Christian-Muslim-Jew ish friendship thread

(163 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

crescentmoon Sat 14-Sep-13 20:40:54

i know today is the end of Yom Kippur and i wish i knew the correct way to acknowledge it with our Jewish sisters. can i say happy Yom Kippur or is it too solemn an occasion. i googled about the story and Moses and the calf but I couldnt find a greeting for this occasion. as muslims we fast the day that Moses split the sea escaping with the Jews from Pharoah - its a big day on the Muslim fast calender and we usually fast the day of it and the day before or the day after it. but i didnt know that Yom Kippur commemorated the other famous story in the life of Moses!

theres a recent post on an Orthodox Jewish blog thats doing the rounds on alot of muslim facebook pages right now, a really interesting and enjoyable read about love in marriage. it really connected with people from different backgrounds i wonder how christians will find it also?

popchassid.com/didnt-love-wife/

stressed i really appreciate the quoted scripture and references when you post. it brings to mind so much in common, especially this part..

" 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.

i think those are very poignant verses. to have that kind of trust in God is very highly elevated in Islam also - its called Tawakkul. very hard to get the balance of it right though!

stressedHEmum Sun 25-Aug-13 13:17:43

SO, I shall try a very short answer to the question about materialism in Christianity. Please forgive the inevitable errors of spelling and grammar.

There is quite a clear picture of materialism in the New Testament and what our attitude should be. Basically, as a Christian adult, you have a responsibility to provide for yourself and your family, but that has to be balanced against the other teachings. We are to be content with food and clothing (and shelter), and in whatever circumstances that we find ourselves. We are not to seek after wealth but after the Kingdom and pleasing God. We should trust God to provide what we really, really need because he knows what that is before we do.

The attitude of Christianity towards wealth etc. is that we should focus on covering our basic needs not our wants, so that as long as we have what we really NEED, then we should not look for more, because this distracts us fro what is truly important - seeking God and building up treasure in heaven.

18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful Mark4: 18-19, from the parable of the sower.

*13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”* Luke 12: 13-21 the parable of the rich fool

*22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.* Luke 12: 22 -24

*5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”[a]
6 So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?* Hebrews 13: 5-6

There is also a positive burden laid on Christians to redistribute their wealth and care for the poor. In the early church, all the believers put all their assets together for the benefit of everyone, so that everyone had sufficient food, clothing etc. There is a very real and vitally important burden put onto Christians to care for the poor. So we should always try to make sure that when we benefit on any way or gain in material wealth that it should not be at the expense of the poor.

Another important aspect of Christian attitude to money is that we believe that God is far more interested in the condition of our heart and what goes on inside us than He is in what we have. The story of the widow's mite shows us that a small gift, given willingly and sacrificially, is worth far more the God than a huge gift which costs the giver nothing.

There are literally dozens and dozens of quotes that I could give about money and possessions in the NT, but it would take all day. I think that Jesus story of the rich young man kind of sums it all up.
*6 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’

17 ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’

18 ‘Which ones?’ he enquired.

Jesus replied, ‘“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honour your father and mother,”[a] and “love your neighbour as yourself.”[b]’

20 ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’

21 Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.* Matthew19:16-22

crescentmoon Sat 17-Aug-13 17:41:31

Hi there zutalors, id hoped someone else would answer you by now. not been online much these days. we dont have a sabbath day in islam. we normally say our holy day is Friday, as Jewish people have Saturday and Christians Sunday. the obligation to observe Friday as the day for the congregational assembly is in the Quran...

"O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu'ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of God and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew." (62:9)

its an important verse the whole chapter is named after it, Surah Al Jumu'ah - the Assembly. (most of the 114 chapters of the Quran are named after a particular command or story that appears in that chapter). ibasically the noon prayer that is part of the 5 is instead replaced with the Friday prayer, which involves a sermon and then the ritual prayer itself is shorter: 2 units instead of 4 units. its compulsory for men to attend the Friday prayer but not compulsory for women, instead it is a sunnah (recommended).

but its not the Sabbath as Saturday or Sunday are, because whilst the verse says 'go to the remembrance of God and leave trade', the verse immediately after it says...

