"A man can no more diminish GOD's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
Since the beginning of humanity, people have sought understanding of the universe around them. To explain the things that we could not understand, we assign it to some great unknown entity. Everything from the simple creation of crystals from a solution to the mysteries of life, has been explained by some unknown force of will.
In day to day life, we cannot seem to apply logic in matters of faith, politics, or even humanity. I believe that the reason for this is humanity wishes to make more of itself than it really needs to. Humanity suffers from self important delusions. We tend to put ourselves above other life, above other nations, and above our neighbors.
We strive to be more, but more what? More loving, more financially secure, stronger, better than those around us. When we apply this to religion, the outcome is very grave. No longer do we see that we are all trying to solve the same equation. We start to fight about whose equation is superior. We start to fight about whose solution for the variable of life is supreme, at the cost of truth.
Truth can speak for itself. Truth has not evidence to the contrary. Once a truth is known, it is irrefutable. The truth of the Universe, the fact that it exists cannot be disputed. It seems the zealous hearts of men wish to exercise an indomitable need to own the exclusivity of truth. To corrupt it, and to manipulate others with it.
I would like to introduce back into society the definitions of the words that we use, but rarely understand.
Faith is loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person
Fact is a piece of information about circumstances that exist or events that have occurred.
Truth is not only a fact that has been verified, but also has an unconditional agreement with doctrine, with absolutely no contradiction that could be disputed in regard to translation or evidence.
Belief is an impression: a vague idea in which some confidence is placed
Doctrine is a code of beliefs or "a body of teachings" or "instructions", taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system.
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.
Everywhere I look, I see people claiming to have faith in a truth. Truth does not need belief. Truth does not need faith. Truth can defend itself, truth can be proven. There is no need for man to fight wars, kill his fellow man over the context of truth. Truth is self sustaining.
In the three major Abrahamic religions, Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, we have examples of three groups that believe in the same exact higher power. In all three religions, they have worship the same GOD in their own fashion. Jews and Muslims greatly stress the oneness and unity of GOD. The affirmation of the oneness of GOD by Christians is sometimes misunderstood, because Christians believe that the one GOD is triune. This is not a denial of monotheism but an affirmation of the complexity of the GOD's divinity.
All three have the belief that GOD is the origin and source of all that exists. GOD cares about the entire creation and desires the well-being of all. GOD is just and has provided basic rules for our guidance so that we may all be righteous, according to GOD's intention. GOD is also merciful, by means of GOD's grace we are given strength to be more like what we should be.
All three religions believe that human beings are the highest creatures here on earth. We are the children of Adam. GOD created us full of mystery, which means potential for continuous growth, both as a species and as individuals. We are capable of both good and evil. When we grow in goodness, righteousness, and love we become more like what GOD had intended humanity to be in the onset of creation. When we abuse our freedom and do harm to other people, ourselves, and the environment it means that we are going against GOD's plan for us. Each person is capable, with GOD's help, to turn away from evil, repent, and do good. It is in GOD's forgiveness, mercy, and strength do we have the chance to transform back towards the goal of GOD's ideal for our lives.
No matter how difficult the past and present may be, the three religions are hopeful about the future. Evil and suffering will not ultimately prevail. GOD and man has provided a condition for which the three religions have different names, but agree on the ultimate goal. This future will bring about GOD's unchallenged rule; unconditional happiness and purpose for all who live with GOD.
The three Abrahamic religions believe that GOD and human beings communicate with each other. By revelation GOD communicates to people, among which the most important are revelation through prophets. These revelations are recorded in the Scriptures of each religion. While the Holy Scriptures of the three religions are not the very same, nevertheless the younger two religions acknowledge GOD's truth as found in the previous religions, and encourage respect to their Holy Books. While each of the three religions does not merely focus on one set of writings, the key Scripture of Judaism is the Torah, the key Scripture of Christianity is the Bible, which consists of the Old Testament (TANAKH ) and the New Testament, and the key Scripture of Islam is the Holy Quran.
The duty of people is to read or listen to GOD's Holy Writings and to respond with prayer, praise, and with an appropriate acceptance of GOD's commandments in life-style.
GOD left us guidelines for our behavior. GOD provided us with sound basic rules to live by as well as an intelligent mind to learn how and when to apply those rules to our everyday life. Let us look at the concept of murder for an example. All three religions abhor the arbitrary murdering of innocent people.
