Friday, November 20, 2015

Who Was Mohammad?

Required reading for Ethics and Religion 285

He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist. Quran 61:9

Muhammad was born in Makkah (Mecca) in AD 570.  His father Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib, died before his birth and his mother Aminah (daughter of Wahhab, the son of Abd Manaf, the son of Zahrah) died when Mohammad was six years old. Aminah was of the Bani Qureish (Quraysh tribe) and Mohammad belonged to the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. (As noted by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, in a patrilineal kinship system, mother and son do not always belong to the same clan.)

After his mother’s death, Mohammad’s paternal grandfather Abdul Muttalib took care of him for 2 years. At 8 years of age, Mohammed was taken in by his uncle Abu Talib who did nothing to educate the boy. Mohammad was raised illiterate, and remained unable to read or write until his death. Islamic fundamentalism continues to distain formal education.

Abu Talib was of the Quraysh tribe. He never accepted Mohammad’s new religion. The first to accept Mohammad’s beliefs were his wife Khadijah, his cousin Ali son of Abi Talib, his friend Abu Bakr and Abu Bakr’s wife. Mohammad’s original followers numbered only about 40 people and all were related. At first they met in secret.

In AD 595 Mohammad married Khadijah, a wealthy merchant of Mecca. He was 25 years old and she was 40 years old. Mohammed was her third husband.

Mohammed left Mecca in 622 after the Meccan chiefs attempted to kill him. He went to Medina (Yathrib). The town had a population of roughly 10,000 people when Mohammed arrived. Word of his prophetic utterances had gone before him and he was greeted by the common folk as a prophet, many urging him to stay in their homes which they believed would bring a blessing upon their households.

Compared with arid Mecca, Yathrib was a paradise with lush gardens, date-palm groves, and productive farms. It is situated on the western edge of the central Arabian plateau in the heart of what the Bible calls Dedan. Dedan is named for a descendant of Kush. The highest concentration of Old Arabic scripts has been found in Dedan and the oldest mosques in Baghdad and Cairo were originated aligned to Dedan. Genesis 10:7 tells us that Dedan was a grandson of the Kush by his son Raamah.

The oldest mosques in Cairo and in Baghdad are aligned to a point in Dedan, about 500 miles north-northwest of Mecca.

Dedan is a name found among Abraham’s descendants in association with Abraham’s first born son Joktan (Yaqtan). Josephus knew him as Joctan and his name is preserved in the ancient town of Jectan, near Mecca.

The sub-clade ZS227 includes the Kohanim (priest) haplotype and it is found among some Jews and some Arabs, further evidence of a common patrilineage. The Yaqtanite (Jokanite) clans still reside in southern Arabia.

Genesis 10:26 tells us that Joktan had 13 sons. Almodad appears to be the first-born. If Joktan followed the pattern of his fathers, his two wives would have maintained separate households on a north-south axis. The sons of his concubines would have been sent away to the east and to the west. This may be the meaning of Genesis 10:30 which describes the Joktanite territory as extending "from Mesha [Mecca?] all the way to Sephar in the eastern mountains (Zafari or Dhofar on the Gulf of Oman?]."  The Lebanese scholar Kamal Salibi thought this might be so. Mesha is the name of the Moabite ruler whose celebrated victory over Israel is written on the Mesha stele found in 1868. According to Salibi, Mesha is an Arabian word and Moab was a village near Mecca. The modern road from Mecca to the Gulf of Oman runs west to east, just south of Riyadh.

In Medina, Mohammed built an open-air mosque with a shaded area to the south called the suffah and he aligned the prayer space facing north towards Jerusalem. Adjoining this mosque on the east and west were chambers for Mohammed’s two wives Sauda and Aisha. As with Lamech (Genesis 4), Mohammad set his wives on an east-west axis. The Bible scholar Theodor Gaster notes that the names of Lamech's wives - Adah and T-zillah - relate to the words for dawn and dust. This rounds out the picture of Lamech's arrogance, for besides bragging about killing a man, he set himself up as an equal to God.

In the ancient world placing your wives on an east-west axis this was regarded as sacrilegious. It represented setting oneself up as the Creator whose emblem the Sun made an arc from east to west. All the great patriarchs placed their wives in separate settlements on a north-south axis. Abraham's half-sister wife Sarah resided in Hebron and his cousin-wife Keturah resided to the south at Beersheba. Both were in the region of Edom and Abraham was related to the Horites rulers of Edom who are named in Genesis 36.

