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Monday, August 24, 2009

Teachings about Marriage in An-Nisa

As you may know, I have started reading through a Juz of the Quran each day of Ramadan. I've been reading through An-Nisa, and have come across a few things that I don't quite understand.
Here are some of the problematic passages:

1. If any of your women is guilty of unnatural offense, bring four of your witnesses to give evidence; if they testify against them, regain them in the houses until death, or until God provide some other way for them. (An-Nisa 15)

a.) What is the unnatural offense? It seems to suggest homosexual behavior in the context of the next verses.
b.) What would the witnesses have to say that they had witnessed for this to be prosecuted?
c.) What is meant by until God provide some other way for them?

The passage continues:
But if two men among you are guilty of such acts then punish both of them. But if they repent and reform, let them be, for God accepts such repentance and is merciful. (An-Nisa 16)

b.) What is the required amount of witnesses for the men? The text doesn't say, and what is the punishment for them?
c.) Let them be?! So men don't have ANY punishment if they just promise to never do it again?
It just isn't setting well with me at this point.

2. Unlawful to you are your mothers and daughters...(other list of women prohibited for marriage) and the daughters of the wives you have slept with who are under your charge; but in case you have not slept with them there is no offense (if you marry their daughters);
(An-Nisa 23)

a.) So the text seems to be saying that you can marry the daughter of your wife (who is not presumably your own daughter), but only if you hadn't slept with that particular wife yet. Why would one have a wife with whom he hadn't yet consummated the marriage yet?

While we're on this topic let's head back to Surah al Baqarah's teaching on divorce in v. 230:

If a man divorces her again ( a third time), she becomes unlawful for him (and he cannot remarry her) until she has married another man.
Then if he divorces her there is no harm if hte two unite again if they think they will keep within the bounds set by God and made clear for those who understand.

a.) So a man is allowed to fully divorce his wife 3 times and yet take her back to him as a wife. However if he has divorced her a third time, she has to marry and divorce another man in order for them to re-unite again!

This one is problematic to me for 2 reasons. First, it seems to condone easy divorces, which are not socially positive in any culture. The woman might already know that she wants her husband back, but she has to find another man, marry him, have sex with him, and they have to be divorced in order to get her husband back. She would have to wait the obligatory 4 mos, and then she could marry her original husband. What if the husband wanted her back and they arranged the marriage to the other man basically as a sham so they could marry again. Is that not immoral?

The second reason it bothers me is that it directly contradicts this teaching about divorce from the Torah:

When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hands and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her and and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, for she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD, you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. (Deut 24:1-4)

You see, even if the 2nd husband died of natural causes, she could never marry the first man again.

Jesus set a higher standard for divorce in the Gospels:

It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality , makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5: 31-32)

What do you guys think about divorce in general? I think that it can be necessary, even in cases where one party is not necessarily unfaithful. What if the husband is abusive or prone to anger? What if he is lazy and refuses to provide for the family? What if the woman is abusive to her children or endangers them? I think those types of cases are definitely enough reason to divorce. People can change, but the sad truth is that sometimes they don't.

Is Jesus teaching on divorce too strict? I don't think that he's saying that there is never a case where remarriage can happen (although some churches do teach this). I think that he was using harsh language because divorce was too common and easy in the Judean culture of the 1st Century A.D. We're leaning back that direction again. My parents are one of the few their age I know who are still married. I don't think that marriages should be rushed into or out of unless there is a reason of someone's safety or sanity.

I will add to this if I come across anything else confusing in my reading.

And please, I welcome comments of all kinds as well as links to good sources of commentary.

May God be with all of you each and every hour!

33 comments:

Sarah the Seeker said...

Regarding verses 15 and 16, here is what it says in the Muhammad Asad translation, which is quite different to what you have:

# 4:15 (Asad) AND AS FOR those of your women who become guilty of immoral conduct, call upon four from among you who have witnessed their guilt; and if these bear witness thereto, confine the guilty women [12] to their houses until death takes them away or God opens for them a way [through repentance].

