Christian-Muslim-Jew ish friendship thread

(197 Posts)
niminypiminy Mon 10-Jun-13 11:17:08

I've had a talk with Crescentmoon about starting a thread where Christians and Muslims can hold out our hands in friendship to one another. I feel like we have so much to offer one another, and I certainly would love to learn more about Islam, and to understand the ways in which my Muslim sisters live out their faith. Would anybody else like to join?

I'm niminypiminy, and I'm a member of the Church of England, and work, and have two children. I realise that I'd don't even know if there is an equivalent in Islam for the different denominations (aside from Sunni and Shia, which I'm not at all confident I correctly understand the difference between). I'm going to be offline for a couple of days, so can't get back to reply, but if anybody would like to use this thread to come together as Christians trying to live out our faith, and to prayerfully and open-heartedly welcome and understand each other... smile

niminy I adore that psalm, it's so moving! I'm really into music, so love it when song lyrics quote the Bible. I think it was The Melodians who first recorded "By The Rivers of Babylon", though of course Boney M took it to number 1 in the charts.

niminypiminy Fri 11-Jul-14 10:35:27

Re date of the Torah, most scholars think is was composed during the exile in Babylon, so 6th century BCE (before common era).

The more I think about this the more inspiring I find it. After Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians, the Temple was razed and completely destroyed, and the entire ruling class and anybody who had any skills or wealth was deported to Babylon, leaving a completely impoverished and broken people behind.

The exiles had lost everything -- they'd lost their land, their history, they'd lost the place on earth where they believed that God dwelled. In Psalm 137 we hear their lament: 'By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept/ when we remembered Zion.' And they asked 'How shall we sing the Lord's song/ in a strange land?' -- how could they worship JHWH when they were so far from the land he had led them to, and when his temple had been destroyed?

What they did was amazing. They'd brought with them all the scrolls of writings from the Temple, and as they settled in their exile, their scholars and scribes reshaped all the fragments of writing, the records of the law, the stories and songs and prayers, the sacred history and the records of the kings, into one account of God's relationship with his covenant people. They might not have the temple, but they found a way to meet him through transforming these writings into the Torah.

And when they finally went back to Jerusalem, they took the Torah with them. They rebuilt the Temple, and celebrated the Passover. One of the great moments of the return is when Ezra reads the Law to the people assembled outside the temple (Nehemiah 8), and the people wept (8.10) -- for joy, for relief at being at last back in their own place, with their own God -- and perhaps too in grief at the suffering of the years of exile.

I think it's really inspiring that at the point where they thought they had lost everything the Israelites found a new way of meeting God in scripture, and they turned their suffering in exile into the foundation of a new relationship with God.

ilovemonstersInc Fri 11-Jul-14 10:05:42

I've come on just to say this a lovely idea and well done to all who have contributed flowers

Im Muslim and my motto is treat everyone like you want to be treated we are all human at the end of the day andthe world wwould be a nicer if place if there were more people in rl like the ones on this wonderful thread x x x x

MrsSquirrel Fri 11-Jul-14 10:01:39

Hi cresentmoon

The Talmud itself is a standardised thing, but is not the only Torah commentary. Does that make sense?

I don't know how old the Torah is, but the Talmud is much newer. As Sam said, the Talmud was originally an oral tradition which was eventually written down. I believe it was compiled between the 1st and 5th centuries.

There are many other Torah commentaries by different scholars that have been written since then. And people still write commentaries now. One person could never read them all.

crescentmoon England Thu 10-Jul-14 23:39:50

(Forgive me please for the typos!)

crescentmoon England Thu 10-Jul-14 23:38:53

Ahh mrssquirrel and samg id written a long post asking questions about the Torah and the Talmud but iv lost it! But I'm so glad to see you here on this thread and look forward to learning more from you both!
Ok here's a quick one, is there one standardised Torah commentary eg one Talmud? And how old is the Talmud compared to the Torah? Or do you have different commentaries by different scholars as we have tafsirs (quranic commentary) in Islam. Would be interesting
cheapskate really found that passage from Matthew so similar to a saying in our religion il dig it up. il look it up in abotZ and the other from James chapter 3 madhairday I remember stressed put up last year.

Cetti Thu 10-Jul-14 21:45:26

I love this thread. I've learned so much I need to go back and make some notes! I'm a Catholic mother of 3 DS and an ex-atheist. If any of you have any questions about what Catholics believe, or do then please ask and I will do my best to help.