"And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of God, and remember God often that you may succeed" (62:10)

so when the prayer has ended it is allowed to go back to work/trade, just 'remember God often'. in the rest of the 5 daily prayers if nothing else. the Friday is about attending the sermon and the congregational noon prayer not setting aside the whole day. although this is a recognised feature of the older religions, keeping the Sabbath was something for the followers of the earlier prophets to observe that was not required of the followers of Muhammad (pbuh).

"...And We said to them, “Do not violate Sabbath, and We took from them a solemn Covenant” (4:154)

hope that answers the question.

sorry about the new medication being difficult stressed, i hope the preparations for the speech you have to give twistyfeet are going well.

twistyfeet Thu 15-Aug-13 18:15:56

They seem to be (its topamax, also know as stupidomax) but have played havoc with my memory and concentration. And my ability to stop blurting out my inappropritae sense of humour grin
I've been asked to give a small speech on Yom Kippur as a charity I put forward has been chosen as our charity of the year. Given my inability to control my gob I might just gaffer tape it up and use flashcards. Luckily the majority of the synagogue has a sense of humour and we do joke a lot but Yom Kippur is the Holiest Day ever. I'll probably turn bright red and fall over.

stressedHEmum Thu 15-Aug-13 14:32:08

twisty, that's very funny. I have a picture in my head now!

How are you now? Hope your migraine meds are working. I have ME and fibromyalgia, so the specialist has introduced yet another drug to take. it'll just take a few days to adapt, I hope.

twistyfeet Thu 15-Aug-13 12:35:17

Hi Stressed. We have whats called a Haftarah reading taken from the rest of the Torah (prophets/psalms etc) after the main Torah portion but most people read the rest themselves and the prayers are taken from Torah and sung.

Know what you mean about meds. I started a new one at the beginning of the year for migraine and its destroyed my memory. So badly I couldnt recall my hebrew name when called by it at the synagogue and sat there blinking when i heard it and thought why doesnt X get up. Until I realised that was me blush
Mind you, I did hear a tale about the new Chief Rabbi (scuse any unintentional offence). When he lifted the Torah scroll in a service once, he said 'Jesus, thats heavy'. There was a moment of stunned silence before the Irish Rabbi shot back 'For Christs's sake dont drop it' grin
Oops

stressedHEmum Thu 15-Aug-13 10:44:08

twisty, is the rest of the Tanakh read in the synagogue as well, or just the Pentateuch?

To my knowledge, Christians don't routinely sway while praying, certainly not in my branch - but then we don't have ritual prayers at all, so maybe in other denominations it's different. My lot would struggle to clap their hands while singing hymns, tbh. I think that I would probably fall off the pew if I had to sway with my eyes shutgrin

Sorry, I still haven't replied to the questions about materialism in Christianity. I'm having a hard time adjusting to these new meds and they're making me very dizzy and confused. I'll try my best in a couple of days when, hopefully, I'll feel a bit more coherent.

ZutAlorsDidier Wed 14-Aug-13 21:42:15

Excuse me, crescent moon and others, for asking a silly question, but: do muslims have a Sabbath?

twistyfeet Tue 13-Aug-13 20:58:10

Most religious jews would have a copy of the Torah in the house - its known as the Old Testament in English. You know, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Bible in other words. I've got copies in English with commentary and copies in hebrew. In the Synagogue it would be in scroll form and in hebrew and each week unrolled to the correct bit and either read or chanted in hebrew depending on the skill of your Rabbi or whoever is called up to read it.
I guess it was divided into 52 handy portions so it would be read over a year, a bit like the Quran gets divided into 30 portions to be read over Ramadan? On Shabbat services its read during the service along with sung prayers, the scroll is paraded with sung prayers (yeah, its heavy) and often there's a sermon or discussion and some more singing. Orthodox jews have weekday prayer services too but I've never been to one. Fridays nights there candle lighting for Shabbat and a blessing over wine and bread and a short service (the Torah scroll doesnt come out for that, only on the saturday)

Personally I think God judges you over your whole life, not cracks open a metaphorical book once a year but I guess its good to think about how you've behaved over the past year. As Teshuvah is about your behaviour towards other people it really is a useful concept. We believe sin and bad behaviour damages your own soul, not God. Nothing can damage God so sin against yourself and other people and asking forgiveness from others is the important thing and asking God's help in making things right (cos its not easy is it!) is what teshuvah is all about.

