God’s love

December 22, 2009 at 8:53 pm (Christianity, God, Islam)

It is often claimed that God is not as loving in Islam as in Christianity. It’s not so obvious, though.

The thing is, love is a word in English that is not easy to define – it has a whole range of meanings. It could even be equivalent to rahma (mercy) in Arabic, in which case God is definitely loving in Islam.

The Quran has verses which are translated as “God loves…” or “God does not love…” followed by types of people. These always made me bristle because I previously assumed God loves everybody. But the Arabic word for love used here is yuHibb, which can also be used to mean “he likes”. This is just my uneducated opinion, but it seems to me that these verses may be talking about what pleases or doesn’t please God, as opposed to an equivalent of what we mean by “love” in English.

Real love is not necessarily gushing and emotional stuff. Real love could be more like, an honest, constructive and encouraging appraisal, with a commitment to never turning one’s back. God is something like this in Islam. A sinner can always repent and be forgiven.

There is also the aspect of caring for the welfare of someone… that is part of love too. I think this type of love is only extended to believers. (See this article.) That is probably the main difference in God’s love between Islam and Christianity, because in Christianity the caring love is extended to everyone. But in Christianity it is difficult to reconcile God’s caring love for sinners with their eternal punishment in hell (if they don’t believe).

Advertisements

55 Comments

  1. LK said,

    It usually refers to pleases or does not please. That is what my Tafseer teacher told me at least.

    interesting stuff…you are on a roll today 🙂

    • Wrestling With Religion said,

      So I got it right? Yay! My Arabic classes were worthwhile after all 🙂
      I was on a roll… I’ve stopped. Honest!

  2. aynur said,

    That makes sense. Obviously, someone who is arrogant or does nasty things would not please God. It doesn’t please other people either. :p

  3. Wishing to stay anon said,

    “Real love is not necessarily gushing and emotional stuff. Real love could be more like, an honest, constructive and encouraging appraisal, with a commitment to never turning one’s back.”

    Maybe like a parent for their child.

    • Kinda said,

      In terms of mercy, I think yes.

      There is a hadith where, after a battle, the Prophet and his Companions came upon a group of women and children. One woman had lost her child and was going around looking everywhere for him. When she found her child, she joyfully huged him. The Prophet had tears in his eyes, then turned around and asked his Companions: “Do you think that this woman could throw her son in the fire?” They answered “No!, O, messanger of God.” He then said: “God is more merciful to His servants than this woman to her child.” (From the hadith collection of al-Bukhari).

  4. Kinda said,

    For me, one of the most touching examples of God’s love in Islam is this Hadith:

    It is narrated in Hadith Al-Qudsi that some of the creations of God (like the Earth and the skies) will be extremely dissatisfied with man’s major sins (espacially Shirk). They will ask God to send them for the destruction of those sinners. God, mercifully, will calm them down and say that man is His own creation and He will take care of him. He would also corrects them by saying: “If you had created man, you would have been merciful towards him. If man repents, he will be in my company. If he does not repent, I will be his healer”.

    Another two hadiths are:

    “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it”.

    “God created mercy with a hundred parts. One of which was sent down upon the jinn and human beings and other living creatures. It is out of this one part that they love each other, show kindness to one another, and even the animals treat their offspring with affection. God has reserved the remaining ninety-nine parts for his servents on the Day of Judgment”.

  5. Candice said,

    In Christianity (this was as a child for me), I always imagined God’s love as the gushy type of huggy kissy love. So I thought for sure there was no Hell and everything was forgivable. I even asked my parents and people around me and overall, the opinion was that Hell didn’t exist. So it didn’t not make sense to think it was like that. With time, I learned that people can be really horrible and terrible… It got confusing…

    Anyway, all to say that I really think love is more than just that. I think mercy is a good word to put on it. And justice. In this way, I would consider God’s love extended to everyone, even if he may not be pleased with everything we do.

  6. Amber said,

    My understanding of God’s love has always been of that of a parent to a child.

    Parents love their children, but that doesn’t mean that they just indulge them and let them do whatever they want without consequence. They guide them, they tell them what to do, what not to do, sometimes they have to let the child trip and fall in order to learn the lesson, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t care.

    • Cornelius said,

      Amber,

      I love my daughter, my only one, very much. JJ is only 7 years old now. I want the best for her in life. I hope that she will grow up to be a good person, and perhaps do something important and good for mankind.

      But those are only my wishes. I really don’t know what she will grow up to be. So I have visualised her going in the wrong direction. I try to imagine how I would react if she mixed around with the wrong company; dropping out of school at an early age, doing drugs, stealing from others, and all the bad things one can imagine. I imagine her leaving home at an early age to find her own way because she just can’t agree with my way of doing things. I think I would be very sad, frustrated and disappointed.

      Then I imagine that years later, she turns up crying at my doorstep with a long list of criminal records, no one respects her for what she is, she’s so devastated and totally lost. She doesn’t know where else to go and begs for a bed, only for a few days until she gets up on her feet again.

      I’d imagine that I would still try to talk her out of her lifestyle. And I would make it clear to her that I don’t condone her way of life. But I will still tell her that I love her very much—that she’s still my baby girl. That she’s always welcomed into my home. I will always love her even if she doesn’t love me back. My love for her in unconditional. That’s how much I love my daughter.

      But God’s love to us is not like that at all. He loves us, yes, but we must love him back! We must worship him and obey what he says. If not, we are not welcomed into his home. Worse, he pushes us away to hell for eternity.

