I RECENTLY had the disconcerting experience of reading
of Hal Lindsey's fire and brimstone over at Worldnet Daily. This time the target of his harangue happened to be my religion, Islam. Considering the latest turn of events in the world, I've become somewhat desensitized to the rabid hatred Christian conservatives such as Hal feel for this faith which I share with over a quarter of the population of this planet. After constantly reading the not so amiable portrayal the Christian fundamentalists paint of Muslims being anti-Semitic warriors who arrogantly believe only they will go to Paradise while everyone else goes to hell reminded me of a particular verse from a particular holy scripture about the Jews:
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Is this a quote from the Qur'ân? Well, actually the source of this quote is not from any Islamic literature. It's the Gospel of St. Matthew 23:33 quoting none other than Christ himself. One must seriously wonder what would have happened to his political career had he said that in 21st century America. Even the Supreme Court wouldn't be able to save him.
Alright, alright, I have to admit that I've been unfair. The truth is that in this particular verse Jesus (peace be upon him) was talking to a very specific group of arrogant Jewish clergy. Forgive me for using the terms 'arrogant' and 'Jewish' in the same sentence, but there are indeed arrogant Jews just as there are arrogant Muslims and Christians. I don't think he was talking about Jews as an entire racial or religious group. These endearing epithets were levied at the Pharisees and Sadducees who were two elitist groups of Jewish clergy who didn't even like each other very much, much less anyone else. These were the same guys who insisted that Pilate have Jesus (peace be upon him) crucified (Mark 15:1). They didn't like him very much. Jesus (peace be upon him) didn't like them much either. So goes the back and forth dissing. There's actually more of it in Matthew 3:7, 12:34, Luke 3:7 and so forth.
So now that I've acknowledged the mendacity in this sort of polemic, I think Hal should wave the white flag too. I don't think he'll do so willingly, so let me help him out just a tad bit. Hal alleges that Allah says in the Qur'an:
the Jews are unbelievers who act extravagantly in the land.
O come on, Hal. Is that what it says? Lets take a look at and see:
We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person - unless in retribution for murder or spreading crime in the land - it would be as if they slew mankind in entirety: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved all the lives of mankind in entirety. Then, although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, even after that did many of them continue to commit excesses in the land.
[The Qur'ân, al-Mâ'ida, 5:32]
Immediately, you can probably see why Hal chopped off the entire first part of the verse. Killing one is as killing all and saving one is as saving all? We certainly can't show that to the world. We can't let them know that the Muslim Qur'ân has such lofty principles about the sanctity and necessity of preserving life, now can we? Okay! So lets just delete it and instead say it calls for cutting every Jews toes off with a butterknife!
All jokes aside, allow me to explain the extravagantly in the land part. Some translations say act extravagantly in the land instead of commit excesses in the land. Neither are adequate in my opinion. The original Arabic text says, fi-l ardi la-musrifûn
. The key word here is musrifûn which means those who commit gross waste (the root sarafa means to waste as in Hebrew it similarly means to burn), as in wasting life, liberty and justice. Trying to waste the Messiah would probably fall into that category as well. The famous Qur'ânic commentator, at-Tabarî, one of the major historians and Qur’anic scholars of the 10th century explains the word musrifûn in this context by stating, Those who rebelled against God and against His laws and His Prophets.. (Tafsîr at-Tabarî, vol. 6) So clearly this isn’t about all Jews, just as Jesus’ (peace
be upon him) serpentine allegory wasn’t about all Jews either. Both are about certain Jews of the past who were guilty of certain crimes against God. Jesus (peace be upon him) was talking about the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Qur’an was depicting those from ancient Israel who did not learn from the story of Cain and Abel, but chose to waste life anyways (read verses 27-32 for the full context including the story of Cain and Abel). Had Jesus been sent to arrogant Eskimos (no offense intended towards the Eskimos!) he would have called that arrogant group of Eskimos a bunch of vipers and snakes. Had Thou Shalt Not Kill been revealed to the Eskimos, but some of them ignored it and killed anyways, the Qu'ran would have said some of those Eskimos committed excesses in the land by wasting life. The point isn't that they were Jews, the point is about murder.
