Etiket arşivi: Koran

Common Denominators Among Religions 1

Creation- Both the Koran and the Bible tell the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But for Muslims, as for Jews, their “original sin” of disobedience is not passed on to humankind, so they don’t require salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, a central doctrine of Christianity. The Bible and the Koran trace a common lineage back to Abraham, who was neither Jew nor Christian, and beyond that to Adam himself. Theologically, both books profess faith in a single God, who creates and sustains the world. Both call humankind to repentance, obedience and purity of life. Both warn of God’s punishment and final judgment of the world. Both imagine a hell and a paradise in the hereafter. Adam and Eve (1539), Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553); angels bow before Adam and Eve in paradise, Mid. 1550s, Safavid period.  Photos: wikimedia.org; www.asia.si.edu

Creation- Both the Koran and the Bible tell the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But for Muslims, as for Jews, their “original sin” of disobedience is not passed on to humankind, so they don’t require salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, a central doctrine of Christianity.
The Bible and the Koran trace a common lineage back to Abraham, who was neither Jew nor Christian, and beyond that to Adam himself. Theologically, both books profess faith in a single God, who creates and sustains the world. Both call humankind to repentance, obedience and purity of life. Both warn of God’s punishment and final judgment of the world. Both imagine a hell and a paradise in the hereafter.
Adam and Eve (1539), Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553); angels bow before Adam and Eve in paradise, Mid. 1550s, Safavid period.
Photos: wikimedia.org; www.asia.si.edu

The Annunciation- In the Koran and the Bible the angel Gabriel is God’s announcer. Through Gabriel, Prophet Mohammed hears the revelations that, for Muslims, is the Word of God made book. In the Bible, Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary she will give birth to Jesus who, for Christians, is the Word of God made flesh. The Annunciation by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890) and Mohammed with the angel Gabriel from an undated Turkish manuscript. Photos: faso.com; ruhsalenerji.org

The Annunciation- In the Koran and the Bible the angel Gabriel is God’s announcer. Through Gabriel, Prophet Mohammed hears the revelations that, for Muslims, is the Word of God made book. In the Bible, Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary she will give birth to Jesus who, for Christians, is the Word of God made flesh.
The Annunciation by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890) and Mohammed with the angel Gabriel from an undated Turkish manuscript.
Photos: faso.com; ruhsalenerji.org

The Ascention- In one story extrapolated from a verse in the Koran (surah 17:1), the Prophet Mohammed ascends to the throne of God, the model for the Sufis’ flight of the soul to God. The story of Prophet Mohammed’s mystical nighttime journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he adresses an assembly of all previous prophets from Adam to Jesus. Yet another version of this story tells of his subsequent Ascension (mi’raj) from Jerusalem to the throne of Allah, receiving honors along the way from the prophets whom he has superseded. For Sufi mystics, Mohammed’s ascension is the paradigmatic story of the soul’s flight to God. For many Muslim traditionalists, however, the journey was a physical one. In the Bible, Jesus ascends to the Father after he is resurrected from the dead.  The Ascention of Christ, Rembrandt, 1636; Mohammed ascends in a 1583 Turkish text. Photos: www.hymntime.com; www.omurokur.com

The Ascention- In one story extrapolated from a verse in the Koran (surah 17:1), the Prophet Mohammed ascends to the throne of God, the model for the Sufis’ flight of the soul to God. The story of Prophet Mohammed’s mystical nighttime journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he adresses an assembly of all previous prophets from Adam to Jesus. Yet another version of this story tells of his subsequent Ascension (mi’raj) from Jerusalem to the throne of Allah, receiving honors along the way from the prophets whom he has superseded. For Sufi mystics, Mohammed’s ascension is the paradigmatic story of the soul’s flight to God. For many Muslim traditionalists, however, the journey was a physical one. In the Bible, Jesus ascends to the Father after he is resurrected from the dead.
The Ascention of Christ, Rembrandt, 1636; Mohammed ascends in a 1583 Turkish text.
Photos: www.hymntime.com; www.omurokur.com

 

 

Comparison Of The Living Religions 2

The Claim of a Supernatural Origin of the Founder

Buddha, in some later scriptures which abound in the marvellous is represented as a pre-existent heavenly being who, in connection with a prophetic dream of a queen, became her first-born child when she was forty-five years old.