      • Amber said,

        Cornelius,

        Well, all analogies, metaphors, what have you that we come up with to speak of God are going to be imperfect, but I still think that mine works, as poor as it may be.

        Would you, honestly, take your daughter back into your home if she were still involved in criminal activity? If she were, perhaps, doing drugs, with no intention of stopping or going into treatment? If she stole from you to pay for her habit? Or would you lay down rules? ‘You can come into my house and stay for as long as you need, provided you stop stealing, stop taking drugs, and get help.’ Even if she said no, or if she took you up on it, and it later turned out that she was lying, you’d love her. She’s your daughter, of course. But, you couldn’t abide by that behavior, could you? There would have to be consequences for her actions. You might even have to kick her out. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it might be necessary.

        The same thing holds true for us and God. We’re down here, having lost our way, having left the path God wants for us. He’s standing there, waiting for us to stumble back home, desperate, and ask for shelter and help. But there’re going to be rules, or what lesson have we learned? If there aren’t conditions to being taken back into the house, we learn nothing, and can easily slip back into the old, destructive behavior. The conditions force us to change, to get back into the right path. But still, even if we fall again, or we reject Him, God’s love remains. But He’s not going to force us to obey. God doesn’t desire anyone to go to hell, rather, we choose it for ourselves.

      • Hamza21 said,

        But God’s love to us is not like that at all. He loves us, yes, but we must love him back! We must worship him and obey what he says. If not, we are not welcomed into his home. Worse, he pushes us away to hell for eternity.

        True indeed! He has given us so much and has asked for little in return..do not worship other thing,objects,people instead of me and yet this simple request seems to advanced for people to understand and apply. We owe so much to The Creator which why Islam is called a deen, a word related to word for a debt in arabic. Deen also means amoral code of living your life. It’s a way of living your life repaying the debt owed to someone.

        Nothing The creator has given us is earned or obilgated. everything is gift and to show appreciatef or that gift all he asks is to not lose sight fo the fact where the gifts came from. Who gave the gifts. as the Quan states 35:15

        O mankind! Ye are in the state the poverty and need of Allah And Allah! He the one without any need and is full of wealth and worthy of all praise and glory.

      • Cornelius said,

        Thanks for your views, Amber and Hamza21.

        I can agree with Amber that it’s all easier said than done. I really hope that I won’t end up in that situation where I have to decide to kick my daughter out of my house. I don’t think I would kick her out though, but maybe that’s because I haven’t really reached that point yet! So yes, point taken.

        I’m not very much in agreement with Hamza21 though. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel the things he asks in return are “little”.

        I said to my younger brother and sister, “I put you two through university in the hope that you’ll do well later in life. Don’t waste this opportunity. If you succeed in life I will share your happiness. If you feel obligated to repay my kindness somehow in whatever means, I won’t reject it. If you don’t want to share any of your success, that’s fine with me too. I don’t want you to feel that you owe me for your success.”

        That was about 10 years ago. Both of them have since graduated from the universities they went to some years ago. Today they’re doing great in their respective professions. So far, I’m still keeping to my words—I’m still not expecting anything from them, and I’m still not getting any “repayment” from them up to now. But I’ve earned their respect. I’m quite pleased with them even though I’ve gotten no “little” in return.

  7. Sara (cairo, lusaka, amsterdam) said,

    I agree with Hamza21- God has given us an enormous amount and has asked for very little in return. God doesn’t need anything – He doesn’t need us to pray, for example, although He wants it. However, even prayer is beneficial to us. Worshiping has benefits for us. Obeying God has benefits for us. So I don’t see it as God asking us to do things in return for His love. Like the hadith Kinda mentioned, I think God loves all his creations and doesn’t want any of them to go to hell, but expects certain things from us, which in the end are for our welfare. Notice as well that it is not so easy for a Muslim to go to hell. God is very forgiving.

    • Cornelius said,

      I respect your view, and if you think God has asked for very little in return, that is good.

      I have a different view. Maybe if the instructions are nicely cut and dried, it won’t be too difficult, I don’t know. But before obeying a great portion of God’s instructions, apart from those which I can’t agree with, we are also supposed to do a bit of interpretations of his instructions. And there are many, many ways to interpret! It means that it is possible to do certain things which you think you’re making God happy, but actually because of your wrong interpretations, you’re doing the wrong things. So actually, God expects quite a lot from us…. not so little the way I see it.

      • susanne430 said,

        Cornelius,

        I understand what you mean about following a bunch of instructions. When I read the Mosaic law it overwhelms me with all the nitpicky rules. Likewise the more I learn about Muhammad’s law.

        That said, I like how Jesus told us to follow Him and to love and serve others like He did. He said all the Law could be summed up in two parts – love the Lord with all our hearts, souls and minds and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He showed us how to serve others. He lead by example, not exceptions.

        Jesus claimed in John 14:6 that He was the Way to the Father so I follow Him, not a list of rules. I believe God is more interested in relationships than our slaving over rules. Rules are important for maintaining good relationships at times (e.g. don’t steal from your neighbor), but if you are following Jesus you won’t be stealing anyway. Same for desiring your friend’s wife or dishonoring your mom or dad.

        When keeping rules tops treating others as we would want to be treated, there are big problems in your religion. See Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 for an example and apply those words to those who, even today, keep all the rules, but treat people like trash. As Paul summed it up, “In honor, prefer one another.” (Romans 12:10) Also see Philippians 2 to see how we should imitate Christ.