Eventually, as Mohammad gained more influence and greater military strength, the qibla (prayer direction) of the mosque in Medina was oriented to Mecca.

Mohammed added other apartments for women his troops had taken as slaves. One of these was a Jewish girl named Safiya, who had been betrothed to the chief Kinana, who was slain when Mohammed’s raiders attacked the Khaibar Jews in their settlement six days journey northeast of Medina.

Among the people in Medina, there was a small community of Jews that had resided in this area from before recorded history. These Jews agreed to protect Yathrib alongside Mohammed in the event of attack. This agreement is called the Constitution of Medina. It stated that “The Jews shall be responsible for their expenses and the Believers for theirs. Each, if attacked, shall come to the assistance of the other.” It also stated that “The Jews shall maintain their own religion and the Muslims theirs.”

The nature of this treaty is the subject of dispute among historians. Many maintain that it is a cobbling together of oral and written agreements from different periods. Ibn Ishak, an 8th century historian wrote a history for Muslims which includes genealogies representing the Islamic tradition. He appears to be the principal source of information about the Constitution of Medina.

The Banu Kainuka was one of the Jewish clans living in Medina. In 624, they threatened Mohammed's political authority by rejecting his claim to be The Prophet of Allah. Around this time, a Moslem girl visited a goldsmith shop owned by one of the Kainuka Jews. As she sat in the shop a mischievous Kainuka pinned her skirt behind her to her upper dress. When she arose she cried out in shame at her exposure. A Moslem then slew the offending Jew, whose brothers retaliated by killing the Moslem. For fifteen days, Mohammed blockaded the Kainuka Jews in their quarter until they surrendered. He then ordered them to leave Medina without their possessions.

These Jews, who numbered about 700 had lived peacefully among the Arabs for many millennia. Their principal occupation was metal work. They resided in two fortresses at the southwestern end of the Yatrib and they had Arabic names.

Considering himself to be at war with the rulers of Mecca, Mohammad felt justified in removing any hostile elements living in Medina. He attacked the Banu-Nadhir Jews, charging them with helping his enemies and plotting against his life. After a three-week siege, these Jews were forced to leave Yathrib, only this time each family was allowed to take as much as a camel could carry. (A large bull camel can carry up to 1323 pounds (600 kg) and smaller camels up to 882 pounds (400 kg). Mohammed then appropriated their date orchards, and distributed other lands and possessions among his supporters. This is how Islamic conquests are rewarded to this day.

Islam today

The divisions within Islam today are multiple and the parties often fight against one another, employing terrorist tactics such as suicide belts in busy markets and bombs in mosques. The Wahhabi branch has the most extreme followers. Mohammad’s maternal grandfather was called Wahhab. However, the Wahhabism of today is named after an eighteenth-century preacher and scholar, Muhammad son of Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792). He was born around 1703 in Najd, a town in the remote north-central desert of Arabia. As a young man he traveled to Medina and to Basra, in southern Iraq. He returned to Najd to preach. Like Mohammad, he had come to the conclusion that he was the recipient of what it means to be a true follower of Allah. He believed that "not one of my teachers" knew the true meaning of "there is no god but Allah."

Abd al-Wahhab insisted that doctrine of tawhid - absolute monotheism, and the unity and uniqueness of God - had been weakened by popular practices as requests for intercession by saints and prophets, worship at tombs and shrines, and superstitions surrounding numbers and the Jinn. He attempted to reform popular Islam, going so far as to advocate execution of idolaters. His focus was on Muslim apostates who should be killed and this includes adherents of Sufism, Muslim mystics.

Abd al-Wahhab's zeal got him kicked out of a number of places, including his hometown. Eventually, he found a patron in Muhammad bin Saud, a chief (emir) of Diriyya, a large agricultural settlement. The two men shared expansionist ambitions and came to a mutually-beneficial agreement. Abd al-Wahhab would be granted protection and control of religious practice in lands within bin Saud's dominion, and at the same time, Abd al-Wahhab would grant religious legitimacy to bin Saud's rule. The alliance eventually became the cornerstone of the present Saudi kingdom, established in 1932. 

Abd al-Wahhab belonged to the Banu Hanifa. Ironically, the Banu Hanifa tribe were involved in military conflict with Mohammad. Mohammad sent his warriors against the Banu Haifa. His men returned with war booty and with the chief of the tribe of Banu Hanifa, Thumamah son of Uthal Al-Hanafi. They tied him to a pole. Presumably he was tortured, but the story dissolves into legends about Mohammad questioning the chief of the Banu Hanifa. The legend goes like this:
Thumamah used to say: "If you were to kill someone, then you would have to choose one of noble descent, if you were to be gracious, then let it be to a grateful man and if you were to ask for money, you would have to ask for it from a generous man." It is said that he repeated that three times on three different occasions. On the third time, Muhammad ordered that he should be released and later Thumamah converted to Islam.