Next Hal says:
For that, Jews are deserving of disgrace in this world and they should be murdered or crucified or their hands or their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned’ unless they repent and submit to Allah. [Surah 5.32-34]
Its interesting to note that he says the source is Sûrah 5:32-34 ("Sûrah" is Qu'ran terminology for Chapter). Well we just went over verse 32 and we didn’t see anything about Jews being crucified! Now lets look at 33-34:
The only reward of those who declare war against God and His Messenger and strive after corruption in the land is that they be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. (5:33)
In this verse those who declare war against God and His Messenger and strive after corruption in the land.. were not Jews but Muslims who had negated Islâm and chose a life of murder. In the 7th year of the Muslim calendar a group of drifters became critically ill on the outskirts of Medîna, so the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) assigned his personal shepherd to look after them and told them to partake of the camels’ milk and urine as a remedy for their illness. The problem was, the Shepherd was a Nubian. In other words he was Black. You see, in pre-Islamic Arabia they didn’t have the fondness for Black folks that you find in the Muslim world today. Nay, they despised them. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) struggled to change that and that is why you will find Islam to be enormously popular with Africans and African-Americans alike. The history of Islam lends a lot to African civilization, from the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) friend Bilal, the slave whom he freed in the 7th century, to Malcolm X who was freed by his message over a millennium later.
So after recovering from their illness, these drifters cut off the poor Nubian shepherd’s hands and feet and then gouged his eyes out and left him to die. They then proceeded to ruin his flock, desecrating all in sight.
Thus, when the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) slain Nubian friend’s body was brought to the Muslims’ citadel of Medîna, God revealed this judgment upon the perpetrator’s of this heinous murder in the aforementioned verse 32.
Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (verse 33)
This verse is lucid. In spite of rebelling in such a atrocious manner, everyone is given a chance at reform. If they repent and return to piety, they will be forgiven and the penalty against them rescinded. In the American legal system, in spite of its exemplary level of justice, how many on Death Row escape execution by being Born Again? None. In spite of what you have been told on the 700 Club, Islamic law would be too soft rather than too harsh, in the view of most Americans.
Next Hal implies that the God of Islâm breaks his covenant with the Jews out of exasperation (which means frustration for those out there without a dictionary handy). Hal says:
The God of the Bible is a very different sort of Person. Although an exasperated Allah would break the covenant he says he made with the Jews [Surah 2.83] the equally exasperated God of the Bible says, "I am Jehovah, I change not. Because of this, you sons of Jacob are not destroyed." (Malachi 3:6).
Unfortunately, it seems Hal doesn’t know the God of Islâm, or the God of the Bible. The source for his accusation is Sûrah 2:83 in the Qu'ran. Hal doesn’t know the Qu'ran either. Sûrah 2:83 says the following:
And when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel: Worship none other than Allâh, and be good to your parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor-due. Then, after that, you reneged, with the exception of a few of you, being renegades.
As anyone can see this verse is about those who broke their covenant with God, and not the other way around. All this verse is talking about is worshipping One God, being good to your fellow man in need, speaking kindly, praying, and other niceties. However, somehow Hal saw a picture of a wicked anti-Semitic God who hates Jews (I’m scratching my head).
Now lets get back to Hal’s statement that the God of the Bible doesn’t give up on the Jews when he gets exasperated. Hal doesn’t know his Bible either:
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. [Matthew 21:43]
Please feel free to read this verse in its very important context of the entire chapter 21 of Matthew’s Gospel. Here Jesus (peace be upon him) is clearly saying the Jews will no longer be the chosen people of God. This little known verse alone is a death blow to the Christian conservatives’ unconditional hatred for Israel’s adversaries and insistence on full American involvement in liquidating them. It would also really vex their Zionist buddies who don’t know that the Christian-right’s Jesus (peace be upon him) is going to come back to Treadeth the winepress as mentioned in the Book of Revelations 14 and 19. Treading the winepress basically means Jesus (peace be upon him) will be waltzing in the blood of his enemies up to a horse’s bridle. Who are his enemies? Those who don’t believe he is a deity. Everyone who is not Christian is going to get a good tread in the winepress so to speak. So where does a distinctly Christ rejecting Jewish Israel fit into the picture? Maybe somewhere in the Christian fundamentalist winepress? Only the truly wise in Israel would have the insight to foresee a very fatal miscalculation brewing in this dangerous relationship they have forged. What the Israelis have been relying on for their sovereignty against Arab domination (via disproportionate population, as well as military losses) could spell a much worse fate at the hands of Jesus: Episode II: No More Mr. Nice Guy.
Next Hal gets into it about Allâh not being the same as the "Judeo-Christian God". Kind of reminds me of when I was in kindergarten and we used to fight each other on the precept of "my daddy is bigger than your daddy...nuh uhhhhh!" I've got lots to say about it, but that.....is another story.