  8. Achelois said,

    You know Sufis don’t believe in a physical Hell. I think I don’t either.

  9. Wrestling With Religion said,

    I agree with the point several people made about parental love. It doesn’t mean being lenient and turning a blind eye to our faults, or thinking we’re wonderful just as we are, or not disciplining us. Discipline is part of parental love! But I think the caring for our welfare aspect has to be part of it too. A parent is never going to destroy their own child or have them destroyed by others if they are rebellious. A child may destroy itself but that is another matter. And so I guess I agree with Amber that hell, if it exists, is something we choose for ourselves.

    One thing I don’t understand about hell is how God can ever be happy knowing that some of his beloved children have destroyed themselves? And how can those who get to heaven be happy if some of their loved ones didn’t make it?

    I keep coming back to the idea that hell is a place of rehabilitation. Purgatory, perhaps.

    I came across a unitarian site about the Bible a while back, and their take on hell was that it was simply death – ceasing to exist. The words for hell are all to do with death, e.g. one of them was the name of the big fire outside Jerusalem where criminals’ bodies were burnt. This is where the concept of hellfire comes from and it might have nothing to do with eternal punishment. That was interesting.

    • susanne430 said,

      The Bible teaches that God disciplines His children just like a good parent disciplines her children. NOT because she takes pleasure in seeing her children hurting, but because she knows discipline restores her children and teaches them things. I think we all know what happens when children are raised without loving discipline.

      “One thing I don’t understand about hell is how God can ever be happy knowing that some of his beloved children have destroyed themselves?”

      I don’t think God is happy with that. In fact, the Bible teaches that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32), but think about it this way. If God gives you a choice to spend eternity with him or to follow your own path and each choice has consequences, is God not FAIR to let you go your own way? If you choose God and desire eternal life with Him, great. But what if you want nothing to do with God, you don’t want to bow to Him and do what He wants so you *choose* a life apart from God? Then your choosing eternity without Him is just that, your choice. And God respects your choice.

      That’s how I try to think of it anyway. For sure, I don’t believe God is happy that people are eternally separated from Him, but if He didn’t make us robots programmed to believe or not believe then our choices are our choices. I hope that made some sense.

      “And how can those who get to heaven be happy if some of their loved ones didn’t make it?”

      For me, that is the $20,000,000 question because as I think of things from my earthly perspective, I even tell God now that I don’t know how I can be joyful in heaven knowing my dear ones are not there. Thinking of that brings tears to my eyes so I pray for my loved ones to love and serve God before it’s too late.

      I’d *like* for hell to be a place of rehabilitation so people can have second chances, but I don’t have this hope myself. I wish to be wrong in this regard very very much. I always go back to the story of Lazarus and the rich man who died and went to hell. (Luke 16:19-31) He wanted just one drop of water to quench his thirst and then he wanted someone to tell his brothers so they wouldn’t go to that place of pain. So? *shrug*

      • Wrestling With Religion said,

        “Then your choosing eternity without Him is just that, your choice. And God respects your choice.”
        Interesting. Except I don’t think anyone in their right mind would make that choice, and maybe God makes sure we get the chance to realise this. I don’t know… have to think about it!

        • susanne430 said,

          “Except I don’t think anyone in their right mind would make that choice”

          Well, it seems that way to us, but there are plenty of people who say “If God demands this, then I don’t want anything to do with Him!” I’m surprised if you have never come across people with this mindset, but I’ve seen/read about several. If you believe the soul never dies even when physical death happens, in essence, eternity has already begun for the person who is born. If this person decides he doesn’t want to acknowledge a Creator nor be held accountable to Him and he follows his own ways and dies (physically) while doing so then his eternity is apart from God by virtue of his own choices and following his own way. I hope that clears up a bit what I meant.

          There are plenty who are in rebellion against God and who refuse to follow Him at all. I’ve heard tell of some who say they want to go to hell so they can party with their friends. If that’s what they want then why should God make them do differently? Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how I see it.

  10. Amber said,

    Wasn’t the big fire pit called Gehenna?

    Anyway, all this reminds me of something I read once, where an Orthodox person was describing the afterlife….something about how everyone experiences God when they die, but for those who die righteous experience God’s love as a purifying fire, but the unrighteous experience it as a burning fire. Hmmm…*totters off to find what she’s talking about*

    • Wrestling With Religion said,

      Yes, that’s the word that came to my mind although I wasn’t sure. I think that was the New Testament word for hell too, or at least one of them.
      That sounds interesting!

    • Wrestling With Religion said,

      Here is the page I found about hell if anyone’s interested:
      http://www.biblebasicsonline.com/english/Study04GodandDeath/0409Hell.html

      • Achelois said,

        Very interesting link, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.

        The museum of Hell in Singapore is just awful and I think tales about Hell are very ancient told from generation to generation for centuries that have made their way into religious scriptures. I know that such tales are narrated at length in the Zoroastrian Book – Arda Viraf. The book describes the dream of the Zoroastrian prophet who went into deep sleep and was apparently carried into Heaven and Hell and shown visions. (You can read some parts of it here – http://www.avesta.org/mp/viraf.html).

        What particularly caught my attention are the visions of Hell (women hanging by their hair etc) and the visions of Heaven, especially this:

        “And there stood before him his own religion and his own deeds, in the graceful form of a damsel, as a beautiful appearance, that is, grown up in virtue; with prominent breasts, that is, her breasts swelled downward, which is charming to the heart and soul; whose form was as brilliant, as the sight of it was the more well-pleasing, the observation of it more desirable.”