# 4:16 (Asad) And punish [thus] both of the guilty parties; [13] but if they both repent and mend their ways, leave them alone: for, behold, God is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace.[14]

Note 12
Lit., "them".(Quran Ref: 4:15 )

Note 13
Lit., "and the two from among you who become guilty thereof, punish them both". According to most of the commentators, this refers to immoral conduct on the part of a man and a woman as well as to homosexual relations.(Quran Ref: 4:16 )

Note 14
Some of the commentators attribute to the term fahishah (here rendered as "immoral conduct") the meaning of "adultery" or "fornication" and are, consequently, of the opinion that this verse has been "abrogated" by 24:2, which lays down the punishment of one hundred stripes for each of the guilty parties. This unwarranted assumption must, however, be rejected. Quite apart from the impossibility of admitting that any passage of the Qur’an could have been "abrogated" by another of its passages (see note on surah 2 verse 106), the expression fahishah does not, by itself, connote illicit sexual intercourse: it signifies anything that is grossly immodest, unseemly, lewd, indecent or abominable in word or in deed (cf. Lane VI, 2344 f.), and is by no means restricted to sexual transgressions. Read in this context, and in conjunction with 24:2, this expression obviously denotes here immoral conduct not necessarily amounting to what is termed zina (i.e., "adultery" or "fornication"), and therefore redeemable by sincere repentance (in contrast to a proven act of zina, which is punishable by flogging).- It is noteworthy that in all cases of alleged sexual transgressions or misbehaviour the Qur’an stipulates the direct evidence of four witnesses (instead of the two required in all other judicial cases) as a sine qua non of conviction. For the reasons underlying this injunction, as well as for its judicial implications, see note on 24:4.(Quran Ref: 4:16 )


Regarding divorce, I agree with you that it should be available as an option but not resorted to readily. I'm not sure that the Quranic or Biblical rules for remarriage after divorce make a lot of sense to me! I think it's an unlikely situation, that someone would want to remarry their ex, but why there have to be rules about it I don't know. Maybe to put people off divorcing too lightly? Cos if you do, and then change your mind, there will be certain consequences. I don't know. :S

Mama Kalila said...

I've been reading through too & am a little behind, so maybe I should do that before I answer this lol. Those are some good questions though.

On the sub of divorce... I do believe there are certain circumstances like you mentioned where it is the only option. Namely abuse.

I believe cheating can be a reason, if the guilty party is not willing to stop and work on the marriage. This is a big issue w/ me because I was raised in a family that broke up due to this & I cant stand the thought of cheating period. (I'm not sure I should start out w/ luckily or not lol, but my husband is in the same boat so he has the same feelings on the sub and that helps a lot) I want to say I could forgive it and work on the marriage because I think that's what's right... but I honestly don't know.

Beyond that I don't believe in divorce... Partly religious reasons (I am Catholic lol) and partly because I've seen what it can do first hand. I don't want to do that to my family.

caraboska said...

I don't believe in divorce either. However, there are a whole host of things which can invalidate the marriage so that it constitutes fornication.

For example: the husband keeps running home to Mommy all the time and doing what Mommy wants instead of prioritizing his wife as the Scripture stipulates: 'For this reason, a man shall leave father and mother...'

Or: the person says 'until death us do part in their wedding vows', but then shows by their behavior (perhaps 20 years later) that this really meant 'until I find someone else for whom I have stronger feelings than I do for you. Thus contravening God's stipulation '...and cleave to his wife...'

Or: the man refuses to acknowledge the consequences of the oneness that exists between a man and his wife, namely that his wife basically owns his body (I Cor. 7). The fact that he must sleep with his wife on demand is just one tiny application of this principle. It basically means that both parties must obey each other in all things lawful and godly. This is a big problem for men, and I would view the marriage as invalid if the man refuses to acknowledge his wife's claim on him - thereby contravening God's stipulation that '...the two shall become one flesh'.

Or: It turns out (say, after five years of marriage, as happened to a friend of mine) that a man married a woman for the sole purpose of being able to benefit from her financial support. For one thing, since he failed to tell her, this means there was deception involved, so that the 'marriage' was founded on lies. And for another thing, the Scripture says 'What therefore *God* has joined together...' Well, it sounds like what joined that man to that woman had nothing to do with God and everything to do with money.

Or: A man beats his wife to try to force her to do his bidding. To him, it is a control based relationship and he is the 'head'. Well, that's very nice except that the Bible says, as I mentioned above, that his wife basically owns his body (literally: has authority over it) and he must be subject to her out of respect for Christ. His idea that he is allowed to use force on her amounts to an idolatrous foundation for the relationship - which has nothing to do with God.

Such behavior makes it evident that the man had no intention of true marriage, and therefore what they are doing is not marriage but fornication. And the one who cares about God's commandment not to engage in sexual immorality must put a stop to it immediately, if they see something like this going on and the other party refuses to repent when they are shown the error of their ways.

In other words, I would view what would happen then as an annulment, on the grounds that the material of the marriage was so grossly defective as to render the marriage invalid, so that any sexual contact between the parties represents fornication. But this only in the case where the actual material of the marriage is affected, as defined in the Scripture. Divorcing someone because you don't like their cooking doesn't cut it.

