COLLOQUIUM Abrahamic Model and the Future of Zionism - Part III

FROM MOIN ANSARI

Norm:

I always these discussions with you. Norm, I agree that the American experiment is unique in its novelty, and the original framers of the constitution sought to seek “a more perfect union” and tried to create a system based on some sort of justice for at least some of the people…........however, we all know that “we the people” NEVER meant ALL the people. Like Rome, “citizenship” was an exclusive right allowed only to RICH White males, and neither women, nor people of color, nor Native Americans, nor Chinese immigrants, nor slaves, nor Mexicans, nor poor whites were included in any of the “inalienable” rights. When good humane judges included Jews and others into the ranks, that was because the world and civilization had moved beyond apartheid and the arcane system was no longer viable. If we adhere to the TRUE spirit of the framers of the constitution, women would not be franchised, slavery would still be alive, and the poor and the nonwhites would not have very few rights.

Over the past 25 years, I am amazed at the amount of praise that is heaped upon the “original framers of the constitution”. I am also surprised that the Pope has not sanctified all their actions and anointed them with sainthood. Do we sense “worship” of the American constitution and the “founding fathers”? Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States raises some interesting points about the framers of the constitution. Zinn’s history dispenses with the usual hagiographies of the founding fathers. One passage reminds us ....


“The Declaration of Independence became an embarrassment to the Founding Fathers almost immediately. Some of George Washington’s soldiers resented the rich in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, profiting from the war. When the Continental Congress in 1781 voted half pay for life to officers of the Revolution and nothing for enlisted men, there was mutiny in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania lines. Washington ordered two young mutineers shot ‘as an example.’ The shovelfuls of earth covering their bodies also smudged the words of the Declaration, five years old and already ignored, that ‘all men are created equal.’

“Black slaves in Boston took those words seriously, too, and, during the Revolution, petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for their freedom. But the Revolution was not fought for them. “It did not seem to be fought for the poor white farmers either, who, after serving in the war, now faced high taxes, and seizure of homes and livestock for nonpayment. In western Massachusetts, they organized, blocking the doors of courthouses to prevent foreclosures. This was Shays’s Rebellion. The militia finally routed them, and the Founding Fathers hurried to Philadelphia to write the Constitution, to set up a government where such rebellions could be controlled.”

It is amazing that while the red states were incensed by the antics of President Clinton, why are we not critical of the personal lives of Jefferson, Hamilton and Madison. All had slaves, all fornicated at will, most had illegitimate children, almost all abused alcohol, all saw issue with war or acquisition of territory by any means necessary, and all accumulated wealth well beyond their means. Either we have become more puritanical, or we can see no wrong with Dead White Males.

This paragraph with confound you, so one may take a pill and read it slowly. Nothing in this paragraph is written that cannot be backed up with facts. It is also astonishing that the religious beliefs of the original founding fathers has been hidden from the American people and the world. It is a fact that Jefferson wrote a Bible, and this is handed to every member of the Congress that is elected to office. The Jefferson Bible discusses the life of Jesus the man. There is no divinity, no resurrection, and no mention of trinity. Hamilton and Madison were also close to the Unitarian church, and have written extensively about the UNITY of God. They would of course never be considered Christian according to the standards laid down by born again evangelists.

“We the people” of course did not mean, that the “people” would be allowed to engage in an activity like ELECTING a president. The electoral college was created specifically to ward of the dangers of “mobocracy” and keep the state safe from the vagaries of an unpredictable electorate. Why do we forget that 538 electors, not a majority of the American people, determine the outcome of a presidential election. Electors are not required to vote for the candidates they are pledged to, and if the vote is close in the Electoral College, a losing candidate might well be able to persuade a small number of electors to switch sides. This is not a “government by the people”. Nor is it a true representative form of electing a president. It is a serious flaw in the constitution.