Reality, not legend

The Quran contains 109 verses that call Muslims to war against non-Muslims in order to advance Islamic rule globally. Some include commands to chop off heads and fingers. Terrorist acts are encouraged. "If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember." Quran 8:57

Islamic leaders perpetuate this legacy with an eye to domination. Saudi Arabia is the first source of financial support for the expansion of Islam worldwide. Recently, Saudi Arabia offered to build 200 mosques in Germany. These mosques will become centers of indoctrination and recruitment for Islam’s ambition of global conquest. In Saudi Arabia, the mosque leaders are appointed and paid by the government. They are removed if they instigate rebellion or incite violence. As a democratic republic, Germany will find it much more difficult to monitor activities in the mosques. 

Democratic states grant greater civil liberties than Islamic states. Islamic states control religious activity and forbid free exercise of religion, speech and gathering. Islam dictates morality through Sharia and does not tolerate opposition. In this context, ethical conversation becomes guarded and almost impossible. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Socialists and ISIS Stop Islamization of the world
France is heading for full blown civil war.

In world news, Putin tells Erdoğan to go to hell along with his ISIS buddies.

The Socialists in Spain, France and Turkey accuse Israel of war crimes and overlook the crimes of Islamic Socialists. A Spanish judge recently issued a warrant for the arrest of Netanyahu.

In June 2005 the Socialist Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdoğan, joined Socialist President of Spain José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as the co-sponsor of the Alliance of Civilizations initiative. Guess what this group does?

Muslims in France vote for Socialists who then tolerant their radicalism to keep their votes. Putin sees through it all. Who could be better at understanding Socialist tactics?

WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a an ATM for terrorists. No surprise. Typically, angry male refugees from failed Islamic states get naturalized, become community organizers, and receive funds from Saudi Arabia to build mosques headed by radical imams who teach hatred against the citizens of their adoptive country. How many of today’s refugees are tomorrow’s terrorists?

The Saudis control terrorism in their country by not allowing entry to Syrians, by monitoring activities in all the mosques, cameras in all the mosques, and through appointment of the imams. Saudi Arabia also pays the imams' salaries so they would be foolish to disturb the status quo.

Following reports that a Syrian refugee was among the perpetrators of the terrorists attacks that took place in Paris on Friday, Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement:
“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”

We live in interesting times!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Quote of the Week - René Girard

René Girard with Martha McCullough, his wife of more than 50 years.
Girard died on November 4, 2015 at the age of 91.

"Jesus accepts to be the victim, and we don't really know why," Girard said. "There, what the Gospel said is that it is God himself who has allowed all this scapegoating, and says, 'You can forgive me, since now I am ready to become your victim myself.'"

Related reading:  RIP René GirardRené Girard: Stanford's provocative immortel is a one-man institution;History is a test. Mankind if failing it.; In Memory of René Girard: The Truth about Life and Death

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Quote of the Week - George Sumner

"In a time of strained relations (to say the least) with the Anglican Global South, what if Episcopalians could recognize that their more conservative colleagues are preserving something for the whole, and for the future? What if they are preserving a fragile bridge on behalf of the entire church? Isn’t this the positive meaning of remnant? Those with power need to see the minority as able to accomplish something that the majority cannot. Such a realization is usually salutary for the powerful." -- George Sumner, Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas (From here.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Denying the Humanity of the Unborn

The problem for abortion supporters is that the humanity of the baby can no longer be denied.

by Niamh Ui Bhriain

It must be a strange place, that parallel universe of the pro-abortion campaigner, where killing is dressed up as compassion, and where, in stout denial of all the scientific facts, babies aren’t really human beings.

Pregnant women aren’t really carrying a baby in their wombs you see. Maybe they find them in cabbage patches. Or storks bring them in cute colourful slings.

It’s like reasoning with small, very stubborn, children except these people aren’t cute. They are fanatics – extremists who believe that unborn babies can be aborted until birth. Take a minute to imagine what that involves: the baby’s heart started to beat at 3 weeks; at 8 weeks she was perfectly formed; babies born at 23 weeks have survived outside the womb, but Irish abortion advocates want to ensure that babies can aborted right through all nine months of pregnancy.