As for shuckling, I dont. I have enough trouble focusing on the hebrew in the prayer book and reading it and any swaying would making me fall over. The main prayer, the Amidah, is done standing up with some steps and some bows. I'm the most unco-ordinated person in the world. If you added in a shuckle I'd fall over grin

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 20:23:44

There are many more types of shuckling here than you'd see in the mosque or madressah! I find the descriptions of the styles funny/interesting but it makes more sense to a Jewish person who understands the terms/expressions. I found the points against it and for it interesting in the comments/ shouldn't one stand still in awe in front of God? Or it is likened to trembling or a candle flickering. Very interesting points. It's a practise neither mentioned in the quran or Sunnah and Muslims argue about whether it is correct or not either. But go into any after school or weekend madressah and you'll find little kids doing it to help in memoristion! you find swaying more common in Sufi dhikrs where its in time to rythmic chanting, it is very synchronised. Otherwise its often asynchronised when people are reading the quran individually in the same room.

The description of the jewish holidays is very informative and gives glimpses of further similarities. Mosques are also at their fullest on the 27th night of ramadan! Do you have a book of deeds in Judaism? What is the judgement? How long is the Torah though that its read over the year?! Do people have Torah in their houses or is it in the synagogue only? I still remember the beautful scroll from trips to a synagogue as a school kid, i cant remember if that's the only form the Torah comes in?

twistyfeet Tue 13-Aug-13 19:34:09

she did forget the synchronised shuckle which is kinda funny to watch. you forget your own prayer in astonishment.
Dont read if easily offended. I'm jewish and I have a sense of humour.
here

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 18:52:55

Shuckling - see i never knew that it had a name!. i think meditative focus is right, though i sway abit during prayer at the mosque if the imam reads too long! Thats cause my feet are tired standing. but when i recite the quran or recite the names of God i find myself doing that back and forth or left to right in time with the reading, i learnt it as a child at quran school. i dont think converts to islam do it! I would like to read the article also- I bet it would be the same for the swaying in Islam!

twistyfeet Tue 13-Aug-13 18:10:08

They start with Rosh HaShanah, our New Year. The book of judgement (if your orthodox, which I'm not, you take this sort of literally) opens and G-d judges humanity , so jews begin prayers of repentance and ask for forgiveness. We celebrate with a special meal (when dont we?!) with apples dipped in honey and sweet foods to signify the sweetness of the new year and the harvest are eaten. Many people also do a ceremoney called Taschlich where breadcrumbs are thrown into a river to represent throwing off of sins and the shofar (rams horn) is blown during the service.
10 days later is the most important day of Yom Kippur (a 25 hour fast day) when G-d's decision is meant to be final so many jews spend the intervening days asking forgiveness to those they have wronged during the year. This is called Teshuvah. Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the jewish calender and probably the only day the synagogue is full wink
Before Yom Kippur ends it is traditional to start thinking about Sukkot (the feast of booths) which starts 5 days later and lasts 7 days. Sukkot commemorates the years that the Jews spent in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, and celebrates the way in which God protected them under difficult desert conditions. The word sukkot is the plural of the Hebrew word sukkah, meaning booth. Jews are commanded to "dwell" in booths during the holiday. This generally means meals, but some sleep in the sukkah as well, particularly in Israel where it isnt rainy. There are specific rules for constructing a sukkah. I dont usually make one as my garden is teeny but go round and eat in friend's sukkahs and the shul holds a communal meal in a sukkah.
the day after Sukkot is Simchat Torah which marks the end of the full cycle of Torah reading (a portion of the Torah is read every week in the synagogue over a solar year and then restarted). Its a bit dancy as this is a time of joy.

September is a little full!

As for the swaying during prayer. In yiddish its called 'shuckling'. I cant recall the hebrew term but its just like a meditative aid to prayer which I guess is the same in Islam. I read a very funny article the other day about types of shuckle which maybe you need to be jewish to find funny but I'll share it if people want grin.