Nevertheless: the sexual bond is a very serious matter, so that if possible, you try to make the marriage real rather than breaking it up. Or better yet, you question your partner very carefully before getting married to make sure that there are no defects in the material of the marriage - that you are able to contract a religiously valid marriage. And you make it clear that if it turns out later that they were lying - which will inevitably happen eventually - then you will end the relationship immediately, regarding it as an annulment, so that they would be really stupid to lie to you.

And another thing: you've got to be on the same page about God and about the material of the marriage. There really is zero room for error here. If there's any error in these matters - even with a ceremony and vows and witnesses and a marriage certificate - there's no marriage. Period.

OhSoMuslim said...

1.(Surah An-Nisaa:15)
I have a different translation than you but unnatural offense is adultery/fornication. As for the punishment mentioned in this ayah is was later abrogated by Surah Nur:2.

"Some other way" is actually the abrogation of the confinement which is Surah Nur:2.

Continued Ayat: The men get punishment also,
Allah says 24:2, "Flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case."

2. I can't answer that...I'm not married LOL!
But during the time this ayah was revealed this could have been an issue for the people. What's the norm today was definately not the norm then.

2 Continued: In Islaam divorce is something that is dishonorable and shameful The Prophet(sallalahu alaihi was sallam)said: "Of All the lawful things the most detestable to Allah is divorce. Talaq(divorce) is no walk in the park. Once divorce is pronounced, the iddah period has now started. There is wisdom behind the iddah period, for instance you have to see if the women is pregnant and also the iddah period itself allows time for the spouses to reconcile their differences and to see if being seperated is better for them or not.

As far as divorcing it's much like 3 strikes and you're out! After 3 divorces, the women who is now looking to get married now has to marry someone else, her intention cannot be to marry a new man, have relations, divorce him, then marry her old husband...if so her marriage is invalid. If that were the case then why did the spouses divorce?(this is when the iddah period is a huge benefit for them)

But if her intentions were pure and it just so happens that the marriage does not work out, if she wants to she can remarry her old husband. This is all due to Allah's infinite mercy and wisdom.

For clarity on certain ayat I advise you to visit www.tafsir.com

Susanne said...

Interesting post. I like learning about what you are reading.

I think Jesus' teaching on divorce shows His strong views on the importance of the marriage relationship. You know how the NT talks about the Church being the Bride of Christ. So marriage is supposed to be a picture of that. If we are marrying and divorcing so quickly, it cheapens things. You see how it's almost a (not so funny) joke here because people marry and divorce. ... Like Liz Taylor and her many husbands. It just cheapens family ties and hurts society as a whole.

Ideally it's 1 man and 1 woman honoring and serving and loving one another for life .. or until death parts them. And no loyalty to moms over spouses! :-)

Organica said...

Question:

Are you of the belief that the Torah is the teachings of Jesus not God?

If so, do you believe that the Quran are the words of God or Muhammad?

I think you are confusing the message with the messenger.

Honestly, when it comes to these rulings, Stacy, you need to study further to understand where the ayat are coming from. For example, one Tafseer of this particular ayah in Surat An-Nisa explained how initially that was the ruling for women who committed adultry, but later a hadeeth implemented the lashing rule in Shariah.

I think the way we approach the Quran is completely different than a casual read of any book.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Organica, I guess I would see Jesus' mission in his statements to clarify the Torah. In don't think that he was coming with something completely new, he just noted that the religious establishment in their extreme piety and strictness were actually drawing ordinary people away from the worship of God. In a lot of his statements he was trying to let the people know that although they were keeping the technical letter of the law, that it was not coming from the heart intention.

As for the words of the Quran, I'm still trying to figure that one out, which is one of the reasons I'm doing the comparative study.

You're right though that I would be helped by some of the studies showing when different Surahs were revealed and explaining their contexts in greater detail. After all, these things are necessary for understanding the Bible too.

The other sisters comments regarding the Ayah in Surah An-Nur makes a lot of sense as far as the Sharia ruling on these things is concerned.

I realize that reading the Quran is not something that is supposed to be done haphazardly, but I am somewhat limited since I have to read it in translation with a limited knowledge of Islam.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

OhSoMuslim, Your remarks are really mature and wise for a young lady who isn't married. I'm sure you'll go into it with your head and heart when the right guy comes along.

I do think that the iddah period is of crucial importance in Islamic divorce. Ideally it will help both parties realize how they have been hurting each other and come back to the marriage truly changed.

I will take your advice and check out tafsir.com to get some more depth on the studies.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Caraboska, I agree with you that certain things can abrogate that marriage vows that aren't physical adultery.
A marriage is made before God and men with certain promises and guarantees to both parties. If any of them are lacking, this can render the marriage invalid.

