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Christian-Muslim-Jewish friendship thread

(229 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 Tue 18-Jun-13 21:56:20

salam/ peace all! dh is on call, dc are all asleep i have time to post!

alot of times muslim speakers or writers will end a speech or a book by saying 'anything good i have said is from God, and anything bad i have said is from my self'.
this is to do with the idea that all humans are born on the 'fitra', which doesnt just mean that they are already inclined to believing in God, but also that they are born 'good', inclined to a righteous nature and having that within. but the dual nature of humans - different to the angels who only have a 'noble' nature, is that we also have a lower 'animal' self - from our origins - that we have to rise above to reach that higher noble 'human' self.

the struggle through life is to either listen to that inclination/ that goodness or give into the desires and whims of the ego 'the nafs' in arabic, or 'the lower self'. what happens to that child afterwards as it grows up in its environment help decide which parts will have a stronger expression as they reach puberty and grow up into adulthood the struggle is to find God and also do good, be righteous, against the lower animal self that calls only to its own advantage and desire: that could be selfishness, laziness, acquisitiveness, cowardice, malevolence, jealousy, ......

"By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it;
And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;
Truly he succeeds that purifies it,
And he fails that corrupts it!" (91:7-10)

so when we say 'all good i do is from God, and all evil is from my nafs/ 'self' it is thanking God for that goodness that every human is born with having expressed itself, and similarly when we see good from others we thank God whether they believe or not because all humans are born 'good' and we thank God that this 'goodness' has expressed itself.

when seeing bad from others or ourselves i think 'this is from the base nature or the evil self', that this person has failed and allowed that ego to gain control or dominance of their entire self. but its one thing to watch someone destroy themselves for their own desires but when they go onto hurt or ruin other people that is what God does not forgive.

crescentmoon Tue 18-Jun-13 22:51:23

that we have free will from compulsion is difficult enough to bear sometimes when we consider how drastically bad things can get when humans exercise their free will to destroy themselves/ destroy others. i couldnt bear that Ghaddafi, Sadaam, Assad could/can kill and hurt so many people and then just for saying 'i believe' go straight to heaven without being accounted for the misery and cruelty. i think people in places under tyrants like that are more comforted by 'God is Just' than 'God is love'!

i really want to weep comparing Libya and Syria, where the powerful nations decided to help the Libyans and the war was over with far less casualties and time than in the war in Syria now. where all the same players are around, and watching, but not wanting to get involved or only now after 2 years. this is the bitterness of human free will to say 'we will help those ones but we will not help those others'.
likewise, when i would watch comic relief and they showed people in africa dying of aids within months and then in the UK or USA able to live for 30 years with the disease i really despaired at how humans exercised free will to the damnation of others - not that the treatment/cure isnt known but because love of money and profit is more important than being my brothers keeper.

i was reading that 'prayer' thread today. i often think reading some anti religious posts that if they cant even handle the 'Jesus walk with me God our Father' of Christianity then the way we see God in Islam - as our Lord not Father - will really boggle!

i readily agreed with your parts stressed

"God chooses us because He knows which of us will choose Him, iyswim, he doesn't pick us at random. He wants everyone to come to knowledge of Him and to faith but there is no compulsion. We have to choose to believe. "


"I think that God is outside time and we are inside time - so He can see everything that ever happens and knows all our possible choices and outcomes but it is still up to us to make those choices. "

as for comparing the story of Adam and Eve...

before Adam even ate the fruit from the tree (in Islam it was Adam not Eve who ate the forbidden fruit!) the role of Adam and his children was to be as deputies on earth and as caretakers, in the Quran Adam was created and sent to be a 'viceregent' on earth - not as a punishment/banishment. neither on Adam himself nor for his descendents to be made to carry the burden of his sin.

