Monday, August 23, 2004

Mohammed the High Jacker - Part IV

Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Pagans

Let's recap what we've learned so far:

  • Mohammed was born into a pagan society
  • Mohammed's family were "guardians" of the Ka'bah or "house of worship" for a pagan cult
  • The Ka'bah housed 360 different pagan idols
  • At a later date, Mohammed returns to Mecca and the Ka'bah and destroys all idols but Allah, the great creator spirit.
  • Mohammed's birth story is a conglomeration of his true birth story and that of Jesus and/or Moses
  • Mohammed was an orphan that was alternately cared for by his grandfather and uncle who each, in their time, ran the Ka'bah
  • Mohammed was approached by a Christian monk, Bahir, who allegedly knew him to be a prophet at the age of 12
  • Bahir told Mohammed's uncle Talib to be wary of the Jews who would try to harm Mohammed if they knew he existed
  • Three Jews or Christians, in similar fashion of the three wise men sent to search for Jesus, were sent to dispatch Mohammed and were convinced not to harm him by the Christian monk, Bahir. The only difference being that they did not later approach Mohammed with gifts fit for a king.
  • Mohammed begins to travel with his uncle on caravans and meets all sorts of interesting people with interesting stories.
  • Everyone tells these stories sitting around the camp fires at night and exposes Mohammed to other religions and cultures outside of his pagan-Arab society.
  • Eventually, Mohammed is old enough to handle caravans by himself and continues to do so until about the age of 25


Now we come to the point where Mohammed marries his first wife and gets his first indoctrination into Judeo/Christian religion. Go to the inner sanctum to learn more.

Mohammed's First Marriage

According to the Sirat Rasoul Allah (Messenger of God) by Ibn Ishaq, Mohammed is brought to the attention of Kadijah and found that he was a good trader. He always insured that the caravan made it to it's destination and got the best prices. She hired Mohammed to take care of her goods and business. Kadijah was a widow and a merchant woman in her own right. Apparently, being able to handle your business affairs as a woman was something that was occurring before Islam came along. We'll address it later, but I would say, meeting a strong minded and intelligent woman was probably one of the reasons he later supports women to be educated and have their own property rights. Something else he incorporated into his religion.

On with the story. During this time in trading, the stories continue to support Mohammed's recognition as a forth coming prophet:

On his arrival in Syria the apostle of Allah alighted in the shade of a tree near the hermitage of a monk, who approached Maysara and asked, ‘Who is this man under the tree?’ Maysara replied, ‘This man is one of the Quraysh from the sacred city.’ And the monk said, ‘Under this tree no one ever alighted except a prophet.’

You may wonder why these stories written so much later have so many references to Christian's and Jews recognizing Mohammed as a representative of God or Allah. It's quite simple actually:

  • To establish himself as a legitimate contender for the title of "prophet" of the monotheist God, Mohammed needed to link himself to the established monotheist religions
  • When seeking converts to a religion, many religions take on the aspects of the potential converts existing religion or worship. In this case, continuing to claim to be recognized by Christian and Jewish religious icons as a "prophet" has to be a plus
  • The wealthy land owners and merchants were largely Jewish and Christian. The nomadic pagan Arab tribes were not so wealthy. When trying to build a church or religion, who are you going to convert or get your donations from?


Here we have another moment of Mohammed recognized by the angels of God no less as important:


Maysara saw, at noon during this return journey when the heat was strong, two angels shading the apostle of Allah from the sun while he rode on his camel.


Did I mention that Maysara is Kadija's slave which she sent along with Mohammed on their first trip? When they return from this little trip, Maysara proceeds to tell Kadijah about this miraculous occurrence. Now, I don't know about you, but as a woman, I find this story a little suspicious. Sounds like Mohammed and Maysara were conspiring a little bit during the trip. Mohammed knew before he went on the trip that Kadijah was a widow and wealthy to boot. Mohammed, despite the commissions he might have held from the his caravan management, was in no way wealthy. Plus, Kadijah was a "noble woman" of the Quraysh tribe (origin of the word Qu'ran?). Sounds like a little collusion to me.