Nadia said...

I read your post three times. I'm a victim of divorce. In fact, my ex was playing around with the word 'divorce' from the very first day of our marriage. He used it as a threat to get whatever he wanted. Finally after a couple of months, he sent me home to my family for a small vacation and a few days later I got a divorce paper in the mail and all my belongings were shipped to me. He realized life with me wasn't going to be what he wanted. He was nervous all the time because he did not want to pray or talk about Islam and felt like shit (excuse my French) when he was around me because although I did not lecture or preach him, but my prayer mat and hijab were enough to drive him nuts.

It bothers me that Islam makes it so easy for a man to divorce his wife. How is it that he can pick up any two witnesses off the street (which he did) and take them to court and get them to sign the divorce paper. How can he divorce me without me even knowing? He took the easy way out because he was a coward and couldn't even face me to say 'You Are Divorced'. Anyway, I hope he finds himself a little tart to marry and may no religious girl ever have to go through that.

I am still upset about how easy it is for men to divorce. It just doesn't seem logical to me. Does anyone have any ideas about that?

caraboska said...

It is my understanding that Islam teaches that of all things permitted, divorce is the one God hates the most, and that certain things should be happening - getting together with representatives of both families to see if something can't be worked out.

But one thing bugs me here: this guy wasn't even praying. Doesn't Islam also teach that the one who doesn't pray has made himself a kafir, even if he was born a Muslim? I think this is a case in point of how the parties have to be on the same page about God for the marriage to work.

Indeed, I've heard people say that if a Muslim woman finds herself married to a man who doesn't pray, she should divorce him. On the other hand, if the problem is that she converts after marrying, he at least has three months to decide before she does that. And this guy didn't even stick it out for that long. Sounds like good riddance to me.

All that having been said, I think both Judaism and Islam place divorce basically in the hands of the man because of the idea that the man is the head...

Christianity solves the problem by saying that both parties have equal rights: to remain together, period. It teaches that the only reason divorce was permitted in Mosaic Law was because of people's hardness of heart. And the whole point of Christianity is to actually change people's hearts - through the hearing of the message and by God's action in their lives - so that this is a non-issue. Indeed, there can be no true Christianity without that.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

It seems to be from what I've read so far that Islam makes divorce easier for men than for women. On top of that is the fact that a lot of Muslim men exploit that and divorce women for absolutely anything.
Like you, I just began reading Sura al Nisa and there are some things in it that make me think too. I think these verses need to be studied more (by us, I mean) because they need to be put in their historical context. Let's remember that Arab society then was as patriarchal as they get, and so it was difficult for the Prophet (pbuh) to get the men around him to start treating women better. Thus a lot of interpretations that were done at the time were also very patriarchal.
Great post!

Dini said...

Salam Alaykum,
Stacy, I do not believe that looking for opinions in relation to the interpretation of the Quran is the best way to go in understanding the Quran. It is not like there are hidden meaning. The explanations and the story behind the ayas are usually straignt forward. So my advice to you is to ask someone more knowledgeable in the matter of the deen.
Just my humble opinion.

أبو سنان said...

Stacey,

You write "As for the words of the Quran, I'm still trying to figure that one out, which is one of the reasons I'm doing the comparative study."

If you have doubt that The Qur'an is the word of God and think that it might be just what Mohammed made up, then you are really on the outer edges of Islam, and just possibly, over the limit.

Belief that The Qur'an is the unadulterated, literal word of God is a basic belief that is required to be a Muslim. If you believe that Mohammed wrote The Qur'an, I do not believe you are a Muslim.

I am a former Christian, like you I have a lot of issues, but they are mostly with the people of Islam, not with Islam itself. Islam is, by it's very nature, going to be a fair amount different than Christianity and Judaism.

Christianity and Judaism both rely on texts who have a very unclear history. Recently one of the oldest Bibles in the world was copied online. BBC made sure to point out that this Bible had whole sections that were different than the modern text. Some words and even entire verses had been added and subtracted.

Not even the different Christian sects can agree as to what should even be in the Bible, never mind most of the books were written anywhere from 50-150 years after Jesus left.

As to the Torah, it's history is even less known. The Qur'an, however, is different. It is pretty clear where it came from, it's history, and there is no dispute about what texts belong to it and what dont.

I am all with you in questioning the practices of Muslim societies in the world. I am even with you questioning hadith, which are passed on by men, some of which actually contradict The Qur'an.

When you question whether or not The Qur'an is the word of God, you have passed the bounds of trying to understand the text, you are questioning in the entire basis of Islam.

If The Qur'an is not the word of God then Islam........all of it........is a joke.