God tested Adam so that he could learn and gain experience. By eating from the tree and disobeying the orders of God he showed that he was capable of making a decision on his own even if it was the wrong one. He then learnt that whenever he commits a mistake (which he and his descendants were bound to do because they have free will) the appropriate response is to seek the forgiveness of God.

(i often feel sorry for the prophets that they were tested so that others would learn from their trials/mistakes also - but that is why they have such a high place.)

as for prayer whether im having a good or bad day i pray because praise and thanks to be expressed just for life itself. i dont think a thunderbolt from the sky will strike me if i dont perform my prayers, iv had weeks where iv not done them on time and weeks when iv done every single one properly and the successes and failures of both are the same. from Muhammad (pbuh) example it was never meant that religious observance would give access to an easy stress free life. he had alot of sorrows in his and he still kept worshipping so that was the example to follow.

we dont have as many dietary laws as in Judaism but on hygeine and washing we have alot - especailly when it comes to prayer. there is no 'ritual' prayer in islam without performing the ablutions - washing hands, nose, mouth, face, arms, wiping head, ears and feet! (if you are a sunni) this is called 'wudhu' - no wudhu/ablution then no prayer. then we have set prayer formulas and units - and there is some variance but there are the 'pillars' of prayer without them your prayer is not accepted. small variations in performance according to the school of legal thought one belongs to and different rules on the small details. but not large enough to be too significant.

you can pray other times, have a 'conversation' with God, but if you cant remember God through other parts of the day then at least the minimum time of your day to give to God is the time to do the 5 daily prayers. all the other pillars of islam follow on from it - the act of submission is in the physical preparation and then the physical performance as well as the reading of the Quran in arabic to focus ones mind on God.

but its both external and internal - external that others can see the undertaking of the prayer and internal in that only God knows if you have ablution or not - or even if you performed ablution if your underwear is unclean then there is no prayer accepted. thats how specific the rules are on ablution/ritual purity. actually even more than that but im starting to explain it slowly!

(going to the toilet or even farting 'breaks' your ablution so means you have to do the ritual wash again before you do the next prayer otherwise you can 'hold' the ablution all day if you are able. now that im pregnant i go to the toilet constantly and i cant keep my ablution for very long which has made me jig the prayer times abit so i can keep my makeup on longer do ablution for more prayers!

sashh Wed 19-Jun-13 09:37:41

Those stories have happy endings but that's not always the case. It takes a lot of faith ad trust to try to put God first in everything.

Have you read 'the hiding place'?

It is a true story about two middle aged sisters who hid Jews in Holland, they are arrested and sent eventually to ravensbruk.

They have a hidden Bible and use it to discuss and teach others who are interested.

There is a passage in it that says something along the lines of give praise to God for everything (apologies no idea actual words chapter gospel or verse).

Betsie Ten Boom starts praying saying thank you for all the things they have, being alive, having a Bible etc.

Her sister Corrie prays with her until Betsie says "Thank you Lord for the fleas" at which point Corrie can't stand it and says 'we cannot be thankful for fleas'

There is a discussion as to what they have to be thankful for.

A few weeks later there is to be a search of the accommodation and they are scarred of the Bible being found. But one of the guards says to another, "Don't go in there, it's crawling with fleas".

Re the 10 commandments and Jesus, the 10 commandments in their full form are thought (by some including a few famous atheists) to be relevant at the time they were given but no longer needed.

I know a lot of Christians obey the 10 Commandments in their shortened form but in the original 'Do not kill' refers only to not killing other Jews.

The one about coveting your neighbour's wife also applies to your neighbour's slaves and other things.

Re Syria and Libya crescent I'm with you. If there was going to be help it should have been at the start.

After 2 years there is no longer 2 sides, they are many factions, people trying to push their own agenda.

This now looks like it is going to be the UK/America vs Russia but fighting on someone else's land. Which worked so well in Korea.

We should at the very lease to pouring aid into Jordan to support them with the refugees there.

