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.

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?