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 17:04:20

I was thinking about the relative disinclination I have now to engage in bitchy gossip and St Patrick's Breastplate occurred to me, in particular the lines

"Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,"

I can't really be self-important enough to take sole responsibility for how the world is that my children live in but there is a very vague and loose sense in my head that by not promoting gossip I do not promote a toxic society... I would love it if my children lived in a world where this was true of the people who spoke of them, thought of them, and they were the same

Perhaps I am just like St Augustine and have had enough entertaining gossip to last me a lifetime! I came to this realisation late

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 17:00:21

stressed also your post on the organisation and content of the Bible cleared up alot of things i hadnt understood. its equivalent would have been collecting the Quran plus the hadith (narrations of the sayings and actions of Muhammad (pbuh)) plus the commentary plus the biography of the prophet (pbuh) as well all into one volume. whereas in Islam all those different sources are kept in separate collections from each other, otherwise Islam would have fractured. i say this as we set alot of store by the Quran having a single author, the non muslim would say it was written by Muhammad (pbuh) himself, we muslims believe it is the actual words of God revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel and that he taught others so that they would be written down.

the split between sunni and shia happened very early on in islamic history - but the Quran was compiled in its present form - 114 chapters in the general order of length of verses within 6 years of muhammad (pbuh)'s death, before the big controversy started after the death of the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan. so on the collection of the Quran, sunnis and shias agree on and it is the same book for all. as for content there was agreement, it was on context which depended upon which companions and which members of the house of the prophet (pbuh) you took learning from. that they differed. the shia because they followed the house of the prophet (pbuh) - the Ahlul Bayt - used the descendents as a source of religious law and understanding.

whereas the big source of instruction and elaboration of the Quran for sunnis is the sunnah of muhammad (pbuh), or the 'way'. (its why we are called sunnis) the written narrations - hadith - of his sayings, his actions, many tiny minutae of his (pbuh) life - how he ate, how he washed, were passed on and written down for people to learn from still after. collected in many hadith collections but 6 are considered the highest. some of these were compiled some after 150 years after his death, and of themselves the written style is very different to the style of verse in the Quran. there was then and as now alot of rigorous process in the 'authentication' of his sunnah. some actions he made, many people saw them, many people narrated them, and there are multiple transmissions and chains - this is the base of the general 5 pillars of islam. then the differences are from narrations where there was only one witness, and one single chain of narration from the companion right up until the hadith narrator.(this is a big reason for why there are 4 schools of sunni orthodox law and differences in religious practise notwithstanding cultural practise between muslims).

the things such as letters and histories in the Bible are recorded by the great historians, or the great biographers of the prophet (pbuh). their sources are the hadith but some details in the main biographies are from 'weak' hadith collections, so not rigorously authenticated. but a lore developed around them too. but it would have been very complicated to compile them with the Quran also

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 16:27:48

missed you twistyfeet, what are the High Holy Days? they use that term in Christianity also dont they? wanted to ask a question, i sometimes have seen clips of jewish people swaying back and forth when they read from the Torah. its a common practise amongst muslims who do it also when reading the quran, and more obviously during spiritual gatherings but iv never understood why, is there an explanation for it? do christians sway when they read from the Bible?

also, zutalors, i found your the same thing as you when i had children...

"Oddly - I have just realised - this has something to do with the emotionally stabilising effect that having children has had on me (although that has also had destablilising effects, but they are different). Feeling that I have a moral imperative to look after myself, that I am not expendable, has given me a much firmer foundation and has chipped away at the bedrock of guilt. "

it really chimed with me not so much the bedrock of guilt but that humility should only go so far. when i had children i realised that i could leave some rights or things for the sake of myself, but not for the sake of my children. it made me much more proactive about things! and i think that is natural, and in the islamic tradition it is a recognised priority!

also this...

"It touches on something similar I have often mused upon: the teaching of humility can be damaging to those who have too little self respect already."

i have often pondered on this as well too, not so much in the economic sphere but in the relations between the sexes in islam, it is disproportionately women who are often told to be humble and leave their religious rights for the greater good, and be patient, and have hope in heaven, whereas the men they go to complain about are the ones who need the reminder about humility and leaving the worldly life for the Garden and God!

twistyfeet Tue 13-Aug-13 16:12:14

I'd forgotten about this thread! Eid mubarak for all the muslims. I've really enjoyed reading the posts. We're getting ready for the High Holy Days of the Jewish Calender (in september so co-inciding with back to school <gibber>).

SunnyIntervals Tue 13-Aug-13 14:19:10

Interesting posts about business ethics and morality. I used to work with a Quaker. She was tasked on reporting back to a committee on a thorny problem. We all discussed and there were lots of different voices.