The constitution never thought of the Supreme Court as the custodian of the constitution, and for sure the original framers did not envision it as the third branch of government. I recommend “A Peoples history of the Supreme Court” by Peter Irons. Presenting a sophisticated narrative history of the Supreme Court, Irons (The Courage of Their Convictions, etc.) illustrates the beguiling legacy left by the Constitution’s framers, who conjured up the high Court without providing an instruction manual….............Irons clearly establishes “the Court as a bastion of racism, classism and sexism prior to Earl Warren’s ascendancy”..................it was the people who changed BAD PARTS OF our constitution to reflect a “more perfect union”...the attempts of ordinary citizens to attain their rights (especially of free speech, religious practices, and personal privacy) through appeal to the Court and to change the shape and meaning of our Constitutional system

Dewy’s writings on the American system, Norm Chomsky’s monographs on and Zinn’s fabulous book on “Peoples History of the United States” are documents worth reading. Of course the writings of Gore Vidal give us another approach.

Here is what Zinn says:

“What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government—and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.” Today, even more than when those words were written, “People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth.”

This is not very different to what Dr. Crane is striving to do…COMPLETE THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION by adopting a Judeo-Christian-ISLAMIC approach of inclusiveness that seems to be missing from today’s America. Many Muslims today want thiersecond class citizenship to be replaced by a FIRST CLASS CITIZENSHIP!!!

God Bless America and Love Live America


FROM BOB CRANE

Moin,

  All the current books trying to deconstruct the principles of the great American experiment in self-government seem to ignore the fact that these principles eventually did provide the motivation for their implementation.  Jefferson had slaves, but he put in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence that slavery was to be immediately abolished.  This was one of the only three items eliminated from the final draft.  Politics is politics and always will be, but this does not invalidate the principles that people hold up for “eventual” application.

  Your summarization of the “new scholarship” is no doubt quite valid.  Scholars have been saying this for two hundred years but are saying it much better now and for the first time are popularizing the hidden history of America.  Demonizing America is now a popular sport because it sells books. 

  The whole field of “critical studies” I think is healthy, but only if it encourages us to see both how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.  President Reagan was one of our few really honest presidents, which is why he urged us to launch a Second American Revolution to address the problems that yet remain, such as the class structure, the lack of a culture of pluralism, and the concentration of power, both political and economic, at the top in a rapacious system of money and credit.

  One could take the same deconstructive approach toward Islam as a religion based on the fact that the universal principles of human rights so beautifully developed by the greatest Islamic scholars centuries ago have rarely been observed by Muslims very well except in the breech.  This does not invalidate Islam as a religion any more than the same failings by Americans have invalidated the principles of America’s founding. 

  As Norm is constantly saying, let’s focus on the positive because focusing on the negative never got anyone anywhere.  Keep our eyes focused front and center, but without blinders.  And remember the old marine motto, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

        Peace and freedom through prayerful and transcendent justice,


FROM NASIR SHAMSI

Norm,

Bakir has a valid point. Natural resources being Gods domain cannot be placed in the market for sale—now or after 15-20 years—as proposed in your plan. That is precisely why the Iraqis, both Ulama and Politicians had no reservation in accepting BakirҒs version of the Just Plan. If you want your plan to succeed in the Muslim World, you have no
choice but to drop the transfer clause. The clock is ticking; the Draft Constitution must be finalized no later than August. In order for the Plan to court acceptance in Iraq, I sincerely believe that it needs to* be* modified so as it conforms to the spirit of the Law of Nature rather than the Principles of the Market.


FROM BOB CRANE

Nasir,

  Absolutely.  I’m sure Norm would agree.  I had never heard that Bakir had objected to the twenty year limit on divestment, which was thought of as a minimum to assure that the oil companies would not use this as a clever excuse to buy up Iraq’s natural resources.  The optimum would be a blanket prohibition against divestment, and nothing less than the optimum is adequate in the case of Iraqi natural resources. 

  Bakir’s point about future citizens not being entitled to stock ownership was covered by Norm, as far as I remember.  This is too obvious to need any discussion, but even the obvious needs to be clearly stated.  As the Iraqi population grows, this would dilute the value of individual shares of stock, but this would be an essential part of justice.