It’s difficult to understand this mind set, since it’s so out of kilter with what we normally understand to be required to be a compassionate or civilised society. It’s in our nature to protect children, and to care for those in crisis. It’s natural to recoil at the thought of ending a child’s life.

Yet, this week when Vincent Browne asked abortion campaigners on Tv3 to explain their opposition to any term limits they said that killing babies until birth should be legal in case the baby had a disability or the woman’s circumstances had changed.

In other words, instead of compassion, they called for killing. Instead of addressing women’s needs, they pushed for abortion. They are calling for the opposite of what a really progressive society would do, which is to terminate the crisis and not the child.

In fairness, some abortion campaigners may well be uneasy at the thought of killing a baby this late in pregnancy, but they are committed to an extreme left-wing/liberal ideology which refuses to give an inch in terms of acknowledging the very obvious humanity of the baby.

The problem for them is that the humanity of the baby can no longer be denied – and this has been the case for decades. It's why polls actually show that most Irish people reject abortion-on-demand, and why most people consider the positon of #Repealthe8th groups to be so extreme. (In 2013, Choice Ireland also argued in defence of gendercide – aborting babies because they were girls – an extreme position actually shared by most abortion campaigners but which would be appalling to the vast majority of decent people).

Saying the unborn child is not a baby just won’t work. Too many people have seen ultrasounds, and have marvelled over all the amazing photographs of babies in the womb which pop up everywhere on social media. Too many people have heard their own baby’s heartbeat, or seen their baby waving or smiling in scans, to believe this propaganda.

Abortion campaigners can’t close that window to the womb. So that’s why they try to ignore it, to obfuscate the humanity of the baby with strident claims of competitive rights between “the woman and the fetus”.

But that won’t work either. It would be a very strange and distressing world if women saw their baby as an enemy. Most women with crisis pregnancies don’t do that: they are in crisis and they need support, but sometimes all they are offered is abortion. In this country, most women with a crisis pregnancy go on to have their baby, and those babies are much loved and cherished. No-one regrets giving life to their child.

The recent emergence of videos (below) released by investigative journalists in the US show abortionists callously harvesting and selling baby parts. This horrific footage leaves us in no doubt that the abortion industry knows that this is a baby. They have hardened themselves to deal with that fact because they are making money from selling abortion to vulnerable women.

Deep down, people are opposed to abortion because destroying a human life disturbs us, and because we know that we can do better for women than to simply tell them to get rid of their baby, and then leave them with the all the consequences and the regret and sorrow of that loss.

In the past 14 years we’ve seen our abortion rates drop by a massive 45% in Ireland, so maybe we’re getting better as a society at providing the support that’s needed – though the pro-abortion Labour Party aren’t helping matters by cutting payments to single parents.

We need to do more. Attempts to write the baby out of the abortion debate doesn’t help women and doesn’t help children. The inescapable fact is that, for every baby, their abortion story ends badly, because abortion ends their life. It kills them. And no amount of denial or pretence can change that fact.

Friday, September 25, 2015

John Boehner and Divine Guidance

Alice C. Linsley

Today Speaker John Boehner surprised Washington and the nation when he announced that he will step down as Speaker of the House and retire from Congress the end of October.

Boehner said, "Last night I started thinking about this, and I woke up. I said my prayers as I always do, and I decided, you know, today’s the day I’m going to do this. As simple as that."

In his public announcement, Boehner spoke about his private moment with Pope Francis. Pope Francis thanked Boehner for his efforts on behalf of children and education in the United States. Boehner had been praying for the Pope and was deeply moved when Pope Francis asked Boehner to pray for him.  As soon as Speaker Boehner said these words, he was challenged by a journalist about his real motive in leaving. The secularists who dominate the US media are so cynical! They can't imagine that the Creator of the Universe moves people to do things according to a divine timeline. They simply cannot accept that God might be directing someone to do something, and to do it today.

Let me predict what will happen, based on my personal experience. John Boehner's motives will be questioned and debated by America's pundits and leading cynics. People will find it easier to believe what they imagine than to accept the simple truth that God directs people to do things on God's timetable.

I relate to what Speaker Boehner is going to face in the weeks ahead. 

I announced my resignation as a priest in the Episcopal Church on the day I was divinely directed to do so. That day turned out to be the first Sunday of November in 2003. The decision came as a surprise to some members of my parish and to my bishop. Many accused me of motives that they imagined.

After many weeks of prayer, I was certain it was the time to step down from ordained ministry - as certain as John Boehner is that it is time to step down from his role in Congress. However, the day I walked away from the Episcopal Church also happened to be the Sunday that Vicky Gene Robinson was consecrated a "bishop" in New Hampshire. Because of that, I was accused of grandstanding. I find that ironic because I didn't know it was the day of Robinson's consecration until late that Sunday when I turned on the news. Then I fell to my knees and asked, "Why, Lord? Why today?" I knew my leaving at that precise moment would invite the wrath of my revisionist bishop and be a cause of rejoicing for the parishioners that were pushing the GLBT agenda of the Episcopal Church.

Priests and politicians are not that different. That sounds cynical, but really it isn't. Both have to work with lots of different people; some who agree with them and some who do not agree with them. If the priest and the politician are people who take their jobs seriously, they won't simply drop what they are doing and walk away when things get tough. They will seek guidance from wise people, or if they believe in divine guidance, as Boehner does, they will pray and wait for a signal, an inner conviction that triggers action. The waiting is not a public display. It is a private matter.

Looking back, I have no regrets. God's timing is always perfect. Our Maker knows what is needed and exactly when. That brief private meeting between John Boehner and Pope Francis was part of the greater divine plan. The Pope's words were the confirmation that Boehner needed, and that is the most encouraging story that has come out of the Pope's visit to Washington!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Muslim Kid with a Clock

Alice C. Linsley

The 14-year old Muslim boy who brought a homemade clock to school was arrested on suspicion of bringing a bomb. The boy was handcuffed and questioned by five police officers at MacArthur high school in Irvine, Texas. Was this over-reaction or proper security?

Ahmed Mohamed
This wasn't a school project. Ahmed said that he wanted to impress his teachers. One teacher said he shouldn't show it to the other teachers. It beeped in 6th period class and he showed it to that teacher. She said it looked like a bomb and reported it. Ahmed said, "From my perspective it didn't look like a bomb."

Here is the statement from one of the White House staff, DJ Patil, on Ahmed Mohamed: 

"Yesterday, a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing his engineering project (an electronic clock) to his high school. Officials mistook it for a bomb.

When I was growing up, my friends and I were fortunate to know how to use soldiering irons, circuit boards, and even a bit of duct tape when nothing else worked. We played, experimented, and learned through trial and error.

The best part? When I brought my work in, my teachers loved it. And that fed my desire to embrace science, engineering, and technology. That learning to play with technology -- that curiosity -- has helped me on every step of my journey so far.

That's why I’m so proud to see people across the country standing up for the innovation and intellectual curiosity that Ahmed has shown.

That includes the President."

President Obama Tweeted:

"Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great."

The President and his wife are known to encourage young people in the sciences. But is this really about education? Would this even have made national news if the boy had been a Christian? The President's praise is for a Muslim boy who the President thinks has been treated unfairly. Would the President have noticed a Christian boy arrested under the same circumstances?

Personally, I think that was a nice gesture on the part of the President. It may soften the boy's trauma at being handcuffed and questioned, assuming Ahmed was traumatized. He strikes me as a young man who enjoys the attention. That is what he wanted when he brought his clock in a briefcase to school.

Richard Dawkins tweeted similar suspicions. Dawkins said: “If this is true, what was his motive? Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.” In a subsequent tweet, Dawkins said: “Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?

“Yes, there are other reasons why a boy might take a clock out of its casing and pretend he’d made it. Trying to impress teachers, for instance."

Dawkins doubts the boy designed the clock. Yet this young man won a robotics contest in junior high. His family is of Sudanese heritage and his older sister was suspended for reportedly threatening to blow up the school. You would think that Ahmed would recognize that the need for better judgement, but in general teens notoriously are lacking in good judgement.

Ahmed's arrest triggered allegations of racism and Islamophobia from the Left and caution from the Right. Kevin Jackson discussed the Muslim with the clock, insisting that this is a set up; a crying wolf so that next time a Muslim kid brings an electronic device to school in a briefcase people will not react so quickly.

There has since been an outpouring of support for the young man in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs. Ahmed has received a gift of a Surface Pro 3, a Microsoft Band, a 3D printer, an Office 365 subscription, and much more. These were delivered to him by a Muslim woman Alia Salem who Tweeted: "Enjoyed delivering box of tech goodies gifted by @microsoft to Ahmed! Mashallah!"

Ahmed will continue to receive attention from this incident and much sympathy. Sympathies will swing to Muslims as a whole. Rights groups will jump on this, and the police of this Texas town will likely face litigation for doing their job. Lots of trouble will come out of Ahmed's attention-getting behavior.