        Identical descriptions of visions of Hell and Houris in Heaven can be found in Islamic literature – beautiful, graceful, having prominent breasts, virtuous, pleasing to the eye, never seen or touched by humans or jinns.

        I have trouble believing that the Loving and Merciful God will burn someone for ‘eternity’. Eternity is just too long. And I also have trouble believing that He will show love by giving men lots of women with prominent breasts! I like the idea that one will have companionship with God in Heaven and loss of that companionship is Hell. To me that would surely be Hell.

        There Sarah, you have one more topic to write about – Houris 🙂

        • Wrestling With Religion said,

          That’s really interesting – I knew nothing about Zoroastrianism! Amazing all these little connections between different traditions here and there…

          M. Asad translated the bits about houris as “spouses”. I never got round to wrapping my head around that, but it is different from what I previously thought heaven was like – I think Jesus taught that there would be no marriage in heaven. So it would have taken quite some thought to work out why there might be spouses or houris. I would probably have decided it was all allegorical, using metaphors that would have appealed to people at the time (men, anyway 😉 )

          • Achelois said,

            Sarah, Arda Viraf really interests me. The ascension to skies by the Zoroastrian prophet is almost identical to the Prophet’s ascension to Heaven. You mentioned the Byzantine victory over the Persians. Early Muslims knew the Zoroastrians. They considered them to be the ‘kuffar’ Persians against whom the Christian Byzantine army fought and won. And I still can’t fully comprehend how the kuffar interpretation of Heaven and Hell could be so close to the Muslim interpretation. It is very interesting. Something I should read up on more.

            I briefly taught a component of Comparative Religions and there was a section on Heaven and Hell. In good humour (which always relaxed the students) I would tell this joke:

            On the Day of judgment there were two boards that read boldly “MUSLIMS” and “CHRISTIANS.” An angel was appointed to usher people into Heaven. He carried a large loudspeaker and with all his might yelled into it “All who want pearls, gold, flesh of best foul, fruit and wine, honey and women move this way” and pointed towards the gate with the board that read “MUSLIMS.” Then he yelled, “All those who want tall trees and the company of God come this way.” And nonchalantly pointed towards the gate that read “CHRISTIANS.” While walking towards their gate all the Christians looked at the longer queue of the Muslims and shook their heads one by one. What do you think they were thinking?
            I always got interestingly responses 🙂

            Islamic concept of life after death is a little complex because there is reward and punishment and that while the descriptions of Hell are painfully elaborate the rewards of Heaven are very extensive and serve the selfish nature of men. One could argue that Allah knows what He has created and hence knows how to bribe men into worship and submission. But do you love someone because you can truly appreciate what they have done for you or do you love them because they know how to bribe you? That is why gratitude in worship is so important to me, at least. That is why saying Alhamdulliah is more important to me.

            And that just makes me analyse worship and prayer further – how much time do we actually spend thanking God Vs how much time we spend glorifying God and His Messenger? Does God want us to thank Him or to glorify Him? Does he even need the glorification? Surely He doesn’t even need the gratitude but isn’t that what we owe Him? Susanne once wrote a great post on gratitude and I think that is a major difference between Muslim prayer and Christian prayer – there is a lot of thanksgiving in Christian prayer while there is a lot of glorification of God and blessing His Prophet in Muslim prayer (I’m talking about salah nor dua). I’m not saying this or that is better, just making an observation. Even when we sit down to eat, a Muslim will glorify God before eating and a Christian will praise God as well as thank Him for the meal. Of course a Muslim will finish off the meal by thanking God (Alhamdulliah) and a Christian would give a second thanks but I like the concept of thanking God for the food even before you eat it.

            So I think God loves us definitely but reaction to that love is so different in different religions.

            • Wrestling With Religion said,

              Oh, the rewards thing was really hard to get my head around coming from a Christian background! I still think especially the hadith-based concepts of reward – 70 good deeds for saying salaam alaikum and so on – is really iffy. Every time I hear Muslims rallying other Muslims to fast extra days or things like that by telling them what reward they’ll get, I just feel odd about it.

              I changed my mind about rewards a bit when I saw what a good person my MIL is, and heard how selflessly she cared for her elders when they were dying, bringing them in to live in their small apartment with them, caring for them without complaining. Hubby told me the hope of being rewarded in the next life kept her going through the hard times. I thought, well, I can’t argue with that.

              And the fact is, Jesus also taught about storing up rewards in heaven as opposed to on earth. Christians do not seem to talk about rewards, but they’re there.

              I think the ideal is to do good and worship God purely because you love Him. But I think it’s hard to get to that level of spiritual maturity, and a rewards-based motivation might be a reasonable starting point. Like the way we would reward and punish a child to teach it right from wrong.

              The trouble is, if it’s all about rewards, then it’s self-centred. I think the most troubling thing about the paradise descriptions for me was that it does not emphasise the joy of being with God, but the joys of pleasurable rewards for the self.

              Another thing I’ve noticed is that in Islam there is not much of a sense of how God feels about sin. It’s almost like it doesn’t affect Him. Whereas in the Bible God is grieved by our sin. I think this is a huge motivation not to sin.