My advise is to decide what you think on this matter before you go any further. There is no use studying Islam if you think The Qur'an was written by a man. If you believe that then any study of Islam after that point is purely academic.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Abu Sinan,
Thanks for your comment. I think that the Quran has to be provable by its own internal witness. There is nothing inherently wrong with questioning anything in it. In fact, it seems like critical study of the Bible is accepted, but critical study of the Quran is generally frowned upon. I am not saying that I am intelligent enough to understand the Quran fully, and my understanding of Arabic is weak at best. However, I don't intend to be disrespectful of Islam or the Quran at all in these sort of posts. There are a a lot of varying interpretations of the verses regarding marriage, divorce, and treatment of women. You are right in saying that the problem is how certain countries and communities implement them in Shari'a.

I am relatively qualified to comment as the history of the Bible is concerned. I have a BA in Biblical studies with my concentration in Biblical Hebrew and Greek. Anyway, I feel that the Quran is still dependent in some sense upon the witness of the Bible. We know that the Hebrew Bible as it stands today was complete by sometime in the 4th Century B.C., with material stretching back most likely to sometime in the 15th to 13th Century. B.C.
The witness of the Hebrew Bible is what defined what it meant to be a prophet, or what qualities that Isa had to have to qualify as Messiah. And as such, I think that all further revelations had to be interpreted through its lens. Don't get me wrong, I think that it is useful to study the origins of the Torah, but as I said how would one even know how to define prophethood without it?

caraboska said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susanne said...

Caraboska, I don't generally interfere in matters such as this and I have my days when I don't respond like I should (blush), but please if you are going to defend Christianity and/or the Bible, remember to speak the truth in LOVE. And if you consider Abu Sinan some sort of "blog enemy," remember how Jesus told us we should treat them. (Matt. 5:44)

I would have e-mailed you privately, but I don't see your name connected with any link.

I intend this is a good spirit, and I hope you take it thus. (please do) I cringe when I read comments from "Christians" that seem vindictive such as yours. I read them at American Bedu's blog and saw this one now. I know you mean only to defend, but ... anyway, I hope you understand. :-)

Thank you!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Caraboska, I hope you aren't offended by my removing your response to Abu Sinan. There have been a lot of people making personal attacks against others on some blogs, and I just didn't want to see it go any further in that direction.
Thanks for sticking up for me though!
I tried to answer his question in a concise way and he is welcome to comment or ask further questions as long as he remains respectful.
I really care for all my readers and want this blog to be a place where we can ask questions and learn from each other.

I didn't forget about your questions from Heather's blog either. I will get to them by this weekend God willing.

caraboska said...

I'm not offended. But it is clear (and of course understandable) that you have no idea what I was like 30 years ago when I first converted. You have no idea how much effort I made to do the right thing. You have no idea how much of an improvement this is over what I used to be like. You just have no idea. Goodbye. Maybe I'll be ducking in from time to time, but I won't be contributing anymore. I prefer to travel with creatures who understand. I prefer my cats, quite frankly.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@caraboska, I'm sorry to hear that. Its hard for me to know what's the right response a lot of times too. I hope to see you around at least here and there.
God bless.

أبو سنان said...

@Stacey,

There is nothing wrong with getting into The Qur'an to try and figure things out, to understand it. But, as a Muslim, if you doubt that The Qur'an is actually the word of God then the very basis of the faith is gone. If The Qur'an is not the word of God, then Islam ceases to exist.

Of course The Qur'an relies on the Bible, because at one point the Bible was divinely inspired, after hundreds of years what the true message of the Bible is is really up for debate since we don't exactly know what was really in the Bible and history proves that it has been altered greatly. Having said that, Islam isn't a religion on it's own, it's roots are in the Torah and the Gospel, no matter how altered they are now. If you are a Muslim you realise that Islam came to perfect the other two religions, to right the wrongs and fixes the changes made by man. Judaism is the trunk of the tree, Christianity the branches, Islam the flowers of the tree of faith. Islam couldnt exist without them.

So it is okay to use the Torah and Gospels as a reference, but certainly not as definitive documents. Look at how the Torah deals with the lives of some of the Prophets, makes them out to be almost evil people at times, ie David sending his friend to die in war so he can steal his wife. God picks the best to be His prophets, not someone who'd have his friend killed to steal his wife. So it is clear there are major problems with the narrative in the new testament and the Torah, from an Islamic perspective, but it certainly doesn't mean you through the baby out with the bath water.

@Caraboska,

Being a free thinking amoungst the Muslim community, I am used to being called names and have people think bad things about me because I do not conform. As a former Christian, it is probably people like you that helped drive me from Christianity, aside from pagan notions as the trinity.