Murder is the unlawful killing of a human person with malicious premeditation, as defined in Common Law countries. Murder is generally distinguished from other forms of homicide by the elements of malice aforethought, the lack of lawful oversight, and the concept of religious, social, or moral "good" as justification
In the Quran:
Surah al-Ma'ida ayah 32 says:
"Because of that We have ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind."
The Quran commands Muslims to defend themselves. If an enemy attacks, then Muslims are to fight against the attackers until they stop their aggression. All of the verses that speak about fighting/war in the Quran are in this context. There are some specific verses that are very often taken out of context, either by those trying to corrupt the faith of the believers, or by misguided Muslims themselves who wish to justify their aggressiveness.
For example, one verse taken out of context reads:
"slay them wherever you catch them" Quran 2:191
But who is this referring to? Who are "they" that this verse discusses? In the correct context the passage reads:
"Fight in the cause of GOD those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for GOD loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, GOD is Often forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in GOD; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" Quran 2:190-193.
It is clear from the context that these verses are discussing a defense, when a Muslim community is attacked without reason. In these circumstances, permission is given to fight back, to turn out from where themselves were turned out, regardless if it is in their home, property, or Holy Place. Muslims are then instructed not to go past certain limits, and to cease fighting as soon as the attacker gives up.
In these circumstances, Muslims are only to fight directly against those who are attacking them, not innocent bystanders or non-combatants.
This brings into question for many about how are Muslims suppose to look at the other faiths. From the Quranic point of view, the Jews are descendants of Prophet Abraham, through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. They were chosen by GOD for a mission:
"And We chose them afore time above the nations, knowingly, "Quran 44:32
"Remember Moses said to his people: "O my people! Call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. " Quran 5:20
"Children of Israel! call to mind the (special) favor which I bestowed upon you, and that I preferred you to all other (for My Message)." Quran 2:47
"O Children of Israel! call to mind the special favor which I bestowed upon you, and that I preferred you to all others (for My Message)." Quran 2:122
He exalted them over other nations of the earth and granted them his favor.
The Quran also says that good people are assured of their reward with GOD:
" Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration." Quran 3: 113-115
"Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth." Quran 7:159
"We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some that are the opposite. We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity: In order that they might turn (to us).
After them succeeded an (evil) generation: They inherited the Book, but they chose (for themselves) the vanities of this world, saying (for excuse):
"(Everything) will be forgiven us."
(Even so), if similar vanities came their way, they would (again) seize them. Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them, that they would not ascribe to Allah anything but the truth? and they study what is in the Book. But best for the righteous is the home in the Hereafter. Will ye not understand?
As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer,- never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish. " Quran 7: 168–170,
Muslims believe that among the people of Moses, there are those who guide and do justice in the light of truth. Among them, there are some who are righteous and some who are the opposite. The verses also state that the Creator has tried them with both prosperity and adversity in order that they might turn back to Him. As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer, the verses clarify that they never shall suffer.
It is very clear that Muslims have no authority to oppose Jewish people or Christians, as such. In fact, Muslims must give special respect to them as People of the Book. Originally, the prophets from the other religions are equally revered by Muslims.
This brings up a term that some people in western culture may have heard, but not understand:
"The People Of The Book"
It is the term used in the Quran to refer to the Jews and Christians. It is also sometimes translated as "People of the Scripture" . It also refers to anyone who receives genuine revelation from GOD.
Both Jews and Arabs are the Children of Abraham. Jews descended from his son Isaac and Arabs from the son Ishmael. Jews and Arabs are brothers, though the racism that has crept into the perception of some Jews and Muslims would deny this brotherhood. To Moses, GOD Almighty revealed the divine scripture known as the Torah as He revealed to Jesus, the divine scripture which is his Gospel.
From the Islamic point of view, the Quran completes a progressive revelation of divine guidance to man, GOD revealed the Quran to the Prophet, Muhammad (May peace be upon him). All these prophets were the prophets of GOD and the religion they taught was basically the same religion from GOD.
It is important to recognize that Islam means "Peaceful Submission To GOD" and the word Muslim means "On Who Is In Submission TO God." These are not the names of some unGODly false religion, but a title for those who wish to be worshipful to the creator of the world.
The Islamic teachings on this can be summed up in the following verses:
"It may be that GOD will grant love (and friendship) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For GOD has power (over all things), and GOD is Often Forgiving, Most Merciful.