Something to note here, regardless of the story's claims to date, Mohammed is hardly a practitioner of monotheitic religion at this time. He does not see the light until sometime after marrying Kadijah. However, even the pagans believed in angels or spiritual entities that intervened in daily life. This story, written so long after the fact, was probably a cleaned up version of Maysara telling his mistress that Mohammed was blessed by the gods.

On top of that, Mohammed and Maysara arrive back having nearly doubled Kadijah's profits. Having been told of Mohammed's divine intervention by the angels, Kadijah offers herself as Mohammed's wife:


Khadija ‑ who was an intelligent, noble and good woman, predestined to great favour by Allah ‑ sent for the apostle of Allah and spoke the following words: 'O son of my uncle! I have taken a liking to you on account of our relation­ship, your respectability among the people, your honesty, charac­ter and veracity.' Then she offered herself to him for a wife.


"Son of my uncle"? This is either the pejorative "uncle" used by many Arabic cultures to describe an honored elder male, regardless of relations, or, this let's us know that Kadijah was a member of Mohammed's family, either through birth or marriage. She seems to confirm the latter by continuing with "on account of our relationship". This may mean "business" relationship, but I am thinking, in that day and age, it is likely a familial relationship.

According to the story, Mohammed goes and tells his uncle who then approaches Kadijah's father on his behalf. The story goes on to say that all was arranged (apparently with ease), Mohammed gives 20 camels as a dowry and he and Kadijah are married.

I was looking for the connection, but I saw a slightly different story that indicates that the bargaining process was not so smooth. Apparently, the father was not so enamored of Mohammed. Who could blame him? We are talking about a guy with no property, considered a poor relation by his own family, an orphan, with little money except what he obtained from managing caravans. He doesn't really have much to offer. And, I imagine that Kadijah's family probably profited nicely from her "holdings". Even if they were that progressive to allow a woman to be on her own, so to speak, it is highly unlikely that she lived outside of the family home or tribal affiliation after her husband died.

The story goes on to say that Kadijah was insistent that her father accept Mohammed. This is either an early story of star crossed lovers or, more likely, Kadijah thought this might be the only way that she could leave her family and take her wealth with her. At least it would only be one guy she was sharing it with and not the whole family. The alternate story includes Kadijah and Mohammed conspiring to get her father drunk and agreeing to said agreement. They were hastily married the same day before the guy could sober up. And, they made sure that there were witnesses to his agreement. Mohammed's uncle, Hamza, was one.

You can't really blame Hamza. He probably considered it a good idea considering that Kadijah's wealth would stay in the family, so to speak, if Mohammed and Kadijah were actually cousins. Remember, this is during tribal times and it was not (and is not) unusual for first cousins to marry.

Whichever story is correct, Kadijah and Mohammed were married. According to the story, while Kadijah was alive, Mohammed was a one woman man. Imagine that! There is probably a very simple reason for that. Kadijah had all the wealth. Even during those times, the woman was entitled to what she brought to the marriage if the marriage failed. In which case, it would be very smart of Mohammed not to try and introduce another woman into the situation. Kadijah would probably not feel very inclined to share, either her husband OR her wealth with another woman. It's not until she dies later that Mohammed takes more than one wife. We'll discuss the actual reasons for taking more than one wife a later as well.

This particular story does not give certain information, but it is purported that Kadijah may well be at least 15 years Mohammed's senior. If he is 25, that would make her about 40. Of course, we are talking in ancient calendars here that did not necessarily follow the Roman/Christian calendar of twelve months. This could make Mohammed anywhere from 19 to 30, depending on which calendar was used, and Kadijah could be between 34 and 45. What is known is that Kadijah gives Mohammed seven children before she passes. Considering menopause, I would say that Kadijah is either NOT 15 years his senior or the different calendar makes them younger than the story lets on.

Either way, this is later pointed to as an example or reason why Islam is more open than other religions to large age gaps in the marrying couples, regardless of gender.