On another note, Radio 4 had an interesting programme on the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam.

crescentmoon Wed 19-Jun-13 21:26:05

currently listening to the radio show sashh thanks for that link..

crescentmoon Wed 19-Jun-13 22:22:12

just listened to it all the way through thanks sashh. im glad as it had a shia opinion on the programme which made it more objective.

yeah the sad thnig about syria is now 2 years on there are many many factions and players now as there werent before 2 years ago.

when it began it was a straight peoples revolution against the regime, then it became sunnis vs the Alawites and Maronites. then turkey qatar saudi got involved, it was syrian young men going to volunteer to fight but now its got fighters from lots of other countries involved - some of them with dubious links. bad enough the iranians were on the government side (because of the Alawite Shia link) but then Hezbollah got physically/militarily involved last week and its going to be serious Syriana now. and as you said, thats even before Russian involvement - i was glued to Aljazeera watching Russian anti aircraft missles getting delivered to the syrian government 2 weeks ago to counter any aerial bombing of the regime or its strategic positions. which is why Ghaddafi's regime fell so quickly.

setting that aside, the split in Islam between sunni and shia began very soon after the death of Muhammad (pbuh). sunnis say he didnt elect a successor even when pressed and Abu Bakr the first caliph was chosen by the others to be the leader. but a group formed around Ali the younger cousin of muhammad (pbuh) and said 'the sunnis have cheated Ali from leadership of the muslims'. this was a political split that carried on and became religious.

i think the radio programme does a good effort in explaining the history between the shia (partisans) and the sunnis - all based on what should have been the position of the ahlul bayt - the house of the prophet (his family) after his death.

sunni muslims do respect the family of the prophet (pbuh) but its nothing like the vast edifice the shias built up in veneration of them. pledging loyalty to them is not an article of faith in sunni islam but it is in shia islam, kind of how the Virgin Mary is taken in catholicism compared to protestantism. though sunnis probably venerate the Virgin Mary more than they do the women of the house of the prophet (pbuh) which appals shia muslims.

alot of the companions of the prophet (pbuh) looked up to and respected in sunni islam - whose narrations of sayings and actions of the prophet (pbuh) are taken and used for law/theology - are villified/not accepted in shia islam because of the role they were perceived to play against the ahlul bayt taking the leadership. particularly Ayesha one of the wives of the Muhammad (pbuh) - loved in Sunni islam for her knowledge and scholarship 'take half of your religion from Ayesha..'
but she is hated in shia islam, seen as instrumental in robbing Ali of the first caliphate but also because she led 60 000 men into battle against Ali whilst he was caliph.

so then the political split became after a generation a religious split, some core ideas in sunni islam are not present in shia islam and vice versa. but all sunnis and shias pray from the same Quran - but exegesis - or explanation of the Quran - is slightly different.

as well as the QUran sunnis have 6 collections of hadith on the life/sayings/habits of Muhammad (pbuh) that are said to be considered 'strong narrations'.
Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Abu Dawud,./... and i cant remember the 6th collection. not all hadith are present in each book but as a rule they are taken for references in making religious law.

shias however focus more on the habits of the descendents of muhammad (pbuh) as much as muhammad himself so their sources are from the ahlul bayt whereas sunni sources are from the companions of muhammad (pbuh). this has led to differences in prayer, performance of various rites, explanations of certain verses in the Quran etc.

iv left out some so hope some more people add to that!

niminypiminy Wed 19-Jun-13 22:34:18

Fascinating posts Crescentmoon and everyone else! I am learning so much. It's lovely to see such generosity. (Haven't been around very much because too much going on in RL but have been reading.)

Italiangreyhound Wed 19-Jun-13 22:39:06

sashh Corrie Ten Boom's book is very moving, I am not sure I have read it all but I have read bits of it. At the end there is a bit where one of the sisters meets one of the guards. He has given his life to God and he extends a hand to shake her hand. She is rivited to the spot and feels she cannot forgive him....

