The scholars and the ordinary folk have worked out a clever partnership arrangement. A more fitting description of the partnership should be that it “evolved” over the centuries. The scholars will be elevated and adorned with glorious and pious religious robes, from where they will issue their religious edicts, claiming to speak for God. In return for receiving this noble station, they will issue religious edicts that make religion bearable and doable for the ordinary folks down there. Over the centuries, these two social forces have developed a symbiotic, co-dependent existence. The priests offer religious practices that the masses can live with, and promise God’s paradise in return. The masses offer the priests sanctified status, in return for moral absolution.
The trick however lies in finding the balance. If priests make it too easy on people, those ordinary folks will assimilate into the general mass of humanity. That of course will spell the end of them too, for what benefit is there in being a puppet master if there are no puppets around. So the pious frauds have to put out just enough of a challenge to make those dupes feel just guilty enough to continue to be in the game. They have to remember to keep the threat of the unknown, like for example what happens after death, very much alive in their puppets.
For the religious scholars, the trick is in removing a truly human quality like thinking from the masses. As long as they think, they pose a danger to themselves and to others. Worst of all, if they think rationally, they may get the crazy idea to test the coherence of all the balderdash that the scholar is peddling.
The fraudulent Ulama or Pious Scholars of Islam have given Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims the greatest gift they could wish for, namely Moral Cover. Ritualized practices provide moral cover for the morally bankrupt. Morality reduced to a finite set of repeatable actions. A code that removes the stress of thinking about moral issues, which you can simply execute out-of-the-box, and tick it off as “done”.
Ritualised Zakah as Means of denying a Real Social Conscience
Compassion, Charity and Goodwill in a world where poverty, neglect and isolation enjoy high tide, just simply seem too daunting. Imagine living in South Africa where the worst form of human degradation is always present, just five minutes drive away… Compassion and charity just would appear to be capable of consuming all one’s time and all one’s wealth. So what does it get replaced with? 2.5% Zakah of course! And zim zala bim! Compassion block checked! The 2.5% Holy Tax has been reduced to a farce by Sunni Islam. When they pay their 2.5% they have earned the right to look the other way in the face of rampant exploitation and oppression. They in fact join the feeding frenzy on the unsuspecting poor in many cases. As long as they pay their 2.5%, they are entitled to continue their assault on nature, the environment and other people. There is no further moral compassionate concern, because the 2.5% Zakaah has taken care of that.
The Qur’an Responds…
The pious frauds have found an excellent opportunity in the vagueness of certain themes in the Holy Scriptures. The Quran speaks of Charity and Goodwill, while never stipulating an exact quantification. The Prophet was in fact pestered by people who required a “quantification” of charity and goodwill. The Quran responded to them with the following verse: “And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: “That which is beyond your needs.” [Quran 2:219] There is a good reason why the Quran withholds quantification of a noble social trait; after all, the Quran has not quantified the amount of knowledge we are to seek. It’s like asking how much fruit should a fruit tree bear?! The people and their clergy saw an amazing way out here. By offering the clergy holiness, the clergy will in turn offer them a more do-able Zakah. Win-win for both, except that it amounts to compromising the supremacy of Allah, and thus amounts to guaranteed rejection by Allah. By assuming the mantle of holiness, and quantifying Zakah at 2.5%, the scholars effectively usurped Allah’s right as sole divine lawgiver.
By quantifying what God has refused to quantify, they have created a solution for the rich, who want to be regarded as charitable whilst still enjoying their own comfortable existence. They also offer a solution for those who want to be regarded as morally upright, without disturbing their own prosperity. For the Sunni Orthodox Muslim, 2.5% of their net accumulated wealth over a year, represents the entirety of his obligation towards the concepts of charity, goodwill and altruism. The 2.5 % paradigm means that Sunni Orthodoxy does not regard exploitative labour practices by Muslim business men, exorbitant medical fees by Muslim professionals or environmentally destructive practices such as waste dumping, as bearing any religious significance or comment. Providing care to Aids orphans, assisting single mothers abandoned by their spouses, helping the victims of spousal abuse, assisting the victims of economic and political oppression all fall outside the ambit of what it means to be charitable and kind within Sunni Orthodox Islam.