FROM JEREMY HENZELL-THOMAS

SOME THOUGHTS ON TRANSCENDENT JUSTICE FROM PLATONIC, BIBLICAL AND ISLAMIC SOURCES

In response to your email about the Founding Fathers’ conception of a Republic (as against majoritarian democracy) I was reading Ananda Coomaraswamy’s essay “What is Civilisation?” yesterday and was struck by his citation of Matthew 6:33 as “Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and these things shall be added unto you.” The context is his discussion of the City of God (“the pattern of all other societies and of a true civilisation”), and, in particular, Plato’s “cosmic city of the world”, the “acropolis” of which is within you and at the “heart” of the City, and the welfare of which depends on the answer to the question: “Which shall rule, the better or the worse, a single Reason and Common Law or the multitude of moneyed men in the outer city and of desires in the individual” (Republic 441, etc.). In the human City of God as a political pattern, “the sensitive and discriminating powers form a body of guardsmen by which the Royal Reason is conducted to the perception of sense objects, and the heart is the guardroom where they take their orders” (Plato, Timaeus, 70B). In more Islamic language, the Intellect (‘aql) is enthroned in the Heart. 

Coomaraswamy points out that “it must never be forgotten that “all ‘our’ powers are not our ‘own’, but delegated powers and ministries through which the royal Power is ‘exercised’It is not for them to serve their own or one another’s self-interests - of which the only result will be the tyranny of the majority, and a city divided against itself, man against man and class against class - but to serve Him whose sole interest is that of the common body politic.”

Coomaraswamy sources his model of civilisation from Plato and the Vedanta, so we can go beyond it and connect up the dots with Islam.

The Arabic word ‘adl (justice) carries the connotation of a harmonious order and condition of things, being in their proper places, and all of which, including Man, are of course created by God “in due measure and proportion”. True adab is to know one’s place in relation to the Creator (and not simply the observance of courteous formalities in human society), so the notion of a Republic based on the notion of Transcendent Justice is the very embodiment of adab. A lower concept of democracy not based on this higher principle is a rude violation of the divine order. But a Republic based on ‘adl is not, of course, theocracy as promoted by religious extremists, any more than it is its polar opposite as the lower kind of democracy which, as Plato observes, can easily degenerate into tyranny, the lowest form of government.

One of the important tasks in bringing to light the core principles of Islam in the West is to show that an Islamic conception of the City of God is not an oppressive theocracy. Wasn’t it Daniel Pipes who claimed that the logo of TAM was evidence of militant totalitarian Muslims’ intention to take over the USA and replace the constitution with the shari’ah? If this is a general fear, absurd as it sounds to us, then those of us who can explain these things in a language which is accessible to the Western mind have some work to do, at least amongst those capable of updating their poor state of knowledge, if not amongst those who, through intellectual disability or malicious design, prefer to stick with their grotesque illusions.

Coomaraswamy contrasts what he calls “true civilisation”, derived from an “inspired tradition” based on perennial wisdom, with its deformation in the modern industrialised West. “The one considers man’s needs (which are ‘but little here below’); the other considers his wants, to which no limit can be set, and of which the number is artificially multiplied by advertisement”. Our modern ‘civilisation’, based as it is on notions of social advancement, ambition, competition, free enterprise, individualism, growth, expanding ‘choice’, and quantitative output for profit creates a perpetually expanding world market for its surplus, produced by those whom Dr. Albert Schweitzer called “over-occupied men”. It is, according to Coomaraswamy, “the incubus of world trade that makes of industrial ‘civilisations’ a ‘curse to humanity’ and from the industrial concept of progress Ņthat modern wars have arisen and will arise; it on the same impoverished soil that empires have grown, and by the same greed that innumerable civilisations have been destroyed.”

In his book Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, Guy Claxton relates that until ten years ago, a Ladakhi wedding lasted a fortnight. But their lifestyle rapidly altered following the introduction of some simple ‘labour-saving’ changes: tools, such as the Rotovator, to make ploughing quicker and easier; and some new crops and livestock, such as dairy cows. Compared to the traditional yak, cows yield more milk than a family needs, creating a surplus which can be turned into cheese and sold to bring in some extra cashunfortunately this apparently benign ‘aid package’ also gave the Ladakhis a new view of time - as something in short supply. Instead of the Rotovators and the cows generating more leisure, they have in fact reduced it. People are now busier than they were: busy creating wealth - and ‘saving time’. Time has become a commodity, as in the Western mindset. Today a Ladakhi wedding lasts less than a dayŅjust like a Western one.