GOD does not forbid you, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for GOD loves those who are just." Quran 60:7-8
In the New Testament Jesus says:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till Heaven and Earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" Matthew 5:17-18
In other words, until the Eternity begins, not even the smallest punctuation mark changes in the Law! What Law? I bring this question up because all to often, I have seen my Christians justify the things they do by not only saying that Jesus has caused the old law to pass away, but also relying on the forgiveness by Jesus's death to continue in their sin. I say to you this, to be a Christian means we are supposed to strive daily to be "LIKE" Jesus. Jesus is the example to try and live by, not an end to be used as an excuse to sin not only in the flesh, but also within our hearts, as well.
In Matthew 5:21, Jesus says:
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou Shalt Not Kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the Judgment".
I have found problems amongst the various translations of the Bible. The Greek word translated 'Kill' here is "Phoneuo", which means: To be a Murderer, to Murder - 'Phoneuo' a form of 'Phoneus' which means: A Murderer; Always a Criminal or at least intentional homicide.
The Greek word translated 'Judgment' here is "Krisis", which means: (When referring to the Divine Law) Damnation, Condemnation; Justice – Tribunal.
Taking this into Matthew 5:21 actually reads:
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou Shalt Not Murder; and whosoever shall Murder shall be in danger of Eternal Damnation".
In other words, no Murderer can have eternal life abiding in him; and it might even mean Jesus Christ can not change this fact. If you look at the strict literal translation, he states so himself. Why is Murder so serious a crime? You not only Murder that person, but any Children the person might have had, thus destroying a whole lineage; not just that person.
In 1 John 3:15:
"πᾶς ὁ μισέω ὁ ἀδελφός αὐτός ἀνθρωποκτόνος εἰμί καί εἴδω ὅτι πᾶς ἀνθρωποκτόνος οὐ ἔχω ζωή αἰώνιος ἐν ἑαυτοῦ μένω " Greek New Testament Tischendorf 8th Edition
"Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him"
This word translated from the Greek word "miseo" so 'Hateth' actually means: to detest (especially to persecute).
Thus, 1 John 3:15 actually reads:
"Whosoever detest their brother (to the point of persecution), is a murderer: and ye know that no Murderer hath eternal life abiding in him".
The definition of brother is a male person who is a fellow member (of a fraternity or religion or other group). In this passage, it uses the Greek word "αδελφον" or "adephos", meaning a brother near or remote.
This, I believe, calls into question as to the nature of the relationship. We are all brothers, from a human perspective. In fact, I would even say that all who believe in the singular concept of who GOD in the Abrahamic sense can be considered brothers, as well. Despite doctrinal differences, we can still find a type of brotherhood, if we only strive to see it. Instead of looking for the reason for discord, maybe we should strive for the harmony all should have who believe in the one, true GOD.
In the Torah:
In Exodus 20:13,
"You shall not murder."
We have the Fifth Commandment, Christians translated this to "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Take a good look at that word "Kill". In the Hebrew Manuscript the word is "Ratsach" which means: Murder; to Murder, a Murderer; to dash to pieces. Exodus 20:13 Actually reads "Thou Shalt Not MURDER".
In Exodus 21:12:
"He that smiteth a man so that he die, shall be surely put to death".
Here, the Hebrew word translated 'Smiteth' is "Nakah", which means: Murder, To Slay, to make slaughter. Exodus 21:12 Actually reads "He that Murders a man so that he die, shall be surely put to death".
"But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die". Exodus 21:14
The Hebrew word translated 'Slay' here is "Harag", which means: To Smite with Deadly Intent; To Murder. The Hebrew word translated 'Guile' here is "Ormah", which means: Trickery, Craftiness; Deceitful Strategy. Exodus 21:14 actually states "But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbor to Murder him with a Deceitful Strategy; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die".
There are many more similarities. All three religions closely link religion and morality. Religion is to be manifested by showing concern for the well-being and dignity of others, in a life of service to others, and in personal and social ethical behavior.
GOD wants us to tell the truth and not to take from others what rightfully belongs to them. We are to respect the dignity of every person and help especially those who are not capable of helping themselves, such as widows, orphans, and the poor. All three religions foster modesty, moderation, and honest work. All three religions believe in Golden Rule:
On the authority of Anas bin Malik, the servant of the messenger of Allah, that the prophet said :
"None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." related by Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12
"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31
"Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." Leviticus 19:18
"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
"Do that to no man which thou hatest: drink not wine to make thee drunken: neither let drunkenness go with thee in thy journey." The Book of Tobit 4:15
Our religions share common ancestry, a belief in divinely given written scriptures, and such practices, as regular prayer and charity; valuing pilgrimage and sharing many common holy places. GOD promises that behavior will receive its proper rewards and punishments in the future, on earth and in an afterlife. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam appears to be naturally suited to co-existence and mutual reinforcement. At times, for example in Spain, during much of the period from about 750 to about 1250, all three faiths coexisted and gladly learned from one another.