Safawid Shi’ite Islam is no different really, except that the scholars have found a neat revenue source in imposing a further 20% tax on their followers. So a country like Iran struggles with chronic economic problems, because the state is unable to levy effective taxation on the Bazari mechant class, while the coffers of the clergy are swelling. The fraudster scholars of course attach no similar religious significance to paying one’s taxes as they do to paying 20% to one’s Mullah.
The Priests of Islam represent a betrayal of the true Divine calling of men and women. Instead of making us more compassionate and more thoughtful, they rob us of our virtually unlimited capacity for goodwill and compassion.
Ritualised Salaah as a Means of Denying Real Spiritual Growth
A spiritual connection with God Almighty, the Creator and sustainer of the universe comes next. It takes special discipline to clear our minds from its immersion in the daily rat-race. To make a true spiritual connection with God requires a process of unfettering our minds from the material world. It requires quality time. So what does it get replaced with? Ritual prayers / salaah of course! Ritually codified prayers provides the orthodox Muslim with an excellent means to excuse himself from his daily pursuit of greed, lust, vanity and obsessed self advancement for just five minutes, and to get right into it with hardly a thing out of place. Another great gift from the religious fraudsters, who promise eternal heavenly bliss in return for your compliance.
The true meaning of Salaah is almost completely lost. It is commonly used to denote “ritual prayer”. The meaning of the word has been expanded to mean “Salute” or “Salutations”. The word is also defined as meaning “to enter”. As you can see, the scholars have assigned three radically different and irreconcilable meanings to the word. A basic study of the word Salaah will however reveal that there is one completely coherent meaning of the world.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا Quran 33:56
Generally translated as “Allah and His Angels salute the prophet, O you believers, Salute (Salaah on) him, and greet him with peace.” The word Salaah here is used to mean “Saluting”.
Let’s look at some other uses of the word
سَيَصْلَىٰ نَارًا ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ
This famous verse is translated as “He shall enter (salaah) the flaming fire.” Here Salaah is translated as “enter”, or “placed in proximity to” or “brought close to”.
Another verse displays a similar meaning:
الَّذِي يَصْلَى النَّارَ الْكُبْرَىٰ
Translated as “Those who will enter (Salaah) the great fire.” Again Salaah is used to indicate “being brought close to” or “being brought in proximity of”.
All the uses of the word Salaah can be reconciled by using the meaning “Creating Proximity” or “Getting Nearer”.
Let’s look at the following again, and consider the coherent meaning of Salaah:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ ۚ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا Quran 33:56
“Allah and His Angels created proximity to (Salaah unto) the Prophet. O you believers, create proximity (Salaah unto) him…”
This definition of the word Salaah, gives it a coherent meaning for all the different uses of the word in the Quran.
Sadly though, Salaah, meaning establishing regular contact with Allah, has become an empty sequence of physical motions along with the oblivious recital of phrases which many do not even care to understand. The crime of the fraudster scholars is that they have sanctified an action that is devoid of any of the intended aims. How can one make spiritual contact with Allah, without being spiritually, or mentally engaged in the process? By encouraging picture-perfect adherence to every exact posture in the salaah, whilst at the same time legitimizing Salaah without understanding what you are reciting, they have effectively killed the essence of the entire undertaking.
They have also insulted the very book that convey the instruction for Salaah, in particular the verse:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَقْرَبُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَأَنتُمْ سُكَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَعْلَمُوا مَا تَقُولُونَ 4:43
“O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say…” [Quran 4:43]Now what part of this text from the Almighty is ambiguous? We are instructed here to enter the Salaah, or the communication connection with Allah, only when we can fully understand what we are saying! Furthermore, the Quran, and neither the entire corpus of narration about the Prophet completely lack a detailed description of the detailed process of establishing proximity or closeness to Allah. What the fraudsters wanted was for people to get lost in the process, and forfeit the product. The amount of detail they dug up to complicate the process of connecting with Allah, robbed the Salaah of it’s essence for most. It is not uncommon for a person to nowadays, after concluding a congregational prayer, to point out the mistakes in others’ prayers. Prior to connecting with Allah, I have on occasion found myself being offered a clay tablet or a hat, as if that is what is essential to Salaah. This all shows that Salaah has become a shallow human-to-human activity instead of a human-to-God undertaking.