At the end she said, we haven't reached agreement, so we will need to discuss it again. There was no pulling rank to decide one approach - it struck me this was very much part of her Quaker ethos and it was jarring, but in a lovely way smile

SunnyIntervals Tue 13-Aug-13 14:16:05

I am not believing, but am from a mixed Christian and Jewish background!

What a lovely idea for a sharing thread smile

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 13-Aug-13 14:09:58

"in both types of communities it is to encourage balance so that they are not extreme in going after the hereafter at the expense of themselves and their dependents in the worldly life, or becoming preoccupied with the piling up of wealth and forgetting to put anything forward for the Day of Judgement. i wonder if christian or jewish preachers have the same approach to social issues like that?"

That is really interesting, crescentmoon.
I am sure different Christian priests do take different tacks in this way but I don't know how / if it is formalised.

It touches on something similar I have often mused upon: the teaching of humility can be damaging to those who have too little self respect already.

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 11:21:49

i also agree with you that there is both extremes in the muslim community about either being completely materialistic, and also the opposite, not ascetism but fatalism when it comes to earning ones income.

i once heard a really interesting talk by an american sheikh - his name has left me but his words havent - on the importance of tailoring one's khutbah/sermon to the needs of ones community.

the prophet (pbuh) had different words and advices to different people and all of those were recorded to be able to address different problems in the muslim communit(ies) around the world and even within the same country.

this sheikh noted that in urban muslim communities in the cities which had low educational attainment, low ambition, high unemployment the imam there needed to teach the part of the sunnah and scripture about working hard. that trusting in God doesnt just mean sitting passively waiting for things to come into your lap but that the context of having trust in God is to work hard and pray hard as the antidote towards fatalism or a feeling that one just needs to spend all their time praying and not work. they needed to hear this part of the sunnah...

“Should I tie my camel and have Trust in God or should I leave her untied and have Trust in God .” the prophet (pbuh) replied, “Tie her and have Trust in God.” (Tirmidhi)

“The believer dies with his sweat on his brow.” [An-Nasai]

"No one has eaten better food than that obtained through the hard labor of his hands." (Riyadh-us-Saleheen, Hadith 543)

'that the upper hand is better than the lower hand' (Bukhari)

""It is better for anyone of you to take a rope (and cut) and bring a bundle of wood over his back and sell it and Allah will save his face because of that, rather than to ask the people who may give him or not." (Bukhari)

Imam Al Ghazzali wrote in his Ihya Ulum Ud Deen that Jesus (as) once saw a man who had completely devoted himself to worship. When he asked him how he got his daily bread, the man replied that his brother, who worked, provided him with food. Jesus then told him, “That brother of yours is more religious than you are” (The Book of Provision, Chapter 1).

Al-Ghazali also mentions that Umar ibn Al-Khattab, used to stress this point further by telling people, “Never should anyone of you think that dua for sustenance without work will avail him, for heaven never rains gold nor silver” (The Book of Provision, Chapter 1).

Hasan al Basri said "I believe that my sustenance will never be hijacked by anybody (so I work to attain it). I know that a work that is mine must be performed by me, so I do not decrease my efforts in performing it."

BUT this sheikh said muslims in non urban mosque communities - who in america have higher than average salaries and often composed of professionals - and where educational and career attainment was very high. that imam, in the khutbah/sermon, doesnt have to say those reminders because people are already self motivated enough but instead the congregation need to remember all sustenance is in the hands of God. that it is apportioned and there is to be no exalting or thinking that God has honoured them if they are wealthy. so that they do not become too attached to dunya and forget the akhirah to come. in both types of communities it is to encourage balance so that they are not extreme in going after the hereafter at the expense of themselves and their dependents in the worldly life, or becoming preoccupied with the piling up of wealth and forgetting to put anything forward for the Day of Judgement. i wonder if christian or jewish preachers have the same approach to social issues like that?

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 11:09:49

i wanted to clarify that the zakat - obligatory tax- is a purification for ones wealth but by religious law it cannot purify stolen property, money earned through prostitution, gambling, pornography or selling liquor. nor is the sadaqah - superogatory charity - that you give from that money counted as sadaqah either. a muslim cannot say they will rob from the rich and give to the poor and then that is their charity and their way to paradise. that money will always be 'haram'.

you cannot donate ill gotten money to a mosque, i do not know of any mosques that will accept money from sources that are totally from that.

there was a charity fundraiser in a mosque in london a few years ago - a friend of mine attended it that night - to help the mosque expand the building. they were desperate for money and it was a passionate fundraiser, the speakers were very charismatic and by the end on the womens side many were even taking off their gold earrings and gold bracelets to hand it into the collection tins. many more people raised their hands with the money they had on them to pass it in, or asking for forms to fill out. but then the imam stood up and said - we do not need the money of anyone who claims state benefits by lying and saying they are not working when they are. or donations from women who claim they are single and have no support when actually their husband is at home and he is earning. this was a particular problem in the community this mosque was based in. there was a very dead silence in the room, many shamed faces and only in the end a few people were able to keep their hands raised up for the collection tin. the mosque was poor but it took the importance of 'halal' money very seriously, and the importance that the houses of worship must be built with 'pure' income.

then, on alot of fatawa websites there are often questions of what happens if you are given money by someone who earns both 'haram' money and halal money. so someone who sells wine and spirits - 'impure' earnings - but also newspapers, snacks and drinks. some will say none of that is 'clean' money, you cannot take any of it, some will say assume the money they give you is from the 'halal' part of their income. the zakat clears ones wealth if you are unsure of where the person who gave it to you got it from, and it also clears it of 'spiritual sins' like: the prayers you delayed or missed in trying to earn that money, any preoccupation you had in collecting it that took you away from remembering God.

many muslims who earn interest on money saved in bank accounts usually give it away to charity as a good deed - but the reward is not in giving it to charity, but in obeying God and not profiting from interest. large muslim banks also discharge interest in community projects in the same way and with the same intention.

as well as the informal savings schemes that run through many muslim communities in the UK, there are also many sharia compliant finance instruments both in the UK and many more across the big sharia finance centres in the Gulf and Malaysia in particular. all based on the prohibition of interest, very explicit in the Quran, and also on avoiding investing in companies that profit by other forbidden things. il post more on it later but its a burgeoning field, from sharia compliant mortgages to loans to wealth funds to car finance to trading on the US and UK stock exchange (investing in companies that do not earn money through spiritually unlawful means e.g lottery, gambling, alcohol, bank interest etc).

crescentmoon Tue 13-Aug-13 10:55:53

mashaallah peaceful that was a great post. im glad you've come on and hope to read more of your posts. they reminded me of a few more verses/ayahs from the quran about the importance of neither being stingy or not spending so much that you become poor yourself....

"And give to the kindred (relative) his due and to the Miskeen (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayateen (devils), and the Shaitaan is ever ungrateful to his Lord." (Qur'an 17:26-27)

"And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty."
(Qur'an 17:29)

"And those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes)."
(Qur'an 25:67)

"“And waste not by extravagance. Verily, He likes not Al&#8209;Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance)”
(Qur'an 6:141)

there is also a very important point in religious inheritance law that it is better to leave money to your children than to give your wealth away in charity. the principle of only upto 1 third going to non heirs in sunni religious law is from this hadith (featured in 5 different hadith collections)...

Narrated Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas (RA): "I was stricken by an ailment that led me to the verge of death. The Prophet came to pay me a visit. I said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have much property and no heir except my single daughter. Shall I give two-thirds of my property in charity?" He said, "No." I said, "Half of it?" He said, "No." I said, "One-third of it?" He said, "You may do so, though one-third is also too much, for it is better for you to leave your offspring wealthy than to leave them poor, asking others for help..." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahah Muslim, Muwatta, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah.)

the prophet (pbuh) said upto 1 third but even that was too much, and that it was better for that companion to leave his daughter with a large inheritance and so not in need of asking others for help rather than giving all away in charity.

peacefuloptimist Tue 13-Aug-13 03:17:00

Hi ZutAlors

Your posts resonated with me as I have been thinking about this tension between believing in God and living a materialistic lifestyle. Is it a contradiction? Is it better to be an ascetic rather then a person who lives an extravagant lifestyle? You will find both extremes in the practice of the Muslim community where you have some people who totally renounce the world, choosing to live an austere life and instead dedicate their every moment to worshipping and serving God and those who dive headfirst and enjoy every worldly pleasure there is with abandon.

However, one of the beautiful things about Islam in my opinion is that it is a religion which strives to achieve balance. In the Quran it describes the believers as those who take the 'Middle' path (i.e. have a balanced approach to things) and I think this is especially seen with respect to this issue of how to live a moral life and yet still deal with the realities of having to live in a world where you need money to survive.