I wonder if you heard about the recent archaeological research which suggests that Palaeolithic Man (that is, Old Stone Age Man, before the comparative modernity of the Neolithic, or New Stone Age) only had to work three hours a day in order to sustain himself and his family.  The rest of his time was spent in family and social life, the arts, leisure, ritual and reflection.  We have come a long way since the Old Stone Age! I am reminded of President Eisenhower’s prediction in the 1950’s that within ten years Americans would only be working four days a week because of labour-saving devices. Look at you now! And look at us, too! Even the French are in imminent danger of being colonised by the virus of the more “efficient” Anglo-Saxon economic model. Their civilised two-hour lunch, 35-hour week and seven-week vacation, may not last much longer. So strong is the conditioning wrought by the myth of progress, so powerful these illusions, that we fail to see what is before our very eyes.

It was the American social critic Neil Postman who coined the word ‘technopoly’ to describe our dominant worldview (now, it seems, increasingly homogenizing the world through globalisation) based on the belief that “the primary, if not the only goal of human labour and thought is efficiency.”

Now, I know the verse from Matthew in its more well-known form: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” but, given Coomaraswamy’s preference for the word justice in the context of his essay, I became intrigued by the connection between righteousness and justice.

The word righteousness is a translation of Hebrew sedeq, sedaqa, Greek NT dikaitosyne. The Hebrew sedeq is related to the Arabic root QWM, from which the words istaqama (to go straight) and mustaqim (straight) are derived. Muslims pray to be guided on the “straight path”, sirat al-mustaqim, in all five daily prayers. The Hebrew sense is also “an action which conforms to a norm”.

In other words, righteousness is a principle which is lived out through speech and action. This very Semitic principle of actualisation (emphasised by the Prophet Muhammad in many hadith) can be seen very clearly in the verb shahida (from which shahid is derived) means ‘to observe’ and ‘perceive’ as well as ‘to witness’ and ‘give testimony’. As Glassũ points out (The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam)  “the word shahida has double significance typical of the genius of the Arabic language. It embraces the acts of seeing perceiving and then of declaring that one has seen or perceived [and, I would add, living it out]. The key to this is the link between act and speech, which in the Arabic soul, is so swift and spontaneous that many words bear a double significance reflecting it. For example, dhikr (“memory”) is also “mention”, that is, the verbalisation of memory.”

Another idea in the Old Testament idea of righteousness is relationship, both between God and Man and between man and man (Deuteronomy 24; Jeremiah 22-23). In its entry on Righteousness, the massive 3-volume 1,700-page Bible Dictionary published by Inter-Varsity Press (I find this an indispensable book) defines Righteous action as action which conforms to the requirements of this relationship and in a more general sense promotes the well-being and peace of the community (1 Samuel 24:17). [Note how this connects with Plato’s conception of the City of God].  It is therefore linked in a forensic sense with justice, though even then the idea is less that of conformity to some legal norm as the strongly held ethical notion of action which is to be legally upheld because it is productive of communal well-being (Dueteronomy 1:16). With regard to the relationship between God and man, a sense which would always have been present whenever the Hebrew used the word sedeq, righteousness implies a correct relationship to the will of God, as expressed in the Covenant. This is also of course a key Islamic concept - that of mithaq, the individual covenant sealed with God even before man assumed physical form, by which he recognised and acknowledged God as Lord, al-rabb, witnessing and affirming ‘Yea!’ (bala) to God’s “Am I not your Lord?” (alastu bi rabbikum), and thus demonstrating his original possession of the organ of spiritual cognition (ma’rifah). 

The New Testament uses righteousness in the sense of conformity to the will of God, and also connects it with divine Salvation, the gift of eternal life under the reign of God (Romans 6:12-23). The Old Testament, too, conflates the notions of righteousness and redemption/salvation (Isiah 45:21) and intimately relates the idea of God’s righteousness with His holiness and with his role as the ground and guarantor of the moral order.