Sarah the Seeker said...

Abu Sinan,
I don't personally think doubt is ever a destructive thing, as long as one is prepared to do an honest search for the truth, because truth stands out from error, right? If people with erroneous interpretations of scripture never doubted, they would never be able to correct their views.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Abu Sinan,
First, let me say that I love Islam and am very attracted to it for quite a long time.

That said, I can not say unequivocally, without any doubt, that the Quran is 100% the unadulterated word of God.
At this point I would describe myself as a Torah-keeping Christian with Islamic influences.
I don't fit 100% into mainstream Christianity either. I believe that Christianity has been corrupted in its practice, especially as it concerns invented holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
However there isn't any real evidence of when and where the Bible was considered to have been corrupted. This is problematic for me.
The O.T. was completed before the time of Jesus. To me, the books that aren't included in the Masoritic text aren't really an issue, because they were never accepted as canonical by the Jews, and therefore Jesus wouldn't have accepted them either. The record of the Gospels was written sometime after the life of Jesus, but this is because his followers were out there spreading his message all throughout Asia Minor. If they had been teaching something different that what had really happened, the eyewitnesses that were still living wouldn't have stood for this.
I hope this clears up some points about me for you. I wasn't trying to be deceptive or masquerade as anything that I'm not. I am very comfortable with Islam, but I am still studying out its claims.

Salaam.

Mama Kalila said...

"To me, the books that aren't included in the Masoritic text aren't really an issue, because they were never accepted as canonical by the Jews, and therefore Jesus wouldn't have accepted them either."

- If we are talking about the Duterocanonicals (sorry for spelling, my spell check is out and I'm horrid at it) they were accepted... The Jews held a council after the time of Jesus and weeded out those 7 books for various reasons... However, they were used in the time of Jesus and are quoted in the NT. Of course there were others floating around that were never accepted and I understand that you may be referring to those.

Sorry if over-simplifying, but morning sickness kicking my backside here and not wanting to spend a huge amount of time on this.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Mama Kalila, Congrats and I totally understand about not feeling like making a terribly long comment.
It is a bit of an oversimplification. The Deuterocanonical books were recognized by the Jews as an important contribution to their own history and this is why they were put into the Greek LXX (septuagint). They weren't upheld as scripture to the same level as the other books because they were written in Greek and not Hebrew and were just not judged to be inspired to the same extent.
Again, I am oversimplifying too :)

Heather said...

Well...I think it's an unfortunate necessity. I wouldn't want to imagine what my life would have been like if my parents had stayed married (they divorced when I was four). My dad has been married 5 times, divorced 4 times (my mom was the second marriage/divorce, and frankly, I think they got married because they had me). My mom is on her third marriage, but they've been married for 17 or 18 years now, so third time was the charm. : D

Personally, I just hope that when I get married (which is always such a leap of faith), that it lasts forever, like it should.

BuJassem said...

interesting post and interesting blog (my first time here)

seems you combine a lot from the various 3 main faiths.. and good for you!!

a lovely way to do things..

anyway are you still confused about the quranic passages or you've sorted it out? :)

salam

أبو سنان said...

@Stacey,

I have to say that when you said "If they had been teaching something different that what had really happened, the eyewitnesses that were still living wouldn't have stood for this" you are WAY off base. The Shi'ite/Sunni split in Islam is a GREAT example of how different groups of people can see and hear the same events and come up with more than one meaning and understand of what was meant.

That is exactly why there is a split in Islam and Christianity. The early church had MULTIPLE understandings of Jesus' message that is why there were so many different sects, with so many different teachings, using so many different books that people claimed were part of the canon of Christian teaching.

The rifts didn't really start to be dealt with until hundreds of years after Jesus and all of the apostles were gone. Various leaders in the Church made some changes and came together and unified things a bit and went after dissenters/heretics with the sword and war. Not that the sword and war silenced the various sects, the Catholic Church was still slaughtering "heretics" like the Huguenots in France as late as 1598.

Getting specific with the first Christians, there was not unanimity amoungst the first Christians. This is well shown in the circumcision controversy in the middle of the first century. Peter and Paul came out with the idea that is was no longer needed, but Paul later had to address the issue as shown in Galatians.

What about the Ebionites, a very early sect of Christians, who had different views from other early Christians?

Some early Christians rejected the divinity of Jesus as well as the Trinity idea.

So it is very clear that even within the life time's of the family of Jesus and his apostles there were very different ideas about what was part of the new religion and what wasn't.

