Streams of Wisdom

As usual, I’m sitting quietly waiting for halaqa to begin while listening to the chatter of Arabic voices wondering what the women are discussing. I observe some women as they arrive pointedly refusing to greet me as they move forward to greet the Middle Eastern sisters around me.

How beautiful this religion is, but how full of mistrust. The revert steps into a strange atmosphere laden with cultural expectations and language barriers. We move around the periphery yearning to be pulled in, but unfortunately is frequently kept at a distance. Subsequently, many female reverts simply choose not to attend worship at the Masjid due to the uncomfortable feeling of not ever belonging. We are not fully part of the community or the Ummah due to many of the Muslim brothers and sisters keeping the doors closed to their hearts, and at the same time refusing to acknowledge the Qur’an’s teachings on religious plurality and acceptance of all true monotheistic believers:

“People, We have created you all male and female and have made you nations and tribes so that you would recognize each other. The most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most pious of you. God is All-knowing and All-aware.” (49:13)

We move into the worship area for the Isha prayers and the beauty of the prayers along with the Qur’an’s recitation causes me to wish I could understand Arabic. I have translated many of the prayers into English, but with the Qur’an’s surahs I can only listen to the foreign sounds flow like a stream while the echo of the sung words rises up to Allah. Think about the earthly water cycle and how the pure rain comes down and creates streams which flourish the earth. The streams eventually all run into the great oceans where the water is evaporated rising up into the atmosphere in a pure state which seeds the clouds and falls again to the earth. This is a physical sign mirroring a spiritual truth. Allah’s Truth and Knowledge is sent down to the Prophets (SAW) who provide the heavenly spiritual message to all those on earth. The Knowledge of the Truth then flows to various parts of the world to bring about spiritual refreshment. Is is the pure Truth from Allah which causes the trees of religion to bear fruit which comes from pious hearts. Those perfected spirits will then rise to Allah in paradise.

Look at the waters flowing all over the earth, but yet the water comes from the Creator who is One. It is the same waters that poured from the sky to drown the evildoers and save Noah in the ark he built. It is the same waters that flowed from the rock that Moses struck with his staff, the stream flowing at Maryam’s feet, the pure cleansing water that poured off the Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, when his cousin baptized him, it is the same purifying water when we perform the ritual of wudu, and most importantly it is the streams flowing in Paradise.

It is the constant, eternal flow of knowledge ever ready to quench the thirst of the spiritual seeker. It is the life giving Books which all derive from the same Source. Judaism became a religion identified by its rejection of Jesus’ prophethood and likewise Islam is slowly becoming a religion characterized by its rejection of the Bible and Christianity. Many Muslims would consider it haram to read the Bible, so out of ignorance, repeatedly discount the Bible’s teachings. Most Muslims don’t understand the never ending sound bytes learned from Islamic scholars is not truth: “The Bible was later changed by church leaders” inferring its teachings are no longer valid. “The Qur’an states Jesus wasn’t really crucified, but someone else was put in his place and died, probably Judas. Jesus wasn’t really killed.” “Christians believe Jesus is a god.” When the passage in the Qur’an regarding the crucifixion is properly examined in all of its context including the Arabic root words, with dua asking Allah for clarification, a clear meaning becomes apparent which doesn’t contradict the Bible (see blog posting, The Crucifixion Revisited at https://medium.com/@reflectAllah/crucifixion-revisited-b7769be88234).

Additionally, most Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the most perfect being among humankind which not only contradicts the Qur’an, but forgets to acknowledge that the only perfect being is Allah alone. All of us that live in mortal human flesh are imperfect — but the prophets (SAW) were in a process of being perfected. But not perfect. No one is perfect but Allah — alhamdullilah! A hadith, “O people, say what you must say but do not allow Satan to deceive you. I am Muhammad the son of Abdullah, the servant of Allah and His Messenger. By Allah, I do not love that you raise my status above what Allah the Exalted has granted me.” (Musnad Ahmad 12141, Grade: Sahih) And regarding the prophets in Surah Al-Baqarah 2:136, “Say: We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims in submission to Him.”

The Qur’an teaches it confirms what came before it, but which necessarily doesn’t mean it replaces it:

“We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers,” (2:87)
“We have sent inspiration, We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David we gave the Psalms,” (4:163)
“It is He Who sent down to you (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it, and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to humankind, and He sent down the discernment to know the difference between right and wrong.” (3:3)
“And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah,” (5:46)

When we pray salah we thank Allah for Abraham, the family of Abraham, for Muhammad, and the family of Muhammad. We are an everflowing stream of righteousness beginning with Abraham, and branching from the main stream through Ishmael. Our combined Books are the intended wisdom and knowledge from Allah which begins with the Torah, confirmed by the Gospels, and then the Qur’an which confirms both Books. The archangel Jibril (SAW) repeatedly told the Prophet the Muhammad (SAW) the Qur’an was sent down in clear Arabic. The difficulty lies in its interpretation. The pure water flowing down from the high mountaintops is revelation which is never revealed in one literal layer. It is a multitude of layers — of hidden meanings with allegory and metaphor. Because there is a repulsion of Christianity and the Bible among Muslims very few have ever attempted to objectively study the Bible, and much less attempt to understand how the Qur’an confirms what came before it. It is a crooked path Muslims walk when they don’t revere Allah’s sacred Word in all of His Books. The Qur’an was never meant to be read literally, but in the modern world that is the most common interpretation.

The Qur’an emphasizes seeking knowledge and using reason, but it is much easier to reject the Bible and Christianity thereby constantly battling and refuting Christians along the way. The pious ones of Christianity and Judaism are intended by Allah to be our brothers and sisters walking with the pious ones of Islam on the straight path, but you, my brothers and sisters, don’t even allow them to walk with you.

little water droplet
fully laden
but when multiplied
becomes a moving stream
birthing nations

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Sheryl Martin

Sheryl Martin

It is suffering that shoots streams of creativity out of my heart, and the brokenness of life that explodes my heart into its soul.