              I was going to write a post about relying on easy mercy, but I decided against it. What I would have asked is, what has gone wrong when some people think they can get away with sinning and expiate it by fasting the day of Arafah or doing hajj towards the end of their lives?

              Of course serious Muslims do not take this attitude. But they often seem to think that the easy mercy in Christianity – Jesus died for you so you don’t earn your own salvation – must mean that Christians feel they can sin away to their heart’s content. I have never met a single Christian who thought like that.

              But then, maybe the equivalent of the less serious Muslims in Christianity would be the people who are not religious at all, so they may only nominally call themselves Christian, and the serious Christians would not even regard them as Christian. In Islam such people would still be religious to some extent, but would just practice it quite badly. In Christianity such people just wouldn’t bother with religion at all.

              Very interesting discussion, thanks! 🙂

              • susanne430 said,

                “The trouble is, if it’s all about rewards, then it’s self-centred. I think the most troubling thing about the paradise descriptions for me was that it does not emphasise the joy of being with God, but the joys of pleasurable rewards for the self.”

                Well said. I was also struck by this especially when I learned about the houris. Heaven is about eternal sex with many women? :-O :-O :-O It’s quite a contrast to Revelation where it speaks of us gathered around God’s throne. I love chapter 4 for starters:

                11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang:
                “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
                to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
                and honor and glory and praise!”

                You wrote: “Whereas in the Bible God is grieved by our sin. I think this is a huge motivation not to sin.”

                That makes sense. Kind of like we would rethink doing certain things here in order to not grieve our parents or spouses.

                “…must mean that Christians feel they can sin away to their heart’s content. I have never met a single Christian who thought like that.”

                Thank you!!! I’ve had to explain that to Muslims who questioned me on this as well. NO true Christian should have this careless attitude towards sin. Paul expressly says, “Do we continue in sin so that grace can abound?” Then he answers “God forbid!”

                Your post on easy mercy sounds like it would have been interesting. 🙂

              • Sarah said,

                • susanne430 said,

                  Sarah, thanks for sharing the links. I was amazed while reading through the first one and saw this:

                  “I would like to add more of what the Qur’an and Sunnah say about the issue. The Prophet (peace be upon him) clearly stated in his description of Paradise that in it there is ‘what an eye has not seen, what en ear has not heard and what has not crossed the heart of a human.’”

                  added by Dalia Salaheldin.

                  It sounded so familiar to me because the Apostle Paul states in his letter to the Corinthians something very similar!

                  9 But as it is written:

                  “ Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
                  Nor have entered into the heart of man
                  The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor. 2:9)

                  He is referring back to the prophet Isaiah so maybe Muhammad was as well. Or maybe Muhammad got this from Paul.

                  Also this lady wrote:

                  “Here we get what we strive for. But there, we get what we will. So, we simply need to will. A person might will to eat a piece of fruit, while another might will to meet with God!”

                  Fruit or God? Fruit or God? Hmmm. I’m sure most men will go straight for the sex! 😉

                  No really, this statement reminded me of when my Muslim friend was explaining the sex with 72 virgins thing to me months ago. He said God made this for men because He knows men like sex. He said the Quran didn’t say explicitly what women would get, but it would be whatever was the most important thing to us. For men, it’s sex, for women? Whatever brings them the most joy. Playing the devil’s advocate, I couldn’t help but think, what if the women’s greatest joy was for their husbands to NOT have sex with 72 virgins in heaven, but to be faithful, attentive husbands for all eternity. I wonder which person’s will would win out in that case. 🙂

                  For what it’s worth and since I saw it mentioned in the links you provided, I grew up in a Christian (nonCatholic) household and never ever ever heard anyone say sex within marriage was evil somehow or used only for having children and there should not be any emphasis or much on physical pleasure or whatever. One only needs to read the Songs of Solomon and some passages in Proverbs to see that sex is much more than for procreation. Just wanted to clear that up in case you thought all Christians were that way.

                  Thanks for the links. I skimmed through them and found them rather interesting.

                  • Achelois said,

                    Wow! That is word for word from Paul!

                  • Wrestling With Religion said,

                    I was wondering where I had heard that before. Eye, ear, heart – it’s totally the same. Well done for spotting that 😉

                  • Sarah said,

                    (Or maybe Muhammad got this from Paul).

                    Despite the fact that Prophet Muhammad was illiterate, the Bible itself was not transelated into Arabic untile centuries after his death.

                    But I guess that got to show you how different religions can be very similar despite their fundemantal differeancses. =)

                    • Achelois said,

                      Sarah, I don’t think that is true. The Bible definitely existed in Arabic during the time of the Prophet for the Christians of Arabia.

                      It may interest you to know that Prophet’s first wife Khadeejah’s cousin Waraqa (who had convinced the Prophet that he was a prophet of Allah) was a devout Christian and was one of the first people who had translated the OT and NT in Arabic for the people of Mecca. And if you read the dialogues between the Prophet and the Christians of Najran you can’t help but notice that the Prophet knew what was written in the Bible. I think that was a good thing. How could one argue with someone if they don’t know their basic beliefs? We like to make the Prophet into someone who was not only illiterate but also unknowledgeable. But that only shows him in poor light.
                      He was a very intelligent man, creative, smart, eager to learn and perhaps could even read or write (as many contemporary Muslim scholars believe – the first verse revealed to him was ‘Read!’ and then we like to believe that he never obeyed God and never learnt to read or write in the next 23 years [if he was a successful illiterate trader to begin with] while telling others to seek knowledge and education all the while?!). Why couldn’t he have been all that and a prophet?