I haven’t the time to explore all the connections here, but the intimate connections between righteousness and justice will be apparent, and are also very clear in the full array of meanings of words derived from the Arabic root QWM (the root also, as I say, of the Hebrew word sedeq, righteousness) in the Qur’an, as follows:

qama - to keep vigil, to arise, to rise; to halt, to stand up, to stand over; to come to pass; (with prep. li-) to secure something for someone; (with prep. bi- ) to uphold. (n.vb.) the act of standing, rising. (pcple.act.) one who is standing; coming to pass; (with prep. bi-) one who is upholding, one who performs (a duty)

maqam - a place, station; the act of standing

muqam - an abode

qawam - a just stand

qawim (aqwam) - standing, upright, erect, straight

qawm - people, folk

qawwam - a manager; (with bi-) a securer, one who is staunch

qayyim (qiyam, in 6:161; f. qayyimah , in 98:5) - right, true

qayyum - Everlasting, Eternal

qiyam - the act of maintaining or managing; an establishment, a standard.

qiyamah - resurrection (yawm al-qiyamah)

qawwama - symmetry, stature

aqama - to abide; to set or set up; to perform (aqama al-salat, “to perform the prayer”); to maintain; to assign; (aqama al-wazn, in 55:9, “to set up the balance,” hence “to weigh with justice”); the act of performing (the prayer); the act of abiding; one who performs the prayer; that which remains, lasting

istaqama - to go straight; (mustaqim, straight)

A book could be written entirely on these meanings, which, perhaps more than any other set, convey the meaning of the primordial deen of Islam.

In relation to my earlier point about the importance of speaking and acting, F.David Peat, in his fascinating book, Blackfoot Physics, notes how our own indigenous view of knowledge has over time been transformed into a noun, “something that could be categorised, conceptualised, collected, and sorted within the filing cabinets of the mind.” Associated with this static, noun-based form of knowledge is the desire to “manipulate, control and exploit.” Descartes proclaimed that “Knowing the force and action of fire, water, air, the starsmen can become masters and possessors of nature” and Francis Bacon, one of the heralds of modern scientism, suggested that in order to gain such knowledge “nature should be placed upon the rack and tortured to reveal her secrets”.

Even in the English language the word knowledge has its origins in a verb or activity. In medieval times it served as a verb somewhat like our modern to acknowledge, and it meant to own the knowledge of something and perceive something as true. In turn, the origins of the verb lay in yet another process - the verb to know - which is a term of extremely ancient Aryan origins that had to do with perception, recognition, and the ability to distinguish. Thus, to the earliest peoples of Europe and Asia knowledge and knowing had more to do with a discriminating perception of the mind and the senses than with the accumulation of facts”

The underlying sense of that which is ‘seen’ or ‘perceived’ (rather than that which is ‘thought’) comes from the Indo-European root ueid, meaning ‘look at, see’. This root gives us Sanskrit Veda, knowledge, as in the sacred books of Hinduism (vidya is ‘knowledge’ - i.e. ‘seeing’ in Sanskrit, and a-vidya is ‘ignorance’, or at best ‘imperfect knowledge’, literally ‘not seeing’ or ‘blind’). The same root ueid gives us Greek eidos and idea, as we have seen, and Latin videre (‘to see’) from which our own English derivatives are legion. The word “white” is a derivative of the same root from Celtic, and literally means “easily seen”.

It is worth noting also that the original sense of the Greek word idea, used by Plato in the specialised sense ‘archetypal form’ or ‘ideal prototype’, is the ‘look’ ‘appearance’ or ‘image’ of something. The word ‘idol’ comes from the Greek eidos (‘form, shape’) which itself comes form the same root as idea.  The early English sense before 1398 was the Platonic ‘general or ideal form, type or model’.  The more general and abstract sense of ‘notion, mental conception’ is not found in English, as far as I know, before 1645.

So, the underlying concept is that of ‘seeing’ not of ‘thinking’. As with so many words which had kept a measure of their original meaning in the medieval period, the sense of ‘idea’ as something ‘seen’ was reduced in the post-Renaissance world to something ‘thought’, and in modern times, reduced further to ideology. A concrete experience, a ‘tasting’ (dhawq), was reduced to an abstraction. “I see, therefore I know” becomes the wretched Descartian axiom “I think, therefore I am”. 