Lao Tzu in documents dating a thousand years after his day is represented as having been born a fully matured Wise Old Boy or Philosopher, with white hair, who had been carried in his mother’s womb for seventy-two years, or for eighty-one years, according to different traditions.

Mahavira in a Jain document is represented as a pre-existent being who, in fulfilment of fourteen prophetic dreams, was supernaturally placed in his royal mother’s womb.

A virgin birth seems to be intimated in the case of Zoroaster. His mother was supernaturally glorified when she was an unmarried young woman of fifteen. Three future saviors in Zoroastrianism are predicted to be born of a mother who, similarly, is to be a virgin fifteen years old.

In the canonical New Testament of Christianity there are varying data concerning a divine origin of Jesus. Jesus represented himself as having come from God, whon he called father.

Titian (1490-1576), Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c. 1547.

Titian (1490-1576), Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos, c. 1547.

 

The Claim of Divine Revelation

The following may be specified as outstanding revelations of truth:

Hinduism -  The immanence of the divine in the world; human society, a divinely ordained structure; union with the divine, the goal of existence.

Jainism – Self-renunciation, the condition of salvation; the ideal of a liberation of the spirit with subjugation of the flesh.

Buddhism – Selfishness as the root of misery; salvation through inner purity and self-discipline.

Confucianism – The essential goodness of human nature, as divinely implanted; religion as exercised in proper social relationships.

Taoism – Religion as exercised in humbly following the divine Way.

Zoroastrianism – Religion as involving active co-operation with a cosmic power of goodness in a struggle against evil.

Shinto – Nature to be recognized as a beautiful divine creation; religion as involving purity and also loyalty to the supreme authority.

Sikhism – Religion as discipleship of the One True God, with trust in His Name.

Christianity – The supreme power in the world is a perfect person; that He may best be conceived of and lived with as a Father-God; that He has been presented by His Son Jesus Christ; and that the supreme satisfaction of every human being consists in loving obedience to Him and in loving service to brother man.

Islam – Superlative satisfaction to be obtained through submission to an omnipotent God, who is not only a sovereign, but also a judge and rewarder.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), the Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, 1661.

Rembrandt (1606-1669), the Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel, 1661.

 

The Claim of an Inspired Scripture

Living religions do possess definite sets of documents which are regarded unique divine truths which need to be known for salvation. For all of them claims have been made as pre-eminent above the rest of literature.

Hinduism – Vedas, book of knowledge.

Jainism – Angas, bodies of knowledge.

Buddhism – Tripitaka, three baskets of of teachings.

Sikhism – Granth.

Confucianism – The Five Classics and The Four Books.

Taoism – Tao-te-Ching, the canon of reason and virtue.

Shinto – Ko-ji-ki, the records of ancient matters and Nihon-gi, the chronicles of Japan.

Zoroastrianism – Avesta, the knowledge.

Judaism – The Old Testament.

Christianity – The New Testament.

Islam – Koran.

 

Islam 11

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine.  Built in the Qajar period (1779-1921), this shrine has several paintings depicting scenes of Karbala, Imam Huseyn and Ali Akbar.

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. Built in the Qajar period (1779-1921), this shrine has several paintings depicting scenes of Karbala, Imam Huseyn and Ali Akbar.

There are differing views as to when the schism between Sunnism and Shi’ism, the two major sects, took place. The main differences between them can be summarized as follows:

  • Shi’ites maintain that the Koran is a created thing, while for Sunnis the Koran is the Word of Allah.
Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. The death of Imam Huseyn.

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. The death of Imam Huseyn.

  • According to Sunni Muslims, on Judgement Day Allah will appear to His Muslim believers. According to Shi’ites, Allah will not appear on the Day of Judgement.
  • Shi’ite theologists have the right to interpret religious law, and also are responsible for the faithful. Decisions reached by high-ranking Shi’ite theologists are binding. In contrast to this, Sunni Muslims believe in a more personal relationship between Allah and mankind, and feel less need for such religious intermediaries. Sunni religious teachers are content simply to offer advice to their community. While the hierarchy amongst Shi’ite theologists is similar to that pertaining in the Catholic Church, Sunni theologists have been compared to Protestant priests. Financial support for religious personnel in Sunni nations is provided by the State, but by the public in Shi’ite communities.
Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. Imam Ali and his two sons.

