Thursday, December 13, 2007

Message for Friday - The Philosophy of Sacrifice During Hajj & its Relationship to Jesus

G'd says in the Qur'an (37:103 - 107):

When both surrendered [to G'd] and [Abraham] flung down his son on his forehead.
We called out, Oh Abraham!
You have indeed fulfilled your dream. Thus do We reward the doers of good.
Surely this was an apparent trial.
And We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice.

Hajj or pilgrimage is a series of rituals that relives events within the lives of Abraham(AS), Hagar (AS) and Abraham's first son, Ishmael (AS). One of these rituals that has many meanings or implications is the slaughtering of a sheep or goat on the 10 day of Dhul-Hijjah in commemoration of G'd pardoning Abraham from sacrificing his son Ishmael (AS), not Isaac (AS) according to Islam, and giving him a ram (scapegoat) in his place.

In times past, human sacrifice was a common practice. Civilizations would sacrifice people, virgins in many cases, to atone for perceived community sins after a natural disaster or calamity befell the society. Part of the wisdom of the story of Abraham (AS) and Ishmael (AS) is that G'd was conveying to human beings from that time on that He is in no need for the sacrificing of the innocent, children or virgins for man to prove his faith or to atone for sins. Abraham's willingness to obey G'd was sufficient for him to be given grace.

وَقَوْلِهِمْ إِنَّا قَتَلْنَا الْمَسِيحَ عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ وَلَكِنْ شُبِّهَ لَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِنْهُ مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اتِّبَاعَ الظَّنِّ وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ يَقِينًا
G'd says in the Qur'an (4:157):

And they said, Surely we killed the Messiah Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of G'd whereas in fact they neither slain him nor crucified him but the matter was dubious to them and those who differed about it too were in a state of doubt. They have no definite knowledge about it, but merely follow conjecture, and they slew him not.

لَنْ يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَى مِنْكُمْ
He also says in the chapter called The Hajj (22:37):

Neither their flesh nor their blood reaches G'd, but their piety reaches him from you...
In following the wisdom of the Qur'an and the logic of the Hajj, Islam not only textually but philosophically does not accept the idea that the Messiah Jesus (AS) was crucified. It would be outside of the justice of the Most Just G'd to sacrifice the innocent and shed his blood to atone for the crimes and sins of the criminal. That would be like an innocent person being sentenced to the death penalty for a mass murdering spree of a group of criminals even after the criminals confessed to committing the crimes. G'd is more just than we, and we would find the punishment of the innocent person to be completely repugnant in such a circumstance. The very nature of the human being, which G'd created rejects injustice.

Praise be to G'd, the Lord of the Worlds, who chose Abraham (AS) to be an example for mankind and made his religion to have clarity and logic.

And surely G'd knows best.

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