of the Torah. You said, I personally think it's quite likely that many of the lineages given in the Jewish scriptures are a much later work, by scribes, added either maliciously or well-intentioned to the Torah.” Then you said, “There is a lineage that scholars have pieced together for Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), but it works under the assumption that the lineages in the Torah are correct.” These statements are opposite. To justify them, you said, “There is no evidence to suggest that this was deemed AS important by the Ishmaelites.” If Islam was not measurable, it did not exist; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the Prophets knew that they were Jews, i.e., following in his ways. Doesn’t it make you curious why not one of them ever made any reference to Ishmael? I do believe that Islam exists today, it’s real, duh, but what you call “Islam” in the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and later on was Judaism. There is a place for Islam in the world, a very important place, but Islam insists that it kick Judaism out of its throne to have it. There is a real problem with that for real practical reasons, like war, and we are seeing them today. Make no mistake about it, this debate is at the center of the Middle Eastern conflict between Jews and Arabs, nothing else.

Bilal said:

“(Jeremiah 8:8 in the Hebrew reads, "Eicha tomru chachamim anachnu ve'torat Hashem itanu achen hineh lasheker asa et sheker sofrim." "How can you say, 'We are wise, and Hashem's Torah is with us'? Indeed, they made the quill for falsehood, the scribes are false.")

What is your interpretation of that verse? It seems to clearly say to the Jewish people, who are prideful because God's Torah is with them, that the scribes who copy it are liars.”

Yaniv said:

Haha, that made me laugh, that’s the Muslim interpretation, and it’s not very different from the Christian one. The Jewish interpretation is not an interpretation; it’s truth. Jeremiah, like all the other Prophets, railed the Jews for leaving the Torah and straying – unfortunately at times it got so bad that even the religious leaders of the people were guilty of it. Oh, wait a minute; that sounds familiar when I think of Islam and all the corrupted religious leaders in the Muslim Arab states, i.e., those who back terrorism. Now if only the Muslims had a Jeremiah, that’d be something else! The one constant with Jews is that they are absolute experts at criticizing their own in the Name of G-d – I don’t see that in Islam. The Prophets were expert whistle blowers against corruption - that is what G-d wanted them to say. That is the tradition that we Jews have inherited and that’s why I’m so proud to be a Jew; we expose evil wherever it is. It is central for a religious person to be able to criticize the most fundamental things about his/her role in the world. You say that the Prophets were Muslims - wrong, they were good Jews.

Peace, Yaniv…

Killed Israeli Soldiers' Names

( Following are the names permitted for publication of soldiers among the 15 IDF reservists killed in southern Lebanon on Wednesday.

Sergeant-Major Noam Goldman, 27, from Tel Aviv,
Major Leon Smucker, 30, from Beit Nehemiah,
Sergeant-Major David Smidov, 25, from Jerusalem,

Captain Gilad Stukleman, from Tamrat in the Jezreel Valley
Sergeant-Major Igor Koblik, 26, from Nazareth Illit