At some point, Kadijah tells her cousin Waraq, who is a Christian, about Mohammed's miraculous encounter with the angels and Waraq confirms Mohammed's future as a prophet:

Khadija told her cousin, Waraq, who was a Christian well versed in sacred and profane literature, what Maysara had related of the conversation of the monk and what he had seen of the two angels shading the apostle of Allah, and Waraqa replied, 'If this be true, o Khadija, then Muhammad is the prophet of his people. I know that a prophet is expected at this time.'


Once again, Mohammed is confirmed as the next prophet by a Christian. As a person that studied Christianity, I find this extremely interesting considering Christ warned his followers that there would be others after him that would claim to be prophets and admonished his followers not to believe or follow them:

MAT 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

MAT 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.


We will discuss Waraq and his effect on Mohammed in the next discussion. After reading the story concerning Mohammed and Waraq and then reading the actual statements in the New Testament regarding prophets, I find this interesting as well: These quotes don't actually tell us that there will be no prophets after Jesus. All of the quotes I was able to find simply identified Jesus as a prophet (and a son of God of course) and stated that people should be leary of false prophets that come later. Not that a prophet or more would not come after Jesus that were true, but there would be people who claim the title and show tricks in order to lead people away. The "no prophets after" interpretation might have been the church's or original translaters desire to insure that Christianity is THE religion of their group. Sort of a guard against too many off shoot religions.

Which leaves us with this simple question: Was Mohammed a true prophet after Jesus, or was he one of the false prophets we were warned about?


Resources:

Sirat Rasoul Allah: Chapter 2, Kadijah
Online Bible Quotes

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Qur'an" comes from the Arabic word meaning 'Read!'. The root is Quph Ra Alif (qr')
I don't know the origin of the name of the tribe.
Be Well,
Bob Griffin

Robert said...

I always thought "Qur'an" came from something that meant 'recite', as Mohammed had to recite what was revealed to him.

I AM With You said...

Kat:
Have enjoyed your posts, and love your scholarship. Interesting will all these disruptions between the religions, we never find the folks talking much about faith. That was Abraham's hallmark; the father of all those who have faith in God. Abraham, according to the Quuran. couldn't stand Terah his father because he was an idolater. Abraham just wanted to keep that Adamic relational communication with God going on; but folks kept looking at stuff rather than the stuff maker. Same, today...I think people love "religion" because it becomes an idolatry mechanism for them The Bible only mentions religion in one favorable light. "THis is pure religion undefiled before God: to take care of the widow, clothe the naked and care for the poor". Hope you can check out my blog at Iamwithyou.blogspot.com

Kat said...

Bob..thanks. I was obviously throwing out a conjecture about the origins of the words. Probably assuming too much based on greek or latin and anglo saxon words having similar base "words" and therefore, construe a certain meaning.

Robert and Bob...Possibly the word can mean the same "read" or "recite" depending on it's conjecture? I'm certainly no student of Arabic languages, but it seems, similar to English, words can have multiple meanings. Like mean: to mean something; to be mean (bully or bad); the mean number (middle number or average).

I am with you...thank you for your post. I have looked over your site and will review some more later this week. I think your site could add something interesting here in the discussion of religions.

I would agree wholeheartedly that "religion" is often less man communing with God or understanding his ways and more a form, something tangible that can be touched and felt. In a sense, man has always had difficulties believing in or following an intangible being. Having rituals, icons (like a pope, saints or modern day prophets) and sometimes "idols" (like pictures of saints, Christ on a crucifix, etc) makes God tangible. I would agree also that this, incorrectly, takes the place of man's faith in God.

Lowers their eyes from God and fixates on man. For instance, I sometimes have a problem with say "in Jesus Christ's name", "Saint Jude, protect us" or "Mohammed, peace be upon him", etc. My problem stems from de-personalizing the relationship with God and working through intercessors, as if this is the only way we can have a relationship with God.

Once we resort to praying through an intercessor, who ever that may be, it becomes about the person and the intercessor and not about God or faith in God.