This revisioning of what it means to know can also be observed in the semantic degradation in post-medieval English of certain words which connect ‘knowing’ with ‘skill’ or ‘ability’. Thus, the word ‘cunning’, which now has the sense of ‘skilfully deceitful’ (from the 16th century), originally had the sense of ‘learned’, but its relationship to the word ‘can’ (preserved in Scots ‘ken’) shows how this ‘learning’ was conceived not essentially as abstract knowledge but as knowledge gained through innate ability, perception and experience.  This is a striking example of how the ideology of post-medieval scientism perverted the original meaning of a word so as to banish original ways of knowing. The word ‘craft’ still preserves both meanings: the sense of ‘skill’ or a ‘trade’/‘profession’ and the degraded sense which reduces it to mere ‘craftiness’ or ‘cunning’. The original Germanic sense of ‘craft’ was ‘strength’, which is still preserved in other Germanic languages apart from English.


FROM BAKIR HASSANI

Bob, no doubt, your intentions and efforts are both good and rewardable by Allah [swt].  Plus, your reasons behind choosing œThe Abrahamic Model as a title are perfectly understood. However, it will attract only Jews and Christians; but no Muslims.

In an earlier email, I explained that Allah [swt] has described Muhammad [s] in the QurԒan as khatam an-nabiyyinӔ, meaning:  the beginning and the ending of all prophets.Ӕ  Plus, in various Islamic Literatures of all School of Thoughts, there exist many authentic reports about the fact that Muhammad [s] was AllahӒs first creation, and that he ԓwas a prophet while Adam was between water and clay [meaning before the final process of his creation.] 

Both the above QurԒanic term and these Hadiths negate any relevance of chronological events in human history.  Add to that the fact that the Quran has obviously and clearly set Muhammad [s] as a ғRole Model for mankind.  Therefore, it is hard to convince any Muslim to follow Abraham [as] not Muhammad [s] as a ԓModel.  For this reason, I said:  ԓIt is impractical.

May Allah [swt] guide all of us and keep us on His path.  Meanwhile, I wish all of you the very best.


FROM BOB CRANE

It is hard to convince any Muslim to follow Abraham [as] not Muhammad [s] as a ԓModel.

Bakir,

  You are wrong.  It is not hard but impossible.  Muhammad as the khatam of revelation showed all Muslims, as well as Christians and Jews, where the Abrahamic Model comes from, what it is, and what it should mean in the future. The Jews and Christians can best understand Islam from the perspective of Abraham, ‘alayhi wa salam, because he was neither Jew nor Christian (there were no such distinctions back then), but a Muslim, one who submits to God.  The question then is what does that mean.

  You and I seem to have a basic disagreement about the orthodox Shi’a view on infallibility.  It is clear to me that the Prophet Muhammad was wrong on many counts, not culpable, but simply ignorant.  This shocks most Shi’a to their roots when I say this.  The important point is that in every case Allah corrected him, as is shown in many cases in the Qur’an and in the hadith. 

  For example, the prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa salam, made it a practice to give charity only to Muslims, whereupon Allah revealed in no uncertain terms that the only criterion for charity is need.  Of course, part of the charity of Allah is that He always guided every prophet as needed, which was necessary if they were to be models for everyone else.  In this I disagree with both the Jews and Christians, who have spread calumnies about the prophets as a result of their own factional infighting.  The very fact that the Qur’an itself gives examples of where The Prophet Muhammad needed to be corrected is evidence that the Qur’an was revealed, because it is not likely that the Prophet would want to confirm his own errors.

  The doctrine of infallibility is basic for the Shi’a, but I reject its extreme versions, just as I reject exaggerations about the infallibility of the Pope.  At one time in about the Year 600, as discussed in the unpublished book that I wrote on the subject as a thesis exactly fifty years ago, the Patriarch of Constinople captured the Western Patriarch, the Pope, as a result of which the Pope then renounced his own infallibility.  Of course, no-one has ever claimed that any pope was a prophet, astagfiru Allah.  The moderate Catholic teaching is that the pope is “infallable” only on the rare occasions (historically not more than once every century) when he declares the Church’s traditional teaching on specific points of faith and morals, and then, according to some theologians, only to clarify the consensus among Christians.  We might compare this with the Prophet’s saying that the umma will never agree on an error, which is the widest undersanding of the doctrine of ijma or consensus.

  Any comparisons between Islamic and Christians teachings on infallibility, of course, are somewhat like comparing apples and oranges.  The similarity is that the infallibility of the Prophet Muhammad and his spiritual successors applies only to what has been divinely revealed from the Ghraib, the world beyond.  On other matters, such as where to prepare battle positions, the Prophet Muhammad deferred to those who knew more about such things.  When the subject, however, was whether Allah with his legions of angels would give the Muslims sakina and make the Muslims appear to their attackers as many times more numerous than they actually were, no one could question this, because this knowledge came only from Allah.

  You will find that I am very independent in my thinking, which is why the Sunnis shun me as a Shi’a because it is obvious to me that Ali, ‘alahi salam, was the spiritual successor of the Prophet Muhammad, and, logically, that a successor would have to have a successor or there would be no succession.  I’m sure that most Shi’a would be equally upset because I think that infallibility has limits.  If this makes me a universal pariah, then that must be my fate.  Perhaps someday Allah will show me directly the truth about such matters, as He has about other aspects of reality, but we humans are not entitled to the knowledge of the angels, at least not in this world.


FROM SHEILA MUSAJI

I would like to jump into this discussion in response to Br. Bakir’s statement which seems to call into question the use of the term “Abrahamic Faiths” to include Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Over the last three years we have had a number of articles (written by Christians, Muslima, and Jews)  in The American Muslim specifically referring to the Abrahamic faiths, our Abrahamic heritage, and the common ground provided by Abraham in interfaith dialogue.  A few of these are:

—The Abraham Federation: A New Framework for Peace in the Middle East,  http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/2002sept_comments.php?id=46_0_14_30_C  by Norman Kurland
—A Call to Bridge the Abrahamic Faiths - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/2002nov_comments.php?id=183_0_16_0_C by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
—The Abrahamic Heritage and Interreligious Dialogue: Ambiguities and Promises http://theamericanmuslim.org/2002nov_comments.php?id=142_0_16_0_C by Tarek Mitri
—The Legacy of Abraham http://theamericanmuslim.org/2002nov_comments.php?id=200_0_16_0_C by Sheila Musaji
—Three Mothers: Universal Kabbalah of Abraham, The Sounds of Healing Peace, http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/2003jan_comments.php?id=246_0_17_30_C by Yitzak Aaron
—The Tent of Abraham Project http://theamericanmuslim.org/2004jul_comments.php?id=483_0_28_30_C (this was initiated by an interfaith group composed of Rev. Bob Edgar of NCC, Dr Sayid M. Syeed, ISNA, Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB, Rabbi Arthur Waskow)

In popular usage the term “Abrahamic Faiths” is even found on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religion , and Beliefnet ran a comparison of the “Abrahamic Faiths” http://www.beliefnet.com/features/abrahamicfaiths.html 

Articles Have been written by non-Muslims using this term, e.g. Abrahamic Faiths Crack the Door to Deeper Dialogue by Jane Lampman http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0619/p17s01-lire.html

A paper was presented at the AMSS (American Muslim Social Scientists) 32nd Annual Conference at Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana on Sept. 26, 2003 entitled “The Role of the Abrahamic Faiths in the Making of Pece Through Political, Socio-Cultural, Economic and Moral Transformation” by Dr. Ataul Huq Pramanik, International Islamic University of Malaysia. http://www.amss.net/Abstract_32ndConference/AtaulHuqPramanik6.htm

Ismail al Faruqi wrote a book “Trialogue of the Abrahamic Faiths” http://onlineislamicstore.com/b2241.html 

Dialogue groups have been formed using this designation like the Dunedin Group http://telperion.otago.ac.nz/Chaplain/resour/DJCMCLG.pdf , and The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago http://www.ciogc.org/pages/News/647/pageDetailPB.html  and these groups have Muslim members.

Conferences have been held using this designation http://www.pakistanlink.com/Community/2003/Aug03/08/01.html

It would seem to me that this term is accepted within the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities (at least by those involved with interfaith dialogue).


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