SamG76 Wed 09-Jul-14 18:03:17

cheapskatemum - As Mrs Squirrel says, the talmud is a compendium of the oral law, which is collection of stories and laws. You wouldn't often read out the talmud in public, though you might study it. Most of it is in aramaic, whereas the torah is Hebrew.

That's really interesting, MrsS smile in RL my cleaner calls me that! When might the Talmud be read out?

niminy & I are collaborating to bring you a new Bible Study thread, starting with the Psalms. She has more knowledge and I have more time, so, with that and God's blessing, it should work. Please all join us, and if you can think of a thread title that takes account of the similarities we have discovered and will probably continue to discover between our religious texts, please do suggest it.

Thanks MHD, I was also trying to find the one where Jesus says, in judgement, "I never knew you", as I think that was also about works/belief, but couldn't find it to check.

MrsSquirrel Wed 09-Jul-14 13:28:55

Hi everybody, nice to see you all here.

I am Jewish, thought I would pop in and answer the question upthread about the difference between the Torah and the Talmud.

The Torah consists of the first five books of the Hebrew bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It is the basis of Jewish law. Those big scrolls we read from in synagogue on Saturday mornings have the Torah written on them.

The Talmud is a massive set of commentaries on the Torah. It contains writings on all sorts of topics, related to passages from the Torah.

madhairday Wed 09-Jul-14 12:53:44

Great passages Tuo and cheapskate, and yes Psalm 23 would be a great one to start with smile

Tuo Psalm 23, of course! Apart from being the one most people know, it just has so much for every occasion, and so beautifully phrased. For Muslims, Jews and anyone else who might not know, it's the Vicar of Dibley theme tune one.

Regarding good works, I love this bit from Matthew 25, 34-43

Then the king will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Then the righteous will answer him. "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"

The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

(The next bit chills me)

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and you did not look after me."

Tuo Tue 08-Jul-14 22:37:17

peaceful: I'm not Jewish, but can have a go at explaining the 'atheist Jew' thing. Basically being Jewish is an ethnic identity as well as a religious one, so it's perfectly possible to be ethnically Jewish but not a believer. One example is the Italian writer and survivor of the Shoah, Primo Levi, whose family was entirely secular (as many Italian Jews were - much more so than those from Eastern Europe), wrote that growing up he thought that being Jewish just meant that you didn't eat salami and didn't have a Christmas tree. He wrote that he 'became Jewish' in Auschwitz; that is to say, that it was only there that he realised what it meant to identify (and to be identified, more to the point) as Jewish. He remained an atheist his whole life, though, so you could say that being in Auschwitz made him Jewish, but didn't make him religious. Hope that makes sense and that what I've said is correct. (Hoping a Jewish reader will come and correct me if not.)

In relation to sincerity in doing good deeds, I think of the beginning of Matthew 6: 'Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.'

Looking forward to talking about the Psalms. Should we just pick one and go for it? (I don't think we necessarily need to start at 1 and work our way through, though that's one option... Does anyone have a favourite?)

madhairday Tue 08-Jul-14 12:10:59

crescent I will look up some more that might interest you, but a good starting point on Jesus' views on such things is Matthew 5-7.

How do we want to do this Psalms reading? I'm excited! smile

crescentmoon England Tue 08-Jul-14 11:48:46

hello all!

madhairday i found that verse you quoted from Isaiah fascinating. combined with surah Al Ma'un (The Small Kindnesses Chapter) that peaceful quoted i recognised the kind of person it spoke about (and pray i never am). that kind of rigid worshipper, who goes through the motions of faith, and may have their pride in how perfect their prayer is. how devout they are by fasting, but when it comes to the interactions with other people, neighbours, friends, and vulnerable people, they completely disassociate their religion from how they deal with them. i just bought a Bible this week niminy inspired by you. I havent time to read it this month but i really am interested in reading the passages madhairday on justice and social welfare, i find this is the part of the Christian story of Jesus (pbuh) that interests me alot.
so glad we can do a reading of the Psalms together, found this interesting skatesmum - "one minute full of the reverence you allude to, the next ranting at God and accusing him of desertion etc". i totally hadnt known about the different parts i thought it was all 'hamd' (praise) and 'shukr' (thankfulness). should be interesting!
peaceful i totally get what you meant about starting from the beginning to the end. that is how it should be read, i hadnt thought of the surahs at the back of the Quran as the short sharp reminders but they just sum up the first 29 chapters dont they? i think its probably because when i do finally start with the Bible, I will probably start from the shortest gospel!
diet i love that idea you have, i think its confident secure people in their faith who are interested in interfaith conversation and groups. im so happy that you have that formal religious knowledge, i know more and more women are becoming alims and i really think its so required in our communities. (but you must think the rest of us in the tearoom are amateurs when we talk!).