Iran – Kashan, Shahzadeh-ye Ibrahim Shrine. Imam Ali and his two sons.

  • For Sunnis the rank of the Imam is equivalent to that of the Caliph. However, for the Shi’ites belief in the Imams is a fundamental tenet of their faith. They hold that the Twelve Imams were appointed by the Prophet on orders from Allah. People should address both their spiritual and material problems to them. Where there is no Imam, all these matters may be left to the expounders of Islamic law. For the Shi’ite it is essential to believe that the Muslim Messiah, Mahdi, will one day appear.
  • Sunnis acknowledge and respect all the disciples of the Prophet; the Shi’ites, however, do not acknowledge the first three Caliphs, and only the preaching of the Prophet (Hadith) as interpreted by the Imams are acceptable.
  • In pronouncing judgment on matters not covered by the Koran and the Prophet’s teachings, or where Ijma, (universal agreement), is not available, Shi’ites rely on intelligence while Sunni doctrine relies on qiyas, analogical reasoning.
  • For Shi’ites, combining the noon and mid-afternoon prayers, and after sunset and evening prayers is unconditionally admissible, but according to Sunni doctrine it would be admissible only on certain conditions. In the above case Shi’ites performs the ritual prayer only three times a day.
  • Shi’ites add a sentence to the traditional call to prayer, expressing the idea that the Prophet Ali is God’s chosen companion. The Sunni’s call to prayer does not include this clause.
  • In Shi’ism there are two forms of marriage: permanent marriage, also accepted by the Sunnis, and temporary marriage as described in the Koran. However, the Sunni doctrine declares this latter form of marriage to be forbidden, and considers it invalid.
  • While Sunnis maintain that a traveller may continue to keep the fast of Ramadan if so desired, in Shi’ism the traveller during the month of Ramadan must definitely abandon the fast.
  • There are also variations in performing ritual ablutions. Shi’ites performs the ritual prostration in prayer on the ground. The use of a carpet, prayer-rug or the like is inadmissible.
    Shi’ites in Iran put small ceramic pieces in the place the forehead touches during prostration in prayer. These are made from the soil of Karbala and are available in any mosque or mausoleum. Some bear designs or inscriptions.
  • Taqiya or hiding, meaning the concealment of one’s true beliefs while in a hostile society without the risk of committing the offence of hypocrisy, is the right of every Shi’ite.
  • For Sunnis, pilgrimage to Mecca is a mandatory duty and one of the Five Pillars of Islam. For Shi’ites pilgrimage to the tombs of Shi’ite saints, of Ali at Najaf (Iraq) or of Huseyn at Karbala (Iraq) may be substituted. Pilgrimages to the tombs of saints are a significant characteristic of Shi’ism, and in Sunni Islam certain Sufi (mystic) practices are similar to this.

 

 

 

Islam 6

Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey.

Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey.

 

The mosque is not essential for worship, but provides space for meetings, study and worship, and Muslims gather there to pray, especially on Fridays. The principal officials are: the muezzin, who calls the faithful to prayer, the imam who leads the prayer, and the preacher (Khatib). It is important to be correctly dressed for prayer. Men should cover their bodies from navel to knees; women may show only their hands, face and feet. Clothing for both sexes should be plain. Traditionally, men and women pray separately, and special areas in the mosques, usually upstairs are reserved for women, although women generally pray at home. Because Muslim prayer involves standing, kneeling and prostration, an open space is provided, without chairs or benches, and a large space is required for the crowds who attend on Fridays. The direction of Mecca (qibla) towards which Muslims face when they pray is indicated by the mihrab. The raised pulpit (minbar), which the preacher mounts to deliver his Friday sermon (khutba), is the most important piece of furniture in the mosque. Every mosque has at least one minaret; though some have two or four and each minaret has one or more balconies from which the muezzin utters his call to prayer, five times daily. The mosque has no altar. For many Muslims the dome is the symbol of the oneness of God. Some mosques are decorated with beautiful wall-tiles, often bearing calligraphic designs based on verses from the Koran.