"“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former SS man who had stood guard at the shower
room door in the processing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since
that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s painblanched
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message
Fräulein”, he said “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the
need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this
man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or
charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your Forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my
hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost
overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing
hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”"

Yes, Crescent Syria. It is heart I listened to Radio 4's Midweek. One of the guests was Paul Conroy (former soldier turned photojournalist) who was with war correspondent Marie Colvin when she was killed in Syria in 2012. The programme info says "He survived five terrifying days with serious wounds sustained during the shelling, and his eventual escape was via a tunnel under the city. His book Under the Wire - Marie Colvin's Final Assignment is published by Quercus." What was so sad was that he said how Marie had died and he had put his life on the line and now no one was doing anything about it.It was just very sad to think of the masses of people who have been killed and yet very sadly the rest of the world seems to be standing by. angry I am not even sure what is for the best since there have been so many times when the 'west' has interviened in things. I wonder what the rest of the 'Arab' world feels about this disaster on their doorstep. sad.

Italiangreyhound Wed 19-Jun-13 22:41:35

I mean the 'west' has interveined and it has gone badly!

crescentmoon Wed 19-Jun-13 22:47:12

yes thats very true italian about western intervention and tbh my thoughts were always very pessimistic and cynical until the involvement of the americans swayed the egyptian military not to fire on their own citizens during the earlier egyptian revolt. and britains involvement in libya supporting benghazi and the libyan civilians against ghaddafi made me very proud and glad also. which makes hte non involvement in syria even more stark. the regional arab powers have been involved since the beginning providinig weapons and training. but now as well as regional players there are now individualist 'groups' involved and organisations that did not really get a toe hold in the earlier arab revolts as they were over relatively quickly.

Italiangreyhound Wed 19-Jun-13 23:07:57

It's also impossibly complicated isn't it, which is one reason why the peaceful protests were so great before in Tunisia, Egypt etc but I think with Iraq and Afganisistan going so badly it is very hard to know what to do. But totally agree to do nothing is not an option. Not sure why Russia is against intervntion, or have I got that wrong?

cloutiedumpling Thu 20-Jun-13 12:48:20

This is a great thread. Thank you for your posts Crescent. It must take quite a long time to type them but they are really interesting. It is fascinating to see how similar but different things are (I'm from a Christian background) . I'm glad this thread hasn't descended into mud slinging like so many other threads do.

crescentmoon Thu 20-Jun-13 18:18:28

Thank you cloutie! i tried to pare it down even but it probably left out details Shias would say were crucial!

Congratulations dear niminy! (Saw the other thread wink!)

crescentmoon Sun 23-Jun-13 19:51:40

peace all!

caught this show on BBC iplayer: Divine Women. A series on the history of women in religion by historian Bettany Hughes. in this particular episode....

"She heads to India, where she joins thousands of Hindus in the worship of one of their most formidable goddesses, Durga.

Back in Europe, she examines the contentious issue of whether women should be priests, and descends into catacombs beneath the streets of Rome to find intriguing evidence of women leading Christian worship between the 2nd and 4th centuries.

In Milan, the life of Saint Augustine and the doctrine of original sin are explored.

Finally, Bettany profiles the powerful women who were instrumental in the crucial early days of Islam."

also this story of cooperation between the abrahamic faiths similar to the one sashh posted earlier:

also how do Christians and Jews mention, talk about and teach about the prophet Abraham?

superbagpuss Sun 23-Jun-13 20:02:43

Christians as far as I have been taught see Abraham as the father of all
we remember his faith in that he was told to sacrifice his son Issac until the last moment when he sacrificed a ram
he also had an older son who is important - name escapes me sorry

his blood line goes to king David - of David and Goliath - and to Joseph who is Jesus step dad

stressedHEmum Sun 23-Jun-13 20:28:31

crescent, your posts are fascinating. Thank you.

Sorry, I don't have time to post, I'm gettng ready to go away tomorrow for DS1's graduation, so I will be away all week.