salams everyone

madhairday Mon 07-Jul-14 13:09:20

I'd go to that group TheDiet smile

madhairday Mon 07-Jul-14 13:04:49

Really intetresting post peaceful and great passage about small kindnesses. It reminds me of this verse from the bible, from Isaiah 58:

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

There is great emphasis all through the bible on good deeds and particularly on justice for the oppressed, looking after the vulnerable and being true to your faith - God holds no time for those who pray and fast and yet show nothing of love in their lives - Jesus also talked about this when he told of the widow's offering of being of far more worth than the offering of the rich people who do it for show.

In the Quran you will often read the phrase 'those who believe and do good deeds' which teaches us that belief without action is worth very little. Belief should move you to be better, to do more.

I completely agree with this. There is a different emphasis on Christianity in that salvation is a free gift and not earned by works, but if that salvation is then not accompanied by action then one could question the veracity of that belief, for the belief should spur us into action. The book of James in the New Testament is very big on this subject - Chapter 3 says

'14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.'

I think some Christians do forget that God requires much from us, while giving us his gift freely through Jesus. The bible is very clear that this is not on - justice and mercy are marks of a believer, and should always be very, very evident in a believer, as they are at the heart of God's compassion for people.

For me, it would be impossible to simply accept God's gift of salvation then sit back and do nothing, and certainly even more impossible to ignore the cries of the poor and the vulnerable - these people are the people God asks us to go to, again and again.

I suppose the technical answer is yes, salvation is free, and not by works, but actually, salvation necessarily goes with works, and one could not be real or in any kind of depth without the other.

Would love to talk about Psalms sometime too!

TheDietStartsTomorrow Sun 06-Jul-14 03:15:26

I haven't had time to read this whole thread as it's Ramadan and really quite busy so have just come online a handful of times very breifly in the past week, but I think it's a great idea and would like to join in please.

I'm Muslim, consider myself a practising Muslim. I studied Islamic theology and teach Quran and other Islamic sciences (Hadith, Fiqh, Tafsir). My DH is also an Islamic scholar. We set up and run an Islamic centre where we've both bring working for the past 13 years.

I've toyed with the idea of having a weekly coffee morning for women for different faiths to come and ask questions or bond over our similarities but I've been apprehensive about how it would be received in the community- whether people would be able to get over prejudices, restrain themselves and be respective etc. I also don't want people to think it would be used as a clandestine way of converting others to their faith. I was also considering whether those who have no faith may feel excluded. And also if anyone would even consider it worth their time and turn up!

Yes, I know. I overthink everything in life. hmm

peacefuloptimist Sun 06-Jul-14 02:43:42

Hello everyone

Glad to see this thread has been revived. I loved the idea of it when it was first started. Honestly I have always felt a great affinity towards jews and christians. I think there is so much that we can get along on that it is a shame that some people choose to fixate on differences. The Quran encourages muslims to reach out towards the 'people of the book' a term it uses to describe those people who follow religions that were founded by Prophets of God and who received revealation from God.

'Say: "O people of the Scripture: Let us come to common terms that are just between us and you, that we worship none but God, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God.' (Chapter 3: Verse 64

'Those who believe, those who are Jews, and the Christians and Sabaeans, all who believe in Allah and the Last Day and act rightly, will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. (Chapter 2, Verse 62)'

And one of my favourite verses:

"...and nearest among them in love to the believers you will find those who say, 'We are Christians,' because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant" (5:82)

Some of my family are christians and alot of my friends growing up were either jews or christians and it always puts a smile on my face when I see things that they do that are familiar to me or shared perspectives on things.

Niminy I would have to disagree with my sister crescent about starting the Quran from the back. Muslims do that because we start memorising portions of the Quran to recite in our prayers as children and the chapters at the back of the Quran are much easier to memorise because of their shorter length and rhythmic style in Arabic. My ds is two years old and he already can mimic the melody and some of the words from the last chapters in the Quran just from hearing it played around the house and going to the mosque with his dad occasionally. However I would say that the Quran is meant to be read from the first chapter in order to grasp the message coherently. The last chapters are sort of like short, sharp reminders which are also particularly good for muslims to memorise as they remind you of important aspects of the faith. One chapter I enjoyed memorising as a child even before I knew what it meant (I like the sound of it) was called 'The Small kindnesses' (chapter 107). When I became old enough to read the translation and understand the meaning it sent a real shiver down my spine (still does!).

'Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?
That is he who repulses the orphan,
And does not encourage the feeding of the poor.
So woe to those who pray,
[But] who are heedless of their prayer -
Those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men),
Yet refuse small kindnesses!' (Chapter 107)

That chapter was originally revealed about people who were reluctant to help out their neighbours at the time of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH with small things like lending them some small items (pots, spoons etc) or giving them salt, sugar or water when asked. Small things. Yet it resonates still today in particular about people who only do good things to be admired by others. A really important theme that comes up again and again in the Quran and in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH is the importance of sincerity. There is the famous hadith that actions are judged by their intentions. There is another one I remember hearing but cant find right now I wonder if you have heard it crescent or any other muslim mumsnetters, which says (massively paraphrased) a small good deed can become huge in the sight of God if done with sincerity and a large good deed can become small in the eyes of God if done insincerely. Also the following one.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but rather He looks at your hearts and actions.”
Source: Sahih Muslim 2564

I was wondering if there is a similar emphasis in the Bible on sincerity of good actions. I would really appreciate if you could share some of them with us. Also can someone believe without doing good? In the Quran you will often read the phrase 'those who believe and do good deeds' which teaches us that belief without action is worth very little. Belief should move you to be better, to do more. Is there a similar idea in the bible or teachings of christianity/judaism?

Also quick question for any jews on the thread, what is the difference between the torah and talmud? I have also read the term atheist jew in the past and find it quite confusing to understand. Could someone please explain it to me. Which parts would an atheist jew believe in or take part in and which wouldnt they i.e. jewish cultural/religious practices? Hope that doesnt come across as offensive its just it seems a bit contradictory hence my confusion.

niminypiminy Sat 05-Jul-14 08:28:58

I'd love to do an occasional discussion of the psalms. All human life is there!

My copy of the Quran has arrived smile!

Yes the psalms are in different registers; some joyful and some full of a good moan.

I hope the fasting is manageable during the long days.

Hi crescentmoon, thanks, I'm always happy to discuss scripture! I always used to find Psalms a bit confusing - one minute full of the reverence you allude to, the next ranting at God and accusing him of desertion etc! A book called "The Bible Jesus Knew" helped me, I'm sorry I can't remember the author. Niminy and TGHoMR, to mention but two, would also be very helpful. I'm mindful of how very busy they are though and wouldn't want to overload them even more. How's Ramadan going? I think I read on this thread how the fasting came from Lent. Baptists don't generally go a bundle on Lent, but I grew up in a C of E tradition and eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and give something up from thence till Easter Sunday.

crescentmoon England Fri 04-Jul-14 09:58:04

hello my lovelies, i really hope i wont be the only muslim posting here inshaallah (God Willing).

cheapskatemum i always found it interesting reading your and others posts on the Bible reading threads. perhaps we could do a study based on the Psalms here in the Christian-Muslim-Jewish Friendship thread from time to time? iv always wanted to read more just based on the occasional verses quoted here on these threads, the praise and awe parts.

Id also be interested to hear from from Jewish posters blessedassurance. i read yesterday about Rabbi Natan Levi, the Board of Deputies Interfaith Consultant, an Orthodox Rabbi observing Ramadan. the Ramadan fasting tradition is actually from the Jewish and Christian fasts,

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may learn self restraint" (2:183).

upon those before you is about the Ahlul Kitab, the People of the Book/Scripture.

Tuo Tue 01-Jul-14 23:09:10

So pleased to see this thread revived. smile

Ramadan mubarak (belatedly) to crescentmoon and the other muslim posters on this thread. Was thinking of my muslim friends today - about how hard the fast must be at this time of year, when it's barely dark at all.

Hi all! I missed this thread a year ago, but am finding it very interesting now. I'm a Christian Baptist, DH is a lapsed Catholic. We have 4 DSs aged 22,20,19 and 16. Apart from me, DS2 is the only one who attends church regularly and he has LD + ASD. I have Jewish and Muslim friends (also Hindu, Sikh and Rastafarian ones) from when we lived in London. <waves> to Blessed, MHD, Niminy, TGHOMR, Tuo whom I know from Bible reading and prayer threads. Sorry if I've missed anyone. I look forward to getting to know the rest of you. Predestination and free will a topic of much interest to me. I've come to it from the angle of how prayer, and intercessory prayer can affect predestination. I would also add that, for a Christian, good works are a way of showing love for Christ, in that you want to be as much like him as possible.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now