Just because we cannot say that on April 3rd, 907, changes were made to the text of the New Testament doesn't mean it didn't happen. It is VERY clear that the New Testament we have today is significantly changed even with copies of the New Testament from 1600 years ago. This means that we can PROVE that the New Testament from today is different than the ones that early Christians read. It makes you wonder how many changes were made from the time of Christ until this earliest of texts?

This is what makes The Qur'an COMPLETELY unique amougnst texts thought to come from the divine with the "People of the Book". We know exactly it's history, how it was formed, where it came from. There is no doubt, we don't have to sit and wonder what happened for 300 years before we have the earliest copy, we don't have to look back at the earliest Qur'an and KNOW that there were changes made that everyone can read.

I have a question as well, you say you are "Torah keeping"? Does that mean you follow all Jewish laws? Do you follow the dietary laws, their religious holidays? Do you cover?

I have known many observant Jews, we used to live right next door to a Chabad center, and I have found it is rather hard to do. For instance, your last post was done on Saturday at 1:41 in the afternoon, which is still during the Sabbath and would violate a very important part of Judaism. Sabbath is from sundown Friday night until sundown Saturday night. Our neighbors would often ask us to do things for them on Saturday. They were not allowed to do anything, cook, turn a light on, use a computer, ect. I am friends with observant Jews and they never use the internet or computer on Saturday during the day.

I am just trying to figure out where you are coming from. I find many people that experiment or drift in between religions often do not really hold unto any of the beliefs of any of them completely.

http://www.codexsinaiticus.org/en/

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@BuJassem, I'm getting there. What I do realize now is that just because something is allowed doesn't mean that it is recommended.
So basically even though it is allowed for a man who has divorced his wife 3x times, she married and divorced again, and then he wants to marry her again, this isn't something that I really according to God's plan. Like Modest Justice said, it is seen as a mercy of Allah who is al rahman, al rahiim.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Abu Sinan,
I will try to address your comments in as concise way as possible.

Referring to the early witness of Jesus' message, I would recommend the book Reinventing Jesus
http://www.amazon.com/Reinventing-Jesus-J-Ed-Komoszewski/dp/082542982X
This addresses some of the arguments made by contemporary scholars regarding the death, resurrection, and divinity of the Messiah as well as issues regarding textual criticism and the canon. The reason I suggest the book to you is because I don't have much natural talent for rhetoric, argumentation, or explaining theology. This is why I study languages instead of theology.

The "Church" was already significantly changed and politicized (ie Romanized) by the time of the Council of Nicea in 325. The earliest Christians, if we should even call them that, didn't celebrate Christmas or Easter, or worship on Sunday. They were considered a part of the greater Jewish community, but followed Jewish law and tradition to varying degrees. This is seen in the New Testament in regards to the "God-fearers," who were gentiles who followed the God of Israel, but had not undergone a full conversion. The issue of circumcision ties in with this as well. A man would have to undergo circumcision to fully convert to Judaism. Paul was leaving it open ended to individual believers as to whether what level of attachment they wanted to have to the Jewish community. We see this in Acts where Peter receives the vision telling him to go ahead to meet with Cornelius, who is a Gentile. Cornelius and his companions, who were all Gentiles, also received the powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues to demonstrate that they were accepted by God. The minimum standards for gentiles stated that they had to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, blood, strangled animals, and sexual immorality (Acts 15:29). This does not mean that the person would only keep this standard over time. They were free to choose the standards of their own believing community. The Gentile communities of believers became more separated from Judaism over time, partially because the Jews didn't consider followers of Jesus a part of their community.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

You say that the NT we have today is significantly changed from that of only 1600 years ago. Not really.
All the books that are included in the canon today were extant. Yes some of the early manuscripts contain a different canon than others, but this doesn't undermine the basic message of the N.T. It doesn't shake the foundation of my faith, to me the Bible doesn't have to exist without any variation to be God's word. The way the Quran and the Bible are believed to be inspired are very different.

You are right that the Quran is better attested in its earliest stages. However, it was revealed several hundred years later. There is also some argument as to whether Caliph Uthman had variant copies of the Quran destroyed. Of course I would agree with you that hundreds of the earliest Sahaba had it memorized.

As to your comments on Torah observance, there are many opinions as to the way of living out certain commandments. The commandments pertaining to sacrifice, Temple, and priesthood cannot be followed currently.
As for the Sabbath, different communities have different halacha as to what is allowed and forbidden on the Sabbath. Most modern Orthodox and Chabad would argue that driving, or using appliances is forbidden, constituting melakha, or work. Others would argue that these things are not in a forbidden category. I do set aside the Sabbath (Fri sundown to Sat sundown) as a day or worship and rest, but I do use electricity and other modern conveniences.
If you read the Gospels, you will see that Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath many times by healing the sick, or plucking grains from a field with his disciples. He said that "the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath." Modern Kosher standards are much stricter than the straightforward Biblical commands. The separation of meat and milk or using separated dishes for them is not directly commanded in the written Torah. This is something that the Rabbis did to make a fence around the Torah so that people were less likely to break an actual command.