There seems to be two factors can explain the hostility that characterize the relationship amongst these religions.
First all three have been proselytizing religions. Judaism abandoned this practice early in the Christian era. Each has had some feeling that it has come the closest to the essential truths of God and the world, and that the others have somehow failed to recognize this.
Both Christianity and Islam accuse Judaism of stubbornly refusing to accept later revelations that modify and update its original truths.
Both Judaism and Islam accuse Christianity of a kind of idolatry in claiming that God begat a son who as actually a form of God and who walked the earth in human form.
Both Judaism and Christianity argue that God did not give a special, final revelation to Muhammad.
In each case these religions have looked at one another and said that, despite elements of deep commonality, there exist also fundamental heresies. Indeed within each of these religions, splits have turned one group against another amidst cries of heresy and calls to armed opposition. Truth was to be maintained, asserted, and defended through the force of arms.
Secondly, as each religion developed, it sought the support of government. It often sought to be the government. Truth was to be reinforced by power. Basic competition over spiritual and philosophical truths spilled over into competition also for tax money, office, land, and public acceptance of specific ritual and architectural symbols, and suppression of opposition.
When they could, these religions marched through the world armed. These governments and religions are intimately bound up with one another. The religion of the leader of the country was expected to be accepted as the religion of his subjects, or at least to be given preferred treatment over others.
More importantly, the virtuous guidelines that their religion asks of the common practitioner do not seem to really apply to those that are in power. We have multiple examples of religious or governmental leadership on all sides committing atrocious acts, in the name of GOD. It seems though that these acts are more suited to satiate their sense of pride, their need to expand their borders, increase their affluence, or fill their coffers with more wealth.
We are to submit ourselves to the will of GOD. I believe it is time for the practitioners of all 3 faiths to start realizing that the conflicts, wars, and killing are not really caused by the belief in the one true GOD, but is a result of vaporous dogma and political motivations.
You, who are Jewish, put aside you prejudice, yours is a religion of History.
You, who are Christian, put aside your bigotry, yours is a religion of Faith.
Islam-Judaism = Christianity
You, who are Muslim, put aside you narrow-mindedness, yours is a religion of Knowledge.
And maybe, just maybe:
Judaism+Christianity+Islam=A Better Understanding Of The Nature Of Humanity And Of GOD.
Is the worship of Jesus really important as worship to GOD the father? In the TANAKH, there is 144 names for GOD. In Christianity, we recognize those 144 names, and include another 12 others that reflect on GOD, the father, Jesus, and his divinity, and the Holy Spirit. In Islam, there is 99 names for GOD.
These expressions of identity are for the same creator. As Christians, there are problems with Muslims, who honestly strive to recognize the same creator that is worshiped also?
Muslims choose not to recognize the full divinity of Jesus, but they do say that he is the greatest prophet. They do pray to GOD the creator, just as Judaism does. Is it not for GOD to judge if their efforts and prayers are acceptable to his ear? Could it be though, not praying to Jesus, and Jesus being the physical expression of GOD, that they are failing only to recognize a single facet of the wholeness that is him? Can the same also be said of the Jews as well? Since believing that Jesus is GOD, and they pray to GOD, what exactly is it that we say they do not recognize? One of GOD's many names? One of GOD's voices? Or is it just our personal doctrine about GOD that they are not agreeing with us about?
Most importantly, as a Christian, one must remember who Jesus said will judge men. He even said it was not his place to proceed in judging men, judging us, for our iniquity. He expressly says that is reserved for the Father exclusively:
" As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." John 12:47-50
These religions already agree that there is only on true GOD, he is the one who judges us. We should strive to follow that path that all of our holy books outline. You do not need to accept the contradictions, beware the insertion of dogma that is told to be fact, and be mindful of the similarities. Then we may see a great miracle occur.
"We all believe in one GOD... We are meeting here today to say that religions should be a means to iron out differences and not to lead to disputes," Saudi King Abdullah