Abraham is the father of all our faiths. He is revered for his faith and commitment to God in the face of insurmountable odds. He is an example to Christians in trusting God's promises and relying on Him - Abram left everything he knew behind and moved to a completely new land at God's bidding and trusted Him to lead him without knowing where he was going or what to expect.

he had 2 sons - Isaac, the child of God's promise and Ishmael, from whom, I believe Muslims are descended? God protected Hagar and Ishmael in the desert and secured him a place of his own. Through Isaac, Abraham became the father of nations and a direct ancestor of Jesus.

Will read through the thread again and post actual stuff when I come back from St. Andrews.

Hope everyone has a peaceful and joyous week.

madhairday Mon 24-Jun-13 12:16:37

This is such a lovely thread. I lost it off my list but have rediscovered it, and so pleased. crescent your posts are fascinating, thanks so much for taking the time to write them. I've got a feeling I'll learn loads from this thread - already have!

Stressed and Italian - your view on predestination/freewill sound remarkably similar to mine ;)

crescentmoon Tue 25-Jun-13 12:00:44

just caught this story today

another story of cooperation amongst the abrahamic faiths in the UK!

"he also had an older son who is important - name escapes me sorry"

Ishmael - or ismail as we say. he is the older brother whom the Arabs are descended from yes stressed, "God protected Hagar and Ishmael in the desert and secured him a place of his own." yup thats in our books too, we believe it was Makkah that was the place of security and the Hajj pilgrimage is about paying homage at the first house of worship that Ismail and his father Abraham built there.

did anyone watch the episode on divine women. it covered the issue of female led worship in Christianity - an issue which is both more and less complicated in Islam!

Hi, I know I've met many of you before on other threads. I like the "daily gratitudes" one for example, which also has those of different faiths - sharing simple gratitudes and thankfulness. I've also seen folks on the christian prayer threads - and other discussions in this corner of MN !

I'm a Quaker, so from the christian tradition, but very liberal and "wide, wide as the ocean !" Interested in seeking wisdom: increasing knowledge, understanding and tolerance: and pursuing peace.

So, by way of marking my place here -
Peace to you all x

superbagpuss Tue 25-Jun-13 17:28:05

cresentmoon thank you for filling in the gaps in my knowledge
Christians don't get taught much about Ishmael - sorry

crescentmoon Tue 25-Jun-13 18:25:28

For obvious reasons bagpuss as jesus's line is taken from Isaac. To be honest we don't learn much about lineage in Islam or which prophet is from the family of the tribe of which son of Isaac! I always get impressed with that knowledge of christians. i don't even know their order, I know Moses before David but not where Abraham, Jonah, Joseph come along.

Do you take them as real people with real stories?

superbagpuss Tue 25-Jun-13 18:27:21

yes they are real people that had amazing things happen to them and really spoke to God in whatever form He took. I guess that's a faith thing.

niminypiminy Wed 03-Jul-13 07:36:35

Hello to all, and peace be with you.

I've just realised that Ramadan is starting soon, and I was thinking that I would really like to find a way to keep that time with my Muslim sisters, and that there might be a way to do it on this thread. What do you think? Even if it is just checking in once a day to say that I am praying with you?

twistyfeet Mon 08-Jul-13 16:05:26

Ramadan mubarak to all the muslim sisters as ramadan starts.

niminypiminy Tue 09-Jul-13 07:41:37

My prayers are with you at this holy time

crescentmoon Tue 09-Jul-13 07:59:51

been feeling abit beleaguered on MN after some recent AIBU threads my sister niminy, not had the energy to post much! i had really wanted to join in some way with Lent earlier this year as i felt really inspired by alot of the threads here on the spirituality section. as im not going to fast this ramadan - i have an exemption due to pregnancy - im going to try and up the spirituality and try to practise some type of Lent style fast. the tradition of ramadan came from Lent anyway!

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