I wouldn't say that I am drifting between religions per-se, I just think that modern Christianity has drifted quite far from the Biblical culture. I love a lot of things I see in Islam because Muslims haven't forgotten that they are supposed to be a people set apart for God.

Oh, and I do cover for prayer, and keep the Biblical feast days with a local community that does so, and I keep a Biblically kosher diet by abstaining from pork and shellfish.

A good Messianic organization you can check out for more info is http://www.ffoz.org

Hope that clears things up a little

Salaam.

أبو سنان said...

@Stacey,

All of the books that are included in the canon today were extant? Whose canon? Catholics and Protestants have a different amount of books in the New Testament, so whose canon are you referring to? What about the dozens of other books that were disapproved by early church leaders? There were literally dozens and dozens of possible books for the New Testament and a bunch of men had to sit around and figure out which ones to include and which ones to throw out. That is a major part of the problem. You had men deciding what was, or wasn't, in the New Testament and not all Christians agreeing on it.

There was not agreement on the divinity of Jesus nor the trinity, neither of which have real biblical foundations. The people who believe in the trinity and divinity of Jesus were just better at slaughtering their adversaries, it is why that belief dominates Christianity now. Had the anti-trinitarians been a bit more numerous and more brutal, the trinity would be a footnote in Christian history.

If you look at the books they ended up choosing, some of them tell different version of the same exact story. Both of these facts make the New Testament VERY problematic!

So in your understanding of Judaism you would probably be considered a "reformist" in that you are very liberal with your application of Jewish law. As to covering, even the New Testament requires it for a woman, as well as Paul's commandment for women to remain silent in the church.

You seem to pick and choose a bit from everything, and not follow one religion. Do you view Mohammed as a Prophet? Do you fast during Ramadan and celebrate Eids?

Sorry to dog you here, but I find most people that cherry pick from religions end up having no religion at all really. It becomes even more problematic with children. You might enjoy your flirtations with various religions, but children tend to need more of a solid basis than that. I grew up with several kids like that........none of them have any religion now.

You mention setting aside the Jewish sabbath for worship. I am interested in what, exactly, do you consider workship? Jews, Christians and Muslims have very different ways of worshipping. Do you keep the five daily prayers of Islam? Do you go to Sabbath prayers at a synagogue?

How do you decide which part of which religion you decide to follow and which part do you decide to ignore?

What you are doing sounds a bit like a free lance version of the Bhais.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Abu Sinan,
As I told you before, I don't enjoy debate.
I attend a Messianic congregation here in Portland. They meet on Sabbaths, although they don't keep an Orthodox Jewish standard of observance, nor does any Messianic congregation that I have attended, although there are a few.

I keep follow the canon that was decided by the Protestants, although their New Testament is the same as that of the Catholics. There are a number of ways those "commandments" by Paul can be interpreted. It is only recently that there has been a resurgence in Christians wearing headcoverings and discovering the Bible as a unified document.

I do not view Muhammad as a prophet, although I can appreciate a lot of what he had to say. Like I said, I think that Islam preserved a lot of things that were forgotten over time among Christians. I do not celebrate the Eids in a religious sense, but will spend time with my Muslim friends and eat in their homes.

I have fasted for Ramadan because it is also recommended for Christians to fast and Ramadan is just as convenient a time as any.

Yes I have many Muslim friends, and am meeting with some friends for an iftar dinner tonight. Just because I can have friendship and fellowship with people who are different than me doesn't mean that I accept all of their theology.

I am not seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity, and my friends are respectful to not try to convert my husband and I either. We live in a world that isn't religiously homogenous, and I can appreciate that.

If you enjoy debate about the canon, textual criticism, and Christian theology, there are plenty of people on various websites who enjoy doing this.

There doesn't have to be any contradiction in the life of a Christian who happens to appreciate Islam. This doesn't mean that my daughter will grow up believing nothing.

Most of the Muslims I know love God and are honestly seeking to please him by the way they live their lives. How can I as a mere human judge that? I also cannot judge sincere Christians who may disagee about how the Bible should be interpreted and applied.

I am glad that you are happy in Islam and can believe in its message 100% This is why I can genuinely congratulate someone who has studied and decided to make Shahada.

However, I don't want to continue this little debate we have going here. I don't have to defend all of my beliefs on this blog, because this isn't the purpose of the blog.

Salaam.