"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)

Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise

My purpose for living this life, and for writing this blog, is to understand the faith that links us to God. I wish to explore and discuss the reality at the heart of all of the world's religions. This is an immense task, but I know that God also has faith in us, trusting that we do desire the truth, as well as freedom, love and wisdom. Thus, as always, He meets us halfway. Even as God has given us individual souls, so we must each of us trace out an individual pathway to God. Whether we reside in the cities of orthodox religion, or wend our solitary ways through the barren wastelands, God watches over us and offers us guidance and sustenance for the journey.

Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.

In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.

Friday, December 11, 2009

People of the Book

In the Qur'an, Mohammad (peace be upon him) mentions those whom he calls the People of the Book. They are the ones to whom God (Baruch haShem) has given a revelation of His character and purposes, and they have kept a record of it in sacred Scripture. In his day, these were the Christians and the Jews. Mohammad (pbuh) recognizes their founders as great prophets who passed on to their people the words of God (BhS), giving them the guidance they needed to live their lives in righteousness, and explaining what God (BhS) desires and what he expected them to do. God's ideals and priorities are clearly laid out in these sacred works, but people being what they are did not always do as they were supposed to do. The messages were slowly twisted by dogma and obscured by self-interested interpretations and speculations. Maybe this cannot be avoided, but it does not please God (BhS). It is merely the blind leading the blind. Mohammad (pbuh) had no patience with this kind of foolishness, but saw that our paths to God (BhS) needed to be purified of such dross.

Mohammad (pbuh) became a prophet because he was discontent with the messages brought to him by those who claimed to speak for God (BhS). He retreated into the mountains to try to sort out the truth for himself. God (BhS) loves those who seek Him ardently with purity of heart, and often comes to them with visions. This time, He sent the angel Gabriel to teach Mohammad the Qur'an. As time progressed, the Qur'an became a new sacred Book. But Mohammad saw into the future and knew that even this Qur'an would eventually be covered over with humanity's dross, so he declared, "I shall be the Seal of the Prophets," and this shall be the last of the sacred Scriptures to begin a new religion. It is pointless to start any new religions when there is already enough guidance to be found by those who truly seek God (BhS).

But Mohammad (pbuh) retained his respect for the prophets who had come before him. Their Books held essential ideas and principles both necessary and sufficient to guide any one who would seek God (BhS) along the paths they marked. Mohammad (pbuh) only spoke against them in the places where they went wrong. He insisted that there can only be one God, and that He is a Unity, without any peer or divisions - which is true, and he declared that observing the 613 laws promulgated among the Jews would only succeed in making one into a Jew - which is also true. If one sincerely seeks God (BhS), it is enough to be a person of faith keeping the laws of Noah, to be strictly ethical and carefully rational, and to be devoted to God (BhS) through submission to His will and service to His plan. The People of the Book who follow in this way are of equal stature before God (BhS), even with the most pious and "good works" muslim. We all stand in need of His infinite compassion, mercy and grace.

1 comment:

  1. Today I saw six cranes fly over!
    What a joy and blessing!
    We don't normally see them here in Kentucky.