When this occurs, people lose sight of the message of God and focus on the intercessor and his actions.

to me, these people (including Christ) are teachers of God's words and not God. I know this goes against the general belief of Jesus being the physical son of God. I probably am explaining too much of my own feelings, but I see Jesus as the spiritual son of God.

This is the product of my scientific mind over powering my "faith" chip as you refer to it. I have faith that there is a God and I have faith that he chose Jesus to walk among us and teach us his love. My faith does not extend to believing a woman became pregnant without having the requisite physical presence of man.

I also read a treatise recently (I wish I could find it again), where the translation or meaning of the "immaculate conception" was misconstrued as being a miraculous pregnancy without intercourse as opposed to the potential Aramaic or Greek translation as meaning "without sin". In other words, that Jesus was born without sin. Which would be required for him to die as the "pure lamb" or the one that takes man's sin from him.

Well..I went a little off topic, but I believe "I am with you" has a good post on the general subject of "faith" vs. "religion". Having "religion" is different that having "faith", I would agree. Having "religion" means people can use that "religion" as a tool towards their own goals. Pretty much why Islamists feel they can act as they want, regardless of the pain and destruction they may cause, because their "religion" condones it. It's why many of my posts also refer to "Allahu Akbar".

These people do their deeds and then claim that it glorifies God as opposed to God's actions showing His glory.

I hope that isn't to abstract a thought?

Nas said...

Kat,

There's only one problem with what you've commented: Jesus claimed that he was God. So, as C.S. Lewis correctly pointed out, either he was God, or he was a lunatic. There is no middle ground. He did not leave us the option of thinking of him as a "good teacher." He left us only to make the choice to believe or not.

Why could not the creator of the universe create life in a womb without a man?

Anonymous said...

Kat i understand about the whole intersesor part and how we shouldnt have to be with god through a intersesor i may only be 11 ut i understand ur points and i would like to say that prophet mohammed is not a intersesor but just a messenger And that muslims say peace be upon him as a sign of respect.

Anonymous said...

An Invitation to Paradise

I performed the istikhaarah salaah on the evening of Thursday, 7th September 1995 and pleaded for guidance from Allah, The One Who Is Above weaknesses. By the Grace of Allah, The One Who Is Most Kind to His slaves, I had the most marvellous dream. In my sleep that evening, I saw myself standing in the venerated presence of, and about two metres away from our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) in the Rauda al-Jannah. The Holy Messenger of Allah (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) was immaculately dressed in pristine white apparel and white turban. I felt entirely insignificant. I was in the company of the fountainhead of virtue. I, also, was dressed in white robes and a white turban, and stood with my back towards the qiblah. Tears of happiness streamed down my cheeks. The Holy Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger), who was sent by Allah, The Creator and Cherisher of all things, as a Warner and a Mercy to the worlds, stood and looked at me. I said in Afrikaans: “Yaa Rasulullaah, ek het vir U kom wys my familie – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah, en Makkia.” In English, this reads: “O Messenger of Allah, I have come to show to yourself my family – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah and Makkia.”

I woke with a song in my heart. Allah had honoured me with the society of the best of mankind. The dream was etched in my memory with an astonishing clarity. I shall never forget it. It was, to me, a precognition of the predestination of Allah, The One Whose Will Reigns Supreme, and an invitation from al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.

By the words “Yaa Rasulullaah” (“O Messenger of Allah”), I knew that I had definitely dreamt of the Holy Messenger of Allah (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). That I spoke in “kombuis” Afrikaans was enlightening. I had much to think about. The reason for my not mentioning my wife’s name (as part of my family) in the list of introductions to the Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) later became apparent to me – she had introduced herself on our first pilgrimage in 1991! The same could be said for myself – I also had not introduced myself in the dream, as I, likewise, had first travelled to Madinah then. The dream held another eye-opener – I had referred to Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah and Makkia as ‘my family’ and not as ‘my children’ (as we do in the west). In this lay a poignant lesson – although Makkia forms part of our family, she is adopted (and not ours biologically) and therefore not of ‘our children’! For inclusiveness and especially in du’aa, I later familiarised myself with referring to them as ‘my family’, rather than ‘my children’. I would also refer to them as ‘the children’ in du’aa.

