Thursday, September 14, 2006

G-d, Noah, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, G-d

Christians grow impatient with us Jews because of what they explain is our unwillingness to “share” G-d with them. Their grievance is that they also want to be in the Covenant with us and that their belief in G-d and Jesus is their sharing with us in the G-d of Israel. However, it is a faulty charge that we do want not to share G-d with them, because if they only looked in the Torah they would see that G-d makes Himself readily available to the Gentiles throughout the entire Tanakh – and this is central to the Jewish canon. How does G-d make Himself available to the Gentile nations? Through their own Law; Judaism explains that the Gentile covenant and obligations to G-d were forged in an agreement pre-existent to the deliverance of the Torah to the Jewish nation – through Noah. Therefore, there is One G-d and two Laws, one for the Jewish nation and one for the Gentile nations. The Gentile Law, or the Seven Laws of Noah, also known as the “Noahide Laws,” exists alongside the Jews’ Mosaic Law; the difference is that the Mosaic Laws are more specific than the Noahide Laws.

The nature of the charge is that we (Jews) are being “greedy” with G-d because we absolutely reject the divinity of Jesus. If you think about the nature of this charge, it is truly childish; the Jewish rejection of a theology insisting that the Trinity is equal to the Unity of G-d is not greed, it is the rejection of polytheism/paganism – G-d does not “belong” exclusively to the Jewish people, humanity belongs exclusively to G-d! Since Jesus is not G-d, the belief in him, as a god, must be rejected; this not the same as giving some consideration to his thoughts. In rejecting Jesus (and therefore not sharing in faith with Christians) Jews are saying that Christians are not worshipping G-d. Perhaps the same/similar anger that Christians have towards Jews is the same/similar anger that pagans had towards the Jews when we would not bow down to their gods and goddesses. A very concrete example is the anger spurned in King Nimrod of Babylon when Abraham would not bow to his idol – Abraham absolutely and outright rejected the abomination to truth which was the idol and this angered Nimrod; can we not imagine that Nimrod was insulted? Perhaps he reasoned, “Why is my faith so repulsive to Abraham?” Abraham, whose primary characteristic was kindness, was not moved by compassion to soothe Nimrod by bowing to his idol because to do so would be to sacrifice truth.

The Muslim response to Christianity is similar to that of Judaism. However, the Muslim theology rejects that there is the One G-d but two Laws; they reason, in a fashion sound with monotheism, that if there is the One G-d then there must be one Law. To the religion of Islam, that one Law is the Law of the Qur’an. In most situations this logic would be sound, and I am not a Muslim scholar, but Islam, like Judaism, in a matter of speaking does actually believe that there are two forms of Law. Judaism believes in the existence of a Law prior to its own – the Noahide Laws, and Islam believes in the existence of a purely monotheistic faith prior to its own as well; Judaism, Christianity, and a religion belonging to a group of people known as “the Sabians.” The relationship between the Law of Torah and the Law of Noah is equal to the relationship between the Law of the Qur’an and the Law of the Torah. This “duality of Law” is expressed in the Qur’an as “there is no compulsion in religion,” and if this is true and if Muslims hold it to be true, then to what other religion can the Qur’an be referring other than Judaism, Christianity, and the Sabian religion? That the world needs to accept Islam and that the Qur’an says that “there is no compulsion in religion” are two contradictory concepts, and if there can indeed be only one truth, then either one or the other of these is Islam while the other is not.

However, the relationship is converse; while Judaism insists that the majority of the world has to follow the Noahide Laws and that only the minority population which is Jewish needs to follow the Torah, Islam insists that the majority, the entirety actually, of the world’s population needs to follow Islam and that nobody needs to follow Judaism or Christianity. To explain this in Jewish terms it would be as if, once Moshe delivered the six hundred and thirteen commandments to the Jewish nation through G-d, that the entire population of the world had to observe them, or in essence, to become Jews. Minus a few “isolated incidents” in Jewish history, the insistence that the nations of the world and their members follow all of the Mosaic commandments was not an occurrence; “conversion” consisted of shifting from polytheism to monotheism and the application of the Seven Laws of Noah – this was a time in human history when religions, including Judaism, were relegated to the (non)truths that they expressed and were therefore nameless. We see that Noahides never had to (and do not have to) leave their Seven Laws for their Mosaic counterpart. The way Islam explains it (or actually, the way Muslims have explained it to me) is that there is no compulsion in religion (coverting to Islam) but that people should do it on their own. The difference is that Judaism does not say that Gentiles should accept Judaism and therefore the yoke of Torah but rather that they should not. What they need to is accept the yoke of the Seven Noahide Laws, which are eternally binding on them in the same manner that the Mosaic Laws are eternally binding on the Jews. Islam uses the nomenclature “Islam” when referring to the faith of the faithful preceding the literal advent Islam (in the 7th Century) and in doing that retroactively, to use a politically incorrect term but one which I think accurately explains the phenomenon, “invades” history and claims it for itself, stifling it and making no room for others. It is no wonder that this is the connection between religion/theology and “political Islam’s” attitude towards politics; be it physical, temporal, or spiritual, all belongs to Islam. The way Islam seizes time is the way it seizes land. This is not the way monotheism was intended to be, i.e., it is perfectly in line with monotheism to have two sets of Laws and harmony with its neighbors.

To conclude, Islam creates an unique type of stress and pressure on the world; the stress not only to accept monotheism (which is the type of stress that Judaism places on the world), but the pressure to, once having done that, accept the practices and specific religion of Islam. By uniting the specifics of the religion of Islam (the particulars) with the cosmic, moral, and absolute truths of existence (the universals) in one category, Islam transforms from a religion of peace into a religion and cause of war. There is no way at its current progression that Islam will deliver anything remotely resembling peace to the world - it wants to shock humanity into faith rather than hold its hand and lead it into truth. The solution to all the problems in the Middle East (which affect the entire world) lies in the realization that there is no peace with one whom rejects not just the right of another to exist, but rejects their actual existence.