                      It is quite possible that the Prophet did hear Waraqa recite the words of Paul. There is nothing wrong about it. After all they are holy words. That is what collective consciousness is all about and perhaps that is what explains *WHY* “different religions can be very similar despite their fundamental differences.”

              • Sarah said,

              • Achelois said,

                Sarah, when I didn’t know much about Christianity (and there is still a lot I don’t know) I also used to believe that this was a Christians’ *excuse* to sin – Jesus died for us so do what you want because you’d be saved just for believing in him. But I was wrong because I too have never met a religious Christian who sins for this reason. In fact, religious Christians are very God-fearing and loving people like Susanne. And they want to please God not make Him angry.
                “Another thing I’ve noticed is that in Islam there is not much of a sense of how God feels about sin.”
                Very interesting observation! Do you think in Islam God gets angry when we sin instead of being grieved? I don’t have verses on me right now but perhaps I have read that He gets angry when we sin, like we know what is right since Quran has it there written clearly and when you don’t do as the Quran says, it annoys Allah.
                At one time I was going through a very rough time in my life and I had to be patient with a relative who was so terribly mean to me that if I wasn’t related to them I would have given up a long time ago. Everyone kept telling me that I was earning my Jennah. And I always, always replied that I was doing it only because it was my duty and because I wanted to please God (in reverse order!). If it pleased God but He decided it wasn’t worth giving me a 100 bedroom pearly house in Heaven, I really don’t want it as long as He is impressed with me. It always caused people to give me weird looks.

                • Wrestling With Religion said,

                  “Do you think in Islam God gets angry when we sin instead of being grieved?”

                  I just don’t see the range of emotions in God that there is from the Bible. It seems to be about exacting retribution, and God is severe in retribution… but it says God is not in the least affected by our obedience or disobedience, doesn’t need our worship… God just seems less personally involved in it all.

                  I have no doubt that many Muslims, like you, are motivated by pleasing God and not by rewards. Do you think the religion inspires this? I love that Sufi quote Aynur wrote below. I wonder if the Quran gives this sense too, and I just didn’t get it.

                  • Sarah said,

                    (God just seems less personally involved in it all).

                    Hmm, I’m curios what do you mean by ” less personally involved “. The fact that God is not affected with our deeds is just due to His nature- He is God. He’s not like the creation. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care, though.

                • susanne430 said,

                  “I also used to believe that this was a Christians’ *excuse* to sin – Jesus died for us so do what you want because you’d be saved just for believing in him.”

                  I can see why you might think that especially if you know people who have this awful mentality, but consider it this way instead. If you were headed towards eternal damnation and Someone reached out in great love and mercy and rescued you, would you then spit in His face by doing things that would hurt Him? Or would you want to love and serve Him and follow Him?

                  Any so-called Christian who willingly spits in His Savior’s face is *not* a true believer. The book of James tell us faith without works is dead. So any “believer” who acts like the devil has a dead (or nonexistent) faith. We are saved to do good works.

                  “In fact, religious Christians are very God-fearing and loving people like Susanne.”

                  That’s sweet, but, um, I have my moments or even days. *blush* Thank God for His patience, mercy and *unconditional* love!

                  I like that you try to do things to please God instead of only seeking reward from Him. 🙂

                  I’m enjoying this discussion!

                  • Achelois said,

                    Susanne, Yes I have learnt that it is not the case. Serious Christians would hate to dissappoint their Saviour. I understand it now. Thank you for your comments 🙂 I am learning so much about the Bible from you. I wish one day I could quote the Bible like you do. I’m so impressed, seriously.’

                    Sarah, “I have no doubt that many Muslims, like you, are motivated by pleasing God and not by rewards. Do you think the religion inspires this?”

                    Hmm, I think Christianity inspires this, but I don’t know about mainstream Islam. The Muslims I have always been surrounded by have a strong attachment to rewards and fear of punishment rather than pleasing God for no gains in return and fear of disappointing God. I have always heard people say to each other, “Do good so you make room in Jennah for yourself” or when people die they say “May they be granted Jennah and all the rewards of Paradise.” I think it is taken for granted that company of God is the highest point in Heaven – the VIP section – which is hard to achieve. I don’t know the reason but the reward and punishment is very strong in mainstream Islam.

                    Sufism on the other hand really inspires pleasing God. Most Sufis don’t even believe in Hell and place a lot of emphasis on loving God selflessly so you destroy every fibre of selfishness. It is so strongly preached that Sufi dervishes don’t even want Jennah rewards in return but only God’s appreciation and love in return. But I must also add that those many Sufi dervishes also follow Jesus’ teaching fervently and there are groups of Muslims who actually don’t like such Sufi cricles because the latter are “too attached to Jesus” and give him preference over Muhammad while being Muslim. Even Reza Aslan notices this and wrote briefly about it in his first book. I have attended a few Sufi sessions and there was a lot of emphasis on Jesus’ teachings of love and salvation. So it is quite possible that this inspiration in Sufism to do good only to please God comes from Christianity. I could be completely wrong, though.

                    • Wrestling With Religion said,

                      I didn’t know Sufism was so attached to Jesus, but I had heard it was influenced by Christianity. I went to a couple of Sufi workshops a while back and they spoke of loving your enemies and non-retaliation. I didn’t know at the time that that wasn’t so Islamic.