The scholars have betrayed the Salaah, as a means of connecting with God, as they have betrayed the Zakah as a means of showing kindness, altruism and charity to our fellow human beings.
Muslims (and Jews) have been rather unfair in their portrayal of Christianity. They have been very quick to label Christianity as equivalent to idolatry, polytheism and blaspheming pure monotheistic faith. Further charges against Christian belief is that it proclaims Jesus as the physically begotten son of God with all the base connotations associated with that claim. Further accusations against Christianity is that it has willfully corrupted the Gospel as the revealed word of God, and that it has twisted the message brought by Jesus Christ.
Sustaining these accusations require a great deal of implied assertions then. Some of these are the following: (1) Over a billion people today are simply too ignorant to see through the lies and fabrications (2) 20 Centuries of Christians have maintained an oblivious lie (3) God has withheld his guidance from generations upon generations of Christians.
We need to remember that Christianity was successful in converting large populations of pagans in Europe since about 300 CE towards the worship of One God. The Germanic peoples, the Northmen and the Goths were all pagans that embraced Christianity, and continued to uphold that faith. They acquired a very firm faith in Christianity, maintaining it even through the years when Muslims threatened to conquer Europe early in the 8th century. It is also a fact that, many, many Christians maintained their belief, even after Christianity became unpopular or discouraged. The atheist movement during the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the communist rule over Eastern Europe for several decades in the 20th century are cases in point.
These points force one to ask the question whether there is any validity in the Christian path? My dear Christian brothers and sisters, do, I believe possess a very passionate and personal relationship with God. By using Jesus as an avatar for God, Christians are able to forge a very warm, personal love for God. After listening to many Christian scholars’ attempt to explain the concept of the Trinity, they are definitely prepared to concede that the concept is mysterious and unexplainable in common logical terms. If pressed to explain the role of Jesus in the overall Kingdom, they explain that Jesus the earthly man, was devoid of divine powers. Jesus the Godhead however shares in the glory and power of God.
In Islamic Sufism, there is a belief, called Fanaa’, meaning annihilation in God. The Sufi concept of Fanaa’ teaches that a man or woman can, at the pinnacle of faith and love for God, be annihilated within God. At that point, his will becomes annihilated within the greater will of God almighty. His actions and his desires become an exact expression of the wishes of God almighty. Is this Sufi understanding not worth applying to Jesus?
Another early accepted belief of many Muslims, which in fact reached the status of the orthodox belief was the uncreated nature of the Quran. This belief has serious implications. If the Quran is uncreated, does that make the Quran co-eternal with Allah? The orthodox sheikhs like Ibn Hanbal say “Yes!”. But wait a minute… That is exactly what Christians hold about Jesus, namely that Jesus is co-eternal with God, the father. Sunni Muslims see the words of Allah, preserved in a “Lawh Mahfooz” (A Protected Tablet), which carries the divine command to humanity, ever-present with Allah. Christians only ask for the same allowance to be made with the divine command to be vested in the Messiah, also ever-present and co-eternal with God.
I therefore feel that Christianity has suffered exaggerated criticism beyond what was really fair by Muslims and Jews. There is an interesting report from the Islamic Prophetic tradition that narrated the disappointment of the first generation Muslims when Christian Rome (Byzantium) suffered defeat at the hands of the Persians during the life of the Prophet Muhammad (P). On that occasion, a Koranic revelation allayed the fears of these Muslims to announce, to their delight, that Christian Rome would actually make an amazing come-back and would defeat then Persians in some five to ten years. The Koranic prophecy was proven true, when this did in fact happen. Christianity is, I believe, a fallible human attempt at making sense of the mission of Jesus Christ, and the majesty of God almighty, which is about the same that can be said for Judaism and majority Sunni Islam.
We all need to unfreeze our beliefs, just enough to open ourselves up recognize the errors that crept into all our beliefs, and set ourselves on the straight path to God almighty. The mutual mistrust and animosity, which was brought about by grave injustices committed towards each other over the centuries has unfortunately fostered a climate of rank mutual rejection, instead of mutual reasoning and co-operation aimed at perfecting our mutual beliefs.
What does the Quran say about Christianity?
“Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians — whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord. And there will be no fear for them, nor shall they grieve” (2:62, 5:69).
“…and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant” (5:82).
“O you who believe! Be helpers of God — as Jesus the son of Mary said to the Disciples, ‘Who will be my helpers in (the work of) God?’ Said the disciples, ‘We are God’s helpers!’ Then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved. But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed” (61:14).
“If only they [Christians] had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course, but many of them follow a course that is evil” (5:66).
“Oh People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of God anything but the truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in God and His messengers. Say not, ‘Trinity.’ Desist! It will be better for you, for God is One God, Glory be to Him! (Far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs” (4:171).
“The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the son of God. That is but a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. God’s curse be on them; how they are deluded away from the Truth! They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary. Yet they were commanded to worship but One God: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him! (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)” (9:30-31).
What Happened to Jesus Christ?
All three major Abrahamic traditions offer conflicting versions of the story of Jesus Christ’s final days on this earth.
Christians hold the view that Jesus was the miraculously conceived son of Mary, who commenced a mission of calling to the worship of God, the Father, upon which he found grave opposition from the existing Jewish religious authorities, eventually to be crucified under their instigation by the Roman political authorities. Finally, Christians hold, Jesus was miraculously resurrected by God, the Father on the third day after his crucifixion. The Christian worldview places the death by crucifixion, and Jesus’ resurrection from death at the very centre. Jesus’ sacrificial death and miraculous coming back to life are the proofs of God’s love for humanity and the proof of Jesus’ deity. God exists in three persons, God the son, The Holy Spirit and God the Father.
Jews hold that there is nothing miraculous about Jesus or his mother Mary. According to Jewish understanding, Jesus was the illigitimately begotten son of Mary. Mary concocted the miraculous conception to avoid the harsh punishment for bearing a child out of wedlock. Jesus himself, according to Jewish understanding, started out perhaps as a sincere person (however not annointed) but did however go on to blaspheme Jewish law by announcing himself as a deity. He was therefore deserving of the death sentence he eventually received on the cross. The stories about his resurrection, according to Judaism, are all fabricated, or at best hallucinations. The claims of Christians that Jesus has deity status is a highly objectionable corruption of Jewish monotheism, and the claim that “God died” is illogical and blasphemous.
The Quran’s Version
The Quran presents the following facts around the life of Jesus: Jesus was miraculously conceived by the virgin Mary, in accordance with the instructions of God. The Archangel Gabriel, called “The Spirit of God” at various places in the Holy Quran, carried out this immensely improbable and anomalous natural phenomenon. Jesus was an Annointed (Designated One / Awaited One ) of God, and commenced a ministry, calling for the equality of all people in front of one supreme God, at an early age. He experienced serious opposition from the Jewish priests when he successfully developed a strong following around him. Their opposition led to their charging Jesus with high treason, and his eventual sentencing to death by crucifixion. Jesus survived the attempted death by crucifixion. The reported appearances of Jesus following the attempt on his life were real, and not hallucinations. Jesus was “Raised up to God” eventually, which can be interpreted as having died eventually of natural causes or as having been miraculously ascended to heaven.
Further Thinking on the Topic
Is the Trinity belief complete nonsense? Perhaps not. The Trinity, proposed by Christians, I believe can be explained in a different way. The Trinity should not be referred to as the essence of God, but rather as the “Means of Intervention” of God. God intervenes by summoning or combining three: Firstly: His own Will (God), Secondly: His chosen Earthly agent (Jesus), and thirdly the Strenghthener or Force (The Holy Spirit.) Lets use a present-day analogy: A modern “Government” can be regarded as a trinity with Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches. We all agree however that the Legislative branch is where power really lies. The other two branches are subordinate to the One. Lets take the analogy further: God the Father is the all-powerful. Jesus, the Son, is the implementor or executive authority while the Holy Spirit (In the Quran the same as Angel Gabriel) is the enforcer of the Laws, through consequencialism.