 

Bursa Grand Mosque, Bursa, Turkey.

Bursa Grand Mosque, Bursa, Turkey.

Traditionally, images are not used, and in place of these, miniatures, flower-and-leaf designs and calligraphy were developed. In the Koran as in the Torah there is no verse which clearly forbids representative art. Later in the Hadith, depiction is clearly forbidden. To make representations of Nature is considered to be a turning aside from the truth. The Hadith says that those who depict living beings are presuming to imitate God’s creation and will be punished in the afterlife. Embellishment of the Koran, which sometimes takes years to complete, is widespread. Abstract and geometric designs and many different calligraphic styles of Arabic script are used as decoration, regarded as appropriate to adorn the Word of God. From the 10th century onwards, special academies or seminaries were established to teach religious and legal doctrines.

 

Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

 

Islam 5

Turkey – Istanbul. Communal breaking of the fast.  The food is provided free by Istanbul Municipality.

Turkey – Istanbul. Communal breaking of the fast. The food is provided free by Istanbul Municipality.

 

Charity or almsgiving (zakat) is required of every Muslim who possesses the means for the relief of the poor, and for other social and charitable causes. The preferred amount is usually two-and-a-half percent of the annual income.

In the Islamic lunar calendar, the 9th month is known as Ramadan, the month of fasting. For the whole month, Muslims do not eat, drink or engage in sexual intercourse during the hours of daylight. The aim is to demonstrate the physical will-power involved in the service of God and to share the suffering of the world’s many hungry people. Towards the end of the month of Ramadan, the most sacred night (Kadir, Laylat al-Qadr), when the Koran was first revealed to Mohammed, is commemorated. Ramadan ends with a feast called “Id al-Fitr”.

The 12th month of the Islamic calendar is the month of pilgrimage (Hajj), which involves a visit to Ka’ba, the sacred place in Mecca. A visit made in any other month is called “umra”, the Lesser Pilgrimage. At least one pilgrimage is expected of every Muslim who is capable of undertaking it. The Prophet himself only once undertook the Hajj, and that was in the last year of his life.  Men wear two seamless pieces of white cloth (ihram), one round the waist and the other draped over the left shoulder. Women wear garments which show only their face and hands. This apparel is usually put aside to be used later as a shroud. Almost two million people go on a pilgrimage each year. Ka’ba is the most holy shrine, perhaps the first sanctuary, on a site many believe to have been first consecrated by Adam; and then by Abraham, who rebuilt it at God’s command with Ishmael, his son by Hagar. Muslims believe that God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, at a site near Mecca, and the three pillars that stand at Mina are said to represent the three times that Satan attempted to dissuade Abraham and was repulsed. The Ka’ba was once a shrine to 360 Arabian deities in pre-Islamic times, but all its religious images were removed by Mohammed.  He purified it and rededicated it to the one true God. A pilgrimage involves many ceremonies, the first being the seven anti-clockwise circuits (tawaf) of the Ka’ba, on each of which the pilgrim tries to touch the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad), or at least point in its direction. Muslims believe that this stone was given by the angel Gabriel to Adam and later to Abraham. Then pilgrims process seven times between the two hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa. This reminds them of the mother of Ishmael, Hagar’s (Hajar) search for water for her son. It was at this point, that holy water, known as Zam-Zam gushed out from the ground. The pilgrim visits the well and takes holy water from it. On the eighth day, the pilgrim must stand on Mount Arafat and ask for enlightenment and salvation. This is the most sublime act of worship. After this, stones are thrown at Satan, representing his punishment for trying to dissuade Abraham from sacrificing his son. Then the pilgrimage ends with the slaughter of a sacrificial animal, in remembrance of Ishmael, the meat of which is shared out among the poor. Pilgrimage forms a strong bond between all members of the whole Muslim world.

 

Saudi Arabia – Mecca, the sacred Great Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) and Ka’ba during Hajj.

Saudi Arabia – Mecca, the sacred Great Mosque (al-Masjid al-Haram) and Ka’ba during Hajj.