Always thereafter, I wondered why our Cherished Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) did not speak to me in the dream.

I related my experience to anyone who would listen.

Islam teaches that a person who dreams of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) has dreamt the truth and has in fact seen the Holy Prophet, and not (mistakenly) anyone else in his or her dream. Based on this reassurance, I believed with certainty that, as long as we held firmly onto the Shari’ah, my family and I would receive divine assistance to get to the Hijaz.

More than fifteen Jamaa’ah people had gone on Haj in 1997. In 1998, thirty-six persons had performed the holy journey. Twenty-one Jamaa’ah pilgrims had answered the call in 1999. The year 2000 had twenty-five Jamaa’ah Hujjaaj. Just eight people had gone during 2001. This time, more than a hundred went.

It was a good year, 1422AH. The Haj of that year brought new meaning to the lives of many and helped to heighten the spirit of camaraderie among the members of the ’Ibaad-u-Ragmaan Qadiri Jamaa’ah. Travelling to and staying in the Holy Land has always meant a lot to me. This journey was especially fulfilling. Every day was better than the one before, every moment sweeter than the previous one. Better travelling companions I could not have hoped for.

At 6pm on 24th December 2001, we left Cape Town for Johannesburg. Two days later, we left Johannesburg on Flight KQ 0461 for Nairobi and Jeddah. On 27th December 2001, we arrived by bus in Makkah al-Mukarramah from Jeddah. We completed the rites of ’Umrah.

If monetary outlay was the standard by which such things were measured, the Great Mosque in Makkah must have ranked as the principal wonder of the world. Billions of Saudi riyal had gone into its expansion and upkeep.

Brown tiles had replaced the hand-hewed granite stones of the Holy Ka'aba. Embroidered Quranic texts glistened above head-height on the kiswah.

Falcons had ousted the finches from the Great Mosque. Gliding majestically from the 89-meter-high minarets, these magnificent hunting birds soared elegantly on the warm air currents high above the Masjid al-Haram. They were showing off, I thought.

At around 16:00 on 2nd January 2002, we went by bus from Makkah to Madinah and reached there the next morning. Al-Masjid al-Nabwi, complete with underground parking and a first floor, had been enlarged to include two inner courtyards. There, big, state-of-the-art, umbrella-shaped sunshades sheltered visitors against the sun. Enlarged to hold more than a million worshippers, the Holy Mosque boasted golden grilles, precast terrazzo cornices and large brass doors. Plush woollen carpets enhanced the stylish d├ęcor.

After performing the necessary Salawaat, I carefully walked into the Rauda al-Jannah. A heavenly fragrance caught my attention. My mood moved from a state of grace to the very mountain-top of spirituality. Clad in white robes and a white turban, and standing with my back towards the qiblah, I stopped about five feet from the brass lattice that separates one from the holy graves. My spirit rested. I was unable to stop the tears from running into my beard. Choking back my emotions, I managed to greet the Messenger of Allah (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). I softly added: “Yaa Rasulullaah, ek het vir U kom wys my familie – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah, en Makkia.” (“O Messenger of Allah, I have come to show to yourself my family – Suleiman, Dawood, Rifdah and Makkia.”)

I also greeted the Holy Prophet’s illustrious companions, Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and Sayyidina ’Umar al-Faruq (may Allah, The One Who Is Best Informed of all things, Comfort them with His Unending Satisfaction).

Alhamdu-lillaah. My dream of our Free-handed Prophet Muhammad had come true after more than six years. Allah, The One Who Feeds us against hunger and Makes us secure against fear, Had Guided us through the flawless personality of our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). Our Blameless Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is the guiding light of those who do good deeds. There is no man greater than him. He is the spirit of truth and the master of those who warn against evil. The most honoured person in the Sight of Allah, our Generous Prophet remains the model that guides others to the straight path. Our Chivalrous Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is the Sayed of the people of paradise.