                    • susanne430 said,

                      Achelois, thanks for sharing more about Sufism. I love most everything you’ve shared about them – impressive!! 🙂

                      I am really thankful for the years I’ve had learning more about the Bible. I think it’s a lifelong process and I’m glad I am able to share some things with you and that we can learn together as we discuss certain topics. That’s why I really love these posts and why I enjoyed your spiritual discussions on the blog where I first met you. How thankful I am that God let us cross paths there so I could meet you before you retired it. He’s good like that. 🙂

                      —— To all …

                      Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

            • aynur said,

              “I still can’t fully comprehend how the kuffar interpretation of Heaven and Hell could be so close to the Muslim interpretation. It is very interesting. Something I should read up on more.”

              Here is my theory. Those themes from Zoroastrianism, were incorporated into the hadith literature. That’s why it’s so close …

              I like this quote:
              “O Allah! If I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,
              and if I worship You in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise.
              But if I worship You for Your Own sake, grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.”
              ~Rabia al-Basri

              • Achelois said,

                Aynur, I agree with you. There are lengthy ahadith on it.

                That quote from Basri is one of my fav. I have it in cross- stitch hung above my bed. my father read that to me when I was seven years old and it has always been a part of my heart. Never heard anything so selfless in my life. This was also on the side of my previous blog 🙂

              • susanne430 said,

                I know an Arab Christian man (mid-sixties; grew up in the Middle East, but lives in the US now) and he said he admired Rabia al-Basri and shared this quote with me. Beautifully stated!

        • Sarah said,

          (I have trouble believing that the Loving and Merciful God will burn someone for ‘eternity’. Eternity is just too long).

          I used to have trouble with that too, but then I read a verse in the Quran that just strike me! it was like BOOM! here’s your answer.

          I am sure you have read several passages in the Quran which foretell of the dialogue between people in the afterlife. They are fascinating.

          I plan to write about it as soon as I sing up for my new blog.

          • Achelois said,

            O hello Sarah! You sound happy with me today 🙂

            I would love to read your post on it. You are young but have excellent view points that I appreciate very much. Thank you!

  11. Sarah said,

    (The Bible definitely existed in Arabic during the time of the Prophet for the Christians of Arabia).

    Nope, it was first transelated in the 1200’s, if I’m not mistaken (don’t just take my word on it, check it out for yourself if you’re interested).

    (It may interest you to know that Prophet’s first wife Khadeejah’s cousin Waraqa (who had convinced the Prophet that he was a prophet of Allah) was a devout Christian and was one of the first people who had translated the OT and NT in Arabic for the people of Mecca).

    I’m well aware of that. =)

    But if I’m not mistaken (and please correct me if I am) he only had parts of the Bible, not all of it in the form we have today (several important manuscripts were only discovered after the time of the prophet, if I may recall correctly).

    Based on whatever part of the Bible he had, he found evidence in it to fully support Muhammad’s prophethood. I don’t see any such evidence in the current Bible (which means it might be quite different after all).

    (He was a very intelligent man, creative, smart, eager to learn and perhaps could even read or write)

    He was surely all that and more… but he definatly couldn’t read or write. It is a well-known historical fact, and the people who tried to chalange it didn’t have any solid arguments whatsoever (some of them were simply laughable).

    (the first verse revealed to him was ‘Read!’ and then we like to believe that he never obeyed God and never learnt to read or write in the next 23 years [if he was a successful illiterate trader to begin with] while telling others to seek knowledge and education all the while?!). Why couldn’t he have been all that and a prophet?)

    Are you saying that God ordered him to learn how to read???

    Because that’s not what the verse was talking about… at all.

    Since you studied Islam for years; I’m very supraised that you’re not aware of that.

    “Read” here also means “Recite”, and it’s mainly (but not only) refers to the Quran
    (since the Quran literarly means: the recital). It’s a univeral message to engourage mankind to aquire knowladge (in written form or in oral foem), but in th Prophet’s case it was a call to rectie God’s words.

    God didn’t intended for Prophet Mouhamad to learn reading or writting. That defies the whole point of him being illiterate in the first place.

    I’m sure you’ve read these verses:

    (And thou (O Muhammad) wast not a reader of any scripture before it, nor didst thou write it with thy right hand, for then might those have doubted, who follow falsehood) (Al-`Ankabut 29: 48).

    (Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them …) (Al-A`raf 7: 157).

    Anyways, where were we?.. Ah, yes! Prophets, Holly words, collective consciousness, yada yada yada! =)

    • Sarah said,

      Opsss, that was meant to the lovely Achelois, of course!

    • Achelois said,

      Sarah, You are contradicting yourself with uncertainty albeit with a lot of authority:
      “Nope, it was first transelated in the 1200’s, if I’m not mistaken (don’t just take my word on it, check it out for yourself if you’re interested).”

      First you say that the Bible was first translated in the 1200s (but you are unsure), then you claim you are well aware that Waraqa had translated the Bible in Arabic in the 7th century, but you are again unsure how much he had translated.

      Waraqa’s translation was thorough and complete, in fact he even translated the apocryphal texts which were not canonized anywhere except in Ethiopia.

      I think you are referring to the Dead Sea Scrolls which were discovered in the 1950s. However, they have nothing to do with the NT and Paul’s quote that Susanne cited is from NT, not OT. Waraqa had translated that into Arabic.

      Whether or not Muhammad’s prophethood was predicted in the Torah and Bible is totally another argument and I’m not going there.