There are too insightful and thought provoking hadiths that illustrate the balance that Islam tries to achieve with regards to how a believer should be in respect to the world. The first is the famous one (to Muslims anyway!):

‘Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveller'

I.e. Do not be too attached to the world and take provisions from this world in the same way that a traveller would take enough provisions for their journey. The emphasis is on taking what you need to successfully complete your journey but not overburdening yourself.

The Quran does encourage Muslims to not become obsessed with worldly acquisitions. Allah says in Chapter 6, Verse 32:

"And the worldly life is not but amusement and diversion but the home of Hereafter is best for those who are righteous. Will you not then reason?"

"Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better for you with your Lord and better for [one's] hope.” (Chapter 18: verse 46)

Children at that time were regarded in a similar way to wealth i.e. if you had a lot of children you were seen as being in a better position then someone who had fewer children.

So from the above verses in the Quran you would presume that Islam encourages asceticism. However the second hadith which is less well known by Muslims turns that on its head.

'A man passed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the way to the market and on seeing this person’s strength and his energetic nature the companions of the Prophet said, "Oh Messenger of God, what if this person was in the path of God". The Prophet replied that "If he left for work so that he can support his small children then he is in the path of God. If he left for work to benefit himself so that he can become self-sufficient then he is in the path of God, if he left to support his old parents then he is in the path of God, if he left out of show and pride he is in the path of the devil".' (Tabarani)

I absolutely love the message of this hadith. The companions of the Prophet (PBUH) disapproved of the man for being so eager to earn wealth/livelihood and thought he should instead spend his time working in the path of God. But the Prophet Muhammed PBUH establishes a principle here that everything we do in this life, if it is guided by revelation and is done with a good intention, becomes a form of worship even though it is a worldly matter. So working hard to provide for your family and to support yourself is working in the path of God. In this way anyone who goes out to earn their livelihood for the purpose of providing for themselves and their families rather then to acquire wealth for wealth's sake is doing a good action that will be rewarded by God.

Another hadith backs this idea up.

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “The most superior dinar which a man spends is the dinar which he spends on his family".

So Islam encourages Muslims to work hard to support themselves and their families but provides guidelines, which I'm sure others can elaborate on, that give a framework on how to do that in a moral way e.g.

"Oh you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent." (Holy Quran, Chapter 4, verse 29)

So we need to find a happy medium between the two extremes i.e. completely austere life and a completely extravagant self-indulgent one. So you can be wealthy and be pious as well. There was a famous Muslim scholar who is the founder of one of the legal schools of thought who was actually quite a wealthy man and lived a comfortable wealthy lifestyle. He was once asked whether you could be rich and be an ascetic at the same time and he replied yes as long as the increase or decrease of your wealth does not please or upset you (massively paraphrased). He also taught that if God blesses you with wealth you should show it rather then pretending you are less well off then you are. The way that many have interpreted this is that it is fine for you to live within your means (i.e. if you can afford an expensive house or car then its fine for you to get it and is not considered extravagant) as long as you don't spend beyond your means.

For Muslims the act of giving charity is also seen as a purification of ones wealth which is something I think Crescent mentioned earlier. The word for charity (zakah) actually means purification.

ZutAlorsDidier Fri 09-Aug-13 22:46:34

Oddly - I have just realised - this has something to do with the emotionally stabilising effect that having children has had on me (although that has also had destablilising effects, but they are different). Feeling that I have a moral imperative to look after myself, that I am not expendable, has given me a much firmer foundation and has chipped away at the bedrock of guilt. At the same time, this security has made me a nicer person - I am not proud of this, but I was once, for instance, much more eager to hear bitchy gossip, whereas now I am far more likely to change the subject. I think I "needed" to feel that I was not the only one excluded or on a bad social footing - not the only person de trop, surplus to requirements, awkward or unliked - through an illogical and very unlikeable paradox, hearing others being run down made me feel less awful. Now I think I have no need to hear it, I just want everyone to be ok, and I think it is because I don't feel I am struggling on the fringes of having a right to exist
Morally I cannot justify my existence or the material benefits I enjoy at the expense of others (for so they are in this corner of the world) but somehow emotionally it bothers me less

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