SunSep242017

Perception of God and Rituals of Prayers

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By Mesbah Uddin

The most revered scripture of Judaism, covering the emergence of God, and His laws, are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. They are collectively known as the Torah. According to Islamic belief, there were three more Prophets, prior to Muhammad. These Prophets’ books are: Tawrat (Torah), Zabur (Psalms), Injil (Gospel), and Quran. These are the holy books that were revealed to Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad, respectively.

Besides Judaism, Torah is essentially common amongst the Catholic and Protestant segments of Christianity. The term "Old Testament” refers to those Divine Laws and orders, revealed to Moses before Christianity came into existence as one of the monotheistic religions. According to Islamic belief, the Quran (Furkan) was revealed to Muhammad as the “Last testament” of God.

Here, in the Genesis we find God saying “Let there be light and there was light and God saw the light, that it was good” (Genesis 1: 3 & 4). “And on the seventh day God ended his works which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day ….. (Genesis 2:2).

The perception of God, outlined in these scenarios of Godly powers, portrays God as being dependent on another power to make him see and feel the light as “good”. That’s not the only glitch – God had to take rest on the seventh day. Imagine, God taking rest! Who makes him tired?

There are many references from the Old Testament in the Quran. Even then God is represented in the Quran as the supreme power, and not dependent on anything. He says "Kun Faiakun" meaning 'be and it is' (Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah: 117). His Throne (Knowledge and Authority) extends over the heavens and the earth; and the care of them burdens Him not; and He is the Supreme, the Greatest. (Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah: 255).

In general, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known as monotheistic religions. Surprisingly, the monotheism of Christianity is not comparable to Judaism or Islam. Jesus is regarded as God in Christian faith and as such this perception of God deviates from the belief of one unseen God, the essential principle of monotheism. Besides, there are quite a few cultural edicts in Islam that are Identical to Judaism. Prohibition of consuming pork; performing circumcision; wearing headgear during prayer; are just a few to exemplify.

Jesus Christ, though born in Bethlehem, a city neighboring Jerusalem, but Christianity of today, was born 325 years later in Nicaea of Turkey which is a small town across the Bosporus, in the neighbourhood of Istanbul. Here King Constantine presided over the first Ecumenical Council, held in the year 325, to put an end to the controversy as to the true nature of Jesus. Finally, after several passionate debates and chaotic brawls between two bishops, (Arius and Athenaeums), both from Egypt, the Council declared that Jesus is a composite of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

At the ninth hour of his crucifixions, Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means in Aramaic, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). This text of the New Testament raises a mind boggling question. If Jesus were the God then whom did he address as “My God, my God”?

Since then, the Catholic Churches started worshiping the statue of Jesus even though worshipping statue is prohibited in the Old Testament: “…neither shall you setup any image of stones in your land to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 26:1)

The Christianity of these days places far more importance rance that symbolize Jesus. Christian children, almost all over the world, are exposed to their religion through Santa Clause, despite the fact that Santa had nothing to do with Christianity. Actually, the name Santa Clause is derived from Saint Nicholas, a Christian bishop around fourth century of Byzantine Turkey. He was known as being generous in giving gifts to the poor children during Christmas time.

The prevailing Islam, though free from the inconsistencies of Judaism and Christianity in the perception of God, it is not free from veering away from its main holy book - the Quran. Most Muslims revere the Quran with such sacredness in mind that they keep the Quran up above shelve and beyond any touch of anybody prior to performing Wadu (Ambulation). As a result, most Muslims, despite possessing a book of the Quran in their chosen languages, hardly have the scope to know what it contains. Their knowledge of Islam is pivoted on those ill-educated Mullahs who are prone to pronouncing ‘Fatwa’ and arousing the fear of hell-fire when they face to answer any question beyond the capacity of their knowledge on Islam.

How the Islamic prayer ritual came into practice in the Islamic world? It may be a simple question but it is annoying to most Muslims. Anyone, who had read the Quran, would find the full details of Wadu which is just a requirement prior to prayer. But strikingly, not a single word about how to perform 'Salat' (prayer), known as Namaz in the Indo-Iranian part of the world.

Most answers, however, direct the finger on the Hadith of Bukhari (810–870). In reality, Hadith is a collection of sayings and doings of Muhammad and not the messages that are believed to have been revealed to him by God for the believers of Islamic faith. More to the point, Bukhari was from Bukhara of Uzbekistan and not an Arab from Mecca or Medina, where from Muhammad preached Islam. Even if he were an Arab, the difference of age between Muhammad and Bukhari is 240 years. Does it then mean that the prayer rituals, that the Muslims believe and have been following for generations, were not in practice for about 240 years after the death of Muhammad?

The sayings and doings of Muhammad are Sunnah, which consists of what he believed, implied, or tacitly approved as opposed to Fard which is compulsion as ordained in the Qur’an. Apparently the Islamic prayer methods came into Islamic model after Muhammad's time and only after Bukhari compiled his Hadith literature?

History tells us that Al-Mamun (786 – 833), the son of Harun ar-Rashid's Persian wife, was the governor of Khorasan in Persia. After hearing about his father's death, Al-Mamun rushed to Baghdad from Khorasan. To pave his way to the throne, he killed his step-brother Al-Amin. Immediately after this incident, he sensed an imminent revolt from the Arab territories of Harun ar-Rashid's Empire.

Finding no alternatives, Al-Mamun then had to import a huge number of army from Turkey who were then mostly Nestorian Christians. The presence of Islam in Turkey dates back to the latter half of the 11th century and not during Islamic empires. Even today, a vast majority of Turkish people are nominally Muslim.

Within a short time, Al-Mamun found himself exiled to Samarra, a small city, about 80 miles north of Baghdad. Eventually, Baghdad turned into a city ruled by those military Generals, most of whom were Nestorian Christians.

Strikingly, the Muslims’ prayer rituals have substantial body movement with disciplined structure of words and orders. Though the Jihadi Muslims would find it uncomfortable, could it be that those Nestorian’s military exercise eventually structured the existing 'Salat' rituals that the Muslims perform these days?

The readers should bear in mind that Islam was still then in its infancy during Al-Mamun’s time. The trendsetters were the ones who held the power.

It is interesting to know that the existing Turkish alphabet, based on Latin script, was introduced by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Besides alphabets, Ataturk also introduced Western legal codes, dress, calendar and many other reforms including emancipation of women, the abolition of all self-styled Islamic institutions.

Sources:

The Holy Bible (King James Version), The Holy Quran (translated by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall), The Outline of History - by H. G. Wells

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Mesbah Uddin

 

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