      I’m not arguing that Muhammad was literate; I only argue that he was very intelligent and had an excellent memory with a strong ability to reproduce what he heard. I only mentioned that some people argue that he was literate, whether that argument is laughable is also subjective.

      You wrote: “Since you studied Islam for years; I’m very supraised that you’re not aware of that. “Read” here also means “Recite” … but in th Prophet’s case it was a call to rectie God’s words.”

      That’s funny, because if your interpretation is correct then why when Gabriel told him to “Recite”, did Muhammad say, “I can’t read!”? (Source: http://www.isna.net/Islam/pages/LAI-LA-TIL-QADR-The-Night-of-Mercy-and-Peace.aspx). And this didn’t happen once but thrice. The angel kept asking him to recite (as you say) and he kept missing the point and kept replying “I can’t read!” Shouldn’t he have said, “Recite what?” unless the whole point of the story is to emphasize that he was unable to read?

      I’m certain you don’t want me to respond to the rest of your comment and to be honest I can’t respond to it with equal immaturity 🙂

      • Sarah said,

        Okay, what’s with the hostility?… did I say something insutling?

        I’m sorry if it seemed that way.

        You can check out any website or historical sourse and you’ll see that the whole bible was first transelated into Arabic in the 1200’s (I said I wasn’t sure about the excat date, that’s all).

        Waraqa was one of the VERY few peple in Arabia who had parts of bible in Arabic, and apparently he didn’t have the same pats of the Bible as we have today, otherwise how did he found evidences in it to support Mouhammad’s Prophethood??? (Waraqa didn’t beilive that Jesus was God or the Son of God, by the way).

        The King Najashi apperantly didn’t also, because he beilived in Mauhammad’s Prphethood as well.

        You can argue that the prophet was not illiterate all you want, but please don’t pretend that the people who aruge it had any solid evidence to back it up. (I’m not trying to offend you by saying that).

        About that verse; again it seems none of us is getting what the other is trying to say.

        My point was: The Angel didn’t have anything “written” for the Prophet to read, and yet he told him: Read!

        The prophet got confused and replaied: I can’t read!

        Here, the Angel “recited” that verse.

        The special message for the prophet is to recite God’ words (that’s why the Quran literarly means: the Recital). But the universal meesage of that verse was about knowledge: knowledge about God and about His creation.

        I usually suck at explaining my point in good english, but I hope you understand what I meant.

        Sorry again if I say anything unappropiate.

        Peace.

        • Achelois said,

          I’m sorry if I seemed hostile to you.

          “Anyways, where were we?.. Ah, yes! Prophets, Holly words, collective consciousness, yada yada yada! =)”

          That seemed insulting to me and I thought you were using the same tone you have used with me before on other blogs under different aliases. Since you asked me directly now I am telling you directly.
          But I meant no offence if it wasn’t provocation. Sorry about that.

          I don’t think I need to re-write what I wrote before. I think we are not communicating clearly. I have told it very clearly that I am not arguing here whether or not Muhammad was predicted in the Bibles. I am also not arguing that Wararqa influenced the Prophet’s thought on Unitarian Christianity – I don’t even want to go there. I am also not saying that Muhammad was literate. I have written down very clearly that I think he was very much illiterate (ill-literate, not literate – he could not read or write) but that does not mean he was not intelligent. I honestly don’t know how to make it clearer. These are arguments that have nothing to do with Sarah’s post and I don’t want to digress.

          The post is about God’s love and Paradise is the ultimate expression of God’s love for those He shall love till eternity. But that Paradise is what “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man.” These were the words of Paul, and were found in a hadith quoted in one of the links you posted. The only argument that is valid is that they exist in the NT which was available to Arab Christians in Arabic in 7th Century Arabia through Waraqa (either through reading or hearing an oral recitation) and Waraqa was a close relative of the Prophet.

          Peace be upon you too.

          • Sarah said,

            (“Anyways, where were we?.. Ah, yes! Prophets, Holly words, collective consciousness, yada yada yada! =)”

            That seemed insulting to me)

            Ah! that was just me and my awful humor. >_<

            I am so so sorry for that.

            (I think we are not communicating clearly).

            Yeah, excatly.. I think that's it. I don't know if it had to do with my poor english or my relativly weak attention span…

            I usually tend to get carry away when it comes to arguments (not just religious arguments, any arguments about something I care about, really). My problem is that I'm very flexible about my views, yet VERY passionate about my beliefs. I can come off as a really preachy person online, because I feel so passionately about almost anything important to me in this world, and I get really involved and enraged over things I care about.

            Sometimes, when I'm talking to someone on the net, they mistake my passion for anger or arragence… because I get so into it I don't even realize the tone of my voice. This is something I am trying to work on.

            I totally respect your desire not to disscus anything, though. I find you as an incredibly bright person, so I'm always intereted in whatever you have to say. If we ever talked again, I hope it will be on better terms. =)

            Take care and God bless~

            • Achelois said,

              No Sarah, mashallah your English is very good!

              At one point in my life I too was very passionate. In fact, I used to have massive verbal fights with a woman who is now one of my best friends 🙂 I was so nasty to her because she just couldn’t see what I wanted her to see. I apologise so often to her now 🙂

              At your age I didn’t have half the know-how of religion that you do. It is a wonderful thing to see young people so interested in their religion. I am in my 30s and comparatively my interest in world religions is very recent so hats off to you!

              Nice chatting with you, S!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: